Sunday, 9 November 2008
Thursday, 16 October 2008
He's known around town, from bordellos to theatres. His Utter! nights are a treat to catch. His poetry features in the preview for FuseLit's Aquarium. His name is suspiciously similar to that of the Wu Tang Clan's ODB. He is Richard Tyrone Jones, and he and FuseLit had a grand chat.
FuseLit: Tell us a bit about yourself, to start with.
Richard Tyrone Jones: Born Rechavia K. Silvermann 1981 in Tel Aviv, one of identical twins. After my brother died in infancy I was adopted by Gloria and Tyrone Jones and so grew up in Wolverhampton, a slightly less glamorous location. Some of my comic poetry takes the piss out of my granite lion-guarded upbringing and deals with issues of adoption and genetic survival. I did comedy at Cambridge with Fat Fat Pope, described as 'God's gift to comedy' as The Observer and 'Wanky, self-important brats' by the Independent. We did sketches about Max Ernst, Viking settlement patterns and the pre-Russian revolution proletariat selling their joints to the aristocracy so they could reticulate like massive arachnids, but I dropped out before my finals to work in the Gulf. Moved to London 2003, did a load of shitty public sector admin before finally having the balls and the contacts to say 'fuck this shit' and become the subtle, considered poet I am now. I run 'Utter!', have at least one biological child with up to ten pending and have performed everywhere from the O2 Wireless festival to Welwyn Garden City.
FL: Who has influenced you in general?
RTJ: John Peel for his eclecticism and chatty style – he was like a surrogate uncle growing up in a frankly cultureless home. In poetry; my first exposure was to Lear, and his influence lingers, Tims Wells and Turnbull, Clare Pollard, Paul Birtill, Betjeman, Bukowski and many more. Comedy: Louis CK, Larry David, Chris Morris, Kenny Everett, Mark Watson, Simon Munnery. Fiction; Self, Eco, H.P. Lovecraft, Stewart Home, Blyton, Poe. Tell you what, that Shakespeare's not bad either.
FL: Reclaiming ginger. Discuss.
RTJ: Or 'the G-word'. As you probably already know the word was coined in the eighteenth century, as an anagram of, and corollary to, 'the n-word', expressly to foment anti-Keltic racism along the same lines of anti-Afrikan prejudice. In the New World the former failed, the latter sadly retained its hold for socio-demographic reasons. In the Old World the situation is now reversed; due to the imperium's centripedal post-war settlement patterns it is considered unacceptable to define an 'out-group' on the basis of skin colour, but acceptable, humorous even, to do so on grounds of hair colour. This is partly due to the aforementioned prejudice against the Celtic fringe/diaspora and the recessive nature of the sixteenth chromosome's MRC1 gene. This is compounded by recent reports of, and including a photographic project predicated on the premise that, the Ginger phenotype will die out in the next 150-300 years. Such defeatist predictions, were they applied to blacks or Koreans, would rightly result in accusations of racism.
Utter! Gingers seeks instead to celebrate our genetic diversity, its global spread and the cultural heritage of the original, pre-Ice Age inhabitants of the British Isles through the spoken word. It will take place on Tuesday 11th November at the Green Note, Camden Parkway NW1 7AN and feature a wealth of Ginger talent including A.F. Harrold, Eric Gregory award-winner Heather Phillipson, Tamsin Kendrick and John Anstiss. I will also be delivering a lecture of Ginger History and achievements. Free genetic tests for the ginger haplotype will be conducted, to show just how many of the population are blessed with carrying the recessive Afro-Kelt genes!
FL: How are the writing workshops going and what's been the overall response so far?
RTJ: The Utter! writing group has been meeting for five years now, on Saturdays (except the first in the month) from 11am-1pm in Wood Green library's Community room, welcoming many guest poets and writers. Roddy Lumsden is running the workshop on October 25th. It's been great for the confidence and skills of all involved, many of whom have been there since the very beginning. It's a lot of fun getting people to write in new styles like sci-fi, pulp, sonnets, villanelles. I only wish the members of the writing group would actually finish more stuff and submit it to exciting quality publications such as Trespass, The Delinquent or fuselit.co.uk! Julia Bird's long-overdue first collection 'Hannah and the Monk' is beautiful. Each poem has a definite plot or argument and works symmetrically as a contraption. Reminds me a little in her historical empathic imagination of the Forward-commended Angela Cleland. Matthew Sweeney is another favourite. Well dark, dreamy unspecified menace. S'boss crunk. Rising's aways great. Live, Jow Lindsay is a strange, intelligent and fearless performer and I hope to get him to remix some of my ordure.
FL: What's been the best/worst live experience you've had, either as a performer or as a compere?
RTJ: Probably my best live experience has got to be the very first 'Utter!'s, or more recently winning over 400 punters crammed into the Rhythm Factory who were obviously only there to see Pete Doherty by charmingly putting down their heckles and saying we'd got some guy called 'What's his name? Keith Goggerty?' doing five minutes of open mic at the end. I enjoyed baiting them. Thank fuck he turned up. The worst live experience was my second stand-up appearance when I was totally cocky from initial success and was woefully unprepared. That taught me to graft!
With poetry it's difficult to have a truly bad gig (unless it's really badly organised, usually by someone else), because you've done all the hard work writing the things and poetry audiences are more open to experiencing a range of emotions and subjects. In the end it's just reading off some slices of dead tree and the humans like it or they don't.
FL: What would you like to see more of and less of in poetry, in both performance or the written word?
RTJ: I'd like to see a UN peacekeeper-enforced moratorium on versions of 'The Revolution will not be televised', dying Dad pieces to be rationed to one per poet, and for whiny American girls to realise that rapping your personal problems with a hanging article at the end of each line only makes me want to laugh at them, no matter how many of your puppies died of AIDs at the hands of THE MAN. I'd like to see more daytime and outdoor readings, sestinas, villanelles, clerihews, ventriloquism and pantoums delivered using loop pedals.
FL: Whose poetry are you currently enjoying?
FL: What swings you more with a poem? Subject matter or execution/style?
RTJ: To the extent that, as Don Paterson has it, poems are 'little machines for remembering' themselves both subject and style support each other. However, I possess a very visual imagination. Thus, probably if one were to encounter a poem with sparkling subject matter, yet badly executed, one would in any case later reconstitute it narratively in the manner one would wish to have heard it. On the other hand, wonderful execution cannot save an essentially slight conceit from being forgotten.
