A Porky Prime Cut with UK Acid House pioneer Richard Norris

Now up on my SoundCloud page, this is the studio version of a gig that I did at the Free University of Glastonbury 2011, with live accompaniment from UK Acid House pioneer Richard Norris, who as part of Jack the Tab-era Psychic TV made the UK’s first Acid House records.

I avoided the common for a few weeks and repaired my headphones with masking tape, but as the weather gradually got warmer we started going there again on the way home. ‘We’ being me, Gaz and Dom and self-confessed ‘token girl’ Daze. Dom was into reciting routines from the Arena documentary on writer William S. Burroughs that someone in the college library had videoed when it was on telly a couple of months earlier and which we must have seen a dozen times not including the rewinding of favourite sequences so knew those routines inside out in the way that school friends with older brothers knew Monty Python.

A Porky Prime Cut was commissioned as part of Digital Transformations, an arts project co-ordinated and curated by SCAN with Bournemouth Libraries and Arts and Bournemouth Adult Learning. Digital Transformations was funded and supported by The Learning Revolution Transformation Fund, Bournemouth Borough Council, SCAN, Bournemouth University, and the National Institute of Adult Continuing Education. This version of ‘A Porky Prime Cut’ was produced by Richard Norris, and recorded in Lewes, Sussex, July 2011.

A Puppet Show — vinyl LP now available

Carlos Castañeda once told this parable about the Conquistador Hernán Cortés. He didn’t write it down, so you won’t find it in any of his books or among his papers, but in any case I heard that Castañeda once spoke of a legend about Cortés, one that he in turn perhaps had heard from his own teacher, don Juan Matus.

My short story ‘A Fragment from the Lives of the Conquistadors’ is now available on vinyl LP with sounds and music by Petra Haden, Tanya Haden and Anna Huff, Gibby Haynes, and Steven Hull.

The story, a psychedelic parable about Cortés presented as a piece of Castañeda apocrypha, formed the basis of Steven Hull’s monumental Puppet Show at the Glow festival in Santa Monica. (Glow is a unique arts festival that takes place for one night only, every two years, on the beach in Santa Monica.) The LP is published to coincide with Steven Hull’s current exhibition at Rosamund Felsen Gallery in LA.

Listening station for A Puppet Show LP at Rosamund Felsen Gallery, part of the current exhibition My Little Boat of Sorrow, curated by Steven Hull — to 9 August 2014.

Listening station for A Puppet Show LP at Rosamund Felsen Gallery, part of the current exhibition My Little Boat of Sorrow, curated by Steven Hull — to 9 August 2014.

 

The LP features a brilliant new ‘noise jam’ by Gibby Haynes, of the legendary band Butthole Surfers. In his comprehensive sleeve notes, Christopher Schnieders notes that Haynes’s piece — ‘Maigizo ya Bandia’ — ‘synchronizes remarkably with Tony White’s story.’ He’s right. It does. A fact which is all the more remarkable since, as Schnieders tells us, ‘Haynes admits, “I intentionally did not read the story then was shocked to find out how much the writing inspired the sounds.”’

The vinyl LP of A Puppet Show by Steven Hull, featuring my story ‘A Fragment from the Lives of the Conquistadors’ is now available to buy.

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-5Steven Hull, A Puppet Show (Nothing Moments, 2014), Vinyl LP, yellow vinyl, gatefold sleeve with inserts.

A Side:
#1 ‘A Fragment from the Lives of the Conquistadors’ story by Tony White and sound by Steven Hull, 12:50 min.
#2 ‘Horse Parade’ by Petra Haden, Tanya Haden and Anna Huff, 3:47 min.

B Side:
#1 ‘Maigizo ya Bandia’ by Gibby Haynes, 10:12 min.
#2 ‘Conquistadorable’ by Petra Haden, Tanya Haden and Anna Huff, 4:51 min.

A Puppet Show LP is now available to buy direct from Rosamund Felsen Gallery for $25.00 + international postage.

Conquistadorable

Friends in the Los Angeles area will be able to get their hands on a new record featuring my short story ‘A Fragment from the Lives of the Conquistadors’ and music from Butthole Surfers’ Gibby Haynes, which launches on 12 July.

