Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Tantrums and other stories

Oh the joys of self-publishing! It compliments my feelings of generosity this week, and abundance! Abundance! It really is a lot of fun, although paying for colour photocopying or colour photocopied goods for that matter, is not, so you can download my little collection of fanzines in all their colourful glory here:
(Please note the flying knickers in above photograph taken by Mairéad McGrath, who probably knows my tantrums better than most)

I often attribute my tendency to misspell to my wacky, carefree, often improvised creativity and my punkish, often impatient sensibilities. In this case, I attribute it to a general rush of creative energy from which these writings came and a faulty crack copy of Microsoft Word (hush hush!). I also tend to use the colon punctuation mark indiscriminately. I embarrassed myself recently when a friend, who was editing a piece I had submitted for her periodical 'Never Never and Elsewhere: Word Made Flesh', emailed me her suggested changes. I had obviously forgotten my flamboyant use of the colon, asking her was it really necessary to have all those colons in there? She quickly informed me that no such changes had been made, in fact, all those colons were there because, uh, I put them there. Whoopsie! And that was a piece I wrote over the course of one year! There is actually more to be said about my contribution to this magazine, but that my friends, is for another post. Meanwhile, it can be bought in bookshops around Dublin city... and possibly online too, although I don't know these things. That photo is me, I took it. It caused some controversy between myself and the editor because she edited out my boob. But that discussion is certainly for another occasion.

Oh and the dash! I think I developed a fondness for the dash - whilst reading Emily Dickinson in school. When her poems were found and published in 1890 after her death, personal acquaintances Thomas Wentworth Higginson and Mabel Loomis Todd made significant changes to Dickinson's poems, editing out the dash altogether. It was not until 1955 that her poems were published in their original form, dashes'n'all.

In other words, I have terrible grammar. Actually scrap that, I have careless grammar, but I'm learning how to use it and actually enjoying the stuff. Grammar for writers, is like a click-track for drummers. I used to be vocally against click-tracks (again, a discussion for another time) but I'm also learning the joys and benefits of that tool too. All these things, they may seem boring, but they are tools, tools which you will notice when you read my stories, I have pretty much ignored. I think I was inspired by this article on the death of the semi-colon, which was published in the Guardian in April 2008. I use commas way too much.

P.S. I just finished writing a rant about misspelling and grammar, only realising afterwards that I had misspelled grammar 'grammer' the entire time. But I changed it because I am vain. Plus the spell check works on here.

Monday, January 11, 2010

holy ghost toast: PESTERSOME NICHTS

At long last, the album that was recorded in 9 hours (more or less) and took two years to release, I am proud to present Holy Ghost Toast's Pestersome Nichts.

Holy Ghost Toast was a band that existed in Berlin during the time I lived there - when was that? Years ago at this stage. I had moved there with Party Weirdo for about a year, during which time I was itching to play the guitar and bass and fool around with all this drama I felt conjuring in my vocal chords and make some serious zone-y noizze. I met Jule whilst hanging out with the Ladyfest Berlin folk. She had just started drum lessons a few weeks when we met for a jam. We were both beginners and I adored her drumming style. She approached the instrument in a way I had lost since the time I got 'good' at drumming. Her style was that of someone without preceding notions of how one should play the drums. She just wanted to play yo! And was willing to improvise along to the clumsy narrative I provided in (uh...) melody.

We spent long hours exploring our sound, sometimes lying a guitar and bass on the floor beside the drum kit, using our fingers and drum sticks to poke unfamiliar sounds from these familiar instruments, reaching with our arms to include the drum kit - the bass drum and cymbals. You can hear this on the track 'Room 10' - which is a 5 minute clip taken from one such lengthy jam. In January 2008 Jule came to Dublin to record an album with Stephen Shannon in Experimental Audio. I had already worked with Stephen several times and was eager to try a different approach with him. Myself and Jule literally went into the studio and started playing, with Stephen adopting quite an organic approach - listening out for snippets worth keeping while we tried our best to recreate the private ease of playing we experienced when creating by ourselves in a more casual environment. 'In my secret garden' and 'Geek Love' were improvised in the studio. 'The Cork Invasion' was recorded on my laptop the evening before, when David and Amy from Queen Kong were leaving my house, and myself and Jule just happened to be having a wee jam in my room. Some little bits were added later, the distorted vocals in the former, and the synth in 'Da Du Da'.