Julia Bird's long-overdue first collection 'Hannah and the Monk' is beautiful. Each poem has a definite plot or argument and works symmetrically as a contraption. Reminds me a little in her historical empathic imagination of the Forward-commended Angela Cleland. Matthew Sweeney is another favourite. Well dark, dreamy unspecified menace. S'boss crunk. Rising's aways great. Live, Jow Lindsay is a strange, intelligent and fearless performer and I hope to get him to remix some of my ordure.
FL: Having seen the quote from Tim Wells about you bridging the page/stage divide, what do you make of the whole argument and are you plotting a collection?
RTJ: Hah, that was an adaptation of some lazily-written Apples and Snakes copy. There exists no divide but a continuum, and wherever I find myself on it at a particular reading I can't help but bloodymindedly take the piss out of its conventions. I know that my over-use of mocking ironic detachment could be seen as a safety net to protect me from actually feeling any emotions but hell, we all need a psychological stab-proof vest of some kind, and better that than OCD or drug use. I have some silly, learnt 'party pieces' that I wheel out when it's necessary but generally I like reading stuff out from 'the page' because unlike some hosts I like to turn over new material and it makes you look more intelligent to all dem gaal in the audience. Coming from a failed comic background, I can forgive nerves but not mumbling or lack of eye contact.
I am indeed plotting (I like that, it makes it sound as if it'll be full of coded references to the return of a Catholic to the throne of England) a compendium of dark poetry, daft poetry, fiction, diagrams and slightly inept fanboy pictures entitled 'Germline'. I'd like to make it clear to the Forward judges it is, as such, not a first poetry collection. It should be out with Black Box in January 2009.
FL: Finally, what plans do you have for expanding the Utter! empire and for your own work?
RTJ: In addition to continuing Utter! Camden at the Green Note, Parkway on the second Tuesday and Utter! Dalston at the Arcola theatre, 5pm on the last Sunday of the month you mean? Well, for when the Arts Council money's run out, I'm in talks with various Arabs about jetting out to set up 'Utter!' Bahrain, Qatar and United Arab Emirates. Plus we may well do an Utter! cabaret at the Edinburgh free fringe, possibly alongside a one-man show 'Richard Tyrone Jones: Human Fertilisation Authority', and a second anthology. More (Mis)Guided tours are planned for Archway, Crouch End, Stoke Newington and Abu Dhabi in 2009. An episode of ukpoetrypodcast.com is forthcoming and I hope to do an MA and more schools work.
For my published work, there are three second books in the pipeline. 'All the beautiful ones self-harm' will be a compassionate but bathetic sonnet redouble about my meagre sexual conquests. I have but one more Pokemon to catch to crown that. 'Crush All Liberals' may or may not have an ironic title and 'Wisdom and Depravity' will be a revised collection of Burroughs, Carter and Eco-influenced sick fiction I wrote in the early 21st century.
In other words, Richard Tyrone Jones shall perfect Hubris as an Art form.
FL: Richard Tyrone Jones, thank you!
For more things RTJ, consult the webbery at http://www.myspace.com/richardtyronejones or stalk him on facebook.
Sunday, 12 October 2008
To the left is a preview of a Cut Out & Keep game we're putting together to coincide with the launch of Fuselit: Aquarium. It's one of twelve downloadable playing pieces, which can be printed out onto card, cut out and stood up on the gameboard. Obviously it is lacking the dotted lines a the moment. I shall say no more.
Where are we on Aquarium in general? As I write, the first batch of 50 are enjoying an overnight stay at the copy shop so that the edges can be trimmed. We're terrified that something will go wrong and they'll be lost, because it's taken us a while to put these together!
Stay tuned for more news though, because Aquarium will surely be the most fullsome, surprising Fuselit yet. Catch us at the Mixtape event on the 23rd in the Betsey Trotwood for a first glimpse.
Monday, 6 October 2008
Andrea Tallarita can sadly no longer perform, as he's been whisked away to Frankfurt on a translation job. These are the tribulations of being multilingual. Hopefully, he'll perform at future events.
Every cloud, though, and stepping into the fiery Roman's shoes is the excellent Barnaby Tidman, whose performances have seen him here , there and everywhere, including a spot supporting Patrick Wolf.
We also have a guest spot from the fantastic Eggbox-published poet Richard Evans, who will be making the gargantuan trek from Hastings to come and make us a mixtape to remember.
Just as a reminder, 23 October at the Betsey Trotwood in Clerkenwell. Check the home page for Jon's rather groovy pop art flyer.
FuseLit: we blow bubbles into paint for you.
Saturday, 4 October 2008
I've been a big fan of Graham Rawle's since Jon bought his novel Woman's World (indeed, I used a quote from the text for a poem) and I promptly purloined it. It's frankly incredible: a sizeable novel composed entirely of collaged text from women's lifestyle magazines and narrated by the wonderfully deluded devotee of such magazines, Norma Fontaine. Worth checking out.
But to the matter in hand. In this edition of Wizard of Oz, Rawle has provided over 100 weird and wonderful collaged images to accompany and enhance the original story, and also to encourage people to read or re-read Baum's tale, instead of simply watching a certain iconic film, which is almost a different story altogether.
One of the best things about the talk, other than hearing about the trials and errors involved (the slideshow of dolls 'auditioning' for the part of Dorothy springs to mind) was the amount of thought the artist had put into breaking away from the film's aesthetic. Take Dorothy's shoes, for example. Most people would demand ruby slippers, but, as Rawle pointed out, when the film came out, many people would have been frustrated not to see Baum's original silver slippers.
With this need to create a fresh frame of reference outside a cinematic classic, Rawle says he deliberately went for images that were 'a bit clunky' and roughly composed. After all, what's the point in competing for slickness against the movie, with its huge budget, legendary status and different format to begin with? You might as well recreate the surreal, sometimes frightening world as it would have been seen by a young girl from Kansas.
The results are enchanting. Toto, whom Rawle sees as a representation of Dorothy's judgement in the film, is portrayed as fairly useless in the original text. Hence him being transformed into a toy dog on wheels. The lion, a second-hand shop find, had the perfect expression but no back legs, so Photoshop replicated his front ones, giving him a slightly wonky, completely endearing look. Other characters, such as the Tin Man, were made from scratch, but using salt shakers and various bits and bobs, to create a collage within a collage.
