TWENTY FOURTEEN

January

…and so we haltingly, tentatively slid into a new year:  Ex-Mass in a snow-free Sweden had been pleasant enough and The Epiphany appropriately subdued, clutching awkward pints on the fringes of the Indie Pop Glitterati at a crowded Canterbury Arms damp with condensation.  We left after The Countdown.

I saw in 32 with a tumultuous What I Wanted To Do’s album, #51.  Ominous clouds / Precedent set / It would be some time before the dust settled, if ever.  In between I put out the solo album Rapallo’d… A somewhat stuffy and overblown exegesis, rather sample heavy, I was nonetheless proud of the result and for the first time felt that my creative output properly reflected my Reality Tunnel (at that time).

…and to celebrate  finishing the (reunited) Manhattan Love Suicides album, we recorded a cover of Roky Erickson’s Nothing In Return.


Books:

Carter, John.  Sex and Rockets: The Occult World of Jack Parsons
Pilkington, Mark.  Mirage Men: The Weird Truth Behind UFOs
Raspe, Rudolf Erich.  The Travels and Surprising Adventures of Baron Munchausen
Wilson, Colin.  G.I.Gurdjieff: The War Against Sleep
Wilson, Colin.  The Strange Life of P.D.Ouspensky
Wilson, Robert Anton.  Coincidance: A Head Test

Playlist:

February

…apparently, from the Latin februum, meaning purification… And so it was that February marked the start of The Purge: A process that should have been instantaneous, but instead dragged its feet right into June.  We made a T.O.Y.S video for X-Static with the help of our pal Sarah from the wonderful Fever Dream and to celebrate the 1st Birthday of my niece Ava I wrote the song Oranges Are Orange for her… Lisa & I laughed ’till we cried (or the other way round) impersonating animals.  The song would later end up on the excellent Between Two Waves compilation of musical collaborations.

Books:

Falconar, Ted.  Creative Intelligence and Self-Liberation: Korzybski, Non-Aristotelian Thinking, and Eastern Realization
Hoban, Russell.  The Mouse and His Child
Huysmans, Joris-Karl.  Against Nature
O’Halloran, Maura.  Pure Heart, Enlightened Mind: The Zen Journal & Letters of Maura “Soshin” O’Halloran

“…It’s all down to knowing how to do it, knowing how to concentrate your mind on a single point, knowing how to abstract yourself sufficiently to bring about the hallucination and therefore substitute the dream of reality for reality itself. In short, artifice seemed to des Esseintes to be the distinctive stamp of man’s genius…” Against Nature.

“What’s the message?”, said Mrs. Crow.
“I don’t know”, said Crow.  “But I know it’s there, and that’s what counts.” The Mouse and His Child.

Playlist:

March

March saw the release of T.O.Y.S EP3 on the righteous Oddbox Records… Our finest effort to date, IMO… Much of the month was wasted on the ongoing nonsense but somewhere in there Birgitte & I went to Treadwell’s Bookshop to see Gary Lachman – former bassist of Blondie turned Occult authority – give a talk about Aleister Crowley’s influence on Rock ‘n’ Roll.  Lachman is also a Swedenborg scholar and in that capacity a colleague of Eddy’s Dad.  Rather drunk on the vin gratui, whilst signing my copy of the book, I informed him (Lachman) that I was in a band with Richard’s son… What sort of music do you play?  He politely inquired… Better than Blondie I slurred.  Only one of us found that funny.

Books:

Durrell, Lawrence.  The Alexandria Quartet (Justine, Balthazar, Mountolive, Clea)

“…as for me I am neither happy nor unhappy; I lie suspended like a hair or a feather in the cloudy mixtures of memory. I spoke of the uselessness of art but added nothing truthful about its consolations.  The solace of such work as I do with brain and heart lies in this — that only THERE, in the silences of the painter or the writer can reality be reordered, reworked and made to show its significant side. Our common actions in reality are simply the sackcloth covering which hides the cloth-of-gold — the meaning of the pattern. For us artists there waits the joyous compromise through art with all that wounded or defeated us in daily life; in this way, not to evade destiny, as the ordinary people try to do, but to fulfil it in its true potential — the imagination. Otherwise why should we hurt one another?” The Alexandria Quartet (Justine).

