Clive James :The Last of the Culture Vultures
Lenny Abrahamson: From film-makers to film success
Photo: Donal O Caoimh donal.wordpress.com
ollege might have started back again, but we at TN2 are in no way daunted by the gruelling hours spent trudging from Arts Building to the Hamilton Building and back again. Although it is strange that English is now taught in a science building, stranger things have happened to TN2 writers, as you will clearly see if you leaf through this issue. We get the concluding instalment of
our two-part article chronicling the dysfunctional cattiness of the Parisian fashion world. Elsewhere, the legendary Johnny Marr speaks to TN2 after his visit to the Phil and Mrs Fixit tries to solve the worst of your personal problems. Beth, our Edibles editor, has provided an excellent and informative guide to Dublin’s supermarkets, a necessary but rather untalked about subject when you consider the long hours spent lingering in supermarket aisles weighing up the respec-
omen, or at least most of the women I know, don’t completely understand our bloke’s fascination with looking at naked or partially dressed ladies. Sure, we all like to look at rugby players bums, and get a laugh out of a stripogram, but, if we’re honest, there’s something kinda grotesque about the gratuitously naked male body. We simply don’t get the same thrill out of staring at the opposite sex in the buff as guys do – the popularity of Playboy versus Playgirl as a global brand clearly speaking for itself. One explanation for men’s love of steamy ladsmags shoots and its motion picture friend porn is that men are more visual creatures when it comes to sex, stirred by images, both still and moving. I believe that women are just as ocular - yet stimulated by pictures of shoes and handbags, not genitalia. We are not sexywomen haters; I personally adore America’s Next Top Model and all its spinoffs, and at its core, that is a programme solely about looking at beautiful women. My boyfriend loves that programme, and the fact that I let him drool when we watch it together. My point is, I am optic, I am stimulated by all sorts of images in many different ways, but a big picture of a penis would do as much to me sexually as one of Jodie Marsh. Interesting, yes, a bit bizarre certainly, but arousing, definitely NOT. Sure, it can be hot to watch porn with your boyfriend, or maybe sexy scenes in regular films can get you going, but I honestly don’t know one girl with her own porno collection. It just doesn’t work that way. However, we’re not squeaky clean, we have our pleasures, and I believe I may have found the female alternative to porn. We girls do get off on watching films, but not the kind of films you may be thinking. Are romantic comedies porn for women? If so, then slap my thighs and call me a pervert because I have the most impressive rom-com collection going. I have all the biggies: Love Actually, Notting Hill, Sleepless in Seattle. What I have discovered through conversing with friends and acquaintances is that what most women do own is a copy of at least one of these three films: Dirty Dancing, The Notebook, and Pretty
Are romantic comedies porn for women? If so, then slap my thighs and call me a pervert.
Woman. I possess all three, obviously. Guys watch porn after midnight on Bravo, girls watch Sex and the City late night on Paramount. Is how I feel about the films of Julia Roberts and Meg Ryan how guys feel about Jenna Jameson’s greatest hits? Do we get the same feeling of well-being from such different uses of the same medium? When I’m feeling tired or stressed and I’m alone and could do with a pick me up, I retire to bed with my precious copy of Four Weddings and a Funeral and feel miles better. Is this the same thrill? Clearly said thrill is not sexual, its emotional. We cry, we laugh, feel happy and feel sad. Romantic comedies provide us with all the romance and heartache we need in a glossy Hollywood package stuffed with beautiful and identifiable heroines and strapping love interests. We can feel rejuvenated due to a happy or a tragic ending. We all know having a good whinge or a raucous laugh can release tension - the same amount of tension as, say, watching porn? But in a more hygienic fashion, obviously! Romantic comedies are altogether more communal, something we can do with friends or do alone, and not feel ashamed or dirty about. I have heard of groups of guys watching Debbie Does Dallas together, but that’s just beyond my comprehension as a woman, I’m afraid. I think I’ll stick to a bottle of wine, a Terry’s chocolate orange and my well-worn copy of When Harry Met Sally, thank you very much.
If you have yet to check out Terrordactyl, I recommend you remedy the situation as soon as possible. Taking the nervous energy of Mars Volta and feeding it though a meat grinder, Mick, Jill, Lar, Stephen and Owensie put on an astonishingly intense show. With an EP coming out in a few weeks on Armed Ambition Records and a support slot for 65daysofstatic in early November, they’ve got a busy month ahead. I asked guitarist/vocalist Owensie what he thought about the current state of the music scene in the capital: “Dublin has been fucking great for us because me and Jill come from the more DIY punk end of it, yet people from all of the different little scenes seem to like us, from the indie kids to the metallers. In fact, I think we’re actually less popular in the punk scene now, which is weird for me after playing DIY punk gigs for over ten years. It’s nice to be able to play in different venues to fresh faces in your own city. It keeps it that bit more interesting.” The band played a few shows on the continent earlier in the year but unfortunately had to cancel a number of dates during the summer due to personal problems. In terms of the future, Owensie seems to be happy to play things by ear, “An album would be a fine thing, but the main aim of the band is to have fun. We try not to apply too much pressure to it and to just go with the flow. This seems to have worked well for us so far, anyway. Ultimately, we just want to rock.” Rock, they most certainly do, as the band name would imply, “No deep meaning here, just that it sounds like a dinosaur but worse because it has ‘terror’ in it. It sounds big and cool. I think it suits the music anyway.” Terrordactyl play Eamon Doran’s with Hooray For Humans on 3 November as well as the aforementioned support slot for 65daysofstatic (alongside Adebisi Shank) in Cypress Avenue, Cork, the following night. Satisfaction guaranteed. www.myspace.com/thedactyls
COLLEGE BANDS: Terrodactyl
Pornography: do women really like it? Our heroine investigates. Words: Victoria Notaro
Photos: Marcel van Schooten
tive merits of four different brands of tomato sauce. If you haven't seen the new and improved Buttery yet, check it out. Everyone’s hanging out there now. The last time we were there, so was the Provost. I spent my entire breakfast gazing across the canteen at the most famous and elusive face in the University of Dublin. It was fantastic. Meeting Johnny Depp was nothing compared to that. Nothing. Catriona
Bigmouth strikes again Johnny Marr, the quietly-spoken elder statesman of melancholy talks to Carolyn Power
n our current fast-changing climate of music that can be somewhat disposable at times, there are few people around who are guaranteed to get everyone excited. Trinity’s debating chambers were home to one of them on 2 October; legendary rock guitarist, songwriter and producer Johnny Marr. A musician of Irish birth, Marr’s bestknown role to most is probably as the guitarist with genre-defining band The Smiths. But rather than being content to rest on his laurels after the group disbanded, Marr carried on forming The Healers and working in the capacity of guitarist or producer with a huge range of diverse acts such as Kirsty MacColl, Talking Heads, The Pet Shop Boys, Bryan Ferry and electro king Beck – and he’s not finished yet, as he would still love to work with LCD Soundsystem and The Cribs “probably as a producer, I don’t think they need a guitar player!” His current job spec is with American indie band Modest Mouse; and as everyone at his University Philosophy Society session could see, he’s still going strong. So did he enjoy speaking at the event? Evidently: “I had a good time, I was surprisingly a bit nervous before talking because I’m not used to doing this kind of thing, but it was a really nice atmosphere, everybody had friendly faces, and the questions were good – not too complicated but not too bland either.” A question many were undoubtedly wondering about what how exactly a US indie band managed to land one of history’s most fêted guitarists; it turns out that Modest Mouse thought much the same, as asking him to work with them was something of a dare. “They came to write their latest LP, and their guitarist had left. And as Isaac Brock tells it, they just made a list of guitarists and put my name on it, and couldn’t really get past that name. And so the band almost dared him to phone me up. Luckily for them, I like Modest Mouse! But I went in initially to write some songs with them and then playing in the band grew from that, so it turned out very organically.” This process is the kind that Marr related best to: having stated that he wanted the members of the Healers to be chosen “by chemistry” rather than corporate suits, the current lineup are people that he “has known for quite a while, and are to many
Old, great instruments are actually out of the realm of the musician. Even if I could afford to get one of those instruments, I wouldn’t out of principle
intents and purposes unknowns; I know plenty of guys who would form a good supergroup, and would arouse interest in the music press – ‘names’, so to speak – but I found that I called on my mates to help me do some demos and it felt right so that chemistry became a group. I don’t really care about names; I’ve been in a position where some of my friends were wellknown, but that’s really a coincidence. It’s all about personalities.” Marr has also been involved in nonmusical pursuits; this year, for the charity Cure Autism Now, the long-time PF Flyers wearer got the chance to design a pair of the shoes himself as a fundraiser. Was this an interesting experience for him? “For a start it was a privilege, because getting to make some money for a charity when you’re a musician and a rock guitarist is unusual and not something that I took for granted; it was quite humbling in a way. And then in a down-to-earth way,’ he laughs, ‘I got to get a pair of Flyers that I couldn’t get in the shops but really wanted, because the ones that I had weren’t right – they had a white front on them and the stripe was the wrong colour.” Marr would also like to design guitars, but not with the existing major companies for whom old guitars are becoming invest-
Photo: David Adamson
ments in bank vaults rather than being played as they were intended to be: “they’re getting, surprise, surprise, really corporate. Those old, great instruments are actually out of the realm of the musician. Even if I could afford to get one of those instruments, I wouldn’t get one out of principle. And there are now guys in the States, the UK and probably Ireland too, who make these individual instruments and the best thing to do would probably be to go to one of those independent people and do it that way, rather than getting involved in these corporations. That’s a good idea actually! I’m very lucky in that I was able to get old guitars before they were really expensive, but they weren’t known as vintage guitars then, they were just ‘old guitars.’” Marr also got the chance to sign and give away two guitars donated by Walton’s on the night in the chambers: one to the winner of a guitar solo competition and one to be hung on the Phil’s wall. On another guitar-related note, would this legend of rock guitar playing settle for being any of his counterparts if he had to? Stepping away from the obvious Hendrixes and Claptons, Marr makes his choice: “if I had to be somebody else, I’d probably be James Williamson from the Stooges – the version of the Stooges that did Raw Power.
