Tuesday, May 26, 2009


If you were male, straight and came from Burnt Oak, you had a limited range of options for securing a girlfriend. The most obvious method was to walk up behind a girl, grab her pigtails, violently twist her neck back and pin her down while she scratched your face to tatters...and then, when she ran out of breath, casually announce, Get your coat love - DID IT HURT WHEN YOU FELL TO EARTH?

Then again, you could always join a band. But, let's face it - who can name a single band from Burnt Oak? I mean, George Michael ((for whom I have the utmost respect)) lived there, but the fact was hardly Wham! marketing material. So the only option was to become good at something, develop a skill. Football, perhaps. Or joyriding. But I went for Space Invaders.

Everybody's sick of hearing 50-year olds announcing that if you're too young to have seen the Clash or Tapper Zukie, you seriously missed out, maaan, and that none of yer manufactured yoof culture rubbish these days can even scale the heights of watching Gang of Four mincing about onstage like a bunch of middle managers playing charades (I use the word 'like' loosely).

But I genuinely understand this argument when it's applied to video games. I don't get Grand Theft Auto - you're playing somebody you're not (and who doesn't even look like you), immersing yourself in crimes you probably don't have the guts to commit in real life, and the games go on for fucking days, weeks, months. I don't give a toss if this makes me sound old fogey and self-righteous. To be honest, after Space Invaders, no game could ever do it for me again. Not even Psycho Pigs UXB or Barbarian 2. Space Invaders wasn't a game, it was a 10p-a-shot war; a showdown with the twisted, nefarious brainiacs of the shadowy Taito Corporation. We didn't want to pretend we were nicking motors or beating up faceless anime' automatons in car parks. We wanted Tomohiro Nishikado's head on a plate. Badly. So we killed, maimed, slaughtered and zapped his scumbag aliens, blew their ships to smithereens, and accumulated points for our own glory. Those with the high scores commanded respect. Girls flocked to them, confident in the knowledge that a score of 75,000 or more indicated good breeding potential.

Some of us went further, though. We divided into factions, spiralling out of control. In our waking hours, we scanned the gutters for discarded 10p pieces - more ammo to aid the pro-Earth backlash. Our night dreams reverberated with the violent, gut-punchingly loud power electronics of laser warfare, our REM-jittering eyes awash in a sea of GREEN NEON DEATH. Some went under the moniker of Unit Black Flag. But they mainly called us Roots Radics.

There were casualties. Steve, the Jesus and Mary Chain fan, who drifted off in class and was yanked from his desk by an enraged maths teacher. His A5 graph pad splattered with Goya-esque, blocky images of the nightly ritual combat. Up all night in West End arcades, stealing car radios to fund his habit. But they didn't understand us, these middle-aged dolts; didn't understand what Roots Radics were about. How we were up against something more terrifying and mighty than anything the British education system could have machine-gunned into our skulls. Magellan and Hitler shaped history, our tutors woofed from the blackboard; but we were blazing vapour trails into the future. Cosmonaut commandos, born to kill.

"VIDEO GAME MADNESS DESTROYING BRITISH YOUTH", screamed the Mail, as social worker after geography teacher after education select committee panel queued up to deliver sideswipe soundbites like, "The only space we need to invade is the one between these childrens' ears". "SON WHO RAN UP £20 A WEEK ON COINSLOT CON", bleated a Hendon Times leader, while the People simply opted for "SPACED OUT! TEACHERS SLAM ANTICS OF THE ARCADE GENERATION"

Meanwhile, we tuned into dub and planned the next counter-offensive. Scientist, Prince Jammy, Prince Far-I and the Arabs; punks and rasta youth synchronising their heartbeats to the pulses of bass, the ghosts of fallen heroes wailing through the mix, before another long shift behind Earth's defensive shields. Miles away, Taito Corp executives cashing Midway cheques. And, somewhere in Osaka, behind his plate glass barricade, our nemesis. Sitting in darkness, on his high-tech, robot toilet throne. The mind that built the WALLS we spent our lives demolishing. The fleshy, psychic hive, guiding the waves of perpetual kamikaze onslaught. The man we couldn't get.

And then - it ended. The war was over and nobody had informed us. The media was now outraged with devil dogs, or video nasties, or something. Steve disappeared from sight; I hear he ended up with a daughter. Veterans of the struggle receded, as the Dockers machines were uprooted to make way for Shinobi, Operation Wolf and After Burner. Robbed of their joysticks, the ex-troopers stomped into pubs, grabbed hold of the nearest available woman and wrestled her to the sticky carpet, dodging slaps, bites and gouges, until their prey gave up the struggle and consented to engagement. Burnt Oak still wasn't siring any bands. Shit - I was gonna have to become a hack to escape manual labour, after all. But then, the alternative was "Kevin Keegan's Premiership Manager". Fuck computer games. You brats can never understand. ROOTS RADICS DIED FOR OUR OWN SINS, NOT YOURS.

Incidentally, I never liked Pac-Man. What was the fucking point in it? Running around a dark labyrinth, guzzling pills and being chased by ghosts - I mean!! Just sounds like an average Thursday night at Megatripolis.

