Saturday, January 06, 2007

You Watch Me Walk Away ... Taraa .. Taraa ...

I wanted to say something else, something more, about Roxy Music, the people involved, the milieu they moved in and through. In life, in art, there is, always, something else, something more, to say. There remains, always, something unsaid.

I have a passion for a particular area of pop - not a genre in itself, perhaps not an identifiable sound ... something akin to an approach, a techne, a way of looking at and listening to things ... I call it (do forgive me the vulgarism) posh blokes who (avant)rock. Public school types ending up at art college and getting into music ... terribly civilised English chaps throwing off the shackles of their upbringing to plunge into art rock. Roxy, of course (not withstanding Ferry's working class Newcastle roots ... hasn't he reinvented himself all too successfully as an upper class twit?), King Crimson, Van Der Graaf Generator, Soft Machine, Pink Floyd, Wire ... no one can (colloquially speaking) rock out in an avant garde manner quite like an English toff.
A conceptual rather than instinctive or 'authentic' approach to music, an interest in other media such as literature, film or the visual arts, a willingness to embrace experimentation, a lyrical approach beyond rock's usual scope ... all of these are typical of the work produced. I think English people have (or had ... now we're nothing more than a minor state of the Union) a very productive conceptual distance from the idea of 'rock'n'roll' ... we don't, thank God, have an innate predisposition to 'boogie' ... leave that to the Yanks (notwithstanding such luminaries as Pere Ubu or Talking Heads).

Bryan Ferry, God bless him, almost single-handed, kick started the Seventies ... the Biba gloss, the Futurist-retro kick, the congruence between advertising and the avant garde, the determined collages of eras (was that made four decades or four minutes ago?), the uses of irony and quotation, the idea that glamour wasn't a dirty word, the Modernist obsession with detail and design, process and product. He had been schooled by Richard Hamilton, he dug Otis, the Velvets and a well-cut suit ... he knew what was what.

Richard Hell, a man of acute (if intermittent) discernment, during his first visit to our little island, advised all the fledgling punks to listen to the first two Roxy Music albums. Not many agreed ... irony, sex and glamour were out of fashion and punk, even then, was in the process of codifying itself into a rigid and intolerant set of prescriptions. The loss was theirs. Certainly, though, the people in at the inception of punk had had their ears opened to this music ... John Lydon, I'd say; I would be willing to bet Howard Devoto had a Roxy album or two at home; the men of Wire ditto; the loose group of friends and hangers-on known as the Bromley Contingent had been firm Roxy and Bowie fans; contrary to the Stalinist stricture that the only music, pre-punk, that mattered was the Velvets/Stooges/Dolls triumvirate, a whole raft of interesting sound had fed into what would be reduced to 'punk rock' -
Peter Hammill, dub, grownup glam,
Kevin Coyne, Roxy, Neu! and Can.
It is poetry ... and the music was poetry.

The role of the saxophone in pop .... it has been the best of sounds, the worst of sounds. The brazen stupidity of smoochy or yakety yak ... the idiot drift of 'Baker Street', the crassness of a Spandau Ballet or a George Michael, a million aural lobotomies from America ... truly, the saxophone has been responsible for some of the most pointless moments in pop history. I am thinking of an alternative reading - the King Curtis meets Steve Reich swoop of Roxy's Andy Mackay; the atonal/melodic electronic treatments and fractal improvs of Van Der Graaf's David Jackson; Bowie's wonderful, underrated sax-playing, the beautiful avant pop sound he gets on Pin Ups ('Sorrow', it's quite lovely), the keening bridge between 'Candidate' and the reprise of 'Sweet Thing', the motorik of 'V-2 Schneider'; Mel Collins' work for King Crimson; Elton Dean's playing for Soft Machine; the iconic baritone solo at the end of 'Walk On The Wild Side' by Bowie's old sax tutor,Ronnie Ross; Ted Milton's and James Chance's free jazz screeches; Lora Logic's raw squalls in early X-Ray Spex. There is a case for the saxophone as the great hidden secret of rock.