Music snobs like to think of this as less worthy than their original two albums, but they’re wrong: Raw Power was the best album that they produced and James Williamson is my favourite guitar player because he has the ability of the Jimmy Page without being too over-the-top and the attitude of Keith Richards without being too sloppy.” So how does it feel too be a successful elder statesman of rock? “It’s a nice position to be in, because it doesn’t seem that long ago when I was a frustrated musician – frustrated because I wanted to be heard, not necessarily because I thought I was brilliant, but because I wanted to be validated. It really did take other people to tell me I had a knack or a style. I’d have to live several lifetimes to be as good as I’d like to be, which is a nice thing- I’m not jaded by the guitar by any means. I always felt it was the greatest accolade to be cited as an influence by other musicians, regardless of whether they’re in Radiohead or whether they’re like the people I’ve met here tonight. It doesn’t matter whether they’re successful or not, or even professional – I’ve been really fortunate to be told that I inspired people to pick up the guitar and there’s no greater accolade; it’s quite humbling, really.”
Photos: Jim Rafferty
Duke Special creates songs that demand your attention: they are original and melodic with haunting lyrics and infectious tunes.
Words: Catriona Gray
eeting Duke Special was a surprise. Drawing on a number of preconceived opinions, I had envisaged a supremely confident and rather uncommunicative star and awaited the interview with a considerable feeling of apprehension. Duke Special, or Peter Wilson, to use his real name, proved to be the complete opposite of what I had imagined. He is, without question, extremely nice. In person, Duke was more diminutive than I had anticipated, and had a soft, lilting Northern Irish accent. The media whirl accompanying the re-issue of his Songs from the Deep Forest album means that Duke is working to a formidable schedule. Having been rushed to the interview straight after appearing on Today FM over at RTÉ , his day was far from over, as he was due to play on The Late Late Show later that evening. Despite all this, Duke made a real effort during the interview, asking me about how TN2 was coming along (not too bad, actually) and so on, which did raise a faint suspicion that he was employing diversionary tactics to avoid having to spout a monologue. Indeed, Duke didn’t seem to be entirely at his ease at being the recipient of so much media attention and came across as being quite shy. Perhaps this is part of the reason that he assumes such an avant-garde appearance, both as a means of self-expression and as a protective shield. Five min-
utes into the interview, his trademark long dreadlocks fell over his face. He made no attempt to push them out of the way; instead his kohl-rimmed eyes peered out from behind them as he spoke. Occasionally, he took a sip of coffee, which necessitated a slight movement of the head to flick the dreadlocks behind his left shoulder, but after he had replaced cup in saucer, his hair would slowly resume its former position, covering his face like a partial curtain. Duke Special is about to embark on another tour to promote the re-release of Songs from the Deep Forest, playing an extensive array of gigs until mid-December. He spent the summer doing the festival circuit and seems to be living quite a nomadic existence at present. He talks about playing at Glastonbury, about the sea of mud, the vast crowds of rain-sodden people and the despondent feeling of being soaked and too wet to even make the effort to change into another set of damp clothes. The backstage areas were just as mud-filled as everywhere else and it took the band over four hours to cross the site before their performance at the Queen’s Head due to the gate restrictions. “We were on at 2am, and as we drove up to each gate, it had just been shut, so we were directed on to another one”. Duke describes watching Iggy and the Stooges’ performance on The Other Stag and the showmanship of Iggy Pop as he invited the crowd to surge past the security and onto the stage towards the end of the set. He de-
scribes Iggy as “amazing, a real old school performer” with fantastic stage presence. But enough of this, despite Duke Special’s remarkable lack of egotism, his music deserves a mention. To be honest, his music stands alone, it speaks for itself. Duke Special creates songs that demand your attention: they are original and melodic with haunting lyrics and infectious tunes. Duke said: “I love guitar, bass and drums, but I don’t think you should be limited by that; there’s a whole palette of sounds”. The instruments used are certainly a far cry from the beloved guitar-bassdrums combination, with everything from cheese graters to wardrobe doors being heard on the Songs From the Deep Forest album. His songs are in no way mainstream, being heavily inspired by early twentieth century vaudeville, a genre which seems to be having a bit of a revival recently Vaudeville derives its name from a corruption of the French voix de ville or voice of the city. This musical style has ambiguous origins: it is partly derived from the French music halls and partly from the travelling vaudeville circuses which provided everything from musicians to fire-eaters in late nineteenth and early twentieth century United States. While not solely influenced by this genre, Duke Special nevertheless captures some of the romanticism attached to this era. His first album Adventures in Gramophone reflects this. The gramophone
Photo: Ian Usher
is a recurring motif in Duke’s work with many of his songs having that echoing, tinny sound of a gramophone. There is a large picture of a gramophone on his MySpace site. The gramophone, incidentally, has a fascinating history of its own: gramophones were almost exclusively made by The Gramophone Company, which was founded by Emile Berliner, who had invented the gramophone in 1887. Berliner adopted a painting by Francis Barraud as his company’s official trademark: a picture of a dog listening to his owner’s voice emanating from a gramophone entitled His Master’s Voice. The picture was printed as a logo on records and can still be seen today as the logo for HMV music stores (His Master’s Voice, get it?). Duke Special seems to effortlessly weave together threads from a buried musical past to create something new and very unusual. The more you look at his influences, the more you appreciate his work. It ties together a range of different things and refers to the past while still creating a very modern sound. His music creates atmosphere, with the ability to transport the listener in a polyphonic haze of sound. This lends particularly well to an orchestral accompaniment, as can be heard form the reissued album. Duke talks about the recording process and the concert that he gave with the Ulster Philharmonic orchestra in Belfast “It was amazing, it was a very special night
for me. When I was waiting backstage, they were playing an overture- an amalgamation of seven or eight of my songs- and I was nearly crying, to be honest, because it was so lavish and incredibly intense. I never would have ever dreamt that I would be in a position like that”. The resulting recording is certainly impressive and definitely worth listening to. Duke Special is also working on a side project: a five track release of songs from an unfinished 1950’s musical by Kurt Weil, a master of German cabaret and a big influence on Tom Waits. The musical was called Raft on the river and is based on Mark Twain’s Huckleberry Finn. This is due to come out in the early part of next year. I mentioned that cabaret, like vaudeville, seems to be becoming increasingly popular. Duke agreed, saying that “there’s a real appetite and a real desire to do something more performance based and I think that cabaret does allow for that.” Peter Wilson has been performing as Duke Special for six years, his popularity gradually increasing and his music slowly reaching a wider audience. Although his music is an anomaly compared to what is currently topping the charts, he continues to appeal to an ever increasing body of fans. He isn’t mainstream, but he is most definitely cool.
A brave departure Words: Emma Keaveney
evenge films, like all genre films, have an established set of rules, a film language that the audience understands. We know, for example, that The Bride will manage to Kill Bill by the end of the film. (I suppose the clue’s in the title!). Crucially, for a revenge film to work, we have to really believe that the hunted deserve to be chased down, and that the hunter has the moral authority to do so. We need the good/bad equilibrium to be rebalanced by the end of the film. Vengeance occurs so that evil can be rid from the world. However, in Neil Jordan’s latest release The Brave One, Jordan does not give his audience the certainty of moral authority. It is this new twist on the typical plot that differentiates The Brave One from other films in the genre. New York radio host Erica Bain (Jodie Foster) and her doctor fiancée David (Naveen Andrews) are the kind of couple who are so blissfully in love that their friends are consistently driven to declare, “I hate you. You’re so in love. I hate you”. However, their pre-wedding bliss is fatally interrupted when, while walking their dog in Central Park one night, they are attacked by a gang of thugs. Erica wakes up three weeks later in hospital. Her fiancée is dead.
Like a kind of oestrogeninfused Travis Bickle, Erica becomes obsessed with playing God.
