Classic Albums #2: David Bowie – Low (RCA – 1977)

February 26, 2012

The three albums borne by David Bowie between 1977-79 (Low, Heroes & Lodger) are commonly referred to as “The Berlin Trilogy”, despite the fact that only Heroes was wholly recorded in Berlin and none of Lodger was. Stylistically ‘The Trilogy’ is not a million miles away from 1976’s Station to Station which was recorded in LA. Low was primarily recorded just outside Paris.

Nick Lowe reportedly titled his EP "Bowi" in response to Low, dropping the 'e'.

Bowie collaborated with producer Brian Eno throughout and Eno is often credited with producing the experimental, avant-garde sound espoused over the trinity. Though this has been called into question to some extent, given Bowie’s own predilection for experimentation throughout his career.

The working title for Low was “New Music Night and Day”, however Bowie opted for the title due to his “low” moods during the album’s writing and recording according to the albums producer, Tony Visconti.

“There’s oodles of pain in the Low album. That was my first attempt to kick cocaine, so that was an awful lot of pain. And I moved to Berlin to do it. I moved out of the coke center of the world into the smack center of the world. Thankfully, I didn’t have a feeling for smack, so it wasn’t a threat.” David Bowie

The albums style is comprised of shorter, fragmented tracks on the first side, perhaps a reflection of Bowie’s ruptured mental state at the time while the second side shoots off into space with longer, instrumental tracks. ‘Breaking Glass’ is one of the stand-out tracks with Carlos Alomar throwing his name into the ring as a genuine rival to Mick Ronson for Bowie’s greatest guitarist companion.

Although heavily influenced by Neu! and Kraftwerk, Low is widely regarded as being heavily ground breaking.  Often held by critics to be Bowie’s best album and received praise from publications such as Pitchfork who voted it the best album of the 1970’s .

Low is Bowie at his artistic zenith, a height which he never reached again. The lyrics are biographical, apocryphal and fiction all at once. The layered sound flits effortlessly from punk-rock, to rhythm & blues to progressive rock.  Though rejected as the OST for Bowie’s motion picture “The Man Who Fell to Earth” the record is a very real soundtrack to Bowie’s recovery from exhausting drug addiction.

Hell’s Angels (1966) Hunter S. Thompson

January 2, 2012

Hell’s Angels by Hunter S. Thompson originally began as the article “The Motorcycle Gangs: Losers and Outsiders.” It is an offbeat look into the shady world of the most famous outlaw biker gang of all time. A gang which were defined by Harley Davidsons, long hair, beards, swastikas and a penchant for violence and getting loaded.  Adhering to his own brand of Gonzo journalism, Hunter spent a year with the Angels in full sight gaining vivid insight into their life and what makes them tick. The book starts of at first with Hunter giving a brief outline of the Angel’s lifestyle, meeting various members of the group in a relaxed social atmosphere and offering insights into a few individual lives.

Far from being the weary outsider that The Hell’s Angels rising notoriety acquired and to who they quickly became suspicious of, Thompson was a semi-active member of the group, he would welcome them to his apartment at all hours of the day and night much to his neighbours dismay and eventually leading to him being evicted.

“One of the worst incidents of that era caused no complaints at all: this was a sort of good-natured firepower demonstration, which occured one Sunday morning about three-thirty. For reasons that were never made clear, I blew out my back windows with five blasts of a 12 gauge shotgun, followed moments later by six rounds from a .44 Magnum. It was a prolonged outburst of heavy firing, drunken laughter, and crashing glass. Yet the neighbors reacted with total silence.”

The writing style is somewhat unorthodox such as the use of slang, drug terminology and slightly bourgeois terms which are contrasted starkly. There are two overt references to F. Scott Fitzgerald’s ‘The Great Gatsby’ in the book, the first describing a shop owner who chose not to entertain the Angels’ custom as looking out across the sound mournfully and the death of Mother Miles stating that “This was not going to be any Jay Gatsby funeral”  because The Angels would be attending en masse. According to an interview with Johnny Depp, Thompson once typed out ‘The Great Gatsby’  in its entirety on his typewriter to get a feel for Fitzgerald’s words and this idea is certainly manifested in the usage of obtuse phrases in Thompson’s writing.

