The Null Device
Brighton-based singer-songwriter Monster Bobby (he's one of the people behind doo-wop indie firework band The Pipettes, but let's not hold that against him; his solo stuff is quite good, actually, and doesn't have the whiff of being made to a business plan) is taking a leaf out of Momus' book and accepting patronage for writing songs. £10 will get you a song about you, or the subject of your choice; or, as per the email:
finally, in homage to saint Momus, I have decided to take up a spot of 'patronage pop'. Basically, if you pay me a tenner, i'll write a song all about you, or any subject you choose. you will find a paypal button on my myspace page: http://www.myspace.com/monsterbobby.
i will also need 500 words or so of text about yourself or your chosen subject. and if you go to my tumblr page you will find a link to Momus's essay about patronage pop. I would like to point out that when Momus did this, he charged a grand, so you're getting me very cheap.. actually if this takes off i may have to up my prices somewhat so, er, get me while i'm cheap!Should you wish to take him up on his offer, the PayPal form is here.
Jamie Zawinski went to SXSW, and reports that Austin, Texas has a music scene second to none:
Austin is a pretty amazing city. The density of music venues is like nothing I've ever seen. I know we're here during a gigantic music festival, but this infrastructure doesn't just go away. I wonder what it's like at other times of year. Even though the music part of the festival hasn't even begun yet, the nightlife is just crazy. We've hardly been to a bar or club that didn't have a capacity of almost a thousand, and they have all been divided up and laid out in totally sensible ways.
Right now I am looking at a street sign - a municipal street sign, presumably suported by an ordinance and everything - that says "Restricted lane, musician loading and unloading". I am not making this up!
San Francisco: You got served.
The city of Detroit has seen more than its share of misfortune; hollowed out by the slow decline of the US car industry, it has already been synonymous with post-industrial urban decline, even before the oil crunch and the Great Recession. Now, however, the economically depressed conditions are apparently bringing in artists, drawn to Detroit by the rock-bottom real-estate prices (think $100 houses, albeit in need of work), faded grandeur of near-mythical proportions and potential for experimentation and regeneration:
Buying that first house had a snowball effect. Almost immediately, Mitch and Gina bought two adjacent lots for even less and, with the help of friends and local youngsters, dug in a garden. Then they bought the house next door for $500, reselling it to a pair of local artists for a $50 profit. When they heard about the $100 place down the street, they called their friends Jon and Sarah.
Admittedly, the $100 home needed some work, a hole patched, some windows replaced. But Mitch plans to connect their home to his mini-green grid and a neighborhood is slowly coming together.
But the city offers a much greater attraction for artists than $100 houses. Detroit right now is just this vast, enormous canvas where anything imaginable can be accomplished. From Tyree Guyton’s Heidelberg Project (think of a neighborhood covered in shoes and stuffed animals and you’re close) to Matthew Barney’s “Ancient Evenings” project (think Egyptian gods reincarnated as Ford Mustangs and you’re kind of close), local and international artists are already leveraging Detroit’s complex textures and landscapes to their own surreal ends.It'll be interesting to see what happens; will Detroit's new artist-settlers find their dreams foundering, turn tail and run, or will they succeed? Will Detroit become a new East Berlin, attracting artists and then scenesters, then showing up in boutique tourist guidebooks as the new hip destination, until eventually the process is completed and the well-off and aspirational move in, most of the artists are priced out of it and move on in search of another locus?
(via Boing Boing)
The Pet Shop Boys' Neil Tennant enumerates the greatest people in British history in an interview with Johnny Marr for the Graun:
In the 20th century, looking at the people who changed the way we think, it would be the guy who designed the Apple computer, who's British, Jonathan Ive. The Beatles changed the world, as did the Rolling Stones and David Bowie. The Beatles' impact is possibly greater than Winston Churchill's. Before that, you might have the committee that translated the Bible because they created, more than Shakespeare, a musical kind of language that was probably one of the things that made us a musical country. And I would say Gilbert and Sullivan. So much modern British music has come from Gilbert and Sullivan. You could even say that rap music comes from that, with an incredible emphasis on rhyme and rhythm.
The BBC has a piece on how university fees have changed academic culture in Britain, streamlining the fusty old halls of academe into a model of efficient free-market service delivery, with none of the fuss and waste that came before:
Frank Furedi, social commentator and academic at the University of Kent, says that the campus culture is "unrecognisable" from a generation ago. Students now ring lecturers at home at the weekend, he says, seeing this as being part of the service they are buying with their fees.
"The relationship with the student is no longer academic, it's a service provider and customer. The academic relationship is an endangered species."
Students are more careers-focused than ever before, the accumulation of large debts putting pressure on them to get a degree that will help them in the jobs market.
At present, he says, the current level of student debt means that many more students have to take part-time jobs to pay their way.