Thursday, 3 December 2009

My Crap Jewellery part two

#2 in an occasional series of whatever.

U.S.A 1925 Ring Ahh, Glastonbury 1989, the sights, the smells, the music, the relentless Trustafarians trying to sell you over priced Special Brew. Amongst the Melee sits this 'Street' hawker native American Indian guy with his blanket of wares. The 9% proof tramp fuel and extra curricular substances work their magic and i walk away with this for the bargain price of one whole quid. I have absolutely no idea of the significance of 'U.S.A 1925', i found him there a year later but his command of English (or intolerance of inquisitive gadgies) didn't lead to the path of enlightenment and Google has since turned up nothing. Had it Twenty years, the embossing's worn and sadly the 'arms' are wearing quite thin so i'm not sure how much longer it's going to last 9/10

Crap Jewellery part One

#1 in an occasional series of whatever.

Gyroscope Bangle Being a bit of a science geek as a kid i used to have one of those Gyroscope things (surely magically held in the vertical by Satan himself) much fun had trying to knock it over/balancing it on that little plastic Eiffel tower widget (gawd knows what that was all about). Well some years later whilst having a clear out, i didn't find the Gyroscope but i did find the metal guard thing that used to sit around the flywheel, perfect size, straight on wrist. Very durable, never broken, never loses it's shape (accessorised with a keyring) 8/10.

Wednesday, 7 October 2009

Premature Obituaries

In these fast moving digitally 'enlightened' times where people aren't sure of what's in, what's out and which haircut is cooler it's easy to get influenced (bullied even) by new media Snake Oil salesman. Now having had an interest in the early DIY nature of Punk my two particular bugbears are the musings from people who really should know better that a) 'Myspace is dead' and b) the demise of print media is imminent.So today i switch on my Twitter feed (you REALLY have to be on Twitter) and in the space of ten minutes get two links which restore my faith in the common man and the fact that life will always find a way.

This Piece by Kristian Carter (about Myspace) and This piece by the Unsigned Guide about 'Zine culture.

I really suggest you read them back to back.

(ps: oh, and there's also this piece by The Blackbeard Blog also about Myspace where i've left some of my thoughts in the comments))

Bemoof The Cromolls!!

Tuesday, 11 August 2009

Costermongers Last Stand.


Truth be known it's been a shadow of its former self for some years and long gone are the days when come Saturdays it was packed to the rafters but it's still sad to see the Costemongers pub finally closing it's door. If you know me at all you'll know my infamous diminutive stature pre empted me from underage drinking but it can't have been long into my (alleged) adulthood before i was introduced to the delights of this dingy basement rock saturated haven. This was before all day drinking (yes, there was such a time) so typically it'd be down Mr Bills Beerkeller* on Needless Alley on the afternoon and then onto to The Costers on the night for more sickly pints of Snakebite n' Black (a pre alchopop alchopop affectionately known as Diesel amongst the Motorcycle inclined).
Since then it's been through several refits, numerous wall coverings and outstayed it's many 'characters' but it never lost the dinge (you just cannot repel the dinge) which has cemented it in legend as one of Brum rock fraternities favorite long lost drinking holes.
So Saturday sees the end of an era to which i'm happy i had a passing acquaintance with leaving us with about two or three suitable backups which in a hygiene obsessed world will never achieve the same level of sleaze and piss flooded glory as the Costers, basement bars will just never seem the same again.

More disturbingly there's rumours that as part of the whole redevelopment of that block the Oasis is next for the chop, now there's another former shopping themed haven of dinge that surely deserves a Blue plaque preservation order!!.

PS On saturday as a last bash there's a bunch of bands so you can see the old warhorse off in a fitting style Click Here for details

*Both basement pubs and now both gone!!

Tuesday, 21 July 2009

Why Isn't Anyone Else Doing It ?

As you may or may not know (or in fact even care) i tend to slog my lonely ass around many of Birmingham's finer Punk/Rock venues (ie The Wagon and Horses, Scruffy Murphys, Costermongers, The Flapper and once upon a time The Market Tavern and The Royal George (opposite Selfridges)) to get a three chord fix of your louder type of entertainment. The always constant thing in this environment is the surviving DIY network of badly Xeroxed flyers being bandied about which typically end up, ink running in a puddle of Special Brew (or Frosty Jack) but still keep the scene and people connected. So then in a blinding flash of boredom vs. inspiration i thinks well why not start a Punk related Twitter listing account, twenty minutes later i have* complete with hastily Inkscaped graphics and everything. It's quick, it's dirty, takes about ten minutes a day to run and two seconds to follow, perfect for the Slacker trying to get a handle on Social Media (which i'm STILL not convinced about) so why not?. Why?, because Business Studies 101 declares you should do your market research first, Punks can actually be a very conservative bunch in their tastes and it appears not many have strayed from Mypace and even fewer have stumbled onto other networks (indeed why should they, but that's for another post). I'm constantly searching Twitter with various combinations of punk/venue/band related words and have found Three likely candidates in Brum (hi if your reading) and not much else. So stage two it's off to Osbornes for some sticky paper,onto the printer and then Myspace Bulletins to try and drum up some trade lesson learnt that sometimes setting up stuff on the interwebs can be too bloody easy!.

