Thursday, 31 December 2009
Then, 10 years on, a few months before the Noughties ended, I was in Marks & Spencer in Croydon when I saw a man coming down the escalator, talking to himself. I presumed he had one of those by-now-tediously-ubiquitous hands-free, in-ear phone thingies; and then I realised, no, he was just mad.
That, I think, goes part of the way to summing up the decade. Not my journey from Barcelona to Croydon (there’s another tale entirely) but the extent to which things that so recently were startling, almost uncanny, have so quickly become ordinary, unremarkable. And how often we forget the people who get lost down the cracks that those changes leave behind.
And as the Noughties finally trundles towards oblivion, it would seem a good time to bid farewell, although I may pop up with a few relevant nuggets in the coming months; for one thing I’ll almost certainly be nagging you to watch BBC2’s History of Now, which begins next week. If you’ve purchased my book, thank you, and if you’ve read it, even better. Why not tell us what you thought of it, either here, or at Amazon, Waterstone’s, Book Depository or the like? If you haven’t yet done so, from tomorrow you’ll have the perfect perspective from which to tell me how utterly wrong I really was about the decade, since it will finally have made the transition from Current Affairs to History. I always intended the book not to be a definitive statement, but the opening salvo in a debate, an argument, a conversation.
Over to you.
Wednesday, 30 December 2009
Forget all those best book, best film, best album polls: Glastonbury supremo Michael Eavis has seen off Fidel Castro and Monty Panesar to be named as Beard of the Noughties.
Also: a joint review of The Noughties and my Leonard Cohen tome in the Bangkok Post; and I’ll be popping up on Radio New Zealand some time tomorrow to chat about CCTV, Donald Rumsfeld, China and stuff. Hope to post details, links shortly.
Sunday, 27 December 2009
And in the Observer, David Mitchell coins a neat phrase for the SuBo/Jedward/John Sergeant phenomenon: “mediocrity chic”. While the Times looks ahead to 50 trends for the Teenies. Parasitic shoes. Cool.
Thursday, 24 December 2009
Monday, 21 December 2009
“Reality” grew to mean a particular type of closely choreographed and edited ultra-reality — a hyperventilating, tearful, exhibitionist spectacle initially hailed as the democratisation of television. Or, alternatively, as the lunatics taking over the asylum.
Sunday, 20 December 2009
Saturday, 19 December 2009
In partial vindication of my own musical judgement (in Chapter Eight of The Noughties), Rolling Stone magazine has dubbed Gnarls Barkley’s ‘Crazy’ as their song of the decade, with Radiohead and Green Day also showing up on the list, although Lily Allen is strangely absent.
Thursday, 17 December 2009
One of the most striking things about the Noughties is that when terrible things did happen – when planes really did start falling out of the sky – we greeted them with barely concealed excitement... it was the way these phenomena were latched on to, the apocalyptic fantasies they gave rise to. It was as if people wanted the world to be consumed in an orgiastic frenzy of ultra-violence, whether at the hand of Mother Nature or an Islamist cell in possession of a ‘dirty bomb’.
Wednesday, 16 December 2009
Tuesday, 15 December 2009
Presidents and entertainers scrap it out as The Times picks its people of the Noughties: Barack Obama just pips Simon Cowell to the top spot, while David Beckham edges George W Bush from the Top 10.
Meanwhile, last week’s BBC review of the people, stories, things etc of the decade comes to fruition, accompanied by a sage commentary from Peter York, Susie Dent, er... me...
Monday, 14 December 2009
Sunday, 13 December 2009
Saturday, 12 December 2009
Friday, 11 December 2009
Ah, here’s the sort of Noughties list we can all have fun with; the worst movies of the decade. It was the Indiana Jones comeback, unwieldy title and all, that did it for me; it represented the worst sin that a sequel can commit, tainting the original.
And in a similar vein, The Guardian asks for our worst books of the decade; “It's also hard to avoid mentioning Dan Brown,” says Sam Jordison, and that’s enough for me.
