Thursday, February 26, 2004

that reminds me 

Is anyone getting tickets for the moz men gig? if so pleasepleaseplease can you get me one, i will pay you via paypal or summat, first off i thought the gig sounded a terrible idea but I know if i miss it i will be gutted.... PLEASE email me (anyone) if you're up for this. Oh, and does anyone want to go to glastonbury with me?



Yesterday was fantastic; i'm even going to say awesome although i hate that the word has been devalued through overuse it's totally appropriate here. I went whale watching in Monteray Bay with Becky. At first I felt pissed off; we were on a ricketty boat in choppy seas and I was the only person who couldnt see anything. I was trying so hard, staring so intently, then i defocused and there they were... so so beautiful.

On the way back to San Jose we made a detour to see Morrisey Boulevard (you can take the morag out of manchester...) It was disappointingly suburban and pleasant.


San Fran daze 

Sunday 15th
We went back to City Hall, Rae had the idea of collecting flowers to give to people; we had spoken to couples who had been together for many years and always wanted to get married; now they had a chance but no time to get organized; there was a fear legal action on Tuesday would put an end to everything. City Hall was thronged with people; we later heard 2000 couples were married on Sunday alone. Despite valiant efforts Erin and Rae could not get in to deliver their flowers so we just milled around talking to people in the queue which was pretty magical; so much positivity in the air, I could almost believe in all those romantic myths. There had been a few protestors over the road but they left when it started raining, so I guess they weren’t so outraged after all. The local politics here is really interesting; Matt Gonzalez (failed Mayoral candidate) has a lot of groupies; I can’t think of a UK analogy for a politician seen as hip and sexy and trustworthy and well loved. Hmmm. I’m getting cynical. Its been suggested Mayor Newsomes move in allowing gay marriages is less brave than it may seem – after all gay rights in SF is hardly controversial – and it means a lot of people will overlook the way he ignores the poor. Plus it’s bringing a lot of money into the city which has a massive deficit…

Monday 16th
I went to San Jose to meet Becky, who is every bit as wonderful as I imagined. I got to see her library and then we drove down the coast to Natural Bridges, it was a little chilly on the beach but nowt compared to eastbourne at Christmas, and whole lot prettier. We had dinner in Becky’s favourite restaurant, called DishDash and it really was scrummy
I’ll fill in the blanks later; it’s been pouring with rain here and its stopped for a bit so I want to get back to the hostel. I’ve been on a ridiculous odessey to get train tickets to Flagstaff; I really want to see the Grand Canyon but this is not a place kind to non drivers. I’ve also got a few other chores to do, and an endless mound of paper to sort out (surprise) Take care.


good times are comin 

So right now I’m in a coffee shop in San Francisco, my head is buzzing and I’m trying to keep focused on writing. Weirdly, they are playing Matt Bianco records. Disappointingly, the sound of hipster San Fran appears to be Portishead and The Cure; nothing wrong with either of course, but not what I expected to hear. I’m learning to love this dirty (in every sense) city, although it’s taken a while; its probably the most overwhelming place I’ve been to, but I’ve found a space now and I’m enjoying it. Last week I really didn’t feel very well, my feet were hurting and I’ve been a bit ill, but still there were some fantastic moments. I’m still sporting a pretty nasty rash – although its getting better – if its not gone by South by South West I’m getting a balaclava and forming a band called Zapatista Rocks.

I arrived Feb 14th (the dreaded valentines day; funny how it niggles me when I know how rubbish it all is) Rae met me at the station with some flowers for my hair; a pretty wonderful way to arrive and it has been great spending time with her. She lives in the Mission, according to books this is “the hippest and grungiest” of the cities neighbourhoods; a pretty good description. It’s a fascinating place with some of the most fantastic murals and street art I’ve ever seen/ Lots of undercurrents are bubbling up here; so many interesting people and inspiring art, it would be easy to get happily lost for weeks here.

Anyhow, as soon as we dumped my bags we headed off to Reclaim the Streets; Nothing beats dancing in the streets and I had a wonderful time, although there was a pirate theme; I felt curiously underdressed which is novel for me. There’s some pictures somewhere, I’ll add a link later, also some information about why Safeways are being picketed.

