Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Blair which?

"Tony is a very talented man, for whom I 've got a great deal of respect," Dubya told the Sun today. "I've heard he's been called Bush's poodle. He's bigger than that." Well don't ask me. An underdog, perhaps, but not a poodle.

And the phrase is flawed on yet another level. I have known several poodles, all of whom have assured me that the poodle is certainly not an obedient lap dog. No, the poodle is a strong, athletic dog with a very large mouth full of razor-sharp teeth, a quick mind and a rather impressive turn of pace. When he wants to be, the poodle can be a disobedient, riotous brute. Poodles offer stout companionship and scrubbed independence.

They have been the dog of choice for some of history's greats, among them John Steinbeck and Winston Curchill. The poodle goes with great men as it has the independence of spirit to be worthy of them.

It is most certainly not a cowering wimp. In short, to call Mr Blair "Bush's poodle" is an insult to poodles.

Monday, June 25, 2007

The Real 'Simple Life'

Paris is set for release tomorrow after serving 23 days of her 45-day sentence. Yet, it seems that the entire hype about her first post-prison interview may not materialise into anything. But we are not bovvered because we have our own unofficial update to the Paris Hilton Prison Diaries:

Day 9: Mail today. One piece. A small note from Nicky. She wrote, "Ya know that band from a long time ago, 10,000 Maniacs? There were only, like, five people in that band."

Day 15: What is time? How do we measure it? What does it mean? I find these questions on my mind more and more, especially since someone stole my Audemars Piguet watch. Shame.

Day 19: While walking in the yard today, I was put in the mind of Rilke's "Requiem for a Friend." "For somewhere an ancient enmity exists between our life and the great works we do." This, I feel, is my plight. My life is in a constant struggle with my works: my "works" being staying out late and buying stuff. Also the word "enmity" is a hard one and looks misspelled to me.

Day ??: I have stopped counting the days. I live in the now.

What is freedom? It's not free, that's for sure. It's "free" with "dom." And that seems right to me. I feared prison once. I see it now as a great gift. Once, I wondered if I would have to wait in a chow line. Is there a way around it, I wondered? A kind of "chow bouncer". How funny to think back. Because there is a chow bouncer. And her name is Brick. And she hates me.

Lately I'm identifying with the Jews and all the horrible things that happened to them during Vietnam.

Brick said to me today, "Ya know, I stayed in a Marriott once. And truth be told, I'd rather stay in prison."

We both laughed. And then she beat me up.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Floodgates are open

No question all right-thinking people in London this weekend are praying for rain. You can see people enacting ancient Indian rain dances in Camden back gardens, chanting through gritted teeth; "Must... make... Glastonbury.. a... mudbath". And I understand, I really do. Anything to avoid those Monday-at-work "oh, you didn't go" conversations.

But, if God doesn't heed our pleas, we should at least make the most of any good weather in the Big Smoke whilst praying for rain in the West Country. On that note, let us mark the long overdue 34th edition of City Slicker's "Week's Action, Weeekend Reaction."

1) Alarmed to learn that some people have been calling emergency services after confusing the life-size Gormley statues for attempted suicide missions? React by searching out alternative outdoor art appreciation with the National Gallery's Grand Tour where 30 favourite masterpieces are dotted around the West End. They make Gormley look so last week. Various West End locations, map here, Free.

2) Have the record sums paid at Sotheby's art auction this week made you wonder if there are any great works left in the public domain? React by ensuring your favourite will be committed to memory by embodying it yourself before it's too late (think Fahrenheit 451) at the Charade exhibition. Sunday 24 June, Trafalgar Square, 3-5PM, Free.

3) Are all the authoritarian messages aimed at schoolchildren making you long for the days when Middle England was silenced? React by catching the classic Brit film ,If, which if released today would cause a Daily Mail outcry against its glamourisation of guns in school. NFT, 3.20PM Sat 23 Jun, 8.40PM Sun 24 Jun. £8.60

Thursday, June 21, 2007

A Painful Scratch

Go figure. A play finally comes to LDN from NYC that I have looked forward to with baited breath (obviously unrelated to Matthew Macfadyen's starring role - oh c'mon, what woman isn't looking for her Mr. Darcy) and I am left crestfallen. The following evening, on the hunt for a bit of rebound fling (I mean fringe) action, I find myself immersed in the world of a mother who is accused of murdering not one but two babies and feel sanguine. The first being the 'Pain and the Itch' (in previews) at the Royal Court and the second being 'Taking Care of Baby' (closing Saturday) at the Hampstead Theatre.

