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Sunday, January 18, 2004

Matron Quick!

Here’s the ambient soundtrack in the yellow room right now . . .

gasp, whistle, hiss, rasp, croak, pant, cough, puff, puff and pant, blow, heave, wheeze, gulp, choke, chuck, hawk, hack, squawk, caw, crow, general fucking collapse, doom, downfall, grim/terrible fate, ruin, ruination, rack and ruin, catastrophe, disaster; extinction, annihilation, death, end, termination, quietus, gloom, dimness, blackness, murkiness, murk, shadowiness, shadows, shade, shadiness, obscurity; dusk, twilight, gloaming, tenebrosity, depression, misery, sadness, unhappiness, sorrow, woe, gloom, gloominess, dejection, downheartedness, despondency, dispiritedness, low spirits, heavy-heartedness, moroseness, discouragement, despair, desolation, dolefulness, moodiness, pessimism, hopelessness; the slough of despond; upset, tearfulness, the dumps, the doldrums, the blues, the black dog, woof woof, a low; the blahs, blue funk; the mopes, clinical depression, endogenous depression, reactive depression, post-natal depression, dysthymia, melancholia, dolour, the megrims; mopery, disconsolateness, slump, decline, downturn, slowdown, standstill; paralysis, inactivity, stagnation; hard times, bad times, stagflation etc.



Ho hum!

Saturday, January 17, 2004

In The Presence Of The King

Wading through the illness (still coughing after all these years) I caught up with the guestbook. I’ve enjoyed the thread about the nature of Crimson (and quite a few other threads as well) but one posted by Penston caught my eye:

Back to perceived “presence of the King” (or as I like to think of it, my own “favorite shade of Crimson”), I’d like to make a pitch. I have been lucky enough to attend Krim concerts for more than thirty years, and I’ve seen several incarnations of the band. I think I’ve even heard the King a few times. Now, this may sound sacrilegious, but I hear what Al has described as “a fundamental intensity and darkness” in ProjeKct Four. Yes, I mean the King.

I mentioned the same thing in my road diary which would later become the booklet for P4:west coast live. It was during Seizure on the second night at the 7th Note that the “fundamental intensity and darkness” to which Penston refers manifested itself.

It was almost physical.

Hell, with the ground shaking and thrumming and my chest feeling as though it was being danced on by two huge beasts, it WAS physical and it was a frighteningly magical moment.

Thursday, January 15, 2004

A Mystery Film

A while before Christmas I was asked to contribute a list of my fave raves of 2003 for publication. In circumstances like this, I’m afraid I just freeze up, coming to the conclusion that I mustn’t have been to the cinema, saw a painting, watched a television programme or listened to any music during the whole year. I sit and strain as the deadline hurtles toward me and still I can’t think of a single thing.

Several e-correspondents send me their nominations, playlists, etc. In most cases (particularly when it comes to music) I realise just how little “new” music I actually bother to listen to. Certainly, I never seem to see movies which are as worthy and as fascinating as the ones lauded by several chums. So, the deadline passes, I’m off the hook and the year moves seamlessly into the next and the whole process of forgetting can begin again.

Debra and I love going to the cinema. We don’t go to pubs much (if at all in my case). We don’t go to fancy restaurants or partake of ball-room dancing or any other of the life-enhancing activities which middle-aged couples madly in love tend to do. What we do is go to the cinema.

Sometimes if we can, we try and fit in two movies in the same evening which can make for some unexpected couplings; About Schmidt and The Pianist or more recently Kill Bill and Intolerable Cruelty.

In social gatherings we are sometimes asked which movies we’ve seen and what impressed us. Given that it’s our premier night-out entertainment, we nearly always reply that we can’t remember. This isn’t because we have a low opinion of what we’ve seen rather it’s a form of cultural amnesia that besets us. We’ll stare blankly, shake our heads ala Harpo Marx and come across like a couple of half-wits.

So I think about the movies I saw in 2003 and delve through the molasses of my memory to pull Mystic River and Adaptation out of the goo. Both these films count as my fave raves of last year being movies which made me cry and made me laugh. I also saw Donnie Darko and Ghost World for the first time in 2003 although being made a couple of years prior, I’m not sure if they count. But if they do then they would stand next to the Gangs of New York . Biggest disappointment had to be QT’s Kill Bill and the biggest “so what!” has to be the one-take yawnathon that is Russian Ark.

