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“I woke up on the ground in a fucking graveyard pondering: dusk or dawn?”
Deadwood: 29 episodes down, 7 to go and I simply can’t bear for it to end. Nothing I’ve ever seen comes close.
Filed under: Reading
The cover looks like a tombstone with good reason.
“The land was gullied and eroded and barren. The bones of dead creatures sprawled in the washes. Middens of anonymous trash. Farmhouses in the fields scoured of their paint and the clapboards spooned and sprung from the wallstuds. All of it shadowless and without feature. The road descended through a jungle of dead kudzu. A marsh where the dead reeds lay over the water. Beyond the edge of the fields the sullen haze hung over the earth and sky alike. By late afternoon it had begun to snow and they went on with the tarp over them and the wet snow hissing on the plastic.”
I read this in about 3-4 hours late one evening (it’s not especially long) and then sat on the sofa and wept for a bit. And went to bed, and on waking felt cold and alone and unsettled.
The story of a man and his young son trying to stay alive in the aftermath of an unspecified apocalypse. What they’re willing to do to survive, and what they aren’t.
It’s probably the bleakest thing I’ve ever read. Left me in bits. Left me feeling pretty much the same as Idi I Smotri did after I watched it. There’s a couple of nods to religion, both in the way the boy behaves and the ending, and in the father’s attitude towards him. But it’s not overly intrusive and I can’t decide either whether McCarthy is pushing this aspect or merely commenting on it.
Nevermind. This is still one of the most astonishing books I’ve ever read.
“My job is to take care of you,” he tells his son. “I was appointed to do that by God. I will kill anyone who touches you.” With everything scraped away, the impulse to sanctify, to worship, to create meaning remains. “All of this like some ancient anointing,” the man thinks after washing his son’s hair in an icy dead lake. “So be it. Evoke the forms. Where you’ve nothing else construct ceremonies out of the air and breathe upon them.”
edited to add: And John Hillcoat (Ghosts of the Civil Dead / The Proposition) is down to direct, and it’s staying independent / interference free. So that’s going to be a laff riot then….
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so what have I been up to these last few weeks? After getting an official stamp of invincibility from my consultant (although it took a frankly nasty ‘procedure’ to get it) I’ve been..
*To see the Broken Family Band, Half Man Half Biscuit, Leatherface, Snuff and Wat Tyler. Never let it be said I’m set in my ways when it comes to live music. Anyway, Leatherface are STILL better than your favourite band, and harder too. And not only were Broken Family Band as brilliant as ever, but my cowboy shirt bizarrely won Jared and myself a slot at What’s Cookin’ in Leytonstone next week (the debut appearance of our new Randy & Earl’s Old Record Club incarnation)…
* Devouring Cormac McCarthy (The Road will leave you in bits, No Country For Old Men will leave you scratching your head), easy-to-dip-into books about London (Iain Sinclair / Cathi Unsworth / Smoke), Frida Kahlo’s biography (the Herrera one). And all the usual end of year chart rubbish..
* Watching Deadwood obsessively – all those claiming it as the best TV show ever were pretty much on the money, it’s astonishing. Each episode has the script, story arc, production values and enjoyment levels of a good movie, and there’s 36 hours of it. Never seen anything like it (although I’m told The Wire – to which I’ll be coming next – is even better. I’d barely credit it, save that the people claiming this are largely those who alerted me to Deadwood in the first place).
* Not quite sure WHAT I’ve been listening to lately. I realised the other day there wasn’t nearly enough reggae in my house these days and sat down and d/led every single Auralux, Pressure Sounds and Blood & Fire album (I have most of them in some form or another but i felt like being completist about it). Also been listening to a lot of archaic country (especially Sons of The Pioneers), and the usual random selection of other stuff – Grinderman, Joanna Newsom, McLusky, Puerto Muerto, Aretha Franklin, Burial, Ute Lemper, Beirut and Scott Walker all spring to mind.. Oh, and some Texan hip-hop – very wonky, cough syrup is BAD.
* Bought a couple of Kozyndan prints from the Baltic – he’s great, the Baltic is rather less so (great building with fuck all in it).
been slowly converting our living room into a Mexican cantina / grotto, largely inspired by dodgy movies and the live room at the Sheep Walk in Leytonstone where they have What’s Cookin’.
* a LOT of drinking.
So. How about you? How have you been?
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new year, new sense of determination. It’s pretty shocking that I’ve managed to get to my age without ever leaving Europe. It’s a combination of things, I guess – I’ve never been particularly well-paid, and it seems like any money I did have would get spunked all over a series of fields in the West Country every summer. I think I also felt bewildered by the amount of places I wanted to go – “option anxiety” in excelsis – and let that defeat me.
But there’s been a growing rumbling in the back of my mind – the rumble of a pack of burros heading my way? – about getting to Mexico. Probably based on all sorts of hackneyed and dodgy notions cobbled together from Peckinpah movies, Cormac McCarthy books and Calexico albums. But nonetheless, it strikes me as a fascinating, exciting and beautiful place with a lot to take in.
So I think this is the year I’m going to make it out of Europe and into the Americas. There’s the vaguest hint of a plan for myself and Ailsa (seasoned traveller that she is) to head out there at the end of this year. It came as a bit of a blow when I was forced to accept that I wasn’t going to be able to fit a Tijuana cantina and Chichin Itza into the same trip without wasting time and missing out, so although the border country fascinates me and feeds into the aforementioned Peckinpah / McCarthy / Tex-Mex fantasies, we’re heading South. Still don’t know enough about the practicalities to know exactly where, but I’m keen to describe some sort of triangle of the country between Oaxaca, Yucatan and Mexico City. Seems to strike a balance between pre-colonial Mexico, beautiful landscapes, intriguing cities where the colonial / indigina clash / assimilation is most pronounced, and some amazing looking beaches in Yucatan. I’m curious about the state of the political situation in Oaxaxa too, and want to see it for myself.
The thought of Christmas Day on the beach near the ruins at Tulum excites me more than anything I can remember. There’s a danger this could turn into a scary tequila filled shopping trip, but running out of money should put paid to that.
More details as there are any.
* Jesus Rios y Valles is the name of one of Frida Kahlo’s schoolfriends. It means – fairly obviously – Jesus Rivers & Valleys. Which is one helluva name.