Saturday, 2 May 2009

01/05: Mental decay.

Paul Morley is looking rather fetching on Newsnight. Late-middle-aged men with gel in their hair often look rather sad and terrible. I'm thinking of Sir Ian Botham when I write that, with his short "cutting edge" hair, laced with gel. It's not a good look, like he's trying and failing to be contemporary, and landing somewhere in the late 90s. Sorry if you're reading this, Sir Ian. I'll buy you some honey to go on your Weetabix. Morley's hair is dynamic and sharp, and even though it's grey, it's making him look.. relevant. Morley matters. Modern Morley. The media master. They're discussing the new Poet Laureate, Carol Ann Duffy, and the concept of the Poet Laureate. Morley obviously finds the idea of being the Royal Family's poet ridiculous, but it seems Duffy does too, which is encouraging I guess. I know fuck all about poetry, but I remember reading her poems at school and quite enjoying them in comparison to the mire of Gerard Manley Hopkins and even Shakespeare. Her and Simon Armitage had this immediacy about them, and crucially, a sense of humour. I just can't relate to "verse" as a concept unless it's got some sort of self-awareness about it and a willingness to laugh at itself. Yes, I'm a Philistine. Anyway, maybe I should pick up those Plath and Larkin books again.

Now Morley is commenting on blogging in general, in reference to a blog (NightJack) which has won an Orwell Prize for political writing. Predictably, he's despairing about old, traditional media adopting UGC as a central part of its strategy. He, and a million others no doubt, have a point. It's a worrying trend. You can see it as the logical conclusion of a democratisation of the media, and in that sense, maybe this is necessary for old media to stay alive in the age of myspace and youtube. But the way in which "Your News" is prioritised, the public isn't centralised at all. An editor is still picking out a couple of bits of camcorder footage, and the public is forced to watch someone's home videos. One of my favourite Paxman moments:

Quite. There is still a place for salaried experts who've trained in their field doing a job. For one, democracy doesn't always work because the public isn't a monolith. If everything was down to majority rule, we would be watching wall-to-wall Susan Boyle clips, and Simon Cowell would probably be global president of some sort of corporate aristocracy. Morley was wary of blogging because anyone could write about anything and expect to be as respected as someone with expertise in what said blogger is writing about. Again, he has a point. This time, however, as long as powerful individuals aren't cherry picking stuff out of nowhere, I think the cream generally does rise to the top on the basis of word-of-mouth. This blog, for instance, will never suddenly be the talk of the town, because no one would pass this tripe onto their friends. Once a blog does gain notoriety, the author will be under greater scrutiny to reinforce their credentials. For now I think, the system works. As long as those old media people stay the hell out of it, and concentrate on sticking to what they know. iPlayer has provided for your future, don't worry too much.

Did my 5-mile run. It went well, but I was drenched in sweat by the end. Planning an 8-9 miler for Sunday so we'll see how that goes. In fact, I think it might've gone better because of my music choice, The Magnetic Fields' '69 Love Songs'. I hadn't listened to it in ages and it's a real summer album, bouncy and light. So it went very well with the run, and I'm only about 40 mins through it, so I can carry on where I left off on Sunday too. Hurrah.

I heard Laura Marling's 'Ghosts' on the radio later, great tune. I've heard it before but never fully appreciated the gorgeous harmonies of the chorus and the way it builds and builds. It inspired me to get out my guitar, which I hadn't played for 2 or 3 years, and a mic, and do a quick cover for my own satisfaction. Big mistake. Now, I can't sing or play guitar. I'm not sure I could ever sing, but I definitely used to be a competent guitarist. My left-hand fingertips are now slightly bleeding. Oh dear. Maybe I should start practising again. In the meantime, you should listen to this beautiful song.

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