Tag Archives: graffiti

Friday Photo Blogging: big pink graffiti bear

Berlin graffiti again, this time from the stairwell at Tacheles. Bears are the totem animal of Berlin, though they don’t always and up looking quite so cheerily cheesy as this one does:

Graffiti in stairwell, Tacheles

He appears to be some sort of mer-bear, also; or maybe he’s just wearing some sort of skirt? Artists, eh – who knows what goes on in their minds?


Writing about music

Another blissfully relaxed week on the music reviewing front; having two volunteers doing a couple a week is really lightening the load, and making my overall schedule a mite more human.

Album of the week

Technically reviewed last week (but published after FPB went out, so it still counts): Nottingham bass-less three-piece Lords delivered Everyone Is People, which I described as “simultaneously ramshackle and flawless, the most rock’n’roll anti-rock album ever, all the bombast and fakery stripped away leaving just the bare essentials – the grooves.”

I rather liked it, in other words.

Writing about books

Slow and minimal progress on the Steampunk anthology review has been made, but I finished off the latest typescript report this week, so I don’t feel too guilty about it. That said, I really do need to catch up on some of my book reviews – which is why the new schedule-with-breathing-space is such a pleasant thing to have.

Freelance

Still waiting on an artists’ agent to contact me regarding some licensing for a pending project… I thought it was the artists that were supposed to be feckless about easy money, and that the agents were sharp and on the case about it? Go figure; I’ll hassle ’em again on Monday.

The other current project (which is quite a biggie) proceeds apace; it’s good to be able to just do an hour a day and see gradual progress being made[1].

Futurismic

Things are trotting along nicely over at Futurismic; the newest piece of fiction is ready to roll out on Monday (first weekday of the month, y’see), and we’ve got a few potential purchases on the consideration pile, which is a good place to be[2]. Ad earnings are low this month, but after last month’s bonanza that’s only to be expected, I guess.

It was very flattering to be contacted about featuring excerpt material from a major new science fiction title on the site, but sadly my ethics got in the way – the title in question was the new Orson Scott Card (who’s milking the Ender series once again), and I’ll not grandstand for homophobes and bigots, no matter how much traffic it might bring. Yeah, I know, I’m a fool… but Seth Godin says it’s more important to follow your heart sometimes. I just hope it pays off one day!

Books and magazines seen

Just the one this week, but it’s a striking item – not just for its title, God Killers, but for the cover artwork:

God Killers - Liam Sharp

Liam Sharp is known for his comics artwork[3], but he’s always wanted to write fiction as well, and this is his forthcoming first collection from Mam Tor Publishing (which appears to be the only place you can pre-order God Killers). In a rare situation for genre publishing, Liam not only chose the cover artist himself, but chose himself as the cover artist… so we can presume that the burly chap on the cover is actually a character.

Is it any good? I have no idea yet, but China Mieville’s a fan, apparently; gotta count for something.

Coda

Well, I’ve just caved in and activated the central heating, because when I came in from work it was the same temperature inside as it was outside, with the exception of the exhaust from my computer. I’m not looking forward to the bills, but it’s that or dressing like Captain Oates for the next four months and being incapable of doing anything even remotely productive or useful.

Now, while everyone else in the country is dressing up as the undead[4], I’m going to shuffle around my steadily-warming flat, make myself some food (no Friday Curry this week, diet fans!), and get ready to head down to the seafront and review the two bands blessed with the double-edged ignominy of supporting Funeral For A Friend.

I shan’t be reviewing the headliners for two reasons: first of all, they wanted me to sign one of those intimidating release forms for the privilege (and surrender the freedom of the press to their image management team in the process); secondly, because I f*cking loathe the tawdry shite they peddle as music, and I can’t be bothered reviewing them honestly just to be bombarded by testosterone-raddled subliterate MySpace users who can’t see that their favourite band doesn’t necessarily have to be everyone‘s favourite band[6]

Anyway… so far, so rock’n’roll, eh? Have a great weekend, and enjoy Halloween (or Samhain, if you’re keeping it old-school). Auf weidersehn!