At times during the piece Thompson comes down firmly on the side of the Angels, picking through newspaper reports with gross exaggerations which garner his ire. For example the number of arrests on a given weekend is given in eight separate publications ranging from 30 to hundreds yet Thompson states that the actual figure is 32 with none of the members actually being Hell’s Angels contrary to the eye-grabbing headline.

“Newsweek … unaccountably said the report accused the Hell’s Angels of homosexuality, whereas the report said just the opposite. Time leaped into the fray with a flurry of blood, booze and semen-flecked wordage that amounted, in the end, to a classic of supercharged hokum: “Drug-induced stupors… no act is too degrading… swap girls, drugs and motorcycles with equal abandon… stealing forays… then ride off again to seek some new nadir in sordid behavior…”

The book features notable cameos from Ken Kesey (One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest) and Allen Ginsberg (Howl) and is laudable in its painstaking description of the Angels wild drug taking adventures. The Angels took everything in excess whether it be beer, wine, pills, weed, LSD, or their obsessive dedication to their bikes.

The book is put together in a singular way, it would be described as being epistolary if it were fiction, but it is not. A collection of articles, quotations from poems, police reports, film and literature recall Bram Stoker’s Dracula novel. Thompson would often run what he had written past The Angels as not to offend however there is a volta after the Ginsberg speech in which Thompson speaks of the Angels in less than flattering terms denouncing them as ‘mutants’, ‘prototypes’ and ‘toads’ a far cry from the early romanticising of The Angels that we get from the early part of the book.  This Thompson states is because he has become disillusioned with them, that they have started to believe their own hype. Thompson ends on the opinion that the Angels are not outlaws as they would have us believe but natural born losers who have nothing to gain from society and as a result nothing to lose.

Classic Albums #1: Pixies – Doolittle (4AD -1989)

August 26, 2011

The original title for the album was "Whore" however the band eventually opted for the more commercially viable "Doolittle" derived from a lyric in "Mr Grieves"

The second album by Pixies but the first one I listened to. It had stand-out hits that I’d come across elsewhere, such as “Monkey Gone to Heaven”, “Debaser”, “Here Comes Your Man” and even “Hey” which was used to particularly impressive effect in the otherwise forgettable “Zack and Miri Make a Porno.”

During my teenage years I was acutely aware of the albums persistent yet never ubiquitous presence as it was often cited as being an influence on many of the artists I listened to as a teen. Having been released in 1989 it had passed me by. A poll in the NME had ranked it as the second-greatest album of all time but I didn’t let that put me off & took time out my busy 16 year old’s schedule of not revising to give the album a listen.

I can’t remember my immediate thoughts on the album but I do know that it is one that I have constantly revisited since 2006. The album had a relatable quality though given that the themes of the album include: Surrealism, Biblical Violence, Torture and Death  that would paint a picture of me that is not entirely flattering or indeed accurate. Well perhaps except for the Surrealism which I am partial to.

Which segways seamlessly into the first track on the album ‘Debaser’: A crunching guitar driven opener to the album, the lyrics mystified me for years before I bothered to check them out. They’re actually referring to Luis Buñue and Salavador Dali’s surrealist short film Un chien andalou. Which due to the long-lasting appeal of the album I decided to check out. It’s a challenging piece with  a very famous scene of an eye being cut by a razor blade which is referenced  in the song ( “slicing up eyeballs” ). I have to say of the two I prefer the song tribute to the source material.

The album contains a strong underwater theme and it appears the band may have been influenced by surf rockers and contemporaries The Mermen particularly in the underwater reverb meet Hendrix sound of the guitars. Which is particularly apparent on “I Bleed” and more so on the Hawaiian sounding “Here comes your man”.

In researching this article I stumbled upon some information that the producer is from Liverpool. Gil Norton could be said to be somewhat responsible for the more commercial aspect of the album. Gil Norton has produced albums for Echo and the Bunnymen amongst others, which subconsciously must have penetrated my thoughts in my reverence for this album. The album possesses an insane manic energy and an uncontainable attitude that makes it justifiably a classic 22 years on.

Best tracks: All of them. In order.

