Drudes, Droogs, Druggies and Drudges,
Welcome to 2003. X-Mass is over for another year and we’re just days away from taking down our tree of Yggdrasil. Though she hates putting the decorations up too early, my wife Dorian has come to accept that by every December 1st, Avalon and Albany (or Bunny as she’s known to us) will be hassling her to help us get it all together. And I’ll do anything to extend the winter festival and make it less exclusively ‘Christmas-y.’ For those of you who felt that the winter festival went on a little too long this year (falling as it did between the weekends and so obliterating a whole fortnight for many), let’s think a little about the poor sods at those BP Stop’n’Shops from whom we expect a Boxing Day smile as they replenish our milk and butter. You could pay me triple quintuple time to do that job and I’d still be the chuntering churl from hell – I’m just relieved they don’t goz in my face.
However, regarding the long-term aspects of 2003, it’s difficult to know where we stand. Now long gone are those vibe years of 2000 and 2001, whose numbers we had anticipated from childhood. Yet, unheralded 2002 became a fair replacement in the face of September 11th and most people embraced it with almost as much gusto as ravers leaving the 1980s. Unfortunately, the governments of Britain and the U.S. have such a tendency to fall back on the simplistic Capitalism = Democracy = Christianity, that it only reinforces in all people’s minds just how much of our world is run by rich be-suited old men. I guess – as we wade deeper and deeper into the unnegotiated 2000s – the more the West is ripe for all kinds of mystery cults to be asserting themselves as new religions. It’s getting to the stage where the world is so straight that it’s genuinely shocking seeing a powerful longhair’d scruff like Saint Bob Geldof on prime time TV.
That said, it blew my mind to see Geldof on the News at Ten talking about the death of Joe Strummer. What? Yup, Strummer is dead and I still can’t believe it. I’d always presumed he’d become an ancient Gandalf type, always there for us with words of wisdom. Joe Strummer kicked the bucket at 50. Just 50, no way! It’s inconceivable. And there was Geldof talking about Dead Joe like it wasn’t the weirdest thing in the world. It was weird weird weird and it still fucking is weird. Five years older than me and it always seemed so much more when I was a 19-year-old punk in 77, but in truth it weren’t nothing at all. Hard to believe, but I sat in the bathroom and cried as the stereo blasted out "Johnny Appleseed" from Strummer’s last album. And me, I wasn’t even much of a Clash fan after Sandy Pearlman took over for GIVE ‘EM ENOUGH ROPE, but Strummer’d always been the real thing; and his genuine discomfort in stardom, and the Clash not getting back together were possibly the things that moved me more than any of those Clash records. And it truly didn’t matter about all the melt brains who had re-formed their no-mark outfits because The Clash had not. Sure, you’ll get the Guardian G2 journalists who’ll call Strummer a cod revolutionary, same as they accused John Lennon and the MC5 of the same thing, but sustaining his refusenik stance (in the face of world popularity) always gave Strummer the moral high ground. I had a coupla big X-Mass arguments with pseudo-intellectuals who said Strummer had failed big style and The Clash weren’t that great anyway, and all I could think was: "How can you be so compassionless, you un-achieving no-marks? Why dontcha just stop for a moment and reflect on just how much Strummer informed your teenage dreams?"
More than any Christian saints, that’s for shit-damn-sure.
O yeah, and more than that Ozzy Osbourne and his Hollywood TV hell brood, whom I finally got a chance to see making fools of themselves over the holidays. "But at least it’s lovely to see Ozzy as a caring dad," said a friend of mine. Lovely? Since when? I’m perfectly happy for my heroes to be opium-eating axe-murdering sociopaths, but it seems yer typical British holidays have forged a new archetype… no news for two weeks and nightly doses of Osbourne and his shaky gravy traumas. Yippee!
Now, I’m blasting the stereo with Brain Donor’s forthcoming double-CD TOO FREUD TO ROCK’N’ROLL, TOO JUNG TO DIE. While Kevlar recovers from his chemo-therapy, we’ve decided to release an interim retrospective collecting all the best studio stuff from 1999 to now, including the concert at the Queen Elizabeth Hall. Those of you used to dodgy bootlegs of that show should be forewarned that the volume of this new live CD suddenly increases by a painful 12 decibels halfway through the second song ("She Saw Me Coming"), because I’m a true Lokian spirit and deeply gimmicky motherfucker.
I’ll close by mentioning that, just before X-Mass, I was on my way to Doggen’s Nottingham studio to record a particularly fiery vocal narrative for the forthcoming album by the mighty Sunn0))), when an articulated lorry tossed me up the embankment of the M42 and spun me around into the path of a Rover 75. Shaking and shivering, I continued up to Nottingham, where the vocal went to tape with even more yawp that I could have anticipated. However, it should be noted that the narrative invoked several European Gods of Death & Resurrection, all of whom apparently chose to meet me right there on that north carriageway near Breedon-on-the-Hill. I was too shaken up to note whether or not the artic in question was a Foden, but it has certainly added a little va-va-voom to my entry into 2003CE.
Okay, that’s me finished. Like last year, I’m gonna be doing European fieldwork throughout the next twelve months. But this new book is truly gonna be worth the wait. So hang on in there, me babbies.
Love Fucking Peace,
JULIAN (M’Lud Yatesbury)