[ 1 – As opposed to sitting down at midday on Saturday with two cans of Red Bull and binging on PHP and CSS for eight hours, which has been tried before. Not good for the brain, and tends to produce a lot of errors and false leads. Hello, learning curve! ]

[ 2 – Good for us, but we like to think it’s good for the writers also. ]

[ 3 – He did the art for the Doug Rushkoff comic series Testament, which I bought as monthly singles and which I’ve plugged here more than a few times. ]

[ 4 – I mean seriously, can’t we move on? Zombies are soooo post-Millennial, and vampires should have gone out of fashion when they stopped making new episodes of Buffy[5]. ]

[ 5 – No such f*cking luck. ]

[ 6 – Seriously, book review flak is much easier to deal with, if only because you can actually decipher the words that they’ve typed at you. ]

Friday Photo Blogging: desperate attempt to get famous

This particular bit of graffiti from Berlin’s Köpenicker Straβe needs no explanation or justification whatsoever:

Desperate attempt to get famous

In the interest of tourism advice, though, I’ll point out that it’s about fifty yards from Köpi, a justifiably legendary art squat/music venue which is well worth checking out if you’re in town (and have an ear for hideously loud guitars, naturally, not to mention a yen for hanging out with people who make scruffy old me look like I’m dressed for dinner at Buckingham Palace).


Writing about music

Well, this is the first week that I’ve had a full crop of reviews and not had to write one of them every day off my own back. Woo-hoo! My second volunteer (the delightful Dave Saunders – former DJ, promoter and band manager, among other sins and crimes), and has just the right acerbic wit for the job, too; go check his stuff out, why don’t ya?

Album of the week

Well, after three years working in a venue during the post-Millennial ska/punk boom, I never thought I’d find myself voting a ska album as my favourite of the week ever again… but the smart and witty noise of The Art of Saying Nothing by London collective Imperial Leisure won me right over. Colour me shocked.

Writing about books

Halfway through my piece on the VanderMeersSteampunk anthology, but most of my critical energies have been expended on the latest manuscript report. Thankfully the manuscript in question is smaller and less FAIL-ridden than the last one… but it’s still pretty awful.

Freelance

I’ve started work on the latest web development project, and I’m just waiting for some artwork to come through so I can make a parallel start on another author site, so plenty happening in this neck of the woods. Plus there’s some big stuff in the pipeline at PS Publishing, so the few evenings I’ve had this week where I had a little time to myself have been greatly appreciated… I feel there may not be many more until we reach the Season That Shall Not Be Named[1]!

Futurismic

It’s a weird old web: Futurismic‘s traffic is up, but ad revenue and comments are down. Go figure. It’s been an emotionally difficult week in the editorial seat, too, for reasons that professionalism will not permit me to discuss…. other than that, though, business pretty much as usual.

Books and magazines seen

Two titles this week. First up is a new first-of-three sf novel called Seeds Of Earth by Michael Cobley[2] from the Orbit stable. Cobley must be a new kid on the block, as I’ve not heard his name before; the book’s not out till March next year, and there’s no cover art on the intertubes yet, either. But it looks to be galactic-scale post-catastrophe human-diaspora space opera, which could (of course) go either way – I’m still smarting from the Palmer experience.

More familiar is Chris Roberson, whose End of the Century is coming out from Pyr in the new year.

End of the Century - Chris Roberson

A triple-time-strand narrative, apparently, and a reworking of the Grail-quest theme… literally. May have to give it a go at some point; I’ve never really gotten on brilliantly with Roberson at novel length, but I’ve always wanted to like his writing more than I did, if that makes any sense.

Coda

Well, it’s been a weird week. Unusually productive, not to mention burgeoning with unprecedented amounts of unallocated time[3], but a psychological minefield nonetheless. The seasonal changes may be partly to blame, but I’ve been miserable as sin, utterly devoid of any enthusiasm for anything; momentum and deadlines have been pretty much all that’s kept me moving. Well, that and the swimming, which I’m already starting to look forward to as a part of my schedule, regardless of this whole “aching limbs” business[4].

But hey, you don’t come here to hear me complain about things[5] – and besides, dwelling on it won’t do any good for me or anyone else. So I’m gonna wrap this up here, sort out some final Friday tasks, and then treat myself to a Friday Curry. Who knows, maybe it’s the absence of ghee and cardamom from my diet that’s bringing me down.