His body has been buried and Erica needs closure. Suddenly, the city that she loved so much has mutated into a city of ever-present danger. Confused and disorientated by a myriad of emotions – anger, grief, fear, paranoia and frustration at the New York Police Department’s disabling bureaucracy – she illegally acquires a gun and begins to walk the streets nightly, looking for low-lifes to “take care of” (and I mean that in an Al Pacino sense, rather than Julie Andrews…)
Like a kind of oestrogen-infused Travis Bickle, Erica becomes obsessed with playing God. Meanwhile, she develops a striking friendship with Detective Mercer (brilliantly played by Terrance Howard), who is investigating the vigilante crimes and is initially unaware of her role in the deaths, though over the course of the film he comes to suspect her as the killer. The world of The Brave One is one where policemen, numbed by red tape and years of over-exposure to urban violence gleefully exclaim “Christ on a Cracker!” when they arrive at a particularly bloody crime scene. The police, Erica notes dryly, can no longer be counted upon to play the role of “the good guys.” Yet, not even Erica, in her role as the avenging widow, is awarded moral supremacy. Jordan plays with the generic rules of the revenge film as, in numerous scenes, he investigates the thin line between good and evil. Detective Mercer, for example, points out that both Erica’s attackers and the vigilante (Erica herself) “walked away from murder.” The audience is left questioning whether Erica is a modern-day super-hero, or someone who has taken life just as life was so cruelly taken from her. In a city plagued by conflict and hatred, the luxury of clearly seeing right from wrong is denied
us. This ambivalence is highlighted even in the film’s title and tag-line. Is this really a brave woman, as the title suggests? Or is she instead, quite the opposite? – frightened, scared, paranoid, the victim of an itchy trigger finger. The film’s tag-line “How many wrongs to make it right?” reflects the moral uncertainty that permeates the film. Sadly, however, the film never fully answers this question. It is to the film’s credit that vigilante justice is explored in such a sensitive and intelligent manner; however, the issue is left hanging in mid-air, and other critical issues - such as gun control or ghetto-based violence are noticeably, even conveniently, ignored. The final scene offers us no cop-out, no guilty resignation, none of the sanitation for mass-consumption found in so many of Hollywood’s exports. Foster’s performance snarls with a venomous viciousness that reminds us once again exactly why she is one of the foremost actresses of her generation. While I wouldn’t describe The Brave One as haunting, it raises compelling issues of fear, paranoia and self-defence in a violent urban world, issues which Jordan has proven can still provide a rich seam of psychological thrills. The Brave One is on general release now, rated 16. Duration: 119 mins.
P7FILM 3:10 to Yuma
From Filmmakers to film success Lenny Abrahamson founded DU Filmmakers. From there he has become an acclaimed Irish Director. Words: Eoin Maher
n the early 90s Leonard Abrahamson cofounded, with Ed Guiney, what is now known as the Dublin University Film-makers Society. Since that time he has gone on to become one of Ireland’s most inspired film talents. His feature debut Adam and Paul, which was released in 2004 followed the hapless, vice ridden, duo Adam (Mark O’Halloran) and Paul (Tom Murphy) as they trundle through their day in Dublin trying to escape the bleak surroundings, endless boredom and bitter reality in which they live. It may surprise you then to discover that Adam and Paul was, in fact, a comedy. The protagonists’ inability to understand properly or react adequately to what was happening around them allowed Abrahamson to lessen the possible melancholy of the themes. Adam and Paul went on to win Leonard Abrahamson the Best Director award at the Irish Film and Television Awards that year, as well as several other nominations including Best Irish Film, Best Script and Best Editing. Recently, Abrahamson directed a four part television series called Prosperity for RTÉ that follows a day in the life four individuals living in Dublin and how they deal with their own situations. The series was televised in September and opened with Stacey, a teenage mother, as she spent her day wan-
dering through the city waiting for the day to end. Here Abrahamson manages to capture modern day archetypes (migrant worker, drunkard father, etc.) that we can all recognise, but which shows us a side of their lives that is seldom seen. The Garage, Abrahamson’s newest, is being released as we go to press. Having earned Abrahamson a place in the director’s fortnight at Cannes, it’s not surprising that the film is expected to outdo Adam and Paul, breaking boundaries in Irish filmmaking. The film stars Pat Shortt as a garage owner in a small rural Irish town. But far from Killinascully, Shortt’s character is seen by the rest of the village as the local idiot, the fool to poke fun at. As the film progresses Josie (Shortt) develops a close friendship with his new assistant David and a crush on Carmel (Anne Marie Duff). However, Josie’s misunderstood character leads to his increasing isolation from the rest of the village. Abrahamson has been building his name in the film industry for the past twenty odd years. From when he first left Trinity College and the then-Trinity Video Society, through his work in commercials, short films (3 Joes), up until his most recent films he has helped paved the way for young Irish filmmakers and is helping to shape a proper Irish cinema, one which is still struggling to be seen in the world’s eye.
Cheap eats: a student’s guide to Tesco Edibles P18
Director: James Mangold Starring: Russell Crowe, Christian Bale, Peter Fonda Cert 15A Running Time:117 mins There’s always a danger of resting your film’s hopes on the interplay between two quality actors. For one, one may outshine the other and leave the pairing uneven and for two, the interplay may just be overshadowing the flaws in content that the two protoganists have to work with. Sadly, the latter is the case in James Mangold’s latest venture, 3:10 to Yuma. Pairing Christian Bale and Russell Crowe, the film sees Christian Bale’s poor farmer, Dan Evans, escorting notorious criminal Ben Wade (Crowe) to a town called Contention to catch the train to Yuma prison. On paper the premise is rather clever and pointed and leaves the opening for a dramatic showdown as Bale’s downtrodden character attempts to be a role-model for his son, and help his starving family in the process, by making sure Crowe’s Ben Wade makes it to the prison train as his posse closes in. Sadly, despite the efforts of Crowe and Bale, Mangold’s film suffers from an unearned confidence. Mangold’s effort just doesn’t feel like a Western, but rather an excuse to pair Crowe and Bale. The supporting characters are all rather hollow, particularly Ben Foster as Wade’s sidekick, and the closing showdown is ultimately a bit tame. A decent effort, but a horrible waste of talent and concept.
Kings Director:Tom Collins Starring: Colm Meaney Running Time: 88 mins. Cert 15A Ireland’s first-ever submission for the Best Foreign Language Film Academy Award comes in the form of Tom Collins’ pedestrian, clichéd and ultimately pointless tale of regret and loss amongst the Irish migrant community in London. The film focuses on five middle-aged alcoholics on the day of a close friend’s funeral and wake. The film feels stagy and most of the actors, save Colm Meaney, look uncomfortable and out of place onscreen. The only obviously cinematic technique employed by director Collins is the flashback; however, it is employed so clumsily and awkwardly it only underlines the deficiencies of the film. On top of the technical faults of the film, it is impossible for me to understand why someone would want to spend an hour and a half with such unsympathetic, uninteresting and aggravating characters. The film says nothing new or insightful on alcoholism, regret, alienation, loss or the migrant experience and each of these themes have been covered at length in far superior films. There is such a wealth of Irish writing and acting talent there is no need to pay good money to see a film as uninspired as this.
t f o s the bul leti n
Live and kickass
Carolyn Power shares words with performers for two of Dublin’s finest upcoming gigs.
Words: Carolyn Power
The Turner Prize defended. Art P17
owever fondly rendered the iconography of the muddy wellington may be in the hearts and minds of festival goers all over the nation, there is still a lot to be said for a more urban counterpart to these heady summer music Meccas. The simple act of replacing portaloos with actual toilets would probably be enough to sway the argument; deciding against leaving this up to chance, the organizers of the Hard Working Class Heroes festival 2007 instead chose to offer a savvy selection of new music from Ireland spiced up with a Scandinavian invasion, exclusive Stones and Dylan photo exhibitions and work from Irish photographers Roger Woolman and Loreana Rushe, among others. The festival may be in its fifth year, but new twists still abounded, including a sort of speed-dating mentor service for industry hopefuls with their more sage counterparts in press, PR, labels and entertainment law. The main focus of the event is still getting new Irish music out there and giving it a forum and this year’s lineup did not disappoint, including an electric performance from The Jimmy Cake, bonkers dance brilliance from Super Extra Bonus Party, serious electro stylings from Channel One, movie-tinged madness from Fight Like Apes (girl from The Ring finishes series contract, moves to Ireland, sings in band) and the incomparable Waterford DJ/rap duo You’re only Massive. There was also plenty of space for a bit of good old guitar-based indie, of course, with stellar performances from The Kybosh, Belfast tunesmiths Panda Kopanda and Monaghan hit brigade The Flaws – as well as an innovative twist on the genre from one of my festival highlights, the endlessly genius Evil Harrisons. The event was held in Harcourt Street’s POD complex and was extremely well planned, run and – naturally – enjoyed. Counting down to next year already. To tide you over till then, Dublin will be host to a number of sure to be savage gigs including The Enemy in the Ambassador, 23 October; 2Many DJ’s in the Ambassador, 26 October and French sensations Justice in the Phoenix Park Marquee, 1 December. Bring it on.
