Skip to main content

i meant to say


this is probably the most predictable blog post i've written, but that doesn't especially worry me. after all, being predictable in certain respects points to consistency, stability, self-assurance. nothing too bad about that. and besides, i'm writing about something that has been a constant in my life for nearly twenty years.

as many of you already know, on november 24th, the world suffered a loss, unmarked by the vast majority, but tremendously important to a small, devoted group. peter christopherson, member of throbbing gristle, psychick tv, coil and several other music projects, passed away- peacefully but unexpectedly- in his sleep. his enormous influence in underground music can hardly be overstated and it is sad to think that such an important creative force has been stilled.

although his work was decidedly off the mainstream, "sleazy" found his way into more homes than most people realise. before becoming famous/ notorious as a musician, he was a designer at the much-lauded design firm hipgnosis, who produced some of the best known album artwork of the 70s including pink floyd's "animals" and led zeppelin's "houses of the holy". he was also a skilled video director, making music clips for coil, as well as better-known acts (robert plant, ministry, sepultura, yes, paul mccartney). from the outside, he seemed to be one of those people you want to hate, because he was just so good at everything he took on.

i never met or corresponded with christopherson, not because he seemed either inaccessible or unfriendly- as far as i can tell, exactly the opposite was the case- but more out of a sense of awed shyness. i could never figure out exactly what to say to someone who'd had such an impact on my life. and that's no exaggeration. coil, more than any other band i can think of, changed my life. a lot of my musical taste developed because i was lucky enough to meet up with people who knew more about it than i did. coil are the exception to that. i'd heard of them, i'd even heard their cover of "tainted love" (which was played to me as if it were a joke and which i had taken as such), but i'd never listened to them, really. i had started doing a radio show when their album "love's secret domain" came out and, despite not knowing anything about them, i became sort of fascinated with it. there was something about the steven stapleton cover art that spoke to me. for weeks, i would pick up the case and study it, but would never listen to it, because i was convinced that i wouldn't like it and that it would somehow be a let down to the beauty of the art. but finally, one day near the holidays, when i was alone in the station with nothing better to do, i decided that i might as well give it a shot. so there i sat on a stool in the cramped record library, hunched over a stereo set up that could at best be called "quirky" and something just changed.

i've never quite known how to describe it, but there was a definite shift in the angle of my musical tastes during the hour it took me to listen to that album. and yes, rather than just scanning through to get an idea of what it sounded like, i did end up listening to every minute of it, practically without moving. it was not merely that i liked the music, although i absolutely did, but that it was one of the only times i'd found something which fulfilled everything i personally wanted from music at that moment. not having enough knowledge to sort out and imagine the possibilities, i'd never been able to envision (enhear?) what that might actually sound like, but here was a group of eccentric englishman i'd never met who apparently knew what i needed better than i did. no one had ever pointed me towards them as a band i might like (i knew more people who derided them), but, somehow, there i was, in a sort of shock, just me and coil together.

of course, an important aspect of that experience was that the band served as a door to a musical world whose existence i'd suspected, but never confirmed. there were other bands who had a profound impact on shaping my tastes, but the point of genesis was always that moment hearing "love's secret domain". and however my tastes may have shifted in the interim, i never stopped loving coil. they're one of the few bands who i feel managed to have a long career without losing quality, becoming neither predictable nor forcing themselves in an ill-fitted new direction.

i think that if i had corresponded with peter christopherson, i would have liked to have found a way to explain that to him, while trying not to sound like a sycophantic git. (i can sound like one here and feel like i'm not embarrassing myself.) people for whom music becomes intertwined with living take our heroes seriously. they may never meet us, but we follow always at a discreet distance, watching what they do and waiting expectantly for what will come next. we are bitterly disappointed if they choose to rest on past laurels and we can barely contain our excitement each time they give us something new. what we hope in return is that the burden of our expectations is an incentive and not a cage, that they take heart in the fact that around them are unseen others who believe that they are bright stars in an increasingly dark world and who feel our lives diminished by their passing.

anyone wanting to leave a final word can do so here.

Comments

as long as you're here, why not read more?

fun-raising

no, i am not dead, nor have i been lying incapacitated in a ditch somewhere. i've mostly been preparing for our imminent, epic move, which is actually not so terribly epic, because we found a place quite close to where we are now. in addition, i've been the beneficiary of an inordinately large amount of paying work, which does, sadly, take precedence over blogging, even though you know i'd always rather be with you.

indeed, with moving expenses and medical expenses looming on the horizon, more than can be accounted for even with the deepest cuts in the lipstick budget, dom and i recently did something that we've not done before: we asked for help. last week, we launched a fundraising campaign on go fund me. it can be difficult to admit that you need a helping hand, but what's been overwhelming for both of us is how quick to respond so many people we know have been once we asked. it's also shocking to see how quickly things added up.

most of all, though, the ex…

losers?

just a short time ago, i waxed prosaic about trump supporters who felt betrayed by their candidate pursuing in office the exact things that he said he would. short version: i have no sympathy.

today is a bit different. in the wake of america's bombing of a syrian air strip, in response to a chemical weapons attack by the syrian government, my facebook and twitter feeds were peppered with plaintive shades of "we believed you". these are the people who heard trump say that he wanted the united states to step back and focus on defending its own. indeed, trump did say such things, over and over; america cannot be the policeman of the world. even arch-liberal cynics like me had to admit that this was a refreshing argument to hear from someone outside the paul family, and, could easily have been turned into trump's greatest argument against hillary clinton. [he chose to go another way, which also worked.]

trump also said, repeatedly, that america needed to invest heavily …

long division

after the united states election last year, there were the usual calls for the country to unite behind the new president. that never happens anymore, because, since george w. bush scored a victory in 2004, having launched the country into a war in iraq for no reason, the people on the losing side of a presidential election have been pretty bloody angry about it. democrats hated bush 43. republicans really hated obama. democrats really hate trump.

it didn't help that trump didn't make the typical conciliatory gestures like including a couple of members of the opposite party in his cabinet, or encouraging his party to proceed slowly with contentious legislation. barack obama arguably wasted at least two and as many as six years of his tenure as president trying to play peacemaker before he felt sufficiently safe to just say "screw you guys" and start governing around the ridiculous congress he was forced to deal with. not-giving-a-shit obama was the best president in …