The Null Device

Posts matching tags 'manchester'


Police emergency phone lines in Manchester are being tied up by a nuisance caller who "chants, raps, sings, preaches and plays loud music" at the call handlers, often for five minutes at a time. The handlers are not allowed to hang up on a caller. The Greater Manchester Police have already blocked about 60 SIM cards he has called from, which has little effect; with cheap prepaid SIM cards, the mystery nuisance rapper seems to be making his way through the pool of unallocated mobile numbers:

During many of the calls, the operator answers the phone to be met with a barrage of music and rants. His rapping is difficult to decipher but during one call he started shouting about his citizen's rights.
Greater Manchester Police have taken the unusual step of releasing a recording of one of his raps, in an attempt to track him down. Which could have unintended consequences; if that became standard practice, nuisance calls to emergency services could become the next bootleg grimetape distribution channel after MP3 blogs—you get your rap out, and are acknowledged as a police-certified badass at the same time.

Meanwhile, there's a small mystery of a less antisocial sort in Aberdeen, where the Google Street View van photographed a man with a horse's head.

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In the Observer, Sean O'Hagan has a piece about the history and legacy of The Smiths:

No other group carried such a weight of expectation — and tradition — as the Smiths. Had they not risen to the occasion, it is not overstating the case to say that the entire trajectory of recent British rock music as we now know it — that's the line from the Smiths to the Stone Roses to Oasis and on to the Libertines and today's indie darlings, Arctic Monkeys — would not have been traced.
Mind you, it seems that much of the influence The Smiths had over today's commercially ubiquitous white-guys-with-guitars ("indie") bands was to legitimise being an anachronism.
'Who would have thought,' as Will Self puts it, 'that over 20 years after the Smiths' demise we would be listening to so much music that, in the main, is simply an atrophied form of the Smith's rock classicism?'
In other news about Mancunian bands: apparently New Order have broken up, this time permanently.

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Your Humble Narrator spent the past weekend in Manchester, visiting friends, catching the Architecture In Helsinki gig there, and seeing some of the sights.

Manchester appears to have an interesting stencil/paste-up art scene. There's even one artist whose thing seems to be gluing his canvases to walls/doorways, with "NOT FOR SALE" stickers underneath them (where, in a gallery, the price would go):


Apparently there's also a big electro-pop scene happening, continuing the Mancunian tradition of combining guitar-rock and dance electronics. There didn't seem to be anything of that sort happening on Saturday night though.

img_0665I did, however, see the Haçienda; or, rather, the Haçienda Apartments, a set of yuppie lifestyle apartments built on the site of FAC51, the famous club owned by Factory Records and New Order. Disappointingly, there did not seem to be a blue plaque anywhere on the building saying anything like "ON THIS SITE, THE FIRST DOSE OF ECSTASY IN BRITAIN WAS TAKEN (OR SO TONY WILSON WOULD HAVE YOU BELIEVE)"; the only testament to the site's significance is its name, stripped of concept and reduced to another couture marketing buzzword. (And it doesn't even look unusual, unlike North London's Visage apartments, which are apparently modelled on Steve Strange's hairstyle.)

There is one remaining venue connected with New Order in Manchester: the Dry Bar on Oldham St. Though forget about it; it's not remotely interesting. The interior looks like a suburban pub (or, to the Australians in the audience, like a RSL club), and apparently it's full of lagered-up chavs on most nights.

There is a lot else to see around the Oldham St. part of Manchester (which is sort of like Byres Road, Glasgow, or a more grungy Brunswick St., Melbourne). The ubiquitous sticker/paste-up art, for one. The shopping's quite good, especially for records (because it's not London, second-hand CD shops tend to have more interesting selections at more reasonable prices). I ended up taking back as many CDs as I could fit in my backpack (roughly 15).

Affleck's Palace is interesting enough, but, one gets the feeling that it's nowhere near what it used to be. Nowadays it contains mostly teen-rebellion paraphernalia of the same kind seen in Camden Market. The various retro shops nearby (including the Pop Boutique, which is more impressive than their London outpost) have, alongside the usual selection of jackets and jeans, quite a few 8-bit computers and vintage video game units. (One shop had a working Amstrad CPC464 on display next to the 1970s shirts and fondue sets.)

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This is what happens when the fans of a band known for its bookish, over-intellectual fanbase grow up and get established: Manchester Metropolitan University is holding an academic conference on The Smiths next week. The symposium, titled Why Pamper Life's Complexities, will look at the influence of Morrissey's lyrics on areas such as gender and sexuality, race, nationality and class, as well as æsthetics, fan cultures and musical innovation.

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A 14-year-old boy in Manchester used internet chatrooms to arrange his own murder; masquerading as, among others, a 16-year-old girl, her step-brother, and a secret service agent named Janet, he managed to talk a 16-year-old boy he had never met into stabbing him. The other boy was told that it was an initiation into the secret services, and that the target was dying of cancer, which made him expendable; if successful, he was told he would get £500,000, a gun and a meeting with the Prime Minister. It apparently did not occur to him that there was anything unusual about this arrangement (persumably that's standard MI5 procedure for recruiting teenagers in chat rooms).

Update: more details have emerged, and it turns out that the stabbee had a hopeless crush on the boy who stabbed him, and instructed him (in secret-agent guise) to say the "codeword" "I love you, bro" as he did the deed. This is sounding more and more like a Smiths song.

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Bulgarian tries to change his name to "Manchester United". The Bulgarian authorities allowed Marin Zdrakov to change his name to Manchester Zdrakov, but apparently didn't let him change his surname to United. (via The English Manager)

Interestingly enough, Pravda (aka the Russian equivalent of either Ananova or the Weekly World News, depending on when you look at it) have now added a Portuguese translation to the English and Russian. Could this be an acknowledgement of the rising power and influence of the Portuguese blogosphere?

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Manchester's Biggest Twat is in the news again. Tony Wilson has been suspended from reading the Granada regional TV news after unleashing an obscenity-laden tirade into a microphone which he thought was switched off. (It, of course, wasn't.) (via Rocknerd)

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