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Friday, February 15, 2013

The Special Needs Relationship - Part One

What follows is C's fault...for posting the bit about Suede.

This is the Londoner Grill in Baton Rouge, Louisiana on Sherwood Forest Blvd. across from the Celtic Center. I took this photo while I was staying in Denham Springs because I had business in Scotlandville.

Last night I found my self watching Live Forever: The Rise and Fall of Britpop...for like the sixth time. It weren't any better this time than it was the other five. I'm just easily distracted...easily amused and obsessive. So there you are. I was trying to find a clip of Suede's performance at the Brit Awards in 93....Animal Nitrate. It's been blocked on You Tube by BPI but, I thought I had seen it in Live Forever. I was wrong. In fact, Suede are given pretty short shrift...reduced in significance to a magazine cover. The film ought to be called Live Forever: The Rise and Fall of Oasis and Some Other Bands that Owe Their Existence to James Brown (the puffed up editor of Loaded magazine, not Macon, Georgia's own God Father of Soul).

They could just have easily called it How the Idea of America Manipulates the British Pop Psyche.

For our purposes the discussion begins with Jon Savage...

"The Pendulum (in the early 90's) had swung back to America. There's always this tic-toc, tic-toc, between the U.S. and the U.K. At least in the U.K. Often in America they don't give a toss about what's going on in the U.K."

And continues in part two...

(the usual warning about language when hearing from with these potty mouths)

The Elephant in the Room or How Americans Will Dance to Anything by Day-Pesh-Kamode
e.f. bartlam

To my mind, some obvious questions arise in those passages from Live Forever.  We're gonna get 'em sorted out...sussed if you like. None of them has to do with the sentiment of resentment toward American culture expressed by Jon Savage, James Brown, et al. as a matter of historical fact. Besides you can't argue with sentiment...sentiment just is. What we will try to do is address certain, what is American Culture? That might seem an impossible question to answer in a few paragraphs. It's not. Believe me it's doable. We'll talk about Budweiser.

Two, what does it actually mean to "Make it in America?" This seems to be a recurring issue with certain bands or elements of the British music papers. We may not be able to come up with a definitive answer to that question but, I think we can add emphasis to elements of it that are often overlooked. We'll listen to Band of Skulls do a Ford commercial (we may have to digress at this point and explain that Ford is not actually a British car maker).

Three, is it true that Americans don't normally give a toss about what goes on in British popular culture? I think by answering the first two question it will become obvious that Americans do...that Britain wields a tremendous influence in America. It's not exactly the same as wielding influence over the culture but, it's pretty hard to shape something that barely exists...and to the extent that it does exist, does so under extremely rigid parameters. /

Here is where I should say something about football...just to irritate Kibber but, one of the reasons I'm hiding this post in ridiculous, pretentious "fancy dress" is that there is no football right now and I'm bored out of my freaking mind.

Go Gators...six months from now.

I should also say a word about terminology. Those of you who read this blog know that I have no allegiance to this ridiculous notion of America (me and Spliff call it The Imperial Construct of America)...I'm a Southron and y'all know this. Making that distinction is not necessary, except where it is necessary, in the following discussion. So enjoy the rare instance where I will be including myself, and my people, among these other ragamuffins.

Also, also...we should get Canada out of the way before proceeding. We are honored to have, here at Flimsy Cups, Canada's greatest export..Spliff (aka Dread Pirate Jessica). You can read her thoughts and, if you're lucky, interact with her here on these pages. Nothing more need be said about that.

To be continued...

Cleveland, Mississippi

I know phone booths and double-decker buses. We're dealing, to a certain extent, in generalizations and stereotypes. Don't get your Bowler in a bunch. Go eat a crumpet and settle it down.


  1. The Damon Albarm interview is fascinating.

    The British left turned against the white private-sector working classes during the '80s because the selfish bastards kept voting for Mrs. Thatcher, for no other reason than she turned the economy round and suddenly people like the former Eastenders who’d moved out of London to Essex mainly as a result of slum clearances could afford to buy their own houses, decent motors, go on more foreign holidays, and eat out regularly. Because they rather liked these changes, they kept voting for the politician whose policies had delivered their increased wealth (they weren’t Tories, they were Thatcherites).

    Labour supporters – in particular, pop stars, stand-up comics, broadcasters, public sector management, teachers and academics – have never forgiven the working folk of Essex for not supporting their “comrades” in the former state-owned heavy industries up North. Tony Blair turned it round by recognising that the upwardly-mobile working classes no longer gave a rat’s arse about class war and had grown tired of being sneered at and hectored by university-educated middle class socialists, who seemed to want the lower orders to stay in their council flats, ride mopeds, holiday in Blackpool and keep voting Labour. Blair paid homage to Mrs. T and tried not to screw up the economy – but his deranged chancellor and successor as Prime Minister, Gordon Brown, wouldn’t leave well enough alone and spent all our money (and then some) trying to shore up Labour’s electoral base.