I’m assuming the gay marriage ceremonies have made the news in the UK; I tagged along when rae and Erin went to city hall to see what was happening. (they look so cute together, dammit and I want a new hat…) I was slightly apprehensive because I’m not exactly in love with weddings and I worried about being voyeuristic, but I was so glad I went. So many people, so happy, so much (excuse me) love in the house. We stood listening to people making their vows, clapping and cheering and grinning a lot, I felt privileged to be there, it was truly amazing, it’s hard to see how it can bring about the end of civilization


Sunday, February 22, 2004

i can never listen to the boy with the arab strap in the same way again. 

rae works as a dominatrix. she told me one of her favourite things when she gets bored at work is to tie her clients cock up and make him dance to belle and sebastain records.


this weeks top 10 things to say when you hear an english accent..... 

1 You remind me of benny hill (at this point I didn't know whether to laugh, cry or punch the twat)
2 Do you have central heating in England?
3 Do you recognise me? I played Saxophone with Glenn Miller
4 I'm sorry to keep staring at your breasts, I have never seen an English woman with breasts before
5 You have an accent that can spill drinks
6 I think we can talk now, the Boston Tea Party was a long time ago
7 Do you like Limp Biskit?
8 I know who you remind me of, a young, female, attractive Leo Mckearn (sic)
9 Have you noticed that Tony Blair looks like an evil imp?
10 I want to send my daughter to stage school in London, which one should I pick?


and another thing 

I have a cell phone (hey! i'm even talking like an american now) the number is 303 345 7302, not any other number I may have given you, becuase I'm crap with numbers and get them muddled. The ansaphone does not work (or, more truthfuly, i can not figure out how to work it)


Twang: it's hipper than hiphop 

I'm still in San Francisco, all well and good (but wearing a very fetching powerpuff girls elastoplast on my face due to some nasty allergy rash thing) Tomorrow I'm taking a day to get organised, I'm trying to organise a trip to the grand canyon -off season and with no car I'm also hoping to take a train to Yosemite or to see the Redwoods; there's so many man made attractions and distractions and I really want to see the natural wonders of the states too.. I also need some time to assimilate all thats happened here: its an amazing city, full of energy and erm spunk (US and UK versions of the word) I'm feeling old and straight and boring but also enjoying the sensory overload. Today I'm going to a zine convention; doubtless this will make me feel deeply inadequate but hopefully also inspired. I checked into the Green Tortoise hostel (where many of my friends seem to have stayed) yesterday, becuase I wasnt feeling very well and I want to stay friends with rae. Theres a queue for the internet here so please forgive my very poor grammar and spelling, I just wanted to say hi and send you some love. My ickle brother was 27 yesterday (happy day after birthday adrian, I hope you're not feeling too rough) phoning home reminded me how much I miss y'all.


Sunday, February 15, 2004

happy valentines day 

to everyone, even though it is of course load of absolute bollocks. Its kind of a big deal here (ie a chance to sell stuff, including 'special m and ms) today i arrived in san fransisco, after a 20 hour train (of which more later) I ended up in a pirate themed reclaim the streets parade party thing, kind of fun but i'm frazzled now. much love to y'all - m xx


Saturday, February 07, 2004

comments and clarifications 

Cheers for the Hutton info, although I wish I hadn’t read it. Grim. With that and the education bill… We got really important stuff all the over the news here – mostly Janet Jackson’s breast.

Thank you to everybody who has emailed me, I’m horribly selfish because I love reading them and stealing your ideas but then I never manage to find time for the replies you deserve. But please keep emailing me… I do have a stash of postcards which I’ll write one day (probably on the 16 hour train ride from Portland to San Fran; I’m going by train because all the guide books told me it’s a fantastic ride with wonderful views. I’ve heard that before, and it was a lie then too. The only train runs at night so I’m expecting the view to be dim at best. As a connoisseur of countless guidebooks I conclude mostly they are rubbish.)

I’m flying to Seattle tomorrow, I spoke too soon about not being scared. Its been suggested perhaps I was so calm because I’d been on a bender for a while before leaving manc. Hmmmm…. I’m going to see The Handsome Family tonight, for a change (hooray) and it’s a very early flight so hopefully I’ll be too knackered to think about anything much… I’m only going to be in Seattle for a couple of days, scarcely time to get a feel for a place so I think I’ll clumsily apply some psychogeography theory and see what happens, then I’ll be in Portland for a few more days before heading to San Francisco (with, of course, some flowers in my hair)

off now to go and see the handsome family. yay!