But here’s the thing. One Saturday afternoon last year we nipped into the Tyneside Cinema on an impulse and caught a tale about a woodwork tutor in a rehabilitation centre for young offenders. The man is greatly affected by a new arrival. We then find out that this offender had been put away for the murder of his son. The film chronicles how he copes with his anger and outage which of course leads to an edge-of-the-seat climax. Shot in almost documentary style, it is stark and economic. The delivery is blunt and without any cinematic frills, relying entirely on the compelling performances of the grieving father and the luckless lad.

The name of this movie? Haven’t a clue. Directed by? Don’t know. Starring? Wouldn’t know them from Adam. All I can tell you is that it was Belgian. Or maybe French. Well it had subtitles and was in colour at least I’m sure about that and I think it was my favourite film of 2003.

Wednesday, January 14, 2004

A Particularly Pointless Death

This morning I was helping Police with their enquiries. Not in the banged-up-in-cell-good-cop-bad-cop-ouch-stop-hitting-me-with-those-wet-towels-it-was-me-that-did-it kind of way. Instead it was as part of the foot-slogging dull drill and trudge that makes up most of modern day policing.

A few days ago we saw a newspaper report about a man who had been murdered in a place called Sandyford, just outside of Newcastle city centre. Back in the seventies I used to live round that way; quiet little terraces, high student population sort of place. The front page carried a large photograph of the murdered man, John Wells. He used to be a resident in our street. The police had a witness to the attack which led to the death but were appealing for information from the public.

Though we didn’t see anything of the crime itself, John was someone we were used to seeing amble up and down the street on his way to and from the local off-licence. Always smartly dressed usually with a broad-brimmed felt hat, he was always well-spoken and polite. And usually drunk. Not falling down drunk or rude and angry drunk but fairly fortified in a genteel way.

We assumed John was the owner of a house which had gone into multi-occupation and had been attracting all kinds of unsavoury loutish kids. Some noise and anti-social behaviour For this reason and with a passing nod to James Ellroy way with words, we dubbed it “the Hinky house.” Eventually John moved out, things quietened down and we never saw John again until his murder made the front page.

The paper carried some details of his life, stuff we never knew about. He was a divorcee, a philosophy graduate, a retired postman, an avid reader of poetry and so on. All the things we neer knew about him because we only ever exchanged a nod and some pleasantries.

And his life came to end on his way back from his local pub carrying some beer back home.

The two plain clothes officer asked about John’s movements, what kind of person he was and also made a careful note of my height, distinguishing features and where I was on the day of the murder. My alibi in place, they left to carry on with their enquiries. Once they'd gone I did some of my own. . .



Tuesday, January 13, 2004

Lost In Translation

You know there's nothing more than this

In Sofie Copplola’s new film, Lost In Translation, Bill Murray and Scarlett Johannson play a pair of strangers who drift together in the padded corridors and muted bars of Tokyo’s Hyatt Hotel.

Separated from their respective partners by geography and nagging doubt, both need of a wake-up call to rouse them from their emotional torpor. Caught in the twilight fug of jet-lag, loneliness and ennui, a tentative alliance is formed. They break free of their woebegone state, embarking on a kaleidoscopic tour of sushi bars, gaming arcades and the karaoke lounges.

It’s in this strange, glaringly loud underworld that they prize a way through the emotional static to decode their feelings, connect and begin an intimate affair. Yet for all the simmering ardour they encounter in their week together this remains an unconsummated affair at least in a sexual sense.

When Bill Murray croaks and croons his way through Roxy Music’s More Than This at a party, as well as taking near-criminal liberties with the melody, he’s also realising that sometimes being able to simply connect with another soul can be satisfying enough.

Using only a smattering of dialogue, Sofie Coppola employs the screenwriter’s axiom of “show, don’t tell” to the max. Mostly, the tale is told via the looks and smiles that play across the faces of the two leads. Murray is perfectly cast as the owner of a lived-in, seen-it-all-before, raddled mug that can turn a situation from sad to smirk by the merest twitch of an eyebrow or curled lip.

By contrast, Johansson’s face is a near-blank canvass on which disappointment, prejudice and misadventure have yet to leave their mark. Though we know it can only be a matter of time before all this is visited upon her, this is in no way a bleak or cynical story.

