Friday, April 23, 2010

Friday 23 April 2010 – ST GEORGE’S DAY

Staying up late is taking its toll this morning.  Again I wake up just before my alarm buzzes, it truly is scary how well my body clock is now trained in routine.

Outside its another chilly morning coupled with bright sun.  This weather is best described as bipolar at this time, which is something I am positive is rubbing off on me.

Again I am late getting going and late arriving at the train station meaning I almost miss my train but ultimately it is OK.

When the train stops at Witham a lady boards and then proceeds to stare at the two most boring businessmen having the most boring conversation of the 21st century.  Who is in the wrong here?  Probably me for fancying the strange lady.

Later at Chelmsford Fading Blonde boards and she is looking good today.

As the train passes through Stratford and I look out on the landscape I can’t help but feel that I should be intimidated by this.  I have changed.  The fear of London has now gone from me, I’m now made of sterner and stronger stuff these days.

The train pulls into Liverpool Street slightly ahead of the rush and so as a result the tube ride across town is a breeze, fairly barren when it comes to humanity, which unfortunately is a state that I feel is preferable to me.

Emerging at St Johns Wood things continue to improve immeasurably as I spot a healthy happy cameltoe.  How can people do this to themselves?

Finally in the office as I look at my emails it occurs to me that I haven’t heard from the consultant in weeks now.  Indeed when I check my old emails it turns out that the last one I received from him was on April Fools Day.

On Radio One this morning Chris Moyles and Comedy Dave rip off old Bill Hicks jokes and somehow they manage to make them the polar opposite of funny.  That’s quite an accomplishment.

Things are trending downwards.

From here the day flies by.  With a lengthy to do list I just about remain on track as things reach lunchtime.

Moving into the afternoon the day maintains a terrifying pace as I get nowhere near the end/finish of my to do list.  Earlier in the day my boss tells me that he has spoken to the consultant and apparently he is waiting on some information from me.  That is bullshit.  With this I begin ranting (bleating) as he tells me I should be getting a phonecall this afternoon.  I look forward to that.

In the end 5PM arrives without any such phonecall, which quite frankly suits me.

Why does nobody ask me down to the pub anymore?

From here with time to kill before the ABEL FERRARA movie and talk at the Barbican at 7.45PM I head down to the Southbank Centre where POLAR BEAR are playing.

I get to the South Bank just after 5.30PM with the sun still out in glorious force coming complimented by a light breeze which appears to have brought people out in abundance.

When I finally find POLAR BEAR they are playing in the foyer of Queen Elizabeth Hall and the room is packed as onstage they are in full flow and tearing it up.

POLAR BEAR are OK, not mind-blowing but solid all the same.  Being an upbeat outfit there’s is a style vulnerable to clichéd tendencies with view to broadening their appeal.  This is definitely not a bad thing, it is just not necessarily appealing if/when a person is soughting a much more beneath the surface emotional response.

The thing with POLAR BEAR that most catches the attention turns out to be the drummer and his huge huge head of hair.  It is a truly admirable accomplishment, a feat mere men will struggle to achieve to they feel bold enough and so inclined.  Ouch, this truly is a bad sign as I find myself commenting at length about the hair of the drummer from an act.  Regardless, what happened to that guy?

Eventually they regain a decent pace and provide some down tempo (downbeat) arrangements that perfectly soundtrack the setting sun that is occurring over the South Bank (and MI5 building) outside in the near distance.  At this point without doubt I am in the right place to be at this time on a sunny Friday evening in central London.  Shame about the up tempo material that continues to let the side down.

Everyone loves a freebie and tonight it is a truly middle class audience that appears to be beyond the point of appreciating anything too new, fresh or familiar.  I really don’t like people in general and with this thought in mind I can’t help but resent most of the audience with their better viewpoints than me.

I had been tipped off about POLAR BEAR from an indie source (a Diskant review) but this feels a distinctly trad jazz outfit in everything but appearance.  This is not Tortoise.

When they finish up I exit the Queen Elizabeth Hall with the South Bank still heaving and the night young.  With the time still to spend I head across the Golden Jubilee Bridge at a leisurely pace and as ever I have my breath taken away by the beauty of London with Westminster to my left and London Bridge, the Gherkin blah blah blah to my right.  What a shame that people have to ruin it.

Eventually while listening to Badmotorfinger and sipping a mint Costa Frappuccino I wind up in Covent Garden and the movie memorabilia shops where I find a Russ Meyer book for £4 which I promptly snap up with view to one day reading it along with finally watching my Russ Meyer box set which disgusting remains in shrink wrap.  Predictably I end up in Fopp where I buy a few more books about movies that I will never read.