* Even though i set it up i'll be the first to admit i'm not the best person to be running this site, i can think of several 'embedded' tech' savvy Punksters who could be doing the job better.

Saturday, 20 June 2009

The Rainbow and 'Social Media' Revised

If you live in or around Digbeth (Birmingham) you'll probably be well aware of the threat to local venues such as The Spotted Dog and The Rainbow due to noise abatement orders being served. The whole issue is quite involved but whichever way you cut it up the damage this could do to the vibrancy of an on the rise Digbeth is not to be underestimated. So last night (19/06) saw the gathering of the outraged for an update on the whole debacle, an impassioned Kent took the stage and gave a rousing speech to the impressive turnout followed by an equally indignant John Tighe of The Spotted Dog (see below). It was fantastic to see the differing cultural sides of Digbeth (the 'old' and the 'new') uniting to stand their ground over what most right thinking people perceive as unfair bureaurocracy (i was just just a bit miffed Kent didn't take up his his boxing gloves and march us round 'there' to have it out in the streets but hey, what y' gonna do?). Double Kudos to the guy who raised his hand and admitted he worked for the planning department and then described the sorry state as "a joke", tbh though i doubt if he'd have got away with his nadgers intact if he had said anything elsewise such was the mood.
The whole issue is likely to be covered in more detail by the ever vigilant Nicky of Digbeth Is Good infamy and others but the point of this post is just to mention how the affair has slightly skewed my perception of Social Media tools. I think it's fair to say i'm pretty sceptical of such things as Blogging/Twitter and usually just see them as an interesting distraction. However last night to see the show of support that had been built from online 'activism' such as the FaceBook campaign made choke on my smugness a bit. I was just cursing my bad fortune that this type of technology wasn't around when pubs like The Fiddle and Bone were under a similar threat (yes, i know there's a bit more to that story) and i felt the best i could do was write an 'angry' letter to The Evening Mail (which got published btw).
So now the wait starts to see how the whole affair pans out, if the online campaigning and support really can make that difference i might just have to reevaluate my opinions of other gimmicky gadgets such as camera phones!.

Rainbow Meeting - Kent Davis from Pete Ashton.

Rainbow Meeting - John Tighe from Pete Ashton.


Tuesday, 2 June 2009

Democracy Whore

In light of the recent revelations levelled at the shower of bastards that deem themselves fit to run the country my vote for the upcoming European election is up for auction.donations here (don't forget to mention who you are!)...

(Note: offer closes Midnight, Wedsnesday 3rd June)

Wednesday, 13 May 2009

All Quiet On The Digbeth Front

Yeah, the update rate of this blog is really tailing off but truth is either not much is happening or other people are doing a better job of writing things up. I did manage the Eccentric Auction last night, more fun and games with Harry Palmer et al attracting exceptional bids on mundane bric a brac. No Zine's this time but did manage to grab some back issues of the Eccentric times (signed no less and with rare postcards and Audio CD). Workwise Urban Village has returned in yet another incarnation (it's Sixth) at the General Stores market,Custard Factory. Plenty of vintage stuff to be had, just spare a thought for the backroom boy who gets Raynauds in his fingers sorting through all that Nylon and Polyester. Downside is the future of the DVD shop is in doubt, news to follow [Edit: apparently it's reopening 1st June].
Blog wise i've kindly been given a log-in to Fizzpop (Birmingham hackerspace) to contribute some stuff concerning the Arduino microcontroller. Funny thing is i never considered myself a 'Hacker' until following up on Fizzpops inspirations but now realise i've been taking stuff apart to see 'how it works' and tweaking it since ought six (typically upping output power on CB' radios ~81). Unfortunately it just brings home a) what an idiot i was for pissing away my degree b) should have done Physics joint with something useful (ideally Electronics). Anyhoo enough already with the whining, now to try and scrounge enough cash together to make at least ONE festival this year. All the best Midge

Sunday, 26 April 2009

Smoking Ban Real Estate Bollocks!

