Nadine McBay on days of yore: love for bands and mailing lists

So far, David Barnett’s “Suede”1 is a fun and funny read so far, and I’m a tenth into it. I really dig how Barnett lends big helpings of himself into the text. Simply written.

This bit where Barnett quotes a fellow Suede devotee is touching. It reminds me of when I used to try to have a fanzine with a friend; it didn’t really work, but we got ourselves shitloads of free CDs in the process:

“Mailing list? Good god, that was exciting – getting things through the post to do with your beloved bands,” romances lifelong fan and top music journalist Nadine McBay. “Re-reading this wonderful book, I was struck, and not a little depressed, by how radically things had changed in 20 years. Firstly that Suede – and Brett Anderson in particular – was a true star and we don’t have many of those any more, partly because with the regular ego-fondling provided via Facebook, Instagram et al, we’re all stars now. Secondly that Suede were one of the last bands so seemingly vital and all-encompassing, that you could base your life around them, from the clothes you wore to the books you read. Nowadays, apart from the odd stalwart goth kid, you’d struggle to discern what sort of music someone is into by just looking at them. Thirdly, that Suede was part of the physical music industry; of tangible, tactile things such as the inky music papers and of actual records. To the devotee, articles and pictures in the former were carefully snipped out and kept, while the latter, with their initially consistent art direction, weightier vinyl and the odd epigram scratched into the land (witness the “To the immoral immortal” dedication on “Animal Nitrate”) were taken home from the actual record shop to be lovingly fondled and admired with an intoxication bordering on the dangerous. That wasn’t just me, right?” No, it was not. The absence of cryptic etchings on Suede’s later vinyl releases may seem trivial, but to the devoted fan who shells out for these things, it can be perceived as the lack of attention to detail that made them so alluring in the first place.

  1. Which is actually the revised and updated edition of “Suede: Love and Poison: The Authorised Biography“, a book which is out of print and extremely expensive to get hold of in second-hand circles.[back]
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Movies I've watched recently:

  • Murder on the Orient Express (2017) - IMDb 3/10

    2018-02-14 21:23
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    Sadly, I remember the 1974 film better than this one, and that's saying a lot considering that I saw this version yesterday; where CGI is massively overused and a lot of good actors are underused, this film fails a bit. Here's hoping that everything falls in its right place once "Murder On The Nile" comes out.

  • The Post (2017) - IMDb 5/10

    2018-02-11 20:25
    * * * * *

    In this case, reality overwhelms and bests fiction. This is far too overblown in terms of the dramatically. In the end, its good that people know of the events.

  • Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri... 3/10

    2018-01-21 21:57
    * * *

    Too Hollywood-esque where morals are concerned. Good idea, but far too contrived to be remembered.

  • Best F(r)iends (2017) - IMDb 5/10

    2017-10-11 19:42
    * * * * *

    I saw an unfinished screener of this film, which divulged a work in progress that I nevertheless think will not be far from the finished product. Sestero plays the lead as a vagrant man, whose past leads him to convince a mortician, as played by Wiseau, to give him employment. Even though the plot is unclear and thin, the references to the film "The Room" and Wiseau's wonderfully weird acting brings this film some kind of life, Sestero's uncharismatic portrayal and the loose direction, the poor screenplay and some strange casting choices makes for a somewhat entertaining and funny, but ultimately forgetful film. Sestero told me the follow-up will probably be made in 2018.

  • Death Note (2017) - IMDb 2/10

    2017-08-28 08:20
    * *

    This remake of a near-perfect manga series, which has in turn spawned films, is now here and presented by Netflix. It starts out like a teen-angst emo trip, paired with death. Ryuk, a much-beloved character in the manga, is a Death God, who drops a notebook onto Earth. The book allows its owner to write the name of somebody and the person subsequently dies. However, there are loads of rules and caveats surrounding its use. This version is quite like "Hunger Games" was a version of "Battle Royale"; I can recall somebody saying that "Hunger Games" was "Battle Royale with cheese", which is an apt description for this version of "Death Note" as well. While the manga and prior films both contained elements that made the Sherlock Holmes short stories and novels successful through thinking and wondrous twists and turns, this film does not contain anything in the least good, apart from how the film makers opted to not display the character Ryuk much, other than in shadows. Lakeith Stanfield's acting is the only saving grace in this film, albeit short and boxed within its severe constraints (as it should be, I think). All in all: expect a high-school special without intelligence, and you will be alright.


