Tuesday, 29 October 2013

lou reed

i could say lots of things about lou reed. about the person who, when  i was seventeen, introduced me to the velvet underground and then nothing was the same. who said later, one day you were there and then the next you'd left us all behind. i remember listening to venus in furs and hallucinating polar bears moving in the ceiling. i remember being in some art students flat listening to the gift for what seemed like hours and leaving just as the police arrived and everyone got arrested. being in stinking hole in the ground punk clubs, getting attacked, cleaning the blood out of i's head while listening to berlin.

the new york i knew from the velvet underground was long gone by the time i got there. but i did see lou reed in the park at a spoken word reading for the new york album. it was great but it wasn't the velvet underground. but, by that time, neither were we. i don;t know anyone from those days now. i lost touch with i years ago and the only other person who would recognise the me of those young years is long dead.

my favourite lou reed story tho? is the one i thought about when i heard he'd died and the quietest of all. me and my mum listening to transformer as we did the dishes. her favourite album of all of mine she said and the one we listened to when it was just the two of us. this will be what i remember when she too, is gone.

there's lots about lou reed all over the internet but, seeing as i've got a post about him germinating here's neil gaiman

jose romussi

me and t are always going to be up for some sort of textile mash up so i was rather taken when i saw the above by jose romussi. i can't help but feel there's more he could do with this in terms of the embroidery work - or maybe that there's a collaborative project for an embroiderer in here somewhere. either way he's worth checking out and making your own mind up

Sunday, 27 October 2013

cancer pictures

one of the things i'm always battering on about to the folk at work is to remember that there's a person going on behind all the shenanigans at work. they don't always respond well, in part because a lot of the people i deal with are such car wrecks that compassion seems to stop at the door. what they don't see is the what i do with them, with relatives etc in the aftermath.

i'm always looking for wee reminders for them, something to try and lift them out of the clinical environment and see things from the patient perspective (this is tricky because the one thing that's in ever shorter supply clinically is time). so i was really taken with angelo merendino's photographs of his wife jennifer's journey with cancer.

so much is recognisable but there's so much else that we, in hospital, never see let alone get the time to sit back and take time to look at. true, i'm never going to be a fan of language like 'battle' and 'fight' but there's a veracity in these images that makes me stop and pause.

last year when t was in hospital this was what it felt like - to see her dressed up like one of the people i look after, not to be clinical any more but to be a 'relative' (the confusion that blurring of boundaries caused!), to listen as t fashioned her own narrative in an environment that had only existed for her in stories.

there's many, many blogs around that chronicle people's experience with disease. these, it seems to mean, are an under utilised resource for clinicians and the wider public. far from the cloying realm of 'help' books these tend to show the day today lived experience of disease either form the perspective of the sufferer or those round about them. not the easiest read or easy to look at but a means to treasuring the days...

*the blog associated with the above is worth checking out. also the charity associated with sales from the book sounds like a fine idea.

Friday, 25 October 2013

things i'd paint in my garden

not the best of days today as 'work' we had done on the roof results in the last 24 hours of torrential rain being deposited from the roof and into our kitchen (don't ask!). i think maybe this is the final straw for this house and maybe we'll consider a move next year.

and, like one of my previous houses, that got me to thinking about what i'd like to be doing round about the garden. walled, enclosed spaces are ideal for some outside images, maybe some thing like these...

it would have to be in a space where only we could see it - even down here in the south if we were to paint our house the 'wrong' colour it would cause a stir that would put the shenanigans around our garden to shame.

which is a pity as a more colourful, more interesting urban landscape would be rather lovely i think.

more of these here and here. i'm also pleased that next time i'm in london i can get on a bike and be shown some wall based loveliness

Monday, 21 October 2013

so long, see you tomorrow

if there's one thing that gets me thru the ironing prior to returning to work it's having a listen to radio 4's a good read. sometimes it can be just too easy to take a septic turn towards radio 4, especially if you have to listen to a lot of it, but there are other times, times maybe when going back to work feels likes smacking myself in the face with a door again and again and again, when the sound of predominantly white middle class people jabbering on about books seems to hit the reset button just right.

