Live review - Nordic Giants - Nottingham Contemporary, 2015

Tuesday 19 May 2015

No comments
I visit Nottingham so often I should consider moving there but my itchy feet don't like that, so I figured I'd do a wee post on why I love it so much instead. 

The reason for this visit was to witness the incredible Nordic Giants in the basement of Nottingham Contemporary.   If you fancy leaving a gig provoked to the edge of welling eyes and with no words to describe what you have just been a part of then I recommend seeing them. The pair draw your eyes into cinematic projections and wire you to think as if conducted by their music. Dressed entirely in black and with masks and actions that make you question anything you've come to expect from a performance the pair have completely created something commendable.  I find myself lost in their tracks alone never mind the trance of the live performance. 

A little struck by Nordic Giants we decided to hit up Boiler Maker, a wee bar you enter through a secret door in a toilet. If you are sold on these silly little additions as much as I am then you will adore it. 

"No fighting, play fighting, no talking about fighting. This is not Fight Club and you are not Brad Pitt."

Plus if I walk into a bar and they are playing 'Pour Some Sugar On Me' then I am sold but probably leaning towards windmilling my hair whilst crouched on a table. 

The whole place is table service with some hilarious waitresses and impeccable service so how could we not have an amazing time. My first cocktail was 'Oats & Hoes' queue the Step Brothers love, which came with a wee oat bickie. 

After these went down a treat we couldn't resist another, pops went for another 'Stock Brokers Breakfast' (apologies if I balls'd the names up) which had a wee frazzle and pancake with it, and from my memory the sweetest whisky.  I on the other hand went for the amazing 'Cereal Killaz II' (again name apologies) made with almond milk, rum and something else but c'mon I had you at BLOODY ALMOND MILK. I want to have it every day for the rest of my life, so although I may develop alcohol issues at least we know Boiler Maker have gained themselves another happy regular. 

After nailing Friday I couldn't visit Notts without visiting my favourite wee shop in the whole city Ideas On Paper within the beautiful Cobden Chambers. Alex always has an incredible selection in stock and all the knowledge behind it to always recommend you something amazing. We grabbed our treats and hid away in the equally beautiful Wired Cafe.

Now I love chai lattes but Wired's 'Dirty Chai' is the best chai based beverage I have ever had the pleasure of putting in my mouth (You may have noticed that this post is mainly about how much I love food and drink).  Really, I didn't want it to end. 

So hibernating away with our selections of magazines and our incredible lunches we did not want to move.  It was easy to understand why most of the people looked to be in there for the long run. 

When we finally decided to head back into the real world we ended up at Homemade Cafe for some takeaway treats to take to Wollaton Hall aka Wayne Manor with us. If you end up in Nottingham on a beautiful day Wollaton Hall is well worth a visit, beautiful grounds with deer dotted about and rooms full of natural history. As well as that moment when you think wow, I could totally pretend to be Maggie Gyllenhaal right now.

After recovering from miles and miles of walks we decided to hit Red's True BBQ just to fill up even more.  Between the pair of us we managed to rack up a pulled pork burger, sweet potato fries, mac and cheese waffles, a rack of ribs, a sleepy james, fries and onion rings. 

'The Sleepy James' and 'Mac and Cheese Waffles' were both new additions that I had never tried before and I believe they will be becoming my regular.  I have never tasted anything quite like 'The Sleepy James' and it may just look like some chicken in-between waffles and bacon but the taste is so so so much more I cannot recommend it enough. The sweetness of the chicken was so slightly addictive I have been craving that exact taste since I tried it. 

With that wee bit of room left we had floats instead of desert, bacon as desert should always be an option! Nottingham you well and truly nailed it. 

Sure I said at the start of this post that I should just move back there? 

Read More

'No One Belongs Here More Than You' by Miranda July

Monday 4 May 2015

No comments

book review, miranda july, no one belongs here more than you

‘No One Belongs Here More Than You’ is a collection of sixteen beautiful stories by Miranda July, but maybe just a different definition of beautiful to what you first see. July’s stories are infested with isolation. They focus on the dissatisfied and the obsessed. This repetition of failure, of dreams, of secluded perversions that paint themselves through devices show July’s abilities to pick at wounds that you may have never considered but have now been consumed by. The only comfort you will find in collection resides in its reminder that you may feel alone with your idiosyncrasies but we all have them and we will all try to escape or embrace them.

