Sunday, April 29, 2007

Twenty One Today

There she blows, Funkpod 21. Almost an hour of funky tunes, following the up, down or sideways rule.

I am at Internet World Expo next week, promoting podcasting and social media, but I'll try to finish off Blargy in the midst of this bedlam. I can't wait - I know what exactly happens!

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Friday, April 27, 2007

Blargy Knows

Without opening his eyes, he sensed he was outside.

He lay with his nose pressed deeply down into soft ground, brackish leaves entering his nostrils, and he could smell blood from an old injury on his face above his eye. He could feel the entire front of his body cold, flat on a damp, uneven, slightly rotting surface of rank vegetation and domestic detritus.

This was not the kitchen.

He was conscious of something digging him painfully in the ribs half-way up the left of his chest, but he didn't seem to be able to adjust his position, as if he was in a dream state willing himself to move, but trapped by the inertia of sleep.

His ears were buzzing and whistling, with a permanent fuzzy drone, as if someone had left a fridge on in the middle of his head, or perhaps one of the amps hadn't been turned off at the end of the party. One of his feet was very cold - he had lost a shoe, he could feel his toes pushed a couple of centimetres into in the grit, stones, sticks, and wet rotting rubbish.

He could hear the excited noises of a big animal nearby, some heavy panting over to his left, and a part of him wondered perfectly lucidly if he was safe, or whether he was about to be attacked. He would not be eaten, he decided, and wondered whether the simultaneous contrasting perceptions of vulnerability with security were a common effect of the drug.

The drug he knew he had taken in a what-the-hell-it's-a-party moment under the auspices of a real hippy who had warned him solemnly, with big serious eyes that said, this was not an ecstasy pill or an LSD trip. That this might really change his life. That this was a one-way journey. He had thought of Dyllis, his recent ex-girlfriend, the no-hope college career he was close to abandoning, his tight-arsed father and his college debt, and had necked the potion in one.

Now he found himself outside, partially clothed, in a place he didn't recognise and without a clue how he had got there.

The animal whined and scraped at the fence, and began to bark. It was a dog. Somehow the noise made him feel able to stir, and he lifted his head up and opened his eyes. The cold air blurred his vision. He was in a very dark alley a few metres across, tall dark poplar trees up ahead silhouetted against stars, a high wooden fence down both sides. Moving made his head hurt, and he groaned involuntarily. Pushing himself up on his elbows, he fought to focus.

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Tuesday, April 24, 2007

A Stranger In My Own City

I have had no sense of home outside my place in the city for 23 years. I tried to leave a couple of months ago, even put the deposit down on the next new place, but one thing and another prevented it. So, I'm still here, and now planning to move out permanently later this year. In three months, the barrier is lifted, and I can go... anywhere, within reason. I have worked and waited a long time for this freedom. I've been assuming that I'll stay near to London and the south east, but maybe I will go west.

I've visited Glastonbury, not the great festival which is actually held several miles away in Pilton, but Glastonbury the small Somerset town, at which I first arrived as a driven, regularly inspired, but frequently demented adult in 1987. There I learned to fall apart without dying, to let parts of my recalcitrant ego slip away like a shroud into the waters on the Isle of Death.

Gastonbury rises up from the immense flatness of the Somerset levels, drained almost one thousand years ago by the Benedictines, those mighty agricultural pioneers, who in doing so made themselves one of the richest Abbeys in Europe. Now the town, population around 10,000, is a Mecca for all things spiritual. It seems to attract the extremes, the fanatics, the romantics and the damaged, all searching for fulfilment, peace, healing, release, and some of them even find it in the green Chalice Well garden, or in the whirling, drumming Sufi dances, the tolerance of the ashrams, the meditations upon Gaia, the prayers to a God of their own imagining.