Photo: Jamie Howard
s you probably already know if you follow gig guides/listen to radio promotions/have a pulse, Dublin is playing host to countless excellent live acts in the coming months. Here are two of the best of them, with some choice words on who they are and what they’re up to. First up we have the Anglo-Irish songstress Cathy Davey. Already a critical if not commercial success following her debut album Something Ilk, she is coming to Whelan’s on 8, 15, 23 and 29 October to promote her new offering Tales of Silversleeve, released 12 October. Headstrong from birth, it would seem, Davey’s artistic tendencies and issues with organised education would seem to place her miles from the controlling and sometimes draining music industry; the artist found it especially difficult to cope with the somewhat runaway process of recording and promoting her debut, as she says herself, “It was a huge issue for the first album because I was not at all prepared for the level of non-creative work involved. I was naïve about it; it was nobody’s fault. I’ve come to terms with it now – although I still have huge issues with giving away control, there are situations where I don’t budge!” Davey also found performing live an extremely daunting task, explaining that it was once again down to being totally unprepared for it. Things are looking up with the new album though, and she certainly seems to have come round to the idea and the process of live playing and promoting with her Tales of Silversleeve record: “I’m so comfortable with the album this time, I’m on stage and not feeling apologetic for being there. I feel sorry for the person I was around Something Ilk – I was so naïve!” And although she is a firm believer in the crowd making a great venue great, Davey is looking forward – albeit a little apprehensively – to her Whelan’s residency; feeling that she is more open to learning from the experience this time around, she is hoping to have “some sort of formula for live playing by the end of it”. Laughing, she explains her first ambition: “I’m looking forward to doing the place up with loads of fairy lights and making it look pretty”. Come for the lights: stay for the music. Also gracing the capital’s stage, this time in the
Ambassador on 27 October, is Florida-based singer/songwriter Sam Beam, a.k.a. Iron&Wine. Beam got the idea for his stage name from the dietary supplement “Beef Iron & Wine”, but decided to leave the beef out of it. When asked why he used a stage name instead of his own name, he chucklingly parries with the question “Well, which is more interesting to you?” He is also known for his links with films such as 2004’s Garden State, which featured his cover of “Such Great Heights” by The Postal Service, and In Good Company, from the same year, which featured his track “The Trapeze Swinger”. This comes as no surprise when you learn that Beam has also previously been a professor of Film and Cinematography at Miami International University of Art and Design. When I asked him about soundtracking an entire film, however, he explained that this isn’t really how he operates: “I just love writing songs, really; if the film comes up and they want to use a song, then great. I have contributed songs to films where I have based the songs on themes from the films, but really soundtracking involves knowing a lot about music cues, dramatic cues and stuff like that…I wish I was good enough to do all that! But really, I just like writing the songs.” This is clearly not a wasted pastime for Iron&Wine: his new album titled The Shepherd’s Dog has been released to excellent reviews and features the stunningly beautiful track “Resurrection Fern”, inspired by a type of fern that seems to die before springing back into life. I wondered if he ever felt that it was part of his job as a songwriter to bring these phenomena and their messages to the ears of the public, and he explained that his process is rather different to this: “I definitely follow my interests when writing, the fern is a metaphor in the song. But I don’t think it’s ‘part of my job’. I mean, some people don’t even really listen to lyrics. I just hope that people can listen to the song a few times and get different little things from the song that interest them”. Judging by the reception so far, he hasn’t gone wrong yet. Beam is definitely looking forward to bringing his music to Ireland again: “Definitely looking forward to it! I played there about three years ago, had some great times and can’t wait to come back”. Until he makes it over here, the album is in stores now and definitely worth a good listen.
Anyone can play guitar With radio, television and digital media, there are so many fresh acts that you’d be forgiven for feeling lost. Carolyn Power presents two of the best: Dublin foursome The Kinetics and Devon based group The Rumble Strips.
he Kinetiks, hailing from North Country Dublin, released their debut EP earlier this year, and their new single “Shuffle Your Feet” on 12 October. It was recorded along with another single at the infamous Grouse Lodge studios, produced by Gareth Mannix and promises to add considerably to their steadily-growing fanbase. When asked to describe the Kinetiks’ sound, Gary from the band stated rock/pop bands such as The Kinks and The Who as his main influence; as he is the main songwriter, that gives you a fair idea of what you’re getting, but with a modern slant. The band formed through a network of friends – and friends of friends – brought together by the love of music and the hope of playing in a band with likeminded individuals. This comes across in the sound; united by this love of music, the songs are well blended and extremely tight, resulting from their live progression where they “kept working towards getting everything faster and tighter, got one playlist together, ditched that playlist for a better one, and then ditched that playlist for a better one again”. Gary provides most of the material, having a good idea of a song’s melody, lyrics and arrangement before bringing it to the rehearsal studio to perfect it with the rest of the band. He is currently studying sound engineering, obviously a good choice for someone in a jobbing band, and likes the idea of The Kinetiks producing their own releases in the future: “If we had the luxury of someone else coming in and helping us out like Gareth Mannix did, that would be great – Gareth just liked the band and worked for a rock-bottom price, but the industry is still expensive. The sound engineering is great because we can sort out our own demos, set up all our own equipment and do sort of a live demo, then I can stick it on the iPod and take it home for a listen to see if any of it needs to be changed.” EP distribution for an unsigned band is always difficult – as Gary puts it, “Getting the EP on the shelves in HMV and the like was very hard because if it’s not Top 40 or Justin Timberlake they don’t really want to know, unless you know someone who knows someone in there” – hence the push for digitally releasing the current single with Sonikpollen, a totally online offshoot of Sonikdub records. The songs are doing
well on national radio stations like Phantom and Today FM, and with tour dates lined up over the next month, things for The Kinetiks seem to be moving along nicely. Another band to stay on the lookout for, The Rumble Strips, have been working hard: releasing a new album, gigging and providing the main soundtrack song for the film Run, Fatboy, Run. This film will be the first to feature a Rumble Strips offering, “Girls and Boys In Love” and as bassist and “rumble drummer” Sam Mansbridge explains, it happened completely by chance: “We were playing a gig a while ago in London and David Schwimmer was there. He liked the song, and then he approached us to use it for the film. It was a first for us, to have a song used outside of our own releases and it was great, we just played the song at a gig and then the next thing we knew we were being invited to the premiere and being given loads of free food and drink…that was cool, we’d definitely like to do it again!” The Rumble Strips’ sound is hard to describe – Mansbridge takes a stab at it and probably gets the best nutshell description: “Ramshackle, epic pop”. This is due to the variety of instruments used by the band, including vocals, guitar, trumpet, piano, sax, bass and drums; if Mansbridge could add any more, he would consider the accordion (“though it might get a bit tiresome”) and settles on a timpani drum, “or one of those huge drums used by the Kodo drummers; that’s what I want, a really massive drum”. Mansbridge has experience with this kind of instrument: in the video for “Girls and Boys In Love”, he is seen playing a truly massive Rumble Strips drum. But as he also admits, he may need a bit more practice: ‘I was hitting it with a sledgehammer and I sort of ruined it…I don’t have the best technique yet!’ The Rumble Strips are currently touring their debut album ‘Girls and Weather’ and will be coming to Whelan’s on November 19th. Mansbridge is happy with the venue: ‘I like the big gigs, personally because I can move about more and get really involved. But the small gigs are f***ing brilliant when they’re packed out!’ This is not the first time they have played here, having toured before supporting The Young Knives and Charlatans, and they are looking forward to coming back again: ‘It’s always a good laugh playing there, and a bit mad!!’
The Devil now wears Armani Fashion has no mercy, as Laura Corrigan learns in the second half of her account of life with the glitterati.
arrived at the Armani show dressed in the attire I was now accustomed to at these events – stratospheric heels and some form of black dress. That was my first mistake. Glancing around I realised that the room was brimming with floor length gowns and slinky cocktail numbers; the fashionistas had really gone to town for Giorgio. Music blared while we waited for the front row seats to be filled. Suddenly, the crowd’s chitchat became animated and deafening, and all eyes turned in the direction of the photographers huddle. Cate Blanchett had arrived. A media frenzy ensued as she posed for photos and television interviews. Within minutes, The Devil Wears Prada star Anne Hathaway breezed in largely unnoticed, as reporters and the crowd continued to focus on their previous celebrity sighting. The show began in the customary manner, the more restrained designs acting as a warm-up before a finale of red-carpet showstoppers. The clothes were uncharacteristically bold and colourful, accented with glitter soaked fedoras and jewelled fingerless gloves. Towards the end, the music shifted and ballgowns began to be paraded down the catwalk. I gasped in horror as the first model emerged. Her shoulder blades jutted at an unnatural angle and her chest was concave under the stiff fabric of the dress. She appeared to be having difficulty supporting the ensemble as she unsteadily stalked the runway. I quickly scanned the room, watching the guest’s faces for any sign of surprise or even unease at the blatant display of anorexia before us. No one else flinched. Miranda stared at the gaunt model and declared the dress to be fabulous. As Miranda pranced off to catch up with Cate, I was left to make small talk with a German editor. I mentioned my surprise at the plethora of eating disorders on display. She looked at me with amusement.
Hindered by my notoriously poor mapreading skills I eventually found the venue of one well known design firm. The PR girl embraced me on entering and escorted me around rails of mediocre trousers and jackets. “Your shirt must be the one from last season’s Galliano collection, am I right?” she enquired, smiling manically. “Er, actually it’s from Zara.” From that moment onward, things became awkward. At the end of our viewing, she motioned towards the obligatory selection of free gifts, apologising for only having tshirts left. She stood back and regarded at me with a considerable degree of concentration, then shook her head. “I’m afraid we only have small t-shirts left”, she lamented. At this point, dear reader, it is necessary for you to know that I have always been a petite size six. And I had just suffered from a week long bout of stomach flu. For me, this was the proverbial last straw. Finally getting the chance to vent some of my frustration, I indignantly informed her that I’d be taking home a navy version of said t-shirt. She then pointed me in the direction of the vast food table covered in Laduree macaroons and dainty mille-feuilles – untouched by any other visitors as far as I could see. Crushed by the implication that I was the size of a double-decker bus and would doubtless have the bad taste to want to eat, I declined. With my sojourn in Paris coming to an end, I began to weigh up my experiences. Yes, fashion is a shallow business and yes, the devil does expect her piping hot latte to be on her desk at 9. But how could I possibly give up a world full of this much glamour and endless free gifts? As one great statesman (albeit for the wrong reasons) said, “If you are not in fashion, you are nobody”. And I wholeheartedly agree.
