This may ramble.
I should be writing a review of Junior Senior for Careless Talk's live section, by orders of Herr Houghton, but I'm putting it off until tomorrow. Mind's wandering into other areas, and while a stiff tea and a rant at Housemate Dan's coalesced it slightly, I'm still not quite in focus with the general beat of the Modern World.
On the topic of music writing, the New Careless Talk arrived on the doorstep. Includes reviews of all manner of things, including the Tricky review which I thought was the worst thing I'd ever written but has turned out to just be mediocre. Passable journalistic chancery, thoughtful if consisting of thoughts totally irrelevant to the matter at hand.
Available from all the usual places, plus mail-order. Probably the best one in a while. You didn't need the money anyway.
Anyway: To un-business.
Why am I all over the place - so disaffected I can't even find a suitably evocative phrase to describe even something that simple? I - in the words of a trillion internet kids - Dunno. I'm feeling flushed and sneezy: Either hayfever's kicking in early, Flu's kicking in late or I'm just going to bed too late again. My mind's being unfurled by Beevor's "Berlin", which makes me stop every second paragraph to gape, scream and choke down the urge to write something about it. It's made me moderately unbearable company, as any time the conversation lulls I'll start going on about the joys of SS. Game "ACHTUNG!" and endless Rape in Prussia. Also some art I've been waiting for has wandered past a final deadline with no e-mailed explanation. I can forgive tardiness, but impoliteness always grates. Maybe it's just the effect of listening to Gay bar all day. Don't ask me. I don't know and I don't really care.
But it's lead me, along with Ellis talking a little about some of the themes of his Stealth Tribes over at Die Puny Humans, to something I occasionally dwell on. Basically, the cutting edge of youth culture, where things are actually interesting, are invisible to the world at large. It's Net-culture being put in the hands of the disaffected to play with affectations, autoiconographic sacrifices and all manner of other interesting stuff. I dropped the (Obvious) line "Everyone's a Rockstar now" into a live review of Pink Grease (The flip side of the equally obvious and undeniable "Everyone's a geek now"), and this Bedroom Glamour (The absolute opposite of preview Bedroom culture. Cheetara immortalised themselves with the line "The Smiths were probably a good thing, as it kept all the boring people out the way for a decade".). This is because rather than isolation, a bedroom with a net connection is the apex of all society. You open the windows and you can reach out and touch anything, while anything can look back directly at you. Exhibitionism with an effective audience larger than if you sprayed it onto the moon, which is only ever visible from half the earth at once.
It's notable stuff, which should be written about. (And you can tell I'm not quite in focus by my predilection for brackets in the previous paragraph - or maybe it's just returning to my sub-clausing zinekid writing style. Christ - Darcy's on the Pull was the only zine in the post-bis thing which would dream of having *footnotes*. And I've just done a Web-search for that, and found something which I may link to towards the end of the piece. Hail Google, infinite God.)
But I was thinking. What on earth would I have been like if I'd got on the net earlier?
One of the prime pillars of my writing - maybe even the central one - was what Jim described once on the Opi8 forum as a "Distinct, provincial Englishness ". The most important part of that's "Provincial". In other words, Isolation. The second I was at a computer with a modem, Isolation became impossible.
I write about Stafford so much because it defines what drives me on completely. It's an average town, with literally nothing to do and nowhere to do it. There was no decent record shops. There was no decent clubs, at least any I'd like to go. There wasn't anywhere to buy books of an oblique nature. Christ - you couldn't even be geeky properly, since there was nowhere you could buy any funny-shaped dice or little lead men. I wasn't even aware of the concept of a Comic Shop until Dave Hyland dragged me into Nostalgia and Comics in Brum on a rare shopping trip.
So I stayed immersed in mainstream pop-culture far longer than anyone with my temperament would be in any sane town. To choose one example, it lead me to loving Pop music in a more genuine way than anyone can really grasp, because if you're forced to go to a shitty club because there's nothing else to do, you learn to differentiate between the various strata of Pop and learn what there is to treasure in things most people sneer about.
But if I had the net, I'd have been able to hear any record whenever I wanted. I'd have had access to all the films that never came anywhere near the Odeon's rubbish projector. I'd have had all those little provincial boundaries knocked away before I'd had a chance for them to harden into me.
And they really have - the small town guy heading towards the big lights is a perennial story. And that's exactly what I've always felt like, wherever I went. Isolation means that you're an outsider, and that slightly distant, forcibly observant view-point is where I generally sit. I'm an outsider everywhere. Not always passively, of course. Snipers are outsiders too.
If I was sixteen now, I doubt I'd be feeling like that. I think I *may* have had an Internet connection at home. Not by the age of Thomagotchi, one of my first net friends who was running one of Britains best Indie-band sites when he was eleven and when I last saw him was finally heading to university, but by sixteen or so. While not poor, throwing the best part of a grand on a computer isn't something my parents would have gone for as a kid. (Exception: My Brother's Dyslexia would have allowed us to get one relatively cheap from the government). But even without one at home, I'd have been abusing the increased computers at School.
And what then? I wouldn't have had to trek to Nottingham to get a copy of the mAKE-UP's first album.
I'd have done everything earlier. Probably not with the same explosive force - that year when I was 19 and at university when England's Dreaming's "A-Bombs in the head" seemed less like a metaphor and more of a taxanomic description of how I was feeling: torrential, rechristening myself in some manner every few weeks - but certainly earlier. I'd have had awesomely pretentious blogsite with a little self-depreciation and a Sturmtrupen attitude. Fanzines would have been thrown out. I'd have had developed in public rather than in the Midland's Petri dish.
I'd have gained time. If I started doing the stuff I started at nineteen at fourteen like Houghton did, I'd be twenty-two now. It's telling that my main partner in crime on the Internet is Charlie "Baby Face" Chu over at Grammarporn. But, in many ways, its those lost years that drive me - knowing I started later than everyone else makes me very aware it's always catch up time. I'm going to die soon and I really can't pretend otherwise. Then again, if I *was* exposed earlier, maybe the lack of drive wouldn't bother me since I would feel I had nothing to prove?
If I'd haven the net earlier, I'd probably be a happier, more well-adjusted and generally rounded human being.
And what sort of fuck would want that?