Review: Francisco Cantú – “The Line Becomes A River”

This is not a view of the persons trying to enter the USA from Mexico as it sees the cynicism and inherent capitalism that affects non-rich human lives. This is a first-person depiction of the war which rages from the USA against Mexicans, the group of nationality which is most abused in everyday northern America, and is being “thwarted” from entering the USA.

Cantú worked as a US border patrol agent between 2008 and 2012. As such, and seemingly being an open-minded humanitarian, he’s seen a lot of shit happen. Everything from finding half-dead persons dying from thirst while trying to (illegally) entering the USA, to seeing border politics basically going from there not being a border, to capitalism of the 1980s entering the picture, to how Bush/Obama/Trump want it all to be, caused a state where US border patrol is made up of persons who want to protect their country with pride, while behaving like human beings towards those trying to get into the US.

Still, as such, violence and callous behaviour is often normalised, as is violence towards border patrol staff.

Cantú is a born writer. His level-headed style of description, rhythm, and laying out facts is both seldom seen and deeply valuable. I’m left with a sense of enrichment from having read this book, even though I have read a bunch of others that have been about trafficking around different parts of the globe; his human views and views on humans provide the reader with ample info.

The slightly bad side with this book is that the facts pile up almost like a kind of fact-after-fact recount, which novice writers can be prone to delve into. Still, considering how this is the author’s first book, it is a veritable tour-de-force which should receive more press than it has.

Examples of the short and packed sentences:

Robles’s eyes seemed to detach from his surroundings, as if his gaze had turned inward. A year after that, he continued, I chased another man to the banks of the Colorado River. He ran out into the water and was swept away by the current like it was nothing. And I’ll tell you what I did. I swam into the river and I battled to keep him afloat even as I inhaled mouthfuls of water, even though I can’t remember ever having been more tired. I saved that man’s life, and still, there’s not a single day I don’t think about the one I took before it.

The writing that’s not entirely about patrolling is also good:

After completing the course of fire, I shot at a smaller target with my own .22 caliber pistol. As I paused to reload, a yellow bird landed atop the target stand. I waited for it to fly off, but the bird continued hopping across the top. I started to walk downrange to scare it off, and then I stopped. I looked around. The range was empty. It occurred to me then that perhaps I should shoot the bird, that I should prove to myself that I could take a life, even one this small. I dropped the little bird with one shot. I walked over and picked up its body and in my hands the dead animal seemed weightless. I rubbed its yellow feathers with my fingertip. I began to feel sick and I wondered, for one brief moment, if I was going insane. At the edge of the firing range I dug a small hole beneath a creosote bush and buried the bird there, covering the fresh dirt with a small pile of stones.

I liked this bit, which probably best of all paragraphs in the book shows the weariness and paranoia that follows any line of work where one’s colleagues and the work is congealed and one doesn’t separate easily from that mess:

The dentist silently jotted his notes in my file. So why’d you leave the field? he asked. Won’t you be bored? I began to feel annoyed with his questions, concerned that I was somehow telegraphing cowardice or insecurity. It’s kind of a promotion, I said, it’s a chance to learn something new. Another side of the job, you know? The dentist looked at me and shrugged his shoulders. I used to have an office job, he told me, there’s only so much you can learn at a computer screen. I rolled my eyes and shook my head. Look, I finally said, I don’t know what else to tell you. I thought it would be nice to have a break from the field, to live in the city for a while. All right, all right, he said, holding up his hands. I feel you. I’m just trying to make sure you don’t grind your teeth out.

In summary: an easy read that may reveal more to life than you know where desperation meets bureaucracy in the most insane ways.

