It’s been a strange and unsettling week. We have been to the cinema and eaten out. Three times! We have been to Ikea to sort out bits and bobs for a badly-overdue refurb of Cut Central. We even went to the launch night of a swinging new arts hub in the middle of Reading. Sitting on the first floor terrace, enjoying the views of Crispy Dosa and the Oxford Road Travelodge while sipping a glass of wine we thought to ourselves ‘Is this how it used to be? Is this what normal feels like?’ It’s been so long. Kinda nice to crack open the airlock. But, yes, strange.
This week we go lowbrow with the comics coverage, extremely geeky with the music bit and go wild in a famous bathhouse.
Now is the time. Here is the place. This is The Cut.
We very much dug this profile of the man who invented, or at very least developed one of the defining sounds of ska. Ernest Ranglin is one of those musicians who had a new form of music in his head, a way of playing which would bring fresh joy to the dancehalls. Half the work came from persuading his fellow musicians of its worth. We owe the guy a debt of thanks. Pro tip—check out the YouTube embeds in the piece. Some great music to be had.
Meanwhile, we’re still on the subject of musical deepfakes. The concern for many artists is they could be faked into singing material which is not to their style or liking. If you have the knowledge, or the cash to pay someone who has the knowledge to do it for you, there’s a way to keep control while jumping on the bandwagon. Is Paul McCartney leading the way again…?
One more from the Music Desk. We hesitated about putting this long, involved piece about The Gaslight Anthem in. It’s incredibly geeky and at its low point a big flurry of band names you probably won’t have heard of (maybe you will, Readership—after all you are a very erudite and cultured bunch). But stick with it. The whole thing turns a corner in the last two paragraphs and speaks strongly to the reasons we love the Anthem in the first place.
We are, as ever, locked to the Olympics this summer. So much drama and excitement. So many sports we’d never heard of! That’s part of the joy of the event, of course. The sheer variety of what’s on offer. Reuters offers up a highly entertaining infographic on those sports which have fallen, for whatever reason, out of the running order. We’re starting a petition to get tug-o-war back on the roster!
It’s fair to say our Ninth Arts coverage can be a bit—selective in its appeal. We get it, really, we do. Sometimes we just can’t help ourselves. So we’ve made the effort to broaden the appeal this week. First up, a long appreciation on a subject close to many comic reader’s hearts. OK, there’s an element of exploration into the male gaze and who exactly comics are for. But for the most part this is about one perfect spandex-clad item.
We’ve always been big fans of the crude and irreverent Viz, a comic which satirizes and celebrates Brit comic traditions in equal measure. It turned 40 a couple of years back, and shows no signs of either growing up or slowing down. Like all good satire, Viz manages to annoy a lot of people. That’s another reason to support it. Here’s the story of how it started.
Dig back far enough into any website’s archive and you’ll find links which don’t lead to the content you expect. It’s either been moved, the URL has changed or it’s been deleted. It’s a phenomenon known as link rot, and it’s becoming more and more of a problem. The internet is supposed to be a place where all the information you could ever need is at your fingertips, a mouse click or finger-tap away. That’s not the case. The internet as we thought it would be is quietly but unstoppably rotting away…
Another bit from The Atlantic, which is turning into a solid source of news and interest for us. The debate about where and how we work is becoming more fraught as lockdowns worldwide start to ease. A large majority of white-collar workers have seen how The Situation has massively changed their work-life balance. They don’t want to go back to the way things were. The bosses who do are finding their arguments for why workers should be in the office are looking mighty thin…
And finally. This is a great piece on an unsung venue in New York which was a pressure cooker for much of what we now know as pop and dance music. The Continental Baths hosted an extraordinary roster of talent who entertained the fellas who came in for a little restorative relaxation. From DJ Frankie Knuckles to the divine Bette Midler (who had a surprising accompanist on piano), the music just kept on coming. This one will spin you right round baby, right round.
We’re out slightly early this week. As part of our weird week there are optician’s appointments to endure and a bit of shopping to do. Darned peculiar.
For Exit Music, let’s bounce back to The Gaslight Anthem and The ‘59 Sound. It’s been a while since we heard this track and it genuinely sent chills down our spine and brought a tear to the eye when we cranked it up. Yeah, yeah, sappy as hell. But like Zohra said—
“It is NOT corny. It’s how people feel. It’s how you and I feel. It is not corny.”
See you next Saturday, true believers.