It struck a chord with what FuseLit aims to do. From fairly early on, we were aware that a) we were never going to look as professional and sleek as many other magazines of this ilk and b) we didn't want to. I hardly look twice at glossies. They leave me a bit cold and they don't suggest much hands-on involvement by the creators, however brilliant the content may be. Hence the stitched up binding that began with CABARET, the masking-taped rough brown envelope and guillotined rusty paper (hand painted - yes, Jon did every one with his own fair paws) used in FOX and the fun and games of machine-stitching the gauze 'lingerie' for NUDE.
Rawle seems to throw himself completely into his work, and yet have immense fun with it. He built, destroyed and rebuilt an entire Emerald City because it wasn't right, but you get the feeling he enjoyed making each version because he got to experiment, interpreting an already vastly imaginative text in his own kooky way.
Even if you think you know the story backwards, this edition is a gorgeous tribute to the original narrative that adds an entirely fresh layer of enjoyment. And frankly, it's chunky, it's hardback and it's outright beautiful.
Further reading: Woman's World
To see more of Graham Rawle's creations and for sneak peaks inside Wizard of Oz, sally forth to http://www.grahamrawle.com/
Monday, 29 September 2008
It's not so simple. The church-goer has bought his place in the world at the price of the respect of his peers - nothing but scorn left for the 'bible-boy.' The boy on the buses has his family to go to - but he knows his real father is a bus driver and so he rides in the hope of catching a glimpse. And a motorcycle gregariousness sends him down a road that will end with complete alienation from his fellow human beings.
All of these characters are sited in one family - sons around a single mother in a São Paulo household too small to fit them. Their hopes play off one another and of course come into conflict, inevitably creating tensions in the plot - but they are not how the film moves. Fulfilment or otherwise depends on decisions made in each individual's sphere.
Most moving for me were the moments in which hope's embers faded. A lame legged woman is baptised in the river. The preacher lets her go and commands her to walk - but each time he has to catch her as she falls down into the water. Once he gives up the look of relief is palpable. It's the ending of hope's cruelty, the release of hope's suffering - that which happens when a hope is fulfilled, or put beyond reach.
Friday, 26 September 2008
I mention it because last year's Brockzilla was the inspiration for the Foxleigh Battles Death in All Its Forms pictures and computer game featured in Fox. I might try to run something simple off for this one as well, but alas, so little time!
Saturday, 13 September 2008
Date: Thursday 23 October
Place: The Betsey Trotwood, 56 Farringdon Road, London, EC1R 3BL
Nearest tube: Farringdon
The premise is simple: a fine gaggle of poets have each put together a ten minute selection of their favourite poetry cuts (plus one of their own compositions) and will be performing them live for your delectation. Witness:
Mr Tim Wells
Ms Amy Key
Mr Simon Barraclough
Mr David Floyd
Mr Andrea Tallarita
and Mr Cliff Hammett
all presenting their personal poetry mixtapes. Comperes Jon Stone and Kirsten Irving will also be slipping in their own choices between the acts, the whole event thus taking the shape of one giant, unique live poetry compilation disc quest!
Monday, 1 September 2008
We're offering a downloadable template for a decorative plate that you can cut out, construct and then proudly display on (a) your mantelpiece (b) your windowsill or (c) the top of your green recycling bin.
The plates are made to commemorate a person or event selected in connection with a previous Fuselit’s spurword, and will be published on a suitably auspicious date. Each plate is lovingly hand PDFed and will be dispatched to you by our diligent team of electronic cyber monkeys simply by clicking the link below:
The first word used is from Fuselit’s first issue: Demo.
Today is one hundred and twenty-eight years since the birth of Harriet Shaw Weaver. She was a supporter of women’s suffrage (but one wily enough to realise that the vote alone would not be a panacea to all the injustices women face) who later became a Labour party member and then a dedicated communist. ‘Comrade Josephine’ – as she was known – could be seen out on the streets on protests and selling copies of the Daily Worker; that is, when she wasn’t spending her not inconsiderable inheritance to bail out fellow comrades who had been ‘picked up’ by the police.
This was not all she had put her wealth to though – she had been the main financial backer (and company treasurer) for the journal ‘The New Freewoman.’ This later became ‘the Egoist’, and featured some of the most important modernist writers. She had a stint as editor, during which one of her prime achievements was ensuring the serialisation of James Joyce’s Portrait of an Artist as a Young Man – no mean feat considering the First World War was on and he was in Austria at the time. She kept the full extent of her backing a secret, feeling that her unearned income should gain her no personal benefit, whether through gratitude or influence.
In everything she was involved in, she attained a reputation for steadfast reliability and a willingness to take on the unglamorous nitty-gritty that others shy away from. Conversely she avoided the limelight and had little confidence in her own writing. I think she's a fascinating figure, not least because of what her life reveals about the economics of the arts and of politics at the time, and what it means to be a key figure in both without a body of personal artistic achievement or substantial political standing.
There’s an excellent biography by Jane Lidderdale and Mary Nicholson (aka Mary Crawford), which I’d definitely recommend if you want to find out more. I may follow this up with a cut out paper doll of Miss Weaver and maybe a chum or two– watch this space!
Fuselit Commemorative Paper Plates #1 Demo: Harriet Shaw Weaver by Cliff Hammett / Fuselit is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 UK: England & Wales License.
Click here to download a jpg version, which should be easier to edit if you so desire.
Sunday, 10 August 2008
One day later, 31st August, Kirsty will be reading at Utter! Dalston. All the information you need is here. If you can't be bothered to click that link, it's a 5pm start, costs £5 and takes place at the Arcola theatre, 27 Arcola Street, London, E8 2DJ. Interesting fact: The photo they've used in the poster was taken by my sister, under instructions from me. For some reason, at the time I thought it would suit Kirsty to have roses in her face and a shed in the background. Poor K.
All photos courtesy of Jet, since we forgot our cameras.
Tuesday, 5 August 2008
For the past two weeks, I've been afraid a robot would break my heart. Ever since the trailers and the hopeful, inquisitive offering of a name. The correct spelling to recreate this, we have concluded, is “WaaaAAllee”.
Sure enough, despite fierce parries against tears at the absolutely lonely little roller's fate, I sat beeling like a stabbed water main by the end, grateful for the long credits and dim lights.
The things you can do with inferred eyes, bleeps and the clasping and unclasping of metal fingers.