Mens’ trends By Ciarán Durkin Oversized chunky knits and cardigans reigned the catwalks from the moss green offerings at Burberry Prorsum to Costume National’s super-long shawl-collared versions. Fair Isle sweaters make a dubious return along with après-ski retro inspired patterns. Leather straps, belts and buckles add unusual masculine detailing to otherwise cosy knitwear, setting it apart from the more conservative classic designs of previous seasons. This autumn, high street giants Topman have reproduced the cardigan with aplomb, proving the humble knit is as viable an option for young hip things, as it is for the trepid polar explorer. Grey proved to be the cornerstone of the autumn/winter gloomy palette, appearing in blocks of colour from head to toe. One enduring slate-toned item is the tailored trouser, left to swing ankle high or tucked into another essential winter piece – the monkey boot. The straight creased edges and smart fit counter the season’s other fabrics: floppy woollens and bunched nylon, and manage to dress down an otherwise conservative trouser.
The coat of autumn/winter 2007 appears in many guises, but only synthetic will do for men at the forefront of style. Anoraks and shiny parkas dominated the catwalks, reigniting memories of the Brit Pop era, except this time fashion hasn’t been forgotten. Dolce and Gabbana sent models out in metallic ski-suit jackets, all the better for their fur-lined hoods and intricate zip detail. A clinched belt worn on top retained the all important slim silhouette and in the case of Alexander McQueen’s collection, even provided some much needed colour in the form of a shocking deep blue. Biker boys and wannabe punks unite – the rebel is back in town with the reinvention of tough leather boots and jackets. Edgy jackets were the focus of collections, from the glamorous incarnations at Gucci to the more refined pieces at Jil Sander. For the real anti-establishment edge, look to John Galliano’s designs: cargo pants loosely tucked into chunky lace up boots, completed by an aged leather jacket on top. The seemingly eternal trend for military chic endures – some of the best examples of this footwear resemble something the Russian army would be proud of.
Womens’ trends By Laura Corrigan Knitwear, tweed, leather, metallics and even feathers winged their way down the catwalk to create a weather-savvy and warming winter collection, which will be no small comfort to those of us who spend a cold wet summer longing for sun. It’s all about shape this season. The glamorous feminine lines of the Silver Screen have been taken as a theme, but Katherine Hepburn will have to move over to Ditta Von Teese in this up-to-date glammed-up look. Detail is the way to go with pleats, ruches and folds. The waistline is firmly on the waist and emphasised by sharp tailoring and cinched belts. Skirts have diminished in size to the fashion favourite mini with a new emphasis on the feminine frill. The skating skirt is flirty and fun, with plenty of va-va voom that will warm (at least) the hearts of men this winter. The fullskirted structured party dress also takes its cue from this return to feminine shape with a more sophisticated line; a dramatic and structured skirt with plenty of pleats and petticoats falls from the waist, just below a ladylike and chic bustier top. Shoes are skyscraper-heeled ankle boots with lace-ups; bags and accessories are textured, buckled, shiny and metallic. This season’s colours of choice are purple for the catwalk and blue-hues in the high street, but there is nothing to say you can’t brighten up the grey monochrome monotony with some striking bold-coloured accessories. Wool and knitwear has not seen a re-
vival like this since Lynn Mar re-invented it in the mid 1990’s. Now, the catwalk designers are following suit and everyone from Fendi to Burberry Prorsum have added a geansaí or two to keep us warm this winter. Oversized knits and stretched shapes are used as sexy minidresses, cardigans or coats. Clinched at the waist with a detailed belt or glammed up with accessories, knitwear is a surprisingly stylish must-have in every wardrobe this winter. 1940’s-inspired Hollywood glamour set the tone for this season’s chic and sexy grown-up shapes and smouldering silhouettes, as evident in the masculine and sleek tailoring seen in the skirt suits by Miu Miu and Valentino to the must-have A-line coat this season. Black has been bumped down to number 2 in the neutral colour stakes; the new base of choice is grey. Mixed in a variety of shades and hues from light sky greys to slate and charcoal, it was the backbone of collections such as Calvin Klein, Vera Wang and Michael Kors and used in everything from coats, to day dresses and even sumptuous evening gowns. Designers layered greys and blacks, materials, metallic and leathers to create a rich multi-textural monochrome experience. It appears the swallows have not returned to Africa this winter, but have been plucked to create what can only be described as a flight of fancy with this season’s extravagant use of feathers. Where one might expect it from John Galliano’s far-from-subtle catwalk creations, it has even had an effect on others such as Muccia Prada, Marc Jacobs and even Louis Vuitton.
BOOKSP12 Batman: The Dark Neon Genesis Knight Returns Evangelion
The Sandman: Vol. 1 -10
Author: Frank Miller
Author: Y. Sadamoto
Author: Neil Gaiman
With The Dark Knight, Frank Miller single-handedly transformed Batman from the camp, self-righteous superhero of the 1960’s television series – “One should always keep abreast of foreign tongues, Robin” – to the tormented anti-hero we know (and love) today. Miller’s artistry is unrivalled in the industry: he renders Gotham City in all the claustrophobia and decay we nowadays take for granted. Hugely influential on subsequent animated versions and Tim Burton’s later film, The Dark Knight makes essential reading for all fans of the caped (and slightly crooked) crusader.
Loosely based around the television series of the same name, this manga has all the hallmarks that made the anime an instant classic: big-eyed and busty babes, lashings of teen angst, giant robots, a convoluted (even cryptic) plot overlaid with Judeo-Christian symbolism, and even the odd digression into Freudian psychoanalysis. The anime finished up in 1995, but the manga is still ongoing, so there’s plenty of time of time to read the first ten volumes before Vol. 11 hits the shelves.
You really have to hand it to any writer with the gusto to personify Death as a chirpy Goth girl. It’s this quirky originality which makes Sandman pretty much the Citizen Kane of the comic-book world. Hugely acclaimed by fans and critics alike upon its appearance in 1989, Gaiman’s downright creepy plot – centring around the hero of the piece “Dream”, the living embodiment of dreams and storytelling - stretched the genre to its limits with its edgy infusion of horror and fantasy. Luckily the entire saga is now available as a series of ten paperback volumes.
The life and death of Fanny Wollstonecraft “You will soon have the blessing of forgetting that such a creature ever existed,” wrote Fanny Wollstonecraft in her suicide note. Paula Keatley tackles the new biography of Mary Shelley’s “inordinately dull” half-sister.
t is standard practice for biographers of Romantic personalities like Shelley to preface their work with near-apologies for once more indulging the public taste for sensationalism. In her latest biography, however, Janet Todd has the opposite problem. Fanny Wollstonecraft, the eldest daughter of radical Feminist writer Mary Wollstonecraft, spent most of her 21 years in the same house in Skinner Street in London, writing the occasional letter, caring for her father, the political philosopher William Godwin, and halfheartedly preparing for a life of teaching. Although surrounded by runaways and debauchers, socialists and drug-addicts, Fanny, until she abruptly killed herself in a Welsh Inn in 1816, had led a routine existence. While the members of the Shelley circle were busy producing literature and children on the continent, Fanny was not only confined to a different country, but was barely in touch with them. Todd's main premise is that Fanny's suicide came about above all because Percy
Shelley, unaware that she was secretly in love with him and far too absorbed in his own poetic abstractions to care much either way, spurned her attempts to join him, Mary Shelley and her other step-sister Clare Clairmont in their unorthodox household. The only record we have of the presumed encounter between Fanny and Shelley, however, is in a poem Shelley composed shortly after her death, entitled “On Fanny Godwin.” Here, he expresses his regret at not heeding “the words then spoken” by Fanny. It comes as no surprise that Shelley considered himself to be the main cause of her death, but what is surprising is Todd’s willingness to take him at his word, particularly when Fanny’s own words offer an alternative explanation. In her suicide note she wrote: “I have long determined that the best thing I could do was to put an end to the existence of a being whose birth was unfortunate, and whose life has only been a series of pain to those persons who have hurt their health in endeavouring to promote her welfare.” There is no mention of a secret passion
for her sister's husband - the impression is rather of someone overcome by the pain and discomfort of a wholly parasitical existence, one in which she must depend on others to “promote [her] welfare.” While such instances of interpretative freedom can grate, Todd’s dedication to unearthing something as little-documented as the personal life of an unliterary girl frequently pays off. While Todd wants to resist the view that Fanny’s suicide was somehow inevitable, this biography is at its most convincing when it charts the ways in which Fanny’s life and death were determined by the circumstances of her birth. Illegitimate and parentless, Fanny felt acutely how precarious was her position in the Godwin household. So financially dependent was she on those around her and so fearful of alienating those upon whose goodwill her survival depended, she agonised over her every action, often with the result that she did nothing. The libertarian lifestyle pursued by the Shelley circle simply wasn’t an option for her - in her respectability, and thus her chances at
teaching, rested her only prospect of independence. Todd here notes the similarities between Fanny’s narrow life and that of many other women whose dependence differed from Fanny’s only by degree. Fanny, for one, was deeply conscious of how limited her options were: months before she killed herself she wrote to Mary that the time was come when “[her] future fate [would] be decided” and she would know “what [her] unhappy life [would] be spent in &c&c” Still, as valuable an insight as this might provide into the lot of ordinary women, it hardly makes sensational reading; and Todd is forced to repeat the practices of those biographers she repudiates in her preface as Fanny is increasingly sidelined and Shelley made centre stage. Fanny is, after all, perhaps better encountered in the margins of other people’s biographies: it’s exactly where she lived. Death and the Maidens: Fanny Wollstonecraft and the Shelley Circle by Janet Todd is available on hardback from Profile Books priced €27.35.
