Wednesday, May 30, 2007

I am the god of hellfire!

Remember that fire on Lever Street a few weeks back? Some of the folks who work in the damaged buildings haven't gotten back into their offices. Others are facing some heinous financial consequences due to water, smoke, burning or firefighting damage.

Fortunately, the promised benefit concert is going on this Sunday, June 3, from 4-11pm in Stevenson Square in the Northern Quarter. It's being organised by D.Percussion folks Ear to the Ground, who, in cooperation with CIDS, will distribute all proceeds to affected businesses and the city fire department. And yes... they've embraced the camp, funny side of having the building that houses your offices almost burn down, have called the gig Burnt to the Ground, and promise a flame-themed stage and fire trucks. The best part is that the Arthur Brown, he of The Crazy World of Arthur Brown, will be performing his scary 1968 song "Fire." That's a picture of him above. Let's all pray that he brings his awesome flaming fire helmet.

Also performing will be a whole slew of musical acts including... Mr Scruff, The Unabombers (who've graciously put up with their 24 Lever St. offices being the alternate entrance for the entire building for weeks), Polytechnic, Broke n' English, Marc Riley, Rita & Sue, Magic Arm, Peter & the Wolf, The Mekkits and the deejay stylings of clans Fat City, Tramp, El Diablo, Rockers, Jayne Compton, Solja and Flotsam & Jetsam. Loads of these people work in or around the buildings, or are otherwise connected with them.

It'll also be worth going to see if they can actually fit 5,000 people in Stevie Square. £2 suggested donation.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

The thrill of the grill

So Yer Mam! (whose blog just got linked by Wikipedia, in a quite surprising and humorous way) and Jon le Beef have floated the idea that instead of blogmeeting in a pub this July, we hold a Bloggers' BBQ in some verdant Manchester park.

This sounds like a marvelous idea to me. Maybe it could be BYOM (bring your own meat) or even BYOVGFoC (bring your own vegtarian grilling foodstuff of choice)? Or we could just chip in for a hundredpack of e-number dogs, a family size bag of twiglets, and a shitload of White Lightning. We're now welcoming suggestions for scenic park BBQ locations in Manc, and preferable Saturdays in July.

Monday, May 21, 2007

New bloggage

I'm limping into Monday, recovering from a nasty virus that for the past week has made me very dizzy after ten minutes in front of the computer screen. Now I'm up to twenty minutes, so I'll hurriedly catch up with some new Manchester blogs:

Supashen is a multimedia extravaganza in the form of a blog; Sitemeister Chris Shen features content in music, video and text flavours, both self-made and externally sourced. That's one of his mind-bending screensavers above, entitled My Dreams Keep me Awake.

Still round the corner there may wait... is a blog from Megan, an Australian, twenty-something psychology graduate "living in Manchester, working in a hotel, wishing I could quit work and walk the earth (you know, like Caine in Kung Fu)."

My anger makes me a modern girl is written by a shadowy Mancunian female known only as notmarcie. It's a personal blog.

Tony Trehy is a curator and writer and the director of the always-intriguing Text Festival in Bury. The blog focuses mainly on art, his own work and what he's been up to.(Thanks to J for the tip).

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Not Manchester International Festival

I have some news about the MIF. Or actually, in this case, the NMIF. What's this? Yes, a new festival has taken shape, and it's Not Manchester International Festival (so what is it then? Ahem.) NMIF is the Manchester International Festival's opposite number, The maverick Master to its oversubscribed Doctor Who. Okay, sorry. It's a fringe festival. Read on...

Not Part of Manchester International Festival will run alongside the International Festival showcasing art from every media all around the city and its environs. We will run from the 29th June (to give MIF one night in the spotlight) till the 15th July 2007. We believe everyone who can be should be able to be involved in a cultural event with such great potential, regardless of whether they were commissioned to be or not.

To be officially not part of MIF is very simple. All we ask is you put ‘’ on all your promotional material to promote yourself, and everybody else. If every flyer, poster, postcard etc, for everything that happens between the 29th June and 15th July 2007 in mcr has "" on it then everyone will know where to look for the listings to find everything that’s on.

"Like heaven, there are steps to being not part of the MIF. But unlike heaven, we're not exclusive." If you want in, email non-organiser Gareth McCann on gareth AT

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

New blogs to admire

I thought I was sooo clever inventing the word Yankunian to describe myself, but clearly the idea's not that original. Mancypino is the blog of an expat Filipino woman living in Manc. And My Little French Girl could definitely be described as a Frankunian. Photoblogger Anne-Laure describes herself as a "Frenchie dropped in Manchester."

James from Yer Mam! has suddenly turned into a multiblogger, thus ensuring that he has no free time whatsoever. His new blog is called No Flipping! and it's about telly.

Manc musicblog Get Weird Turn Pro has been in business for a couple of months. It's the work of Croft, who lately writes about Bjork and The Beasties and has made us a nice little mixtape with a song by Kool Moe Dee. Yeah, that's Mr. Moe Dee to you

The Asparagus
is a new political blog I've been meaning to mention for a while, by Journalist Richard Jones, that specialises in foreign affairs.

M20 is a newish site from blogger Stuart Brown that covers life in South Manchester, with lots of lovely pictures.

Finally, mmm, pretty is a blog by Chloe, a graphic designer based in Manchester. She says it's "just a collection of visual things that make me happy. I originally started it for myself, but I have a modest amount of regulars now who aren't my friends."

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Ashes to ashes UPDATED

The Northern Quarter was in chaos yesterday, after a building on the corner of Dale Street and Lever Street caught fire in the wee small hours of the morning, when nobody was paying attention. By dawn, it was a towering inferno. The absolute worst thing is that there were some folks who may have been sleeping rough in the building, people whose whereabouts are presently unknown.

The fire spread to two nearby buildings which between them house many of the small creative industries in Manchester, 20 Dale Street and 24 Lever Street. I've been working in 24 Lever for years, and if there's any Manchester building I feel a sense of ownership about, this one - with its knackered elevator, East German loos, odd smells and odder people hanging about - is it.

Yeah, it's scruffy, but this building's ridiculously low rents and location smack bang in the middle of the Northern Quarter have made it a petrie dish for creativity in Manchester, an unofficial incubator space for small artsy businesses and organisations with no money - many of them the very folks who do so much to make Manc such a great city to live in. It's unclear at this point how much damage the offices have sustained, but, at the very least, water damage from the sprinklers seems a foregone conclusion. Computer equipment will certainly have been lost. And the thing about these small creative industries is that they almost never have insurance.

I'm thankful everyone made it out of the building alive, especially my dear friend who was pulling an all-nighter on the third floor working on a grant application, and realised something was up when she heard the flames crackling! But I am very worried about how these small organisations are going to cope if they have to replace all of their equipment - people like Comma Press, The Manchester Literature Festival, The Phone-Book, Manchester Music, Ultraviolet, Futuresonic, The Noise Festival, The Manchester Food and Drink Festival, Astill and Associates, Redeye, The Northern Film Network, Electriks, Literature Northwest, the list goes on.

(Image courtesy of the BBC.)

UPDATE: This had benefit concert written all over it, I thought, and I just read on Mancubist that Ear to The Ground have risen to the occasion, organising a benefit gig for affected traders May 28 in Stevenson Square. CIDS are apparently offering office/computer space for officeless workers, too. Anyone who needs workspace, or has workspace in their HQ to offer the displaced should email info at Awww.