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Hi. Last year, Zoe Taylor and I put on the Clapton Zine and Print Fair (see pic above)… This year, we’ve moved it to the Ophelia in Dalston - click the link for venue details. We’re open for business from 12pm to 4pm.
Come by to browse/pick up the comics, zines, tapes and other work by the most exciting small-press publishers including:
James Unsworth (Ditto Press)
Robert Ridley-Shackleton and Veronica Cordova Visual Artist
See you there!
Facebook event page [here]
Here’s an extract of something I wrote for the above. Click this link for the full thing.
The drab, yellowy walls at the edges of the photograph are what I remember best, perhaps because what dominates the foreground is so horrific: a young woman smiling at the camera, leaning over the corpse of a prisoner on a black sheet. His face is cut and bruised; crop the image and hers wouldn’t look out of place on a pinboard in a student dormitory. She makes a thumbs-up gesture. It’s hard not to turn away.
A decade since that picture and several others started to trickle out of Abu Ghraib, the cruelty on display is no less repulsive. The Iraq torture scandal was a reminder of the fragility of civilised behaviour. The smiling woman, Sabrina Harman, was the Virginia-born daughter of a homicide detective. Charles Graner, another of the disgraced soldiers shown posing among the abject prisoners, was once a member of his Pennsylvania school’s drama club. They weren’t psychopaths or bogeymen. If their actions were evil, that evil was both banal and unknowable.
The photographs were published in the spring of 2004. It was a visual moment, replete with instant icons: the towers of naked men, the hoods, the metal bars, the characterless corridors. When, a few months later, James Wan’s horror movie Saw was released in the US, the New York Times reviewer Stephen Holden noted its “uncomfortable resemblance” to the scenes captured at Abu Ghraib. The spartan, squalid-seeming room, the arbitrariness of the victims’ situation, the killer’s “impulse to humiliate and torture … and justify it with some twisted morality”—the comparison suggested itself, even though the film, as Holden acknowledged, had been completed before the Iraq images emerged.
It wasn’t long before horror directors such as Eli Roth were claiming that their work could trace a direct lineage to the “war on terror”. “I really try to load up the films with ideas,” Roth insisted, citing with pride the university seminars discussing his Hostel series as “a post-9/11 response to Iraq and torture”. The ecstatic violence of that franchise at first attracted the scorn of many reviewers, who dismissed it as “torture porn,” but Roth’s articulate justifications for his on-screen cruelties seem to have won over the academy …
The rest is here.
So, after we launched “Bye Bye Blackbird” at Power Lunches, we went in to play a session at Resonance FM for the Hello Goodbye Show. You can stream/download it here. The picture above shows me and Ben in the tiny room where we did the songs. Ben engineered like a pro - he is a pro after all. My sister sang with me really well, too. I forgot some lyrics.
We were also played by Steve Lamacq on his BBC 6 Music show, which was the icing on that weekend’s cake. The best cake in the world, fact fans, is the “castella”, a Nagasaki speciality. It has no icing on it.
…OK. My single “Bye Bye Blackbird”, taken from the forthcoming album It Never Entered My Mind, was launched at Power Lunches, Dalston, on 8 May. I don’t know why it’s taken me till now to write anything about it. Anyway, it is available now as a one-song single download from iTunes [click here] or with a B-side (my most Pavement song ever, the skateboarding tune “Video Days”) from the Eidola Records Bandcamp [click here, yeah].
Here’s the “video” for “Bye Bye Blackbird”:
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