The last of the culture vultures Photo: Robert Banks
Clive James’ latest collection of essays is a 900-page Who’s Who of twentiethcentury culture. Kevin Breathnach sifts through to find the gems.
t was no less than 750 pages into Clive James's hulking Cultural Amnesia - his latest, perhaps last book of essays - when I decided that, some time in the near future, I'd sit down and write a fairly critical review of it. Reading on, I began to doubt whether the book's unmarked 900 or so odd pages would allow the possibility of such a review, until I stumbled upon this particular gem of one Miguel De Unamuno: “Rather than reading a book in order to criticize it, I would rather criticize it because I have read it, thus paying attention to the subtle yet profound distinction Schopenhauer made between those who think in order to write and those who write because they have thought.” I had thought, so here I sit, ignoring my doubts. The quoted passage and its ensuing essay together betray the pretence to which most, if not all, of this book's reviewers have fallen prey. Clive James is not an unread man and this book is by no means without value. But it implies, without question, that it says more than it actually says and that it knows more than it actually knows. James has that terrible habit of ignoring the Fool's advice: “know more than thou showest.” James may even go so far as its converse: to show more than one knowest. Nevertheless, one is naturally impressed by any polymath who, as an interlude between essays on Edward Said
and José Saramago, can spare a few pages for no less than Charles Augustin SainteBeuve. But as too often, all James really tells us about is himself. “Although Nabokov didn't like Sainte-Beuve,” concedes our author, “I do, for without his short, but lucid reviews, my French would be much worse off.” Yes, dear readers, Clive can read French. And that's all that he requires of the Sainte-Beuve essay. Let's wrap it up. The Sainte-Beuve quote he needs to open with - something about the frailty of society and its collective knowledge - isn't at all relevant to what he has to say, because Sainte-Beuve never said anything about Clive James. So he just plucked one from a review of SainteBeuve's diaries, which James admits never to have read. Though never to this extent, James has always been a chronic namedropper. In one of his many memoirs, he recalls the feelings aroused around the time of his first commissioned article for, I believe, the New Statesman. He was unsure of himself, but maintained that if he could throw everything he knew about the subject in question - Venetian art, as I recall - into his 1000 allocated words, and imply, at the same time, that but for the stern and spoilsport editor he could pour out ten times as much, then his piece would be fine. He’s lived and died by the method ever since. Politically and historically, James is a liberal humanist. He hates Nazis, anybody
Politically and historically, James is a liberal humanist. He hates anybody who isn't currently anticipating the real threat posed by radical Islam to liberal democracy
who ignored or didn't anticipate the horrors of Nazism (Sartre, especially), Communists, anybody who ignored or didn't anticipate the horrors of Communism (Sartre, especially) and anybody who isn't currently anticipating the real threat posed by radical Islam to liberal democracy. He spends at least 400 pages saying this again and again and again . Then comes his essay on Sartre. Before the book was published, he talked about the order and sentiment that would slowly emerge from the seemingly random layout of the essays as if that was something to awed; well, in my mind, order and sentiment will emerge from the anything so bulky as long as you say everything a few dozen times. He has three essays on the tango! He thinks John Howard was right about the boat people, something Johann Hari links to an instinctive trust of the state of his native Australia over the foreign boat people. Not
to simplify this too much, but with regards to his attitude towards homosexuals and homosexuality, an extension seems appropriate. He affects that attitude so typical of old male liberals: we'll tolerate them, but let's make this clear, they are not one of us. He spends more than a page walking a tightrope between suggesting and not suggesting that homosexual men have no aesthetic sense and that this might account for their rabid promiscuity, which isn't questioned. What is clear is that an instinctive distrust of “the Other” runs throughout these pages. As a liberal humanist, he duly does what I'm told liberal humanists have a tendency to do when talking literature: make critical judgements without really explaining how they came to the conclusion that such and such a book or poem or painting is good or bad or mediocre, as the case may be. Their adjectival compliments read like quotes on dust-covers; insults sound like the points in conversation that are interrupted with calls to justify that position, if it's not too much trouble, sir. “The Forms of Italy,” writes James on Muratov for instance, “is a genuine unknown masterpiece. As a book on the Italian Grand Tour it not only stands in the tradition of Goethe, Gregorovius, Burckhardt and Arthur Symons, but it is better than any of them.” From there, he moves to biography, and later praises Muratov's “tight, clear paragraphs saturated with meaning and sensitivity.” And that's it. He just found somebody better than Goethe, but really: that's it. This isn't the “crash-course in civilization” that Coetzee called it. It's a revision guide to readers who are already familiar with civilization and a long, long reading list for those who aren't. Cultural Amnesia: Notes in the Margin of My Time by Clive James is available on hardback from Pan Macmillan priced €37.00.
Macbeth Polly Graham looks at a new production of Macbeth starring Patrick Stewart
upert Goold’s high profile production of Macbeth with Patrick Stewart in the title role is a culmination of an exciting working relationship that has developed between the veteran actor and the promising young director since Stewart has returned to the English classical stage. Eighteen months ago, Goold directed Stewart in The Tempest for the RSC’s Complete Works Festival to serious acclaim and they have since successfully collaborated on Twelfth Night (Stewart prancing as Malvolio) and now Macbeth for the Chichester Festival Theatre. Goold’s The Tempest was fiercely inventive and showed him to be a director determined to strive against cliché; the enchanted island was of an arctic clime, and Prospero’s “dainty Ariel” was a Beckettian apparition of servitude and ghostliness, who lived, like Nagg and Nell, in a dustbin. Now, in Macbeth, this tendency for strongly imposed directorial vision continues. Goold has taken certain themes from the text and run with them to striking effect. The claustrophobia of psychological insecurity and political tyranny are two of the production’s strongest emphases, with the choice of period assertively specific – that of The Great Terror in Stalin’s Russia. Once Macbeth’s “dread exploits” are underway, film images of the Russian 1940’s army bathe the far walls of the stage. Banquo was ambushed and killed by lethal injection in the middle of a crowded train carriage and Lennox’s hesitant, cagey reflection on the uncertainty surrounding Duncan’s murder, which casts doubt on the innocence of Macbeth in the eyes of the ordinary man through its elliptical, ambiguous tone (“Things have been strangely borne”), was staged as a torturous interrogation in an isolated cell. In his depiction of an entrapped society generated by the power hungry “vaulting ambition” of a despotic Macbeth, Goold created a sense of Orwellian nightmare which penetrated all levels of the drama. The interior subterranean locus of the play proved to be a versatile support to this thematic choice. Through clever use of
Though Birnam wood be come to Dunsinane And thou opposed being of no woman born, Yet I will try the last. Before my body, I lay my warlike shield. Lay on Macduff, And damned be he that first cries, “Hold enough”.
props and lighting, upon the utilitarian space was imposed a shifting significance; from hospital ward, to castle kitchen, to cell, to morgue, to tower. Finally, during Macbeth’s bleak meditation on the inconsequence of a single life (“Tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow creeps in this petty pace…”) the enclosed room became a skull (building on imagery from earlier in the play “I am cabin’d, cribb’d, confin’d bound in/ To saucy doubts and fears”), and we were witness to the desolation of his mind. This mutable space was a powerful means for Goold to articulate the equivocal nature of existence and emphasise that peo-
ple, as well as places, are not always what they seem. The transition from a busy hospital ward (where the Captain delivered his account of Macbeth’s bravery in battle from an operating table, administered to by discreet nurses), to the witches’ meeting place was hauntingly effected by the nurses remaining on stage until all the hurly burly of the ward had passed on and the audience reregistered their presence as three weird sisters wielding amputation blades – their “choppy finger[s]”! What was so powerful about the “entrance” of the witches was the extent to which their scariness resided in the audience’s imagination. This effect was, of course, due to a re-
jigging of the order of the play’s opening scenes and is one example of where Goold’s confident approach to the text should be commended. Another was in his repetition of the banquet scene in which, with post-modern playfulness, he presented once the physical apparition of Banquo, for all to see, and once a Macbeth, isolated by a mind “full of scorpions” and apparitions which he could share with no one. Individual performances generally thrived under and contributed to Goold’s highly wrought creation, which supported bold and subtle characterisations. Kate Fleetwood’s Lady Macbeth was outstanding and strikingly human; her conjuring of remorseless spirits contrasted with the plotting of Duncan’s murder. She seemed to summon the resolution to kill the king from the well of her husband’s subconscious during the charged silences which punctuated their exchanges. Patrick Stewart was masterful in places - his textual clarity was remarkable; however, he was not the most convincing Macbeth I’ve seen. At Fleetwood’s side he seemed to lack energy, vivacity and humanity (all of which, she delivered in spades) and he did not generate sufficient sympathy for his destruction to be truly tragic. As a trajectory it seems rather odd that Stewart has moved from the rough magic abjuring Prospero preparing for the grave to Macbeth, whose continual boldness suggests a youthful, positive and brave spirit which reaches to heart of Shakespeare’s sympathetic portrait of the murderer and which Stewart failed to fully convey.