Thursday, 10 December 2009
A tradition of end-of-decade journalism is the mass obituary, but it’s not just people who died during the past 10 years. New York magazine mourns the loss of everything from the Rolodex to the porn mag, in its selection of Noughties obsolescence.
Wednesday, 9 December 2009
Tuesday, 8 December 2009
And with regards to the raw material of books, Countdown’s very own Susie Dent asks for our words of the decade.
Monday, 7 December 2009
Sunday, 6 December 2009
Not convinced? OK then, what do you suggest we call it?
Saturday, 5 December 2009
In the absence of any defining fashion trends for the Noughties, many frock fans simply turned their attention to what celebrities were wearing. Some observers, like the Go Fug Yourself blog, were even-handed: they castigated slebs for their crasser decisions, but were also generous to those who got it right. They were also careful to explain to those of us who don’t know Gucci from Pucci *why* some sartorial choices are just plain wrong. Others, as exemplified by this MSN article on the worst dressed stars of the decade, simply pointed and laughed. As did Lucy Jones of the Telegraph, although she was nominally applauding her subjects, which is even funnier.
Friday, 4 December 2009
Thursday, 3 December 2009
But still most of the media commentators seem to be under the delusion that they can provide some kind of all-seeing eye to the decade, pinpointing empirical truths.
Here’s an exception; in The Independent, 10 people – a banker, a doctor, a soldier and more – explain what the decade meant to them, and just to them. It may not be ‘The Truth’, but it’s honest.
Wednesday, 2 December 2009
Tuesday, 1 December 2009
Think of Dubai and what it represents: the idea that things can appear out of nowhere as if ready-made: it didn’t exist a moment ago and now here it is, fully formed. And what underpins this is the thing that underpins everything else: the pound or dollar sign.Oops.
Monday, 30 November 2009
Of course, these Best-of-the-Noughties lists aren’t all cooked up by a tiny cabal of substance-snuffling hacks you know. Sometimes there’s a semblance of democracy, as with The Guardian’s request for your Game of the Decade. Anyone for Facebook Scrabble?
PS: And the American Dialect Society is taking suggestions for its Word of the Decade.
Of course, in a morally and culturally relativist universe, there’s no definitive answer as to what the most important event of the Noughties might have been. A life-changer in one person’s life may be a minor blip in another’s. The shocking events of 9/11 and their aftermath, maybe? The financial crash, or perhaps devastation of the Asian tsunami? On a happier note, the technological innovations that brought what, 10 years ago, was the stuff of science-fiction, into the hands of the man or woman in the digital street? Or, of course, the fact that this was the decade in which Judas Priest got their old singer back. Rraaawwwwkk!!!
Sunday, 29 November 2009
In the Mirror, Brian Reade lays into the decade:
Looking back on it is almost as painful as looking at 40 photos of the office bore’s new baby. From the opening non-event in the Millennium Dome and the opening story, the Millennium Bug, it’s been 10 years of scares and scams. From jihad to Jedward, a decade that effectively started with a bang (9/11) and ended with a twitter.
Saturday, 28 November 2009
At least Q magazine does things a little differently. For a start, it avoids the awkwardness that many still feel about the word ‘Noughties’ by claiming that it’s offering up lists of the Artists and Albums ‘of the Century’. Which is accurate as far as it goes, but only postpones the agony for another 10 years, at which point presumably they’ll have to make a call on ‘Teens’ versus ‘Tens’.
Moreover, they get a bit Zeitgeisty by presenting the Top 100 not as a poll, but as the individual choices of ‘noted folk’, which is really a euphemism for ‘celebrities’. So we discover that KT Tunstall likes the Flaming Lips and Dizzee Rascal favours Young Jeezy, which is fair enough; but do we really need to know the choon preferences of Stringer Bell, the Master or Spongebob Squarepants? OK, I’ll give them the last one. He likes Oasis, by the way. Bless.
PS: Paul Morley doesn’t like those lists. Or does he?
Friday, 27 November 2009
In The Noughties, I argued that the real beginning and end of the decade occurred within a few blocks of each other, in New York. As the Dubai economy stumbles, could we be seeing the beginning of the next decade, when it’s what happens in Asia and the Middle East – rather than the tired old West – that really grabs our attention? When Dubai sneezes, how many of us are going to catch a cold?
