Friday, July 28, 2006

Update on the Bristol record shop crisis. Had the following message from my friend Pete who owns Rooted Records on Gloucester Road.

“We deal with Vital, Baked Goods & SRD and a multitude of small companies and have good contacts there so we can always get stuff to order for you I hope !! or we'll certainly try - you know we'll do our best - And we also buy just about any vinyl. Pass it on”

Although they deal mainly in the harder end of dance music, they will try to get hold of any of those obscure items and indeed some of the less obscure ones as well. They hope to be selling gig tickets in the near future as well, so why not give them a go, I know that we shall.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

So I appear to be in one of my regular Japan phases - watching Lost In Translation, reading Murakami, watching Tony Takitini. I guess I should be listening to Japanese music as well, but I've lost track of what's going on musically in Japan at the moment. Maybe I'll dig out some old CD's from Cornelius, Pizzicato 5 or Roundtable.

I've been trying to work out what started my fascination with the culture of Japan, I'm convinced that it started with a TV series in the 1970's. Thanks to a bit of web research, I think that the programme was called Shirley's World. My memory is of Shirley MacLaine playing a photographer in Japan, in my head the whole series was set in Japan, from what I've been able to find out it doesn't sound as though that was the case, in fact it was probably only 1 of the programmes in a 17 show run. Anyway, it obviously made a deep and last impression on me. I also realised the other day that another, earlier encounter with Japan had lodged itself in the deep recesses of my memory.

I was flicking through a book the other evening and noticed a reference to the 1964 Tokyo Olympics. Over recent years I've always said that my first memory was of my father getting rather excited during the Manchester United 1968 European Cup victory, but upon seeing that reference to 1964, I suddenly remembered watching grainy black and white highlights of those Olympics. So Tokyo and Japan have both obviously been on my mind for a very long time.

Managed to get down to Arnolfini this evening to see the film “Tony Takitani”. It’s a Japanese film, based on a short story by Haruki Murakami. Most of the English reviews that I have read have been rather unkind about the film, however I’d have to say that if you are a fan of Murakami’s work you find plenty to admire in the film version.

True, the pace is languid and the story slight, yet I thought it was a wonderful evocation of loneliness and loss. Not a car chase of fight scene in sight, just a simple meditation on the events that shape a life.

Bristol looked pretty great this evening as I walked along the dockside to Arnolfini, bumped into a couple of friends in the cinema and another one on the bus on the way home. How nice it is to live in this city of ours, despite the lack of any interesting record shops.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Another one bites the dust!

So just a matter of weeks after bemoaning the loss of Disc n' Tape, news reached me last night of the closure of all the Replay Records shops, where do we go now ?

Other than Rooted, all the interesting record shops have now gone, with that the chance to chat to someone who might actually have some knowledge of music from the margins has gone as well. It's a real shame, I guess it's time to join the world of internet shopping! Apart from Piccadilly in Manchester are there any other good sites out there for the slightly more obscure end of the market?

Monday, July 24, 2006

Our picnic on Saturday was a lovely relaxed affair, we ended spending over 6 hours just hanging around with our friends. Over the course of the afternoon about 20 friends came along, bringing loads of kids with them as well. Our Iranian friend Bij bought along his traditional Iranian 4 stringed mini sitar like thing, which was nice. We chatted, ate and drank and even managed to sneak in a bit football as well. Top afternoon, away from the heaving crowds of Ashton Court, same again next year I think.

We’ve just watched the excellent Lost In Translation, as we now have Film Four thanks to our lovely little Freeview box. I really love the way it captures the dislocation of being in a wonderful city, where everything almost works in the same way – yet doesn’t quite. Causing lots of unintentional confusion along the way.

We went to Tokyo in 1999 for an amazing holiday. I still think that visually it’s the most amazing place that I’ve been to. The film captures the wonder of the place perfectly, the amazing chaos and serenity which can be just a matter of yards apart. It’s a fantastic place to visit, even with our limited grasp of Japanese it was a relatively easy place to navigate your way around and of course the people were amazingly helpful and friendly.