Why I Unfriended Facebook and Why No One Cares

July 1, 2011

I recently took the drastic step of deleting my Facebook account. I realised on the bus after no conscious thought that this was unregrettably the right thing to do. Like a dog that had to be put-down, only not a dog  and more a diseased looking Jeremy Kyle contestant and not so much put-down but just moved over there out of my olfactory range. I realised after weeks if not months of building antagonism towards the global juggernaut one-size fits-all social networking giant. I mean just imagine the things I could now with my time, instead of the mindless trudging through the flaccid endless status updates from former school-goers, worker drones and university class acquaintances, like LEARN JAPANESE…

Now obviously I’m not going to learn Japanese as I’m far too lazy but the idea of adding up all the time I spent on Facebook and converting it magically through the medium of positive thinking into productivity is a fantastic one, as is shitting gold, or jizzing out Playboy models (although would that be counted as incestuous?…don’t think too deeply into that one and read on.)

Realistically it’s not going to happen, however I still stand by decision to delete my 2nd most visited bookmark almost one hour later and the reasons are thus:

1) Unconnectivity– ‘The’ Facebook is supposed to be about getting people from all over the world connected – and admittedly I had my friends from America, Korea and Australia on there. But how often do I speak to them after the initial couple of weeks when I saw them last summer? Well practically never. I said ‘happy birthday’ to some of them, Yes – but ‘connectivity’, the whole world at the touch of a button? That would be stretching the reality pretty thin. I really only have three  friends: two who don’t have Facebook – one deleted his, the other was steadfast in never having one and who happens to be my girlfriend (which is annoying because as she doesn’t have Facebook she is deemed by many to not exist, which is one of the ways FB recruits people – like a pyramid scheme or a cult, “It is a good system..”) and the third person who still has his but seldom uses it. My main form of communication is either SMS texting, face-to-face or phone calls. The only people who I interacted with on Facebook tended to be a very small group of work/uni pals who  I had similar interests with but seldom socialised with in the real world.

2) Mongbook – When I first signed up for Facebook it seemed genuinely new and exciting, a rival to MySpace a scalp which it would ultimately claim and surpass. I mean are we the ‘Facebook generation’? I shudder at the thought but it would seem to be the case. Now like anything, the morons have taken over. In the weeks before I pressed the dreaded red button that sent my social network into a vast mushroom cloud of viral smoke, burning my precious photographs, statuses and ‘likes’ in an invisible atomic gas, I noticed the decline in almost every aspect of the experience. Facebook groups once were admittedly a mixed bag but contained some genuine moments of wits, reminiscence or aesthetic value, now boiled down into the most basic form of emotion – the ‘like’. Akin to the over-fed oaf grunting his approval at things that stimulate his pituitary glands, they have become a largely inane – endless stream of “Nan *insert something inappropriate jokes here*” (probably outdated and replaced with something equally droll by the time you read this) to the downright almost racist ones that many of my so-called friends were gleefully liking  and as a result making me really like them less.

3) Unpopularity – My annoyance at my lack of popularity, I’ve seen girls with upwards of 120 ‘likes’ on pictures of them in a bikini and while I understand the reasons for this and don’t believe a picture of me in the same bikini would provoke the same response it still annoys me that nothing I could ever do within my own very small realm of popularity could ever achieve such lustre so I’m backing out now, almost like a football supporter who can’t play football as well as the team he goes to see nearly every week but can criticise the star forward by saying ‘ooo he’s not very good at kicking is he, and for all that money too, boooooo.’ I’m removing myself from the field of play so I can criticise from the sidelines without being part of it.

4) Unfriends – The whole idea of ‘friends’ as mentioned earlier I have about 3 non-family people who I speak to daily, followed by a wider circle who I speak to on a week-to-week basis, yet I see non-famous people with upwards of 2000 friends. Which make me wonder where do they get the time to maintain these various friendships? I struggle with the few I have  and this leads me to the  ”happy birthday’ conundrum’: e.g.  people I haven’t spoke to for over a year but feel obliged to say ‘happy birthday’ to for when  the inevitable chance encounter soon after their anniversary of their birth results in a dreaded awkward situation. Only to realise that they haven’t said it to me 8 months before!! The bastards. I should delete them……But best not. Just in case.

5) And finally the endless email updates, which obviously I could have turned off but then what If I missed something vital?