It slowly dawned on me today there's new smoking ban pub etiquette emerging. Once upon a time in a busy boozer if someone walked out of the door it was game over, all the real estate they sat on and occupied was up for grabs. Now it seems it's not so simple, a couple of times now i've parked myself on their seat only to have them come back 10 min's later with protestations of 'only going outside for a fag'. Markmiwordz the first tabloid 'stolen seat fag rage' incident is imminenet.

Sunday, 5 April 2009

Yaaarr!! Y' Scurvy Dogs!

What's the world coming to when a Pop Up Pirate can't enjoy a tot of Rum in peace without being pilfered.

Tuesday, 24 March 2009

A Frootless Custard?

Not sure of the details yet but it looks like Custard Factory staple eaterie Rooty Frooty's has bitten the credit crunch bullet. Pretty sad as it always had that relaxed 'Bohemian' atmosphere much loved of that 'Creative' crowd especially in the Summer when you could sit around the pool (remembering not to drink the water) and take advantage of the Sun (remember that) and free Wi-Fi. So now all you've got is 'The Kitchen' which i find really sterile and Yumm which i'm told does great food but no interior seating and definitely no Rod spinning Northern Soul obscurities. Coupled with the building work currently going on i'm wondering why people would want to make the effort to come down in the week at all which can't be good for the handful of traders left. On a positive note it looks like the Newsagent is nearly ready to go (hopefully with cash point and catfood) which will hopefully keep things ticking over till Summer and the opening of the expanded flea market. In the meantime that'll be me, drinking the Kitchen's 'tea' sitting on the bandstand watching the beer bottles float by and wondering where the new Custard Factory's 'hangout' will be.

ps: feel a bit of a shit now for rarely eating the food there cos' it all looked a bit 'funky'

Tuesday, 17 March 2009

St Patrick's Day Prohibition

St Patrocks stage @ St Patricks day parade Attended my first Birmingham St Patrick's day parade this year EVER (the shame!). Actually quite impressed, great turnout and even better weather shining down on the Green and White togged throng. The real baffling thing though was the Councils (last minute) decision to bar drinks into the stage area (St Patrocks)*!?. So, witness the live spectacle of The Destroyers, Neck (ex Shane McGowan & the Popes) and The Scarlot Harlots with not a drop to be taken past the precious barriers. Understandably the turnout was pretty poor but still a good time appeared to be had by all despite.
OK, it was the first year they've tried a live stage like this but still it isn't good enough, thousands of people seemed to pack Digbeth every year (and especially the Custard Factory) without resorting to hoying the plastic glasses at each other, were the music goers considered untrustworthy?.
Here's to next year with hopefully a beer sodden music event.

*you'll notice there's some lasses in the photo with drinks but that was some subtefuge on their part.

Blogging Senna Pod

Well it seems the simple solution to struggling with full blog posts is to dabble with short blog posts. So now i have a Tumblr site which i wish i'd started months back. More of a scrapbooky affair than a regular blog but at least you can keep it ticking over with regular snippets of stuff without having to worry about composing proper pieces of 'cod journalism'. Should add it's a bit more of a trashy affair than this site but what the hey, at least it keeps me off the streets :).

Wednesday, 11 March 2009

Blogging Constipation

satan on toiletMaybe it's just the time of year, that bit when the Winter doldrums slowly turn to Spring and y' think will we have a Summer AT ALL this year but my blog rate (posts/month) has dropped right off. You'd think that a general blog with no specific agenda would be easy to fill up with random stuff and trivia but apparently not (maybe a Sheldon blog hain't such a bad idea :)). I'm thinking (hoping in fact) that it's possibly because i'm not working as much now (slacker habits die hard) and not getting to engage with people and see enough stuff . Posting matters are further complicated when the one sentiment that has been bubbling at the back of my head was suddenly crystalised perfectly into words by somebody else (Michael Grimes of Citizensheep infamy), hope he doesn't mind if i quote two sentences which leapt right off the page...

"If I had something to catalogue, or a hobby, that would be great. But I’m too lazy, distractable and easily put off to stick at anything.

"My problems are two-fold: I don’t know what I want, and I never finish anything."

(a bit misleading as i happen to know he's not lazy and certainly does apply to and finish things ie, Big City Plan).

So, what to do?. I think it's just a case of reinstating some New Years resolution stuff like getting the bike out, Sorting job out, getting away for a bit (maybe to some festivals (even if it's just the Bulldog)) or maybe getting my Poker account out of mothballs.

Short term though i think i'll give the St Patricks day parade a spin which i don't think i've EVER been to (the shame!). Maybe i'll get some inspiration there :).

