The Loneliest Jukebox

Graham Barnfield's weblog, being gradually replaced by his Twitter feed -

Graham Author Page

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Full disclosure from South Beach

It's all starting to make sense now. According to David Buxton in From the Avengers to Miami Vice: Form and Ideology in the Television Series, 'Vice was the first series to make use of neurophysiological research on the viewing process: research carried out in the Communication Technology Laboratory of the University of Michigan has shown that (American) viewers tend to become impatient with overly elaborate stories or characterisations. In an attempt to maintain constant visual and sound excitement, the series uses aesthetic devices from the clip (aggressive camera movements, "unnatural" colour schemes and mood music) to fill out the story rather than resorting to "irrelevant" complications of plot and dialogue, both reduced to a minimum' (p.140).* With hindsight, it's clear the 2006 big-screen adaptation took these traits to a greater level of abstraction.

* Manchester University Press, 1990.

Labels: , , , ,

Monday, July 27, 2009

Ebay versus the Canon

Some censorship is just stupid. Take Ugly Feelings by Sianne Ngai (2005/2007). Its blurb promises readers this: "Through readings of Herman Melville, Nella La*sen, Sigmund Freud, Alfred Hitchco*k, Gertrude Stein, Ralph Ellison, John Yau, and Bruce Andrews, among others, Ngai shows how art turns to ugly feelings as a site for interrogating its own suspended agency in the affirmative culture of a market society, where art is tolerated as essentially unthreatening." I haven't read the book; I definitely don't recognise La*sen and Hitchco*k, although I watched Stage Fright by one Alfred Hitchcock just this weekend.

The asterisks presumably come from Buy-It-Now Books, which seems to fret over either bizarre levels of perceived obscenity or worries about the crudity of spam filters and net nanny software. Either way, don't expect this store to relocate to Cockfosters anytime soon.

Labels: , , ,

The grass in the Forest

From the Daily Express (27 July 2009):

"Get £500 to spy on neighbours

Waltham Forest council last week launched the Conviction Reward Scheme, in which residents are offered rewards of up to £500 for reporting bad conduct by their neighbours to the authorities. Anyone who photographs dog fouling, littering, graffiti or fly tipping that leads to a prosecution will receive a cash reward. The scheme, which has been given the logo ‘See them, report them’, could be rolled out across the country. Waltham Forest council said the scheme was launched because residents wanted more to be done to tackle environmental crime."

According to the report, subject to the conviction, the value of the available bounty is to be staggered. Unlike most of the residents, who are getting used to this sort of thing from the council by now.

Labels: , ,

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Eco towns and the uses of English

A recent snippet in The Times caught my fancy, when coverage of eco-towns threw up the following:
"All four in the first wave will be expected to have a zero-carbon school by 2013, and parks, playgrounds and gardens will make up 40 per cent of the towns. At least 30 per cent of affordable housing will be required, with one member of each working couple expected to work in the town." Are we to take it that 70 per cent of the housing will be unaffordable? Probably.

Labels: , ,

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Gordon Burn

Sorry to read the obituaries of Gordon Burn. I was a latecomer to his ouvere, until laid up with an unmentionable injury, at which point a colleague introduced me to his The North of England Home Service. He - Burn - will be missed.

Labels: , ,

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Michael Jackson and the Half-Baked Prints

As a journalism tutor, I seldom want to see publications closing down. After all, they could well employ my graduates. Conversely, fewer newspapers and magazines might - and only might - deter vocationally minded applicants from signing up for a course.

I'm not unsympathetic to fears that magazines are becoming obselete: why be locked into a monthly production cycle when the internet helps you to keep up with changing events? Accordingly, I will forgive the August 2009 issue of Red for this: "If ever proof was needed that they don't make pop stars like they used to, then the frenzy over Michael Jackson's 50-show residency at London's O2 Arena is it ... If you're lucky enough to have tickets, get ready for a show that will go down in history" (p.109). Quite.

In all fairness to Red, it went to press before certain recent events. The same excuses for crappy content can't be used by wfm - note the trendy lower case - house rag of Waltham Forest council. Public funds are used to promote the local authority's interminable campaign against anti-social behaviour. The 6 July issue revels in an ASBO issued to Mr Minghua Wang, who will be prosecuted if found "having in his possession more than two DVDs or CDs in any public place in Greater London within the M25 perimeter" (p.4). No more boxed sets for you, sonny! Of course, the legal quibble that carrying three or more DVDs is NOT an offence can be overcome by attaching criminal penalties to same act. This is nothing to celebrate, and the council bringing The Men They Couldn't Hang - but presumably could still ASBO - to town does not excuse its ad-hoc lawmaking.

The good news is that this story appeared in the final issue of wfm. The bad news is that this miserable greentop tabloid will be replaced with "Waltham Forest News" from tomorrow - retro font, and probably more of the same authoritarian content.

Labels: , , , , ,

Sunday, July 05, 2009

Obituaries - celebs on slabs

A week of obituaries - Michael Jackson, Karl Malden, Mollie Sugden. The latter prompted a few 'pussy' gags when I saw punk covers band Scam 69 at one of my local pubs the other night. One person who I could imagine running out of patience with permafrost new wave acts is Steven "Seething" Wells, who predeceased the celebrity trio. Most commentators noted the passing of a gonzo journalist who started out as part of the mid-80s fanzine craze; I have uncomfortable memories of arriving late for a gig involving him and Attila the Stockbroker at Loughborough University. I'd battled through snow to get there and due to the layout of the venue had to walk across the stage to get to my seat. "And what time do you call this then?" Wells asked, seething. The diatribe continued long after I was (un)settled.

In a not totally unrelated development to 1980s Thatcher-bashing, I'd noticed a growing role for the media industries in the demands made by demonstrations. The rhetorical question "Whadda we want? Media coverage! When do we wannit? Now" reared its head on a Gulf War demo in Brighton in 1991, and the sentiment has swelled ever since, even as the politics faded away. Twelve hours before this post was written - okay, so I have not quite optimised my use of Twitter yet - I was on a 'Save our Stow' protest (see picture) where the BBC and Sky News were thanked from the platform while local news photographers directed the demonstration into a suitably photogenic shape. It's not my call to knock the campaign's media strategy, but it is interesting that news coverage has come to be seen as increasingly important.

What would Swells make of all this?

Labels: , ,