The visual lingua franca of rock, in the early Seventies as now, has never progressed much beyond the template laid down by the Rolling Stones ... all bad shirts and leather trousers, the classic snake-hipped cock rock lead singer and the crow-haired guitarist, the hoary old Mick'n'Keef act ... when I was a kid (then as now), that meant nothing to me. I believe I've mentioned my Andy Mackay fixation ... that, to me, is what a rock star looked like; the silver and white jumpsuit and multi-coloured quiff he models on the inner sleeve of For Your Pleasure, his drape jackets and platforms, a Clockwork Orange vision of a Teddy Boy; Bowie in the publicity shots for Pin Ups, cradling a sax, and that beautiful suit (bum-freezer jacket and all), his bright red Ziggy/Aladdin/Diamond Dogs haircut and black nail varnish; Eno looking less glam than convincingly alien, all long hair, balding pate, feathers, lurex and mascara; Lou Reed's brief glitter phase, an almost pre-Raphaelite vision ... stars were stars in those days, pop was coming over all polymorphous perverse and glamour and flash and intelligence weren't mutually exclusive.
Pop music invokes Proustian moments, fugitive glimpses of seconds that measure out a lifetime.


Blogger Billy said...

Saxophones were demoted a bit once they got proper loud guitars in the 50s sometime. A shame I feel.

11:16 AM  
Blogger Cocaine Jesus said...

the thing that you touch briefly on here that bugs me more than anything else in music is the snob and inverse snobbery of certain people. what is wrong with 'art school rock'? what makes working class music so much better? for christ sakes lennon and lydon were intelligent people and their modern day equivallant is a man who witters on about working class values and then acts like a fucking yob. liam gallagher.
much rather have damon albarn than the oasis frontman.
and what does good music have to do with class apart from ruin the very oddious concept as it plays?

saxophones? dick heckstall-smith. ian macdonald. who was the geezer from van der graaf? hugh somebody or other?

also like your point on what fed punk. lydon loved peter hammills voice (and secretly loved pink floyd too).
music is surely organic and any musician worth his salts will listen to all forms of music to draw inspiration from?

as for the template tartlets that now form the backbone of pop/rock, all they do is maintain an aging tradition. rock/pop was meant to bring change in much the way bowie and ferry did in the early 70's. now it is like a charitable foundation, english heritage or pop by history. why would any young person like pete doherty or johhny borrell wantt to dress and behave like keith richards and iggy pop? i had no desire to emmulate guy mitchell or frankie lane so why would they want to emmulate my generation.
music today is a sad case of kids playing with grand dads toy box.

ps. nothing quite like a well cut suit!

2:10 PM  
Blogger St Anthony said...

Yes ... I love guitar noise, but feel it's taken over rock ... don't know why, but I always loved saxes, even before I was into jazz and whatnot ... liked the way they look, as well as sound. I always liked Mackay the most out of Roxy, and, as I say, thought Bowie was a fine saxophonist ... he had a nice, weedy sound.

I had a brief moment of class panic during punk, when it occured to me that what I really loved was art rock ... and the poshoes that made it ... then realised that it didn't matter. Always like a bit of art school pop. Dave Jackson from Van Der Graaf .. or just Jaxon as he is known. Great bloke.
Didn't McLaren put pressure on Lydon not to express his love of Hammill, Coyne, Can, dub etc, fearing it would get him labelled a hippy? The irony is that Van Der Graaf and Pink Floyd expressed far more anger, bleakness and alienation than almost any of the so-called punks.
I remember a year or so ago, when so many bands were copying the late seventies post punk/punk funk template ... David Byrne pointed out that that music was 25 years old ... a similar distance between the punks and Elvis ...
Elvis, too, before the Las Vegas years, liked a good suit.

3:41 PM  
Blogger Dr Anthony Donovan said...

