Absurdity

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Back to 2002 but not for ‘thanks’

Back in 2002 on callthecops we had a number of contributors including my mate Mario of the Woodman public house in Battersea. Mario (as indeed we all did) took the 2002 World Cup very seriously indeed – Seems funny to read now as we move into the hype season for World Cup 2006.

Another summer ruined?
So it is a few days after the night before. Just after spring had been sprung and when you realise that 2002 will not be the year Spurs win the premiership – we could turn to the breast of the World Cup to feed us the milk that is Football but oh no. It’s been ruined, it’s been taken away, it has been destroyed.
Another summer has been ruined by an Argentinean.

It was 1986 when they cheated us out of a semi final place – even if John Barnes had played the full ninety minutes we still would have lost. It was 1998 when we met them again and by fate’s fickle finger we were again a nation distraught.

So it was this week. Even before the tournament had begun an Argentinean took it upon himself to increase their chances by putting in the “reducer” on England’s hero. I personally believe that Beckham will be at the World Cup finals as Captain of the England team, his injury record is spotless due to his high levels of fitness. His rate of recovery is not in the Jan Molby league and after watching him when he single handily beat the Greeks (well drew with them but you know what I mean) I think he’ll be there for us.

I know I may sound like David Icke, or maybe even Yuri Geller, but these things do help, or so I hope. Failing that we could let the Argentinean population know how we feel via the Argentinean president’s web site. It has a phone number feel free to ring it:

http://www.presidencia.gov.ar/

They have persistently annoyed us now it’s our turn. (Actually, maybe best not. They have their own problems at the moment – you know, financial meltdown and all that.)

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It really is Spring

Like in particular these little baby daffodils on the doorstep – Oh, and the white ones are very nice too!

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Haven’t mentioned free wifi for a bit

But very pleased to report that the beloved Karma at 51 First Avenue (between 3rd & 4th Street) now has free wi-fi. For all those who are interested in such things it is also one of the handful of smoking bars left in New York. It is also literally a stumble from my favourite haunt of an afternoon – d.b.a (which already has good free wireless). And what makes this even better news is I am heading to New York in next week or so will be able to check it out for myself. Click the title of this blog if you would like to see the earlier post on the subject of Karma and free wifi.

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We can’t be happier

We can’t be happier to congratulate London based Anko client Snow Books for their shortlisting for the Small Publisher of the Year. It is good to see that a genuinely innovative commercially savvy publisher is getting the recognition it deserves. This is the publisher that showed how the use of technology is not the preserve of large publishers with their own IT departments. Snow Books use the £130 Anko Title Manager to supply all their bibliographic information into the publishing supply chain as well as to generate web pages and advance information sheets. After all once you’ve gone to all the trouble of tidying, entering and checking all your title information doesn’t it make sense to be able to do as much as you can with it?

If you are one of those larger publishers – how much are you paying for less?

To learn more about Snow Books visit their website at http://snowbooks.com. If you would like a free trial of the software they use simply go to our website.

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Even more thanks this week from 2002

Thanks this week go to …
A soulful thanks to the following who lifted us up where we belong in the last seven days.

Sin to win: Seven deadly steps to success, by Marc Lewis. Evilly brilliant. Sample quote: “By avoiding to commit any of the Seven Deadly Sins you are holding yourself back from reaching your full potential”. Read the book and you’ll realise this is not as tossy as it sounds.

Haven’t mentioned many eating/drinking places in recent weeks – so will do a quick round-up: Firstly, greatest bar been to in quite some years – Clancy’s in Long Beach. A nominally Irish bar where, whatever the Californian sunshine is doing it is always, and I mean always! 2am. An ‘Irish’ bar owned by a very chilled Greek bloke famous for its Mexican food and frequented by a mixture of white middle class lawyers, local ‘homeboys’ and ‘blue collar’ hispanics who would probably be at each other throats in any other environment.

F3K (otherwise known as The Famous Three Kings to those who don’t care for such blatantly tossy name ‘updates’) in West Kennsington. Watched England v Argentina game there – Great for ‘event’ games and you can’t fault facilities etc. But all a bit commercial radio especially the annoying twat who walks round with a microphone spouting ‘witty insights’ which are neither witty nor insightful and just make you want to lay your hands on an automatic weapon asap. For my money would take The Butchers Arms in Headington for straight no-nonsense footie watching.

Cock & Camel in Oxford. Odd one, as for all kinds of reasons I don’t really care for the place but, as much as Oxford has changed in recent years, this for me is still perhaps the best place to meet in the day. The alternative being the numerous other similar, but not quite as well done, chain pubs. It has a half decent wine list and the food is fine and they at least try and do some different stuff. Oh, and if anyone finds the switch card I lost in there, you can have a beer – but don’t take the piss!