Wall-E is already making number one in top movie robot lists. He is slapstick goof, tenacious underdog and affectionate, upbeat hero in one, and though his situation is almost painful in its desolation, Pixar never let Wall-E feel sorry for himself. No turn to the audience, no sad eyes and upturned palms, imploring them to join him in an “awwww” chorus. He just gets on with it, and once he finds his “Eeeevvaaa”, Wall-E risks everything without even running it past his processors first.
Many Short Circuit fans have complained that Wall-E is a straight skim of Johnny 5, compacted into loveable stumpiness, much as the bot himself crushes Himalayas of trash, before arranging them into towers as high as a doomed game of Tetris. While there is a likeness, this seems an odd critique. But then, most robots believe Ed Norton is a rip-off of the design mould used for Brad Pitt.
The humans, the humans. Odious and occasionally likeable. Some problems with the biology, and yes, better before we met them. Nice in-jokes and references to sci-fi leviathans like '2001: a Space Odyssey' – a nod to adults that it's OK to like this.
Disney does not do apocalypse. Disney had not done apocalypse till Wall-E. Being Disney, they had to sugar the pill with optimism, but honestly, I think I needed that, so as not to melt like Dorothy's witch, or fold to the floor in a ball. 'Wall-E' got me like 'Flowers For Algernon' got me, and yanked out a surprising scarf-string of emotions for such a short film. And while I respect cockroaches, I've never felt tender towards one before.
Monday, 4 August 2008
Fuselit didn't have a stall of its own, but Jet Payne of The Arts Pneumonia kindly offered us a space on her stall, and we sold a few more copies of Fox. It's only fair (no pun intended), therefore, that we feature The Arts Pneumonia on Cut Out & Keep.
Inspired by Dada publications and produced in sumptuous A4 size, The Arts Pneumonia shares its origins with Fuselit, beginning life on the campus of the University of East Anglia and then moving to London. Jet and Jessica Warde were the founders, and the journal is now edited by a team of five with a large array of contributors. The content is altogether eclectic, centering around visual art and the accompanying articles, reviews and interviews but also incorporating poetry and creative prose. Other elements are too distinct to sum up; the latest issue, for instance, has a feature on 'soullessness' made up of reader's emails and contributions.
The Arts Pneumonia also maintains strong links with other journals and for Publish and be Damned, they produced five special edition issues curated by the likes of Jody Porter at Zafusy, featuring a wide variety of content. It's worth keeping a close eye on them, if for no other reason than you might miss out on limited extras like these and because their range of ambition speaks volumes.
Saturday, 26 July 2008
Come soon, come quick, concomitant.
Wednesday, 23 July 2008
Things to look out for on this blog in the near future:
- More poet top trumps.
- A 'behind the scenes' look at the Fuselit sweatshop.
- Another back issue of Fuselit rendered as a Make-Your-Own version. This time it will be issue 2, Catapult.
- More poetry reviews.
- Commemorative paper plates (possibly).
- A downloadable, printoffable adventure board game as a build up to the launch of Aquarium.
- Information about forthcoming shows Kirsty and myself will be performing at.
Sunday, 6 July 2008
The idea for Covering Tracks came from an excellent poetry class taught by Daniel Kane, in which Ted Berrigan and his Final Sonnet reared their cheeky heads. In case you're not familiar, Berrigan rounds off his collection of sonnets by lifting and appropriating chunks of another text, dropping them into his poem without a hint of acknowledgement. Not just any old obscure text either. What's one of the most famous fictional closings you can think of? Try Prospero's final speech from The Tempest.
A Final Sonnet
How strange to be gone in a minute! A man
Signs a shovel and so he digs Everything
Turns into writing a name for a day
is having a birthday and someone is getting
married and someone is telling a joke my dream
a white tree I dream of the code of the west
But this rough magic I here abjure and
When I have required some heavenly music which even now
I do to work mine end upon their senses
That this aery charm is for I'll break
My staff bury it certain fathoms in the earth
And deeper than did ever plummet sound
I’ll drown my book.
It is 5:15 a.m. Dear Chris, hello.
My favourite part is that the content reflects the means. Prospero is surrendering his staff and magical powers, giving up ownership of the island he had appropriated himself only a few years previously. The text in turn is given up to the winds. Yes, granted, Berrigan had little cause to fear Shakespeare's lawyers in the 1960s, but still, a bold move, considering how canonised Shakey is in literature.
Like Berrigan, I wanted to take phrases I liked straight out of other texts and mutate them to my own ends. I decided to use each as the title of a poem and start from there (now you're seeing where FuseLit's spurword schtick originated - I get ridiculous writer's block). Luckily my supervisor was sympathetic and I lived to graduate.
In the age where you can download movies which haven't yet waved a hanky to the cinema (sure, it's illegal but with broadband and a market nothing can stop it), or spoof mercilessly on YouTube, theft of material and plagiarism is all around. Sometimes this is detrimental to the original ,but a lot of the time, it's also very fertile and the 'cutting' taken from the original can become a distinct piece on its own. There's something reassuringly familiar in spotting the reference, but which allows for alienation, comedy, shock or intrigue when the differences begin to manifest themselves. Sometimes it has the effect of an in-joke we're actually in on, sometimes, as in Freud's notion of the uncanny, it's the unfamilar in the familiar that can spook us.
It's also, of course, always satisfying to see the stale notion of The Author get unseated from its plinth. I'm not talking about simply copying the text verbatim and cashing in, but instead about cutting and rearranging, discarding bits, refreshing the material, sampling, trimming, inserting, juxtaposing and collaging. The Lars Ulrichs of this world, precious about their material to the point of Scroogedom, should probably realise that it has to leave the nest to get noticed, and that somewhere along the way, someone else might have a use for it that you didn't intend, but which could prove awesome.
As a sidenote, but not completely unrelated, The Forest just closed submissions for their Stolen Stories project. Hopefully they'll be running another soon. We'll keep you posted.
Saturday, 5 July 2008
While it generally works pretty well (and it gets better as it gets used to how you speak), it is fun what a mangle it can make of things - especially if, instead of adopting a robotic Hawkingesque monotone, you speak into it with a bit of passion. Such as you might when reading out literature (or "this trip chef victor chow" to use the software's preferred phrase). So I tried reading out a few passages.