Coppola handles the electricity that passes between these new lovers in a believable and warming manner. Nothing seems contrived as they move through their small hours dream-state. Their body language has that hankering reticence of people on the verge; the chaste but yearning chemistry that bubbles between them deftly avoids the familiar cliché of the romantic comedy genre.

The visual design of the film is interesting. Murray and Johannson are invariably cosseted in a subterranean gloom part-ambient, part-internal. Staring down at the sprawling city from the plush heaven of her high-rise hotel the sky is pensive reflecting her mood. This is a masterful shot of travelogue verite, evoking the plight of the lonesome traveller who has yet to arrive; a visual equivalent of e e cummings line about being “as small as a world and as large as alone.”

For all the buzz and visual fizz of a neon-lit Tokyo, the brightest point in the entire movie comes as Bill Murray, sat back in his cab on the way to the airport and home is briefly bathed in a bright warm flash of sunlight. Perhaps this was the director’s way of telling us that Murray had just experienced his very own Damascus to-go. Or maybe it was just a trick of the light.

Like the denouement between these would-be lovers, Coppola keeps us guessing and the movie is all the better for it. As we sleepwalk through the world increasingly composed of bewildering signs and signals and an ever more synthetic, blended culture, “meaning”, in its broadest sense, can become lost in translation.

Numbed and dulled, our palates become jaded. We grow prone to distance, disengagement and doubt. Sofie Coppola has given us a movie that is both funny and intelligent, a moving and meditative film exploring this semiotic clutter, showing that sometimes we can find the thing we didn’t even realise we were looking for.


Monday, January 12, 2004

Band Of Brothers

I watched several episodes of the HBO series Band of Brothers. I’d recently picked up a DVD edition via Ebay.

Having read all of the Stephen Ambrose books which document and explore the action of the ordinary soldiers during WW2, I was interested to see how this would shape up.

Well, I fell hook, line and sinker for this memorable piece of ensemble playing.

It looked good, the storylines had a gritty edge that steered clear of the gung-ho heroics that often fill up war adventure movies.

I loved the documentary style of the whole thing and the inclusion of the actual men themselves. By the end of course I was blubbing helplessly at the matter-of-fact commentary of these men who recounted their sacrifice and struggles more eloquently than any screenplay.

Richard Winters quoting Mike Ranney on how he answered a question his grandson once asked him.

“I treasure my remark to a grandson who asked, "Grandpa, were you a hero in the war?" ‘No’, I answered, ‘But I served in a company of heroes.’ “


Sunday, January 11, 2004

Edmund Rubbra

Edmund Rubbra’s Symphony No.10 fills the room today. Lush swathes of English romantic strings are laced with bitter-sweet oboe and a flute as brilliant as flashes of dappled sun in a forest glade.

This was my first hearing of this particular piece which Rubbra composed in January 1975 to be performed by our very own Northern Sinfonia. Hopelessly romantic when it comes down to it, I wept copiously as it opened up before me. It looks like Copland’s Quiet City has some competition!

In my make-believe, mythic England - essentially a bucolic kingdom of simpler times - it’s not the wind in the air that moves the clouds or sways through the bristling ears of wheat. It is the orchestral and chamber music of Holst, Bridge, Butterworth, Bax, Vaughn Williams and Rubbra that sweeps majestically from the coastal shelves, the hills and valleys, through the villages and towns and finally squalling and, I suppose, railing defiantly and proudly against Blake’s “dark satanic mills.”

At its best this is rugged, stirring, essentially moving music; engaging, captivating, joyous and capable of transporting the listener into many different moods, times and spaces.

At its worst, it washes up as merely the tripping incidental music to a dreary adaptation on some insipid period-piece television programme. And whilst the “merrie England” of my mind may have more in common with this kind of “heritage” programming than I care to admit, it does at least benefit from conjuring the rolling scenery but dispensing with the insipid storylines and tatty acting.

Saturday, January 10, 2004

Still Ill

Still ill, sick, not very well, ailing, poorly, sickly, peaky, off colour, afflicted, indisposed, infirm, liverish; out of sorts, not oneself, not in good shape, not up to par, in a bad way, valetudinarian; bedridden, invalided, on the sick list; queasy, nauseous, nauseated; weak, feeble, frail; diseased, infected; under the weather, not up to snuff, laid up, dicky, iffy, crummy, lousy, rough, groggy, green about the gills, at death's door, like death warmed up ropy, grotty, crook but otherwise fine.