PS: Charlie Brooker addresses the essential preposterousness of the whole thing.
Wikileaks has published the content of 500,000 pager messages sent on September 11, 2001. On 9/11, most of us wouldn’t have been able to get our heads around an idea such as Wikileaks. Now, at the end of the decade, some of us probably can’t get our heads around pagers. What other facets of the early part of the Noughties now seem quaint or even inconceivable to a child growing up at the end of the decade? Record shops? Terrestrial TV? One or two politicians you might trust with your wallet? (And on the subject of 9/11, can I just offer one more plug for what might just be the best novel of the decade, Frédéric Beigbeder’s Windows on the World? I just did, anyway.)
Thursday, 26 November 2009
A Japanese man has married a video game character. It’s a definitively Noughties story however you look at it. Either it sums up the extent to which many people exist in a state utterly divorced from ‘reality’ as most of use would define it; or it’s a classic case of the way respectable media organisations, lacking both time and resources, now pick up commercial stunts and virals masquerading as news and regurgitate them without even cursory fact checks. With a dlightly patronising side order of “only in Japan!”, of course.
Wednesday, 25 November 2009
Flipping through the NME’s commemorative Noughties edition is slightly disturbing for an old fart like me, not least because the editor reveals that as the new millennium dawned, she’d just turned 18. But they do offer a few decade-specific words and phrases that escaped our linguistic dustbuster. (See pp 167-174.)
Cougar (noun) A sexually aggressive older woman prone to preying on young men.
Fail (noun) A fail is not quite the same as a failure: the latter is something that wakes you up in cold sweats at 3am, while a fail is more of a matter for light-hearted ritual public humiliation in a knickers-tucked-into-your-skirt kind of way.
Nang (adjective) London kid word for good. Acceptable if you’re 14 and from Hackney.
Nintendonitis (noun) Wii-Fit related injuries prove that even pretend exercise can be dangerous.
Tuesday, 24 November 2009
Lists, lists and yet more of the buggers. The Telegraph offers its version of the 100 TV shows that defined the Noughties; no argument with what’s at number one, depressing as it may be. And seeing The Wire sandwiched between X Factor and Strictly reminds us what telly can be, and what it usually is.
(Younger readers may need to have it explained that the lady on the left is Helen Adams, who we thought personified stupidity in the Big Brother universe until Jade Goody showed up.)
Monday, 23 November 2009
And you can even vote for your favourite song of the Noughties.
(Is it just me, or has the decade finally degenerated into one huge I-Love TV show, with optional phone-vote extras?)
Saturday, 21 November 2009
Friday, 20 November 2009
Thursday, 19 November 2009
That said, if we’re talking favourites (a completely different matter, of course), numbers 6 and 7 would have to be in there, along with various bits and pieces by the White Stripes, Johnny Cash, Outkast, Belle and Sebastian, Camera Obscura, Super Furry Animals and the High Llamas. What about yours?
1. The Strokes - Is This It
2. The Libertines - Up The Bracket
3. Primal Scream - xtrmntr
4. Arctic Monkeys - Whatever People Say I Am, That's What I'm Not
5. Yeah Yeah Yeahs - Fever To Tell
6. PJ Harvey - Stories From the City, Stories From the Sea
7. Arcade Fire - Funeral
8. Interpol - Turn On The Bright Lights
9. The Streets - Original Pirate Material
10. Radiohead - In Rainbows
Wednesday, 18 November 2009
The Times, not to be outdone, offers its own books of the Noughties, and inevitably there’s plenty of overlap with the Telegraph’s list. Oddly, though, this selection is defined as the ‘best’ of the decade; which, since it includes the likes of Twilight and The Da Vinci Code (which also tops the ‘worst’ list), this really raises more questions than it answers.
Tuesday, 17 November 2009
The book was one of the few media formats that ended the Noughties in much the same shape as it began (although the increasing popularity of e-books of various flavours suggest that the next decade will tell another story). In the Telegraph, Brian MacArthur offer up 100 titles that define the Noughties.