I stayed for months over a period of several years in this sometimes sleepy sometimes manic place, and befriended a bunch of souls who played a big part in rescuing me for the rest of humanity. This time, feeling more at home than I do at home, I realised that something is continuing to pull me westwards. It could be Ralph Bending, the (real) estate agent who advertises his properties with surreal profanity; it could be Charley Barley with his stream of consciousness hilarity and profundity; or it could be the thirteen wells which permeate this water-driven landscape and create a lush, wick place, where you can almost believe the myth that a walking staff plunged into the earth will sprout leaves and grow roots.

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Saturday, April 21, 2007

Urban Renewal

I am buggering off for a few days well-earned recouperation and a friend's wedding celebration, and I leave you with these two images from my local Islington spring patch. Blargy will continue next week. Meanwhile I ascend the Tor and breathe clean air smelling of cowshit.

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Thursday, April 19, 2007

Blargy And The Beat

Dogs have a perfectly good sense of pitch, observed Emma, it is a canine blues scale they howl. She could hear Blargy out in the back garden making some fairly urgent, excited noises which resembled a blocked hoover on steroids, sniffs and yelps, occasionally erupting into a full-fledged cri-de-coeur which echoed across from the rear wall of the semi-detached suburban house opposite.

What was the old bitch on about? she wondered as she finished the washing up from the evening meal.

Blargy was up at the end of the garden, trying to fit her snout as far through the fence as it would possibly go, her eyes slightly crazed as the furry skin on her wide face was stretched by the effort. Bright stars punctured the moonless sky, shining through electric light pollution leeching into the gardens from nearby orange streetlamps, and the early summer evening still had a spring chill in it's bones. Blargy panted with excitement. She was smelling something new, warm and unusual. She could sense a large animal presence inches away from her examining snout; and she new, in her protective, big hearted way, that whatever / whoever it was she could smell, was in some need of assistance. A hint of blood and bruising, and some man-made chemical smell which she didn't like combined to mean something was Definitely Up.

Dogs also have a good sense of rhythm. She began to bark, short, sharp, regular woofs, timed to alert the house. It wasn't long before the door opened.

"Blargy! Keep quiet!" called Emma, mock-cross, wiping her hands on her washing-up damp sweater, emerging into the pool of light spilled by the house, squinting up into the darkness. "What's all the fuss?"

Emma began to walk slowly up past the washing line, towards the shed, allowing her eyes to adjust to the darkness, and Blargy stopped barking and began an insistent whine. This tone meant something serious was possibly up, thought Emma, wondering if on this relatively dark night, she should go back and get a torch. No, her eyes were picking out details now, the the swing, old pram, and at in the far distance, a big bushy tail waving energetically back and forth.

Emma approached the fence next to the shed, carefully picking her way through clutter, laid her hand upon Blargy's back and said softly, "What's all the fuss then, Blargy?"

The night air was cool after the warm dampness of the kitchen, and she paused, feeling the thudding of the excited dog's heart. She felt calm, but wondered what on earth it was that could be upsetting the pooch so much.

"Come on, old girl, back in," she cajoled, giving a hefty pat, but Blargy insistently and unusually disregarded this command, nose still pushed as far through the hole as it would go, and demanded further inspection.

Emma paused, and thought once more about the torch.

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Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Blargy The Dog

There were good dogs and bad dogs, and Blargy was a good dog, Emma decided, as she secretly fed the hound underneath the table with the remains of her cold cheese on toast.

Blargy swallowed the greasy toast and wagged her tail. She was eight, entering respectable old age for a dog, and had a mellow disposition which nonetheless could be roused by anything suspicious. She was slightly over-fed like many family pets, used to being indulged whenever the plates were too full. Blargy often considered her good fortune, especially when she compared herself to children in the developing world whose daily calorific intake she far exceeded. In south-east asia, she mused, wagging her tail and moving out from under the table towards the open back door, she'd probably have been fed to the family by now.

Out in the back garden, she walked comfortably up the path towards the shed where the most interesting smells were. There was the trace of a fox up there, not marking scent, just passing through. She briefly squatted to re-assert her territory, then moved towards the small hole through which interlopers might pass. She rather enjoyed this connection with her wild ancestry, it provoked a raw response in her large, half-collie, half-labrador frame which brought her more alive.

