Interesting Link Round-Up 11/5/2015

Internet ArchaeologyInternet Archaeology seeks to explore, recover, archive and showcase the graphic artifacts found within earlier Internet Culture.

The Psychonaut Field Manual: A comic book guide to chaos magick created by Bluefluke.

Scientific American – What is the Sex of 17?New research suggests that our tendency to see gender everywhere even applies to abstract ideas such as numbers. Across cultures, people see odd numbers as male and even numbers as female.

TV Tropes – ZeerustSomething — a character design, a building, whatever — used to be someone’s idea of futuristic. Nowadays, though, it ironically has a quaint sort of datedness to it more reminiscent of the era the work came from.

The Uses of Literacy by Jeremy DellerDeller advertised in the music paper Melody Maker for material from fans of the Welsh band The Manic Street Preachers. The work consists of an informal ‘display’ of paintings, collages, drawings, books, poetry and ephemera donated by the fans.

A Future in Noise ♪♫♪: Interview with ‘Richard’ Author Ben Myers


Following the AFIN review of his new novel Richard (a fictional take on the life of Richey Edwards from the Manic Street Preachers, to be released on Picador on October 1st, 2010), Ben Myers kindly answered some questions I had about the book. —-
A Future in NoiseWhat initially compelled you to write a novel based around Richey Edwards?
Ben Myers: I felt as if his story was getting lost within the myth that seems to have arisen in his absence so Richard was my attempt to view it from a new angle. It seemed slightly sad that he was being defined purely by his disappearance. I remember reading a quote from Nicky Wire where he said that his memories of Richey are comprised of personal recollections, like the time Richey got drunk and moonwalked across a bar in Portugal – these are insights that the ‘doomed Welsh rocker’ tabloid stories never really report. The moonwalking story got me thinking about the difference between myth and reality, something that rock ‘n’ roll thrives upon. We thought he was locked in his room reading Nietzsche but no, it turns out for some of the time he was out with the roadies, chatting up girls, moonwalking and doing what young men in bands do.

As someone who works as a journalist but also writes fiction – and was a fan of the band during the Richey era – I felt at least partially qualified to attempt such a thing as fact-based fiction. Richard started out a series of disparate sketches and scenes that I didn’t really imagine would ever see the light of day because I’ve written loads of stories and novels which have never been published. It was only when the novel began to take over my head that I began to consider the responsibility of what I was doing – the realization that these were real people I was writing about, and that I owe to all concerned to write something that rings true, even if it’s an oblique way.

AFINTell us a bit about your research and writing process throughout Richard.
Myers: I almost feel like I did a lot of research by simply being a fan of the band from the early days. I’ve mentioned elsewhere that I’m 34 now and have the liked the band long enough to get turned away from gigs for being underage, so I’ve been following them since about 1990. Early on I liked the band just as much for their interviews, their reference points, their clothes. You’ve got to remember that Britain in the early 90s was full of bands playing the same dance-y drumbeat and spouting a lot of empty ecstasy-inspired lyrics. Some of it was good, but it was still just entertainment. Or else it was bands like The Sundays or the Cocteau Twins; bands lacking any visible personality outside of the actual music. None of it did much for the intellect.

The Manics however offered a philosophy and a lifestyle for their fans; also any band who had the piss-taken out of them so heavily by the music press for the first year or two seemed like they were doing something right. So my initial research entailed going back over all those old press cuttings and TV interviews, a lot of which I held onto. Obviously the book ends in 1995 so fortunately I was writing about the era I remember and lived. My teenage years, basically.

As for the writing process it was a case of trying to find the right voice. The novel has two narratives running in tandem – Richey’s early life and the rise of the band, then his final few days, told in the present tense. Finding and differentiating between those two voices and then weaving them together so that they were coherent was the big challenge. On a practical level I worked on the first draft of the book all day, every day for six months. The internet is a wonderful resource, but I also spoke to quite an array of people who knew Richey, many of who are friends, colleagues of mine. I didn’t do formal interviews as such, but just mined people’s memories for stories and overall impressions. The over-riding factor of this research was that everyone had good memories of him. People who knew him loved him for who he was – funny, sensitive, attentive – and that hopefully fed into this wider portrait of him.

AFINHow do you feel about some of the pre-release skepticism coming from Manics fan communities?
Myers: I totally understand it. A novel about the “demons instead Richey’s head”? It sounds a bit cheesy on paper, doesn’t it. I think people have a right to be skeptical, though actually most people have been encouraging. Manics fans are articulate and intelligent, so even when I’ve been called names, it has at least been poetically done. Obviously I’d prefer people read the book first, then called me names but….