CJ - I think it's that that generation itself is middle-aged and in positions of power now. Ok-ish programme on BBC4 last night about the 70s LA Scene - Crosby, Stiles, Nash & Young, The Eagles, etc.; the way it imploded long before punk is wrongly and simplistically said to have sweept all that away, albeit only for a few years. Drugs is one thing; but C, S, N & Y et al were basically telling lies is the main problem, I felt and feel: they sang about the family of man, but lived like aristocrats. That's internal corrosion from two sides: drugs and, well, ideology. The latter is the worse; or should be, if one is human and intelligent enough. I love, say, Harvest by Neil Young; but one does get a sense of corporate hippy. The Eagles' cowboy phase is hilarious and childish, and Lydon and that wave rightly laughed at the pomposity of all that. That's dialectics, in my view. Such things, though, now look strident and full of meaning - when compared with the silly, shapeless, knowingly-derivative crap which is offered now as the latest thing. I said elsewhere recently, for me pop is literally a done thing, a finished project. The beancounters fully have it now, and just looks like a maths thing, a money thing. 'The kids' are getting 'fooled again' - to mix up a couple of Who iterations. When one looks at it properly, it is all pretty sickening; just a naked arm of naked exploitation. Nothing changes, though. Stuff we like and have discussed in glowing terms was just as business-like at bottom; it was just dressed-up more, I think, and the artists themselves maybe were more authentic, less directly-involved in the whoring, selling side. It was all less joined-up. By now, it's very joined-up: as, I think, Kek said, or was it Anthony?, the press itself is just part of the machine. No chances are being taken, because beancounter culture likes sure-things and can't see why one should take risks when one has a perfectly repeatable product grossing income. They just don't get 'art'; because art itself - progressive art - is illogical and meaningless to them; they just know there is money in it, so certain beancounters get in on it. Some probably even think they are doing something interesting, and maybe one or three are. But it's a drop in the ocean. Artists are a bit mental; they do stuff for the love of it, and because of compulsion. They are both easily-manipulated and easily-lured into elements of beancounting culture. They know this. Everyone needs money; and the logic of commodity culture is inescapable; even the escape roads are occupied by other, alt-style beancounters, packaging resistence up for the faint of heart: be it Body Shop and Lush, The Gaurdian and New Left Review, AK Press, or the SWP. The logic of simplistic competition, of winning over truth-gathering, individuation, etc., in in everyone one of them; no matter how well-meant. Foucault coins this: in these struggles, power itself is left intact, indeed strengthened, further entrenched as the only way to live. Similarly, Chomsky's expose of the media perfectly highlights the problem of those wanting to struggle; he shows his own shortcomings, as having to use the media to say about the media. So 'protest' songs - selling in their thousands or millions - gets you Billy Bragg and Tom Robinson on the BBC; Jagger getting knighted; Rod Stewart getting something or other... Anthony, we are back to your thesis on Blair. Like him, there's no substance, and even the more honest stuff has rottenness in it. 'All that is solid [surely] melts into air'. It looks hopeless and depressing. But, for me - and for what it's worth for me to say - the mainstream is not worth bothering with. Apart from doing the shopping and buying xmas presents, I seldom do bother. But even this blog-provider is owned by some faceless thing called Google, and that twat Murdoch has myspace. The latter is peppered with advertising; but why pay millions for blogger? Beancounters won't pay up because they think any of us have a valid point which needs airing! It'll be a lot more George Soros and J.K. Galbraith than that.

They think we are all half-wits because we aren't only or pricipally motivated by money. We think they are half-wits because they are. So it goes. Power lives on regardless. 'Here comes the new boss: same as the old boss', for sure. But even the saying of that is a type of new boss in and of itself.

9:09 AM  
Blogger Dr Anthony Donovan said...

Good point, I think, Anthony, re. Floyd/VDGG expressions of blankness and alienation, over most punk.

