Diary 6/11/10

November 6, 2010

Massive congratulations to FC United of Manchester, who progressed to the second round of the FA Cup by beating Rochdale 3-2 away, courtesy of a controversial last-second winner. It’s the stuff cup dreams are made of; FC play in the Evostik Premier Division and none of the players are professional – one is a residential childcare worker, one makes PVC windows, another is a steel erector… Meanwhile, League One promotion contenders Rochdale featured Craig Dawson, who has already been sold to Premier League West Bromwich Albion for £500,000 and Chris O’Grady, who has often been linked with moves to Championship clubs.

The FC story is a wonderful one. Formed by Manchester United fans who could not accept the takeover of their club by the Glazers, FC have very quickly progressed through the tiers of English football and are now three levels below the Football League. Their fans used Friday night’s ESPN coverage as a showcase for their vociferous, boisterous and positive support – singing constantly, with songs by Slade (‘Cum On Feel The Noize’), Sam Cooke (‘Under The Boardwalk’) and The Beach Boys (‘Sloop John B’) all adapted for their needs. Unfortunately, this excitement spilled into a pitch invasion when Nicky Platt scored the opening goal and red flares were lit at certain points.

Behaviour is less closely monitored at lower levels of the game, so there is a fear that certain undesireable elements of the football fraternity might adopt FC United as ‘their’ club, but I applaud the desire to build a United for the community, not for corporate raiders and star players to make millions. FC United welcomes paying members, who have a say on club matters. It’s similar to the FC Barcelona model (‘mes que un club’), which protects the institution from the sort of share-hoovering sharks who have scented blood in the TV money-soaked waters of the Premier League.

On Bonfire Night, FC United fans waved a banner bearing the image of Alan Moore‘s V, from V for Vendetta.  In Moore’s nightmare vision of a near-future Britain taken over by fascists, it is V who revives the spirit of Guido Fawkes and blows up the Houses of Parliament. Doubtless, the Rebels’ fans see themselves in the same light – independent spirits, rising against the tyranny of oppression, greed and vested interests, reclaiming something they see as rightfully theirs – the spirit of Manchester United.

I hope that FC managed to raise the money they need to move into their proposed new 5,000-capacity stadium in Newton Heath – if they do, I will certainly go to see them. The atmosphere their fans generated at Rochdale’s Spotlands was fantastic, in what was essentially a home tie for FC.

Diary 29/10/10

October 29, 2010

OK, so I am listening to Katy Lied by Steely Dan on repeat while I work today.

The Man Don’t Give A Fuck by Super Furry Animals is based on a Steely Dan sample. Apparently, the Dan turned down the sample request flat, but relented when they were offered 95% of the proceeds….

The refreshing thing about this album is that it’s just so different from what I usually find myself listening to. They’re cheesy bastards and the one with the fruitier voice annoys me at times (his lyrics are too ‘I’ focused), but they’re also capable of producing incredible melodic moments. Plus they focused pretty closely on their harmonies.  From a technical standpoint, you can’t fault them.

Trev has lent me some stuff by a band called Best Coast, so I’ll listen to that and see if I can move on from the Dan….

In other news, finished season two of Damages. Enjoyed the fact that the corrupt energy trader character, a coke, hookers and stiletto-dagger kind of a guy, is the spit of George Osborne. It became so fast-paced and twisty towards the end of the series that I gave up trying to keep up and just went with it. As these things are wont to do, it wrapped up pretty neatly in the end.  Good entertainment.

Diary 24/10/10

October 24, 2010

Ben bought me the Steely Dan album Katy Lied as a belated birthday present – If I don’t get Aja for Christmas, I’ll be extremely surprised… Ben has fallen way in love with Steely Dan.

My relationship with the Dan is a little more complex. Yes, their name references William Burroughs and yes, they clearly have massive brains, but in a lot of ways, they are the anti-punk band – and punk is still, I think, where my heart lies. At least my definition of punk. I think punk is personal – I’m not a dogmatic punk and don’t really have interest in a lot of the punk canon (such a concept shouldn’t exist, of course). I just think the spirit of self-determination that runs through the heart of the movement is inspiring and empowering.

There’s a lot more that could be said on this topic and I’ll probably say it in the end – for example, now, it strikes me that could you say Steely Dan are more of an anti-punk force than The Eagles? Certainly not.

Ben is with three bands these days, most notably Asteroids!, who have been going since Tim left The Generalissimos. The rest of the ‘mos enlisted Ben, at his brother Tim’s suggestion (Tim Warren, the former Polytechnic and King Tree & The Roots drummer, as well as guitar / bassist for Delicate Hammers). It’s shaping up nicely and I’m looking forward to seeing them play live soon.

We were all out for Wales’ MC Coc Oen‘s birthday recently. For anyone who doesn’t know, he’s the voice of Delicate Hammers and the Insidious Junkbox podcast series, as well as a solo EP named Zombie Autograph Hunter. All fine work. The Junbox series is essentially his homage to John Peel – chuntering in between an esoteric selection of new and old tunes, much in the way that the likes of Ted from Cloud Sounds and Ola from Ola’s Kool Kitchen do. It’s great that people carry the Peel spirit with them in their hearts and continue to put time and effort into supporting bands who don’t have the marketing muscle of a corporation behind them. From an independent musician’s perspective, I can tell you that such shows are like beacons in the dark when you’re trying to find your way. It can get lonely out there, so the airplay these ‘e’-Js (if you will) offer is invaluable.

Cultural Diary 22/10/10

October 22, 2010

Gideon Osborne will be pleased with Wayne Rooney‘s timing. Wazza has taken the attention of a considerable part of the nation off the forthcoming wave of spending cuts. Rooney’s bizarre U-turn is the sort of media sideshow that will temporarily take at least some of the heat off the Coalition.

Can the fans forgive Rooney? Can Fergie ever genuinely forgive him? Will his form suddenly recover once he gets back from his ankle injury?

Went to see the Robin Ince Bad Books Show last night – not bad.  Ince is an old-skool leftie, kind of like a teetotal MJ Hibbett, but with a stack of awful paperbacks instead of an acoustic. He gave over a fair portion of the show to lecturing the assembled students about the dangers of right-wing thinking (he equates the left with ‘compassion’). In the end though, he did get to reading out sections of paperbacks that would otherwise have remained in the dustbin of history for good. Giant Killer Crabs, Sex Is Not Compulsory and classic Mills & Boon all got an airing, amidst the political rants and anecdotes about his toddler son, Archie. Sadly, the book that I suspect started the whole thing, The Secrets of Picking Up Sexy Girls, has been lost – but of course, Ince knows it well enough to recite chapter and verse from it anyway (and jolly disturbing it is too).

The other neat thing about the idea from Ince’s perspective is that it is self-sustaining. Fans approach him to hand over hilariously bad books they have discovered mouldering in their local charity shop and so provide the comic with more potential material. I would love him to do a documentary about these dreadful books, preferably featuring an interview with the author of the giant killer crab series….

Definitely had one too many last night, despite my better half’s warnings.