Category: gender


M TRAIN by Patti Smith (Bloomsbury , 2015)
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If you have lived in a cave for the past four decades or spent too much time listening exclusively to crappy chart pop you wouldn’t know that Patti Smith is a Rock’n’Roll star.

You wouldn’t necessarily be any the wiser from reading her second autobiographical work either since there are practically no references to music making.

What you do learn from this collection of short loosely connected essays is that she is addicted to coffee, hates housework, loves visiting the graves of dead poets, likes taking black and white photos with a Polaroid camera and spends a good chunk of her free time binge-viewing TV shows (The Killing is a particular favourite). Continue reading

deep-not-macho

A strong leader stands in an un-drained swamp.

“It’s so easy to laugh,
It’s so easy to hate,
It takes guts to be gentle and kind”
Lyrics by Morrissey to ‘I Know It’s Over’ by The Smiths

A recent survey carried out by the newspaper La Repubblica  found that 80% of Italians think the country needs to be run by “un uomo forte” (a strong man). In 2006, only 55% of the populace subscribed to this view while 60% held this belief in 2010.

This rising trend is worrying and depressing on many counts. It indicates that more and more voters are willing to be represented by leaders solely on the basis that they adopt strong opinions and maintain a posture of decisiveness.

On the surface this may seem logical and uncontroversial. After all, who would want a leader to be weak and indecisive? The problem lies with what exactly is meant by the word ‘strong’. Continue reading

THE ART OF SEDUCTION by Robert Greene (Profile Books, 2001)

seductionThis is not overtly presented as a self-help book but it will mostly be consulted as one.

Although it contains some bleak truths about the human condition, American author Robert Greene takes to the cultural high ground in an attempt to make the salacious details more palatable.

He draws examples from literature, notably  Les Liasons Dangereuses by Laclos, and from the amorous exploits of historical figures like Casanova and Don Juan who have all been immortalised in novels, plays, operas or movies.

Psychological mind games are ruthlessly advocated on the dubious basis that the ends justify the means. The object of one’s lust or desire is frequently described either as a “target” or as a “victim” with the ultimate goal being to lure, ensnare and manipulate. Continue reading

The

SHOCK AND AWE – GLAM ROCK AND ITS LEGACY by Simon Reynolds (Faber & Faber,2016)

“Got your mother in a whirl ‘cos she’s not sure if you’re a boy or a girl” – David Bowie (Rebel Rebel)
“Even the greatest stars live their lives in the looking glass” – Kraftwork (Hall Of Mirrors)
“There’s something in the air of which we will all be aware yeah yeah yeah yeah yeah” – Sweet (Teenage Rampage)
“Whatever happened to the heroes?”- The Stranglers (No More Heroes)

glamIt’s fair to say Glam Rock has never really been taken all that seriously. Being casually dismissed as a joke genre is partly what drove Simon Reynolds to write this impressively weighty tome.

In so doing, he proves that this musical phenomenon deserves to be more than just an amusing footnote in the story of popular music. The author doesn’t claim that all the music tagged as Glam (or Glitter is you’re American) is of a universally high standard yet, even at its most crass and commercial, Reynolds endorses the viewpoint of Noel Coward who once wryly observed : “It’s extraordinary how potent cheap music is”. Continue reading

Robert Crais: It’s a cop thing.

CHASING DARKNESS by Robert Crais (First published by Orion Books, 2008)

 crais1This is the first Robert Crais book I’ve read and to put this into true context I have a fair amount of catching to do. This is number 11 in an ongoing series of novels featuring a LA based private detective Elvis Cole and his reliable yet taciturn sidekick Joe Pike. There are already another five in the series.

Cole is the kind of maverick investigator who will say things like ‘I suppose I should’ve called the cops but I didn’t’. The implicit message is that to get results you need to take risks and ignore conventional methods.

He has enough inside contacts to enjoy the benefits of official resources without the burden of having to play by the rules. When Pike breaks into the home of a suspect, Cole says reassuringly. “Don’t worry. It’s a cop thing” . Continue reading

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