links of things I've seen and people I've met 

whiplashrides.com (one for Simon I think)
westword.com/issues/2004-01-22/calhoun.htm/1/index.html (fuckfuckfuck)
Xrrf.blogspot.com (not new I know, but i really appreciate what the pop papers say right now and its always worth a cheer)


driving license 

I’ve been really enjoying time spent driving (or rather riding, because Kellie does all the work)

Out on the highway when there was no other cars in sight, the sun was blazing, we were racing through arid plains, Thunder Road came on the radio, I was singing along and it was truly A Moment. It’s impossible not to picture a million movies and get tangled up in some sort of fantasy… I want a motorbike, a bottle of whiskey and the open road…. I don’t ever want to get where I’m going because I’m enjoying the journey too much….It's so fucking big and so impossibly beautiful here sometimes, why the hell does anyone need to colonise anywhere else?…I find myself overwhelmed with possibilities, dazzled and breathless and my head spinning so fast I need to shut my eyes and click my heels three times, there's no place like home but hell it feels good to get away for a bit….


A friday five  

Anonymity isn’t working, as Kellie said I open my mouth and suddenly people feel compelled to say dumb things to me. The most intelligent random conversation I had was at Taos pueblo by a shopkeeper who wanted to know about Britains position on the Euro. Thus I present Friday Five of responses to an English accent

1 England! Oh my God! I just saw Calendar Girls; its amazing over there isn’t it?

2 Have you seen that movie? The Jane Austen one with the sisters I love that film about England, and the guy in it, you must know him. that other one, with lots of people in it, it has the same guy With horrible inevitability she then starts asking about Hugh Grant and I have to leave before I start crying

3 Am I on Candid Camera?

4 I just love your country. I once spent 6 months on an exchange visit to Dorking

5 England! The Beatles! Oh my God! You guys have the best music, I mean The Beatles! Manchester! Manchester is so cool, you got the Beatles, the animals, the kinks, talking heads So what? You got the Beatles! What job do you do? You must be in a band, you look like it and hey, you know all about music. And you got The Beatles.

I just realised my dates and days don't tally. bugger


Thursday 5th 

I went back to the art museum, because I was overwhelmed last time and spent so long in the Native American galleries I didn’t see much else. The security guard who told me about kachinas recognised me and we had a long chat about various things. He told me about his friends having a buffalo ranch that I should visit and then we talked about New Mexico and he recommended a few places he felt were very spiritual, including Roswell which surprised me, it was interesting hearing about it from someone who lived there.

Afterwards I spent along time looking in the Pre-Columbian galleries. I’ve been trying to get my head round Mayan cosmology for a while, its fascinating, straight afterwards was Our lady of Guadeloupe and some suffering Christ’s and visions of hell; all the apocalypses made me dizzy.

Its an excellent gallery, although possibly my favourite place there is the bathroom; the taps play random voices singing bits of ‘row,row,row your boat’ which startled me at first but then I spent a very happy time trying to get them all to harmonize


Wednesday 4th 

Another day of heavy snow and I didn’t want to do much. Despite the perfect weather conditions and proximity of mountains I have no desire whatsoever to go skiing, snowboarding or that thing where they put you in rubber tubes and slide you down the mountain. Perhaps I’m a coward but so what? I got to go and see old fashioned candy being made instead, much more civilised, even if I was surrounded by children.


Wednesday 3rd 

I wandered downtown (LoDo: I hate that habit of naming districts like so. But maybe I’m just bitter because Whalley Range ain’t never gonna sound cool) I went to a gallery of cowboy art; lots of them seemed to look like Prince Charles and a much more interesting place full of paper sculptures and a man preaching to the salesman about how God wants us all to be touched by beauty.

I had lunch in the other tattered cover and whiled away far too long reading crap magazines. There was a glossy style mag, I forget the name, but it was full of proclamations that England is the coolest place on the planet. I suspect their thesis is flawed because a) they said the best thing about London is The Darkness and b) they seemed to believe everyone wears big pink dresses and clumpy shoes and has yellow hair. Oh I wish!

The bus had been involved in an accident on the way downtown, so I got out and walked instead of waiting for the next bus (its true about people seldom walking. I’ve been informed that, and my reluctance to want a carrier bag for every single item I buy are sure signs of being a foreigner and/or a bit strange) The bus had fortunately stopped outside a thrift store which was having a half price sale. It was like the worlds most violent jumble sake inside, people rummaging like their lives depended on it. I snapped up a dress for $2 because I was convinced it would make me look like I was in Strawberry Switchblade, but when I got home and tried it on my illusion was cruelly shattered by what, Kellie diplomatically said, looked like an very bad Halloween clowns costume.