today t was busying herself with some business type stuff, i was ironing, the fire was on and the neighbours cat had just departed after his afternoon visit/sleep. i had been amusing myself to arlene philips and harriet gilbert's response to jocelyn lee esien's choice of prisoner to the streets by robyn travis. kind of like your sparky granny or that aunt/neighbour of a certain age who drags you out to stuff when you're really too young to understand it but who becomes a model of a certain type of behaviour as you get older. something like that...

anyway that all goes on and the next thing harriet gilbert lays down her choice, william maxwell's so long, see you tomorrow which she's never read!!! while i've kind of got used to being in a club of one on the maxwell fandom thing (i know only one other person who's read him and she got him off my shelves) some where in my head i'd taken it as a given that the likes of gilbert would've read this.

sadly no. now, harriet, read all the rest, even the chateau. you won't be disappointed.

i've been thinking about maxwell recently, esp after treating to to a meandering monologue comparing him to richard yates whom i'm more or less at the end stage of reading everything. maybe it was disturbing the peace that did it or maybe it was blake bailey's wonderfully detailed biography but i found myself pining for the more lyrical qualities of maxwell. as i've said before i like this approach go getting all the books, the letters and the biographies and ploughing thru them. it's an effort, exercises the head no end, but totally worth it.

maxwell tho, should be more read. for certain.

as for yates, a good read did the easter parade away back in 2004 and, sadly, it's not on iplayer. in which case somebody choose disturbing the peace and get people having a look at that...

sagaki keita

i like a doodle as much as the next man but sagaki keita not only takes it to another level but out the building and away somewhere else completely. i like the more abstracted forms myself but once you start looking at the images closely it feels like hypnotism!

Saturday, 19 October 2013

at the zoo

it shouldn't be any big surprise that i'm no fan of zoos. never have been since i was wee. but where do they go, i asked when i was wee (at manchester zoo maybe?). and then as i was older seeing bears with horrible psychological disorders due to their confinement, being told what this was and yet watching hordes of people still watching, still coming to the zoo.

so the contention, in the guardian, that tigers and pandas are the dancing bears of our time was like to find favour with me. but it did get me thinking and, in a roundabout way, got me to this

outside the wire, for me, has always been more interesting and, in its way, just as confining.

Friday, 18 October 2013

head dresses

i'm working on some future exhibition pieces some of which involve head gear and wouldn't you know it my trawl on the google machine throws up, courtesy of the ever reliable spoon and tamago, maiko takeda

these things are amazing! they put me in mind of a thing i saw at the djcad degree show this year that some girl had painstakingly assembled from seed pods (i wish i could've taken better pictures!). fortunately what i'm making is more....agricultural and makes no inroads on the milliner's craft. if i could tho, i think i'd like to making something that looks like these.

Tuesday, 15 October 2013

more radio, murder and identity

a few years ago now, my head full of critical theory, i had this idea that i might do a phd in which, rather than look at some literary text, i might look at stories closer to home, the stories people tell when they come in to hospital and from there the stories that professionals tell about them to each other and back to the patient. it was to do with that notion of the creation of a patient identity that could be and might necessarily be separate from the identity of the individual.

maybe medical humanities wasn't where it's at these days or maybe it's just the faculty at my university just weren't up to speed (oh no, they said, we don't understand this..!). i could blame me but nowadays i've seen bits and bobs of that same idea pop up here and there but equally not with anything like the emphasis i wanted to put on it. the idea remains, shelved, but allowing for some intellectual rustiness on my part, still ready to go.

i still talk about it in a roundabout way whether it's teaching ecgs or reflecting on a critical method. mostly it's about questioning heuristics, their facility and application, interrogating what you 'know' if you like. these days, it being junior doctor time (tho i do the same with nurses) i torment with simple looking questions like what's on this ecg (it being sinus rhythm). sinus rhythm they'll say and then we'll go way into why it's sinus rhythm and that's where it exposes both their lack of knowledge, assumptions and errors as well as my own.
because all of us, whether we like it or not, will make a judgement based on the assumption that if a thing looks like a thing then it is a thing and that information is based on all sorts of conscious or unconscious 'knowledge'.

