Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Bad Reputation live

Wahey! Here's Joan Jett and her pick-up band, Foo Fighters, performing her classic "Bad Reputation" on Letterman (is he still on?).

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Coming soon to a pie near you

Chinese pumpkin; photo by Val Phoenix
This intriguing specimen is a pumpkin, a Chinese pumpkin grown in Maldon, Essex, to be precise. I acquired it yesterday after fruitless weeks of searching for a pumpkin for my yearly excursion into pumpkin pie, which I guess is my reminder to self that I'm American by birth.

Anyway, the market trader assured me its sweetness is unsurpassed and it should keep for two months! The day of reckoning is next Wednesday. I hope what it lacks in aesthetic appeal it will make up for in flavour.

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

Art in Abundance

Jon Snow and Jude Cowan; photo by Val PhoenixI haven't had time to blog for the last couple of days, so busy was I running around London to intriguing events.

First up, the private view of For the Messengers at Woolfson and Tay, followed by a public event featuring artist Jude Cowan and newsreader Jon Snow, who proved to be a gushing fan of Ms. Cowan, pronouncing her a star and confessing that when he finds himself out on location in, say, Japan during the tsunami, he wonders to himself, "What would Jude think?"

Detail from Here Come the Girls by Susie MacMurray; photo by Val PhoenixLast night it was a double bill of art and music, with the private viewing of Susie MacMurray's exhibit, The Eyes of the Skin, at Agnew's Gallery. Not familiar with her work, I was highly impressed by her use of household materials such as rubber and shrink wrap, to create evocative pieces with myriad explanations. Here Come the Girls, for example, features numerous lipstick-smeared wine glasses suspended from the ceiling in a rather seedy bouquet.

Brigitte Handley of The Dark Shadows; photo by Val Phoenix
Lastly, and appropriately, late at night, it was a trek out to my old stomping ground of Archway to see Sydney three-piece gothabilly act The Dark Shadows. Although I have several of their records, I had never seen them live and was rewarded with a brisk and entertaining set in the very cramped conditions of The Hideaway (no stage!) running through much of their oeuvre and peaking with their cover of "Eisbär", which features on their new EP, 11:11. I don't think I've ever sung along to a song in German before. Bliss.

Monday, November 07, 2011

Google honours Curie

Happy Birthday, Marie Curie. And Trotsky. And Joni Mitchell. Now there's a party.

An amusing line in the Mirror's bio of Curie, regarding her and Pierre: "their mutual interest in magnetism drew them together". Ouch.

Friday, November 04, 2011

Naming: My Faves

This is a rather startled-looking Miranda July, whom I met recently at a press junket for her film, The Future, which opened today in the UK. Although we only had 12 minutes or so to speak, she was quite chatty about her past in the DIY music and art world, which I duly wrote up for a piece in The Quietus.

Imagine my surprise when I clicked on the link and found this title: "From Queercore to The Future: Miranda July Talks Independent Art". Although queercore is actually only mentioned once (by me) in passing, it gets into the headline! I wondered how often that word had appeared on the site and, using the handy Search facility, discovered it's the second time ever. Pretty cool.

It reminds me of a few times when I decided there were certain words that I had to put in my articles, if only because they were so completely at odds with the typical readership of a particular publication.

To wit: "punk" in the Financial Times and "communist" and "dominatrix" in Pop Matters. I also handed in a piece to The Wire with the title "Naming the Waves", which is the name of a collection of lesbian poetry from the 1980s. This, I thought, would be my crowning achievement as a mischievous queer journalist. Sadly, when the article was published, the editor had re-named it "Wave Theory". Pfft.

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

For the Messengers exhibit

Jude Cowan at The Space; photo by Val PhoenixOpening today in sunny Bermondsey is Jude Cowan's debut solo exhibit, For the Messengers, which echoes her recent poetry collection of the same name and is similarly inspired by her work at the Reuters archive.

Showing along with Jude's artwork will be two films I recently shot with her, one of which illustrates the poems performed live in various locations and was shot on a gloriously sunny day around Hackney Wick.

The other documents some of her preparation for her performance at the Fifteen theatre festival in September and was shot on a slightly less sunny day in a church on the Isle of Dogs. We also braved the security restrictions of Canary Wharf to record a quick interview outside Reuters HQ.

Turning the films around quickly enough for the exhibit proved something of a challenge for me. Luckily, I am a seasoned journalist and used to deadline pressure! Looking forward to seeing the whole thing come together. DIY, innit?