Grant Mudford

Grant Mudford

 

That’s when a new exhibition called “My Little Boat of Sorrow” and curated by artist Steven Hull opens at Rosamund Felsen Gallery in LA. The exhibition includes artworks by Tami Demaree, Alex Evans, Tanya Haden, Gibby Haynes, Allison Schulnik, Jim Shaw and Marnie Weber, and will feature large scale sculptures, drawings, video, sound and paintings — a sinking boat, an army of skeletons, and sculptures of masked heads. During the opening there will be a special marionette performance by Alex Evans and a musical performance by Tanya Haden, Petra Haden and Anna Huff.

The launch is also a record release party for a puppet show, a gatefold vinyl record that documents Steven Hull’s installation at Glow on Santa Monica Beach in September 2013. The record features music by Gibby Haynes (FYI, Butthole Surfers fans), Steven Hull, Tanya Haden, Petra Haden and Anna Huff, and audio of my new short story ‘A fragment from the Lives of the Conquistadors’ — a fictional piece of Carlos Castañeda apocrypha that formed the basis of Hull’s amazing puppet show.

Carlos Castañeda once told this parable about the Conquistador Hernán Cortés. He didn’t write it down, so you won’t find it in any of his books or among his papers, but in any case I heard that Castañeda once spoke of a legend about Cortés, one that he in turn perhaps had heard from his own teacher, don Juan Matus. The legend tells that late in his life – but before his final fall from grace – Cortés and his closest allies, maybe his generals and one or two of their mistresses or companions, stopped on the beach in what is now Santa Monica and stayed there for a short time. Their tangled hair and beards would have been bleached by sun and salt, and their breast plates and helmets ‘battle forged,’ which is to say rusting and dinted; misshapen by innumerable blows.

10409551_10152557177793447_2884448099285032872_nThe record includes images from the marionette performance by Alex Evans and Eric de la Cruz, and Steven Hull’s a puppet show as installed on stage (right). The record was designed by Tami Demaree and Steven Hull with an introduction by Christopher Schneiders. The order and titles of tracks on the record may have varied in production, but this was the tracklisting from an early proof.

A Side:
#1 “A Fragment from the Lives of the Conquistadors” Story by Tony White and sound by Steven Hull, 12:50 min.
#2 “Horse Parade” by Petra Haden, Tanya Haden and Anna Huff, 3:47 min.

B Side:
#1 “Maigizo ya Bandia” by Gibby Haynes, 10:12 min.
#2 “Conquistadorable” by Petra Haden, Tanya Haden and Anna Huff, 4:51 min.

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‘My Little Boat of Sorrow’, curated by Steven Hull. Exhibition opening reception and record launch party: Saturday 12 July, 5-7PM. Watch this space or follow me on twitter for information about purchasing the record.

Rosamund Felsen Gallery, 2525 Michigan Ave. B4, Santa Monica, CA 90404

JULY 12 – AUGUST 9, 2014 — Gallery Hours: Tue–Sat, 10AM–5:30PM

Putting Missorts on the map

The new, free ‘Welcome to Bristol’ walking map of the city is now out. Published by Bristol City Council, this A3-sized map is available on the counters of numerous shops, amenities, tourist attractions and cultural centres all over the city — you simply tear it off a pad.

bristol-legible-city-wayfinding-design-print-map-city-id-walking-visitors-tourism-touristsCommissioned with the simple aim to provide the visitor with a free walking map of the centre of Bristol. The look, feel and information relate directly to the pedestrian signing system and the user is given more information on how to move around the city. The map includes details of railway and bus terminals, waterways and ferries, taxi locations, car parks, hospitals and neighbourhoods. In addition, on the reverse, the central area is extended to include Clifton, and there is written information about travelling by foot, bike or ferry, as well as by bus, train or car. Useful numbers, tourist information advice are also included. The map is created using all of the elements of the Bristol Legible City graphic identity.

The 2014 edition of the map features Missorts, my permanent soundwork for Bristol. The Missorts ‘app area’ is marked, and little red ‘M’ icons show where each of the ten, interconnected stories are triggered (by GPS). A large centre panel on the reverse of the map gives more information about the project.