Anyway, have a great weekend, people – look after yourselves!


[ 1 – Which is drawing close with alarming rapidity. It hasn’t helped that the bloody shops have been stocking paraphernalia for the last month already. Meh. ]

[ 2 – This gentleman must be thoroughly tired of jokes about his Uncle Tom. ]

[ 3 – Unprecedented, yes, but certainly not unwelcome. Or, indeed, unnecessary. ]

[ 4 – Twenty-eight lengths, motherhubbards. Boom! ]

[ 5 – What you do come for remains a mystery, however. ]

Friday Photo Blogging: commerce recolonising the death-strip

A cheery title, no? The Wall’s destruction brought as many contradictions to Berlin as it removed, if not more, and they grow in sharpness over time. This is one of the last remaining sections of the “death-strip” that was caught between the two layers of the wall, in this particular case just next to the River Spree, a few minutes walk from the Ostbahnhof:

Graffiti on the "death strip"

This area is best known as “The East Side Gallery“. The side of the wall facing the road (to the left of this shot) was painted by many famous graffiti and mural artists just after the Wall fell; their art is now scabbed over by the felt-tip scribblings of tourists. Here in the former death-strip, however, the other side of the wall is where the more hardcore painters would come to work without the legitimacy that the post-Wende hysteria leant to the Gallery.

Looking in the opposite direction to this shot, you would now see tent-town beach-bars bristling with brand names. Then, further still, the crowning irony: a section of the Wall that has been fenced off completely from public access, pending the arrival of more entertainment and retail venues. This is prime land for development, and commerce will have its way, despite the (arguably justifiable) resentment of those with long enough memories. Selah.


Writing about music

This week has been a bit of a screwed one for The Dreaded Press, largely due to me dropping a few balls in favour of other priorities. But that’s just the way I’m currently doing things; businesses with incomes come first, which puts TDP way down the list.

Album of the week

Still got some writing done though, and without any doubt the greatest pleasure was derived from reviewing Tail Swallower And Dove by These Arms Are Snakes. Fantastic and nigh-unclassifiable heavy music with rich inscrutable symbolism and brooding malice… something to watch stock tickers to.

Writing about books

To my shame, I’ve made no inroads over the last week on the reviews I have waiting to be written. That said, it’s probably be better to be in a position where I have four books that I’ve finished and just need to write about rather than four books waiting to be read and clamouring for a review as well. Silver linings, silver linings.

Freelance

Ah, now this is where all this week’s effort and energy has gone! Should have a new author site to launch early next week, and have been doing some design preliminaries on a new project that promises to be a lot more visually ambitious (and hence tricky and lengthy) than anything I’ve done as of yet. But hey, guy’s gotta raise his game, right? It’s a challenge, and I’m feeling confident about nailing it, too.

Futurismic

Nothing out of the ordinary to report at Futurismic, except an exceptionally persistent spammer who seems to bear a rather nasty grudge against a certain New-Yorican singer-songstress. The weird and omnidirectional obsessions these people possess never cease to amaze and appal[1].

Books and magazines seen

It’s been another week of high volume and low interest on the books front, with yet more care packages from both Orbit and Tor/Macmillan packed full of stuff that drew nothing more than a resounding “meh”[2].

But there’s one title that does look quite appealing, namely Lou AndersFast Forward 2 anthology from Pyr, which as some interesting contributors on its contents page as well as a garish but undeniably eye-catching Picacio cover:

Fast Forward 2 anthology - ed. Lou Anders

Another brick for the to-be-read wall. Life’s such a chore, isn’t it?

Coda

Well, that was the first no-gig week in what feels like months[3]. And as them what follows me on Twitter will already know, this week I got my lazy arse out of the house and down to the swimming pool – twice! The end results are a much clearer knowledge of just how horrifically unfit I’ve become[4], and calf muscles that feel like someone’s clamped them onto my legs with an immense bulldog clip. But hey, you gotta start somewhere.

