‘Passengers’

I heard this on the cover CD I got with an issue of the much missed Word Magazine. I think it’s one of my favourite things Lou Reed did. It is from an album called ‘Recitement’ by Stephen Emmer, a Dutch composer, with a different speaker on each track.

I thought it was maybe a poem that Reed was reciting, so I was slightly surprised when I googled some of the phrases to find that it was prose, and from a book that I had read (although nearly 20 years ago). It was from the introduction to Paul Theroux’s ‘The Great railway Bazaar’, which is a marvellous book.

This started me reading Theroux again, in some cases re-reading books of his I read years ago. My current copy of ‘The Great Railway Bazaar’ I got from the Red Cross charity shop in Aberaeron. I’ve no idea what happened to my original copy.

The Independent newspaper recently featured the whole of the first chapter in their travel supplement – read it here.

 

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Too Much

I have too much stuff to do. I have far too much culture, my brain is clogged up and I can’t cope.

I’m just about keeping up with my music, I can hit play on iTunes and it all gets played about 10 times before the month is up, and I have 90 new Emusic downloads to listen to.

Books. Don’t talk to me about books. I have something in the region of 40 unopened books. I am in the middle of reading 3 (or maybe 4, not sure here) books, Don Quixote, Shock Doctrine, True History of the Kelly Gang, and something else I can’t quite remember at the moment. Don Quixote is about 1000 pages long – which is off-putting somehow. Only 600 pages to go.

DVDs? Don’t talk to me, etc. I have 3 House boxsets. The first DVD of Cosmos. Synecdoche, New York. And more, but I can’t even remember what any more.

I have no time left. I also need to do stuff like eat, wash, work, sleep, and I don’t see how I can fit it all in. I might have to stop eating, or something.

Just finished reading … ‘In cold Blood’

This is one of Truman Capote’s best known works, apparently it caused a great controversy when it was published. It is essentially the first ‘true crime’ book, although since it is written by someone not obsessed with serial killers, cannibals and Jack the Ripper, it is generally considered literature.

Capote investigated the circumstances of the murder of the Clutter family, and interviewed practically everyone involved, including the killers themselves, and created this absorbing and detailed story of true events.

Even though we know who committed the murders, and that they were eventually apprehended, this does not read quite like a murder mystery, more a psychological study of the murderers and the community of the victims.

It took me a while to get into, and I’m not sure why, and I’m glad I stuck with it.

I just finished reading… ‘Kill Your Friends’

John Niven’s novel ‘Kill Your Friends‘ is insane.

It is offensive on just about every level you care to mention – the main character is racist, sexist, fat-ist drug hoover. It is also one of the funniest things I have read in a long time.

When the plot turns murderous, it is less convincing, but the rest of it, telling the story of an A&R man at a London record company in the late 90s is hilarious. There is a lot of filthy sex and swearing, and a colossal amount of drug-taking.

I will not be lending this to my mother.

Resolutions

I don’t normally do new year resolutions, but am thinking there are a few things I could do this year. I am compiling a long-list.

1. Practise the saxophone at least once a week. I’m not going to get any good playing every 6 months.

2. Play the guitar at least twice a week. Shouldn’t be problem.

3. Read some books, like I used to. There are loads of unread books on my shelves.

4. Listen to the radio. This is related to #5. BBC 6Music for preference.

5. Have at least 2 evenings per week where I don’t turn my PC on at all.

6. Shave every day not twice a week. This is mostly just to see what it’s like.

7. Tidy my room, and keep it tidy. partly connected to #8.

8. Throw some stuff out. Clothes, crap, stuff. I don’t need it all.

9. Plan meals, and stick to the plan. This should save money, and I might get vitamins or something.

10. …

This is just a starter, I could do all of these. I should do all of these. Number 8 is a one-off, so it’s not even something I have to do all year, just the once.

I’ve just read… ‘Invisible Republic’

invisible_republicI finished this nearly a week ago, and I’ve onlt just worked out what I think about it.

This book, by Greil Marcus, concerns ‘The Basement Tapes’ by Dylan and The Band, and how they tapped into the true folk traditions and songs of old-timey music.

Marcus brings in all kinds of sources from all kinds of areas, and sort of throws it all together in a way that almost seems random on first reading. Unfortunately, it also seems a bit random on the second reading too.

At the core of the book is a very good investiagation of how music that is in some cases 300 or so years old is still alive in the musical sub-conciousness. It’s just a shame his editor didn’t make him re-write it to make sense to everybody else.

I’ve been reading… ‘Homicide’

homicideThis is one of the best things i have read all year, and i can’t recommend it enough. A young Baltimore Sun journalist named David Simon spent a whole year with the homicide unit, to find out what happens, and this book is the result.

You might – should- know David Simon as the man who created ‘The Wire‘, regarded by many as one of the best television shows ever. If your idea of great TV is some ‘reality’ show, then there’s no point you reading any further, there is no hope for you. Everyone else, if you are a Wire fan, you need to read this book.

This is a ‘true crime’ book, although it reads more like a especally detailed thriller. You learn everything about the Homicide department, from the office politics, personal histories, how different officers approach their murder scenes, the rather bleak humour employed as a coping mechanism, everything. This could make for a pretty dull book if Simon wasn’t such a great writer, and he is. And you need to go and buy this now.