Tuesday, 27 October 2009

Overstanding is the Key...

They've gone over ground. Hung their banner over the side and said, 'we are here.' And some have seen, some have listened; page five of both the Lite and the Standard. I saw it when a friend text me asking, 'have you seen the Evening Standard?'; and I knew that I had already broken the first two rules of Squat Club. But what's the point of moving into a squat if you can't be the guy at the party that's moving into a squat? And, indeed, once you've been that guy, the path is set.

Managed to have a twenty minute conversation with Alain de Botton this afternoon and not embarass myself, which was the first encounter with him of the day from which I took heart. He perfromed a Philosophy Masterclass on the show later on this evening and answered questions and moral dilemas posed by the audience. More cynical people than myself might call it populist, I call it accessible and, therefore, very, very popular. It was one of those great radio moments, in which the connection being made all across the land is palabable, when, in dealing with the mid-life crisis, approaching the age of reason, he quoted Seneca, 'The thing we waste most is our lives.' You could almost hear a collective sigh over the waves.

And so I further took heart and sought to make the most of it with music. Passion Pit in the old Camden Palace with a genius designer friend of mine, Josh. Before that a pint and yet more philosophical enquiry in the Elephant's head, a real Rockers pub. A boozer, in fact. Sparks flying everywhere. And this is what I'm looking for; possibilities. New things to try, to continue my enquiries. It was Josh that bought up Down and Out in Paris and London and this made me think of my favourite quote, 'you have talked so often of going to the dogs and, well, here they are, and you can stand it. It takes of a lot of anxiety. ' The dogs are at the door and I'm about to let them in. And let them in I must, for I abhor waste...

Friday, 23 October 2009

Endtroducing...

‘Seen this!!!?’ It’s an email from a friend, one of many hundreds we all receive at work from various amigos and electronic associates on a daily basis; but this one’s from a trusted source. And, what’s more, it has three exclamation marks and a question mark; this is going to be good. Open. It seems to be DJ Shadow related, already worth an exclamation mark or two. Read on. And here’s where the extra exclamation, to say nothing of that quizzical question mark, comes in. It seems that Shadow’s seminal Endtroducing was the first album ever to be comprised solely of samples. It’s in the Guiness Book of Records, no live performance whatsoever. Who knew? Matt Derbyshire did, and he’s turntabling the whole album on its head by performing it live, note for note, with a nine piece band at the Jazz CafĂ© this very evening. OMG!!!! /

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CcPjj76Jivc

Oh momma, I don't care about nothing...

I’m about as likely to go for an impromptu surfing session as I am to go down to Kokomo; even the gnarliest break is some way from troubling North London. But, no matter, for all their West Coast twang and neo-Beach Boy sentiment, The Drums are actually from New York City, so equally unlikely to be as casual in dipping their toes as they seem to suggest. But, aren’t you listening? They don’t care about nothing; not tidal flow, not geographic constraints. Which is probably why they couldn’t give two hoots about citing Manchester’s Factory records as their other influence. Imagine Ian Curtis strumming on a surf board and you’re nearly there. This Manchester-by-Sea soundscape may seem incongruous to some but, for me, it’s the perfect pop paean to new wave nihilism…

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6OsTUnkqSi4

http://lecool.com/cities/london/newsletters/current.html#event16543

Tuesday, 20 October 2009

As a Spark Ignites the Flame...

And so it begins; I got the call. I'm moving out and moving in. Out of my house and into theirs, whoever 'they' may be. Not quite yet, but I have been officially accepted, sealed with a handshake and a friendly smile.

I found the door but had no means of communication. My phone was dead and, although there was a buzzer, I didn't know which floor Dan was on and didn't want to risk rousing a neighbour; do they know they've got squatters? So I put my shoulder to the brute of a metal door... and it started to budge. This was a totally unexpected event; am I actually going to break in? Is it even possible to break in to a squat? I was about to find out when I heard a soft female voice behind me say, 'Do you know someone here?' Ah, yes, yes I do; I'm legit. A call has been made. Another call is made and someone removes the metal pole that's wedging the door shut; saving me from a first attempt at breaking and entering which was doomed from the start. I'm in.

As it happens there were no neighbours. The whole four floors are theirs. The first two are the living quarters and are fully plugged in and connected in most ways imaginable. I had to wait to be taken into the main communal area ,because a life model was currently sitting in there, so I took the tour.

The top two floors are without any power but are huge; you could house fifty people up there without anyone doubling up. We got to the top floor and Dan explained that the view from the roof was one of the finest in West London. He also explained a little more about squatting; it was the first time I'd heard the word 'squatted' used in the possesive. When they first move in, the Police, saying they came in peace, had tricked the group into letting them in and, once they had gained entry, proceeded to arrest them all. Once they were released, however, they went back to the building and 're-squatted' it; made it a squat again. The Police had locked one of the groups possessions inside and he needed to get them back, which, legally, gave him the right to re-occupy the building. Strange thing, property.

The model was in a more acceptable state of undress so I was allowed into the communal room to meet those that currently make up The Oubliette. Other than the model around the corner, all three people in the room were sitting on the floor, painting. In the kitchen, making coffee, was the soft female voice from earlier; one of two Brasilian girls who, for a while, had kept me out of the squat because of a collective desire for a more representative squatting community. Me, I'm more modern, but when I told an aging hippy friend of mine that I was being positively discriminated against (a notion which has so many double negatives, it's in a pretty confused place) by a squat, he laughed his ass off.

I'm on the first floor and my neighbours will be two strapping young Canadians. One had spared my breaking and entering blushes earlier; the other, when I met him, was doing yoga in the room that would be mine. My other neighbour, a German named Pablo, was out.

And so was I, collar turned up and walking towards the tube. I shall go to work tomorrow and no-one will have any idea that in a fortnight's time I'll be living in on the fringes of society - in one of the most prestigious locations in London. It couldn't be more central, I couldn't be more in the city. On Monday, The Oubliette will hang a giant flag from the top floor of their new home and announce their presence to the world. Should be interesting, it seems I'm getting on board at just the right time; as a spark ignites the flame...