And lastly, a cracking curry house in Sutton whose name escapes me. But will find and stick in next week.

Matt Smith. ITV has always suffered from being a pale shadow of the BBC when it comes to football coverage, particularly those oft-slagged “panel discussions”. Having poached him from BBC news, ITV have recognised that Smith is a football nut who knows what he is talking about and can draw out the very best of a decent panel of pundits. Des is looking over his shoulder.

Susana Baca is a unique performer from Peru who was recently showcased on Jools Holland’s excellent Friday night show. On record she is magnificent. On stage she is simply awe-inspiring. Her rich, emotional vocals and cool-as-ice personality catalyse a set crammed full of Afro-Peruvian folk, jazz, soul and roots. Have you ever felt you were in the presence of someone truly, truly gifted? I have now.

SeÒor Coconut are a wacky 8-piece made up of members from seven different countries. And they can play. Their set consists of samba, cumbia and merengue covers of Kraftwerk tunes. Barmy brilliance. Catch them now before they become megastars. And look out for the lead singer’s dancing – a cross between Neil Tennant, Andy Bell and Moby all trying to dance salsa.

Otherwise, been having a bit of step back in time on the music front. This is a hard one to write as we are about to try and persuade you that something that has completely unfairly been lumped upon as the one jazz record that Mr 3 Series (but unbadged of course) BMW/Morcheeba listening (I actually don’t mind Morcheeba, but you get where I’m going with this?)/Hugo Boss wearing corporate tosspot owns is in fact something that if you in any way allow it in will inhabit, soothe and just occasionally get you through. I am talking about ‘Kind of Blue’, and Miles Davis which for the last couple of weeks has again been pretty much my recreational drug of choice. If, in your life, for whatever reason you really need to be taken somewhere else for 40 minutes or so and brought back feeling wiser, richer, more fulfilled and any other state of being you care to come up with then I strongly suggest you get your ten bucks together and get out there and ensure that it is safe in your house, in your car, on your computer and anywhere else you may need it. Because I guarantee you may not crave that ‘hit’ now but one day you just might.

Couple of other bits to add, for which I am confident you will thank me. I know I may be the only person who hadn’t already seen it – But ‘Magnolia’ is one of the best, most inventive films I’ve seen in a very long time. And if you were wondering where the fantastic music came from, think no more. The truly great Aimee Mann. All three of her records are fantastic. And lastly, been having to do, as ever, some fairly dull stuff so The President’s of The United States of America are always great loud value – Love the line: ‘You seem cool for a naked chick in a booth’.

Ronaldo. In a World Cup sadly bereft of genuine inspiration, and with fellow Brazilian wonderstar, Rivaldo, tarnishing his reputation with repetitive diving, prima donna tantrums and never bothering to pass to his team mates, the return to form and fitness of the goofy wonder has been a real delight. Football needs players of true greatness. Ronaldo is truly great.

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New Onix code lists

A revision is due in July of the Onix codelists. If you would like to contribute to this release (6) then perhaps best way would be via the Onix group. To go there simply click on the title of this blog entry.

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More thanks this week from 2002

Sorry about all this but actually purely for personal amusement and sharing with couple of other people involved at the time – so you may skip and go straight to the publishing stuff. I like this one for the very ‘trapped in time’ reference to Gerard Houllier.

Thanks this week go to …
This weekly column isn’t (as no doubt you may have spotted) a round up of whatever is perceived to be hip or just released that week. It is exactly what it says on the tin, a collection of the stuff that made the preceding week just that little bit easier to get through and very occasionally what may have really lifted us and made us believe in god, great sex and the kindness of strangers again.

Which, on the whole, is a fine concept for a column. The only downside of this approach is that being mere mortals we have favourite hobby horses which we may return to again and again and what if we have a week where we don’t go out or if we don’t end up anywhere interesting and/or new?

This, of course, is just a preamble to explain away our:

– Again returning to the Barenaked Ladies – If you have a spare tenner this week buy yourself a copy of ‘Maroon’

– And only having one restaurant recommendation

So what did we do? Well, lots of reading. Invariably, we come to important stuff a little late but if you haven’t already read Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s Love in the Time of Cholera then you must do so as soon as possible. This is essential if you are interested in the concept of love and just what that might actually mean. Beautiful.

And again a re-reading of P J O’Rourke’s A Parliament of Whores brightened the week no end. O’Rourke brilliantly drags out and holds up to the light the nonsense that is government. The book is based on the US system but the absurdity is universal.

“The whole idea of our government is this: If enough people get together and act in concert, they can take something and not pay for it.” — P.J. O’Rourke – A Parliament of Whores.