The Pain and the Itch, hyped as 'liberal-baiting satire', aims to expose the progressive middle-class left-wing as just as angst-ridden money driven and hypocritical as their right-wing counterparts. The sort of conclusion one comes to after a dinner party of champagne socialists in Nappy Valley. The only problem is that at the theatre you have paid to feel possessed by a painful itch to fling yourself in their midst and knock heads together, or at least take one of the set's available golf clubs to its flat screen TV.

The harshest satire comes not from the stage, however, but from what the Royal Court failed to achieve. The theatre's new direction is ostensibly aimed at 'discovering the middle-class hero' - in short: people like us. But what we actually see on stage are people you wouldn't want to know. The whole idea of satire as a mirror to the audience is lost. Give me an extraordinary, moving and ethically worrying docudrama put together by the fast-rising edgy playwright Dennis Kelly (of last year's brilliant 'Love and Money') any day. It's just a shame any day ends Saturday.

Cheap Ticket offer:
£7.50 seats available for 'Taking Care of Baby'
22 June (tomorrow night) performance only, 7:30pm
Call 020 7722 9301; quote £7.50 offer

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Blame Canada

I have spent today digesting the 'subtle' signal from Mike Bloomberg that he might be running for President. This is supposed to be a sharp-eyed businessman with a keen sense of what works: Does he really think America wants a Ross Perot with less crazy but more Jew? No chance. But that lapse of judgement pales against Hillary's choice for campaign song: a Celine Dion number written by a Canadian for an Air Canada commercial. Irrespective of taste, why pick a song to begin with? The U.S. is electing a president in 2008, not an alderman in 1956. Play music at campaign stops if you want, but this just seems old-fashioned and small-time, while the world burns. I am growing to think Hillary is a bad candidate for anything. Unless, maybe, you need a really scary dead-eyed woman to chair your garden club.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

For the Love of Art

Damien Hirst. His now famous diamond-crusted skull on show at the White Cube gallery (with a £50 million price tag) is the talk of London. The work, by the way, is called "For the Love of God." Indeed. At another time, such a sum might seem excessive, the triumph of a fat wallet over good sense, but in the London art market right now, it seems there is no limit to what people will spend. Someone paid £27,000 for a drawing done by Hirst's two-year old son for goodness sake.

If sold, Mr. Hirst's skull will be the most expensive new work of art ever made. Now that's the stuff of headlines. I don't know about you, but I really love to hate him and hate to love him. Two sides in constant struggle. What follows is a record of one such battle:

-- This guy doesn't even make his own work. He hires a team of assistants to do everything for him and then he comes by and does a little touch up and signs them as his. What kind of artist doesn't even do their own work?

-How about an Architect? They don't build their own houses. What about Beethoven? He doesn't run around and play instruments hundreds of years after his death but we still call it his work. What about a movie director? He just sets the stage and direction and lets the pieces work. Isn't that what Hirst is doing?

--Yeah but a painting is supposed to be painted by the artist. How is it a "Hirst" if he didn't paint it? How is a sculpture of his really his? Did he catch the Shark? No. How can they call him an artist?

-Ok that's a low blow - no one is saying he makes the best art in the world and no one is forcing you to like it at all.

--Using shock tactics to sell art is commercial and wrong. Isn't greed a bad thing? A skull covered in diamonds? Isn't that level of ego to much for anyone to bear? Isn't it almost silly?

-For the love of art, yes.

Damien Hirst
White Cube Mason's Yard
Until 7th July
Tue-Sat 10am-6pm

Monday, June 18, 2007

One Slick of a Year!

Yesterday marked CS's first birthday! But, for a change, I decided to keep a low profile. Largely because I was in rural France behaving more like Renee Zellweger in Cold Mountain than Kate Moss in Primrose Hill (certainly not strategic brand or cred promotion for a blog called City Slicker). But also because isn't there some dignity in humility? Never mind that by definition a blog exudes enough shameless self-promotion to make the Beckhams blush. Patrick Marber put it best:

"Some hairy bastard scratched a donkey on the wall of his cave, he saw it, he drew it. A million years later: 'Hello, welcome to my blog. Today I bought a plum.' You cunt. You silly, dozy twat, you've forgotten HOW TO LIVE! Darwin was wrong, man didn't evolve, he got nicer tools! From a lump of charcoal to the Apple Mac - whoosh - history! (Don Juan in Soho)

Thanks to all for your year of loyalty.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Capital L

Dear Mayor Ken,

It was a pleasure commuting with you on the Jubilee Line this morning. I was the Metro reading, Ipod blasting woman sitting to your left who made the quip about Bob Kiley which, incidentally, wasn't fair on further consideration. Find me one American in London whose alcohol consumption doesn't career out of control in Binge Britain. Ahem.