AFINWhat prompted you to depict Richey as battling with a voice in his head, a sort of darker side of himself?
Myers: In choosing to write this book as a novel, I felt there were certain routes I could take concerning the telling of the story. The internal voice of a narrator is something that you just can’t do in biography because obviously biographies are based in fact, whereas this fictional approach opened up other possibilities. I suppose it created an opportunity to attempt to convey the mindset of someone who is mentally exhausted.

Any accounts you read about Richey Edwards seem to mention his drinking problems, the 12 step programme, the Priory and so forth, but I wanted to dig a little deeper and try and imagine what is going on in someone’s head when they no longer want to continue with the life they have.

AFINHave you ever read any Manic Street Preachers fan fiction? What are your thoughts on it?
Myers: No, I don’t think I have, which possibly sounds odd given the nature of my book. ‘Fan’ stands for fanatic though, and I’m definitely not a fanatic. I think a hardcore fan of any band can be blinded by their loyalty to the artist, which isn’t always a good thing because then you immediately find that you’re convincing yourself that the below-par album or the keyboardist’s solo project is really good when it’s obviously not. I think we’ve all done it. I did however enjoy reading ‘The Diary of a Manics Fan’ in Melody Maker in the early 90s. That was funny. Also when I worked at the same publication in the mid/late 90s I often used to edit the readers’ letters page, and each week about 50% of the mailbag would be very passionate about the Manics. Not all of them were written using blunt green crayons. I’m joking. I think…

AFINWhat was the biggest challenge you encountered in writing the book?
Myers: I was plagued by a constant nagging worry that what I was writing was no good and it was all just the insane scribblings of a madman (me, not Richey Edwards) so perseverance was a challenge. Sometimes it can be hard working on the same thing every day for months and months. Equally as big a challenge though was finding a publisher for it. Publishers are (rightly) very selective these days, though I was very lucky to get the book read and then signed by Picador, who seemed to get what it was about and helped shape the first version of the book into something much better. They also publish writers who have had a massive impact on me: Richard Brautigan, Bret Easton Ellis, Cormac McCarthy and countless others…

AFIN: Would you write a Manics-centric book again?
Myers: No, I wouldn’t – and couldn’t – write another Manics-centric book again. I’m not sure I’d have much else to say, and two books would, I think, officially make me a stalker. I’m not a stalker. I’ve barely heard anything they’ve released over the past few years.

AFIN: Tell us a bit about any other current writing projects you’re involved in. 
Myers: I’m currently working on a couple of other books, both 100% fiction, though it is early days on those. One is set in my native north-east of England and is partly features the traveller community – ie. English gypsies – and the other book takes place in Eastern Europe and features a lot of sex. A sort of last-days-of-Rome story. Though vastly different to Richard they do however both loosely cover similar themes of marginalisation, alienation, modern living etc.

AFINWhat would you hope newcomers to the Manics, as well as veteran fans, would gain from the experience of reading Richard?
Myers: My aim with this book was to write a novel that could be read by people who have never heard of the Manic Street Preachers, or maybe has little interest in the music scene. People of any age. The best thing that could happen is that it would feature on Oprah or The Richard & Judy book club. Obviously that’s not going to happen though! I don’t know really…Manics newcomers might glean some new bits of information about the life of Richey Edwards or young readers might get a feel for the early 90s indie/rock scene, I suppose? I don’t really know if the band has a specific ‘demographic’ these days, so haven’t really think about old and new fans too much. Readers might think the book is a complete waste of time and trees. If that’s the case I’ll try and plant a tree somewhere. Either way, it’s out of my hands…
Pre-order Richard from Amazon | on Facebook | on MySpace | Ben Myers, Man of Letters (Blog)

A Future in Noise ♪♫♪: Interview with ‘Richard’ Author Ben Myers

A Future in Noise ♪♫♪: Gig Review: Manic Street Preachers w/ Nico Vega, 9/24/09 at the Fillmore SF

Originally posted on A Future in Noise

Well, this is the first gig I’ve been to since starting A Future in Noise, making this is the very first gig review as well! This is the most biased piece of music journalism you are likely to read here because I do deeply love the Manic Street Preachers and all.