Playlist:

April

April was relatively quiet as the monolith continued to unravel… I went to see the Mirage Men documentary at The Horse Hospital with Eoin & Birgitte.  Dogma & Paranoia reigned amongst the UFO enthusiasts.  Wild Horses Run Free was the 53rd What I Wanted To Do’s album, this one conceived at Highshore Sound.

Books:

Ballard, J.G.  High-Rise
Barnes, Julian.  The Porcupine
Erickson, Steve.  Our Ecstatic Days
Hesse, Hermann.  The Journey to the East
McKenna, Terence.  Food of the Gods: The Search for the Original Tree of Knowledge
Nabokov, Vladimir.  Pale Fire

“I realized that I had joined a pilgrimage to the East, seemingly a definite and single pilgrimage — but in reality, in its broadest sense, this expedition to the East was not only mine and now; this procession of believers and disciples had always and incessantly been moving towards the East, towards the Home of Light. Throughout the centuries it had been on the way, towards light and wonder, and each member, each group, indeed our whole host and its great pilgrimage, was only a wave in the eternal stream of human beings, of the eternal strivings of the human spirit towards the East, towards Home…” Journey to the East.

“Resemblances are the shadows of differences.  Different people see different similarities and similar differences.” Pale Fire.

Playlist:

May

Having jumped aboard the Bands Reunited bandwagon, we donned shades and dug out the leather to take The Manhattan Love Suicides juggernaut to The Stage for the first time in 5 years courtesy of Trev Oddbox  (Hero).  I got sent to Edinburgh for work and thoroughly enjoyed fleeing The City for a while.

I started writing up the event as a piece of fiction but then forgot about/abandoned it.  Probably for the best:

A Cat In A Bag In A Park (Chapter IV)

So by now Mr. Edwards* is pretty drunk.  He rules out heading back to the beating heart and sets out on foot to conquer the labyrinth.  To Heriot-Watt!  The evening is unseasonably hot and crossing the tram-lines opposite the hotel he sees wild rabbits vaulting abandoned cans of Iron-Bru on the grassy embankments.  The paths parallel to the roads are empty so he sings out loud:  I can’t believe how strange it is to be anything at all.  He reaches the campus surprisingly easily.  It is beautiful: passing more wild rabbits debating the pros and cons of Scottish independence and swans on a lake comparing wing-spans.  The bar is empty but for a small group conversing animatedly.  The cider is cheap and crisp.  He is not invited to join the conversation and already feeling victorious decides to sing all the way to Hell.

*An administrative error meant that I was booked into the hotel under my bosses name.

—-

On the way home I stopped off to see Neutral Milk Hotel in Manchester, an experience I had thought I would never have and I was not disappointed.  Birgitte & I attended the first fundraising event for Cosmic Trigger (more of that in November) and at a T.O.Y.S show at Paper Dress Vintage, seeds were sown.

Books:

Pelevin, Victor.  Homo Zapiens
Pérez-Reverte, Arturo.  The Club Dumas
VanderMeer, Jeff.  Annihilation (Southern Reach Trilogy #1)

“So it was a question of obtaining knowledge.”
“Of course.  Nobody would take so much trouble, wandering to the very edge of the abyss just to pass the time.  Scholarly demonology identifies Lucifer with knowledge.  In Genisis, the Devil in the form of a serpent succeeds in getting man to stop being a stupid simpleton and gain awareness, free will, lucidity, knowledge, with all the pain and uncertainty that they entail.” The Club Dumas.

Playlist:

June

So June came around and it was time to say Goodbye to Lisa (see Rope).  I abhor the eye-for-an-eye culture that we live in.  Show me someone who hasn’t fucked it up at some point in their life.  No Grudges.  Resolution.  I wish you well.  Queenstown Heights was not empty for long, though, as The Moz returned from Oz to keep me company.

Books:

Rosenblum, Bruce.  Quantum Enigma
VanderMeer, Jeff.  Authority (Southern Reach Trilogy #2)

“All of physics is based on quantum theory. It’s the most battle-tested theory in all of science. And one-third of our economy involves products designed with it. Quantum theory works for fundamental science and for practical applications.  However, this reliable and useful physics challenges any reasonable worldview. It actually denies the existence of a physically real world independent of its observation. It also tells of a strange connectedness…” Quantum Enigma.