I might get controversial here ... but I think it's partly down to levels of intelligence feeding levels of expression. Most punk bands where peopled by pretty basic brains, when all is said and down. Is that fair to say? Whilst I'm all for gutteral, intuitive, intentioned prose - and some of punk did this in fine style - it got limited and narrow really quickly because the mass of punks were themselves limited and narrow in their attitudes and in their thinking. The ones that were not or who were able and willing to learn survived and progressed: Lydon, Devoto.... Is it any surprise that a kid with a much more priviledged background and greater education, and with the connections which help get that out there, will be more eradite in his expressions of whatever s/he chooses to express? That just seems to replay the whole problem with backward old England, and its daft establishment ways. The thing is, though, Roger Waters may have been good at saying about such things - and money and class etc. do not of themselves prevent alienation and commenting upon same - but he has to struggle more to validate his feelings, to be taken seriously. Some stereotypical punk was ceded that as a natural attribute. The media plays with this ancient and tedious idea even now. It's a PS to Pulp's 'Common People'. I met those types at Uni: middle and upper-middle class and wanting to be more 'street'! I never wanted to be street in my life! I wanted to be as if at Oxford in the 30s! There's nothing glamorous about my dad working 12 hours a day in a freezing cold or boiling hot lorry. Fucking Educating Rita! There's an infinite number of available personalities we can slip into - as we feel we are cutting our own path, with aplomb and freewill! Each has its cozy touchstones and mores. To avoid being duped, though, we just need to stick to reality and tell the truth all the time, no matter what. Hopeless idealism is all that left to us. Hey, great idea, let's launch a magazine: The Hopeless Idealist. That'll sell....

A PS: This, it seems to me, is replayed in rap now - in as much as I know owt about rap, that is! The funniest thing is what do you do when your supposed low social standing, which is the sole subject of your work, gets you millions of $ !?

10:47 AM  
Blogger Dr Anthony Donovan said...

Anthony, did I mention this post is a wonderful piece of writing in and of itself?

Lovely to see Diamond Dogs cited. A great LP. As a lad of 14, all I had LP-wise was Diamond Dogs, Animals by Floyd, Lizard by Crimson, and Rattus by The Stranglers. Whatever genres those things suggest and represent, I'm still happy with those early choices.

10:59 AM  
Blogger St Anthony said...

Thanks for the compliment, Doc.

'Diamond Dogs' ... love that album, the sound, the lyrics, everything. It is, pardon the pun and referencing the original sleeve, the dog's bollocks.
I take your point about intelligence ... that's when punk started to lose the plot for me, when neanderthals like The Exploited and their ilk started to take over ...boot boys who, only months before, had been out 'punk-bashing' because they thought punks were 'weirdos'.
Part of the suspicion, I'm sure, bands like Roxy had to contend with is the pop media hang-up with being thought 'too clever' ... shouting and hollering is automatically seen as more passionate, more honest than intelligence, wit and craft.
Oh God, Molly will tell anyone what a pain I was at university, vis a vis class issues ... Yes, street never held much attraction for me (Oxford, the 30s ... I'd have loved that Brideshead lifestyle)... and the bourgeois habit of dressing down and slumming it. What do the French call it - nostalgie de la boue? I remember telling a group of snobs in a seminar that I wouldn't piss on them ..."I bet you would" came a voice from the back of the room. My film course ... so many uncultured but well-off idiots, most of whom had no interest in cinema, oddly enough.

1:02 PM  
Blogger Dr Anthony Donovan said...

In a nutshell you have it, Anthony: '...punk started to lose the plot for me, when neanderthals like The Exploited and their ilk started to take over ...boot boys who, only months before, had been out 'punk-bashing' because they thought punks were 'weirdos'..'.

Who was it said 'there'snothing wrong with a Mercedez Benz, I just think everyone should have one'? Leaving aside the implications for ecology if that was so, that's a nice rejoinder to the annoyingly simplistic thing with class. My Oxford in the 30s quip was my version of that M Benz quip. Cocker might caricature the issue in 'Common People' but I get his gist, for sure. Sorry, too - as I know CJ finds all this class stuff a bit rubbish. For me, though, it's still a hot item, and I do not believe for anano-second in the classless society. That's just a smokescreen, in my view.

1:33 PM  
Blogger St Anthony said...