Sunday, 15 November 2009
The nice people at Crimson books sent me an image of the cover for The Noughties book before it was printed, but only the front. It wasn’t until I was holding the real thing in my hands that I saw Simon Cowell decorating it. Initially, I thought it was a slightly camp, self-consciously ironic decision - but then, almost immediately, I realised that no, Cowell really is one of the most important people of the past decade, up there with Bush and Osama and all the rest. Marina Hyde says it better than I could:
Simon Cowell has created a system in which all possible outcomes benefit him. It is a sort of anti-chaos theory: a system wherein even vast differences in initial conditions have no real effect on the outcome. The system allows for them. You could run a million different variations of the show through a Los Alamos computer the size of a barn, and the end result would always be the same: Cowell wins. In the anti-chaos of The X Factor, a tsunami of votes for a rogue act would lead to the most butterfly-like of variations in his final scenario – the difference of about 37 pence in earnings of tens of millions. The house always wins. In fact, as a business model, it makes Las Vegas look bleeding-hearted.
Saturday, 14 November 2009
Friday, 13 November 2009
Thursday, 12 November 2009
The French writer Camille de Toledo endeavours to sum up the Noughties in his intriguing tome Coming of Age at the End of History (translated by Blake Ferris):
...But reality had lost the ability to examine itself through anything more significant than a prefix. The dominant spirit of the present has banished the image of cyclical time, of revolutionary time, and it now only dreams of a future covered in endless shades of gray. Instead of the radically new, all we’ve got is the cycle of fashion, seasonal novelty. A universe of tiny little variations on the same thing, just with more beats, more bass notes and more nothingness. The novelty item! That’s why we keep going back to music stores, to newsstands, to supermarkets and to bookstores. Post, post, post, after, after, after, new, new, new, neo, neo, neo. The whole bundle of prefixes is repeated with the incantatory passion of a high priestess in heat. Maybe sometimes with good intentions, but IN VAIN!
Good as far as it goes... except, when did you last set foot in a music store?
Wednesday, 11 November 2009
A few more that might have been included in the obituary section (pp 175-180): the Guardian identifies 10 species that we lost in the Noughties. Farewell to the Baji dolphin, the golden toad, the Western black rhino and more.
Tuesday, 10 November 2009
Sky TV asks us what we thought the best shows of the Noughties might have been. When I last checked, two BBC shows were tying for first place, which is amusingly off-message, but at least nobody’s going to complain that this is a stitch-up – which seems to be a running sore as far as TV-related votes go in the Noughties.
Anyway, what was your top show?
Monday, 9 November 2009
Sunday, 8 November 2009
(And the same from the Telegraph, although at least Mickey squeezes in here. But still some major gaps. What do you think?)
Saturday, 7 November 2009
No wonder Philip K Dick’s stories have become so popularised in cinematic form - in the guise of Minority Report (2002) and A Scanner Darkly (2008), which are both paranoid paeans to the past, and to the future. And no wonder Danny Dyer’s fake cockneyism has become popularised in a time when we all long for the ‘good old days’ when West Ham, Millwall and Chelsea fans could kick the shit out of each other. No wonder the backward-looking Life On Mars was a success. Even Dr Who has a decidedly retro feel about it. Yesterday and Dave and various Discovery and History channels have become successful avenues, and with good reason. The Noughties has been an epoch of endless re-remembering.
Friday, 6 November 2009
Nelly Arcan, writer
Josette Baujot, illustrator
Ludovic Kennedy, writer, broadcaster
Claude Lévi-Strauss, anthropologist
Norman Painting, actor, writer
Robert Rines, cryptozoologist
Soupy Sales, comedian
David Shepherd, cricket umpire
Nancy Spero, artist
Joseph Wiseman, actor
Shaun Wylie, codebreaker
Wednesday, 4 November 2009
Will get back to you later with the unsolicited answer to that presumably rhetorical question.
[UPDATE: Well, since the talking-heads style Top-100 format was one of the definitive televisual forms of the decade, maybe It Was. I must admit to being slightly miffed that I wasn’t asked to contribute, but Will Self pretty much spoke on my behalf, especially when it came to The Da Vinci Code. And to clarify, it’s not undergoing multiple repeats - this was simply Part One of four programmes. What’s the betting that 9/11 is #1?]
