The Null Device
As part of the 10th anniversary of Britpop*, the BBC looks at what became of the Britpop stars. It's interesting to see that two members of that most hype-driven of Britpop bands, Menswear, are still in the UK music hype industry; one of them managing NME-Carling-MTV2 darlings Bloc Party, and another being news editor at rigidly playlisted commercial "indie" radio station Xfm. The singer, meanwhile, seems to work in a mobile phone shop or something.
* well, the Blur-Oasis thing which defined it in the media's eye.
The official marketing restrictions for the London Olympics have been announced; in order to protect sponsors' investment, other businesses in London will be prohibited from using in their names or marketing not only the word 'Olympic', but also a host of other words, among them 'games', "gold', 'silver', 'bronze', '2012' or 'summer', as well as facsimiles of the Olympic logo (Audi dealerships can't be too happy about this) or the as yet undesigned mascots. No word on whether it will be illegal to wear T-shirts with political slogans in public spaces in London, as was apparently the case in Sydney in 2000.
Never mind the PSP, I want a GPX2. It's a pocket-sized SD-based media player (capable of playing DivX/MPEG4 movies and MP3s) and some undefined games (with the provided joystick). Most interestingly, it runs Linux; assuming that they don't deliberately cripple it, that means it's going to be possible to put MAME on it, load up a SD card with old arcade ROMs and have an arcade in one's pocket. The only thing it's missing is WiFi.
The great American obesity epidemic claims another toll; as airlines find their passenger weights climbing, they are jettisoning luxuries such as phones, magazines and lifevests to bring the planes back under the limit:
This week, the federal aviation administration revised guidelines used by airlines to calculate how much weight they have on board to take account of the fact that Americans are getting fatter. The FAA has added 8% to a male and 18% to a female traveller in an attempt to ensure that the centre of gravity, takeoff speed and fuel needs for planes can be more accurately estimated.
"Maybe instead of just using those [boxes] at the gates to limit carry-on bags to certain sizes, the airlines need to have a people-sizer with a sign asking, 'Do you fit into this?'" Dave Grotto, of the American Dietetic Association, told the Chicago Tribune.
Given people's propensity to lie about their weight, airlines were told to add 4.5kg (10lb) to the figure they were told. "They usually lie in the single digits," said Peggy Gilligan, the FAA's director of flight standards.
Tonight, some 10 years after the Blur vs. Oasis battle, BBC Four held a Britpop night, running several programmes on the whole thing.
First up was a half-hour documentary by John Harris about the history of the phenomenon. It reprised much of the territory in his excellent book The Last Party, only squeezed into half an hour and with fragments of music and video, and interviews with various people from the time reminiscing over what it was like. It started with the wilderness of Nirvana and shoegazer (which Harris described as being similar to grunge), and ended with the comment that Britpop was responsible for ushering in the age of bland balladeers like Coldplay, Keane and Snow Patrol, and of course those quintessential rockist classicists, Oasis.
This was followed by a programme with Damon Albarn presenting a selection of live videos; it's reassuring that he has ditched the mockney accent and look-at-me-I'm-working-class affectation, though perhaps a tad disappointing that the title designers did the lazy thing and equated britpop with Mod. Then they played Live Forever, the Britpop doco from some years back, and then a 1995 BBC fly-on-the-wall piece with Pulp, which was rather interesting. It involved backstage footage from a gig in Sheffield, Jarvis talking about appreciating kitsch knowingly yet unironically, and some footage of Pulp's support band, an outfit named Minty who seemed to have been England's answer to Machine Gun Fellatio or something.