Julie Burchill – ‘Christian Zionist, feminist and socialist’ should not blog while pissed

Erstwhile NME bright young thing Julie Burchill is inducing coffee sprays the length and breadth of the land with her blog about God. Words which have particularly riled, in addition to her harping on in the same blog about her voluntary work, are:

“I believe in the God of the Old Testament, whom I understand as the Lord of the Jews and the Protestants.”

Is He not also the god of the Catholics and Muslims? Ahem, being a socialist feminist and believing in the God of the Heebs are mutually exclusive.

“… the wretched Church of Rome.” Easy, girl.

“I shall doubtless continue to give away money like a sailor on shore leave.” The third (!) such mention of her generosity, not to mention the self-serving link to a Telegraph article detailing her charidee.

Burchill’s judeophilia is amusing considering it’s minority activity. She was highlighted in the Jewish Chronicle for being a friend of the Joos and penned a piece for Israeli daily Haaretz bashing the Guardian for its “virulent antisemitism.” So from a Jewish point of view, I guess we should be glad she’s in the pro camp. That aside, this is the worst article ever given the oxygen of publicity on Cif’s now hallowed pages. Her article has already racked up close to 500 vitriolic comments from the site’s most vociferous followers, in what’s becoming Mike Read marque II.

Advertisements

Oh you damn Guardianistas

The Grauniad, when asking why the spirit of Glastonbury is fizzling out (too commercial! Too middle class!) should look a little closer to home. Since sponsoring the festival for the past couple of years and hyping it to the heavens even on its obiturary pages (okay maybe not), the paper is inadvertedly promoting a death knell of sorts (most certainly). We read of smug hacks packing their floral wellies and skipping off on their self-ingratiating Pilton jolly at the same time that the festival has seen its demographic creep closer and closer to 30-plus. A connection here surely?

Unsurprisingly, in asking whether Glastonbury mania is over in today’s paper, the sponsors naturally do their best to assure us it’s not, and even go as far to suggest that the abominable decision to have a rapper headline is not the reason for sluggish ticket sales. And in a whine/excuse as inane as the rail network’s “leaves on the line”, the April snow flurries get a mention apropos of the unpredictability of the British climate. Pah, we live here and don’t need to be told that! Come June, the festival will be buzzing, we’re told. But even more reliable come the summer solstice is the self-aggrandisement of their writers and decisions made in townhouses that “ooh next year we’ll go along.” Yah-boo to you too.

The way they were – Elastica

Justine Frischmann formed Suede with her then boyfriend Brett Anderson in 1989. The two met on the first day of the new term at University College London. Brett was enrolled on a town planning course but Justine convinced him to switch to architecture. Later remarking in an interview, she didn’t know at that first encounter whether the famously androgynous Anderson was a boy or a girl. Frischmann played rhythm guitar in Suede’s earliest incarnation but left in 1991 after becoming sidelined in the band’s songwriting process: “I was the token girl standing at the back strumming a guitar and I felt totally frustrated”, she said.

Elastica were formed soon after via advertisements in the music press. The final lineup was in place by 1993. Though Frischmann knew drummer Justin Welch from their brief spell in Suede together; Welch played drums on Suede’s first (unreleased) single ‘Be My God’.

One of the earliest promo shots; courtesy Tony

1993 saw the release of the band’s first single, ‘Stutter’. ‘Lineup’ followed a few months later. The singles were typical of Elastica’s sound; the band played short sets of around 20 minutes crammed with explosive 2 minute songs. Their media profile remained high due to Frischmann’s well-placed connections. Not only had she dated Anderson but had left him for Blur’s Damon Albarn. The couple were relentlessly pursued by the press with the Sun labelling Frischmann ‘Blur Indoors’.

Their debut record Elastica was released in March 1995 on Steve Lamacq’s Deceptive label. Lamacq had been heavily involved with promoting Elastica and is largely credited with having ‘discovered’ them. Frischmann described years later their first meeting at a pub in London’s Cambridge Circus where she was impressed with Lamacq’s casual “yeah we’ll put out your record if you want” line. Entering the charts at number one, Elastica became the UK’s fastest selling debut, taking that honour away from Oasis’s Definitely Maybe, released seven months earlier. The record was a popular and critical success containing several outstanding singles including ‘Connection’ and ‘Waking Up’.

Promo shot, Juergen Teller

However, from 1996 to 1998 the band fell victim to heroin addiction and a follow-up LP was years away. Relationships in the band deteriorated, perhaps a product of Frischmann’s controlling personality – the rest of the band had dubbed her the ‘Fuehrer’ at some point. Elastica were always Frischmann’s band; she wrote most of the music and performed lead vocals in her cool monotone.