    Albarn’s disdain for the white people of Essex is a classic example of this tendency – of course, if these frightful vulgarians hadn’t been able to make more money, they would have remained penned up in their council estates, and Damon’s precious countryside would have remained pristine.

    So where does America come in? Well, where did Thatcher get all these dreadful social and economic ideas from? Yup – mainly from your imperial construct. The British left - and their faithful poodles in the rock world - view the non-coastal US as a vast version of Essex, full of fat, vulgar, economically exploitative, ecology-destroying, white, racist, cultureless money-grubbers. Doesn't stop them busting a gut trying to make it there, of course.

    1. I feel a sudden urge to find a helmet.


      Thatcher looms over the first half of the documentary like the Wicked Witch did OZ...but, I decided to give it a wide berth because that seemed like a purely British issue.

      Of course, you are British so....y'all knock yerselves with that. I'll be under the table.


      The problem with Damon, to me, is not where he was born or where he did or didn't grow up...he just seems so uncomfortable in his own skin. Give's him a really phoney least in those interviews.

    2. Thanks, e.f. - you've put your finger on something that's always puzzled me about Albarn: he's like an actor who can't figure out how to play a role.

      At the risk of forcing you to replace that helmet with a full suit of armour
      you’re also spot on about the “Wicked Witch” hysteria. Albarn and his chums are absolutely convinced that the vast majority of Britons share their view of Mrs. Thatcher – but two left-wing newspapers jointly commissioned a poll about our attitudes to prime ministers since 1964, which they published two days ago. People were asked whether they thought past prime ministers were better or worse than the present incumbent, David Cameron. Here are the results:

      1 Margaret Thatcher +23

      2 Harold Wilson +10

      3 Tony Blair +4

      4 Edward Heath +1

      =5 David Cameron 0

      =5 James Callaghan 0

      7 John Major -4

      8 Gordon Brown -17

      i.e. Thatcher scores 23% more than Cameron – and 40% more than the last Labour prime minister, Gordon Brown.

      Strange, considering how we're all supposed to hate her guts.

    3. It's a similar thing with Reagan over here. A certain set of people were flabbergasted when tens of thousands turned out for his funeral.

      At least with Thatcher you can understand why certain certain people would have hard feelings. I think it's reasonable for, say, the coal miner in Wales to stick her doll with pins. For good or bad purpose, he was directly affected.

      Why we're all supposed to HATE Reagan is a mystery to everyone except the folks at MSNBC and they never explain themselves.

  2. Thanks for this, e.f. :-)
    I haven't seen the documentary, but watched your clip and came to the same conclusion about Damon Albarn seeming uncomfortable in his own skin. Funnily enough I do quite like him from other things I've seen and read (not as much as I like Graham Coxon though, but a million times more than I like Alex James - do not get me started on him!). But here he does seem awkward and like he's trying a bit too hard. Colchester is just down the road from me, btw. It seems a rather sad town these days.

    I don't have any strong comments about the America/Brit thing to be honest! I like the familiarity of the British-ness that is the only thing I know, that includes a lot of the music and the associated culture I grew up with. I like the differences about the America-ness I know, and that also includes a lot of the music and the associated culture I didn't grow up with. I also dislike a lot of things about both... (Shrugs shoulders). I'm a bit crap at this kind of discussion!
    I do know, though, that I love case you hadn't guessed ;-) And that Brett was mighty pissed off at having his delicious photo super-imposed over a Union Jack. Rightly so.

    Love that phone box! I hope it doesn't smell of urine.

    1. He gets really dramatic when the issue with Oasis comes up...and because he's talking between clips of Noel Gallagher, who is obviously at home in his own skin, he seems to get smaller and smaller.

      I am a fan of Blur's music...I love Parklife. It's fantastic.

      There will be more to talk about eventually. What I hope will become clear is that the relationship is not as one sided as it's sometimes explained, and that Britian swings a very heavy club over here.

      Hopefully some of it will be amusing to y'all. Maybe they'll be a surprise or two.

      I love the look of Colchester in the clips...ironically, given Damon's complaint, it screams Britain to me.

