Monday, December 24, 2007

amj tomorrow, amj yesterday but never amj today?

In bed with bad cold. 11am the doorbell rings. Ich komme, ich komme, I cry, rolling out of bed, pulling on trousers, ich komme (which may not be what a native speaker would say in the circs, just a handy phrase I picked up from Johann Sebastian). I open the door, it's the Postlieferin with two packages. One is a Portugese dictionary because I wanted to say something about Bernardo Moraes' Minimundo last week and kept getting stranded at key points in the text. The other is Adam Mars-Jones' Blind Bitter Happiness, a collection of the incomparable AMJ's essays which I discovered online the other day.

Sample (from a memoir of his mother, an anecdote about his grandmother):

Their mother had been all but bald, at least until the day of her Transformation. One day Father had said, Your mother has had a Transformation, and when Mam had come downstairs, radiantly smiling, the top of her head had a quite different aspect. No one in Llansannan used the word wig. Perhaps no one even thought it. It was always: 'Your mam's Transformation is so smart', 'Doesn't your mam look magnificent in her Transformation?' The sudden change in Mrs Jones's appearance was received in that Chapel community like a biblical miracle. It was not to be questioned. Lazarus was dead and just now came stumbling from the tomb. Mrs Jones was all but bald and has a fine head of hair.

Also an interview, sort of, of Mick Jagger at which Ian Botham turned up:

The phone rings. It's someone called Ian, not from Hollywood. Jagger talks to him. 'Yeah...yeah. Come on over. Yeah. See ya.' He rings off.
'My God,' says Charlie. 'I.T. Botham. I.T. fucking Botham. He's like W.G. Grace, you know, fucking W.G. Grace. I've never met thim.' Awe-struck.
'I have,' says Mick. 'Twice, three times.'


Charlie reminisces about his love of cricket and music. Since the age of eight. Hutton. Bradman. Well, not Bradman in the flesh. 'I.T., it's the same as Coe and Ovett. Thirty thousand people'd come and see you any day of the week. But you belong to a club, to a club of old colonels, and what do you get out of it?'
Botham doesn't mind this line of argument. 'Appearance money, that's about it.'
'That's how it was for us when we started. It was 10-90. A dollar for you, a few cents for us. Then we got a dollar each. And now it's 90-10. We hire a stadium -- say, we hire Wembley for 15 per cent of the gate. Nobody hires us.'
'I know. So what do we do about it?'
'There msut be something. Because fuck it, you're like W.G. Grace. You're one of the greats, I.T.'
'Right,' says Mick.
Charlie turns to Vic again. 'You and me, Vic, we're close. Can we be alone?'
Vic laughs.
Botham takes a deep breath. 'Well, there's one thing you can do, and that's play a gig for me in my benefit year, that's 1984. Say I put up the expenses,, and we share the profits.'
'Where?' says Charlie, sarcastic. 'Taunton?'
'Glastonbury, more like,' says Botham. 'Do it proper. Make it a good show.'
'I dunno,' says Jagger. 'I dunno about that.' The atmosphere isn't what it was. 'I dunno about that, even in terms of the business.'
What can he mean? Surely he can't mean Keith and me aren't what you could call chums and he thinks cricket's a joke, so why would he play guitar for you? Would I do a benefit for a retiring distiller?

[From Tatler 1982. It's more moving now, a quarter of a century later: the Stones can still fill a stadium. One of the great cricketers of the 20th century is unlikely to command much in appearance money today.]

The book has pieces on cinematic representations of disability, many pieces on gay rights and writing, including a savage analysis of Andrew Sullivan's Virtually Normal. In one respect it has dated in a way that's encouraging: Mars-Jones thinks the battle for same-sex marriage rights takes on so entrenched a position as to be a lost cause, also that it is some kind of betrayal of the alternative forms of relationship that gays have developed outside the framework of institutionalised monogamy. Neither position looks as plausible as they must have done 20 years ago. The suggestion that gay couples should go after the benefits offered by formal adoption just looks like the clumsy workaround that it is.

It's perfectly true that in the United States the prospect of same-sex marriage has aroused such horror that its elimination has trumped states' rights - a significant number of legislators have been willing to override the constitution to ensure that every marriage should boast at least one and at most one Y chromosome. Throwing the constitution overboard has found a significant fanbase in one other realm - fighting terrorism - though here it has actually been less of a crowdpleaser. The overwhelming response of gay couples to the windows of opportunity that opened, however, made it only too obvious that separate but equal translated into secondclass citizenship; the crackdown has at any rate encouraged more principled nations to examine their principles.


hassan said...

Curious, I went online to look at some amj writings, and could find only this one article he wrote on film music for Granta. He was saying films have become much too saturated with music, and I highly agree with him. Movies are become over-produced in general, I think. I watched Psycho for the first time a month ago, and for all its being a landmark in cinema it looks as cheap as a student film. Which I actually thought worked really well for it.

But anywho, where did you come across the other articles of amj, or is this also the only one you found?

Ithaca said...

The essays quoted in this post are all from the collection, Blind Bitter Happiness, which I ordered online. Most of them were originally published in the 80s and early 90s, before it was common for journals to have web editions.

Jenny Davidson said...

I should get that collection, the Transformation bit is irresistible...

"Post-Google" by TAR ART RAT said...

SIDE NOTES - (errh, for some reasonI am having Deja Vu as I right this) but as a slightly on-topic side-note (an not to too-muchly/blatantly promote anything Disney) but in the special features of "Pirates of the Carribean, At World's End" DVD there is an interview with Keith Richards AND Johnny Depp together, in which Mr. Depp very clearly and soft-spokenly says "Well, I#ve been a huge stones fan sice I was a kid-" blah blah
and then Mr. Richards opens his mouth and it just all warbled and sea-sick, like Depp's acting in the movie. Fun to watch.
Furthermore there is a new-ish film about the life of supermodel and accidental activist Uschi Obermayer called "Das Wilde Leben" (I think) not the greatest movie, but throughout the film in a young man plays the Keith Richards role ith a sort of uncanny believablitiy (even though he is German) so that is fun to watch.

That#s all.

"Post-Google" by TAR ART RAT said...

oh, and there is a 1986 ot 87 TV-movie version of Alice in Wonderland where Carol Channing sings a terrifying song "Jam tomorrow, Jam yesterday, but never ever Jam today" which will never ever leave my brain. Ever. That whole movie was creepy, actually.

ok, correction, so it was 1985:
see on IMDB, crazy cast actually