Friday, January 09, 2004

Dreaming Dreams

As I fall asleep each night one of pre-land of nod sub-routines is to replay a particular scene from a piece I’ve been working on.

Being blessed with the ability to fall asleep within a few minutes of my head touching pillow means I’ve never been one for counting sheep.

However, I often find that in this quiet moment that I gain an insight into a situation or character which has been troubling me. The effect is to unlock the problem and find the solution which has previously eluded me.

Perhaps the most surprising thing about this is that I usually remember the key point in the morning and usually alongside that night of dreams. Right now my dreams are so overblown and florid at the moment that every attempt to document them has failed to really get to grips with what is going on underneath all the potent and portentous imagery.

After a period of abstinence I’ve returned to my I Ching work book. The dreams appear to connect with the readings or perhaps it’s the other way around. It feels like change is heading my way but I can’t quite work out if that is a good thing or not. And I have this nagging sense of dread that I can’t quite put to the back of my mind.

Thursday, January 08, 2004

Cuckooland by Robert Wyatt

Card-carrying member of the Heartwarming Party

In the UK for the past few years the pop charts have been dominated by competitions where legions of people all over the country file into auditions in front of a panel of music industry experts in the hope that they will win the competition to become this year’s Pop Idol.

The auditions are unflinchingly filmed exposing the hopeful and the hopeless as they go through their paces. This necessarily harrowing process is where the wheat is whittled from the chaff leaving it up to the viewing public to vote on who gets through to the next round.

This gladiatorial spectacle is watched by millions and for the lucky winners who live to fight another day; they know that in the end it’s about mortal combat. For all the camaraderie in the face of adversity, they know (as does the viewer) that they’ll do just about anything to to win the prize of life as a pop celebrity.

I think I can say that without fear of contradiction that were Robert Wyatt ever tempted to enter this competition (now or even as a young lad) the pop-tastic judges would give him the thumbs down and laugh him unceremoniously out of the door.

The homogenous world of mass-marketed pop music has little or no use for someone like Robert Wyatt – an avowedly unique character with a wavering and brittle voice who has spent most of his career pushing melodies about as far as they can go and still be called a tune.

Back in September 1974 there was a bizarre tear in the space time fabric that let through an alternative universe. How else do we explain the sight of Robert Wyatt miming on Top of the Pops, promoting his cover version of I’m A Believer? Originally a hit for the pre-packaged Monkee’s and written by Neil Diamond, the song reached 29 in the charts. In 1983 Wyatt gots a bit more of his prime time 15 minutes with a cover of Elvis Costello’s poignant ballad, Shipbuilding.

Since then though the gates of mass appeal have been well and truly barred and guarded by the four-headed dog that makes up the panel of judges of Pop Idol.

Given the state of the music industry in general I’m always slightly taken aback when an artist I like manages to get a record company to release an album of theirs. Though it was out last year I’ve only just managed to catch up with Wyatt’s new album Cuckooland and though no great surprises awaiting the seasoned Wyatt listener, it’s very welcome for all that.

Borrowing from the lusher sonic template of his previous album, Schleep, Wyatt’s still ploughs that deceptively lo-fi home-grown methodology. At times things sound though they might fall apart at any moment but somehow that air of fragility lends the music its character and probity. Though his range and style has definite limitations, any Wyatt fan worthy of the name will tell you that’s exactly the attraction.

A friend recently admitted to me that the greatest problem he encountered as a card carrying member of the Communist Party wasn’t trying to repel the Thatcherite advance of the 80s. Rather it was defending Wyatt’s music to less generously inclined fellow travellers. Wyatt’s music is suffused by his left-leaning politics and whilst his Party of choice voted itself into oblivion (as documented on Dondestan’s CP Jeebies) Wyatt’s convictions remain an integral part of his against-the-grain, dissenting world view. These days music and lyrics offer a potent rather than strident critique.

Words like “charming”, “quirky” and “naiveté” and “eccentric” are often to be found in the vicinity of Ropbert Wyatt and certainly the cheery, slightly bleary lilt of Just A Bit and the melancholic remembrance of Old Europe fit those descriptions to a T. Yet there’s also a slight frost of pensive apprehension to be found icing some of this music. Tracks such as the excellent Beware and the slightly sinister nursery-rhyme sway of Forest offer a slightly creepy shudder to the proceedings. And in the alternative universe of Wyatt cover versions the show-biz tears of Raining In My Heart has the dark stain of ghostly remorse haunting it.