This for starters:
and they're reading never officially things to say thanks to the safetyHold the mouse over here to see where this is from.
on the palate busted pilot just a mime chambered all
and his eyes of all the scene of the daemon that is true meaning
and the LAN manager who's treating France's should draw
my soul from out-of-the lines for him on the floor
Shelby listed never mall.
Here is another:
April as a congressman free toAnswer here - though if you're at all familiar with it, the first word should give it away.
our necks out of the gentle and mixing
them into such a stir
until point that's thing
that I can win tickets will cover
the effort to get full senate seat in
illicit life after Judas.
It does throw up some interesting phrases - there's something nice about the almost tautological "mixing / them into such a stir" and I'm really looking forward to my illicit life after Judas. I hope it involves the LAN manager from the previous effort.
now enjoyingHere is the answer - the speech recognition seems pretty good at picking up the word "nothing" at least. Actually that one was pretty close - and a little less interesting for it. I hope it doesn't learn too quickly!
of Austin the east to use Younglove
the minors and friends in the milk of their duties
to strive to be interested in one can you say to draw
of certain lot Clinton your sister's
nothing will, of nothing speak again
in happiness I am I cannot keep
my heart and my mouth I love your majesty
according to Michael and memorial no less.
Just wanted to add - in case you fancy having a play, Word 2003 has speech recognition built in (go 'tools > speech to set it up'), as does *cough* Windows Vista. You can also download a simple application from here as part of the Microsoft speech development kit. I don't know what's available for free for GNU/Linux or Macs, but if anyone does an informative comment would be much appreciated!
You're suppose to use a good quality microphone (preferably USB) but as the object of the enterprise is for it to get as much wrong as possible, it probably doesn't matter.
Monday, 30 June 2008
One part of Nathan's post in particular drew my attention. Hamilton-Emery says this:
"… poetry belongs to you, not to the poet or the critic or merely the privileged and overeducated, not teachers or academics or editors..."To which Nathan replies:
"And, further, I can’t let this one go: is it really possible to be ‘overeducated’? What kind of strange nonsense is that? Is he pulling our legs? Can you actually have that much education that it eventually becomes a bad thing?"It is an interesting concept, isn't it? I've heard the phrase bandied about before, very often as part of a general argument (diatribe, if I'm to be unfriendly) equating intellectualism to elitism. But I do think there is some weight to the idea. It references, I suppose, formal education rather than all kinds of learning, and this perhaps leads us to the idea that too much regulation of anything is a bad thing. Formal education, particularly at University level, teaches specific ways of acquiring and using knowledge. Moreover, it is centered around the acquisition and use of knowledge as a means of responding to whatever the world throws at you. Just as growing up in a rough area with a poor education might burden a person with limited methods of resolving conflicts and solving problems, so might formal education, with its emphasis firmly and rightly on the intellect, lead to a propensity to respond to all manner of impetus in the same way.
The principle target of Private Eye's 'Pseuds' Corner' is not, after all, stupid or uneducated people trying to be something they aren't; it is educated people applying the full force of their intellect to banalities - in other words, making a lot of bluster over nothing. This has the effect of making intellectualism seem, as it well can be, like a mere exercise in being intellectual, rather than the application of a tool for the purposes of uncovering meaning. This is what I understand the criticism of 'overeducated' to be, that a person has, through absorption into academia, become more interested in the game of intellectualism, in the simple delights of applying the intellect, than in what it actually achieves.
Which is exactly the nature of the criticism most often directed at the poetry world from those who consider themselves outside it, though the view is expressed in a manner of different ways. Poetry is self-absorbed, if not interested in itself then interested in games of the intellect and written principally with intellectual gamesters in mind.
I don't agree with this view. But I don't feel that it is a completely unreasonable one to form based on some of the evidence. Most of the major British poetry journals tend to publish criticism in a format that has more in common with the essay mode of writing than a review of a film, novel or computer game. The trouble with the essay mode is that it assumes substance - so all poetry considered in this fashion automatically makes the leap to 'high' art - and that it discusses the mechanics of the accomplishment more than it does the effect. It skips the part which tells the reader why on earth they should be interested in the subject. When a review does make the effort to communicate some sense of an emotive response, there is often a whiff of Pseuds' Corner about it, partly because a high register is almost always inappropriate for declaring excitement or emotional transformation. So we end up with reviews that oscillate between oddly cold intimations of technical achievement, often expressed in quite foggy terms:
"This technique is an impressive expression of loss, of the desire to become what is missing."
Charles Bainbridge on Ciaran Carson in The GuardianAnd sheer silliness:
"His genius is in creating poetry for anyone with the slightest lingering wish for the beauty that can still infuse life. How he liberates us!"
Judy Gahagen on ‘Human Nature’ by Lance Lee, in Ambit
Somewhere along the line, all trace of genuine enthusiasm - and what else indicates an affair of the heart - is lost. I wouldn't suggest that the reasons for this, if anyone is with me so far, have to do with pretension or establishment politics. Nor do I suggest that I or some new generation are poised to wash the old order away, or indeed that there is no place for intellectualism in reviews. But its dominance makes me sympathise with anyone who has dipped a toe in contemporary poetry and fled, howling.
It may be that poetry compels more of an intellectual response. It could also be that poets, particularly those with a literature degree or two, are prone to over-analysing. Nathan's original post, for example, seems to me to give disproportionate consideration to what is ultimately a piece of marketing. "Who is this 'you'?" he asks, in response to Hamilton-Emery's "poetry belongs to you". Obviously it is the same 'you' that is addressed in all the other advertisements you see on the tube, in shop windows, on TV, on the Internet and in magazines every day. The advertising industry long ago cottoned on to the idea that people want to feel a product was specially designed with them in mind. That isn't to suggest Hamilton-Emery is being cynical - I'm sure he is sincere - but we often appropriate phrases and concepts we see elsewhere when writing in a similar mode.
And here am I giving even more disproportionate consideration to a phrase that really just means 'big-headed Guardian readers with degrees'. So there we are. Overeducation in action.
Friday, 27 June 2008
"in that silence, only trees
and blackness and your mind
like a firework, wheeling crazily
in the middle of that sunless wood
where you stopped the car, full of pills ..."
While the immutability of suffering is succinctly reviewed in Self-Help:
"Her failure was not a path to the future,
her pain was not discovery. It was failure,
it was pain."