Talking of Japanese things, I’m excited working my way through the latest collection of short storeys from Haruki Murakami – Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman. I’d managed to track down a few of these over the years, thanks to the New Yorker and the web, it’s good to see them collected together with the additional bonus of many completely new ones as well.

For me Murakami captures the mood of Japan perfectly, whilst hardly ever writing explicitly about the place. It’s the air of detached understatement more than anything else, which works so well. Many of his pieces have wildly strange stories to tell; yet he tells them in such an undemonstrative way that they appear believable. When his deals with the straightforward events of like, he can do so in a heartbreakingly simple way, it’s fantastic stuff.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Come and join us in St Andrew's Park for Tea in the ParkIf you are not going to Ashton Court on Saturday, why not meet us for some relaxing fun in the sun. We'll be there from 1pm. Click on the thumbnail to see a nice poster that a friend made.

Monday, July 10, 2006

What a disappointing, dispiriting and hollow feeling Sunday evenings World Cup final left me with. Nothing against Italy, although after a good first half, virtually all their attacking verve vanished into the Berlin night. No, the real misery was the shameful behaviour of Zinedine Zidane; It was one of the ugliest, most brutal things I’ve ever seen on a football pitch, barbaric thugishness made somehow worse, when it’s perpetrator has been the instigator of some of the most beautiful football I’ve seen.

And yet today, Zidane is given a hero’s reception upon his return to France, how different from the response to David Beckham following his sending off for a very minor moment of stupidity against Argentina 8 years ago. Obviously the comparative contributions of these two players to their national teams and football in general were wildly different at the time of their misdemeanours.

Beckham was at the start of a career, which would hopefully lead England to a new level of success on the world stage. As we now know, that promise has never come to full fruition, Zidane was at the other end of the spectrum, having achieved everything any player could wish for on a personal, club and international level. So I assume the praise was for past glories, whilst the hatred for Beckham was caused by the frustration of under achievement when the carrot of success had been briefly dangled under English noses.

Interesting that the French president should praise him for displaying “the greatest human qualities”, whilst failing to mention the inhuman ones he showed on Sunday evening. It was a sickening, shuddering act of brutality, repulsive in it’s vitriolic hatred. The beautiful game lost much of its charm through his selfish act.

Monday, July 03, 2006

The games over the weekend didn't give the level of brilliant excitement I was looking for, we did however get plenty of tension in the Germany - Argentina, England - Portugal games. I thought that apart from a 5 minute dodgy spell Italy looked very good, although who knows how good Ukraine really are. The stars of the show for me though were the French and Zidane in particular. From the 1st minute of the game he was in complete control, every inch the master craftsman. What a joy it is to watch someone playing the game with such style and zest.

I've had a go at picking my team of the world cup so far:

Lehman (Germany)

Sangol (France)
Cannavaro (Italy)
Neill (Australia)
Zambrotta (Italy)

Zidane (France)
Gattuso (Italy)
Riquelme (Argentina)
Ballack (Germany)

Henry (France)
Ribery (France)

Several people came close to making the final cut, Ashley Cole and Rio Ferdinand from England, Ayala and Crespo from Argentina, Rosicky and Nedved from the Czech team, Bufon from Italy, Gusin from Ukraine, Klose from Germany.

Away from the World Cup , we enjoyed a very nice Sunday afternoon with a few friends in St Andrews Park. Using the copious coverage from the magnificent trees, we managed to avoid getting too hot in burning sunshine. Strangely at around 5:30 we were caught in a major hail and thunderstorm in South Bristol, it was so bad that we turned the car round and came home, of course 5 minutes down the road, the pavements were as dry as a bone

We've spoken to lot's of people who are as appalled as us at the current state of play with the Ashton Court Festival. As mentioned here in the past, we've decided to boycott the event as it has become a travesty of the community festival that it started as. So as long as the weather is ok, we've decided to gather with a few friends in St Andrews park from around 1pm on Saturday July 22nd for our own alternative Ashton Court gathering. Not sure if any music will be involved but we will be able to take advantage of the wonderful little cafe that has opened in the park, enjoy lovely surroundings and hook up with friends old and new, without having to battle to get into the site, get past security, pay £7 (or £9 on the day), and pay over the odds for food and drink. All welcome.