Tuesday, 3 March 2009

Melon farmers *

Straw Dogs Another slack week for me so it was off to Wolverhampon for 'In The Realm Of The Censors' talk at the Lighthouse. Interesting couple of hours presented by film examiner Ian Mashiah of the BBFC on the machinations of film censorship classification and the complications they face when bestowing age limits on films, TV and video games.
So... pop quiz hotshot, the opening scene of Saving Private Ryan vs. the whipping scene in The Passion Of Christ , Sex scene in Team America : World Police vs. Sutherland and Christies romp in Don't Look Now and (a 10 yr old) Bart Simpson skateboarding naked down the street in The Simpsons movie. What do you do? what DO you do?. Mashiah explained exactly what they did and how they used BBFC guidelines and legal counsel to come to their decisions (and how they faced criticism from Christian groups who felt the 18 classification was to high for 'the greatest story ever told'). A job not made any easier with the rapidly changing moral and cultural climate 'F' word acceptable nowadays, 'C' word still not?. I couldn't help but feel it was a bit of a PR job (not enough examples of them getting it wrong) but stacked against the studio backed American MPAA system i think they came out looking pretty 'firm but fair' . The real Elephant in the room still looms large and grey though, in the rapidly changing world of global media delivery where i'll be able to stream ANY film from ANYWHERE in the world straight to my digital watch isn't this organisations days numbered?.

PS: nothing more amusing than academics using the 'C' word and people nodding along knowledgably.

pps: not sure if the 'hand job' scene from The Ketchup Effect was included to demonstrate the BBFC and POCA guidelines or just make the cinema go 'Ouch!'

* a reference to one of my favourite 'censorship' stories

Thursday, 19 February 2009

Fiddle and Bone Round 2

Picture courtesy of the Birmingham Post
Same story, different year. Another (in)famous Brum live venue The Rainbow, Digbeth is to face the chop due to noise complaints. It's baffling that someone would buy a residence that was sold to them as being in a 'vibrant city centre location' and then bitch when they realise the vibrancy doesn't work 9 to 5 hours!. Birmingham regulars will have seen this depressing tale unfold before in the late 90's with Jazz/Blues live venue The Fiddle and Bone, unfortunately many letters to MP's and the press came to nought and now that place stands like some beer themed Marie Celeste. The Rainbow story could be more devastating as it sets a presidence for the whole of Digbeth's future in The Big City Plan. Watch This Space!!.

Sunday, 8 February 2009

On The Silver Screen At Last.

Finally my long overdue big screen debut at the Home Of Metal exhibition, Birmingham art gallery. If i'd known they were gonna use it i would of smiled more, done 'crazy fingers' and tried not to look like i was gonna punch the photographer (Steve Gerrard).

Friday, 30 January 2009

ARGs ain't so AARRrggghh!!

Dinosaurs courtesy of the first Barg Alt. pass the parcel.

So through my new Twitter universe came this emerging buzz about a new forming Birmingham ARG group (#BARG hashtag). Now i'm not going to bother to try to define exactly what Alternative Reality Games are or even point you at an ARG website because i feel that would be pointless* (and confusing) suffice to say i tagged along out of curiosity. The fascinating thing was to be in a Digbeth backstreet pub room of about 20 people discussing the vague concept of games which appear to not be games (another ARG concept which has to be witnessed first hand) played out within different layers of 'reality' (the tangible, the digital, the artistic, the imagined, etc) slowly the fog starts to clear. When Benjamin (Not Brum) did his talk on his many intense ARG experiences and the fact that on an informed hunch he'd took a day trip to New York to desecrate a chunk of Central Park suddenly it became a bit clearer about what could possibly develop. So we shall see what we shall see but as one guy said 'it would be great to be in at the beginning'.

PS: In a few months if you're walking through Digbeth and get accosted by a 'Peaky Blinder' don't panic, ARG has just hernia'd into your reality.

*Yeah, ok i give in, here some pointers...

Barg the initial Brum 'is anyone out there' ARG post.
Futurelab's take on ARGs.
GiantMice take on ARGs.
Mirlando's take on ARGs.
Maquerade The 70's 'treasure hunt' game with clues hidden within a book leading to a Golden Hare
Perplex city
SFZero ARG based around San Francisco.
The Beast ARG based around Steven Spielberg's A.I.
Year Zero ARG based around the Nine Inch Nails album of the same name.
Rider Spoke ARG on bikes using GPS technology and such.
Hide And Seek an ARG variant on the popular parlour game.
GeoCaching I think this falls within the realm of ARGs?.
I Love Bees i'm led to believe this page is not what it first appears to be!?.
World Without Oil an ARG which addressed a real world issue (ARGs as problem solving).
Flickr a game? slightly offtopic concept that games are all around you.
All The Above Are Wrong?.