‘The Sister’ traces the fantasies of fucking youth, the temptation to the lonely elderly and the protagonists yearning to impress. A co-worker adheres with this enticing idea of his younger sister but July turns this dark distortion into the root of the longing, the desperation of loneliness and what the voices are really looking for in their loss of companionship through the years.

This need for another comes through in ‘Something That Needs Nothing’ as two girls run away together with a less assured narrator. This hint of suggestion touches at the darkness before the pair is even given a chance.  We are lost in her desperation and dependence:

We turned away from each other and set about tightening the tiny ropes of our misery. I ran a bath. Just before I stepped in the tub, I heard the front door close and froze mid-step; she was gone. Sometimes she did this. In the moments when other couples would fight or come together, she left me. With one foot in the bath, I stood waiting for her to return. I waited an unreasonably long time, long enough to realize she wouldn’t be back tonight. But what if I waited it out, what if I stood here naked until she returned? And then, just as she walked in the front door, I could finish the gesture, squatting in the then-cold water. I had done strange things like this before. I had hidden under cars for hours, waiting to be found; I had written the same word seven thousand times attempting to alchemize time. I studied my position in the bathtub. The foot in the water was already wrinkly. How would I feel when night fell? And when she came home, how long would it take her to look in the bathroom? Would she understand that time had stopped while she was gone? And even if she did realize that I had done this impossible feat for her, what then? She was never thankful or sympathetic. I washed quickly, with exaggerated motions that warded off paralysis.

I am not here to give stories away but rather reflect on how much there is to gain from them. But the way in which this narrator turns and attempts to empower herself from her own fragile opinion drives what you find in yourself in heartbreak, in what you are capable of when needs be: "I hated my job, but I liked that I could do it. I had once believed in a precious inner self, but now I didn't. I had thought that I was fragile, but I wasn't. It was like suddenly being good at sports." This strong movement in itself still cries in desperation, it is impossible to not be filled with their hurt whilst lost in ‘No One Belongs Here More Than You’.  I ached it how much it must hurt to love someone so much you would wait wrinkle footed in a cold bath just to show them that everything stopped when they were not there.

book review, miranda july, no one belongs here more than you

We are always taught to show not tell, but July turns this, we are told everything, what you interpret is yours but we are fed peculiarities in damaged people as if they are an art themselves.  This falls in place with her trend to repeat words so closely that you feel should be watching them, as if July is desperate for you to pick up on something. This ability to change the short story deconstructs how I have absorbed ‘No One Belongs Here More Than You’ as I have aligned the parts of me and learned from those that are not.

‘How To Tell Stories To Children’ culminates the collection in an intricate narrative that crosses time and characters to find our narrator lost in secluded reality where a life is lost in the desperation to nurture another. In the complex relationship between a married couple, their daughter and their single, childless friend they all seem to lose in the warped loss of communication over time. Through July’s tender collection we live through realities that can never be escaped, regardless of these distorted fantasies or warped attempted escapes, although we get to leave these stories the characters do not.  

My favourite stories are those that revel in the insignificant and that is what Miranda July has done perfectly.  Those human engagements that make us who we are and what make our lives. July pulls us further than this, into intimacies that may never leave your mind and questions what happens if they should. If we lived our escapes what would it change?  What happened after the couple stopped rubbing their toes? Was the patio ever shared? What happens if you take that step past Lam Kien? Insignificant thoughts that could mean everything.  

‘…and I whispered, It’s not your fault.’
book review, miranda july, no one belongs here more than you

Read More

'Just Kids' by Patti Smith

Saturday 7 February 2015

No comments
Just Kids by Patti Smith

Ever since I finished ‘Just Kids’ I feel like Patti Smith has been with me, or at least I’m seeing her everywhere.  So even though Patti is this incredible icon in ‘Just Kids’ I felt wrapped in a mutual love story, lost in an almost mythic creative world where there was still magic. 

Patti kept her promise to Robert Mapplethorpe and wrote their story, or at least a few of them, I can imagine it was hard to narrow it down. But in this sample we are painted with an entity not of Patti and Robert as single people but as a partnership. This partnership grew as they evolved and in this beautiful support they nurtured each other through struggles and choices that paved the way to turn their passions into their legacies.

Interestingly the feel that the rest of Patti’s life is somewhere else is incredible. This focus on Robert is beautiful with the continuous inkling that this is for ‘you’. Yes Patti and Robert paths skew but ‘Just Kids’ is their path, it folded over their own and fed and inspired them.
Just Kids by Patti Smith
The romantic community where Patti tells the majority of their story is not always idyllic but abundant in opportunity and made me never want to return to my own reality.  Where money came as a means to get by and not the worth connoted with it  ‘Just Kids’ immerses you in a fluent path of creation, of ideas, reading, writing, drawing and photography.  In this beautiful world we as readers are filled with a touch of every joy that Robert brought Patti, and although we may want to sit in the halls of the Chelsea and read with her or intently listen to a description of an exhibit only one of them could see we cannot but we are blessed with this insight.