at the Fillmore in San Francisco yesterday…seeing as they haven’t been here in 10 years! That and being encouraged by the recent setlists (archived at Forever Delayed) being wonderful, with an eclectic mix from past and present releases, I knew it would be a show I could not afford to miss. Also, I had my heart set on meeting Nicky Wire – I bought him a bouquet of pink roses beforehand and attached a little note.
It wasn’t that crowded when I got there, so I was able to sidle up right to the front ahead of time. I hadn’t been too familiar with the opening act, Nico Vega, but after watching their live show – wow! Aja has such a powerful, raw presentation in her voice (and near-tribal dancing!), while Rich (the guitarist) and Dan (the drummer) madly tear away through instrumentation. One never knows what to expect from an opening act, and I thought I would be in the position of just waiting for it to end, but I really enjoyed them and will have to check out their studio / EP releases now!
It felt like such a long haul before the Manics came out, with the instruments and sound being tested, the Journal For Plague Lovers banner slowly rising up and replacing Nico Vega’s glowing insignia on the back of the stage wall, and the expected accoutrements appeared; the Welsh flag, a row of tiger plushies, and Nicky’s feather-boa-ed mic stand. Needless to say, I felt very, very nervous indeed! And then they came out.

I felt like my heart was going to leap out of me since not only was Nicky wearing that lovely sailor hat (as has been his custom lately), but a black suit as well. Genius! Oh, the music? Right then – they opened with “Motorcycle Emptiness”, their usual opener lately, which was simply surreal to hear and see being played so close to me, as I suppose is always the case with any song you’ve listened to over and over again in your own time. James Dean Bradfield’s voice sounded even more powerful in person, and seeing and hearing him up-close confirms that he truly is one of the unsung guitar greats – his hopping around stage, kicking out like a bit of a madman is fun to watch too! Sean Moore was hiding behind his drumkit (as usual), so I didn’t get that great of a look at what he was up to. Nearly every poignant musical moment was punctuated by synchronized leaps and steps from Nicky!
They played twenty one songs (setlist at the bottom of the article), with my personal highlights of note being the tracks they played from Journal For Plague Lovers (“Peeled Apples” – the bassline is even more scrumptious live! – “Jackie Collins Existential Question Time”, “This Joke Sport Severed”, and “Me and Stephen Hawking”), opener (“Motorcycle Emptiness”) and closer (“A Design For Life” – not really a favorite track before, but everything sounded better live), an unexpected acoustic “The Masses Against the Classes”, and “You Love Us” (the track the audience seemed the most excited about). The crowd sung along to most of the songs, particularly as the night went on, and the band looked like they were having a lot of fun up there, sharing occasional anecdotes before songs, happy to be in the States after so long!

After it was over, I had to track down Nicky…their tour bus was right outside the front of the venue, so I waited there with my cousin (who was patient enough to come along with me and deal with my temporary insanity!). After awhile, my cousin said, “The guy in the sailor hat is over there.”, but I didn’t hear her. Then she had to say it again, and I stammered, “…WHAT?!”, plowing through the crowd until there wasn’t any more room to do so. I waited as others got their picture with him and had him sign items they’d brought along. I had my pink rose bouquet with me, and when I was right in front of him said, “These are for you, Nicky!”. I think he said, and my cousin will back me up on this, “Oh those are lovely! Thanks – cheers, babe.” After that I have no idea what I said or did, getting my picture I’d brought along signed, and my photo taken with him (he put his hand on my back and shoulders – I thought I would tear apart into shreds!), and just saying, “Thank you so much!”. I certainly hung around until he was gone, just looking at him in that sailor hat, be-jeweled eyes, and hearing him talk so close by was addling my head to a great extent. JDB and Sean had disappeared by this point, so I’d missed my chance with them, but Nicky was my top priority so – mission accomplished!
The Manics are a band that have so much history attached to them, and to feel like you’re part of it just for a little while is a special thing indeed. It was a truly fantastic gig experience – if they pop up in your area, you must see them!

1. Motorcycle Emptiness
2. No Surface All Feeling
3. Peeled Apples
4. Your Love Alone Is Not Enough
5. La Tristessa Durera
6. Jackie Collins Existential Question Time
7. Let Robeson Sing
8. Faster
9. Everything Must Go
10. This Joke Sport Severed
11. From Despair To Where
12. If You Tolerate This Your Children Will Be Next
13. This Is Yesterday (acoustic)
14. The Masses Against the Classes (acoustic)
15. Send Away The Tigers
16. You Stole The Sun
17. All Or Nothing (Small Faces cover) / Motown Junk
18. Me And Stephen Hawking
19. Little Baby Nothing
20. You Love Us
21. A Design For Life

A Future in Noise ♪♫♪: Gig Review: Manic Street Preachers w/ Nico Vega, 9/24/09 at the Fillmore SF