Wasn't it Brian Clough, the Mercedes quote?
I used to go round a mate's house, and a few of us would listen to records ... after the initial punk thing, I'd take the new Fall or Joy Division 7", and they were met with complete incomprehension ... the last straw really was when I took the Contortions' Buy, that really upset everyone. I've noted many a time, Chance's music really grates on many people.

No, I don't buy the notion of a class-free society ... when people like Blair are telling me there's no such thing as class, I just know that it is more relevant than ever.
Actually, I get on with all types... hey, I even married someone from the middle-class ... I always tell her, I don't mind really, I'm very right on and tolerant ... oh, how she laughs.
I am more interested in frames of mind ... met many close-minded and snobbish working class people, and many turned on, smart toffs.

2:39 PM  
Blogger Dr Anthony Donovan said...

I agree with and share your contentions about class: re. Blair, re. good and bad in every walk of life, re. states of mind being prime.

I'd pull a hunting toff off his fucking horse, though. No bother.

9:34 PM  
Blogger Dr Anthony Donovan said...

Think the M Benz quote was a rapper - maybe one of Public Enemy. Now they were very good.

9:35 PM  
Blogger doppelganger said...

"punk started to lose the plot for me, when neanderthals like The Exploited and their ilk started to take over...."

No, surely it was when British Home Stores started selling bondage trousers?

I was eight - it all looked daft to me....

10:57 PM  
Blogger doppelganger said...

I think it may be punk as palette cleanse? All part of the dialectic? An ever evolving tension? Head vs heart, college-boys versus the street? Mod vs rocker?

11:00 PM  
Blogger St Anthony said...

Could Brian Clough be hip hop's great lost influence?
I often advocate the use of paramilitary tactics against the hunts ... particularly now they're actually illegal but allowed to carry on.
I remember when all those shoddy little shops along Carnaby Street started selling cheapo bondage trousers and punk t shirts - I was such a snob and had spent a lot of money on Seditionaries clothing ... always liked the dressing up thing and wanted the best. I liked Seditionaries stuff a lot, perverse, avant garde but very well made. Malcolm McLaren once measured my inner leg ... had his tape measure up there in a second.
Punk as astringent little palette cleanser in the smorgasbord of pop.
The funny thing about punk was, although so much stress was placed on 'street cred', many of the people involved from the beginning were middle class and art school types. The Pistols 'coming out' was at one of Andrew Logan's parties ... very arty, quite posh. They were surrounded, from the beginning, by people like Julien Temple and Derek Jarman ... terribly well-spoken art types. One of the many interesting things about Jarman and Lydon both is that they rose above the limitations and expectations their backgrounds prepared them for.

8:33 AM  
Blogger Dr Anthony Donovan said...

You're dead right, Anthony, in saying '...One of the many interesting things about Jarman and Lydon both is that they rose above the limitations and expectations their backgrounds prepared them for...'. Lydon's Irish wc background; Jarman's dad in the military, Jarman being gay, etc. That's what it is all about, surely; and class might be one demarcating factor, and we might play with those ideas to give our prejudices a comic workout, but, in all seriousness, I'm more arsed about a person's character. And, yes, the upper-classes (or whatever) were always part of Punk. I think Punk looks like that, actually. It is essentially artistic, conceptual. There might have been some kind of upwelling from the street, as it were, which was natural, unmanaged, and historically-driven; and Punk may just have been in the air, as an idea. But movements are made of differing and often seemingly conflicting elements, aren't they? The reductions were made by journalistics, for their own reasons; and that, too, was a contributing factor, of course. It's a dog's dinner, as always.

Jarman is a hero - even if he'd only made Jubilee. That is the film that, for me, describes and, now, years later, unfurls that time; not Rude Boy, not DOA, nothing documentorial. Following a line proffered by Poe in 'The Purloined Letter', one needs poetry not science to get to the facts; or at least one needs both. As a dogged assertion, though, I'm for poetry (that is, art) - as the great diagnostic.