Whilst Cuckooland lacks the mesmeric unity of Rock Bottom or the criminally overlooked Dondestan, Wyatt is on top form and in good company with the likes of Karen Mantler who writes some of the music as well as playing keyboards and singing, Yaron Stavi, on double bass and some surging reeds and brass from Gilad Atzmon. Other chums chipping in their two cents include Brian Eno, Dave Gilmour, Annie Whitehead and Paul Weller. Belatedly but heartily recommended.

Wednesday, January 07, 2004

NOW That's What I Call Phlegm!

The dull wet thud of sputum hitting handkerchiefs or porcelain fills the air here as Debbie, Alys, Joe and I hack and cough away.

Although the varying hues of green and yellow have their own discreet charm the consistency and means of production leave a lot to be desired.

Competing with the percussive chug of our various chesty ailments is Robert Wyatt’s Cuckookland.

As part of the general tightening of belts round these parts I’m preparing to ditch AOL as my provider. Common sense dictates that as I move into potentially desperate straights I should be opting for one of the free ISP such as yahoo or msn. I’ve taken a look at both of them and they appear to do the job well enough.

All I have to figure out is how to transfer all of my files of email correspondence that’s built up over the few months to a new account. This should be easy but try as I might AOL’s online help doesn’t appear to offer any advice on this eventuality.

Regular readers of this dairy will know how generally witless I am about such matters. Any advice will be gratefully received!

Tuesday, January 06, 2004

Ahead Of The Game

I spent a part of the morning back at the Doctors following up on my recent unexpected visit to hospital. They took some blood to run some further tests for things like cholesterol levels, diabetes and who knows what else.

Having just emerged from hospital feeling slightly ahead of the game (i.e. no problems with my heart, etc.) I’m keen to find out what else is going in this old soft machine of mine and this holistic chat with the practice nurse was a helpful step in the right direction.

Today is the last of the Christmas holidays for Tom and Joe. We went into town to spend the last of their Xmas dosh. In the end they both bought a couple of army surplus combat jackets. A strange choice perhaps but they do lend a certain street-cred to their image. Tom declared he loved his jacket so much that he was going to sleep in the darn thang!

It being the last day it was agreed that a feast of their choice would be laid on. After musing for a couple of seconds they unanimously plumped upon a Chinese meal. Cooking with one’s children is a good point where positive lessons can be reinforced and practical skills developed.

The three of us decamped to the kitchen preparing some chicken legs, noodles, rice and Dim Sum for Sam, Al and Debbie when they got in from college, school and work respectively.

Of course, if the kids cottoned on to this educational aspect of kitchen time they would probably run a mile. However planning, preparing, executing and serving a meal is a lot of fun and the confidence that beams from their faces as we sit down to eat is well worth the effort.

Listening To. . .

It’ll All Work Out In Boomland by T2
Living In Fear by Tempest
Tomorrow by Tomorrow

Sunday, January 04, 2004

American Splendor

Life is a many-splendored thing. . .

With the tag line “ordinary life is pretty complex stuff”, the movie follows Cleveland’s Harvey Pekar, a hospital filing clerk, trudging through life in a state of permanent revulsion and misanthropic malaise.

Harvey embodies the image of the ordinary guy, the poor working stiff who slogs his way through the world - a record collecting, jazz obsessive who, underneath that deceptively docile humdrum exterior, is sick with all the unfulfilled potential that sloshes about with his ire and bile.

Like a middle-aged Holden Caulfield, it’s the fake and phoney which drives Pekar through the hours and days of his life. However, it’s his friend, the comic book artist, Robert Crumb, who moves Harvey from ranting to writing.

By lending his distinctive style to Harvey’s words, Crumb helps Pekar’s own comic book, American Splendor, achieves a modicum of celebrity. Although Harvey has to keep the day job life becomes a little less ordinary; a stage play based on his work gets produced, some heavyweight literary plaudits come his way and a few choice appearances on the David Letterman show all add to the cross-hatching of cultish veneer.