No, my case of dry heaves aside, what I really wanted to ask you was why the sheer lack of competence in London's PR circles these days? And, no, I am not talking about the fiasco that was the Olympic logo - which incidentally I am finding to be a grower. Just last night I was mindlessly reading a copy of London Lite and I found myself warming to the pink cubist version of a shot putter. Or even if you reckon it's closer to a Yorkshire terrier or Boris Johnson's hair it's better than Beijing's chronic dancer.

The PR debacle I am talking about is Capital Radio's Lights Out London campaign. You know the publicity pimped event you are supporting which will involve getting people to turn off their lights and other non-essential domestic appliances between 9pm and 10pm on June 21st. Er, did you miss the minor catch? June 21st is the longest day of the year so it won't even be dark at 9PM. Most lights won't even be turned on in the first place.

Such stupidity deserves a capital L for Loser not London.


City Slicker

Friday, June 08, 2007

Within 24 hours, no primate on the planet will be unaware of Paris Hilton's transfer from the pokie to the ankle bracelet, but it is a safe bet that within weeks or even months, relatively few of us will know the big news going down now in Iraq.

And so to document spring coming early for Paris, below is an unofficial diary of Heiress Hilton's 5 day prison stay:

Day 1: Arrived late Sunday night. So tired. Asked if I could check into my room immediately. Quite possibly the rudest concierge I have ever met. I told him he was fired. Not the effect I'd hoped for. And no, I did not register under the name "Little Miss Whore." What kind of hotel forces you to strip and delouse (maybe Marriott?). Although instead of a robe I got a fabulous orange jumpsuit with a cute number on it. Nothing to do at night. I'm told (as there was, like, no information in my room) that there is no bar or lounge area. I wish I'd brought flats.

Day 2: My room is insane! TINY! How is it even possible that I got a room without any view? A tiny stainless steel toilet. There is an incredibly thin mattress. If I didn't know I was in prison I'd think I was in an Ian Schrager hotel.

Day 3: So that's what a bitch slap is. Wow. Just … wow. MUST remember not to make that sarcastic face again anytime soon.

Day 4: Gandhi went to prison. So did Martin Luther King Jr. So did Robert Downey Jr. and Martha Stewart Jr. and I think Nelson Mandela Jr. Mandela was imprisoned for, like, 50 years or something for being black and also for driving an uninsured vehicle, if I'm reading Wikipedia correctly. Nicky often mentions me and Gandhi and how incredibly thin we both are and how she wonders if he used bronzer.

Day 5: There is no TV, no iPod, no cellphone. Just — I hope I'm spelling this right — "boks" or maybe "bowks." Whatever. I took a few from the cart and have been looking at the covers. Then, last night, I looked inside and there are, like, a million words, page after page. Are these new?

City Slicker's "Week's Action, Weekend Reaction" to resume next week.

Thursday, June 07, 2007


I must say I am thoroughly enjoying the massive public response to the 2012 Olympic Logo. What a well-deserved pushback to the ludicrous hype with which the thing was launched. What a heartening demonstration that Brits have a brain and aren't going to swallow whole the spin and hype of the branding browntongues.

What really provoked me was not so much the logo itself as the organisers' smug predictions of what it was going to do for the games. How patronising was the notion that this would appeal to young people. Especially when it was so obviously designed for young people by old people who know nothing about young people.

There's a great scene in an old BBC adaptation of The Mayor of Casterbridge. The doomed antihero organises a huge party for the town people in an effort to glamorise himself. But it pours with rain and no-one shows up for this lavish but soulless party. Meanwhile his rival organises a rough and ready dance in a barn where everyone has a great time in each other's company, with none of the grand expense. Henchard eventually arrives at the barn but can't really conceal his bitterness and dismay at everyone having so much fun.

Wouldn't it be great if Seb Coe had the humility to admit to a mistake whilst applauding our exuberant irreverance? But more likely he'll take cover like Henchard. In any case, won't we really remember the logo for bringing lil' Lisa to her knees? Not a pleasant image but, nonetheless, a statement.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Intimation of gentrification

When do you know that your old neighborhood is dangerously close to becoming yet another hypergentrified hellhole?

The day you find a flyer offering a “Big Reward” for a stolen Dutch Modern chair, that’s when.

Just back in LDN from NYC's East Village and I can't stop wondering "are New York's hipsters really dead?"