10:22 AM  
Blogger Cocaine Jesus said...

i do think the class issue is still relevant. i just get saddened by all the pointless hours spent classing your self up or down. i was born in upminster. a son of a working class mother (irish descent)and a lower middle class father whose own father owned a business..
lower middle class?
upper middle class?
working class?
upper working class?
medium to average industrial revolutionary class?

i got kids who took the piss because i had central heating and they didn't and because my home was owned by my dad and therefore we were posh.
i got posh kids who took the piss because my bike was second hand and we couldn’t afford to go to spain for our holidays.

what fucking class am i?

i am fortunate enough to live in a nice house. not posh but detached. my children get the same sort of comments.

i repeat what class am i?

i feel like the prisoner. i am not a class i am a free man. (free? oh yeah!)

you are right doc a, what is wrong with having a merc if you can afford it?

i am skint at the moment having recently 'lost' my job. i would do anything to be comfortable as would any sane person. lydon once said in his usual acerbic way that, if you have ever been poor, really poor then obviously you would do anything not to be poor.

i have never been poor. never been rich either.

my point is this...the class issue will never disappear whilst you have working class wankers like liam gallagher pontificating and presenting the working class as some form of mythologized collective that is peasant saintly whilst being anything other than that is bad.

class only exists whilst we allow it to exist. It has nothing to do with breeding, or education or money or if you like CHAV culture. it has everything to do with peoples inane desire to be a part of something.

a primitive form of tribalism

try humankind for a change.

not sure i totally agree about the mainstream either although you have a point.

massive attack and radiohead are not classic examples of the mainstream and yet both have written some classic pop songs.

it can be done.

pop will never die it is just the young generation are too enamoured and overshadowed by my lot (our lot i guess?). if they only were to explore some of that techno stuff that exploded in the late 80's early 90's and had the bottle to mix and mutate it with some other influences.

as for 'that' generation, what a joke we turned out to be. lost all our passion and bought the thatcher ideal instead. betrayed utterly every 60's ideal and, as you have said, have absorbed punk and hippy and mod ideals into the machine.

god bless america.

10:49 AM  
Blogger Cocaine Jesus said...

don't forget ...
"head, heart, hips"

10:51 AM  
Blogger Dr Anthony Donovan said...

Cheers Cj. Good to see you contribute.

I think your points cover a lot of ground, and - as with all arguments, I feel - a lot of the seeming dispute comes from a confusion over and differing use of the same terms. I personally don't think class is maintained by discussion of it. I think it is violently maintained by parties interested in keeping power. I think by discussing against it, one acts against it, not in its favour. Discourse is crucial - at every level - in my view. It is sometimesall we have, and it isimportant to foster common-cause and to build bridges. Personally, I never signed up to a single Thatcherite ideal; and my core values, Communistic/Socialistic at bottom, have only become strengthen and refined as I have aged. I never 'sold out' during the 1980s - one couldn't where I lived anyway; as it was completely disregarded. But I wouldn't have and never will. Whilst I am part of a certain demographic, I cannot be held responsible for things attributed to it.

There's a lot of intimations towards aesthetics in your points. Not sure they securely relate to class issues in the main. THere, it is, as you suggest, very mixed-up. I think that is what Anthony was saying.

I take your point about the way you and your family have fallen victim to lumpen perceptions of you in your detatch house, etc. I sympathise and I condem those things, of course. Such things are tribal, as you argue, and they are depressingly inevitable, of course. My mum and dad owned their house; but it was two bedrooms, with three kids. Our bog was inside. Others, on the main road, were rented and had outside bogs. Some had better cars. It was mixed, but toward the poorer end. Though, I didn't feel deprived. One doesn't: it isonly when one sees inequality, one realises how inequal England is. My dad drove a lorry. Mum worked in shops, then ran a Labour Club. I left school with shite CSEs. Now I have a PhD. It's all mixed-up, and it is nonsense in a way, too! But I identify with my dad's line - his dad was a coal miner. I come from the NW. I have an Irish lastname. Potato famine anyone? I'm a prole, but an educated one. The proles can be educated and they have stuff to say and a type of intelligence - nouse, we call it where I come from - which has historically been disregarded, marginalised, and derided. Women's lib has come a long way, and it might be partly retrograd to keep banging on about it; but the plain fact is women are still seen as inferior. That's a structural problem in our society. It's a disgrace, and needs to be changed. So it is, in my view, with class. I have a hefty qualification, yes, but, for example, my Northern accent diminishes that, because I am discriminated against for where I come from. But, worse, I was discriminated against before I was even born - because of the evil and twisted, socially-inbred system we have in this country!

