Thursday, November 29, 2007

Fighting and Loving Irish - Today's Happiness Experiment entry

Showing off Big Art Project / Big Art Mob to the World Congress of Science & Factual Producers

A route march across Manhattan to find Fighting Irish Tshirts for the enfants terribles

Chicken soup and latkes - and the lively group of brothers in the corner of Mr Broadway (old school brothers, something very Irish about their noisy chat and laughter)

Village Voice - yesterday's Happiness Experiment entry

The waitress at the Grey Dog in Greenwich Village which I visited with Marty Casella

Seeing Marty again after all these years and wandering around the Village with him, including the huge Picasso sculpture in the NYU residence

A chance encounter and lively chat with a fella about to do a tour of the East Village - he told me about Jim Powers' street mosaics

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Today's Happiness Experiment entry

A ride in a horse-drawn carriage through Central Park at the peak of its autumnal colours (the driver was from Leitrim) - the clip clop

A visit to Moma - Andrew Wyeth's painting of the girl in the pink dress de dos in the hay field (her grey gripping hands and wisps of hair like the hay)

The emergence of the NYC Christmas decorations the day after Thanksgiving (which BTW is a great idea for a holiday)

Reunited - yesterday's Happiness Experiment entry

Seeing Michael + Deborah again after a few years - we reunited at the fabulous Robert Capa exhibition at the International Centre for Photography, New York

Burger & shake lunch in the sun-drenched Empire Diner - including a Spiked Nog cocktail (rum, nutmeg and stuff)

Wander through West Chelsea and the revitalised Meatpacking District with Deborah, Michael and Tara in the low autumnal sun

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Track of the Day

Planet Rock - Afrika Bambaataa - played looking out over New York (albeit around Madison)

NYC - yesterday's Happiness Experiment entry

First view of America - a narrow long island or strip lit by the setting sun, bordered seaward by a thin wall of light sand and green/brown land, containing channels and tamed sea, meandering rivers and occasional harbours

Being a flaneur around night-time New York around Madison and 45th (having been reading Edmund White's The Flaneur)

Watching a French film on the plane to NYC - Ne le dit a Personne (Tell No-one) - a classy thriller starring Francois Cluzet who has aspects of Dustin Hoffman

Friday, November 23, 2007

Track of the Day

That Girl by Stevie Wonder

Memories of Rue de Saintonge in the 3e - Paris, chez Marcelino Truong et Lara

Friday on my mind - Today's Happiness Experiment entry

Political chat with Steve Moore over lunch

The Christmassy feel of our high street at night (without any decoration)


Thursday, November 22, 2007

Today's Happiness Experiment entry

Introducing N to the Fighting Irish

Setting up NYC trip

Fresh night sodium orange air

Right Charlie - yesterday's Happiness Experiment entry

Fascinating chat with writer/director Peter Kosminsky (Britz, The Government Inspector, Warriors) about his forthcoming project

Fixing on the title of my next project - Medicine Chest - thought it up in the back of a cab in Prague

Hearing about D's talk at school about Charlie Chaplin for which he dressed up in bowler, moustache, cane and suit and demoed the funny walk to his class

Monday, November 19, 2007

Dead calm - yesterday's Happiness Experiment entry

Watching Sunday afternoon movies with the enfants terribles when the weather's rubbish

Reading crime novels

Jogging in the cemetery - now in line with government policy I understand

Today's Happiness Experiment entry

Being passed on by a kind intermediary a compliment about my work which meant a lot to me

Eating while reading the newspaper

The warm smile of our local pharmacist Paresh

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Today's Happiness Experiment entry

Going to the revamped St Pancras station with the enfants terribles and their cousins and my bro

Watching Quentin Blake draw a train full of weird&wonderful things including a little boy in a bowler hat (D was out&about in his Chaplin hat)

Mooching about Camden Passage with D

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Track of the Day

Another Girl Another Planet - The Only Ones (in the car driving back from Islington up the Holloway Road with D)

Star Spot #438

12.11.07 Bill Bailey, comedian (at C4)

Inheritance Tracks - soul train

This whole blog stems from considerations of inheritance - Simple Pleasures part 1 summarised it thus: “This blog is inspired by a sermon I heard a couple of years ago which quoted a ‘will’ left by a father for his children which was not his ‘money will’ but his ‘wisdom will’ (I can’t remember the exact terminology that was used but you get the idea) - it was his attempt to pass on some of the more useful things he’d learnt in his lifetime about what really matters and about the way people are. I’ve come to the conclusion over my forty-one years so far on the planet that Happiness is to be found primarily in the Simple Pleasures of life so I’ve decided to put some of those pleasures here for my boys to read when they’re a bit older and anyone else who cares to. And one day soon N and D can start adding their own…”

This morning I was listening to Saturday Live on Radio 4 and as always when I catch it looking forward to the Inheritance Track section (today it was Marianne Faithfull's). Now I'm as much a sucker for parlour games as the next man, especially ones to do with music, and this is a premiere league one. It works thus: The person in question choses a track which they have inherited from their parents and one which they would like to pass on to their children. Simple but sweet.