And the weekend starts right here; most of it will involve the ceaseless battering of CSS and PHP into this very keyboard, but there’s band practice to look forward to on Sunday as well as beers with friends this evening. And as I’ve been a good boy this week – staying in in the evenings, eating cheaply, getting work done and exercising, no less – I’m going to indulge in The Friday Curry. Biweekly is better than weekly, after all… 🙂

So have a good weekend, and do yourselves a favour – don’t watch the news, because worrying won’t make any difference. Auf weidersehn!


[ 1 – Although, now I come to think about it, they’re amazing simply by merit of being as banal, bigoted and stupid as the ones you encounter in real life. Go figure. ]

[ 2 – Especially since the postman got me out of bed half an hour early for them both this morning. Grumble grumble. ]

[ 3 – Looking at my calendar, I think it actually is months. Blimey. ]

[ 4 – When I was nine or thereabouts, I could swim for literally hours at a time – if you lived in an ex-pat compound in Saudi Arabia, there was little else to do for kids. Currently, twenty lengths of a definitely-not-Olympic-size pool has me stiff-limbed and breathing like a nylon fetishist at an Ann Summers evening. ]

Friday Photo Blogging: no revolution today

If you think London’s graffiti is ubiquitous, then you’ve probably never been to Berlin – or indeed Germany in general[1].

In addition to the visual noise of tags and scribblings, punctuated by everything from swift throw-ups to full-blown burner pieces, there’s a strong current of stencil and poster graffiti, all resonating with Berlin’s understandably unique take on politics and ideology:

No Revolution Today

“No revolution today”… There was a lengthy spraycan scrawl elsewhere (that I forgot to take a picture of) which read “run – the old world is right behind you”. *sigh*


Writing about music

The Dreaded Press rolls on neatly, with Duncan well settled and a few new writers in the pipeline. Unfortunately I have eleven CDs with a release date of 6th October waiting in the pile; with the best will in the world, they’re not all going to be reviewed before release date. I do wish the labels wouldn’t cluster releases like that. Bloody inconsiderate of them.

Album of the week

With absolutely no hesitation at all, the thirteen-minute seven-track fun-splurge of Think by Lovvers gets the crown this week. A joyous crazy racket; this is what the word pop should really refer to. They’re playing with a friend’s band in a local pub next week…

Writing about books

Last week’s head-cold (now mostly shifted, thankfully) put me on the back foot schedule-wise, so little concrete book reviewing work was accomplished. Plus I’ve been trying my best to rattle my way though my current script-review assignment… which is, to be diplomatic, a tough and slow read[2].

Freelance

Mostly administrivia and final bits of catch-up this week, although Tuesday evening was totally consumed by the server migration of a couple of client sites. Or, more accurately, one of them…

A bit of advice for you, if you ever have to migrate a MySQL database for a PHPbb installation, be sure to backup the data *without* including the search result tables[3], and to install a search table re-builder plugin as soon as you get the files moved. That little tip should save you about three hours of trial and error (and panic)… I’d provide links, but the software version in question is quite dated; just search the PHPbb community docs, they’re pretty comprehensive.

Futurismic

All seems pretty well over at Futurismic, though it’s getting very close to the next new fiction date and we still don’t have a definite story to run with next month. Chris (F’mic Fiction Ed) is being more picky these days – by his own admission, and rightly so – but that means we don’t have a pile of pre-bought material ready to roll out at the moment. It’ll all work out, I’m sure… but I can’t help getting a little nervous.

Aeroplane Attack

Some of you may remember me joining a band a while back; those of you who remember and are curious about what’s happening in that department may be intrigued to hear we’ve booked our first session in a proper rehearsal space, which we’re considering a first landmark on the route to gigworthiness. Really looking forward to being able to crank out the songs at high decibel levels… because that’s how they’re supposed to be played[4]. 🙂

Books and magazines seen

No books of note this week; however, one of the Little Brown subsidiaries sent out a huge showy package for what, to judge by the blurb, is the opener to yet another YA horror series. Talk about an anticlimax…

However, the latest Interzone turned up, with what is probably my favourite cover art of recent times:

Cover for Interzone #218

Plus it’s a Chris Beckett special. If you don’t know why that’s a good thing, I recommend you buy this copy of Interzone and find out. Beckett is one of my favourite British short sf writers, and I’m not alone in that assessment; his work deserves your attention.