Raw stuff, and to the point. Inextinguishable has an I.M. dedication to Robert Anderson Wood, while another of its poems, The Craws, is in turn I.M. Alexander Wood. Though only two of the poems deal directly with death, it is foreshadowed in many of the others through bleak contemplation of lost opportunities and time passing, most pertinently in Afternoon Nap, in which the protagonist's ambiguous loss of consciousness is preceded by lines like "knowing that this day was done, or wasted" and "He should have written letters/but didn't". Time is played with here the same way it is in Simon Armitage's 2006 poem Evening, and again in After She Leaves where the 'after' could be anything from a few moments to decades.
As with his last collection, The Theory of Everything, Wood's lucidity is one of his greatest strengths. Contemporary poetry is flooded with collections that intellectualise death, seeking new profundity in its wilderness. Wood doesn't pursue the same holy grail; his responses are often surprising in their ordinariness and bitter honesty. Take this from The Craws:
"... You were
no prize-winner, sportsman or great thinker,
just a man like any other; and one
whose life asks us for little grieving."
Try reading that out at a funeral.
Wood's poems have here been paired up with the work of fourteen young artists from Edinburgh College of Art's Illustration Department, part of Knucker Press' self-appointed mission to publish collaborations "where word and image are mutually enriching". The layout is very effective, with the exception of a page which appears to be at too low a resolution. Many of the illustrations, however, are disappointingly literal, depicting the very scene or character the poem describes. The ones that work best are Toby Cook's not-quite-realist interpretation of Down the Drain and Genevieve Ryan's collage-esque The Craws, which swallows the poem in its sky, while it seems an odd choice to relegate Anna Kriger and Marc Noble's pieces to the contents page and back cover respectively when these do the best job of matching Wood's bristlingly dark tone.
Buy Inextinguishable from Knucker Press
Saturday, 21 June 2008
Official site is here:
First live show is 27 June - have a gander about and enjoy the loveliest jingles known to man or fox.
Here's the official line in case I've ballsed up my description:
The Fantastical Reality Radio Show aims to draw listeners into an entertaining exploration of ordinary audio. Based on using the immediate situation or vicinity as a basis for artmaking, the aim of the show is to change how we consider familiar sounds.
In a world where we have never been more visually literate, banal or commonplace subject matter has assumed a sophisticated visual language, but mundane sounds remain largely unconsidered. The constant, unfolding soundscape that is all around us is generally considered a nuisance or not considered at all. The Fantastical Reality Radio Show wants to introduce various ways of approaching or reconsidering everyday sounds and to involve other people in this consideration.
Ranging from the 'Top Annoying Domestic Noise Chart' to games like 'Imitating household noises using just your voice', the radio show will excavate immediate situations for audio intrigue. Playfully collapsing the borders between what is normally considered to make ‘boring’ or ‘interesting’ listening, The Fantastical Reality Radio Show is intentionally affirmative and builds on the artists’ former experience of working on participatory projects.
Building on the ideas of John Cage, the idea of 'the banal' and arts practises concerned with the idea of 'The Everyday,' the show is affirmative and celebratory, while at the same time challenging and questioning perceptions of what is/isn't interesting or worthy of our listening attention. Five shows in total will be recorded over the next couple of months and listeners will be able to submit their views, audio clips, images and opinions via email and via the Myspace page. At the EXPO, Mundane Appreciation will be out in full force with roving investigators, an interviewing desk and a Game Show area where visitors will be able to join in and become a part of the show.
The impulse to make this work is the result of the deep enthusiasm for everyday materials and processes shared by Felicity Ford, Kayla Bell and Claudia Figueiredo, the artists behind this exciting project.
On 14th June Fuselit had its second ever launch party (the first was for Nude and took place in Edinburgh) downstairs at the Betsey Trotwood. The performers were James Midgley, W.N. Herbert, David Floyd, Mark Wagstaff, Barnaby Tidman and then Cliff, Kirsty and myself, accompanied by the bands Foxes! and What Are Birds (who are really just Kirsty and me again, plus our part-time drummer and guitarist). I was also compering. Funnily enough, I did a reading last night with bluechrome poets Leah Fritz and Ruth O'Callaghan, compered by Ruth O'Callaghan, and she said that she didn't like reading at her own events as it seemed very egotistical. I tend to think of it more as mucking in, which is the same reason Kirsty and I have traditionally put our own work in Fuselit. It's always seemed as much of an artistic collaboration as a magazine (it's certainly not much of a publicity machine) and you've got to show you're willing to do what you're asking others to do.
Here's David Floyd reading next to the slide projection screen. All the performances followed the pecha kucha format, which means David and others were up for exactly 6 minutes 40 seconds, accompanied by 20 slides that showed for 20 seconds each. As far as I know, no other poetry night has been done like this. David is a seasoned performer and was already a seasoned performer back when I was starting University some five or six years ago. He has impeccable comic timing. In both his manner of reading and the poems themselves, he makes an art out of a certain kind of awkwardness.
Here's Kirsty. It's worth noting at this point that all the photography in this post was done with a lomo camera. Lomography is an anti-digital movement that cherishes the sort of 'mistakes' we used to make all the time before digital cameras - ie. blurriness, oversaturation, poor lighting - and holds them up as just another way of taking interesting pictures. Although in this case it's resulted in our pictures being consistently dark, I like the idea very much. In a review I recently wrote of Nigel McLoughlin's Dissonances I made special note (as is my wont) of how the collection played with the idea of discordance in poetry - to put it another way, how imperfections, inconsistency, disunification of tone and imagery isn't necessarily bad, but rather, another tool in the poet's or artist's metaphysical toolbox. Advertisers and visual artists latched onto the idea ages ago - see, for example, how sigur ros' logo, at least on their latest LP, has the appearance of being dashed off in pencil. Human beings love imperfection. Don't let your beauty magazines tell you any different!
So that is why these shots are all dark. Obvious, really. To the left is Cliff, and you can just about make out, up on the slide projector screen, his picture of the fox cub Foxleigh fighting Death manifested as a giant wooden yamaraja puppet. This is the first of a three part series (the last is a game that you can play on the Fox CD). Cliff suffered a nasty fall the week before the event, which caused his arm to be paralysed for a short period of time. As a result, he only did half a set, explaining that the real rules of pecha kucha state that you must do 3 minutes 20 seconds and 10 slideshow images for each functioning arm.