Tuesday, 3 November 2009
In the Conclusion to The Noughties, I indulge in a little amateur futurology, while acknowledging that such a practice leaves the author open to any amount of retrospective embarrassment. I wonder how, in four decades’ time, we’ll perceive Michael Hanlon’s Daily Mail article on the perils of the Internet:
It is a Britain, indeed a world, where the private individual has ceased to exist, and one in which an unholy alliance of the state and Mammon rules our lives with powers that would have made Stalin sick with envy.Fear and technology indeed...
Monday, 2 November 2009
Noughties culture might best be summed up by this; Martin Amis vs Katie ‘Jordan’ Price:
“She has no waist, no arse ... an interesting face ... but all we are really worshipping is two bags of silicone.”And on roughly the same theme, at my other blog, I finally pinpoint the film that encapsulates the decade.
The rise of social media is ironic at a time when the consumerist egomania of the eighties has enjoyed a revival. There’s a reason MC Hammer pants are back in fashion and it’s not just because Vogue says so.
Sunday, 1 November 2009
In Chapter Eight of The Noughties, I suggested that Lily Allen, above any other musician, was able to encapsulate the decade, both with the multi-platform nature of her rise to fame, and the uneasy combination of rampant consumerism and creeping paranoia that permeates her 2008 hit ‘The Fear’.
But now she claims to have moved on, giving up MySpace, Twitter, even YouTube. “I’ve thrown away my laptop,” she says. “I haven’t got a Blackberry and I listen to records. It’s amazing.”
Records, eh? I remember them. The question is, has she stepped back to the analogue Nineties; or simply defined a new agenda for the Teens?
To understand just how disproportionate this is, consider the corollary: what if Peter Mandelson proposed a rule to terminate the internet access of any movie studio or record company accused of three baseless copyright claims against the public? We could go down to all Universal offices and data centres with a huge pair of boltcutters and snip its net wires at the junction box.
Friday, 30 October 2009
Not so much a Noughties story, more one for the teens and onwards: Icann’s decision to allow non-Latin web addresses will at a stroke shift the global balance of power to what we still call the developing world. The next question is: at what point will English cease to be the default global language? See Chapter Nine.
Wednesday, 28 October 2009
Some more words and phrases, taken from Shoot the Puppy, by Tony Thorne. Also see pp 167-174 of The Noughties.
aggressive records management: destroying incriminating documents
alumnized: dismissed, made redundant
assisted departure: see ‘alumnized’
change of reporting relationship: demotion
contingent commission: bribe
human sacrifice: see ‘assisted departure’
live ambient point-of-sale: confrontation between seller and customer
percussive maintenance: hitting a device to make it work
Sunday, 25 October 2009
A hundred years ago, our Edwardian predecessors were obsessed less by the danger of a world war than by the threat of political terrorism. And while the anarchist bomber cast a long shadow, other issues monopolised public attention in a way that now seems almost ludicrous. To the Edwardians, the great questions of the day were Home Rule for Ireland, the People’s Budget and the composition of the House of Lords. But when we look back, all we can see is the looming hulk of the First World War.
Friday, 23 October 2009
Thursday, 22 October 2009
Wednesday, 21 October 2009
Tuesday, 20 October 2009
Part of the role of literature is to express the general through the particular. This was George Eliot’s dictum – to express the drama of the human condition by describing the lives of ordinary people. And there are so many personal experiences throughout this crisis which could have helped illustrate the bigger picture: the greed of investors, the delusion of the bankers, the drama people felt when they realised the ideas they had pinned their future on had simply been wrong.
Monday, 19 October 2009
Journalists who don’t understand what Twitter really is (the overwhelming majority) will use my name as a kind of shorthand for the service. The fact that I have been on it for a whole year (ie a decade, see second paragraph above) and have in that time accumulated a fairly large number of followers allows them lazily to go straight to my “Twitter feed” (as they insist on calling it) and either crediting me with being a kind of a Citizen Smith of the Twitting Popular Front, or blaming me for hypocritically claiming to strike blows for press freedom with one hand while trying to censor journalism with the other.
