Wednesday, April 28, 2004Driving in your car, I never never want to go home...
Abstractboy is definitely not a carperson. There really isn't a need. He has always lived in a city, he is always going to live in a city. And he probably won't ever have enough money. Besides, public transport isn't really that bad. It's really rather good in London, despite everyone moaning about it alllllll the time.
But every now and then, Abstractboy gets these cravings. The cravings really started when he saw Gwen Stefani of No Doubt driving her and Gavin's BMW X5 just by Primrose Hill. It was definitely a phwoar moment. Not just because Gwen is a bit fit (for a girl, anyway), but the car, the car...the face of a BMW, with the bulk of a jeep. An altogether FIT car. On a family holiday in Portugal, Abstractboy's family once rented a BMW. It was so nice. It purred (but not as nicely as the Jaguar XJ8 they had until recently) like a real feline. It was so smooth. And spacious.
But combine that with the testosterone and aggression of a jeep. Oh my. Abstractboy has seen many of these sexy beasts cruising the Marylebone Road, navigating the narrow one way systems of Fitzrovia. Blacked out windows, black metallic paint.
Sadly, the people in them are never that cool. They usually driven by faux-gangsters [got it imported on the cheap from germany, man, innit] and fat businessmen who have a big car to compensate for their lack of somethingelse. So this really does ruin the whole mystique and sexsexsex of the BMW X5. This is good really. Abstractboy knows that if he ever ever ever has enough $$$ for sexonwheels, he will probably be old and look like a bit of a prat driving in it. So he'll have £50,000. Which is good, of course.
Besides, he can't drive anyway.
Monday, April 26, 2004Summer Lovin'
Wow, it has been rather sunny in Londontown recently. Abstractboy has been feeling the heat and is currently baking alive in the oven that is Ramsay Halls of Residence (the picture lies - the rooms are far smaller and uglier). But with the sun and the summer comes the awful prospect of exams. Well, only if you are a student. For most otherpeople this probably means that the FA cup final is soon and they'll get their two weeks annual paid leave in a couple of months. They might go to the Costa Del ExPat, or maybe the Algarve. Everyone goes there these days.
But Abstractboy falls into the former category, fortunately or unfortunately. With his first exam in a week, the pressure to prove that all that money and time was worth it is on. However, the problem lies in that Abstractboy doesn't feel that motivated. THE SUN IS OUT! THE HOLIDAYS ARE NEAR! THERE IS BLOSSOM FALLING IN REGENT'S PARK! Exams couldn't be further from what he really wants to do right now.
That is perhaps one of the problems of being a student in London. You fall in love. As mentioned in the London post, it would seem it is possible to truely fall in love with the place, the people, the feeling. And sometimes studying just seems to be irrelevent. This definitely is a problem. Abstractboy came to London to study, first and foremost. To get a good degree from a good university in a good place. He doesn't want to let this fall by the wayside now that so much else seems to be more important.
So for now, Abstractboy is going to be focused primarily on studying. The summer is the reward. And everything else will fall into place.
Sunday, April 25, 2004Personal Ad.
As you may or may not know, Abstractboy is fairly new to this whole Blogging Lark. As you can see there are only two links other than his own site up on that lovely right-hand column.
So basically Abstractboy is looking for Blog-buddies. Is that the right terminology?
What you get out of it.
Regular hits, insightful - sometimes funny, like woah - comments, a great name on your blogroll, to know Abstractboy before the world does - you were there before it got big. Low key, staying hardcore.
What he might be looking for.
Gig-goers, The Gays, ppl wot rite wel, electrotrash, UCL/other student kids, Germans, music buffs and bores. Or rather, anybody with an interesting blog who likes the look of this one.
Flick my switch.
Friday, April 23, 2004Stellastarr*
Abstractboy has been a fan of Stellastarr* ever since he saw them support the fairly average Ash as part of last year's T on the Fringe festival in Edinburgh. The immediacy of their dark-pop-pixies-inspired-male-vocals-with-delicious-striking-female-backing-harmonies struck a chord with him instantly. He had read the rave reviews of their performance at Texas' famed industry festival, South-by-South-West and heard the sublime debut single, Somewhere Across Forever. The following week he saw them perform at the Reading Festival, which sadly looks a bit shit this year, and Abstractboy may just have to settle with one day at Southside. Anyway, his love for this band was solidified and in November he dragged some friends along to their Islington Academy gig to see what the fuss was.