Dance Words: Joey Facer
erusing the Gaiety’s offerings care of the Dublin Theatre Festival, I decided to attend Hibiki, a Japanese dance show that won an Olivier Award for Best New Dance Production. The performance began in silence as a whited-out man clad in a sheet executed ten minutes of extremely slow dancing, four other male dancers lay curled in the foetal position on the floor. Bordering the playing space were ten shallow glass bowls of water into which four urns, hung from the rafters, dripped water continuously throughout the the show. Indeed, the stage was perhaps the most impressive component, with a surface somewhere between thick carpet and sand that was visibly changed with the application of pressure, leaving a veritable art nouveau masterpiece on the ground of the stage before the close. As the five men, faces and bodies painted all white, began their dance in unison to some, frankly, terrifying music, I found
myself asking the question that reverberates in the audience’s mind throughout Hibiki: what does it all mean? The only other musical accompaniment to the piece was a pretty piano concerto in the vein of Mozart that played so disjointedly, it was almost in combat with the dance. The similarity of the costume, not to mention make-up and sheer identical size of the dancers led one at times to consider whether this was not an analogy for a greater whole; the surface similarity of man that is squared so subtly with each human being’s individuality to the glancing audience eye of daily contact. The dance sequences veered between those that were of all dancers in perfect synchonism and those that were a little more than syncopated. (That is to say, unchoreographed-looking and random.) The heavy bass of the speakers in the more experimental musical moments had the rather nice effect of all the shallow pools rippling identically. At one point, however, three began a quite
disturbing Shakira-hips-don’t-liestyle dance that seemed a prequel for the androdgyny to follow in the piece’s most striking part. There was a sudden shock after the second blackout, during which not one audience member managed to either clap or speak (though shuffling was prominent), when the front most pool stage left was shown upon the next scene to have been dyed a blood red, and four of the dancers surrounded the pool clad in white and red corsets, skirts and earings no less. Thence began the most thrilling part of the dance, with the music reaching nauseaous heights. I found myself looking in my otherwise empty box for some object of terror hidden therein, so perturbed was I by the onstage atmosphere. Just before this scene, during the black out, in spite of the reverent silence you could also hear audience members leaving. During each successive blackout, it was sad to note more and more people departing from the theatre. One crew member described the show to me as
“really energising”, conversely I am informed that one usher refuses to enter the theatre during the performance, as she is too scared by the music. I am torn with Hibiki: experimental, no,one could disagree. Disturbing likewise. But is it any good? I found myself continually bored by the repetitive movements and simple set; however, I am inclined to blame less the production for such an experience, and more my position as one of the MTV generation requiring continual stimulation. A less harassed, more pure me would have, perhaps, loved this show better. It should be noted that the uproarious applause of the diminished audience was far longer and louder than any other I have heard in the Gaiety in a long time. The dance was a stylized mime: to enjoy it the audience needed true commitment. Truly engaged spectators must have been enriched by this unique show; however, I think Hibiki’s rare charm would do better at the Dublin Fringe Festival.
Art is for life, not just art students Words: Caroline O’Leary The word “art” has an interesting effect when mentioned to the average college student, with one of two distinct reactions tending to result. The minority will cheerfully light up and engage in the conversation, listening to points of view and adding their own opinion to the conversation. However, a majority tend to develop a glazed look and repetitive head-nodding movement, often coupled with phrases such as “Oh, that’s interesting…” and “Yeah, sure, he is great…” in a deadpan voice until what they consider “normal” conversation can be resumed. Extreme cases can occur when the listener will release a low pitched groan and theatrically collapse on the floor, expressing loudly and bluntly how little interest they have in the subject and begging to be spared any further mention. The reality is that, bar a select few, art is of very little interest to the modern college student. Most abandon all hope and interest after struggling through their Junior Certificate art project by barely accumulating enough marks from assorted lines and colours to pass. Students, usually lauded for their open-mindedness and idealism, are
often remarkably close-minded when it comes to art and often refuse to even consider taking a closer look at what they consider a totally different world. Art, however, is not a subject that should be hated and feared, nor is the art world the scary, elitist environment it is often perceived to be. A common belief seems to exist that a person can only thrive and appreciate art if they are the “arty” type, born to love colour and understand geometric shapes, as well as understand the beauty and meaning of a pile of “found objects” (i.e. what would be considered to many as junk). These sentiments could not be further from the truth. A mere inability to draw does not mean a person is artistically dyslexic; their ability to perfectly render a bowl of fruit in no way influences their capacity to enjoy and understand art. The art world is thriving, bustling and diverse enough to accommodate everyone and their tastes. The Dublin art scene is especially prolific, with more than a hundred galleries and exhibition spaces featuring everything from classical paintings by Caravaggio in the
National Gallery to photos of classic Irish life in the National Photographic Archive, Oriental Prints and designs at the National Print Museum, sculpture on the street and performance films in the Irish Film Institute. There are also a huge number of smaller, more original shows throughout the year, such as those run by the National College of Art and Design or once-off fantastical shows, such as the exhibition of Philip Tracey’s hats at the National Museum two years ago, which those uninterested in classical art and sculpture may be more interested in. There is an art form to suit everyone and even students pigeonholed into their interests can find areas of art that would appeal to them - those interested in music should investigate the Irish Museum of Modern Art’s performances by Japan’s Ryoji Ikeda, who creates audiovisual images from the frequencies and acoustics of music. Those only fascinated with sport may be interested in Dermot Seymour’s portraits of Roy Keane and other sporting heroes at the “Eyed” exhibition in the Kevin Kavanagh Gallery, which depicts these recognisable
faces in a completely new light. Anyone simply looking for something different has a huge range to choose from, from the seemingly innocent pots of Greyson Perry, which on closer inspection depict scenes of pain and abuse, to the general street sculpture on the streets and roads of the capital. Even those only interested in more carnal and relaxed pursuits would do well to check out the Royal Hibernian Academy’s current show “The Night Garden” which includes silhouettes of figures in various risqué positions or Turner nominated artists the Chapman brothers, whose work has featured blow-up dolls and painted cartoon heads on serious war scenes by Goya. Even for the stereotypical broke slacker student, art galleries offer a location for a day of entertainment free of charge, with free alcohol and finger foods available at exhibition openings for those that want to take advantage. But beyond materialistic benefits, the art world is something every student should open their mind to, take a step out of the box and try something new you never thought you would enjoy. You may be surprised how much you enjoy it.
important is a
concept? Conceptual Art has been described in the past as bullshit. Rebecca Long fights back.
old, mechanical, conceptual bullshit”. That was UK Minister of Culture Kim Howells’ opinion of the works shown at the 2002 Turner Prize exhibit. Concise and to the point, his sentiments seem to echo those of the general public even now, almost six years on. While it may not be a question that plagues our daily existence, some of us must have, at one point or another, contemplated the effect art has on our existence….no? Maybe we have and maybe we’ve been unable to find an emotional connection between us and the art now being produced in our society. But why? Why do we tend to be sceptical about art and the impact it has on our lives? Many dismiss the shortlist for the Turner Prize as a load of nonsense - how many of us have looked at a seminal piece of contemporary art such as Marcel Duchamp’s The Fountain (1917), literally a glorified urinal, and said to ourselves, how can that mean something? As though by doing so, we can dismiss the importance of art in society just as easily. Why, in our search for emotional connection and fulfillment, do some of us find ourselves bypassing contemporary art completely and branding it the artistic stronghold of the cultural elite? Nowadays, contemporary art has perhaps become synonymous with conceptual. The recurrent question seems to be why conceptual art has, in turn, become synonymous with questionable art? Conceptual art, broadly speaking, is art in which the concept or idea takes precedence over traditional or aesthetic concerns. But what does that really mean? Sol le Witt
once stated that “the idea or the concept is the most important part of the work…the idea becomes a machine which generates the art”. In short, when it comes to conceptual art, the artist is inviting or, in some cases, demanding us to reject the tradition of appreciating art as an object, of viewing landscapes within a frame on a wall and instead engaging with art as a process, as a communication of ideas and intent between the artist and the viewer. It’s inspiring stuff in its own conceptually contemporary way. It sounds like something you might hear said on The View. But it’s not necessarily something which applies to you, right? Why? Why are we sceptical when it comes to engaging with conceptual art and exploring what it means? Just for instance, let’s take the Turner Prize. It has been said (by William Feaver) that the Turner Prize is “neither as alluring as the Booker Prize or as controversial as Miss World”. Is that really true? Since its inception in 1984, the Turner Prize has become a focal point for public opinion, both negative and positive, regarding art in society. It provides, to a certain degree, an access point into an artistic world that can seem impenetrable. People place bets on the outcome of the Turner Prize shortlist! However, since this is primarily due to the controversy and gossip generated over that same shortlist, you have to wonder whether that’s a good thing. It seems everyone has protested against the Turner Prize, everyone from the Fanny Adams group who railed against the male domination of the art world, to the unfortunate acronym FAT (Fashion Architecture and Taste) who took issue with the cultural elitism the Turner
Prize supposedly embodies. Its critics have voiced the opinion that the whole concept of a race and a winner is demeaning to the very form of art it’s trying to promote. Public reaction to the winners and their exhibits has ranged from scepticism to outrage to everything in-between. But surely this is the point of involving the public in the competition process? Surely a reaction to the Turner Prize is not a reaction to conceptual art itself? Or rather the way it is --presented and portrayed to us, the cultural structure in which it exists? Are entities such as the Turner Prize barriers which prevent us from experiencing art in our daily lives? In the end, maybe we have to ask ourselves whether conceptual art has a place in our lives, from the Turner Prize to the conceptual drawings for the Lord of the Rings
films. Why then are some of us so afraid of it? Is it because conceptual art, like so many things in life, cannot be neatly labelled and categorized, framed and hung on a wall? Art isn’t easy - it requires emotional effort and participation on the part of the viewer. Rather than leaving our emotional baggage at the door of the gallery, we need to bring it in with us and engage with what we see in front of us, with what we have inside us. According to the 2003 winner of the Turner Prize, Grayson Perry, people need to “trust their bodily reactions” to art more. Now, that might sound a bit weird, but it also makes a strange kind of sense. The work of this year’s four short listed artists - Zarina Bhimji, Nathan Coley, Mike Nelson and Mark Wallinger opens at Tate Liverpool on 19 October.