Playlist:

July

Part I:  Who can predict how these things will go?  Who knew that, whilst rolling that rock back up the hill, I would meet the most incredible person I had ever met?  Working for some time in the same Library, I had only recently unplugged myself and begun to interact.  It did not take long to realise we were traipsing the same Reality Tunnel and decided to go and check out Marina Abramović’s 512 Hours at The Serpentine.  Was it a date?  Viv resplendent as El Topo, we counted rice & lentils, gorged on green rum & were harassed by birds and dribblers.  It took until we had to part to overcome my mental inertia and move in

Part II:  You wouldn’t be going anywhere if you’d done that earlier… And so it went.  The year so far had had its fair share of turmoil, and indeed there would be some hard times ahead, but none of that matters when you have each other.  So this is what it is like.  And then I went to Norway for a long weekend with Birgitte & her family.  The Fjords were awe-inspiring and, already full of Joie de vivre, I had a brilliant time with lovely people: Sea-swimming, drinking, fishing, climbing, drinking, jacuzziing, smiling & eating several reindeer.

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Part III: And then T.O.Y.S played at the Fell Foot Sound Festival in the Lake District.  Another brilliant weekend with lovely people in beautiful surroundings… and a drinks cabinet in a tent.

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Part IV:  And then The Manhattan Love Suicides played at the Indietracks Festival in Derbyshire.  Another brilliant weekend with lovely people in beautiful surroundings… and some rescued Parrots & Owls.

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Playlist:

August

…and then The Wednesday Club played at The Brudenell Social Club in Leeds.  Another brilliant weekend with lovely people in beautiful surroundings… and some HOTT Existential Sex Rock, Power Trio style.  I turned Scrobblin’ off and although I thought it would be traumatic actually felt liberated.  Viv & I saw Purple Rain on a rooftop… and then I went to Spain for a week with my family to celebrate Simon’s 30th.

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NATURALEZA MUERTA

I will miss spilling wine
across your scalding tiles
and the way Ava smiled when she arrived,
and the way Simon’s butt cheeks clenched
and the way that every Mahou quenched our thirst.

Oh, Spain! I will miss your feral dog dawn chorus
and Enrique’s grape green eyes
groping that can of chopped tomatoes
and the way we dipped our toes into yr cool, cool waters
when the sun rays got too much.

And, yes, I will even miss the way
our voices failed to coalesce, sometimes, but also
the way we won the Crosswords.
You were never far behind us, Spain,
and we kept pace the best we could.

We took in those four flamenco girls and that breathtaking view
and we indulged our sweet teeth with
white chocolate ice cream
and Ava squealed with every complete puzzle piece
and learnt to say “cheers!”

I will miss that time we overshot yr supermarket, Spain,
and the time that they forgot the bins
and yr flying ants and wasp nests and overbearing parents.

And, Spain, I will miss the way your dust spun
up into the sunlight when we dug our heels in,
and those times our teeth gleamed,
and whether we knew it or not
we were having fun as we kept the wolves at bay.

Oh, Spain! Will scrambled eggs
ever be the same again?

Books:

Coe, Jonathan.  Like a Fiery Elephant: The Story of B.S.Johnson
Cope, Julian.  One Three One: A Time-Shifting Gnostic Hooligan Road Novel
Dick, Philip K.  Ubik

“But, he thought, this is projection on my part. It isn’t the universe which is being entombed by layers of wind, cold, darkness and ice; all this is going on within me, and yet I seem to see it outside. Strange, he thought. Is the whole world inside me? Engulfed by my body? When did that happen? It must be a manifestation of dying, he said to himself. The uncertainty which I feel, the slowing down into entropy – that’s the process, and the ice which I see is the result of the success of the process. When I blink out, he thought, the whole universe will disappear…” Ubik.

Playlist:

September

All change at Queenstown Heights as Rachel moved in to make a house a home again.  We celebrated with some Manhattan Love Suicides recording and a homecoming show in Leeds at The Brudenell Social Club with The Spook School.