Tuesday 2nd Feb (i need comdey subject lines) 

I absolbloodlylutely love tea, so when I found out you could tour the celestial seasonings factory I was delighted. I went to Boulder with Kellie and her parents, I believe they were impressed with the prodigious amount of tea I managed to drink. Well, there were over 70 plus types to sample, and it would surely be rude not to try as many as possible. Mmmmmmm.

The tour itself was kind of interesting, but with all the “inspiring” quotations, whimsical artwork and we really care for you and not just your money non marketing I kept getting horrid flashbacks to my time as a shoddy bopper. They even sold sodding baskets. And had a peppermint room with feelgood fumes. But really: it was a good day out. Now I need to put the kettle on.


sunday 1st 

Sunday we drove back, slowly, can’t quite believe we had to cut a trip to the desert short because of snow, but nevermind. We stopped off at the National Vietnam Memorial, which was surprisingly tasteful and terribly moving; it bought a lump to my throat. Its just a shame the local rotary club felt the need to deposit a model helicopter, complete with mannequins, alongside the chapel.


slightly disturbing me at the moment 

I’m sick of hearing the word authentic. What the fuck does it mean anymore? I especially hate the notion of authentic music, I suspect for most of the continent Britney is more real and releavnt than Hank, and why shouldn’t she be?

i went to the post office this morning and they stopped working for abit for a photo opportunity to celebrate something or other. Becuase I didnt mind waiting a few minutes longer to send my parcel I was given a badge to commemorate firefighters who died on 9.11.

I can’t recall where I read this but Target have a scary marketting ply for new stores; they put a door mat on every proch in the locality which reads ‘happy inside’ eek!


Saturday 31st  

On Saturday we were to set out on a quest across New Mexico, via Taos Pueblo which I felt compelled to visit, that would eventually end, on Monday, in Mesa Verde which I’ve been longing to see. We stopped en route in one of many Casinos built on a reservation; gambling is a main source of income (and troubles) for many tribes. It was a bit grim, and very dull, despite the fact I won a whole 75 cents on my $3 gaming…

Taos Pueblo was one of the most fascinating places I’ve been (I feel like I’m running out of superlatives) It was beautiful but, for fairly obvious reasons, kind of disturbing too. There’s an element of it being a cultural theme park which made me squirm; the voyeurism of tramping into other peoples lives, people who have made strong and important choices and who deserve respect not tourists…but I went, and I loved it, and was happily exploited. We had a really interesting local guide, but as he told his tales of colonisation and torture I felt guilty as Hell and ashamed to have the (national) history I have. Wandering around, looking at the arts and crafts and soaking up the history was incredibly moving and I lingered a long time.

When we left Taos we planned t o drive through Carson National Forest to Farmington, (crossing the Continental divide, and enabling us to go to the four corners en route to Mesa Verde) It stared well; more breathtaking mountain scenery, this time almost made too cute to be true by a smattering of snow…but the smattering got bigger and bigger and turned into a blizzard as the roads got slipperier and slipperier and I’ll admit I got a little scared. Signposts were almost buried – meaning 7 feet or so of snow – and after turning one particularly nervewracking corner there was a White out, couldn’t even see the end of the bonnet, and we had to turn around. I was pretty relived, and I’d like it noted that Kellie is an excellent driver. Unlike many of the wankers about, especially in SUVs.

On the way back into Taos we stopped for a bit the Rio Grande, you will be pleased to know I did indeed have a full blown I’m in Duran Duran fantasy moment (Was this indeed the eponymous Rio? curiously the official site of special interest sign didn’t say. I’m looking quizzically in Kirsty’s direction as I post this, of course).

Most of the sign posts had been shot at – one gunsmiths offered a dozen red roses with a purchase and a two hour lesson to get a license – and we passed a solar village before we ended up at a very nice motel. I guess this was compensation for cutting the trip short; we stayed in a really nice suite.

I sat in the bar drinking G and T, trying to have a Scarlet Johannsen moment, but the place was empty except for a sullen looking woman who I think was in drag and a group of jocks; everyone was talking about the superbowl. The bar tender gave me change for a fifty dollar bill; I had given him a ten so I returned the money and then went back to the room to watch TV and have another drink in peace. Cliché 58: Life isn’t like the movies. But you really should see Lost in Translation, its ace.