The centuries of prattle, of air time and screen time, the miles of column inches are a sickening misuse of the gift of life, of health and adequate nutrition, of freedom from oppression, of the access we now have to the world of knowledge and the arts.
Saturday, 17 October 2009
2009 is surely the Year of Twitter.
Friday, 16 October 2009
Content is not cost free. Writing is work. Musicianship involves cost and labour, art is not innately free, nor the infrastructure of news reporting. Until food, clothes, housing and transport are doled out free, content-makers need to be paid. The theory that advertising revenues will cover that, in any medium, is tosh.That said, those nice people at Amazon seem to be edging over to Anderson’s side of the bed. Amazon Vine is offering the chance to get a free copy of The Noughties: go here for details.
Thursday, 15 October 2009
(See Chapter Four for more about the books of the past 10 years.)
Wednesday, 14 October 2009
The efforts of bloggers and Tweeters to stand up against the oil company Trafigura (which was attempting to prevent the Guardian newspaper from reporting that an MP had asked a question in Parliament about illegal dumping of toxic waste in the Ivory Coast) may not have been so dramatic, but with any luck they’ll have reminded a few corporate interests that the rules have changed for good.
Full story here.
Tuesday, 13 October 2009
Monday, 12 October 2009
Felix Bowness, actor
Sadie Corré, actor
Marek Edelman, survivor of the Warsaw ghetto
Michael English, artist, musician
Stephen Gately, singer
Gladys ‘Killem’ Gillem, wrestler
Bobby Graham, musician
Barry Letts, TV producer
Irving Penn, photographer
Mercedes Sosa, singer
Harry Alan Towers, film producer
Lucy Vodden, in the Sky, with Diamonds
Sunday, 11 October 2009
(And was ‘Groovejet’ released less than 10 years ago? Crikey.)
Saturday, 10 October 2009
If One & Other is an image of British democratic life in our time, it is a pessimistic one. It is a portrait of a society in which people will try anything to get their voices heard, even stand on a plinth, but where no one can hear what they’re saying.
Friday, 9 October 2009
Thursday, 8 October 2009
Wednesday, 7 October 2009
Now, entertainment and money meet invasion of privacy once again in the form of Internet Eyes, a game of sorts, that streams live CCTV footage to the home computers of players. Spot a crime being committed, and win £1,000. Michael Laurie of Crimestoppers is unimpressed: “While the motive may be sound, the concept of Internet Eyes seems to ask more questions than it answers,” he says.
Tuesday, 6 October 2009
Here’s the Top 10, for comparison:
- Radiohead, Kid A
- Arcade Fire, Funeral
- Daft Punk, Discovery
- Wilco, Yankee Hotel Foxtrot
- Jay-Z, The Blueprint
- Modest Mouse, The Moon & Antarctica
- The Strokes, Is This It
- Sigur Rós, Ágaetis Byrun
- Panda Bear, Person Pitch
- The Avalanches, Since I Left You
Monday, 5 October 2009
In fine contemporary fashion with not just a double but a triple title, this is a zip through the last ten years for anyone who was there but somehow felt that they missed it, like a Guardian Weekly for an entire decade. Taking us neatly from 9/11 to the credit crunch, by way of the War on Terror, climate change, US TV drama and social networking, The Noughties glides swan-like through something that feels a lot more coherent than the decade itself feels / felt. It is useful to have events prioritised and summarised, but the fragmentation of the media which is a theme of the book make this process itself seem a little old fashioned. Not that it should be old fashioned, necessarily. The conclusion talks about the shift in culture over the twentieth century, when popular culture took over from high culture, and describes where the democratising influence of the internet has taken this. And not just the internet. De-centralisation seems to touch everything: war is de-centralised by being waged upon a noun (what causes more terror than war, exactly?); news is de-centralised by being taken away from professional journalists; wealth is de-centralised by the shift in the global economy towards Asia (and de-stabilised by becoming an abstraction of an abstraction); music is de-centralised in one sense by being taken away from the music industry, and in another by its increasing disconnection from fame; even truth is outsourced to something identified here as ‘truthiness’, which is ‘the quality of stating concepts or facts one wishes or believes to be true, rather than those known to be true’ (p. 160). It is right that we do this, it is right that we do that. Some of this de-centralisation is bad, but by no means all. Either way, it is here to stay. It will be interesting to see what happens next.Also a couple of late-breaking Amazon reviews.