I am extremely attached to this album and it's contents. It's the manifestation of a memorable time in my life, which stretches from Berlin all the way to Dublin and back. We were very excited when Noise not Music agreed to release it for us, but in the end we decided to do it ourselves and now I am glad that we have.

The album is available for free download here:

But you can purchase the cassette tape from me too. We have fifty in total, 25 of which are going to Berlin. 5 have already been sold and are going in the post tomorrow. The cassettes are a rainbow of colours and appearances and each tape has been HAND DECORATED AND LABELED by yours truly. You also get an A3 poster of our album cover (pictured above). The photo is my Mother's and is one of my all time favourite images. One of those freaky kids is my older sister. The cassette and poster will also be available in Road Records by the end of this week. If you are interested in purchasing a cassette, please email:

Holy Ghost Toast: Pestersome Nichts
Cassette: €5
Poster: €5
Together: €10

Thursday, January 7, 2010

You're our narcissus: new media, abundance and taking pleasure in ourselves.

I watched this Douglas Rushkoff video on "How the Web Ate the Economy, and Why This Is Good for Everyone". Rushkoff says that although the majority of economic principles currently being used in business are based on ideas of scarcity (e.g. the monetary system) he reckons that in this the digital age we should be thinking in terms of abundance. It makes complete sense to me. Recently, I have been actively affirming my belief in abundance over fears of scarcity, fears which permeate the whole of our culture - in recession and out. I have been saying to myself: "my income is constantly increasing, my income is constantly increasing", I have been indulging in gifts for myself and others, and it's working. But this whole abundance way of thinking thing has urged me to write on one of the most abundant and interesting phenomenons of recent times - New media. New media interests me:
  • because we are so obsessed with documentation that the impact of the live moment becomes secondary to the retrospective life it accumulates online
  • because technology for documentation has evolved quicker than an etiquette for its use
  • because I'm interested in the ethics of photography
  • because new media blurs the line between professional skill and thoughtless playfulness
  • because social events are now the fodder for photographer's careers
  • because people of all walks of life can access this sometimes affordable technology
  • and because people all over the world are taking photos of themselves.
People taking photos of themselves and posting these photos online. It fascinates me. I have always been an enthusiast of the dress up self-photoshoot. I even included it in my RAG recommends this year:

The ultimate in controversy for those on one's social networking sites who like to debate the 'authenticity' of your self-portraits! Someone once told me "Sorry, but photos lie". Liars! Damn lyin' photos! It cannot be argued however, that thee best relief for rainy unemployed days, night-time, drunken-time, boring afternoons, and the best remedy for general restlessness is dress-up photoshoots. All one needs is clothes (a basket of especially considered clothes works best) and some form of camera. Mostly it's a bit of fun, but there have been times when things get arty, and I've seen how malleable my body and my identity is… lies? No darling, it's theeatahr! That is, theatre.
(Emily on Dress-up Photo shoots, Rag, issue 4)

What is narcissism really? Is it callous, is it self-involved, is it self-obsessed, is it morally incorrect, is it shameful, is it dangerous? The Greek myth is much more than a beautiful boy's deadly desire for himself, it's more than a moral lesson. In the tarot cards, Narcissus is represented by the Page of Cups, the emergence of the capacity to feel. Narcissus stabs himself to death and as his blood dribbles down to the earth, up springs a white narcissus. The death of Narcissus is a necessary stage in developing a capacity for loving others, his death being appropriately self-sacrificial. Each Page in the Tarot deck is embryotic, the most fragile of beginnings which can be easily exploited, abused, misunderstood, ignored, destroyed, as can our sense of self-love and our slow wisdom for the importance of such love: "We can easily call Narcissus callous and selfish, because he has eyes for no other than himself. But he must begin with himself before he can see anyone else".
(The Mythic Tarot, by Liz Greene and Juliet Sharman-Burke)

Freak Snow Storm and impromptu photoshoots.

