the mark kozelek show featuring war on drugs

It’s crazy warm here in Sussex, pretty much November now but the leaves are still all green and aside from the usual rainy day wipe outs it feels more like July…wait a minute, isn’t that a Dashboard Confessional song?  Anyway, autumn’s a good time to reflect on change and I usually write a few poems about hope falling fast, just to cheer myself up…

Which brings me nicely to Mark Kozelek and that whole thing with war on drugs. For those lucky enough not to know anything about it, I won’t bore you with the details here, but Kozelek’s released two “diss tracks” about the war on drugs guy who in turn seems to be super offended and music websites which are silly enough to allow comments are full with people saying how much that hate Mark Kozelek and make some awful remarks about him having “mental health issues” and that they won’t ever listen to him again.

Still I said it before and I’ll say it again, Kozelek can do whatever he likes because he is the most interesting, creative and talented musician of our generation. Nobody can touch him, if I could only listen to one cd it would of course be a red house painters or sun kil moon one (the bands he’s fronted). I even paid a ridiculous amount of money on ebay to get an out of print Spanish edition of his poems/songs. I listen to his msic more than anything else.

But that doesn’t mean he’s not an asshole. Back in 2001 I went with a girl to a red house painters concert. She was shocked and offended by his stage antics and the way he talked about “chicks” and going to bars to “pick up girls”. She said afterwards she would never listen to his sweet lullaby tender love songs anymore. I have no idea if she’s kept that up because shortly afterwards I met my future wife, but it wouldn’t surprise me.

I don’t know why though. Back in my freelance journalism days I wrote a few pieces about literary heroes of mine – Jack Kerouac and William Faulkner. They weren’t the “nicest” people. I’m reading this biography of JD Salinger, he also wasn’t a nice guy but any stretch of the imagination. Then there’s Hemingway, a guy I wouldn’t want to cross he’d tear me apart.  Where does it say your heroes have to be nice, friendly, kind, caring, loveable?

So you could say all those examples are men, and you might have a point it can get too much. I never got that macho stuff, it bores me, and as much as I like to pretend I feel “connected” to these writers I couldn’t see myself hanging out with them as such. Not even Kerouac. I’m way too soft.

It’s like that with Mark Kozelek. He’s a complicated person, he can’t fit into some box of what’s “cool” or what’s “socially acceptable”. He’s been an outsider all his life, and just listen to any of his songs to get a glimpse of his genius. Like the best writers and artists though he’s troubled. I do think it’s funny the way he responds, but it’s also kind of nuts too, but it’s the way it has to be.

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best books ever written (and why I quit the internet)

Yep, before we get onto that list, here’s the why bit : I’m taking a break from the internet for a little while which already makes me sound either super cynical, a little dumb, or superior. All three of those I’ll rebuke (except perhaps the second at certain moments). Let me explain – it’s all part of trying to live a simple life and living life for what it is. Ok, that too but really because…. the other week I was reading about Thurston Moore’s new girlfriend and clicking on all the follow up links, and then following that up by reading through New York Times, CNN, BBC, Guardian Online, Mirror Online, Sydney Morning Herald, Huffington Post, NPR and before I knew the whole morning had passed and I hadn’t actually really done anything, learnt anything, or even felt particularly happy or even peaceful about it. I’m not even going into Facebook and how that sucks away at your idea of self. I’m only online now to check e-mails and my bank balance. Also for “work” reasons which is pretty strict. It means if I’m writing an article about why Sonic Youth broke up I can check out that article about Thurston Moore’s girlfriend and how she “broke up the band” but otherwise all that stuff is strictly off limits.

So, of course I’m aware I’m going to miss out on things. Only printed press allowed for me, so I’m sure I’ll miss out on a lot of interesting new words and guitars unless somebody plays it on the radio or writes about it in my printed newspaper. But it’s alright, it gives me time to look back on this glorious past – in a week or two I’ll post my top 10 records of all time, but for now from the top of my head here are the books

1. William Faulkner “The Sound and the Fury”

2. Jack Kerouac “On the Road”

3. JD Salinger “Catcher in the Rye”

4. Gwendoline Riley “Sick Notes”

5. Sythia Plath “The Bell Jar”

6. Theodore Dreiser “Sister Carrie”

7. Willa Cather “My Antonia”

8.  Fyodor Dostoevsky “Crime and Punishment”

9. Richard Yates “Eleven Kinds of loneliness”

10. Alfred Hayes “The Girl on the Via Flaminia”

So, that was fun I wrote that pretty quickly which is the best way to do these things. You can buy all these books from your local book shop or order them from the library. Please no Amazon though.

This will automatically post to facebook, but I won’t check it till I’m back from Romania in May!

JD Salinger mystery man

Funny, but for a “writer” (even an occasional one) I use to hate books at school. We had to read Thomas Hardy and all that stuff that just bored me senseless. One day, age 15, my brother threw a copy of “catcher in the Rye” into my room and said I should read it because the guy in it is like me. It sounded crazy, and thank God he was wrong, but after I read JD Salinger my life was never the same again. I had no idea literature could be so exciting, so transforming and so powerful. The way it could haunt your dreams, make you think about life and question your place in it After I read “catcher in the rye” I went straight onto “on the road” and never looked back.

Unlike Kerouac who laid his life open for all to see, Salinger was secretive. Nobody knew anything about him. When he died a couple of years ago I was fortunate enough to write a piece about him for a little book magazine here in England, but I still didn’t know much about him and nobody seemed to know anything.

So now there is this film and book tie-in, take a look at the little clip. It looks awesome.