My central point is this: If we were to do some research on who does well in this country and where they come from and how they got there, I think we would quickly be singing from the same hymnsheet. Class is a hot issue exactly because it is an indication of continuing and deepening unfairness in our lives.

E.P. Thompson's 'The Making of the English Working-Class' explains an interesting idea. It challenges the idea that the Industrial Revolution created the working class: ie. that the wc are an effect of Capitalism. Thompson argues that wcness is more inate and intrinsic. I certainly feel that, as a feeling; but I think the facts support it, too.

Those facts are in Thompson's book. The wider facts are all around us, I believe. No escape; and a constant challenge which needs to be met at every turn.

1:09 PM  
Blogger St Anthony said...

I think class will always be with us ... there will always be something like a society (even if just a bunch of post-nuclear cave dwellers) and that society will split itself into hierachies and factions, which will ossify into 'class'. As Doc A. says, it's tribal, and as Iraq seems to prove, humanity (for the moment) remains depressingly tribal.
Now there are people who don't live down to the stereotypes of their class ... the aforementioned Lydon and Jarman ... and those who do ... as you say, Liam Gallagher, or Jade Goody on one hand, Jamie Blandsford (thieving junky aristocrat and professional parasite) and David Cameron on the other - people who through laziness or stupidity do merely what is expected of them.
There are people in society who have attained an economic and social status, a position of power, that they haven't earnt and don't deserve ... that much is indisputable. The House of Lords - stuffed full of old bishops, Prince Charles and his tedious trumpeting off to the media on a plethora of subjects he simply knows nothing about. In a real meritocracy, old Charlie couldn't hold down a job as a street sweeper.
My dad was a council gardener, my mum a cleaner ... I was born and bred on a council estate ... outside toilet and all. I like to think I superceded the limitations society had planned out for me ... but I have frequently been made aware, by my putative 'betters', quite what my position in this culture is.

1:36 PM  
Blogger Dr Anthony Donovan said...

Another in-a-nutshell moment, Anthony, in your: '...I like to think I superceded the limitations society had planned out for me ... but I have frequently been made aware, by my putative 'betters', quite what my position in this culture is...'. That's been one aspect of my own experience. I hardly ever bother with the logic they hand to us, though, as I've said - except having to be a consumer in a consumer society. I deal with the situation by not caring one iota about the mainstream and its expectations. I live an honest, engaged, and modest life, free of debt, doing ok, not killing myself to live. 'They' have got little to work with in me! The bigger picture remains just that - and we need to attack it in as many ways as we can how we can while we can. There is a struggle.

2:03 PM  
Blogger St Anthony said...

Mind you, as I always say to Molly, Prince Charles may be a reactionary old buffoon and vile parasite who has unaccountably got the idea he's a bit of an intellectual but he does make very nice cakes and biscuits.
Come the revolution, the rest of his family can go before the firing squad but we'll keep Charlie on as a purveyor of fine vittals.

"'They' have got little to work with in me!" ... that seems like a sane and decent position to take, Doc ... I like that.

7:31 PM  
Blogger Dr Anthony Donovan said...

Not being in favour of capital punishment myself - even for royals - I favour the Isle of Wight as a prison colony, and, as I always say, big rock, little hammer.

How about Royal Big Brother? or Minor Royal Big Brother? Or Pretend Working Class Big Brother? On the last one, we could have Jimmy Pursey, Nigel Kennedy, Ben Elton ... who else?

9:23 PM  
Blogger St Anthony said...

Yes, Royal Big Brother ... we could enjoy the sight of Charlie failing miserably to put some toothpaste on his brush or boil his own egg.

