Thought For The Day
Thought For The Day
My Revenge: Two Sugars, Please
I was chuffed to the proverbial bollocks to be informed yesterday that the NME not only ran a long letter from me this week, but also quoted the beginning of ex-NME journalist Jonathan Romney's Guardian article about me, 'Too literate to be championed by the NME...', following it with the outraged expostulation 'Who can the Guardian be talking about this time? Momus. Yes, Momus.'
My letter, which was spurred by Johnny Cigarettes' moronic Stereolab review (zero out of ten, descriptions of Gane et al as 'pseudo-intellectuals') was printed under the gigantic headline 'Twat'. I barked with laughter when my press officer told me this. But later I realised that this was the sound of a paper saying 'Ouch!' (Or, since they see themselves as such literary fellows, 'If you prick us, do we not bleed?' Hmm, maybe not. Note from NME sub: the readers won't get the Shakespeare ref, just put 'ouch'!)
I mean, you can't have it both ways, guys. Jonathan Romney's article could have run in the 1980s NME, which actually reviewed books and discussed ideas, as well as paying attention to a much bigger range of music (including, shock horror, black music). But it would be inconceivable in today's paper, which sometimes seems not only to be reactionary, but to be campaigning for dullness. I can't help thinking of editor Steve Sutherland as a sort of William Hague, on some sort of moral mission to stop the pound being replaced by the Euro, and Britpop by foreign muck.
So come on, NME, your cultural policy must, at some point, come home to roost. There are, daily, more things too literate for your philosophy. There's a price to pay for narrowing and narrowing the range of your coverage, and the price is dull, grey, corporate irrelevance.
Momus, and a good many other artists, are simply too interesting for today's NME.
My letter was a righteous harpoon, launched into the flabby white underbelly of the NME whale to puncture some of the organ's more ludicrous and persistent memes:
'Football is the new rock and roll'
'All intellectuals are pseuds'
'Art is wank'
'The Mercury Prize is a sham'
'Readers will start gibbering with terror if we put anything other than white major label guitar bands on the cover'
'There is a curse on those who attack Blur'
I would just warn any NME folk reading, however, that, while there may be no curse on those who attack Blur, there is certainly a curse of Momus. Running critical letters from Momus usually prefigures the departure of an editor. Ask Danny Kelly (now, surprise surprise, a football journalist).
My letter was intended to be a sort of liberating manifesto, disabusing the bastards, clearing the decks for a truly progressive 21st century NME. Being attacked and yet also indulged gave me a curious feeling of political power, as though I were the Ayatollah Khomeni in Paris in 1979, or Nelson Mandela in prison just before the collapse of apartheid. It almost feels as if I could now approach IPC with a proposal for a radically refreshed NME, and take the helm myself. Fuck, I'd make the world a more interesting place, I can tell you.
One reason they're mentioning me at all, though, is that the attention surrounding Stars Forever has undeniably bumped me up a few rungs on the celeb ladder. I'm not on the A list or B list (hello, Creation Records artists signed just about the time I signed off!) but let's say I've just gone from the W list to the O list. Let's say I'm now on the mainland map. Until recently I was (in British terms, anyway) an anthrax-infested island somewhere to the north of the Shetlands.
This promotion, which will be more clear in a week or two when you see my whole-page review in Uncut, my major feature in Time Out, the rerun of my concert on BBC Choice and my appearance on the book programme Pulp, is now becoming one of those self-perpetuating celebrity snowballs.
The Guardian piece prompted an invitation from some curators called The Ambassadors for a contribution to their project We Love You America, in which artists and musicians collaborate. They've already paired Add N To (X) with Chris Offili and Pet Shop Boys with Sam Taylor-Wood, and I suggested a collaboration with Russian-American artists Komar and Melamid, making a musical version of their market-researched paintings idea.
My press officer told me yesterday that a Carlton TV production company saw me on rock discussion programme Inside Tracks and now want to do a whole series with me. We haven't met yet, but I'm going to pitch them the idea of a low-fi, low-res investigative show called The Out Of Fashion Show which each week will try to find out why certain things are reviled, ignored or considered embarrassing in Britain, and whether they should remain in the shadows or take a turn in the spotlight.
Kind of like Momus, really.
Two Sugars, Please
The ratings will be phenomenal, because the repressed, neglected and ignored are always in the majority (and they all watch TV, hoping one day to see themselves symbolically vindicated. That's why TV is the new Christianity: it also promises that the meek shall inherit the earth, though both of them end up creating centralised power elites instead).
Even staff members at the NME will watch The Out Of Fashion Show, and they will curse my celebrity, knowing that they had no part in it.
I take my tea like my revenge, Mr Sutherland, two sugars please.