Friday, May 22, 2009



This is a call for submissions to Issue M11 of MOTORWAY PSYCHOGEOGRAPHY.

We are sick of being told to tromp the pavements, looking for spooks in wharfs and parks. We are sick of hearing tall stories about 'East London' from idiots who've never even been to the Bay Tree. And we are sick of their urban regeneration schemes, the utter BOREDOM of their AILING developments (social asbestos).

We will take to the motorways - reclaim our savage heritage amidst the fumes, the speed, the sex and PETROL.

MOTORWAY PSYCHOGEOGRAPHY wants to hear from people who've aimlessly driven the motorways from dusk til dawn; painted slogans on motorway bridges; fucked or banqueted in the grassy verges on a hot Thursday afternoon; hitchhiked; PLAYED DARE; felt the wind smashing them in the face as they broke the speed limit. We want people who know their service stations and junctions inside out.

We DON'T want some fucking commie rehash of "London Orbital".


Send articles, resume' etc - motorwaymadness77@yahoo.co.uk

UK residents only.

Monday, May 18, 2009



You'd expect a venue with a name like 'Barden's Boudoir' to be dripping with illicit Victorian sex vibes. You know - the sort of joint Dr Treves would flag down a horse and cab to, for a tumble with a 17-year old Parisian doxy, before spending that post-coital 'clove cigarette and gin' moment slumped across a leather sofa, excitedly updating her on his elephant-faced patient's progress while she plays an atonal violin.

And, guess what? It's exactly like that. A lot more pleasing than the so-called 'SMOKERS' PARADISE' located on the upstairs terrace of the Marquis of Lansdowne . I was expecting a lush tropical jungle, replete with tiger-striped butterflies and blue-skinned, four-armed, three-eyed Hindu goddesses, flitting from smoker to smoker and lighting their fags. Instead I was confronted by a dull concrete terrace with a few wooden benches and a brown, dead Xmas tree plonked in the corner. Bah!

I was a bit worried that John Eden was going to clash with his former TOPY boss, Genesis P-Orridge. The last thing I needed to witness on a humid Sunday night was an outburst of psychic handbags. But Psychic TV were actually really, really good; bombarding the crowd with vivid, nutso images and Lou Reed-meets-My Bloody Valentine psych-punk. Actually, I wish I'd taken an E watching this. But I once read that if you take MDMA over the age of 30 you instantly turn into a Goa Trance fanatic and start mithering about full moon parties, describing your orgasms as 'sacred', crying at old episodes of 'Jamie And The Magic Torch' and writing poetry about your girlfriend morphing into a unicorn ((see Vol. IV,THE BOOK OF DRUGS, Popstar McFabulous, 1995)) so maybe it's for the best I stuck to lager. Still, shame I could only see 20% of the stage at any given time. Can't we just round up everyone over 5 ft 11 and ship them off to some far-flung island?

I couldn't tell you what they played, except "IC Water" and something that MIGHT have been a cover of "Sister Ray". But, on the strength of last night, I'd definitely recommend catching them before the whole swine fever thing kicks off again.



There's something really ugly about the Stranglers that morbidly fascinates me. Reader, have you actually heard Bring on the Nubiles?? Hearing Hugh Cornwell snarl, I want to love you like your dad / And be your superman / I'll show you things you never had / And hold your little hand is the closest I think I'll ever sonically get to being six years old and waking up in a Dutch hotel room surrounded by drooling, chloroform-packing nonces with video cams.

The other weird thing is - you know how the Stranglers did that big Battersea Park concert in 1978? The one where all the strippers came on stage and started gyrating around? Well, I always mentally confuse that event with the '78 Rock Against Racism festival at Victoria Park. In my subsequent, distorted "parallel 1970s" I see Darcus Howe and Red Saunders delivering anti-NF speeches to 10,000 speeding Clash/ X-Ray Spex fans, before announcing, "ANYWAY, ENOUGH OF THAT - COP A LOAD OF THESE BEAUTIES, PHWOOOARRRRRR!", as JJ Burnel launches into the 'Peaches' bassline, under a hail of bras.

Having said that, and as nauseating as 'solo albums' generally are, "Nosferatu" isn't bad at all. "Irate Caterpillar" is the best track by a country mile and probably one of the best things Cornwell's ever been involved in - I dunno if that's because the drummer from the Magic Band's on it, but it sounds a bit like Capt Beefheart's "Ice Cream for Crow" LP if it'd been performed by a moody UK goth band on downers. Still...I can see a day when I get bored with this. I think I'm just so amazed that it isn't the pile of unmitigated crap I expected.



Did you know that Golders Green has a cab firm called S-Express? I've always wanted to hire them out, just to bung the driver an extra quid and tell him, "Enjoy this tip - and it is a tip". "Night Raver" is an 80s reggae tune that's almost impossible to shift from your brain once it gets its hooks in. Dedicated to some fox Mike fancies, who spends her time jumping taxis and clubbing in London. I can sort of relate at the moment.