Oh well now that this article is finished I can post it to my….oh.

Facebook  Alternatives:
Twitter for status updates only better..

StumbleUpon for pointless links etc.
Tumblr for pretty pictures to gawp at.
Google+ cos facebook will only last so long before it becomes MySpace.

The Joy Formidable – ‘The Big Roar’ (Atlantic 2011)

July 1, 2011

The Joy Formidable’s debut album ‘The Big Roar’ is one of my records of the year,  the album begins with sporadic percussion which builds slowly, leading into ‘The Everchanging Spectrum of a Lie.’ The self-important titles much resemble the portentous layering of the guitars throughout the LP. The album blends pop sensibilities with an almost incessant wall of sound effect and Ritzy Bryan’s vocals are reminiscent of Kim Gordon’s at times (Sonic Youth- Kissability).

“akin to being trapped in the eye of a hurricane with a stereo

The surprise track is austere with its looped wailing sample – yet somehow it still manages to blend into the rest of the album effortlessly due to the overlapping bass and drums which play a key part in JF’s sound.The best song on the album is undoubtably ‘whirring’ describing the overall feel of the album in one word. However I would like to be more convoluted in my description and compare JF’s otherworldly sound, akin to being trapped in the eye of a hurricane with a stereo. Now who’s being portentous…?

****

Liverpool Season Review 2010-2011: A Tale of Two Seasons

May 11, 2011

Benitez

2010-2011 proved to be a season of change at almost every level of Liverpool FC’s hierarchy. Firstly there was the departure of Rafael Benitez to Champions League winners Internazionale, due to the Spaniard’s constant duels with the LFC board, he was replaced by LMA Manager of the Year, Roy Hodgson. The Anfield faithful were quietly hopeful that Hodgson would be able to usher in a new era at Anfield. The new signings Milan Jovanovic, Joe Cole, Paul Konchesky, Brad Jones & Raul Meireles signalled the club’s ambitions. Also there was a change of sponsor, for the first time in 18 years Liverpool would not be sponsored by Carlsberg but instead by Standard Chartered.

The season started in earnest, specifically Skopje, Macedonia. David Ngog scored to give Liverpool their first win under the ‘Roy Hodgson Era’. Many Liverpool fans were cautiously optimistic to see what Roy could bring to the club. A top 5 finish in the league and a decent cup run in Europe was what many thought would have amounted to a good season given the circumstances. Liverpool then had a very solid performance in the league in Hodgson’s first Premier League game in charge against Arsenal and were aggrieved to only draw, with Arsenal scoring a late equaliser, a very promising start nonetheless. The flashpoint was Joe Cole’s red card on his debut for the club, a sign of things to come for his Liverpool career it would seem.

Liverpool’s next Premier League match was away to Champions League hopefuls Manchester City, surrounded by controversy as want-away Argentina captain Javier Mascherano refused to play for the club in trying to engineer a move to Barcelona. Nevertheless a 3-0 loss to City was unacceptable, a lacklustre performance and Liverpool were brushed aside, an early omen and a sign of Liverpool’s awful away record to come under Hodgson. Liverpool would go on to lose away to Manchester United, get dumped out the Carling Cup by lowly Northampton and get beat by rivals Everton in what Hodgson farcically described as Liverpool’s “best performance of the season”. If not inaccurate then a damning indictment of his own stewardship.

Beleaguered

It could be argued that the poor showing on the pitch lead the supporters to turn up the ante on activities off the field, demonstrations and protests were scheduled in order to remove Tom Hicks and George Gillett from the club. On 15th October 2010 the club was sold against Hicks and Gillett’s wishes to New England Sports Ventures in what Tom Hicks blasted as an ‘Epic Swindle.’ A new dawn beckoned at Anfield, increasingly poor performances on the pitch however put Roy Hodgson’s managerial position under doubt. The one highlight being the victory at Anfield over Chelsea, one of the few positives of Hodgson’s tenure. The fans were not content, the team seemed disjointed and un-motivated, and several more poor results would seal Hodgson’s fate.

The Return of the King

By January 8th Liverpool had 25 points from 20 games, level with Blackpool and Everton. Despite a last gasp winner against Bolton, John W. Henry, in the first significant move of his Liverpool ownership decided to put an abrupt end to Roy Hodgson’s reign as Liverpool manager.