 

The late 90s saw a couple of lineup changes and the sophomore record was finally released in 2000. Entitled The Menace, the main thing people remember about it is the wait. With no obvious single, the record is considered as an entire body of work; where Elastica was in parts a smart and sexy dissection of male sexual ineptitude, The Menace is cerebral and detached and has a preponderance of slower numbers, lacking on the debut. Elastica split a year later, releasing this statement:

 

“Believe it or not elastica have been together for almost ten years which is probably as long as any band should be together. I know it’s hard to believe but then we did spend quite a while in the middle dithering and being perfectionists. The band has broken up on extremely good terms with each other. Any personal problems from years ago have been happily put to bed – and I think we all agree that we had an amazing time.”

Of the original lineup, Frischmann is currently living in Colorado and is studying psychology. She has produced material for MIA and White Rose Movement and fronted a BBC3 architecture series. Donna Matthews is head of the Christian union at Dartlington College of Arts; Justin Welch is married and living in Devon; Annie Holland’s whereabouts are unknown.

Unzipped ~ The Borderline

If you’re a midtwentysomething and have been working at a paper mill all day prior to your jolly old backslapping night out, the prospect of the schlep to Highbury and Islington doesn’t exactly grab you, especially if sleb-by-association Peaches Geldof’s grinning mug adorns the promotional shots at the club night which was taking place there. Which was the Cave Club. More on that in the future at some point.

The Argyll on the street of the same name was to host our pre-dance catch-up. It’s palatial. Not too different from a 1920s smoking room with frosted glass pane panels demarcating a zigzag approach to the main bar. Borderline ballroom-esque ultimately. Cute staff who permit us a spend of less than a tenner on plastic “because you look nice” are a convenient add-on.

Time to go dancing! We check out Unzipped at the Fly on New Oxford St. And we won’t be back. Which means you get two club reviews in one article. Although we did dance to one song. Anyhow, we shoulda known the three quid invite was a pretext for desperation. I’m remaining outside until the DJ realises cloth ears are not conducive to being a good mixmeister (unlikely) or whatever bland soul track currently playing peters out (thank God it has). Three quid, well a drinker would argue that’s less pence than a soft drink so we tumble in against a forgettable soundtrack but it’s Sofi’s “let’s just get drunk!” holler that resonates in my ear (if not with my idea of a good night). Gin and tonic for me though, prompting this asinine sneer: “Geee n teee, how old’re you?” But not from the bar staff (who to the place’s credit, are quite demure). Yuk, some wideboy. I’m positive Dot Cotton prefers sherry, no?

And the music? Blur’s brilliant pastiche of the 18 – 30s package deal, ‘Boys and Girls’ is great but Chemical Brothers elicits 2007’s probably unofficial word of the year, ‘meh’. We’re like so already over the road. En route to the Borderline in case ye ask, off Charing X Road. I hadn’t been here for the club night since August 2006. Which has a lot to do with Feeling Gloomy being so amazing. 

“Seven quid ladies”. No, that’s not what we are, although we do ask, “You do us for six?” Aww lovely. It’s rammed and sweaty in here. But everyone that comes here knows this and doesn’t seem to care. ‘Cigarettes and Alcohol’ blasts out, Smiths, Arcade Fire, the Stone Roses; it’s like Xfm’s Weekender show but with nothing recent. ‘Got any Maximo Park?’ asks Sof. ‘Too late for that now’, comes the swift rejoinder. 3 am and it’s over all too soon 😦