Books:

Darniellle, John.  Wolf in White Van
Kaiser, David.  How the Hippies Saved Physics: Science, Counterculture and the Quantum Revival
Lachman, Gary.  Aleister Crowley: Magick, Rock and Roll, and the Wickedest Man in the World
O’Brien, Flann.  At Swim-Two-Birds

“Characters should be interchangeable as between one book and another. The entire corpus of existing literature should be regarded as a limbo from which discerning authors could draw their characters as required, creating only when they failed to find a suitable existing puppet. The modern novel should be largely a work of reference. Most authors spend their time saying what has been said before – usually said much better…” At Swim-Two-Birds.

Playlist:

October

The Manhattan Love Suicides drenched Paper Dress Vintage (London) and Nottingham Pop Fest in Feedback & Fuzz… and Dave & I were wowed by St. Vincent…   and I continued to try and wrap my brain-box around Quantum Physics & The Tao.

Books:

Capra, Fritjof.  The Tao of Physics: An Exploration of the Parallels between Modern Physics and Eastern Mysticism
Durrell, Lawrence.  Tunc
VanderMeer, Jeff.  Acceptance (Southern Reach Trilogy #3)

“When a civilisation has decided to bury its head in the sand, what can we do but tickle its arse with a feather?” Tunc.

Playlist:

November

We warmed Queenstown Heights with a Master & Margarita themed Halloween, the flat now a hospitable & sociable environment and I put out a new record, Songs in Ab, tying up some loose odds & ends.  Earlier in the year it had been touch and go whether he would make it, but G turned 90.  An outstanding achievement.  Cheers!

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We slayed What I Wanted To Do’s album #55 for Amyas & Louise’s birthday.  Sofia visited from Finland and Dave & I took her to see Viet Cong show us how to do it and then I went to Liverpool to pull the Cosmic Trigger with Birgitte, Rachel and Doctor What?  Another brilliant weekend with lovely people in beautiful surroundings… and a Discordian Wedding and Chapel Perilous and Dancing Eye Balls.

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Books:

Watts, Alan W.  Tao: The Watercourse Way
Watts, Alan W.  The Way of Zen
Webb, Jeremy.  Nothing: From Absolute Zero to Cosmic Oblivion – Amazing Insights into Nothingness

“To the logician it will of course seem that the point at which we have arrived is pure nonsense-as, in a way, it is.  From the Buddhist point of view, reality itself has no meaning since it is not a sign, pointing to something beyond itself.  To arrive at reality–at “suchness” – is to go beyond karma, beyond consequential action, and to enter a life which is completely aimless.  Yet to Zen and Taoism alike this is the very life of the universe, which is complete at every moment and does not need to justify itself by aiming at something beyond…to the Taoist mentality, the aimless, empty life does not suggest anything depressing.  On the contrary, it suggests the freedom of clouds and mountain streams, wandering nowhere, of flowers in impenetrable canyons, beautiful for no one to see, and of the ocean surf forever washing the sand, to no end. Furthermore, the Zen experience is more of a conclusion than a premise.  It is never to be used as the first step in a line of ethical or metaphysical reasoning, since conclusions draw to it rather than from it…” The Way of Zen.

Playlist:

December

…and so we eagerly await twenty fifteen.  This year has certainly been eventful but ends full of hope & love and anticipation for the future…

Books:

Crowley, Aleister.  Tao Teh King
Eco, Umberto.  Foucault’s Pendulum
Lautréamont, Comte de.  Maldoror and Poems

Mann, Mark.  The Gringo Trail

“…and then last year, when I saw the Pendulum, I understood everything.”
“Everything?”
“Almost everything. You see, Casaubon, even the Pendulum is a false prophet. You look at it, you think it’s the only fixed point in the cosmos. but if you detach it from the ceiling of the Conservatoire and hang it in a brothel, it works just the same. And there are other pendulums: there’s one in New York, in the UN building, there’s one in the science museum in San Francisco, and God knows how many others. Wherever you put it, Foucault’s Pendulum swings from a motionless point while the earth rotates beneath it. Every point of the universe is a fixed point: all you have to do is hang the Pendulum from it.”
“God is everywhere.”
“In a sense, yes. That’s why the Pendulum disturbs me. It promises the infinite, but where to put the infinite is left to me. So it isn’t enough to worship the Pendulum; you still have to make a decision, you have to find the best point for it…” Foucault’s Pendulum.

Playlist:

Ma gavte la nata.

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