Idiot Alert
Is this the stupidest article ever written?

So basically, Catcher In The Rye is irrelevant to todays young people because they're all out having the time of their lives, shopping and partying and looking fantastic. I know its true, I've seen Skins.

What a total moron. And this is in The Guardian, a supposedly intelligent newspaper? Sometimes I just give up.

Nicky's Pants
I've been a bit down recently so I've decided to cheer myself up, and honestly, what could be more cheerful than some pictures of Nicky Wire's underpants?


Not many people can people can pull off Burberry and camouflage in one outfit, and unfortunately I suspect Nicky is one of them.

More gratuitous pant flashing behind the cut
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Orwell vs. Huxley

Just seen this great comic "Amusing Ourselves To Death" on how Huxley was a better judge of the future than Orwell. Spot on I fear.

Writer's Block: Mix and Mingle
How do you react when you get nervous in social situations?
I get hideously drunk, manage to be operate at that level for a couple of hours and then usually overdo it and end up throwing up everywhere. I don't really recommend it.

I've lost my copy of the Forever Delayed DVD! I just got the box out but its not in there. I've put on the millenium gig instead which is great obviously but does lack the crucial element of topless Nicky and Richey canoodling. Now I'm going to have to tear the place apart trying to find the damn thing.

LSE Filth

I've stolen this screencap from FD becouse it looks so utterly filthy. Downhill skiing in action perhaps?

A Vision or Reason: The Search for Richey Edwards - Rob Jovanovic
I'm about halfway through this book now (I'm having to read it surreptitiously in Books Etc during my lunch hours as I am so totally broke at the moment) and these are my initial thoughts on it.

1. It takes forever to get going. There is far too much about Rob Jovanovic and how terribly difficult he's found it to write this book when nobody wants to talk to him. He seems to take it as some kind of personal insult that Richey's friends and family aren't lining up to spill their guts to him, even bemoaning the fact that Richey's parents have refused to be interviewed when surely they should be grateful for the opportunity to keep the story in the public eye. This reaches its zenith when he takes a totally pointless drive to Blackwood in order to lurk about outside Richey's old school and his parents house, despite already knowing nobody is willing to speak to him.

2. He draws far too many parallels between Richey and other artsist who've disappeared/committed suicide, seemingly starting every chapter with a discription of his last days, only to reveal at the end that hey, its not Richey I'm talking about but Rimbaud, or Owain Glyndwr, or Yukio Mishima. It's a literary conceit that's fine to use once, but by the fourth time I was ready to throw the book across the shop in frustration.

3. He seems to have taken a serious dislike to Nicky, the book is full of sly digs at his arrogance or lack of intellectual rigour compared to Richey. For example while Richey's admiration for IRA hunger striker Bobby Sands isn't questioned at all, despite Sands being a terrorist and everything, Nicky's admiration of the striking miners who held out to the last is treated with withering contempt and a patronising treatise on how the strike totally wasn't cool cos' like people got hurt and stuff. He goes to the trouble of reprinting, in full, a letter someone wrote to a local fanzine 25 years ago calling Nicky a cock and best of all is the line (I'm quoting from memory here but this is the jist of it) "Although never shy of playing up his credentials as a member of the working class, Wire was less keen on the actual working element." I'm intrigued as to whether all this is based on anything specific (maybe it was Nicky who got everyone to refuse to talk to him), or whether its  a setup for some later revelation about how what happened to Richey was all somehow Nicky's fault. 

4. Most of the what I've read so far is a fairly standard retread of the story, made up of quotes from other interviews with Richey and the rest of the band, all of which I've heard before. However it does get better when it gets to Richey's time at college, Jovanovic has actually managed to get some interviews with people who knew him at the time and we get a couple of funny stories, Richey getting a job as a hedge trimmer during the summer holidays (which I find deeply funny anyway for some reason) and accidently cutting through some dogshit which then sprayed all over him, and the time he drove Nicky, James and Sean to see Echo &the Bunnymen play in England somewhere, wherupon Sean got hideouosly drunk, shouted abuse at Ian McCulloch and then threw up all other the other three on the car ride home. However a few humorous anecdotes do not make a good book (otherwise Jenny Watkins Insardi's appalling "In the Beginning" would be the best Manics book ever).  

In short, I'm not particularly bowled over with what I've read so far, and I'm very glad I didn't spend £16.99 on it, however I will plow on and see how it goes, you never know, maybe it'll get a lot better as the story develops (but I'm not holding my breath).

Nicky OMFG
Nicky Pants


No Surface All Feeling
Just transcribed the original lyrics from the demo version of No Surface All Feeling on the 10th Anniversary edition of EMG:

Embarrassed, possessed and so uncivilised
Just take a look at the whites of my eyes
See me now and I will apologise
From me for you we know they were lies

It makes me angry ashamed and really alive
It may have worked but at what price
I made a choice, made a life, made a life and a start
And all that happened was more and more junk

Feel the guilt of the sinner
Feel the cold of the winner

I may be richer, wish I was wiser
Seemed an easy thing to stop going too far
Beg me to stop hate my face I know
Tell me forever just to go

Just one thing before I get to sleep
Nothing here just your stains on my teeth
No not blood but liquid from you
I only wish it was the truth

Feel the guilt of the sinner
Feel the cold of the winter

It was no surface all but all feeling
Maybe at the time it felt like dreaming

I've always thought that this song was basically Nicky's regrets at how things worked out between him and Richey (I know it was written before Richey disappeared, but from what I gather things were already pretty fucked between them by then). Reading these original lyrics just makes it seem even more like that. That line about making a choice and a start seems to be to be about how Nicky decided that his future lay with his wife and a "normal" domestic life rather than whatever he had with Richey but that even after making that decision things got worse "more and more junk" happened. The reference to the guilt of the sinner could work two ways, is he guilty about "sinning" with Richey or was the sin that he didn't do enough to help him, that he was too caught up with his "life of his own" to be everything that Richey wanted him to be.