Here's Mark Wagstaff reading an abridged version of his short story Pin-Up. The performers are literally fading into the background! As well as the slide projector screen, we had two monitor screens in the cellar alcoves, so people could sit down and watch the slides change on the screens whilst listening to the poet over the PA system. The original idea of the show was to displace the centre of performance, by which I mean 'do an event where people don't all have to stare in the same direction'. Personally, I find that although I want to go to poetry events to support poets, most poets on stage either struggle to fill the space or adopt the 'slam poet' approach of pretending they're stand-up comedians. I've never overcome this obstacle myself; most of the few readings I've done have been in 'reading from pieces of paper' mode and the only time I tried to really 'perform' (at Nathan Pennlington and Tim Wells' Shortfuse) I just embarrassed myself with a lamentable impression of Rimbaud/Rambo. Ugh. So the pecha kucha format was in part an attempt to make the poetry performance about something more than a person standing on stage and talking.
It's Foxes! Frankly, it was pretty awesome to have a band as good as this at our event, but a tad ambitious. Getting the drumkit down as well as all the equipment for slide projection was a nightmare and left me very flustered on the night. I also didn't realise how long the song-checking would take. Our start time was 7pm, but the next three quarters of an hour were spent setting up band equipment and making sure the levels were right, while poets and audience drifted in and out, waiting for us to start! It was worth it for Foxes! though.
And here's What Are Birds. I think this is actually what lomography is all about. Not sure what happened but it looks pretty. We finished the night off with a loose five song set, the first time the four of us had played together in a year and the last time we'll play together for who knows how long, since our guitarist, Ed, is off back to the states to carve out a new life for himself. Good luck, Ed, and thanks for playing guitar for us!
Hopefully this won't be the last Fuselit event we do, but it was an awful lot of work and it'll be a few months at least before Aquarium is ready to be launched. In the mean time, watch out for myself and Kirsty at a small handful of other upcoming events, like The Shuffle at the Poetry Cafe in July and August and The Moon in June, this Friday at the Betsey.
Wednesday, 18 June 2008
Well, we had to get to him sooner or later so it might as well be sooner. Ted Hughes is, to my mind, an overrated poet. And by that I mean I imagine (wrongly) that it would make my own partiality to his work much more meaningful if he weren't so damned popular. Why can't the rest of you stick with your Seamus Heaney and Paul Muldoon, poets who I have some respect but little affection for, and leave the burly Yorkshireman for me to champion? Not that I could do anything close to the job of the hundreds of scholars, journalists and enthusiasts who have waxed lyrical about him.
In lieu of this being a surprising choice, however, here are some controversial opinions regarding Mr. Hughes:
- His best collection is River. I say this having barely blinked at Rain-charm for the Duchy and Birthday Letters and only lightly dipped into some of the other volumes, but River is his most consistently excellent and keenly focused volume.
- The principle reason Crow is so good is not because it is a crucible of mythology, religion, mysticism and experience but because it's an extremely liberating collection. Poetry has a tendency to get itself tangled up in unspoken arbitrary rules depending on the fashions of the time and you don't even notice how closely most contemporary verse follows these rules until you read something that disregards them. The poems in Crow were probably written in a very disciplined manner, but they read like a mischievous urchin, a fox and a fearless bear ran amok with Hughes' writing hand.
- Hughes' childrens' books are among his best work and not just The Iron Man. Moon-Whales is particularly superb.
Tuesday, 17 June 2008
However, owing to an accident involving Fuselit's only digital camera and the indoor giant lily pond at Kew Gardens some weeks back, the event was photographed using an analogue camera, in the increasingly popular lomography style. This means we have to wait for the pictures to come back from the science lab, or the government, or whoever it is develops the film in this futuristic digital age.
Once that task is completed, viewers of Cut Out & Keep can read first-hand about how I panicked my way through the night and forgot the names of almost everyone and everything. Stay tuned!
Monday, 16 June 2008
I loved The Mighty Boosh series 1. "It's set in a zoo," I used to tell people, as if that was all the information they needed to make an astute, well-informed judgement. Sometimes I would add: "The main characters are zookeepers."
The Mighty Boosh 3 is not set in a zoo but in a second hand shop. It does, however, feature Bob Fossil, the disturbed head zookeeper who does not know the names of any of the animals, and Bollo the gorilla, who no longer acts like a gorilla to any significant extent. To be frank, I would say that the series is all the poorer for not being set in a zoo, principally because the zoo setting was conducive to animal-based characters and counter-conducive to Shoreditch-based characters, of which there are far too many in The Mighty Boosh 3.
In fact, I wonder if The Mighty Boosh 3 is actually set in a Universe where everyone is from Shoreditch. "That's an idiotic notion," you might say. "A far simpler and more obvious explanation would be that it is merely set in Shoreditch." All well and good, but I would have thought that on an average day in Shoreditch you would probably have a far greater number of people who weren't from Shoreditch wandering around, perhaps looking for the way out or writing poems about Brick Lane.
I have several criticisms to make, most of which I formulated in the midst of watching the series on DVD, immediately voicing them out loud to my companion.
"They are rolling out the same characters from the last two series," I said, "but not giving them anything new to do. See: Noel Fielding's Hitcher lingers threateningly, does the shuddering Cockney accent and copiously relieves himself. The Moon turns up twice every episode for a short, surreal monologue. The disembodied Tony Harrison creeps slowly but surely towards his 'This is an outrage' catchphrase."
The second criticism I made, some time later, was this:
"The relationship between Vince and Howard has gone wrong."
"What do you mean?" my companion asked, obligingly.
Vince and Howard are the main characters in The Mighty Boosh. Vince is a vain and pretentious simpleton who is extremely fashion-conscious. Howard is an untrendy jazz enthusiast who sees himself as living 'outside the box', destined for greater things, but is all too often revealed to be shallow and foolish.
I explain that in the first series their relationship was finely balanced. Howard tended to be more frustrated, while Vince tended to exude a more positive attitude. While Vince was more popular and a great deal jammier, Howard was usually the 'leader', the instigator of their various quests and undoubtedly the more intelligent. Vince was 'cool'; Howard was 'hip'. They were both losers because they were both working in a zoo, failing to live up to the image each had of himself. The zoo was what kept them together; outside of the zoo, they had no mutual interests. They hated each other's music.
