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If a biography is judged solely by its length and detail, then Blake Gopnik’s 900-page doorstopper about Andy Warhol can be safely adjudged to be definitive. But while I have no doubt that the book covers the key facts of the artist’s life, there still seems to be something missing.

Time and again, Gopnik tells us about Warhol’s shyness and social awkwardness but it is not made sufficiently clear how he still evolved to become such a charismatic and influential figure. In other words, we never get to the root of the magnetism that drew such a devoted following, particularly among life’s misfits, mavericks and outsiders. View full article »

Asian Dub Foundation made the inspired decision to use a brilliant anti-UKIP sketch by UK’s best stand up comedian Stewart Lee to make a danceable statement against bigotry.  

The anti-racist message, coupled with the fact that all profits go to the Kent Refugee Action Group, is directly aimed at the narrow-minded xenophobes celebrating Brexit.

Comin’ Over Here launched a courageous (and ultimately successful) bid to knock off the fetid mainstream fodder of Ed Sheeran and Mariah Carey off the coveted number one position on the January 1 ITunes & Amazon download charts.

Lee admits that, as a 52-year old man delivering his definitive rant, he felt like Alan Bennett fronting Public Enemy but can now boast to his kids that during the Covid War he heroically mimed to Anglo-Saxon poetry in an empty warehouse.

Who amongst us can say they did as much?

 

 

Turing imitates Erasmus

In 1950, celebrated WWII code breaker Alan Turing devised what he called an imitation game for a paper in which he asked ‘Can machines think?’ A modern day equivalent would be ‘Can politicians think?’ On the basis of the evidence of political ineptitude this year, the answer to that question is a resounding ‘NO’.

The latest example of political ignorance is the decision to pull of the EU Erasmus language exchange program by the UK (with the exception of Northern Ireland). Despite Boris Johnson’s assurance that the scheme was safe in Tory hands, this is one of the many negative aspects of Brexit. In celebrating ‘freedom’ from the European Union, the small island of Britain has suddenly become much smaller. View full article »

November 2020 was the first month since I began this blog in which I wrote precisely ZERO posts. A symbol of a dismal year. Despite this writer’s block I got more views since January 2019. Perhaps this is what Andy Warhol meant by “the synthesis of nothingness” .

(n.b. “Selecting a featured image is recommended for an optimal user experience” say the WordPress advisors but in the same Warholian spirit, I’ll pass.)

Richard Dawson at the Barbican

“Is it too soon for a 12 minute a capella song about a quilt maker?”  This is not a question you are ever likely to hear Coldplay’s Chris Martin asking. Come to think of it, the only artist who would ask this is Richard Dawson.

 He is not oblivious to the fact that his music will divide listeners. I put him in the same love it/hate it category of The Fall, Scott Walker and Jandek.  At its heart, it could be classed as contemporary folk music but he has rightly resisted such a reductive label. View full article »

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