Coda

So, yeah, remember how I said last week that I’d be going to gigs less in future? Well, changing my life is like pulling a U-turn in an oil tanker – there’s a lot of planning involved, current momentum has to be taken into account, and the changes take a long time to express themselves in a tangible manner.

Which is why tonight I’ll be reviewing Swedish punk stalwarts Millencolin at The Wedgewood Rooms, and why I’ll be hopping on a on train Saturday morning to King’s College, London to attend this weekend’s This Ain’t No Picnic mini-festival[5]… because they’ve both been booked for ages, basically.

And looking ahead at the next few months, there’s a fair few more such advanced bookings in the pipeline, too. So maybe I’d best stop saying “yes” every time news of a tempting show passes through, hmmm[6]?

Anyway, a weekend away means I have stuff that needs to be done before I depart, so I’d best get my arse in gear and go fetch The Friday Curry, hadn’t I? Have yourselves the best weekend mathematically possible, and try not to watch the news – no point in getting depressed about stuff we can’t do anything to change, after all. Take care, folks – auf weidersehn!


[ 1 – On the Deutsche Bahn train network, the approach seems to be “leave it there, it’ll just come back if you paint it over, so why waste time and money?”, a stark contrast to the UK attitude of fastidiously covering over these terrible social blasphemies on a monthly basis. Funnily enough, the trains in Germany are affordable, comfortable and run on time. I can’t help but feel there’s a connection between these things. ]

[ 2 – Seriously. It makes you wonder whether these people have actually read any books at all. The upside being that it makes one a lot more confident about one’s own fictional chops, so to speak. ]

[ 3 – The search tables will have lots of non UTF-8 characters in them, which a MySQL import will hang up on. Added bonus – removing them will probably reduce the overall database size to 25% of what it was with them included. ]

[ 4 – Playing loud isn’t very practical when you practice in the front room of a small terraced house in Fratton. Plus we couldn’t fit all of our amps in there and have room to switch them on. ]

[ 5 – Added bonus – Good buddy Shaun C Green is going too! w00t! ]

[ 6 – Like that’s gonna happen. ]

Graffiti, logo design and synchronicity

I’m sure this must happen to other bloggers, too; over the course of a few days, from completely unrelated sources, a set of posts on a subject of interest to you that isn’t your normal blogging subject will arrive in your RSS reader, as if orchestrated from afar.

But I’m still too woolly-headed with a cold to make some sweeping statements about synchronicity and the Zeitgeist acting in some emergent harmony … not to mention writing anything coherent and interesting about science fiction literature (with two pending book reviews stewing at the back of my brain already).

graffiti

So instead, you get a round-up post on graffiti.

First up, via Anders Sandberg, comes Graffiti Archaeology – a Flash-based site that examines the accretion and interaction over time of pieces of graffiti in certain locations. Nicely made – I generally loathe Flash sites, but this is the sort of thing it actually does really well.

Next, this is what happens when a professor of psychology and culture starts looking at graffiti with the perspective of an outsider trying to understand a body of work within the context it was made in – Bill Benzon’s series of three posts [link to first in series] at The Valve feature not just images of graffiti, but examinations of the settings and contexts within which they appear. I’ve been fascinated by graffiti culture for years, but I’ve never found myself asking as many questions about it as Benzon. [The image above is clipped from Benzon’s article.]

[As with much of what I read at The Valve – a group blog to which the wry and subtle Adam Roberts is a contributor – I can’t be entirely sure how serious an article this is (they’re way too cunning with their language sometimes) – but joke or not, it’s fascinating stuff.]

And finally, Matthew Ingram’s piece at Stylus Magazine examines the history of the band logo, which has conceptual roots in graffiti as well as political activism and typography of a more pedestrian commercial type. Nice to see a couple of obscure bands that I’m a fan of raise their heads in the images included – a VCTB gold star to the person who guesses which two I mean! Answers in the comments field, if you want to play.

In the meantime, I will post something related to science fiction as soon as circumstances permit. Thanks for your patience.