Her delicate nose twitching, she smelled rats, mice, voles, squirrels, moths, woodlice, creosote, and something else dank and rotten in the air which she wanted to know more about. But that was the other side of the wooden fence, a place she had never been, but which her nose told her existed, the tunnel of leaves, old clothing and discarded plumbing which ran between the back-to-back gardens.

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Saturday, April 14, 2007

Frog Carting For Beginners

I've been doing quite a bit of posh carving, recently. The posh carp I like the most (out of the ones I make) is this one where I get to be mostly spontaneous, yet still keeping a beat.

I can make this podcast up as I go along, whenever it occurs to me to do it, and take it in any direction at a moment's whim, which is one of the main attractions to me of writing Blog of Funk. If I don't stay true to that, then I'll simply stop.

When I helped out in this film on Friday, when asked the question, "Why do you blog?" I gave my reason to the Googlers as therapy; by which I meant, the self-expression necessary to my personal contentment and psychological survival, although I don't think they needed an long-winded piece of high discourse right there and then, they needed soundbites, which I duly gave them.

At long last I feel I've found a way to integrate podcasting naturally into what I do, and use it for what it is best at - untrammelled, unedited, intimate glimpses into people lives, coming close to their enthusiasms, observations, and passions.

We were walking in the local city farm, Freightliners, and we could hear the Arsenal Stadium roar as Fabregas delighted the faithful.

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Friday, April 13, 2007

Two Times Twenty Minutes Of Funk

Two sets of ten. Into the beginnings of adulthood. I finally got to number 20. All my digits combined. Hey, fingers and toes!

40 minutes of funk:

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Thursday, April 12, 2007

Kurt Vonnegut

So, farewell then, Kurt. You didn't kill yourself in 1985, though you tried. Instead, you died at 84 after a fall which left you with brain injuries but not before writing your last book in disgust at George W. Bush, A Man Without A Country.

Kurt was a major anti-authoritarian hero, whose work was "characterized by wild leaps of imagination and a deep cynicism, tempered by humanism" (Wiki). "If you really want to disappoint your parents, and don't have the nerve to be gay, go into the arts." he said. I took his advice, and it changed my life.

I read Kurt's book Slaughterhouse Five many, many times as a boy, and I read it aloud several times as a man; it was my second-favourite anti-war novel, the first being either Catch 22 by Joseph Heller, Kurt's close friend, or "Rommell?" "Gunner Who?" by Spike Milligan. All of these marvellous minds saw the surreal and bizarre in the actual, and the ludicrous and often callous posturing of moralizers as a real stain upon humanity.

I read everything I could by Kurt, who was one of my precious pantheon of science-fiction writers, up there with Isaac Asimov, Philip K. Dick, Harry Harrison, Harlan Ellison, Ray Bradbury, Brian Aldiss, and I scanned the shelves of the second hand bookshops in Crystal Palace in search of these sacred authors who would invariably take me somewhere out of the London Borough of Croydon, often half-way across an unknown universe, where I would remain happily involved in future adult worlds my parents knew not of. Once I spent several days introducing myself to strangers as Kilgore Trout. I loved Kilgore, he was Kurt in another guise, appearing to himself in his own work and discussing the very pages I was reading. It was an odd thing, a twelve year old, smooth face unmarked by any beard, voice piping and unbroken, claiming a glorious name from American literature.

"This is a very bad book you're writing," I said to myself.
"I know," I said.
"You're afraid you'll kill yourself the way your mother did," I said.
"I know," I said.

Kurt claimed he never won the Nobel prize because his Saab dealership went bankrupt. They should have invented a new Scandinavian nation with it's own prize just for him.

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Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Use My Generated Content Why Don't You


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Saturday, April 07, 2007

Fun With Web 2.0

Ha ha.

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