Since that date in November, Stellastarr* have been making themselves heard more. There was an almost sold-out Uk tour including a sold-out date at the London Electric Ballroom and then a sold-out date at New York's Irving Plaza, which I am told is a big deal. And this is definitely a good thing. Abstractboy is often precious about his bands and his 'discoveries' moving into the mainstream. This is a nasty selfish trait, but we are all human. However, Stellastarr*, he cannot wish them more success.
There is something so decidedly perfect about the music they make. It is perhaps that it is so 'flawed' in terms of what is often expected of music - lead singer Shawn Christensen's voice is not normal. He recognises this. It is filled with a raw sense of passion. It shakes as he reels off the more close-to-home of lyrics. After their blinding tour closer in Portsmouth in March, Asbtractboy asked Shawn how he does it. How does he make it come across so real on stage in front of 1200 eager punters? And he told me he remembers the meaning of the song, why it was written, the emotions that went through his head when he was writing it. It goes back to the old indie clichée of writing your own songs, truely believing in what you do, BLAH BLAH BLAH. But for Stellastarr* it works wonders. Their music is so brash and honest, like their performances. There is no pretension. They simply walk on stage and check their instruments are all in tune and just start.
It is refreshing to see a band who are knowing of their amazing and inexplicable ability to write and perform excellent music, yet do not let their egos take centre stage. In fact, all of the band play a very equal role in the music and performance. Lead guitarist, Michael Jurin is fascinating to watch. His performance is wild and he is often all over the floor. During the epic 'Moongirl' he can even be found sliding a shotglass or any other implement against his guitar and provides an underlying harmony of whispers. Amanda Tannen, bassist, sings the most gorgeously piercing backing vocals. She is no Celine Dion by any stretch of the imagination, but her vocals compliment those of Shawn's so perfectly. Particularly in the haunting and emotional 'In the Walls'. It is like some moments in The Pixies' 'Where is my Mind?', but a lot better. Which is a bit of a risquée thing to say really. And let us not forget drummer, Arthur Kremer, whose energetic, yet precise, drumming, space-age style sunglasses and naked torso with duck-tape-on-nipples are undeniably essential to the band.
But back to a previous point. What really makes Stellastarr* so good is the perfect pop that they produce. Pop is sadly still a taboo term, but Abstractboy likes to use it to describes music of all persuasions that embodies that something. Blondie made it with 'Heart of Glass', Phil Spector's shimmering wall-of-sound production in the 60s made something magical. And Stellastarr*'s recent almost-hit, 'My Coco' acheived something similar. From the stripped down and half-time opening 40 seconds, to that bit just before the song really starts, to where it really starts, to the chorus, to the verse, to the chorus, to the solo, to the bridge, to the chorus, to that bit where Shawn sings like he has just figured out the point of his existance, and then repeat chorus to fade. It is an orgasmic journey of emotions. And at 5 minutes long still seems 5 minutes too short. Abstractboy listens to a lot of music but only seldomly hears something as perfect as this.
Abstractboy commands you to buy Stellastarr*'s debut album. It really is in your own interests.
Abstractboy also recommends that you look at the Stellastarr* photos on his fantastic website.
Thursday, April 22, 2004Pret a Manger? Vraiment?
Pret a Manger is a phenomenem that has fascinated Abstractboy ever since he moved to London in September. In Edinburgh there is one, maybe two by now. In London there are lots. The above list shows all of the ones that are within 12 minutes walk from where Abstractboy resides, except Marble arch, which is probably 15 minutes away.
Being a poor student, Abstractboy had never enjoyed a 'Pret' before, but was intensely curious about why and how Pret a Manger really has taken over central London. There is always an air of success, of sophistication, of fine food. The maroon and gold colour scheme speaks royalty. It looked so tempting.