By the time we get to The Mighty Boosh 3, however, that balance has been distorted. Vince and Howard have now been friends since childhood. They are in a band together, despite their incompatible musical tastes. Vince is no longer a loser but a style icon, loved by everyone. Howard has become the butt of almost every humiliating joke in the series, and his only friend apart from Vince is a blind jazz man. When he makes a nervous speech at his own birthday party, a crowd made up entirely of spider-jeaned Shoreditchers stand and gawp at him, aghast at his uncoolness.
For some reason, none of this clueless mob are mown down with advanced weaponry. Instead, Howard's blind jazz friend has his head lopped off by an angry shaman.
"I hate everyone in this except Howard," my companion said.
Naboo and Bollo are the most featured characters in the series after Howard and Vince. They are fairly pointless. All they do is take drugs and humiliate Howard. This is a shame, because Naboo was one of the best elements of the first series, where he would turn up only occasionally to bestow wisdom and temporary powers upon the hapless protagonists.
The principle joke where Naboo is concerned is that he is supposed to be a mystic shaman but talks like an eleven year old with a slight lisp trying to play the archangel Gabriel in a school nativity play. Unfortunately, this joke no longer functions when Naboo is given too many lines.
You become numb to it.
Well, I certainly did.
The Mighty Boosh 3 is a comedy series. By the time the DVD had finished, however, I had only laughed twice. Once was when Noel Fielding's golden shaman drug dealer briefly discusses spaghetti hoops. I cannot for the life of me remember the second occasion.
In the extras on the series 1 DVD, there is footage of a signing session with the stars of The Mighty Boosh. One fan is shown in a very excitable mood. He moves like he's accidentally stepped in a puddle of electrified water.
"By God, it is the best, funniest series ever, ever, ever," he tells Noel Fielding, who plays Vince.
Noel Fielding looks slightly scared, but must have since come to the fan's point of view. The Mighty Boosh 3 is surely a series for people who think the Boosh can do no wrong. Or else it has somehow become taken over - possessed, if you will - by the editor of the NME and other depressingly trendy types, perhaps wielding Fielding as their human puppet. What other explanation is there for Vince's newfound social invulnerability and the gratuitous cameo appearance of pastier-than-thou indie band The Horrors?
What other explanation is there for anything?
Sunday, 15 June 2008
And here is a little of what is contained within:
No Sons of Liberty
But he did not RSVP.
This was December, glittering cold.
His valise was lady-like. His pockets deep
and bulging with poachlings.
A cough of words
under his breath: no condition
for a Harbour party.
Had he tried to warn us in our sleep?
He was a wolf, but we were not his sheep.
We were foxes,
flicking our thin black wrists
over the map-man’s politics.
For fun, gekkered in the boxing ring.
Our vixens, two years American-
Brahmin, for fun, wore Wampum beads.
Did he know us, our wolf-cousin,
from some transatlantic dream? We
could not place his accent.
True, we ought to have handcuffed and stuffed
him. Asked his name
in the very least.
We ought to have checked our awe
and affection, and served him
Boston Tea. And we would have,
in a heartbeat,
had he only RSVP’d.
The Man and the Head Cold
Delirious and squinty, giggling with sickness, think nothing to telling stories, toss consequence like food aid – who lands on their feet? who lands on their back? Cast bones best of five, pick fox meat from hen’s teeth, swap futures for superstars and retards. And the lesson to learn, is “Yir aw fucked an wunderful”.
Take a lemsip and rest. Fall back in line. From evolution. To the alphabet.
Art by BEK GALLOWAY
Screenshot from Foxleigh battles Death in all Its forms part 3 (Death manifested as charred seraphim piloted pedal powered gyrocopter), a game by CLIFF HAMMETT
Monday, 9 June 2008
When you think of 24-year-olds publishing books you tend to arrive at the image of the literary wunderkind, a media-friendly superstar-in-the-making whom the literary establishment (or significant powers within it) have already adopted as their heir. Sometimes, as in the cases of Luke Kennard and Adam Thirlwell, the exaltation they generate is almost proportionate to their talents. The principle function of the books themselves, however, is nothing worthier than to showcase their writing talent.
When you think of a person with disabilities publishing a book, you might think of 'inspirational' autobiographies or volumes of risible poetry that in themselves demonstrate a heroic overcoming of an illness.
Maija Haavisto fulfils neither of these stereotypes. Since 2000 she has suffered from chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) , sometimes called ME, a debilitating disorder that leads to muscle pain, joint pain, cognitive difficulties and severe exhaustion, and is so poorly understood, both by the public and by medical professionals, that until recently it was sarcastically dubbed 'yuppie flu' and considered to be a type of hypochondria.
Despite being kicked out of her home at 16 and spending the intervening years in and out of hospital, working with doctors who were unsure as to how to properly treat her condition and facing a demoralising battle against a government that refused to pay out disability allowance for a disorder they don't believe exists, Maija continued to pursue her interests in writing, art and medicine, supporting herself by working as a freelance technology journalist. She has now written and published a book, Reviving the Broken Marionette: Treatments for CFS/ME and Fibromyalgia.
As you can tell from the title, this is no Surviving x: My Story-type affair, but a painstakingly researched medical volume addressing a subject which very few other books have dealt with and featuring analysis of over 250 treatments, including experimental therapies.
It's an astonishing feat for a young writer who has not only had to learn to cope with an illness herself but hasn't been provided with any research grants or similar monetary luxuries that British institutions like to lavish on able-bodied graduates.
But that's not the only reason Fuselit: Cut Out and Keep wanted to run a feature on her. Maija is also a writer of short stories and poetry, matters which are at the heart of our raison d'etre, and a multi-competition-winning ASCII artist (pictures created using, as you might expect, ASCII text only).
Here are links to some of her pieces:
And here is Vulpix, from her ASCII Pokedex, which I thought was appropriate since we're launching Fox this weekend.
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Sunday, 8 June 2008
Here's a lovely marmoset to celebrate!
Saturday, 7 June 2008
As experimental as she was prolific, Gertrude Stein's cascades of repetition were downright sexy in places. A comfortable upbringing in a wealthy family makes for a low score on the colourful background, though Stein was later known to be a vocal political protester. We also gave her quite a low eccentricity rating as, other than her quirky statements about various fascist leaders, Gertrude was a fairly shrewd woman (she certainly knew about art investments!) and, together with Alice B Toklas, provided sociable gatherings in Paris. Shame 'Poety Friends' wasn't extended to artists in general. Gerty would've won that one hands down by getting on the blower to Pablo and co.