Faux working class, what's all that about? Kennedy and his banging on about the footie in his cod accent ... Bob Hoskins, Ian Dury, John Peel, Damon Albarn (that's before he was a faux African)... although, with this new band, isn't he back to rocking his non-existent prole background?
Loads of actors put it about as aggressive proles when in fact they're rather effete and bourgeois ... having been brought up amongst aggressive proles, I can tell them it's nothing to be proud of.

7:21 AM  
Blogger Cocaine Jesus said...

effete and bourgeois.
ha ha. yes, there is an element of that in some people. pretension is pretension be you working class or middle.
like damon albarn. see bits of him in me.
love ian dury even if his accent was fake and his mum came from a nine bedroom mansion.

as for a royal big brother, didn't we get a sample of that back in the 80's with that games without frontiers programme?

diamond dogs is by far the better of that particular trilogy. love it.

9:52 AM  
Blogger St Anthony said...

Ah yes, the royal 'It's A Knockout' ... don't some commentators date from then the open season on the royals? What did they expect?
Liked a lot of Dury's stuff, some nice word play, and I like that English music hall thing ... I always find it odd, people being willingly downwardly mobile.
Have liked a number of Blur songs, too ... preferable by far to Oasis' lumpen rock.

10:27 AM  
Blogger Dr Anthony Donovan said...

I Agree, CJ: '...pretension is pretension be you working class or middle...'. An overused and misunderstood term, I would say, though. Actual pretention, in my view, directly pertains, and has to, to untruth. A bit of desirous posturing shows effort at least - as a friend of mine often quips - and is just the way of things, part of self-improvement. For example, lumpen inflections of Situationist material in Sex Pistols is, I think, arguably fine and dandy. It isn't always necessary to know everything about something just to say something about that something. One's knowledge has to be and will always be limited, as knowing has to stop somewhere. For me, it's more to do with unlying intention - doing something in good faith, morally. If one does that, even mistakes can be excused - as these are symptoms of giving a shit, of trying, of being alive. It is apathy we need to fight and condem.

Yes, the royals' It's Knockout thing. Never saw it. But have seen it clipped 100s of times, of course. Anthony - it is said to have inaugurated a turn against the royals, yes, I believe. Stuart Hall was good for something it seems. I'd still like to see them penned up in some house, though - exactly for the reasons you cite: their ineptitude. It'll happen.

DA of Blur - '...faux African...' - brilliant. And '...having been brought up amongst aggressive proles, I can tell them it's nothing to be proud of... - totally agree.

I thought 'Modern Life is Rubbish' had something, one or two others. Can't stand Oasis. Thugs. Unoriginal. Football chant music. Dury - creditable stuff, I think. An interesting musician. D Dogs - always been my favourite Bowie LP. Not his best prob. But I love it, personally.

4:48 PM  
Blogger St Anthony said...

As I've said before, my older brother was a real Bowie obsessive ... I heard the albums, particularly Ziggy and the bootleg of the last Ziggy performance every day for years, but it was with 'D.D.' that I really clicked, that one and Pin Ups. Loved all that stuff, and then his Berlin era ... what a great run of material.

Oh yes, I'm all for a bit of posturing ... was it George Melly's phrase a 'revolt into style'? I liked that. Posturing in good faith vs pretension and bad faith ... in a somewhat Sartrean sense.

Big mistake of the royals to start appearing in programmes like that ... really throwing their aura away, as old Walter would have told them.

6:08 PM  
Blogger Dr Anthony Donovan said...

Bowie, Sartre/Melly, Benjamin - nice one. Think it may have been Melly - revolt into style, as it the subtitle to a book? I've never really been convinced about Melly as some kind eyewitness default historian of Surrealism - or Surrraillizm, as he says. He's done well out of it, though.

11:22 AM  
Blogger St Anthony said...

I was in a pub in Glasgow, 1990, when Melly came in ... I was most disappointed that he was dressed in jeans and simple black shirt ... not a suit with deckchair stripes and a fedora.
Actually, he was asked to leave because he had a dog on a lead. He does think he wrote the book as far as Surrealism over here is concerned.

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