Friday, June 29, 2007

Goth beach party

How do you make a 16-year-old Manc goth miserable? Turn their fave hangout into an "urban beach". Unless its a grim, overcast winter beach off the North Yorks. Moors those Urbis marketing folk want to recreate with the 80 tonnes of sand they're trucking in - though, somehow, I doubt it. Beach Club Manchester looks more Bacardi Breezer than cider and black.

You can read the whole sordid tale, and get links to pro- and anti- beach campaigners' myspace pages (of course they have myspace pages) at Whathappenedlastnight.
The beach was meant to be in business June 25, but has been delayed until July. Check here for more info.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

It's quiffs at dawn!

Panic on the streets of London! The Star and Garter's revered-in-Manchester-among-people-who-like-that-sort-of-thing Smiths Disco has a challenger for the title of place in town you're most likely to meet a pale girl in pearls who has the words to English Blood, Irish Heart tattooed on her thigh.

(For those who haven't been, it's an ecstatic group singalong rather than a disco - Of course you can't really dance to a Smiths song; it's more a matter of bobbing around either archly or despondently as the song requires.)

Young upstart "Malajusted" bills itself as a new Morrissey/Smiths night on the third Thursday of the Month. Unfortunately, it's at Overdraught, which is a bit shit, and definitely can't compete with the pitch-perfect shabbiness of the upstairs room at the S & G, where the Smiths disco is held the first Friday of the month. Or can it? Maybe we should organise a showdown. God, could you imagine that?

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Wednesday is art day

I've been terrible at the posting. Really, what kind of example am I to young bloggers? But I've been recovering from a week at Arvon's Science Fiction and Fantasy writing course (which I highly recommend) along with a bunch of lovely people including Graham Joyce and Liz Williams. Go buy their books! Though I've now let my alter-ego as an SF/Fantasy writer out of the bag. Shit. My alter ego has its own blog, and I may even start posting on it one day. Finishing novel more important, though.

To make amends for being a bad blogger I bring you some arty, Manchester-specific news:

This Friday there's a pretty cool gig at Greenroom. In connection with the launch of Castlefield Gallery's show To The Left of the Rising Sun, Iceland-based artist and composer Ben Frost performs work from his latest album. They say: "Influenced by the stark natural environment of his new home country and the contrasting abysmal winter darkness and endless summer light, Frost’s soundscape references the Baroque and the sublime and carries its audience into unexplored territories."

Next door same night, it's the opening of the Cornerhouse's ArtRadio project, which looks interesting.

There's a call for participants for a performance event as part of the Manchester International Festival. They say:

We are looking to find 90 people by Friday who are willing to share stories about someone who has vanished from their lives (either because of a relationship breakdown, death, relocation, paranormal disappearance, etc.) Artist Michael Mayhew will then use these stories as the basis for his performance piece. If you would like to share your story, please contact ag at to book a slot on June 29th.

Also, Manchester-based artist Paul Harfleet has a great blog where he writes a lot about his practice, which I'm adding to the blogroll. Some of you may know him as one half of the duo behind Apartment, the artist-run exhibition space that happens to also be Paul's council tower block flat.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

You can do amazing things with dominoes

I'm gonna be away all this week in sunny Heptonstall, West Yorks. So here's a video to keep you amused (the song is Ankle Injuries by Fujiya & Miyagi)and keep me from feeling like a blogslacker. Kind of.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Manchester Blog Awards 2007

I'm happy to tell you that the Second Annual Manchester Blog Awards are in the works, and they're going to be bigger and better than last year.

The judges will be picking winners in the same categories as last year (political, arts and culture, best personal blog and blog of the year) as well as a new category that recognises the best creative writing on a blog. And we're sorting out cash prizes for the winners this year. I'll let you know about how to nominate blogs closer to the time.

We're getting our own star-studded event where we'll have even more readings from bloggers, an exciting guest speaker, and the city's music bloggers are going to be asked to do some dj-ing (so don't even think about going to a gig that night. I'm looking at you, GirlonaTrain and JustHipper.)

The blog awards going to be happening during the Manchester Literature Festival on Wednesday, October 10, at around 7:30 in a new venue on Oldham Street called Moho Live (this is all tbc for now). Put it on the calendar.

We're also planning some blogging workshops during the festival - more info on that later.

So... does any one of you design wizards feel like whipping up a "second annual blog awards" logo? And if anyone has any ideas or strong opinions about this year's blog awards, speak up.

Friday, June 08, 2007

The Birdman cometh

The amazing Andrew Bird is playing tonight at the Academy. If you're not familiar with him, his website has a streaming radio station that only plays his songs. Just thought someone might want to know. I'm going and I'm dead excited.

The picture is of a male passenger pigeon.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Social networking : enough already

"I've added you as a friend on Facebook". I'm getting lots of these emails lately, and I can only guess that every time someone signs up to Facebook, there's some button they click that sends these messages to their whole contacts list. Cut it out. I've got social networking fatigue. Between blogging and checking in with the MySpace (and how come the Log Lady hasn't added me yet?) do I really have time to invest in a whole new social networking platform?

