Thee Avid Reader: Irvine Welsh’s SKAGBOYS

With Skagboys Irvine Welsh – prolific Scottish author, playwright and underground taste-maker has once again returned to the world of his beloved Leith boys to give us a prequel to his 1992 novel Trainspotting.

Now, two years ago or so when I read that another of my favorite authors, Bret Easton Ellis, was returning to do a sequel novel to his debut Less Than Zero, I was slightly suspicious. Don’t get me wrong – I read Imperial Bedrooms and loved it, thus squashing my suspicions (as I knew Ellis would). However, in a world where almost everything has been based on pre-existing material for what feels like aeons* the unfortunate fact is that any return to pre-existing material is suspect, regardless of perceived good faith. That’s just the way it goes. Fortunately, much like Ellis, what Irvine Welsh has done is to strengthen my resolve to continue to have faith in the authors that I love.

The Opinionated Traveler: San Francisco, Day #6

I wanted to bookend my trip, primarily for the travelers out there. While San Francisco is not a very distant destination for us, it’s still a world away for those trapped by their regular lives in LALA land and the gold we’ve found is worth sharing for others who may venture down these steep, endlessly winding streets in Northern California (or “Nor Cal”, as many a t-shirt and hoodie annoyingly announce).

No trip to San Francisco is complete without a trip to Berkeley and no trip to Berkeley is complete without a trip to Dark Carnival Books (and now comic shop as well, two doors down!).

GodSpeed You! Black Emperor Live @ American Music Hall, SF 04/17/12

If you’ve ever read anything about the phenomena known as Synesthesia you might think it is an interesting condition to posses. It is – I’ve had it for as long as I can remember. Of course it was not until a little over ten years ago that I put a name to what I just knew as a really intense relationship with music. Then I began reading about the phenomenon and more and more I found that Synesthesia explained the almost unbelievably visual relationship I tend to have with music. Even more recently I’ve come to theorize that – to my nervous system at least – music is a drug. A drug that I am hopelessly addicted to and that affects my brain in often debilitating ways. A  drug that has served as a gateway to other drugs in seeking to enhance its already amazing effects, and a drug that sometimes prevents me from getting anything constructive accomplished as I space and pine over the sounds spilling out of my speakers or through my headphones.

The Opinionated Traveler: San Francisco day #1

The first night in San Francisco in what, just about five years. It’s good to be here, it is a reminder of what it’s like to actually travel. San Fran is one of those cities – like New York, Baltimore or Minneapolis even – that feels like a world city, as opposed to my two mainstays, Chicago and L.A. both of which I love, but both of which are more like glorified suburbs to the eyes of folks who have spent any time out of the country (Britain especially – the British ‘flavour’ is strong in cities like San Fran and New York. These cities are literal melting pots and they feel that way).

America’s Billboard Problem, Part 1

You know what I simply cannot stand?

Billboards.

Well, advertising in general grinds my gears, but billboards are a special kind of disgusting. We could be looking at trees, instead we’re looking at ads for products most of us either do not care about or – perhaps more importantly – need no reminder of. The U.S. is terrible in this regard – terrible to a point that approaches making Terry Gilliam’s dystopian film Brazil and its images of roads lined with never-ending advertisements a reality. In Brazil the billboards are used as a tool to block the urban inhabitants from seeing the wasteland that surrounds their population centers. This feels more and more like an eventual reality to me and it frightens me and I feel that I must say it’s gotten to the point that something needs to be done about it.

First Glimpses of New Album by Liars Does Nothing to Dispell Idea They are the Second Coming

I used almost the exact same title back in early 2010 when bizarro New York-cum-Berlin avante garde rock outfit Liars announced their (then) new album Sisterworld for a different website. Sisterworld of course turned out to be just as awesome as I had anticipated it would be (the remix disc not so much, but oh well…). Liars approach their music and image in some pretty profoundly originally and wonderfully strange ways* and nowhere can their oddness be seen more than in the videos that always accompany their tracks**- leading up to that album the band created rabid anticipation with the video for the track Scissors, which I love so much I’ll go ahead and post again here:

Miles Davis: Tutu

Miles Davis. What does that name mean to you? To most folks who are into music it is a name to be revered and reckoned with. Saying that his name may spur one to reflect upon monikers such as legend, master, and virtuoso may be an understatement. Suffice it to say the man helped drive and define jazz for several key decades in its history and is remembered by many as a genius and an innovator.

Innovator.

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