Max Gogarty, the Guardian and nepotism

Reading the Observer yesterday evening brought my attention to a certain Max Gogarty, 19. From north London, this middle class lad is embarking on a gap year trip taking in India and Thailand. Nothing extraordinary there. But his journey across south-east Asia would be documented on The Guardian’s popular travel blog. Is this the new Charlie Brooker if he’s landed such a prime outlet to document his sojourn? Initially Gogarty’s inane, talentless prose describing his iminent jolly had office workers venting their disgust that he merit his own blog. Then one poster googled him and it became apparent that his father is sometime Guardian travel writer Paul Gogarty. Wikipedia’s article on nepotism featured him, though I believe that amendment has now been withdrawn. Once the link to the other Gogarty had been established, his blog was panned in a mostly witty fashion, making for hilarious reading. Commenters admitted they didn’t get much work done on Thursday for their want of refreshing the page every 2 minutes to see who else had pummelled Gogarty Jnr, in an online hammering that’s known as ‘going viral’. Comparisons were drawn between Gogarty’s and Mike Read’s classic 1000+ comments piece, in which the DJ explained why he wasn’t running for Mayor of London but would be lending his support to the Tory contender Boris Johnson. In an allusion to that blog, one poster suggested the most pertinent question was ‘who is Max Gogarty supporting in the mayoral contest?’ With virtually every post taking the form of a verbal attack on Max and the commissioning editors at the Grauniad, Gogarty’s father weighed in saying it was an example of classism and plain jealousy. With no sign of a let up, the picture link (in which the author unfortunately sported aviator shades) to the blog from the Guardian mainpage was hastily removed. His son, presumably upon the advice of his father and Guardian editors but probably on his own accord after reading the tirade he had foolishly initiated, pulled the blog and comments were closed. What of the writing itself? Well, Gogarty does write stuff for the C4 teen drama ‘Skins’ so we’re expecting something of higher calibre than the dross of Peaches Geldof on Guardian pages a year or so back. If only. His tone is incredibly smug and self-indulgent and we’re left hoping he doesn’t get laid by one of those beautiful girls he’s daydreaming about and when he does the where’s-the-gag-bag ‘finding myself’ thing, he realises what a twat he comes off as. The good thing as I’ve mentioned is that the blog was pulled – think of all the thousands of young aspiring journalists who apply to write pieces for the Guardian but who don’t have fathers who already write for the paper. And the debate on nepotism within journalism is getting a good hearing.

Glasvegas

glasvegas3.jpg

Year Zero presents Glasvegas at the Barfly

Indie mogul Alan McGee hails the Glaswegian fourpiece as the best Scottish band he’s seen in 20 years. The NME rated their single ‘Daddy’s Gone’ as the second best track of 2007. That goes some way to explaining why the queue to see the Jesus & Mary Chain-influenced rockers is stretching down Chalk Farm Road. Superficially coming off as a wall-of-sound machine, Glasvegas actually take their lead from classic doo-wop groups. They are a sublime clash of opposites: early Nineties shoegaze meets early Sixties girl groups (replete with retro mics), with ambitions the size of epic popular anthems. And there is nobody else out there who has this sound.

Current single ‘It’s My Own Cheating Heart That Makes Me Cry”s sparse guitar shards are the cue for singer James Allan to throw his Joe Strummer swagger at us. Belting out in the vernacular, his Spector-indebted sound is a winner tonight.

‘Geraldine’ is utterly fantastic. Back at the mixing desk at this intimate venue, we slump against the wall and let it wash over us. Like some kind of therapy. A cigarette would top it off.

McGee hasn’t touted a decent band since the mid-90s, hence his hype turns many off. But this time he might have got it right.

Kike Like Me

kikes_like_me.jpg

“Are you Jewish?”

Perceiving it as a loaded question, Jamie Kastner takes his cue from balshy documentary star Michael Moore and begins a road trip from New York to Auschwitz seeking motives behind the question.  

Beginning with a shotgun bar mitzvah in Brooklyn by proselytising Chasidim, things become decidedly less kosher. Kastner is turfed from Pat ‘Pitbull of the Right’ Buchanan’s living room after asking why the US commentator slates Jewish Neocons. Drumming up debate with local Arab kids in a Parisian suburb reveals stereotypes lie just below the surface, “if you’re Jewish we don’t like you – you’ll f**k us over.” 

Kastner finds his brethen are regarded with equal disdain in London. An American Jew is repatriating citing escalating antisemitism – “On the TV you have shots of the IDF soldier with his designer shades aiming his rifle at the Palestinians… And I can’t mention Israel to my British friends”, she sighs. Elsewhere in the capital, a newspaper columnist admits he doesn’t read letters from readers with “Jewish-sounding names”. Sheesh! 

Despite this negativity, Kastner’s sarcastic asides to the camera make this a tongue-in-cheek poke at Jewish identity, and he has ample fodder when he reaches the Polish city of Krakow. So hard-pushed are the locals to recreate a Jewish quarter (60,000 Jews used to live here) that Goyim are opening Kosher restaurants and staffing the synagogue. 

Irreverance is firmly checked at the gates however when the crew addresses ‘Holocaust tourism’.“I don’t have to go and see ovens to know that this all happened”, blasts Kastner as he ignores his cameraman’s pleas that he visit the rest of the death camp. 

The film is more an expose of closet antisemitism than about what it means to be Jewish. Perhaps in the Q&A session following the film, Kastner would shed some light on the emotive issues his film raised. Or then again not. The obvious question, “are you proud to be Jewish?” was rebutted with a shrug of the shoulders and a nonchalant “does it matter?”