Thursday, May 24, 2007
Tuesday, May 8, 2007
Very sad to have just learned that Isabella Blow, fashion raconteur and great discover/supporter of among others Alexander McQueen, Hussein Chalayan and milliner Philip Treacy, has died at an unseasonably young 48. In these times it seems like an impossibility to see her revolutionary like again. We should all celebrate her by wearing something we normally wouldn't...be brave!
Monday, May 7, 2007
In honour of my impending trip to NYC, and in appreciation of this remarkable book that certainly has horrific elements...and to one of the most memorable film performances ever, by Jennifer Jason Leigh.
Sunday, April 15, 2007
Thomas Ligotti is a modern horror short-story writer whose first publications came out in the late 80s, and were a profound influence on the genre and I think on anyone who reads him. If you are familair with the field you will always remember the first Ligotti story you read (mine was "Alice's Last Adventure' from Prime Evil) . His style can be arch, dry, really disturbing and very funny. He is one of the really important ones. A film adaptation of his story 'The Frolic' is forthcoming, as is a graphic novel of his highly recommended collection 'The Nightmare Factory'. Lovely, dark and deep.
Monday, April 9, 2007
Isn't Agyness Deyn adorable?...she reminds me a little of Sara Stockbridge, one of the stars of i-D magazine in the 80s and a favourite of Vivienne Westwood's. They're both got a sweet, individualistic attitude.
Agyness above, Sara below.
Saturday, March 3, 2007
Thursday, March 1, 2007
This is Amy Winehouse, a tattooed, not-so-nice little Jewish girl from the east end of London, whose voice is a gravelly and very knowing anomaly. The production on her second album 'Back to Black' is a spit-perfect rendition of 60s Spector-sound - the slightly hollow, raucous boom, with lots of brass, and claps, and rhythm. She looks, and seems to live, the part.
Tuesday, February 20, 2007
I think most of us are familiar with what 'corporate horror' might mean, but in terms of it as a horror sub-genre, Craig Kilpakjian is its illustrator. The picture above was also used as the cover for J. G. Ballard's 2000 novel Super-Cannes, which explores the violent occurrences in a French business park complex.
Tuesday, February 6, 2007
A gang of teenage English dandy-goths with Mary Chain hair, and a nice way with the Hammond organ and a spot of feedback. Video director Chris Cunningham (Aphex Twin, Bjork) made his first clip in years for their song "Sheena Is A Parasite". Drawn from many genre threads, with a directly traceable lineage to Screaming Lord Sutch .
Arguable talent but undoubted charisma and a chaotic live show ensure fans and detractors of equal vehemence.
May I suggest for accompaniment Gregory Nicoll's short story, "Dead Air"?
Sunday, February 4, 2007
Thursday, February 1, 2007
Wednesday, January 31, 2007
Robert Fordyce Aickman was an English writer of what he called 'strange stories'.
Writing from the 1950s up until his death in 1981, his short stories are elegant, modern, and packed full of disturbing imagery. Dreamlike, yet pronouncing sharp insights into human nature and relationships. Reading his tales can feel as if they are veiled by a scrim. Not through lack of clarity in language, as his prose is some of the clearest you'll read - but there is an itching to see through the words, behind the story - and it is this discomfort that Aickman was an expert at producing, leaving you with a real sense of unease. And you're never entirely sure why.
His other life's work was as the co-founder of the Inland Waterways Association, formed to preserve the canal system that runs through the UK, and still active today. The plaque pictured is a memorial that was laid at one of the locks, also named for him.
Sunday, January 28, 2007
Tuesday, January 23, 2007
J. G. Ballard is the prime chronicler of the city dweller who, slowly and very sensibly, goes insane. High-Rise was written in 1975 and concerns the escalating occurrences in a group of ultramodern apartment complexes. He has revisited similar themes in subsequent books such as Cocaine Nights, Super-Cannes and Millenium People; but as someone who said in 1982 that '... the future is just going to be a vast, conforming suburb of the soul', it is a topic being explored by its pre-eminent authority and seer.
Saturday, January 20, 2007
The Fall are now approaching their 30th year. Either you've never heard of them, or you have and think they're genius, crap, or both. 40 or so lineup changes but the same singer, Mark E. Smith, pictured on the record cover, who worked as a clerk on the docks in Manchester in 1977 and thought he'd start his own band.
They say music should be fun
They say music should be fun
Like reading a story of love
But I wanna read a horror story
'Dice Man' from the album Dragnet, 1979
Parking garages seem to be internationally interchangeable, although there are attempts to lighten the mood with neon fruit or jolly animals rather than stark numbers to distinguish floors. There is an elegance in their flat functionality which can be chilling. Harmful people and berserk vehicles can be easily imagined. Or other things, if neither cars nor people are present.
Monday, January 15, 2007
A film to cover the triptych of music/fashion/horror, Christiane F. is based on a true story of unglamourous drug addiction, set in late-70s Berlin with an underage cast, supplanted with performances and soundtrack by David Bowie. Its unretouched dirtiness holds a strong sway, with scenes that nowadays would be polished and Touche Eclat'd to perfection. The city itself is a star as well as the young actors.
Saturday, January 13, 2007
If at times you feel a sense of foreboding, a sinister undercurrent, in the course of day-to-day living in a large modern city, look to Fritz Leiber to have your suspicions confirmed. His 1941 short horror story 'Smoke Ghost' serves as the template for the urban horror subset, shockingly ahead of its time. Do search it out (and try Harlan Ellison's 'The Whimper of Whipped Dogs' as a 1973 companion piece). The sacrifices of city life will change its meaning, slightly.
Fritz Leiber was a fascinating writer who is probably more well-known for his sword and sorcery (his original term) books with his Fafhrd and Gray Mouser/Lankhmar series, but his horror writing was incredibly prescient, witty and surprising. His novels 'Conjure Wife' and 'Our Lady of Darkness' (1953 and 1977 respectively) manage all this, with OLOD having, for me, an added melancholy tone as it contained shades of Leiber's own life that are particularly affecting. But they will also frighten you, very much.
For more about Leiber, there is a very comprehensive website.
Who know that Terry Richardson was the spawn of photography genius? Well, not me obviously...this marvelously louche shot was taken by Terry's dad Bob for Italian Vogue in 1972. He sadly died in 2005 but his work is remarkable: ahead of its time, yet in retrospective it's The Look of the period.
What a thrilling discovery you were! Your populist but eerie arrangements, the ache in your beautiful vibrato, unusual subject matter...no wonder Julian Cope was obsessed with you, compiling an album called "Fire Escape in the Sky: The Godlike Genius of Scott Walker". Listen to 'Montague Terrace (In Blue)' or 'It's Raining Today' and see if you don't agree.