First there was a blizzard, and I watched from the bus window as cars crept along like mourners and massive machinery pulled and pushed and built and the soft snow flakes came in through the window and clouded the lines in between me and everyone else with snow-tuft. It mesmerised me. I could have easily lost my heart to the snow today, or my head. I've been a pillager of my Mother's new books. She must have found a treasure chest book shop because she had picked up a beautiful edition of Hans Christian Andersen's complete fairy tales. Last night I read the Snow Queen. This is my favourite bit:

In the evening, when little Kay was at home and half undressed, he clambered upon the chair by the window, and looked through the little hole. A few flakes of snow were falling outside, and one of them, the largest of them all, remained lying on the edge of one of the flower-boxes. The snowflake grew larger and larger, and at last became a maiden clothed in the finest white gauze, made out of millions of starry flakes. She was beautiful and delicate, but of ice - of shining, glittering ice. Yet she was alive; her eyes flashed like two clear stars, but there was no peace or rest in them. She nodded towards the window, and beckoned with her hand. The little boy was frightened, and sprang down from the chair; then it seemed as if a great bird flew by outside, in front of the window.
(p. 272/ 273 Wordsworth Library Edition)

And today when I ventured into the city and beyond to Templeogue for an interview, I joined Rick Taylor for an impromptu photoshoot in Bushy Park. If you are like me, then you will empathise with poor little Kay forgetting his head with the snow queen... This it seems, is the nascent beginning of narcissism, but more of that tomorrow...

The other book I stole from MOM is The Picture of Dorian Grey by Oscar Wilde. I am a huge fan of Oscar's beautiful and tragic niece Dolly Wilde who is one of two dead people I am sorry I will never meet (the other is John McGahern). Wilde's longest relationship was with an American heiress named Natalie Clifford Barney who hosted "the most important Parisian literary salon of the 20th century". Dolly was known as a performer and conversationalist, "an artist of the spoken word" who would imitate in performance her famous uncle Oscar. Her only written legacy is her correspondence. Joan Schenkar wrote Dolly's biography which was published in 2000 called Truly Wilde: The Unsettling Story of Dolly Wilde, Oscar's Unusual Niece.

But Dorian is the first book of Oscar's I have ever read and conveniently it fits right in my pocket, making this next photo that bit more Gothic-gay-boy than black crows against snow:

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Party Weirdo (AWWW!!!)

It happens, because I'm both a chameleon and a jack of all trades, that people I've known for the longest time sometimes say to me "I have no idea what you 'DO', Karate". This is one of the reasons this blog exists, and hopefully as it develops the culmination of material will display at least something of a continuum of what I do and indeed, who I am. Usually what I say is "I'm in about a million bands" and dole out myspace addresses of varying descriptions and levels of frenzied noise making. On this occasion though, I just pointed my friend toward EweTube and in so doing, watched a video I had not seen in a very long time... Back when I was an upbeat, punk, drummer, popstar, in a small but gorgeous gay bar, in a semi queer, ardently feminist band called Party Weirdo:

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Secret Agent shoot w/ Rick Taylor

Having spent the last few weeks reading other people's blogs, I thought I'd start my own. I'm trying to write more anyways, but this is likely to turn into a faux website, with photos'n'whathaveyou. Have been threatening to establish my own wordpress website, but this seems just as good and simple to boot. Nice to have a place to bring all the elements together as it were. This morning I got some photos from a particularly productive shoot I did with Rick Taylor a couple of months ago, a photographer I know from hanging around the Dublin Burlesque scene. We did so much that day I had forgotten all about this particular character.