Friday 30th 

One of the highlights of Santa Fe for me, other than the sheer breathtaking beauty of the surrounding scenery, was the international museum of folk out. There’s a huge wing devoted to a guy (dammit, I forgot his name, I’ll edit this later and put it in) who had a passion for collecting Stuff. People on the tour were tutting about how he got cloth from skips and picked up dolls wherever he went, but I felt a great deal of empathy. 105ers take note: if only I was a rich CEO of some massive company my treasures would be recognised as such.

There was also an exhibition on Outsider Art which I had especially wanted to see, I found myself frustrated at the way the guide kept stressing these people were compelled to create because they were ill; in that case almost everyone I know must need to be hospitalised (hmmmm) Surely the urge to create is a compulsion, and a good one, not a disease?

I also had concerns about the exploitation of some of the artists, I just feel hyper aware of that at the moment, I guess its because I’ve been reading so much about Native Americans. We’d just been to the Native American History Museum which was full of wonderful stories and terrible things.

After a myheadisexplodingfromtoomuchbeauty break we went to the Georgia O’Keefe house, which had been a key reason for visiting Santa Fe. It was shut.


Thursday 29th 

We started the drive to Santa Fe on Wednesday night; we stopped in a motel in Trinidad which I am reliably informed is the sex change capital of the world. The next day we stopped in Las Vegas, New Mexico for breakfast. A woman chased me down the street to tell me she liked my socks and I had to be restrained from picking up a sad eyed painting in a thrift shop. Starbucks are ubiquitous, its scary, even the small dinner we stopped in only sold the coffee.

It was a beautiful drive, I fell in love with the colours and spirit of New Mexico, lots of orange and turquoise and silver and earth and sun…..

We wandered around in the sunshine, there's a lot of Native American art and jewelry sellers on the plaza and we visited the Palace of the Governors where there was an exhibition on Jewish families in New Mexico and some fabulous pre-Columbian artifacts. We stopped at the cathedral, which was gorgeous, I don’t know why but I always like to visit a church in anew city. As I was looking at the beautiful images I realised what time it was back home and what was happening,… I lit a votive candle for the co-op although I fear it will take a miracle to save us now. (No, I’m not homesick in the slightest, I still have my emergency ginger beer intact) Curiously though, Santa Fe did remind me of Hebden Bridge in some obscure sense.

Later we went to St Lorezos church: legend has it Jesus built the staircase inside. These are Miraculous Steps ™ and it proved to be one of the most soulless places I’ve ever been. Its lovely enough as a church, the stairs are an amazing piece of craftsmanship and I’m a sucker for a Saint story, but this didn’t feel in the slightest bit sacred, there is piped voices telling you the story and urging you to visit the gift shop which is conveniently located at the exit and is twice the size of the chapel. Grim.


Wednesday 28th January 

I followed the geese to the zoo, I seem to be set on doing things I don’t usually do at the moment, it was melancholy in that peculiar zoological way. I fear I’m turning into some sub-Morrisseque cliché, wandering around all these places out of season on my own. Hell, I’ve even been wearing shades, Kellie said I would need them for the snow glare but I resisted for a while, until I realized I was hurting my head with too much squinting. Sometimes, when we’ve been driving fast I’ve put my scarf over my head and played at being in Thelma and Louise, because hey, that’s what my stay in Denver has been like. But without the guns. Or the snogging. Or the driving off cliffs. Please shoot me if I carry on like this when I get home.


my last day in denver 

Its been a really quiet and beautiful three weeks, chilled out (urgh that phrase again) I’ve been sleeping and eating a lot and Kellie has been fantastic, even if I have picked up her habit of saying Dude a lot. It doesn’t work in my accent, believe me.

In return I’ve been teaching her English insults, knobcheese has proved particularly popular. (Random fact: Kellie is ace at comedy voices. And she knows more about British history than anyone I’ve ever met)

I’ve not been to see any bands yet, what’s strange is I’ve not felt the urge. I’ve not really been listening to much music either, I discovered the scan button on the car radio and it’s marvelous. (yes, I know these aren’t new, but they are to a luddite like me. Please bare in mind I got a dansette last year when all around me were getting ipods) I’ve discovered that at any given point in time, some station somewhere is always playing Simon and Garfunkel.

I have no idea if anyone is reading this, i suspect not really, but if so its pretty much always going to come in splurges depending on my mood and my internet access. I've been writing off line so I'll just post things by day in clumps like this I suppose


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