Going up in The Public

Jon is a proper artist!

From 18th July until September the large glass edition of the Birmingham Music Map is going to be on display at The Public in West Bromwich as part of their Summer Exhibition. It’s free to visit and has a rather nice coffee shop-cum-bar.

Thanks to Jez from the Birmingham Music Archive for his continued support of this.

You can still add your memories to the map, here. And paper editions are on sale.

Reviewing Saltburn Pier

Forty two piers in to our circumnavigation of the coast of England and Wales we arrived bleary in Saltburn-by-the-sea one morning. Luckily the breathtaking coastline and the warming sun perked us up. Luckily as it was the only time we were captured on video during the trip. It’s for and, we think, going to be part of a documentary about the pier for its 100th anniversary.

Based on current estimates we’re about halfway or just over to finishing writing the book. Then the edits and long search for a publisher begin in earnest. If you’d like to know more then pierreview.co.uk is the place.

Paperback Collator

Poorly Collected Works 2010-11 is the title of an eBook I pulled together at the end of last year. It sold a few, and jumped into the Amazon charts when it was part of a promotion, but was more of an experiment. In continuing experimentation, now Createspace is working with Amazon UK I made it into a real paperback too. It’s available to buy now at a cheapish price.

It does contain a few treats not in the similar e-book—amongst them a previously unpublished interview with Barney from the grindcore band Napalm Death, a few pieces focussed on the referendum for an elected mayor that was held in Birmingham in the early part of the year, and excitingly I think a small piece of my half of Pier Review—that real book that I’m writing that will come out sooner rather than later.

Createspace also does DVDs/film downloads as well as books—it’s a fairly simple way of creating work and self publishing. You need to fiddle a little with their formatting and do a lot of checking, but it’s easy enough.

Are you in a happy place?

On Friday I got round to doing something I’d been thinking of for a long while. I added location detection to my conversational psychogeography tool. Like the Is Brum Happy? system it takes the latest tweets around a location and rates emotionally sensitive words against a database to give scores for the happiness or emotional wellbeing of the place. If you’re using a HTML 5 browser (you probably are) you can let it reveal your location to the script (it’s not saved anywhere) and it will tell you if where you are (and a mile radius around) is happy right now.

Give it a go.

Still Walking

On the first day of April Danny Smith and I delivered a walking tour of the ‘back end’ of Birmingham city centre as part of the Still Walking festival. Ben Waddington the genius behind the festival asked for something that played with the city’s memes and myths, so that’s what we tried to do.


(photo by Simon Brettell)

As a result perhaps of the date not everyone was sure how true all of it was, but I can assure you the nuclear comms bunker with a billiard room is really there.

Exit strategy

Around ten years ago I started Birmingham: It’s Not Shit, the reasons are well documented and it’s been an interesting, useful and, at times, fun ride. It’s certainly changed the path of my life, let me meet interesting people and do interesting things. But it’s never been intended to make money, I think of it as part hobby part community service—and at the moment I haven’t got the time, money, or energy for either of those. So this is what I’ve said on the site:

[blockquote]Seriously, for a few reasons (time to keep updated, money, energy, the increasingly commercial “hyperlocal” landscape) I’m struggling to keep the site updated and I don’t really want it to slip away. I’ve looked into handing it over to someone to run for free out of the goodness of their hearts like I have for 10 years (in May), but no-one suitably likely to keep the spirit with the time and skills to has presented themselves. I’ve never run the site for gain or wanted praise, so it would have to be someone very motivated to keep that up. So, I figure that someone who thinks there’s money here (and there could be if if you worked it, I do get offers) might be able to keep it vibrant. [/blockquote]

There’s a reason in the money thing—I think that people who have made an investment are more likely to have the time and motivation. And those two things are really what you need here;  you could in theory make money out of a site like this if you wanted to, but it would take work.

So it’s for sale.

Twitizen Kane

Yesterday, I tried the Twitpanto method on “the greatest film ever made”. As part of  ‘Yarn presents Five Stories High’ at Flatpack Festival, I re-interpreted around ten minutes of Citizen Kane. It was a tight deadline, so plans to do something really different fell behind just writing a script and getting together a few ‘actors’ I could trust.

In a live setting I was interested in how the audience would understand the language of the Twitter feed just being projected on the wall. I hoped to get heckles and confusing stuff too.

The script, is here. We got ‘moved on’ (for reasons of time I suspect) just before the bit about the principles, which I thought was the crux of it. Never mind.

I’m not sure everyone got what was going on but this quick review from another participant means that at least someone did:

[blockquote]”obviously, members of the audience start tweeting using the hashtag, and it was just hilarious. And silent, and awkward, but in a brilliant way.”[/blockquote]

The weekend’s other Flatpack activity for me was to chair a Q&A with Lawrence (ex of Felt etc), that was both more conventional and a little better received I think. Great fun, and really nice to meet a musical hero.

Touching cloth

On Friday, as part of Flatpack Festival, there’ll be a screening of Lawrence of Belgravia: the documentary about the Felt, Denim and Go Kart Mozart frontman (nay, genius). The blurb goes thusly:

“Lawrence is one of those legends that very few people have heard of. Hellbent on stardom from an early age he jettisoned his surname and formed Felt, an 80s indie band with enigmatic allure, enormous influence (on Pulp and Belle and Sebastian, amongst others) and negligible sales. Later came Denim and then Go Kart Mozart, but fame never quite arrived. Rather than a talking-heads rehash of the whole story, Paul Kelly (Finisterre) has crafted a tender, bleak, funny portrait of the man himself now, a labour of love which accumulated over several years. This screening is a homecoming gig of sorts – Lawrence used to live over the road from the Midlands Arts Centre – and both subject and director will be here to talk about the film.”

I’ll be hosting the Q&A afterwards, and am listening to the Felt back catalogue and reading this book as I type. Tickets are, at the moment, still available.

NewsJack — writing comedy quickly

I like to think I’m an amusing writer, and that I can think quickly. Doing a radio show for a couple of years I think demonstrated that, and I’ve tried my hand at stand-up comedy. But until recently, apart from the odd Twitter witticism  I’d not really tried writing topical comedy. BBC Radio Four Extra’s NewsJack is one of the few radio shows that has an open submissions policy, meaning that anyone can send in jokes and sketches and maybe get on and then get paid for them. I’ve had a few near misses that made it to the recording but not the edit, as they’re topical they’re disposable really so I wouldn’t share them. But this one from this week has a little bit of longevity so I thought I’d pop it up here. Hope it makes you chuckle.

NewsJack the Jung Ones