Beloved

Kenny Dalglish was appointed caretaker manager, a popular decision among many of the fans. However certain elements of the media pointed to Dalglish’s lack of recent managerial experience and claimed that he would be out of touch with modern football management.

Dalglish’s first match in charge was on the 9th January 2011 away to Manchester United in the FA Cup Third round which Liverpool lost 1-0 to a controversial United penalty. Liverpool then lost 2-1 away to Blackpool in Dalglish’s first Premier League game for 13 years and it was clear that both Dalglish and the club faced an up-hill battle. However after a string of positive results the early warning signs were good. Liverpool’s first win was against Wolves at Molineux was quickly followed by a home win against Fulham.

Despite early signs of improvement, Fernando Torres rocked the club by requesting a transfer to Chelsea at the end of the transfer window. In response Liverpool recruited Luis Suárez and Andy Carroll, to replace the Spaniard and a new and exciting dynamic strike force was created, that the Anfield crowd were anxiously looking forward to see in action.

It was not long however before Fernando Torres would come up against his former team-mates as Liverpool had to face Chelsea at Stamford Bridge only one week later. Liverpool lined up with an unconventional back five with the express intent of nullifying Chelsea’s fearsome front three. The plan worked perfectly and Liverpool snatched a dramatic 1-0 win. It’s important to note here the unsung effect of former Chelsea defensive coach Steve Clarke, brought in at the same time as Dalglish, Clarke’s input as well as Dalglish’s man-management have been largely responsible for Liverpool’s late season revival.

Despite the negatives, which include a disappointing away defeat to relegation battlers West Ham, defeat in the Europa League to Braga, and a 2-1 defeat to Roy Hodgson’s West Brom. The positives have been magnificent, In arguably the performance of the season, Liverpool beat Champion’s elect Manchester United 3-1 at Anfield with a  hat-trick for the resurgent Dirk Kuyt. Though Kuyt took the glory it could be said that the real star was Luis Suárez whose pace and trickery turned Manchester United inside out. Then there was the 3-0 victory of Champions League Qualifiers Manchester City and a The 5-0 drubbing of League Cup winners Birmingham in which a resurgent Maxi Rodriguez grabbed a hat-trick and was Liverpool’s biggest win of the season. Dirk Kuyt’s 101st minute equaliser at Arsenal also ranks as one the season’s highlights.

In judging Liverpool’s player of the season there are several contenders, including Maxi Rodriguez who’s late run of good form ended with him bagging two hat-tricks at the back end of the season. Raul Meireles had a solid first season in the premiership as did Luis Suárez. A notable achievement is Martin Skrtel playing every minute of Liverpool’s Premier League season and Pepe Reina as always was solid in-goal. However the resurgent Dirk Kuyt, Liverpool’s top scorer achieved his best goal tally in the Premier League and his joint best overall, the highlight being his hat-trick against Manchester United.

Under Hodgson’s reign the prospect of qualifying for Europe would have been unthinkable, but up until last day defeat against Aston Villa it had been a distinct possibility. However the single greatest achievement of Dalglish’s reign has been the rise in the league table, with Dalglish winning 33 points and vastly improving Liverpool’s goal difference. Overall Dalglish’s effect can be summed up by better team selections, a new belief installed into the players and a positive approach to the tactical aspect of the game. Dalglish’s experience within the club has seen him bring through a promising crop of youth players, motivate a squad that under Hodgson was blasted as average and galvanized a club going nowhere into European hopefuls. With the acquisition of several top-quality players in the summer, under the right stewardship Liverpool will certainly be a lot closer to the prize next season and will look to improve on this season’s 6th place finish with all eyes on Andy Carroll and Luis Suárez set to spearhead Liverpool’s Premier League attack.

Comedy Festival 2011: Jake Mills & James Redmond

May 2, 2011

At first glance an unlikely pairing, yet James Redmond (formerly of Hollyoaks and now various reality TV Shows) and Jake Mills (formerly a resident of the Croxteth area of Liverpool and now a resident of various local comedy clubs) make for a complimentary pairing.