Hot on this un-hip theme, we would also like to take our hat off to Alan Sugar and his column in the Evening Standard. We always liked Sugar as Spurs Chairman for saying what needed to be said regarding the quite ludicrous nature of the financing of football and he continues on similar themes in his column.

The new Morcheeba album, Charango, doesn’t really cover that much new ground, and – indeed – goes back over some favoured old haunts, but they do create smooth melodies and have an unchallenged grip on thirtysomething pop. Gorgeous vocals as well.

I am reluctant to give too much coverage to Little Georgia restaurant on Hackney’s Broadway Market, because as soon as it gets too busy it may lose all its easy charm. However, this converted pub has got Time Out’s restaurant guide, among others, eating out of its hand, so I guess the word is out. Colourful, spicy and well-presented Georgian cuisine and excellent East European beers and wines at decent prices. Oh, just go there.

24. Nearing the climax now, but has there ever been a more tensely directed series on television. Ever? Six Feet Under has trumped it for Emmy nominations, but the pressure just seems to get more and more unbearable and Kiefer Sutherland really does need to reach “closure”, just to enable him to get some much-needed sleep. Although a few of the set pieces went a little left field and threatened to derail the whole project, the central threads, excellent direction, taught script and (mostly) fine performances held the whole thing together.

Gerard Houllier. Gallic-Scouse god whose aggressive, but considered, summer spending spree seems certain to (finally) bring the championship title back to Anfield. We salute you Monsieur.

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Thanks this week (from 2002) …

Having a bit of a clear out and reminded just how much the world has changed. We had a website called callthecops (after the Shaun Ryder shout out in Step On) which as intended (very broadly) to be a UK equivalent of the still brilliant Onion. We had all kinds of stuff on there from commenting on news stories to regular columns. One of these columns was a sort of round up of all the places we had drank, eaten and all the films we had seen and the music we had bought. Seems almost quaint to read some of this stuff now in the age of blogs, bit torrent and ipods. But anyway, for one week in early 2002 this is what me and my mate Gary (http://www.travelwriters.co.uk/garybowerman/) were up to:

Thanks this week go to …
As regular readers will notice, the quantity of places, music and other bits and pieces recommended in this column can vary considerably. This is simply because it really does represent where we were, what we did and the stuff we absorbed in the last seven days. Places reviewed truly represent what we believe modern living (whatever that actually is) should be about. In that spirit …

Couple of pubs we liked (maybe too much) this week. First off, The Kingston Arms in Cambridge. It has excellent, helpful staff, a short sensible wine list and great food. What is remarkable is that it does the simple things really well. This, of course, shouldn’t be any great endeavour but it does seem to elude the larger chains – which invest millions of pounds but fail to understand what punters actually want. So, Mr Whitbread, any combination of the following will do:

a) competent, friendly staff who don’t look like they’d rather be anywhere else at the moment you approach the bar.
b) nice clean bar with reasonable beer options and preferably a well-balanced wine list that doesn’t insult our intelligence about the cost of wine.
c) clean bathrooms, staff and general environment – kitchen staff wandering around looking like they’ve just crawled out from underneath a log really doesn’t help (thanks, but no thanks, All Bar One).
d) food – nothing too fancy but simple things done well with the emphasis not on the skill of the person who ‘designed’ the frozen product.
e) music – keep it light and unobtrusive, but not insubstantial. Van Morrrison is fine, Kenny G isn’t.
f) and, crucially, keep the light down. Pubs should be dark, safe havens.

That will do for starters, and nothing here is particularly difficult. In that spirit, we held the editorial meeting this week in The Dove, on Broadway Market in Hackney. Didn’t eat there and, to be blunt, drank far too much but what we saw we liked.

Sadlers Wells theatre has long been a favourite place to absorb a bit of the “cultural” stuff, but even it has surpassed its own eclecticism by hosting Bounce – a mind blowing dance and music show that blends all aspects of street dance with more mainstream styles, including ballet, jive and tap. The whole thing is set to a blistering “greatest hits of hip hop” soundtrack that kicks real ass. The energy, choreography and abundant talent of the performers make it pretty much a “must see”.

Heading South, Looking North by Ariel Dorfman is not new, but well worth revisiting. This sublimely stylistic autobiography neatly segues his twin existences, in Spanish-speaking Chile and English-speaking USA. But the heart of the book details how, as a government worker in the ousted Allende regime, he was hunted and persecuted by Pinochet’s secret police. It serves as an excellent introduction to the pain the Chilean nation suffered under Pinochet, and sets you up nicely to tackle Andy Beckett’s excellent new book Pinochet in Piccadilly, about the events before and after the
General’s arrest in London in 1998.