The second half of the song is the bit that always seems to have a vague sexual connotation to it. The phrase "seemed an easy thing to stop going too far" suggests that to Nicky whatever happened between them was never that serious, they never went too far, it was always under control, but the fact that Richey "begged him to stop" suggests that to him it was something far more significant. Also to me it definitely sounds like "your stains on my teeth" on this version, rather than the far more vague "the staines on my teeth" on the album version which, followed by the famous "liquid from you" lyric all seems to point to some kind of sexual relationship. But then the chorus/title crashes in stating that it was no surface but all feeling which seems to suggest that it was all just emotion that was never properly acted on. And maybe that's what Nicky really regrets, that he never acted on the feelings he had for Richey when he had the chance and that everything just fell apart afterward and he never got the chance to tell him he loved him. In which case this has to be one of the saddest songs ever written.

Roundhouse 30th May
So, massively over exited about the gig beforehand, which usually means it will only end up being a disappointment but oh no, not tonight, tonight was AMAZING and I'm still buzzing from it three days later. Went with a friend who doesn't really like the Manics so couldn't indulge in any queueing or meeting other fans (although the Enterprise was packed with them, as expected, if only pubs were full of blokes in poorly applied eyeliner all the time). The venue was great, I've never been there before and a lot of people had said it was awful but I thought it was fantastic, I was amazed at how small it is, I'm so used to seeing the band in cavernous hell holes like the Brixton Academy that I was thrilled with how close the stage was even from the back. The support band The Answering Machine were awful, really dull generic indie that just washed over me completely. I try to be open minded about the support acts (I loved The Enemy) but these were just dire.

For the first half I left my mate at the bar and slid down the front, just behind the mosh pit. Again I thought the sightlines were ace, I could see James and Nicky perfectly even though I wasn't that close to the front really. The JFPL set was just awesome, Peeled Apples is definately becoming an all time favourate of mine, the way it just explodes into life. Jackie Collins seemed a bit more subdued following but everyone around me loved it, maybe becouse its had more airplay and that seemed to be when the gig really got going. Me & Stephen Hawkins kept up the momentum, that track just keeps growing on me. A string quartet came on for This Joke Sport Severed which was absolutely beautiful, this is definately my favourate track on the album now, just stunning musically and lyrically. Journal For Plague Lovers was the one track on the album which didn't really do anything for me but seeing it live totally changed my opinion, it tore the place up as did She Bathed Herself in a Bath of Bleach was as immense as I expected. Facing Page Top Left was another lump in the throat moment, the whole crowd joining in on the "This is beauty here dipping neophobia" line, which must be an unlikely sing along lyric but which just seemed perfect. Marlon JD was a proper mosh frenzy, everyone going insane before Doors Closing Slowly brought it all back down with its haunting sense of despair. All Is Vanity seemed to get the biggest shout/pogo along where I was, everyone holloring the "Its not what's wrong, its what's right" refrain like their lives depended on it. Pretension Repulsion and V.S.E.C. were proper scream alongs too, by now the whole crowd seemd to be going mental for it. William's Last Words was always going to be a tear jerker (especially for a Nicky/Richey sap like me) but Nicky handled it brilliantly and sang it so beautifully that it just made it all the more magical. As I'm guessing its probably never going to be performed live again after this tour I'm just so thrilled that I got to see them do it.

The second greatest hits set wasn't quite as immense (partly I suspect becouse I went back to the bar, where I was the only person who was dancing/singing along) but it was still pretty fantastic. Motorcycle Emptiness was thrilling, I'd began to get a bit sick of it recently but it seemed much faster and livelier on Saturday and now I've fallen in love with it again. Your Love Alone is Not Enough is still a great record and I for one never get tired of hearing No Surface All Feeling or You Love Us so the set got off to a storming start. Neither Tsunami or La Tristesse are particular favourites of mine and it did feel like the energy was starting to flag somewhat at this point but an awsome Faster picked it up again and from then on in it was classic after classic. Even the discovery that we were getting Ocean Spray when Friday night got Sorrow 16 (!!!!!) wasn't enough dampen the mood and by the time Motown Junk / Everything Must Go / Design For Life wrapped it up I was in seventh heaven.

All in all I think it was one of the best gigs I've seen them do, the decision to split the set into two halves really worked and it was great seeing the album in full as usually there is always one song you always seem to miss, even if you go a few times. I was amazed at how active and up for it Nicky was, with his back being so fucked I expected him to be rooted to the spot or sat down for most of the gig but he seemed to be really up for it and enjoying himself. He also looked fantastic (as always). James was excellent, really working the crowd and engaging with everyone, seemingly giving it all the more effort to try and make up the less active Nicky. Most bands would probably have just postponed the whole tour so I really admire them for not just carrying on but for making it as amazing as it was. Now I want to go and see them again at the Forum next week, but as that probably isn't going to happen I shall just have to hope that they change their mind and fit in a winter tour this year as well. We can but hope.


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