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I am extremely proud of Missorts and the many great people that I worked with to make it happen — from producer Situations, to developer Calvium, the ten writers (Sara Bowler, Holly Corfield-Carr, Thomas Darby, Jack Ewing, Katrina Plumb, Jess Rotas, Hannah Still, Helen Thornhill, Isabel de Vasconcellos and Sacha Waldron), composer Jamie Telford, and the community of St Mary Redcliffe — and I hope that this extraordinary level of support from Bristol City Council encourages more people to experience the city (and literature) in a new way, by downloading the app (free from the iTunes store or Googleplay) or borrowing a pre-loaded smartphone from either Bristol Central or Bedminster Library, putting their headphones on and going for a walk in the Redcliffe area of Bristol.

Outlandia #2

outlandia_570_380I am delighted to be part of Remote Performances, a forthcoming collaboration between artists London Fieldworks and Resonance 104.4fm (the world’s first art radio station). A number of new artworks will be made for radio and broadcast live from Outlandia: August 4 -9 2014

I will be travelling to Glen Nevis in the Scottish Highlands and will have an opportunity to work in this amazing tree house studio. Other participating artists include Bram Arnold, Atlas Arts, Ruth Barker, Ed Baxter (with Resonance Radio Orchestra), Johny Brown (with Inga Tillere and James Stephen Finn), Clair Chinnery, Adam Dant, Tam Dean Burn, Benedict Drew, Alec Finlay (with Ken Cockburn), Bruce Gilchrist & Jo Joelson, Kirsteen Davidson Kelly, Parl Kristian Bjorn Vester (aka Goodiepal), Sarah Kenchington, Lee Patterson, Michael Pedersen (with Ziggy Campbell), Geoff Sample, Mark Vernon, and Tracey Warr.

London Fieldworks: Syzygy/Polaria
I have worked with London Fieldworks before. Back in 1999, a group of us travelled to a similarly remote location, the uninhabited Southern Hebridean island of Sanda, to conduct creative experiments into the relationships between mind and weather. I blogged about the experience a decade or so later, when Outlandia first opened.

A book from London Fieldworks entitled Syzygy/Polaria, documents that project on Sanda Island, and includes my short story ‘Stormbringer’.

Here is the announcement about London Fieldworks’ new project Remote Pefrormances:

For one week in August 2014, 20 specially commissioned artist performances and programmes created with local residents will be broadcast live from Outlandia, a unique artists’ field-station in Glen Nevis, Lochaber, Scotland.

With Resonance 104.4fm’s mobile studio ‘in residence’, Outlandia will become a portal between Lochaber and the rest of the world, a context in which participants can transmit experience of place to diverse audiences through art, music and performance.

Artists from England, Scotland and beyond will respond to Outlandia’s distinctive and remote geographical forest location overlooked by the UK’s highest mountain, Ben Nevis, in the Scottish Highlands. Taking place at the moment when Scotland votes on the continuance or dissolution of the 300 year old Acts of Union the week-long series of broadcasts and blogposts will be a timely reflection on contemporary ideas of remoteness, capturing and transmitting creative interactions with the land, its history and people and the tensions between nature, industry, tourism and heritage.

More programme information shortly.

The Auto-levellers Standard Advanced

News coverage in the aftermath of a rave that was held in the former Royal Mail sorting office on Addiscombe Road, Croydon, has increasingly and understandably focused on the tragic death of 15-year-old student Rio Andrew, who had been attending the rave, and the subsequent police investigation into his death.

autoPrior to these awful events, the former Croydon sorting office had not been standing empty for long. The go-ahead for the closure of the building and the transfer of its operations to a new site on a hard-to-get-to, out-of-town industrial estate, together with a plan to redevelop the Addiscombe Road site into flats was announced at the beginning of 2014, and this amid wider claims that the Royal Mail’s entire property portfolio may have been undervalued at the time of privatisation. According to the UK’s National Audit Office and others, undervaluation seems to have been a characteristic of the Royal Mail privatisation as a whole, although Business Secretary Vince Cable suggested that the rapid rise in the value of shares did not show that they had been undervalued, but was merely ‘froth’.

In the words of the Telegraph‘s Steve Swinford,

Mr Cable denied that the government has under-valued Royal Mail, and insisted that the prices will “settle” at a lower level.