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My saved links (weekly)

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Review: Erica Garza – “Getting Off: One Woman’s Journey Through Sex and Porn Addiction”

While persons who are not affected by sex addiction can find sex to be sating, loving, and wholesome, a sex addict can find emptiness at the end, merely a road trodded to fill a hole, metaphorically and physically speaking, no pun intended.

At thirty years old, at twenty-four, even at twelve, it was impossible for me to think about sexual pleasure without immediately feeling shame. I felt bad about the type of porn I watched. I felt bad sleeping with people I didn’t like. I felt bad because of the thoughts I feasted on when I was having sex with people I genuinely loved. For as far back as I can remember this is just the way it was. My sexual habits were sick and shameful. My thoughts were sick and shameful. I was sick and shameful.

Myself, I’m reserved when divulging my sex life, but Garza is not, which is for the better in this book. Just like seeing Steve McQueen’s excellent film “Shame”, one quickly reads through this book and knows that its contents are not sexually arousing but symptoms of what occurs in Garza’s life. Bar the start of this book, it is chronologically written. As such, her growing up, the introduction of Internet that projects her extremely quickly into hypersexuality, her first relationships, her short sentences that describes self-damaging behaviours, it all bears the hallmarks of simplistically describing situations that have happened, á la Lisa Carver in her diaries.

When other addicts shared about porn addiction, my ears always perked up. Porn kept us from engaging with the world. Porn distorted our perception, not just of sex, but of everything. Something so simple, like standing in an elevator with other people, or brushing up against another body on the subway, or exchanging money with a supermarket clerk—anything really—could quickly be turned into a pornographic scene by our trained, overstimulated minds. We felt numb to touch and always craved more of it. We were impatient and disinterested with a situation unless it was leading to sex. We were never really satisfied with the act of sex—it could always be better—and when it was over, we quickly wanted to discard the person. Their use was diminished. Our use was diminished.

Her descriptions of being a sex addict leaves me with the sense of what I felt when watching “Shame” for the first time. Still, this is not a hopeless nor a shocker of a book. It’s a description of a life—which has yet to reach midlife—and the haunts that come with sex addiction. This is a very easy read, even though the stories affected me; at times, I was a little jolted, but mostly I kept hoping for Garza to feel a lot better in the end; naturally this is something that can be felt for every human being. I give this book 3/5.

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Review: Rachel Ingalls – “Mrs. Caliban”

Finally loving, finally living…

This is a book where the contents are everything and the language is very much constructed in a thoughtful and simple way. No meanderings are found here. Ingalls has written a masterpiece which could serve as a construct to understanding what some writings of love, alienation, and humanity can be like, over the course of a few dozen pages.

Also, this book is very funny at times.

“Come on back for a cup of coffee?” Estelle asked.
“I’d love to, but it’s got to be quick. Fred’s bringing somebody back from the office.”
“And you’re scurrying around to fulfil all your wifely obligations. My God, I don’t miss that.”
“You’re kidding. They’re getting spaghetti and they can like it.”


She accepted a second cup of coffee, first trying to persuade Estelle to add some water to it. Estelle was outraged. She declared that it would kill the taste.

“Then don’t fill it up. Honestly, Estelle.”
“Honestly yourself.”
“I don’t know why it doesn’t have any effect on you. I love it, but two cups make me feel dizzy. And like my scalp might suddenly rise up and fly away. Then there’s something over here—here, is that where the liver is?”
“Dorothy, that’s where the imagination is.”


“How bad is it?”
“What?” Estelle asked.
“The hangover.”
“I’ve got a hangover, all right. I’ve got a hangover from living forty-four long years.”

Then there are serenely human moments quickly described throughout the book:

She ate an early supper with Larry. They took a lot of extra time over their coffee. He wanted to know all about the Cranstons. The more Dorothy told him, the more he seemed fascinated. What struck him as most interesting was the fact that although Dorothy and Estelle talked about the Cranstons being “friends”, neither of them genuinely liked the couple. “Is this usual?” he asked. After some thought, Dorothy said she figured it probably was.

All in all, this book is highly recommendable.

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