The only thing that could POSSIBLY improve the Napalm Death CD would be if the old boy was talking between the tracks. God, how long has it been now - nearly 5 years? - and I still miss John Peel. Basically the sound of every decent Briton's brain imploding with fury and utter bewilderment the morning after Thatcher's third election victory in 1987.

After Napalm Death's Peel outbursts (best recordings they ever made, IMO), that whole hardcore/thrash thing seemed pointless to me - I don't think anyone's topped it since. Still, the brilliantly named Insect Warfare have a go, even if they may well be taking the piss. Needless to say, if you haven't got a clue what tracks like "Mass Communication Mindfuck", "Internet Era Alienation", "Enslaved by Machinery" and "Evolved into Obliteration" sound like, you've obviously never owned an LP with a black and white cover depicting a radioactive grim reaper leering out a mushroom cloud over a pile of skulls and a collage of multinational corporation logos juxtaposed with swastikas and pictures of death camps. ((ie, you probably have a modicum of taste)). Still, try surviving the Northern Line at 8.30am without it!



Awful title and cover, but I can't decide whether I like this or not. It's not even a case of seeing them as 'selling / mellowing out'. It's just that without the piss-taking, provocative, old skool Industrial Records tactics, it's hard to reconcile this with being TG in any shape or form. Musically, it's OK, I suppose. In a vaguely boring way. It's like they're trying to imitate Nocturnal Emissions at their least inspired. I don't know why the four of them don't just call it 'The Sonic Doodling Project' and leave the TG name to fester in peace.



The tracks by Sequence and Princess MC are great, but the rest of it's a bit lame. File under: Soul Jazz compilations where you only bother listening to 20% of it, 'til you decide to burn the tracks you actually like and sell the CD on eBay - by which time nobody wants it for more than £2.50 ((see also: 'Sexual Life of the Savages', '500% Dynamite', 'Absolutely Astounding Haitian Jazz-Funk-Punk Surf Mutants From The Amazon, 1987-1988', etc)).


When we lived in 38A Camberwell Church Street, our annoying next door neighbours once gobbled a load of microdots - and then came round to our place, clambering over the balcony and hammering at the kitchen window, absolutely terrified. They obviously realised they were going to have a bad trip and thought they'd get US to comfort them as their synaptic shitstorms kicked off. I mean, wouldn't you check yourself into a hospital if you were having a bad trip? Or just go and lie in a park? Surely not turn up at the ONE FLAT IN CAMBERWELL GUARANTEED TO PLONK YOU ON THE 19.24 HELLTRAIN TO FREAKOUT CENTRAL?

We weren't malicious or anything, but we did have a laugh dragging our tripping neighbours down the pub and informing them we were vampires. As for an utterly mortified Spencer, it took me and Brian a while to reassure him, no, the ceiling WASN'T going to fall on his head the moment he moved his eyes to the left. Chill out! It'd be, ooh, at least 20 mins before it descended and crushed his skull. It was only when Zoe tried to run into the traffic that we decided to lay off the mental torment. We then spent the next two hours consoling her as she clung to a lamp post, sobbing her eyes red raw, and repeatedly blubbing, "MY...MUM", while simultaneously trying to prevent Nick (the thick rugby fan with the lobotomy scar) from wandering off towards the Oval.

Zoe seemed to be on a constant mission to shock us with her 'outrageous' exploits, from temporary lesbianism and topless sunbathing to buying a snake. I guess the snake was meant to highlight her edgy nature, though, as we don't tend to get venomous snakes in the UK, it wasn't really that impressive. She killed the hapless reptile after it vomited on her. I guess she was too busy writing her autobiography ((she was 19. And no, I am not joking, she was 5 chapters in)) to bother to read anything on caring for snakes, or sourcing expert info on their digestive habits. My lesbian friend Kate would come round to ours for dinner ((oh, alright, a cup of tea and a KitKat)) and sometimes Zoe would barge her way in to meet her. Kate used to sing that old John Otway song, Cor Baby, That's Really Free whenever Zoe started one of her rants about how she used to burn herself with cigarettes when she was 17 ((obviously had superhuman powers of skin regeneration)) or how she was going to get a pierced clit next Tuesday. I don't think she ever realised that Kate was massively ripping the piss out of her.

After her turbulent trip ((I hadn't seen anyone in such a screwed-up state - it put me off acid for life, as did Dave Tibet's fucking pathetic lyrics about Noddy and Hitler)), we thought Zoe would mellow out a bit and possibly stop attempting to 'shock' us in increasingly desperate bids for attention. Sadly, all she gained from the experience was a new story to endlessly repeat to random strangers - the night she survived the most potent batch of tabs known to man. I kind of wished we'd left her to get mown down by the 171. But only a bit. I'm not actually the bitter sociopath this blog would have you believe. It's all very well for Aldous Huxley to go on about the 'Doors of Perception' - shame he never mentioned the 'Doors of 38A Camberwell Church Street' and to STAY AWAY from the piss-taking slags who dwelled within.

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