this is merely a drop in the giant existential metal rain-water gathering tub that is this drop...moretotal fucking game changer
as per request for specifics:
this is merely a drop in the giant existential metal rain-water gathering tub that is this drop-dead funny/deadly serious collection of the accounts of the deaths of one hundred & ninety of our--y'know, as in us human beings--most important thinkers, & what they thought of mortality, what--if anything--comes after, whether or not it matters (spoiler alert: it doesn't), &, sometimes, how, or how not to, do it.
i know what yer thinking & yer wrong. yes, the majority of dead folks represented here are western--read 'mostly white'--& male, but critchley includes, & without any seeming overexertion, if not an abundance, then at least an ample amount of examples of asian, arab, african &, uh ... um, alliteratively all i got is ovary-equipped ... err--whatever, women philosophers.
He is the Hip Priest. He is the Cockney James Brown. He is the Diceman, Squidlord, and the Big Prinz. He is the man whose head expanded, the great M.E...moreHe is the Hip Priest. He is the Cockney James Brown. He is the Diceman, Squidlord, and the Big Prinz. He is the man whose head expanded, the great M.E.S. He is Mark E. Smith. He is the Fall.
The Fall are unequivocally my favorite band forever, and I actually think about shit like that. This year the Fall became 35 years old. Mark E. Smith is the only surviving original member, and not by a close margin either. Upon forming in 1977, the group soon became a vehicle for Smith’s personality and his twisted literary/musical hybrid vision of Lovecraftian horror and proletarian grumpy old drunken tirades. Also, he did, and still does, a bunch of drugs. And he’s gotten into drunken brawls with his band on more than one occasion. And yet. . . . and yet, he is a loveable old curmudgeon. The one real rock star a normal person would want to go to the pub with. Not that he would want to go with you. Smith doesn’t care for many people personally.
Legendary British DJ John Peel had championed the band since the early 80’s until his death a few years ago, dubbing them famously, “always different, always the same.” No band is more synonymous with Peel, who was kind of like if Dick Clark was the hippest cat you knew and his show showed it. Smith met Peel only a few times other than the 30+ sessions the band did over the years. Apparently, he didn’t really think much of Peel. Smith didn’t dislike him, mind you, at least not enough to trash him in Renegade: The Lives and Tales of Mark E. Smith by Smith with Austin Collings. No, Smith saves it all for the people he sees as the most worthless walking about . . . musicians.
In his defense, Smith doesn’t unload the way he could, the way many of the 50+ one time members of the band have over the years. They are the ones seemingly with an ax to grind, and Smith, who’s never enjoyed the reputation of a charmer, has the air of a, if not exactly benevolent, then bewildered and slightly ashamed father figure. It’s hard to describe the sympathetic way he comes across discussing incidents that portray him a less than flattering light, Believable, that’s what I’d call it. The poor saps didn’t have it in them. He'd tried to warn them, told them what’s it like on the road, all the time, the booze, the dope, the birds.
Somewhere I lost my thread. I guess the point may be, if you have any interest in M.E.S., and you know who you are, this is not the expected blast many people thought Smith would write if he ever addressed the subject of the Fall’s past. As has always been the case, any shots he takes, at former members or anyone else for that matter, come in his lyrics, accompanied by the bombast and repetition of the Fall, whoever they may be at that time.
The most interesting thing about the book is the reader’s ability to decipher what M.E.S. is actually saying. Not only is he deliberately cryptic, both in his lyrics and everyday speech, he is, more often than not, drunk, exhausted, and/or aloof, some combination of the two, or all three to differing or similar degrees. He never suffers fools lightly, and it is not uncommon for him to end an interview by walking off in the middle of it. So to actually be able to read what he is trying to say is satisfying after decades of fanboy worship.
There is actually a decent amount of biographical information, though it comes lacking any organizing principle. The same can be said for most of the book, not surprising as he was probably spouting it off the top of his head at the pub while Mr. Collings furiously wrote or typed. We do learn he grew up mostly happy, with too many sisters, no tele, not even music before he entered his teens. It was at this time he nursed his explosive imagination with the occult and the works of Lovecraft, Machen, Blackwood, and James. He thought most of punk rock was shit, particularly lyrically. Though Smith appears to have some underlying political beliefs, he makes his points through telling stories of drug addiction, paranoia, murder, and football. Oh yeah, I haven’t mentioned football. M.E.S. is/was a huge football fan. Not so much anymore with the coming of Becks, pony tails, and money, money, money.
So this review is essentially a recommend for the people who don’t need it, or a weird mistake you made if you read this far and have no idea who I’m talking about.
"I don't care if it's me and your granny on the bongos. It's the Fall." -Mark E. Smith (less)
I have barely begun this, but had to pull it off the shelf to examine after coming across a story about Crosby's wife, Caresse; in I believe a fictiti...moreI have barely begun this, but had to pull it off the shelf to examine after coming across a story about Crosby's wife, Caresse; in I believe a fictitious context. The preface and first chapter snap you in and it's the most boring part of this guy's life. Will return to very soon.(less)