It relates very closely to an audio project I began several years ago which I'm planning to resume very shortly online (it pretty much predates the web!) - it's called Songlines. More to follow on that soon.

So I kicked off a little convo about inheritance tracks on the Donald Byrd post just before this one, and am resuming it back here in a post of its own.

I'm divided on my Inherited Track between 'Everything's Alright' from 'Jesus Christ Superstar' and 'Soolaimon' by Neil Diamond from 'Hot August Night' - not too cool, not too sexy - but that's not what it's about.

When I was a young teenager I spent hours at a time in our dining room colouring these huge, complex poster-size pictures on the table whilst listening to my mum's copy of the Jesus Christ Superstar stageshow soundtrack - a really dodgy old copy with a lit red candle on the slightly textured cover. Hours of good clean, godly fun. Simple pleasures.

The 1973 movie of JC Superstar directed by Norman Jewison really struck me when I saw it - almost converted me! A bunch of hippies arrive in a bus in the middle of the Israeli desert, set up some modern scenary, get into some modern-style costumes and start singing their way through one of the greatest stories ever told... Between that and Jeffrey Hunter in 1961's King of Kings and I'm a sucker for Pre-raphaelite Jesuses.

But I think I'll opt for the Neil Diamond song which comes from the 8-track in my step-dad Maurice's car. I loved the cover - some long-haired hippy in a denim jacket clutching his groin to squeeze the full power of his cahones [a technical music term from Carlos Santana] into his singing. Little did I know it was a clean-cut Jewish Brill Building songsmith (aka Noah Kaminsky) in disguise. Looking back at it it was the gospel-intensity passion of his voice that struck a chord with me.

Lord of my need, need, need
Leading me on, on, on
God of my day, day, day
Lord of my night, night, night

From this live version of Soolaimon I can see a path to a spine of spiritual songs running through the music I love from Dylan to Van to (the greatest living performer) Bruce Springsteen to Marvin Gaye to Coltrane.

Which leads my nicely to my Bequest Track: Miles Davis' 'Flamenco Sketches' from 'Kind of Blue' (which of course features Trane). Why pass it on? Because it's a transcendent piece of music that takes you to a very peaceful place.

I can number the totally transcendent musical experiences I've had on the fingers of one hand - that is, experiences of listening to recorded music (I'm not venturing into the realm of live music here) where it has taken me to Another Place. The tracks include:
* Love theme from Spartacus by Bill Evans (also on Flamenco Sketches - I was in Buckley Road, Kilburn at the time, pretty much outside the house of David Baddiel who introduced me to Kind of Blue in King's College, Cambridge)
* Hyperballad by Bjork (Junction Road, Archway)
* Into the Fire by Bruce Springsteen (Boscastle Road, Parliament Hill)
and, of course,
* Flamenco Sketches (on the road back from Ayot St Lawrence, near St Albans - coming home from George Bernard Shaw's house)

I'm not sure what GBS had to say about music beyond his definition of Dancing as "the vertical expression of a horizontal desire legalized by music."

Neil Diamond has been quite snappy on the subject: "Songs are life in 80 words or less."

But I'll leave the final word to Miles as it chimes in perfectly with the tenor of this blog: "My future starts when I wake up every morning... Every day I find something creative to do with my life."

Friday, November 16, 2007

Today's Happiness Experiment entry

Walking down to Nahling, the local Thai, with the Boyz to mark the start of the weekend

Trying to help BAFTA get its shit together on the Interactive front with Malcolm Garrett and accomplices

Buying dressing up gear from Culture Vultures, one of the weirder of our weird local shops - Charlie Chaplin moustaches and canes and moustache glue

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Today's Happiness Experiment entry

Morning sun over the allotments through the freezing air

Looking at the Look & Feel for Picture This

Reading Agatha Christie (4.50 from Paddington) on the train to and from work

Track of the Day

Cristo Redendor by Donald Byrd

Yesterday's Happiness Experiment entry

Being asked to be a trustee of the Stopped Clocks charity

The tranquility of Muswell Hill at night - driving Jeremy through night-time London

N and D's reports/teacher consultations - both love learning

Monday, November 12, 2007

Gigs - Sinead & America

Sinead O'Connor (Damien Dempsey)

Festival Hall

Mon, Nov 12, 2007

Theology Tour

1 Emperor's New Clothes

2 (grave song)

3 Thief of My Heart

4 Out of Ireland (preacher song)

5 «Theology songs»