So today he gave in to the temptation. Abstractboy ventured into the 100 Tottenham Court Road branch whilst waiting for his laundry. It was rather exciting. People in suits were gathered round the fridges, grabbing at the cream cardboard boxes, stuffed to the plastic covers with fillings. There were mini bars of Green and Black's finest organic (=healthy?) chocolate retailing at 80p, fruit salads, rough cut crisps and the smell and commotion of coffee-made-to-order. It had that faux-authenticity that one would expect.
Abstractboy opted for the most expensive sandwich on the menu - the Turkey Club. Maximum Expenditure = Maximum Enjoyment, right? He took it to the till where he was served by a charming young man with rather unorthodox red hair. The money was exchanged and the food was squahsed into a rather fetching Pret plastic bag, with not one, but three beige Pret napkins.
The sandwich was nice. The turkey was succulent, the bacon crisp, the salad was even seemingly fresh. And more importantly, the packaging was SO nice. Abstractboy can imagine the 9-6 office worker's smug satisfaction at being able to afford such luxury on a daily basis, stroking the cream cardboard like a fat paycheque.
So is Abstractboy a convert? To an extent, yes. He enjoyed the sandwich. Much more so than one from Boots, where he used to work. It was obviously more expensive than Boots, but the end result was so much more satisfying.
However, we have to remember that Pret a Manger, though originally a London based independant chain, is 33% owned by Mc Donald's, which is really rather inexcusable. The Pret website insists that McDonald's do not have any direct influence over what we sell or how we sell it; nor would they want to. They have invested in Pret because they like what we do. But does that make any difference? Though he has been known to go to McDonald's occasionally (circumstances must be dire), Abstractboy is very much against McDonalds, their treatment of their staff, their globalisationness, their cutting down of the rainforest for cattle farming. So it is hard to truely enjoy a Pret a Manger meal without the niggling thought of exactly what you are eating in to.
Their recent ad-campaign is quite funny though!
Wednesday, April 21, 2004
Abstractboy is Scottish, generally. He was born there and lived there for the best part of his life; the Teenage Years. He lived in Edinburgh, which is definitely the best part of Scotland. Definitely. Unless you like going to gigs, in which case Glasgow is the best part of Scotland. But luckily there was, and still is, CityLink, which isn't even owned by nasty Brian Souter's Stagecoach company.
But anyway, abstractboy is now a Londoner. This is something that is often frowned upon when one travels north of the Watford Gap. He cannot be without the buzz, the fast cars, the fast walking pace (as an adolescent his fast walking pace was always labeled 'competitive'), the commuters cramming into Warren Street station at 5.30pm, the blitzkrieg that is Tottenham Court Road. It's all so fast. But that's how he likes it.
Nothing beats the feeling of returning to London. The train ride in. The 30s semi-detached suburbs slowly but surely evolve into those dirty brown brick terraced houses. Then there are the gas towers, ugly and striking. And then you see Alexandra Palace. Nestled on that hill, overlooking the city from a safe distance. There are still poplar trees and greenery. Zone 3. Next is the Highbury, the Arsenal stadium. Zone 2 and counting. The train crosses bridges. For brief moments you can see the hustlebustle underneath, those Londoners and their lives, the fast food chicken outlets, non-brand. And then darkness. Ears pop. Jaw stretches, trying to un-pop them. And Zone 1. Kings Cross.
It starts just like that, as soon as you leave the train. The power walking from Coach C (where all the cheap tickets are) to the end of the platform, avoiding families with small children and old ladies, not quite sure of themselves in The Big City. And then on to Euston Road. The immersion is instant, there is thick pollution, horns beeping, road works, one way systems, projects projects projects. There are always cranes in the sky, always men working, always changes.
Abstractboy likes some things to stay the same. But everything else, he likes it fresh and new. He likes London. Lots. This would be the first entry in my blog. I guess I ought to outline my motivations for writing this.
I like to write. A lot. And about lots of different things and in lots of different places. I like to write about my life, but I think that belongs in my personal journal. So here I will write about other things. I'm not sure what other things will be just yet. I hope to feel inspired enough to keep this frequently updated, and keep people interested.