As I found myself nostalgic for a time I was not present for I realised what a magic moment Patti and Robert were a part of, a time of talent and urgency of expression that online presence would sweep over now. I understand the hilarity that I am writing this with the intention of posting it online at some point, but meetings destined to fate and a space to express without instant response are gone which is part of what possibly makes ‘Just Kids’ so romantic.

Just Kids by Patti Smith

With Robert and Patti engaged in shared experiences and pushing their own boundaries as well as creative boundaries the world had yet to witness the book alights this ray of hope, of inspiration in pure connection. There are moments in ‘Just Kids’ that seem surreal now but form a cultural connection to us the reader, names, pieces and songs that are now iconic were just finding their feet. These icons pass through in stunning descriptions that keep you wrapped in Smith’s recollections.

As all the pieces form together into elegy to Robert you cannot help but see them come together to fit the two of them.  They found themselves in their equal and in this pure and beautiful relationship they became in all art forms storytellers, artist and muse to one and other.

Get it here: Just Kids 
Read More

‘Not That Kind Of Girl’ by Lena Dunham

Friday 2 January 2015

No comments
Not That Kind Of Girl Lena Dunham

In all honesty I cannot tell you if I have not been myself this year or if I just haven’t hidden it as well. What I can tell you is that within the pages of this book I felt what I think and feel was put into ink. I found typed in the fresh realization that ‘the end never comes when you think it will. Its always ten steps past the worst moments, then a weird turn to the left.’

When reading about Lena Dunham I always feel that there is an obsessive demand to protect or a removal of context, and pull of quotes in order to make Lena’s words fit another point, rather than the statement made within the essay.  I hope that I am doing neither with my own words because the pages of ‘Not That Kind Of Girl’ have made me feel that being myself is not a bad thing.

Not That Kind Of Girl Lena Dunham

I am only an anxious mess of my own tendencies and although nice is probably not the correct word it is in fact nice to know you are not the only one intertwined in anxious moments and paralyzed by bizarre thoughts, thoughts that may not blink anothers eye but confine me to duvets and blank faces.  I found this sense of connection in this ‘nice’ feeling.  This feeling that I wasn’t selfish in the thoughts that I do not quite belong. In the on looking jealousy in what Lena beautifully coins as ‘other women’s style of being.’ rather than their looks or belongings.  I feel that I constantly look in, often a caricature of myself whilst I am confined to watch on, a trait that I have certainly challenged recently.  In doing this I have felt better in myself despite coming under more criticism.  As it stands I am happier being criticized as myself rather than impartial and discreet mimic I once was. 

Not That Kind Of Girl Lena Dunham

I picked up ‘Not That Kind Of Girl’ not because I wanted a representation of an entire person, gender or period, but because ‘Girls’ affected me so much that I couldn’t help but crave more resolve, more connection and in simple print I got so much more than that.  It gave way to this complex idea I weighed with that to feel awful something horrific had to happen. This fresh breath that people do fall to thoughts that may seem trivial to others is a notion that I have never consented myself before.  A permission that I would not and could not accept as normal before, regardless of how many times I heard it said.  

So after something I can attach no time scale to I would say I finished ‘Not That Kind Of Girl’ with a new grasp of my life. I titled this post ‘What ‘Not That Kind Of Girl’ Means To Me’ but I have barely spoken about the book itself, something I feel you should take into account. This book has made me feel human and not flawed, an awareness that we should all consume. Lena’s self exposure has brought real thoughts, behaviors, interactions and experiences to the common ground, accepted and accessible.

A friend recently told me that he thinks that I prefer to talk to strangers and I still cannot figure out if he is right or if I just want to put it out there, this exposure is my own kind of self therapy as if the best way to understand something is to write it down and to make it tangible.  So I may not have mentioned ‘Not That Kind Of Girl’ very often but I hope I have reiterated just how raw, refreshing and brilliant it is to read something so accessible.  I have been stuck in a peculiar place for a long time and this is the first time I have felt lifted from it.  Where the media has lost its focus on the face of sex there is so much more intertwined beneath it and in Lena’s exposure I have found relief, and I do not think it is possible to thank someone enough for that.

Read More