6 If you had a Vineyard ***

7 Nothing Compares 2U *

8 Thank you (for loving me)

9 accapella trio (My Love)

10 Encore: Black boys on mopeds

11 Junkie Lies***



Sun, Nov 11, 2007

Here & Now Tour

1 Ventura Highway **

2 «Here & Now»

3 I Need You ***

4 Sandman

5 Encore: Horse with No Name*

Nothing Compares 2 Sinead - Track of the Day

If You Had a Vineyard as performed by Sinead O'Connor at the Festival Hall this evening - based on scriptures from the Book of Isaiah (verbatim)

Me & Sinead: our history

* 1980s Irish Festival at the Barbican with U

* Forum (Kentish Town) with Roddy & Eddie

* Cambridge Corn Exchange with U

* Empire (Shepherd's Bush) playing with Sly & Robbie c2005 Throw Down Your Arms tour with Jonathan Holmes

* Festival Hall tonight

Irish blood - Today's Happiness Experiment entry

Sinead O'Connor at the Festival Hall with Neil Burgess (highlights: If you had a Vineyard and Junkie Lies) - supported by Damien Dempsey (= Paul Brady [modern sean nos] + Christie Moore [bullish politics] + Sting [eccentric accent])

Evening walk from Horseferry Road through Westminster to Festival Hall

Apologising to N (about discouraging homework incident yesterday)

Round the house - yesterday's Happiness Experiment entry

Seeing America play at the Roundhouse, their first gig there since 1971, the year after they formed (highlights: Ventura Highway and I Need You)

Teaching N how to drop kick

Sunday roast (chicken) at home

Sunday, November 11, 2007

America - Track of the Day

I Need You as performed tonight by America at the Roundhouse, London

America last played the Roundhouse in 1971

(it struck me this evening: America = Crosby Stills & Nash + Steely Dan)

I need you
Like the flower needs the rain
You know, I need you
Guess I'll start it all again
You know, I need you
Like the winter needs the spring
You know I need you
I need you

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Recent Happiness Experiment entries


Going to the Lord Mayor's Show with D - the view of him standing at the end of Little Britain when we first arrived (the street in the City, not the TV show)

Watching Die Hard 4 en famille

Photographing Louise Bourgeois' spider with N - a chip off the old photographic block


Spotting two matching girls on the street in Prague with Alfie - photographic flaneurs together

Lunch at the Golem restaurant around the old Jewish quarter

Reading Agatha Christie's '4.50 from Paddington' on the 23.20 to Paddington

Friday, November 09, 2007

Czech it out - yesterday's Happiness Experiment entry

My first impressions of Prague - a night view of the river from behind the Kafka Museum, towards the Charles Bridge (dark ducks in the foreground)

Walking over the bridge in the darkness in my long black coat

Coming runner-up in the Eureka Mobile Awards with Big Art Mob - losing to some porno outfit who squeeze 55 dollars a week out of their users - adding to the dark surreality of this place

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Striking gold - yesterday's Happiness Experiment entry

Winning the second ever RTS (Royal Television Society) Innovation Award with Big Art Mob - there were only 6 and one went to Flash Video (as in the whole web video technology by Adobe) - enjoyed the experience with the whole team from all the small partners and my other half

Winning the London Design Festival (Y design) People's Choice Award with Empire's Children - two in a day, that was special

Starting an Agatha Christie - 4.50 from Paddington (in a beautiful facsimile 50s edition) - on the day the queen reopened St Pancras - I do love stations

Track of the Day

Statued by Adem from Homesongs

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Today's Happiness Experiment entry

Entering Channel 4 this morning on its 25th anniversary day - view from the staircase (colour of the Golden Gate bridge) of the Big 4 (Heart) with yellow autumn trees in the background - proud to work for the place - swopped emails with Peter Kosminsky, Britz last night was very Channel 4 as is the Big 4 - bold, creative, stuff nobody else would do or think of

Hooking up at Bvsh House with Philip Dodd and Camilla Deakins to scheme about animation and China

Bush House - at the moment of Channel 4's birth (4.45) was entering the BBC at their World Service Radio base, once (I heard) the most expensive building in the world - where years ago I enjoyed recording some stuff for their arts programme Monitor

Friday, November 02, 2007

Track of the Day

Station to Station by David Bowie

Starspot #136

2/11/07 Jimmy Carr (at Channel 4 - on its 25th birthday)

25/10/07 Colin Firth (in foyer of Vue(?) cinema on south side of Leicester Square)

Tour de force - yesterday's Happiness Experiment entry

Reading a thriller - Robert Harris' Ghost writing - in the back of a London cab

Talking about education at the Hospital with James Bradburne, Martha Lane Fox, Ewan Mcintosh & co.

D's drawing of the Eiffel Tower for Marco