As time begins to creep towards 7.45PM I board a tube at Tottenham Court Road and head up to Warren Street where I ride from Euston Square to Barbican.  When I emerge at Barbican there is less than ten minutes to film time and with this I get a mild panic on.

In the end I arrive at the Barbican Centre and into the cinema in fine time, collecting film notes on the way in.  By now I really should have learned/realised that movies do not begin at the scheduled time, especially at the Barbican.

Tonight is the opening gala of the London International Documentary Festival and with it comes boring speeches from the organisers.  I’m happy to applaud the guy’s parents’ 50th wedding anniversary but just make it quick.

The documentary by ABEL FERRARA is called NAPOLI NAPOLI NAPOLI and is an unsurprisingly harsh piece of work making Naples look downright third world in the process.  Any place that has its local hub of community named after Diego Maradona is always going to be in trouble.

Represented by the movie Naples appears to be a ravaged place, anything but appealing to the outsider as per this documentary.  A large portion of the piece is lent to interviewing local ladies in a women’s prison and hearing their stories.  They all cast a sad and beaten spectre looking battered and resigned to such a broken life.  Their circumstances appear born from the poverty of their surroundings, often from drugs.  Many of them are mothers and most of them look prematurely aged.  They make for uncomfortable subjects and its difficult viewing.

Running parallel with this footage is a performed narrative featuring a harsh reconstruction of a supposed common Naples home life along with various organised crime activities including cramped prison life and a more generic Mafia tale.  Suddenly The Sopranos does not feel so convincing.  Eventually this portion of the film unsurprisingly ends in murder and later incest coupled with religious imagery in a very ABEL FERRARA manner.

I have to concede that towards the end I begin nodding off as my heavy week begins to catch up on me so subsequently when the documentary comes to a close it is something of a relief.  It all ends with FERRARA playing music in the women’s prison and the guy truly has chops, which is something that has been evident since he did the song for the closing credits of Bad Lieutenant.

As the lights come up FERRARA emerges accompanied by three actors from the movie and his main collaborator from the documentary (the knowledge).

Even though this is a really exciting lineup the chirping Italian girls sat to my right remain chatting as they have been all through the movie.  Finally I tell them to shush which works for a few minutes.  Why are they here?

The talk with FERRARA turns out to be hard work as they amble through the background of the documentary that is somewhat hindered by FERRARA being the only person that speaks English, which naturally makes things slightly stunted.

Unsurprisingly for the majority for the talk ABEL FERRARA takes centre stage.  Upon taking his seat he promptly pulls out a handful of change that he plays with for the duration of the piece, even at one point dropping and briefly searching for a missing coin.  When questioned his focus remains looking down at the coins as he leans forward paying attention but without physical acknowledgement.

Towards the end of the talk things liven up immensely as a young man in a baseball cap at the back of the cinema begins shouting at FERRARA.  Immediately it sounds like a heckle and it is.  He introduces (pronounces) himself as being representative as a “Mao Mao” (a Naples ned/chav it would seem) who has taken exception to the portrayal of Naples in the piece as he blasts FERRARA for making the documentary too bleak questioning the director’s credentials and motives due to him being an outsider from New York.  Fair point.  As FERRARA contests these accusations a couple of other people at the back begin shouting also and things get exciting.

It ends very messy with the organisers trying to wrap things up while the Italians with expressions of hurt and confusion (due to the argument being in English) appear to want to start a debate.  Swiftly however this brings about the end in exciting fashion and I don’t want to believe.

As I exit the cinema I spot that a couple of the Italian writers/researchers of the movie are now up with the protestors vehemently gesturing and shaking their heads.  I had no idea that things would be so contentious.

I get to Barbican station to the sight of an eight-minute wait for the next train.  I might actually be quicker to walk to Liverpool Street.  It is only a short tube ride from Barbican to Liverpool Street but over the course of just two stops this evening I manage to spot some squaring up and aggression heading towards a real fight when at Moorgate three lairy chavs board while two fat arses get off.  As the two objects bounce into one another a mouthy chav kicks off.  At this point he redirects his comments to a black dude who boarded behind them.  Soon their conversation turns nasty and for a moment it looks as if the lairy guy is determined to kick off in any direction that will have/acknowledge him.  From here I count down the moments/strokes to Liverpool Street while the others get angry and hostile in aimless fashion.  The face off even involves questioning each other’s credentials as to where they are from (the black dude snaps “Peckham”).

It is with a sense of relief the tube pulls into Liverpool Street and I soon find myself heading home on the 10.48PM wondering if this is officially “Lairy Night” or if all this stuff is just coincidental.  At this point I get it pointed out to me that it is St George’s Day.  Fair point.

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