An open letter to Chris Martin

Dear Chris,

Mate, what’s going on?  I’m worried about you. I just heard your new single, Paradise, and quite frankly it’s put me in the mood to kill something,  it’s so bad.  I accidentally heard it on the radio and immediately filed a complaint with Ofcom.

For a song called Paradise it paints a remarkably accurate picture of what hell sounds like – the horrifically dull pop synths borrowed from every pop song of the last ten years, the Umbrella-esque “para, para, paradise” hook, the lazy and desperate “woah oh oh oh” line which cynically pre-empts a crowd singalong at your next stadium tour.  These last two singles, in fact, have been terrible to their core. Every Teardrop Is A Rainfall – what the hell kind of title is that?  That’s what a spoof Coldplay band puts out.  You’ve descended into self-parody.

What happened, man?  When did you stop caring?  It didn’t used to be this way. Your first album was pretty good.  I was 13 when it came out and it appealed to my burgeoning pubescent angst – it was gentle, sensitive, heartfelt.  It had acoustic guitars, warbling unaffected singing and thoughtful lyrics about girls and insecurity and stuff.  It provided a window of comfort during my confusing teenage years.  I was an unashamed fan.  I even went to one of your gigs.  I took my mum.

Parachutes is by far your best album.  But you didn’t seem to think so.  “We know that’s terrible music,” you said of it in 2006, “and we always try to think about what we can do next.”   Maybe you’re too sensitive and insecure for your own good.  It seems modesty got the better of you, and over the years you’ve released albums steadily decreasing in quality.  I stopped listening, partly because it did my street credibility no good whatsoever to have Coldplay on my iPod.  But your slow decline into lameness went in tandem with how shit your music became.  I don’t dislike you because you’re not cool – I dislike you because I think you’re boring, obvious, unoriginal, repetitive, bland, and annoying.  Sorry.

When you first emerged, it seemed like your main influences were Radiohead and U2.  Imagine what you might have sounded like if you’d have leaned towards the former!  Instead, you went for the latter, the dark side, for the stadium glory, and now you sound like you were discovered by Simon Cowell.  For shame.

Love to Gywn!

John

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Some of my favourites from the London International Animation Festival

This past week, I’ve been practically living in the Barbican’s lovely subterranean cinema, soaking myself  in animation goodness thanks to this year’s London International Animation Festival, which I’ve been covering for the folks over at Cine-Vue.

It’s been tremendous.  A full report will go up on Cine-Vue in the next few days here’s the full report on Cine-Vue, but for posterity’s sake, I thought I ought to save some of the best films I’ve seen here, if only so I can remember them myself.  They’re all short, most under ten minutes and none over twenty.  If you have the capacity, I recommend you watch them in HD, and full screen.  In no particular order:

NUIT BLANCHE – slow to begin, then hits you in the face like a sack of rocks. Stunning. Worth watching the making of – you’ll be surprised how much is computer generated.

[vimeo http://www.vimeo.com/9078364 w=600&h=300]

COURS TOUJOURS – fast, funny, and very French.

[vimeo http://vimeo.com/12848379 w=600&h=300]

BIKE RACE – a real-life love story, based around documentary audio.  Sweet and charming.

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Getting naked in public places

What is the correct social protocol when surrounded by naked strangers?  Perhaps not an immediately pressing concern on the nation’s agenda, yet this is a dilemma familiar to anyone who regularly uses public changing rooms, and one littered with social landmines.  In our notoriously reserved British society how are we to reconcile this occasional foray into physical liberation with our collective conservatism?  I asked the girl at the reception desk of my local leisure centre this very question, and received no satisfactory response.I like to go swimming as regularly as motivation allows. Years ago I would, in common with many of my peers, dance a peculiar routine when getting undressed, involving the careful alignment of my towel and underwear to ensure that nudity was kept at an absolute minimum.  As time wore on I grew weary of this schtick, and realised how absurd it was to hide something I had nothing to be ashamed of, in a room full of people who evidently were not ashamed in the slightest.

These days, I am largely comfortable with my regular brief spell of public nudism; the adolescent years of insecurity and self-loathing are mostly behind me.  More problematic is how to behave with a room full of naked men.  Instinct tells you: “eyes ahead, soldier”. No eye contact, no acknowledgment whatsoever, not a word to be spoken.  This is a sacred place of humble silence, where all must observe the unspoken etiquette.

But evidently something happens once you turn 60, like some sort of naturist Manchurian Candidate.  The elderly have no shame in their naked form, parading around the showers like it’s some hellish retirement orgy, gleefully towelling their silvery pubic hair until not a single droplet remains.  I recently found myself in the changing room with a very friendly Caribbean pensioner who engaged me deep in conversation about his wife’s cooking whilst he enthusiastically lavished his balls with talcum powder.  I didn’t hang around to ask for his wife’s jerk chicken recipe.

It’s a strange paradox that when you’re young, healthy and nubile, you’re generally more self-conscious about your body.  Yet once your skin loses all elasticity and you morph into a leathery zombie sultana, you’re too old and wise to worry what anyone will think of your nether regions.  Our elders have much to teach us about life’s priorities.

One of the great milestones of the transition to adult life is desensitising yourself to the sight of another human being’s genitalia.  At the end of the day, they’re just willies and boobs, right?  Our dangly appendages are wholly ubiquitous, fairly unremarkable (if a little unsavoury looking), and – outside of any sexual context – reassuringly harmless.  But I would say this to the elderly Caribbean gentleman at Kentish Town Swimming Pool, if he’s reading: please keep your powdered bollocks out of my close proximity in the future.  Much obliged.

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