(Not sure if it has any relevance but ~20 years back i bought a copy of James P Carse's 'Finite and Infinite Games', there was a similar vein of defining games, rules and players running through that, i'll probably give that another read.)

Wednesday, 28 January 2009

That Brum Bloggers '7 Things You May Not Know' bit

I thought the sidebar 'About Me' bit would suffice for this blog but then Nicky 'DiG' Getgood nominated me (amongst others) as a participant in the '7 Things You May Not Know About Me' chain mail currently doing the rounds. Usually i give things like this a wide birth but then i'd feel like a complete heel for not joining in, so in no particular order...

  • I play Guitar and IMHO play it quite well but have never got it together to play in an actual 'proper' band despite several opportunities to do so. Actually i can usually get a tune out of anything with strings and am now hankerin' after a Double Bass.

  • I occasionally get swamped by Black clouds of Existentialist 'who am i, where am i going, what's the point of it all' angst but they usually blow over in a few hours

  • When i was about 16/17 i gave up Chocolate because i had half a dozen spots and i haven't touched so much as a flake of the Cocoa beany confectionary since. Thing is i really miss it, the thought of the combined taste sensation of a Twix and a packet of Walkers Cheese and Onion crisps is making my mouth water as i type.

  • My one real 'wake's you up in the middle of the night' regret is that i pissed away the final year of my Physics degree at Coventry University . It wouldn't of taken a huge deal of effort to get at least a passing grade but i just let it go. I feel i let a few people down.

  • Several years back i was alarmed to find what i thought was a bad case of saddle soreness was actually a mild case of Hemmoroids.

  • I'm a terrible hoarder, i loathe to throw things away because "you never know, it may come in handy". In ten years time i will be that bloke on the news found decomposing under a collapsed pile of newspapers and used kitty litter. In my defence though it can come in handy as some of my old Sounds papers ended up in the Birmingham Home Of Metal project (i'm credited in the program).

  • I currently have Three proper tattoos and three tiny DIY ones. One of my studio jobs is of Hunt Emerson's Calculus Cat (with a 'mistake' so i got it for free) and the one on my lower leg i'm not totally happy with so i'm looking to get it embellished.

Now i'm supposed to nominate Seven people/bloggers to carry on this letter but such is the exponential nature of such things everybody i know's been taken?. If you're reading this and you haven't done one yet you are now obliged to do so (if you don't do it within Seven days there will be Seven plagues of crapness visited on all your houses :) ).

Saturday, 24 January 2009

The Revolution Convenes at The Three Horseshoes

Taped to the wall outside the now defunct Woolworths. I've Googled it but i have no idea what this group is or stands for (Nation Awesome, NDN?), i didn't realise sleepy Sheldon was such a hot bed of activism. Even more suprising it's been there unmolested for about four days.

Monday, 19 January 2009

Big City Plan vs Joe Public

Just in the nick of time The Big City has been translated into proper English just like what you and me speak. The first thing that beggars belief is that a PUBLIC consultation document needed to be rewritten in the first place?. Kudos to Jon Bounds, Nick Booth, Nicky Getgood, Julia Gilbert and Michael Grimes for having the patience to wade through the Councilese gibberish and produce something that Joe Public could actually get involved with AND comment on. The trick now is to get this 'unofficial' version out there, plenty of buzz on Twitter and Blogsites already which once again puts the Councils B.C.P publicity 'drive' to shame (y' know, those placards 10ft up a lampost).

Sunday, 18 January 2009

The Dufus Epiphany

Have you ever had that moment when someone you look up to and respect does (or says) something that makes you realise 'Hey, this guy is as big a misguided bluffer as i am' ?

Friday, 16 January 2009

Country Punkins

I'll have a wander down to the Wagon, Digbeth Saturday night for my regular fix of noise and attitude but the real diamond here is lurking at the bottom of the bill , Bo Pilar and the Mountain Valley Boys. Alt-Country shenanighans well worth the £2:00 door tax alone. Here's a ropey Youtube clip as a taster.

(if you see me buy me a drink, i'm nearly skint)

Friday, 9 January 2009


Have i ever mentioned that there's no better smell than that of burning wood in a real fire (reminds me of bothying in the Scottish highlands). So to find a boozer in Digbeth's backstreets that had an open hearth full of crackling pallets was just heaven. I'd tell you where this paradise is but the picture would probably be used as evidence and i'd be labelled as Brums Smokeless Zone nark weasel!.