As renowned fans of Shoreditch’s Cantaloupe, we felt a little guilty trying out nearby – and newly refurbished – Home. The upstairs restaurant is gloriously gauche and art deco in design and, while not cheap, the food is well presented and carefully constructed. But the best part was the Red Berry Mojito cocktails. Not cheap (almost £7 a throw), but to absolutely die for.

It’s taken a while, but we have warmed to Paul Kaye’s Liar gameshow on BBC2. Not stunningly original or earth-shatteringly brilliant, but the ex-Dennis Pennis host holds the thing together neatly with some good one-liners and a very acute sense of the ridiculous.

Coming back to music, we’ve been thinking and buying again and the consistent thought has been – what is it about runs of three? Why do all the great artists have three great albums that almost always transcend time and then do some ok stuff but never quite get there again. Here are three great ‘threes’ for you to ponder on:

1) Jimi Hendrix – Are You Experienced; Axis Bold As Love and Electric Ladyland.
2) The Rolling Stones – Beggars Banquet, Let It Bleed, Exile On Main Street and Sticky Fingers (alright four but my point is still valid).
3) Stevie Wonder – Talking Book (with the awesome Superstition), Music Of Mind, Innervisions – and then a skip admittedly to the ‘just words fail me’ breadth, brilliance and capacity to wreck of Songs In The key Life.

So, anyway, ponder on.

Also, repurchased and previously recommended in these very pages – Prince, Sign O’ Of The Times. Buy and remember what all the fuss was about. As Charles Shaar Murray said on its initial release: ‘Sign Of The Times is good fun, good music, good sex and good politics’. Isn’t that enough? Oh yeah, the first three people to drop an e-mail to molson@callthecops.com will receive a free copy to carry them forward through these quite frankly very trying times.

And just to finish up, that strangely sketched chico, Manu Chao, releases his first live album this week. We’ve snaffled a copy and will review it next week. Look out also for a forthcoming thanks to the brilliance of Phoenix Nights. What on earth would we do without it?

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Blogs, podcasts, RSS and Onix

Spent some time looking at the Onix specification again with particular reference to new medium, forums and approaches to the marketing and publicising of a book (in all its forms).

Author blogs have proved (despite the many naysayers) to be a very effective method of informing people about books – This seems to work accross the board in terms of subject area. Although, personally, I find them particulary interesting where they work in an area where a book fosters a sense of community (whether it’s foodies, music fans or any group passionate about their subject) or indeed taps into an avid community that already exists. A good example would be the Robert Scoble book on Blogging itself.

Also, a number of publishers and authors seem to have got the podcasting bug. A quick search on the iTunes store on the word ‘book’ instantly throws up 105 hits. I can freely subscribe to periodically updated information from Penguin (and any number of publishers) about there upcoming books. Whilst still a relatively small portion of the buying public will be subscribing to these podcasts I suspect very much that they would disproportionately represent a demographic that Penguin would want to hit with information about its new books – Podcasting isn’t just the preserve of geeks. I recently read a report saying it was all a waste of time and no one was listening and it would never take off – but if I remember correctly that was what was said about the internet.

Nowhere, in the Onix specification do I see any mention of blogs or podcasting.

And what about the growing use of RSS feeds? How may I define and identify these within the specification as apart from a straightforward website link? Indeed could Onix title infromation be supplied as an RSS feed?

An interesting point raised by a friend of mine in the industry was also that the the Onix specification is based around supplying information as it is related to a ‘product’ (a book to you and I) but more and more the market for publishing information is based around the author. In other words a website is actually interested in a particular author and the relationship to the product is through them.

I have been looking recently at the the new Amazon Connect program which is essentially allowing authors to host their blogs on the Amazon website. These blogs allow them to tell those interested in their books as much about themseleves as they like (Bio, Interests, etc etc.) as well as of course comment on their daily life. Way beyond the simple biographical and qualifications fields that Onix allows to get supplied to the world via the publisher. Indeed, Bookdata in the UK doesn’t even cope with an individual entry for each other aggregating the information sent about all the authors related to a title into one field.

All this highlights the point that the supply of information about a book is not simply the preserve of the publisher; and further is not a one way street as there are now so many ways that the buying public may respond to that information and add their own.

Is it not about time that the Onix specification reflected the reality of the life of books and their related information?

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Happy Easter

No Onix today just nice dinner and went to see the new Spike Lee film Inside Man – Which read lots of crap about – but as a piece of pure enjoyment we completely enjoyed – But then we weren’t looking for the holes in the plot or continuity errors or for everything to be explained. Though have to admit often feel about Spike Lee that always something of interest in everything he makes. Sometimes reminded of Charles Shaar Murray quote actually about Prince (I think in a review of ‘Sign ‘o’ the Times’) – ‘His chaf is someones elses wheat’ – Or words to that effect.

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