Sunday, 4 October 2009
Friday, 2 October 2009
For example, Twitter Tim.es, which takes the content from your Twitter account and makes it look like a newspaper. It’s as if Henry Ford had launched the Model T, and offered a free horse with each car.
Also on the Noughties/Twitter interface, here’s Noughtiesclock, counting down to the end of the decade; by which point, will we have decided what the next one’s going to be called? I’m still pitching for ‘The Teens’. You?
Thursday, 1 October 2009
Wednesday, 30 September 2009
Anyway, here’s Uncut’s Top 10:
- The White Stripes, White Blood Cells
- Bob Dylan, Love And Theft
- Wilco, A Ghost Is Born
- Brian Wilson, Smile
- The Strokes, Is This It
- Robert Plant & Alison Krauss, Raising Sand
- The Arcade Fire, Funeral
- Bob Dylan, Modern Times
- Ryan Adams, Heartbreaker
- Fleet Foxes, Fleet Foxes
Monday, 28 September 2009
Sunday, 27 September 2009
- The Obamas
- The Murdochs
- Marwan Barghouti
- Eric Schmidt, Larry Page and Sergey Brin
- General Stanley McChrystal
- Malalai Joya
- Vladimir Putin
- Osama Bin Laden
- Nouriel Roubini
- Xi Jinping
Friday, 25 September 2009
Experts predict that the penultimate catastrophe will occur at approximately 7:15 p.m. Thursday night, when the social networking tool Twitter will be used to communicate a series of ideas so banal they will instantaneously negate the three centuries of the Renaissance.The Onion, as ever, grasps the Noughties more surely than 97% of the ‘real’ news media. But has Twitter (and texting, instant messaging, reality TV and all the cultural villains of our age) really made us more stupid? Or just differently clever?
Thursday, 24 September 2009
Neil’s Top 10:
10. Outkast, ‘Hey Ya’ (2003)
9. Kylie Minogue, ‘Can’t Get You Out Of My Head’ (2001)
8. The White Stripes, ‘Seven Nation Army' (2003)
7. Johnny Cash, ‘Hurt’ (2002)
6. Leona Lewis, ‘Bleeding Love’ (2008)
5. M.I.A., ‘Paper Planes’ (2008)
4. Coldplay, ‘Yellow’ (2000)
3. Beyonce, ‘Crazy In Love’ (2003)
2. Arctic Monkeys, ‘I Bet You Look Good On The Dancefloor’ (2005)
1. Amy Winehouse, ‘Rehab’ (2006)
Wednesday, 23 September 2009
Sadly, although we knew Brown’s sequel to The Da Vinci Code was in the pipeline, it was embargoed until the middle of this month. The subject matter of The Lost Symbol is a little less provocative than that of his previous volume – Freemasonry rather than Catholicism – which has enabled critics to focus their energies on another controversial facet of Brown’s success: his writing skills. How can such as bad writer sell so many copies? Is he really a bad writer, or is just not a ‘literary’ writer? Do such distinctions matter? In a decade of e-mail, Twitter and texting, how many people know or care? Here are a few contributions to the debate, from the Daily Telegraph (London) and the Globe and Mail (Toronto). Philip Pullman hates it; John Grisham is more sympathetic. At the Daily Beast, Michael Baigent (who unsucessfully sued Brown for plagiarism) is dismissive; Brennig Jones, meanwhile, castigates those who castigate Brown, but doesn’t actually say he’s any good.
In fact, nobody does; the best his fans can come up with is “I like it”, which isn’t quite the same. Is one of the best-selling authors of the Noughties literally indefensible? And what does that say about our age?