TESCO Thrifty eating for the college student
d It’s well and good eating your food an e best drinking your drink, but where is th place to buy your edibles? Trinity News guides you through your al. supermarket choice in our fair capit Words: Beth Armstrong “Every little bit helps” - or so they say and Tesco certainly comes out trumps in the student department. Situated across Dublin, and in close proximity to Trinity Hall, Tesco offers the essentials at low prices. Their “value” range offers a tin of baked beans at a mere 20 cents, bread comes in at 85 cents, one litre of milk is 79 cents, and that student staple – pasta - is 60 cents. Tescos also has a handy online ordering service, so for those who can’t be bothered heading to do a weekly shop, www.tesco.ie delivers your grocery list to your door for six euros. Though deemed a veritable bargain fest, it has been commented in the press of late that Tesco has pushed its prices up for customers in Ireland, compared to Northern Ireland and the UK. Despite this, it will still leave you with plenty of pennies to spare. An Irish institution, Dunnes offers more than clothes and interiors, many of its stores have a top-notch supermarket as well. Offering apparently “better value”, the slogan doesn’t lie, with milk coming in at 80 cents, and a range of special half price offers (with frozen pizza currently 1.69 euros), Dunnes is a friend to students. Cheap it may be, but it’s also ethical as well, with a large fair trade product range, including fruit, rice and chocolate. Many Dunnes grocery shops also come with an off-license attached, which is also excellent when it comes to offers, stocking many varieties of the student’s friend, the five euros bottle of wine. “For the way we live today”, they claim, but it can be argued that Centra’s prices aren’t exactly student friendly. Originally deemed a convenience store, Centra was at a street corner near you when an emergency pint of milk or loaf of bread was needed. Recently, however, due to their handy locations, many students are choosing to do their grocery shopping in these corner shops. With milk topping the scales at 97 cents per litre though, perhaps this isn’t the best idea! For that quick snack, however, Centra does come out on top for reasonableness and the taste factor - its hot chicken rolls are always judged ahead of the pack.. Location-wise Centra is second to none and with offers on student essentials such as pasta sauce (two for €2.50) and
sweet and sour sauce (two for €2.80), Centra is still a desirable place to find a bargain. With Eurospars popping up around Dublin, Spar has taken its convenience store to another level. Like Centra, it should be noted that the price of food is not as cheap as in the larger supermarkets; however, this is made up for by the services offered by Eurospar. Living on frozen pizza or cereal is a dangerous territory into which many students have strayed, but now with an emphasis on healthy living – with smoothie bars in most Spars and an option of a fresh vegetable stirfry, you’d be hard pressed to leave without items of a good nutritional content. So although your bank balance may not thank you if you choose Eurospar as your regular grocery haunt, your body will at least be getting some benefits! For those a little more flush with cash and looking for quality, Marks & Spencer is the place to go. Think again about buying your essentials in its food hall, however, with gross overcharging rife! Milk, bread and the usual staples should not go into your supermarket basket, but for the all-important microwave meal, M&S is best. You can try different world cuisines – Indian, Chinese, Thai, Italian: all at the push of a microwave button. Minimum effort and maximum gain. And even if the loan hasn’t arrived yet, save your pennies for the bakery section. The cookies are out of this world, especially if warm – a well deserved post-essay treat. Not really to be though of as the place to do your weekly shop, Fallon and Byrne on Exchequer is at the top end of luxury when it comes to supermarkets. Modelled on New York food hall Dean & De Luca and stocked with artisan bread, fruits you’ve never heard of, an underground wine cellar, truffles and foie gras for sale by the ounce... well, you’ve got the picture. Fallon and Byrne is a place to see and smell and touch – your senses will be riveted, your bank balance, on the other hand, will not. So unless visiting parents are footing the bill, or you’re after a specific type of flat Thai noodles, then Fallon and Byrne should not be approached as your regular grocery store!
P19EDIBLES REVIEW Words: Catriona Gray
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Photo: Mark Carroll
Maloti 34 South William Street, Dublin 2. Tel: 671 0428 www.maloti.ie Since South William Street is the mecca of restaurants, you’d be forgiven for overlooking Maloti. It’s situated on the upper end of the street, past the impressive array of dubious-looking sex shops. Maloti’s interior is rather pleasant: the deep red colour scheme, the flattering lighting and the window seats offer ample opportunity for people-watching. The restaurant is not expensive and definitely not outside the reach of a student budget. A two course lunch plus a coffee costs a very reasonable €8.45. Considering the price, it is hardly surprising that the quality of the food is not breathtaking. For starters, we had the chicken pakora and the aloo chap (a sort of potato cake with mince in it). The former dish was faultless, although the latter left a little to be desired, as both its con-
sistency and regularity suggested that it was mass-produced rather than homemade. This was followed by what was classified as a main course, but which, in actual fact, proved to be merely a bowl of sauce and arrived at the same time as the starter. Presumably the rice which was served with the first course was intended as an accompaniment to the second, but the overwhelming impression was that the presentation of the dishes needed to be thought out slightly more carefully. Aside from this, the mains - we went for the chicken tikka masala and the vegetable makkhanwala - were nice enough. I probably had the best of it with the masala the makkhanwala was a little too bland. Although the dish was described as mild, this does not necessarily need to mean an utter lack of seasoning. The service, though, was excellent. The coffee at the end of the meal was of a far higher quality than one normally encounters in a restaurant. The staff were very attentive and, all in all, it was a very enjoyable dining experience. Despite the several anomalies presented by the food, for €8.45, I would have no hesitation in recommending people to go to Maloti.
Misunderstood in blue. I Dear Mrs Fixit - I feel all tangled up come just e hav and , spent some time overseas my All me. gets ody nob home. Only, I feel as if d pare com ng bori and old friends seem so dull s feel lin Dub ad. abro to the friends that I had friends drab and un-hip. I’m ignoring my old get so I , them see I n as best as I can, but whe nged. cha I’ve that see ’t mad because they can nt exte the to %, 100 My family stands by me ds frien old my by ed that they’ve been ostraciz too. What can I do? Yours etc, Mr Tambourine Man.
Confused and lovelorn Dear Mrs Fix-It, I have a moral dilemma. Yesterday , when talking to th e Love of My Life ( he doesn’t know that he is the love of my lif e yet, but he is), it transpired that the Love of My Life is not, as I had hope d, a vehement Soci alist, but a fervent rig ht-wing supporter. He wishes to quas h the masses, while I long to free them. He hates gay marria ge and loves the Chur ch, while I am unbaptized and all fo r homosexuals. Please, please, plea se help me, as I do not wish to die alon e. Yours, Antoinette Gibbons-Pharell.
Dear Tambourine Man,
Dear Antoinette, Perhaps it might be best if we addresse better than d one problem at a tim Of course nobody gets you. You are e. I feel that the have obmain problem is no them on so many levels. Your travels t that the political more leanings of the Lo viously made you wiser, hipper and ve of Your Life differ friends. from your own, bu street-smart than your stay-at-home t ra ther that you have see them an over-arching fo It’s their fault that you don’t want to nd ne ss for exaggerapretty tion. One wonders anymore. Your family appears to be w he th er your Inmore on tended (or is it your understanding, why don’t you focus Stalked?) is actual a with s rsea ove back ly a die-hard right-w them? Perhaps move inger at all. Did he Either tell you that he watched family member, if they’d be willing? Newsnight and you ways. It hysterically took it way, continue with your isolationist fro m there? Or did he not you mention in passing worked for Dylan and Warhol, why that his brother ha d just made his First too? Communion and yo ur overactive imagin ation warped him into the Pope-Elect. Dea r child, at this rate , you will die alone. Dear Mrs Fix-It, I am a modern man and fond of warm beverages on a chilly day, especially so-called “specialty coffees” (my favourite is the pumpkin mocha-latte). However, I wonder I ordered the above on as to what my beverage choice says of my disposition as the last time that how I can reconcile to as me advise Please a date with a young lady; she left the café in disgust. my drinks choices with my love-life. Yours, Edgar.
Dear Edgar, f in any kind of roThere is no middle ground. You must accept that once you involve yoursel may as well indulge you so , anyway choice to mantic relationship, you will relinquish your right in your foul beverages if they make you happy.
Problems of your own that need fixing? Email Mrs. Fixit at email@example.com
“all eyes turned in the direction of the photographers huddle. Cate Blanchett had arrived”
HOT Passing Supplementals: Onwards and upwards!
Random Compliments - Why yes, I did get a haircut. I’m glad you like it. Michaelmas Term: A renewed enthusiasm for everything college-related. Conspiracy Theories: Did you hear that Nestlé killed Diana? Bicycles: Well, until the rain sets in, at least.
Failing Supplementals: No, honestly, I really want to take a year out to work…in Mc Donalds… Wardrobe Stress of a Monday morning: What can I wear that will make me look both groomed and nonchalant? Reality: Did you hear that there’s still no affordable housing in Dublin Public Transport: Or, rather, those who see it as an opportunity to see how wide they can open their broadsheet paper, or listen to heavy metal full blast.
Cover Stories: Duke Special, Clive James and Lenny Abrahamson