Looking like Nicholas Cage (as Charlie Kaufman) crossed with Homer Simpson drawn by Gary Trudeau, Paul Giamatti’s eye-rolling, angst-ridden performance is often bisected by the appearance of Pekar himself offering commentary on the action and progress of his on-screen life. Several of Pekar’s work mates, his wife and adopted daughter also crop up as themselves annotating their celebrity status as characters in a comic book and now a movie.

This is a movie which celebrates Harvey Pekar’s Blakean sense of wonder at the world around him whilst avoiding any sentimentality or being hideously cynical. The results are quirky yet both profoundly moving and uplifting. The meta-fiction of American Splendor makes us realise that real life is never dull if we have the wit to see what’s going on around us.

Friday, January 02, 2004

Entertaining The Troops

We went over to Dave and Julie’s traditional New Year’s Day bash. I think this is my third one although I usually have trouble recalling such fine detail through the haze of time, too much alcohol or both. This one was for me a quieter affair largely because I paid careful attention to the amount I was drinking.

The mechanics of organising a day where the food and drink never seems to stop flowing and everyone appears to have a good time without a cross word said between adults or children shouldn’t be underestimated. However it is often taken for granted. Quite how Dave and Julie do it I find it hard to fathom. They have reserves of patience which in my case ran dry many years ago.

Debbie managed to make a brief appearance at the do but was feeling slightly worse for wear after the previous evening’s escapades at John and Jude’s house. Having stayed in and only suffered the self-inflicted wounds of Keith Emerson’s biog, I was able to mount the moral high-ground with alacrity and milked the occasion for all it was worth.

Thursday, January 01, 2004

Pictures Of An Exhibitionist by Keith Emerson

Getting the knives out. . .

Have you ever been drawn to something you know is likely to do you harm? As a child I just couldn’t help but go to the edge of very high stairwells in department stores and peer down into the vertiginous abyss.

Cigarettes? I started smoking when I was in my teens even though I was aware of the health risk. Then there’s the guilty pleasure of the bacon sandwich and oh so many other items of an equally risky nature. Perhaps reading Emerson’s biog might be added to this list of suspect activities.

There’s a grim fascination to be found in this book not unlike driving past a motorway accident; one can’t help but look at the grizzly mess and think “there but for the grace of God.”

Pictures of an Exhibitionist, as the title cunningly implies, opts for the big brush of show-biz / rock-star anecdotage of the “Man, we’re all just so crazy we just don’t care” variety rather than revealing anything about the artistic wellspring which may or may not have resided within Keith Emerson.

With what at first appears to be commendable candour, Emerson trawls through his lengthy career describing the numerous sexual conquests with groupies, marital infidelity, on the road japery, motorbikes, water ski-ing, flying, drug-taking etc., with all the sophistication and aplomb of a swaggering loudmouth holding court at the counter of his local bar.

Past or present, Emo’s world is resolutely unreconstructed and untouched by any notions of latter day political correctness, self-analysis or contrition. What passes for reflection has more to do with feeling sorry for himself; Emo usually sees himself as the victim, hard done to by a careless and unthinking world. Consequences are things that happen to other people. This kind of hedonistic arrogance makes for some uncomfortable reading.

The casual sexism and frighteningly witless observations from his moral universe which are strewn throughout these pages might be explained or possibly forgiven by viewing Emerson as a product of his times. Possibly. Yet one gets a sense that Emerson still yearns for the “good old days” and comes across as either coy or frankly baffled as to why things went wrong in his world.

Peppered with a distinctive whiff of self-pity and an almost juvenile self-justification it’s hard to stop one’s jaw dropping in places as Emerson comes to grip with his personal relationships. At one point he argues that by having so many one-nighters with groupies, he was actually safe-guarding against having any long-term affairs which might have threatened to destabilise things between he and his hapless bride.

Anyone looking for insights into the music of Emerson the composer will have to look elsewhere. For a book written by a musician it’s surprising just how little about the music is actually featured. The recordings of important albums in the Nice / ELP canon have to compete with ogling underage birds, getting riotously drunk and showing off.

In the end, Pictures Of An Exhibitionist offers a series a snapshots where the flash obscures anything of much worth; the creation and completion of Emerson’s piano concerto is dealt with in slightly less detail than the acquisition of his pilot’s license. Fine if you like that sort of thing I suppose but like those little cameras you see in crowded parties, utterly disposable.

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