James Redmond a self-professed “Z-lister” starts off the show, It is clear from his polished slightly scripted seeming performance that James has honed his comedic talents as a compare for various comedy clubs in recent times. Ironically however the best moment was an unplanned one in which James falls off the stage, which Jake later takes great delight in drawing attention to. James’ comedic style is anecdote-based drawing on his various celebrity past, in very much the cringe-inducing manner of shows such as Peep Show & The Inbetweeners. Often James is the unwelcome recipient of the public’s attention both good and bad, which makes for the basis of his act.

Jake on the other hand has a more casual comedic style, very dry and observational. Fans of Curb Your Enthusiasm may notice not just a small amount of Larry David in Jake’s routine. Jake’s act can be seen as very family friendly in fact even he is aware that any type of Russell Brand-esque sexual humour would not go down well as it would be to quote Jake himself ‘unbelievable’. Jake’s self-deprecating wit and observations on modern life put him in that bracket of ever inventive comedians such as Ross Noble & co, in fact the entire routine seems very free-flowing and apart from one set-piece where Jake tries to get one over his co-star, the act seems very naturalistic throughout.

The Man in the Grey Flannel Suit (1955) Sloan Wilson

April 26, 2011

The protagonist is often called simply ‘The Man in The Grey Flannel Suit’ in Sloan Wilson’s partly auto-biographical novel. However Tom Rath is a misunderstood character in his own right. In fact the name is ironic in that he is often very mild-mannered under the most stressful situations. Often lionised as being the archetypal square conservative, the epitome of conformist, of 1950’s America, The Man in The Grey Flannel Suit became a figure of fun, which is far away from what is actually depicted in the book.

Tom Rath is thought of as the typical advertising man of 1950’s America who would characteristically be ruthless, economically motivated and to some extent soulless. Yet this is not the case, though money is a key proponent of Tom’s life, a fact that he has to wrestle with throughout the novel, the reasons for it are justifiable. He does not want money for money’s sake but rather to offer a suitable life for his wife and children, to give them the best start in life. In fact Tom’s background is working for a charitable foundation and setting up a mental health committee which is far removed from the world of advertising and television.

Tom Rath is an army veteran of World War II and he has to wrestle inner turmoil throughout the novel, that he is praised for killing 17 men such as, that he had an affair with an Italian woman and the fact that he does not want to work endlessly as a cog of the consumerist trap.

On the face of it The Raths are the typical 1950’s suburban American couple; Betsy Rath stays at home with the 3 children whilst Tom commutes to his job in Manhattan however they both rail against their lot in life. Tom is unwilling to submit to his life of mediocre bread-winning in a constant rat race, he is disconnected from the world around him due to his experiences as a paratrooper in WW2. Yet he is also aware of the need to offer for his family. From a contemporary point of view we could deduce that perhaps Tom is traumatized by warfare or contrarily that he’s pining for the sense of exhilaration that he got from his experience either way the books is rife with existential quandaries of the meaning of life in a capitalist conservative America.

Tom Rath finds himself in the consumer age conundrum; he dare not plough the beatnik furrow of Kerouac and co. Yet he scorns the idea of conforming to consumerism, desiring the goods that everybody else wants. The idea of working harder, to get a better job so he can afford a newer car “a bigger house and a better brand of gin” is not an appealing one. As a result the first half of the novel is spent squirming between these two equally unacceptable options. This spiritual debate is punctuated quite literally by a question mark shaped crack in the wall of their modest house. The consequence of a heated argument in which an object was thrown and the subsequent botched repair job resulting in a quite obvious moral and spiritual indicator, which is never repaired until they move home and move up in the world.

A Confederacy of Dunces (1980) John Kennedy Toole

April 21, 2011

This is the first novel by John Kennedy Toole, which was published posthumously, the other being ‘Neon Bible.’ The title originates from the epigraph by Jonathan Swift: “When a true genius appears in the world, you may know him by this sign that the dunces are all in confederacy against him.” (Thoughts on Various Subjects, Moral and Diverting). The novel has a streak of auto-biography running through its core. Published 11 years after Toole’s suicide, due to the ongoing efforts of his mother. The novel became a cult classic and is now widely regarded as a canonical piece of Southern American Literature. That is to say the Deep South of USA and not South America. The novel is set in New Orleans and the style of the writing is highly reflective of this, the sentences are often written in the traditional Deep South dialect.