    2. Actually it doesn't scream screams England.

    3. Look forward to more. Noel is always great value too, and seems like a sound geezer.
      As an aside, I think the thing about Colchester is that it's really really historic, with a Norman castle and Roman wall, and a thriving art scene, but it's old beating heart seems to have got lost amid all the extensive expansion and development - we are such a crowded island it all gets crammed in to every available space. Ok, now I'm beginning to sound like Damon too.
      It probably just seemed a little sad when I was there a few weeks ago because it was a bit of a shock to see how much more had been crammed in even in just a few years, plus it was for our friend's funeral. Massive graveyard, though (it even needs its own map), with a funny little old chapel in the middle, which was even colder inside than out, where they sell tea and cakes. Very English!

    4. Never. Your credibility is beyond reproach here. If you say it doesn't sound overly dramatic.

      What happens over here is that there's so much space that whole blocks and swaths of towns will be abandoned because its just easier to build some place else.

      Please get stated on Alex James now. :)

  3. Thanks for posting.

    Can't believe I haven't seen this documentary properly. Love all those bands :D

    Liam Gallagher embarrasses me! Damon is fine though, he's normally like that I think.

    1. Liam makes me laugh...when he refers to Phil Collins and some of the others.."Dicks in tights."


      Damon is a great song writer...that's for certain.

      Good to see you over here.

  4. God, that Suede takes me all the way back to ninth grade and getting copied tapes from a boy I had the massivest crush of my life on. Actually this whole post does, but the Suede in particular.

    Can't offer a useful comment from a Canadian perspective as it's too close to my juvenile heart, which was more preoccupied with skinny boys than the socio-political implications of anything, but in retrospect I suspect the relative success of Britpop in Canada versus the Imperial construct was due at least in part to our long standing wish as a nation to socially differentiate ourselves from the Imperial Construct, even at the cost of keeping questionable ties with an older empire. Like keeping that Elizabeth Windsor, that kraut landlord woman with the eternal and constant wave, on our coinage. British music used to get easier audiences in Canada generally. Maybe it still does. Dunno.

    1. The strange thing for me is that I was in Germany from spring 94 to nov 97...and was in and out of England the whole time. So, it's a trip down memory lane for me too.

      Canada's in a tough spot. I guess the eastern half can claim to be French if it's looking for a way out. Twice in the 19th century Americans invaded Canada and both times were sent packing (not before starting some fires of course...that's what they do) there is that.

      I had forgotten how good Suede was as a band. It's hard not to think of Brett Anderson's prancing...and easy to forget that these jokers could play.

    2. Canadians do (or did) a lot of handwringing about how our identity is wrapped up so oppositionally to a much bigger neighbour, but I gave up on handwringing over that once and for all first after seeing the degree to which that's true in many countries and second after getting to Australia and realizing our cultural cringe has got NOTHING on these self-loathing bastards.

      The Quebecois are special though - they have a strong and vibrant nation of thier own, and no cultural cringe vis-a-vis France, despite what the French think - and apparently the East Coast, which is also a distinct nation, is catching up economically as well as socially, to the rest of the Anglos. Besides those Nordic Texans in Alberta who will buy and sell us all.

    3. Just to pick up on your remark there about Brett's prancing, e.f. - indeed that's the thing about Suede for me, they are musically brilliant and I don't need to see him to still get off on them... Whereas - you take that Jim Dandy guy - it's true that I experienced a strange, guilty, jaw-drops-in-disbelief thrill while watching him prance like a lady, but I had to do it with the sound down ;-)

    4. The only reason it's hard to remember how good the band was is that Brett's lady moves seem to get most of the attention when the band comes up in these documentaries. I'm gathering though that he didn't want any part of the nonsense surrounding Britpop.

      I got around to downloading some songs this weekend...I'd totally forgotten about Butler.

      As for Black Oak...the librarian at Millsaps had a brother in the band and they seem to have had a heavy influence on North Mississippi Allstars so, that's a good thing. They were just a little too jumped up to really resonate like Skynrd or the Allman Brothers...Marshal Tucker (even during this current obsessive bout, Toy Caldwell's been getting his turn on the table). I sometimes turn it down too.

      Spliff...I think we'll give you a guest post to discuss Australia...kinda an epilogue.

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  6. Seriously there is a town called Scotlandville????

    I am sorry that James 'The Boss' Brown didn't have more of an affect on Brit Pop, might have livened up the pretend Blur/Oasis war :o)

    1. Welcome to the party Ms Yve.

      Yes ma'am there is. It's a good sized, historica suburb of Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

      Baton Rouge is funny like that. It's on the very edge of Arcadiana (the French Cajun area of Lousiana) but, the Anglophone Rednecks have made their stand. I've never seen so many English Pubs in one town on this side.