‘Other interesting models are the “Self Levelling Cart” or “Auto Leveller”’

‘Other interesting models are the “Self Levelling Cart” or “Auto Leveller”’

On the eve of privatisation, the Labour Party’s Shadow Business, Innovation and Skills Team had said:

The prospectus for Royal Mail’s privatisation published last week outlines that it currently operates from 2,000 sites across Britain including delivery offices and mail centres. There are fears that once the privatisation is complete these assets — many in prime locations — will be flogged off giving a large windfall to investors, while the taxpayer is short changed by the low sale price for the company and customers could be left having to trek miles to inconveniently-sited delivery offices. The prospectus highlights three sites within London at Mount Pleasant, Nine Elms and Paddington as being “surplus”. Some reports attach a value of more than £500 million to the Nine Elms site, and a value of £1 billion to the Mount Pleasant site. But the document fails to specify which of Royal Mail’s other sites across Britain could be sold off and how much money this would raise. A disposal plan could see delivery offices — pick up points for parcels and mail — closed and moved to out-of-town locations, where land values are cheaper but which are inconvenient for customers.

This seems to be exactly what has happened in Croydon, and the pattern is likely to be repeated at sorting and delivery offices around the country.

Speaking of things supposedly finding their own levels, anyone watching the BBC London News report on the rave, and who has worked in a Royal Mail sorting office — as I did during the early 1990s, at London’s former St. Pancras Way (NW1) and Upper St (N1) depots — might have been surprised  to see news footage of a fully-loaded auto-level trolley (at left in the photo below) being used by people leaving the building.

Screen Shot 2014-06-18 at 10.43.00

I don’t know to what extent auto-levels — ‘autos’ for short — are still used in contemporary Royal Mail processing (the British Postal Museum and Archive holds a number of them, which they list as being in use until 2001) but in the 1990s they were ubiquitous. Whether empty, or full of packets, one was forever ‘tipping’ i.e. emptying mailbags into them, pushing them from one place to another, or ‘throwing off’ (i.e. sorting) their contents. The name comes from the sprung, wooden base which lifts as the load lightens, allowing the contents to be accessible at a constant level, and thus reducing potential for back strain that might otherwise be caused by postal workers repeatedly bending to retrieve items from the bottom of a trolley with a fixed base.

My postal-themed, Bristol novella Missorts Volume II, is set in and around another vast, derelict former Royal Mail sorting office, this one at Bristol Temple Meads, to which I was granted unique access during 2008-9. The site was littered with broken and abandoned equipment.

AUTOLEVEL JPEG

 

Bristol-based art producers Situations, who published Missorts Volume II (as a companion volume to my permanent public soundwork Missorts), filmed a series of short, one- or two-minute readings from the novella, to promote a limited edition paperback that they brought out at the end of 2013. Here is one of the films. It is entitled, of course, ‘A Broken Auto-level Trolley’.

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Find out more about the limited edition paperback of Missorts Volume II.

Letters of not*: Steven Wells

Swells_letter

Undated letter from the late, great Steven Wells (10 May 1960—24 June 2009), written in a loose parody of my then soon-to-be-published novel CHARLIEUNCLENORFOLKTANGO. Swells had been a big fan of CHARLIEUNCLE…, having seen some of the many spoken-word outings that I was doing with the material at the time. ‘Roadrage’ — from the title of my 1997 novel — was the nickname that only he used, whenever we spoke.

This letter dates from autumn 1999, during the run-up to the launch of Swells’s Attack Books imprint.

ROADRAGE!

HERE’S SOME BASTARD POSTCARDS, YOU FUCKER!

DO YOU BLEEDIN’ WANT SOME BLOODY MORE, YOU TART? I’M FLAMING TRYING TO SHITTING SET UP SOME WANKING STUDENT GIGS, YOU TOSSER.

CUNTING WELL SPEAK TO YOU SODDING SOON,

SWELLS

As well as Swells’s own debut novel Tits-Out Teenage Terror Totty, and Stanley Manly’s Raiders of the Low Forehead, the Attack launch list included my novel Satan! Satan! Satan! — the title of which is of course a quotation of the opening vocal loop (at 00:57 in the Youtube video below) of ‘Sweat Loaf’ by Butthole Surfers (whom we both admired) from their 1987 LP Locust Abortion Technician, though it is possibly more well-known in the UK because of Orbital’s 1991 sample.

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* with apologies to Shaun Usher’s great Letters of Note project.

Other posts about Swells on Tony White’s pieceofpaperpress.com.