Up to this point I've been a big champion of the new ways that technology has helped us collaborate, how it has juiced up creative endeavours and been generally a good thing for the way writers, artists and musicians work. But lately I feel like all this electroclutter, and these snippets of circuitry-aided pseudointeraction, are becoming a little distracting. When I'm checking who's written what on my wall, that's time I'm not accomplishing work (which also involves gazing at a computer, making me less inclined to do it in my free time) or having more meaningful direct interactions with real people.

I had a similar angst about signing up with MySpace, and delayed that until it was clear that, despite its general horridness, it was one of the most effective ways to keep up with cultural goings-on around here (in the absence of, oh, I don't know... a good listings magazine.) Because everyone else was using it by then. If the same thing happens with Facebook, and the benefits seem to be worth the trouble, I may decide to join up. But it makes me tired thinking about it.

Some of this social networking stuff totally turns me off from the get-go. Twitter seems to involve broadcasting inanities about my mood and whereabouts to a whole bunch of people and getting deluged with similar uselessly annoying updates from them. Why would I want to do that? Plus, the name is ridiculous.

Other stuff is more compelling. When I read the Tech section of the Guardian I sometimes regret not having a presence on Second Life, like I'm missing out on some virtual party. But there's something really sad about those pixelated pictures in the newspaper of busty/muscular avatars congregating on some imaginary island. And really, who needs a Second Life? I'm still quite enjoying the first one, thanks very much, and as it is I never have enough time to do all the things I want to do, read all the books I want to read, have actual conversations with actual breathing people, etc. That is not living.

(Image from Moriash Moreau's blog, which details his daily existence on Second Life)

Monday, June 04, 2007

Fishing for new blogs

Holy cats! What rip-roaringly exciting new blogs I have for you this week.

I've been doing some more work looking at the juxtaposition of creative writing and blogs lately, so I was delighted to find that Manchester writer Chris Killen is writing a novel on his blog, a chapter a day. It's called untitled 'supermarket nightmare'. Go read it. It's ace. He's also running a competition which you should probably know about:

i am starting an untitled 'supermarket nightmare' competition. the competition is titled "write chapter 50". if you would like to enter the competition, please write chapter 50 and post it below as a comment. you have about thirty days or so to enter.
if anyone enters, i will choose the entry i like best and it will be chapter 50.
i don't think anyone will enter the competition.
if you enter the competition it might really fuck up the writing of this novel.
please enter the competition.

Also new to the blogroll is Mount St Helens weeps lava tears. It's the blog of Chadderton-based cartoonist John Allison, who is responsible for the comic Scary Go Round. (Um, how come nobody told me about that. It's really good and it's only been going for five years.)

John recently attended All Tomorrow's Parties and posted a review. Here's a bit:

SLINT - alas I am making some macaroni at this point ?/10
MICAH P. HINSON - nothing a nice gargle wouldn't fix 7/10
BAT FOR LASHES - were playing crazy golf directly in front of me this morning 7.5/10
BAND OF HORSES - best band of the weekend 9.5/10
MODEST MOUSE - v.good but Johnny Marr is not going to be in the band for very long because he obviously wants to be in charge 8/10
CAPRICORNS - I had to play darts on my mobile phone to take my mind off this mess 1/10
GRIZZLY BEAR - hippies 6.5/10
DO MAKE SAY THINK - I have never been more tired zzz/10

Sounds about right. Thanks to Sheshark of the newly-revitalised If You're Sad and Like Beer for the tip.

What's with the fish picture? Well, that's Sammy the Salmon. More info at the Mersey Basin Campaign.

Burnt to the Ground report

Burnt to the Ground was a lovely afternoon out, very chilled and pleasant. I heard a few people saying how much it was like D.Percussion used to be, before it was overrun with menacing scallies and scarily wasted people. Plus when you paid your donation you got a nifty orange sticker that said "Are you the God of Hell Fire?", which I loved.

The few bands I saw were good, though the DJ area (with one bloke doggedly dancing solo) was too close to the main stage, Stevie Square not being all that big really, and if you hung out in the middle your ears were hurt by clashing-music-din. And watching the skateboarders take turns on the ramp trucked in by SkateMCR was strangely mesmerising.

There were older people, younger people, and even plenty of kids there. Loads of kids, in fact. In the middle of Broke n'£nglish's set of full-on Manc rap there was a tiny little boy sitting on the ground in the middle of the bouncing crowd filling a notebook with painstaking drawings of superheroes and video game characters. It was the kind of place where that could happen, and it would be okay. Though after talking to my friend Hazel, I'm half-convinced that the only reason some people bring their kids to these things is so they can smuggle in contraband beer in the stroller (apparently they never check 'em.)

Sadly, I missed out on Arthur Brown's performance, because I was eating what I now firmly believe to be the best dim sum in Manchester over at Pacific. But yes, he did bring his awesome flaming helmet. Wish I'd seen it! The above picture comes from laptoppingpong. Spinneyhead has loads up too.