The novel is picaresque in that it depicts the adventures of the roguish anti-hero Ignatius J. Reilly. Picaresque novels usually depict a character of a low social-class who lives by his wits in a morally corrupt society. This style of novel has its genesis in Sixteenth Century Spain and there can certainly be a comparison drawn between Ignatius and Don Quixote.

Ignatius can be described as creative, lazy and eccentric. He has a searing wit and an acid tongue. In his foreword to the book, Walker Percy describes Ignatius as a “slob extraordinary, a mad Oliver Hardy, a fat Don Quixote, a perverse Thomas Aquinas rolled into one.”

The novel is an insight into the times, with McCarthyism at its very height, paranoia and suspicion of socialist sympathisers are prevalent, Ignatius’s mother even suspects him of being a Communist due to his outlandish actions throughout.

Ignatius hates the world he lives in and constantly feels alienated from it. He is a staunch critic of popular culture, in essence we can read Toole’s voice here giving damning indictment of his own times. Ignatius thinks of himself as an unappreciated genius, born into the wrong time and would have been much happier in medieval times and prefers their views on life, the Early Medieval philosopher Boethius in particular. Ignatius dedicated special importance to the workings of his pyloric valve and often laments Fortuna for spinning him on a downward spiral of bad luck which he endures throughout the novel.

Ignatius’s story is tied in an often over-laps into that of the other characters in the book. Set in the increasing debauched New Orleans of the 1960’s many of the characters are bums and trickster who would not look at of place in the works of William Burroughs or Chester Himes work. The main difference is those two authors are primarily associated with New York where this is a steadfast Southern piece of work.

The Perks of Bein’ a Wallflower

February 25, 2011

Starting from the age of 17 me and my mate who I’ll call Lally would go to town every week and get smashed. The reason being so we could muster up the courage to talk to girls. Was it successful? Usually not. Occasionally. But mainly we’d be reduced to propping up the bar ordering endless rounds of warm shite beer and occasionally acridly sweet alcopops when the mood arose.

Me and Lally weren’t the worst looking shmucks on the dance floor however we weren’t the most outgoing either. Lally in particular would usually stand back-to-the-wall, arms folded not uttering a single word for the duration of the night.

We’d usually end up in the Krazy House (in Liverpool). You’ll probably know the type of place; smelly, cheap, full of the usual outcasts and miscreants, playing the same tripe every week. Beth Ditto’s warbling of ‘Standing in The Way of Control’ for some reason stands out along with Arctic Monkeys’ first album. The floor had a mysterious black tar which would over the course of the night attach itself to your clothes and shoes. Overall it was a nasty place but a necessary one. It was like an apprenticeship in shit nights out.

The Krazy House was open Thursday (2for1 night) Friday and Saturday (usually the busiest) and at times we’d been on each night sometimes more than once a week. Usually on a Saturday if you were “lucky” they would show on the wall, via a projector, Match of the Day of the 70’s. Without any sound. I never found out why a night club in the year 2005 showed MOTD 70’s and sometimes Thundercats. However this would almost always put paid to what little inclination we had to speak to the fairer sex. We’d stand there, slightly to the left of the dance floor where teens would swap spit and other bodily fluids, and marvel at the majesty of Bremner, Keegan et al. Occasionally (but not very often) commenting to each other  “see that?” to which the other would grunt.

If there was no TV entertainment we’d usually, in the absence of conversation, fixate on some object of lust. Usually radiant among the ultra-violet glow Fosters induces.  At the time never once did it strike us that we should approach such a goddess like figure, who retrospectively was probably slightly ropey, and to be honest it was probably a good thing anyway – Being from an all-boys school and only ever interacting with the very minimum of women the only thing we’d probably have to offer after hello would be, “did you see Keegan’s volley then?” To which she’d probably make an excuse and go and stand next to the lads with the better clothes & haircuts.

I’m now 22, Me and Lally are still mates but we don’t really go the Krazy House anymore, to some extent we’ve discovered other places along with just growing up in general has changed us as people. But I still hold onto that ritualistic weekly migration and wouldn’t really change it. Well, I’d probably add a few blow jobs in the dirty bogs.

"Did you see Keegan’s volley then?"