there's all manner of nonsense that can occur with this sort of associative thinking and even more if you don't know you're doing it. you can see it at every level of organisation in all walks of life (and esp amongst those critical theory types who are so ready to apply their theory to everything except themselves) and, i would hazard a guess, it may be more prevalent among those who assume they are 'experienced'. i would never do that they'll exclaim (for more on this in a medical context read atul gawande's book on checklists).

i'm always on the lookout for good examples of well meaning but error prone thinking and i was listening to this week's episode of this american life today when i came across a particularly tragic example (it's the second part but the first is worth a listen as a preamble). be warned, it's upsetting. all the people here were, for whatever reason, trying to 'do the right thing' and yet the consequences were far reaching. true, at the end it may be that there's some sort of rapprochement but it shouldn't be forgotten there's still a dead guy.

this american life is well worth a listen and this episode for me in particular. radio, it seems to me, is ideal for this. you have to sit, you have to listen, there is no heavily made up presenter to distract you, no commentators droning on with their opinions, no music as  a backdrop to enhance 'the drama', just people's voices and time for consideration.

pauline stainer

after a long time labouring as a seeming  fanboy party of one what a surprise to see pauline stainer lurching into view as poem of the week in the guardian. i'll post the poem up and you can find all the usual guardian poetry shenanigans here.

i have said it before and i'll say it again - pauline stainer - best living british poet.

now here's the poem....


Men conjured Blodeuwedd
from tapers of meadowsweet

Orpheus evoked Euridice
on the body of the lyre

astronomers, tracking Pluto,
see Persephone

with mourning-jet
at the opiate of her throat

Alcestis wakes – such sugars
work the cist-grave

and Lazarus?
To what voltage

will the five wits lodge
in their living dead?

Monday, 14 October 2013

radio loveliness

if i can ever get this writey business behind me i'm going to settle down to some painting and do some serious listening. something i'll be definitely listening to more is sound transit

not so many years ago me and t were getting a bit tired of constant picture taking (yes, i blame digital!). there was something about being somewhere that didn't quite capture the hordes of people with cameras of all sorts in their hands - the sense that online everything can be pre-seen, seen and seen again. we started making sound recordings - street sounds, waterfalls, wind in the trees, all manner of stuff.

the file names have become something like list poetry - whereas a place might just be labelled with a name sound files become more evocative - durness, waves, tide coming in, 6am, waterfall with dragonflies, autumn, visby, botanic gardens, wind in the gorse, hill of mailer, ravens and the like.

plus you have to take time with the listening, not like flicking thru a thousand pictures.

and that's before the act of sound recording itself - picking your spot, standing with your arm outstretched, holding your breath, all the time waiting for that random element - the dog that barks, the man who wants to know what you're doing - before getting home and relistening and remembering that we were there in that moment.

which is all of what sound transit seems to be about. pick a place and listen. get immersed....

Thursday, 10 October 2013

alice munro

wins the nobel prize. hurrah!

if i was to get asked who my favourite short story writers were then alice munro'd have to be right up there. i could say lots and lots but here margaret atwood does the job for me nicely.

apparently she's not going to be writing any more. fair play to her given her age if so but i have a mate who's older than her so if she can do it so can munro - plus, and purely selfishly, just one more book would be lovely.

and lovely is kind of how i feel about her. i don't read her work often but i have read all of it to date and when i come across it again i always have that feeling that here's something i'd sort of forgotten about but that i really should pay more attention to. to do so however would be to lose that feeling of surprise and reconnection that is - alice munro! lovely! then to settle and lose myself.

plus she's a total master. if you haven't then do, if it's been a while, then get it sorted....

Tuesday, 1 October 2013

american autumn

American Autumn on Nowness.com

i was watching some blethers the other night re woody allen's new film that put me in mind of this clip of albert moya's short film american autumn. i haven't seen, nor have i been able to track down, the full version - if anyone can sort this out for me i'd dearly like to know.

it may be you're not, like me, a big woody allen fan. in which case fear not, it's still worth the watch. i'm embarking on my last few richard yates' books and i'm sure seeing this put the thought in my head albeit indirectly.

talking of yates, i'm still waiting for those around me to get it together to read the easter parade. thoughtless of them true, but really their loss as i'm thinking it is, if anything, better than revolutionary road. read it, see what you think. i'll gladly get into that discussion!