Themes will definitely include, amongst other things; Penises, Demonic Visitation, The Future, Fyodor Dostoyevsky, Incest, Penises, Boys on Trains and more... Penises. Start rubbing yourself into a frenzy now, because this is going to be good.
Also, for those lucky plucky few who check this blog, I will be uploading scans of the entire first issue very soon indeed. It would have already been done if not for this weird thing called Christmas and one particularly annoying technical anomaly.
I've been aware of Ivor Cutler for a long time now and have always entertained a marvelous idea in my head of who he is and what it means to listen to his songs. His work has crept up on me slowly, like a thought.
I imagine -as is probably the case with many people- that the first time the residue of Mr Cutler's existence entered my life would have been through our dearly departed Mr John Peel's late night show on BBC Radio 1, an organization which in my opinion has never quite been the same since he passed away suddenly in October 2004. Huddled under the blankets with the volume turned down as a young teen, Ivor Cutler's voice would certainly have been one of the multitude of alien sounds settling comfortably into the little nooks and chasms of my developing mind, right next to hardcore german techno and The Fall.
For whatever reason (mostly thanks to Javena Wilkinson and J.Black), Mr Cutler's work has seemed more pertinent to me this week than it has ever done before and so by this rationale I'm now going to post my favorite one of his videos available on youtube. Ivor Cutler sadly passed away just two short years after John Peel, in 2006.
Digging through dusty old boxes of Merlin Premier League sticker albums, ancient Beano annuals, toy cars that change colour when you run them under hot water, plastic Transformers, countless pieces of Queens Park Rangers memorabilia, moth eaten cuddly toys and exercise books from primary school, I came across this entry in my 'General Note Book' from 1996
I don't think my writing style has changed much, and my handwriting certainly hasn't. I think what really caught my attention was the phrase "...God pushed his son over and he fell arms flailing through the clouds to earth (a big ball of earth and grass and trees)..."
"...and he fell arms flailing...", "...earth and grass and trees...".
I still aspire to write sentences like that. I was ten when I wrote that one and I'm not sure if I've ever done any better.
My memory is not the most reliable of instruments at the best of times, but if I push it I think I can remember making that story up. The task must have been to invent your own creation myth and although mine is hardly an original concept, I don't know, I just like it.
If anyone knows better, as in, knows which probably Eastern mythology I have directly paraphrased along side the obvious Christian influence then I'd really like to know.
In other news AWKWARD issue 2 is coming along swimmingly. I'm leaving this little passage from my childhood out so take that as a sign of the quality being left in. Ha.
This clip was brought to my attention recently by AWKWARD contributor and friend J. Black. I don't really know what to say about it. I guess J. might because she's cleverer than I am, but unluckily for you, this is what you're reading.
I've tried several times to format this post in a way that makes me feel that I understand what I am doing, or why I am putting this here. Needless to say that I have not yet succeeded.
I don't know if the ice caps really are melting. I'm told that they are and that this is due in no small part to the actions of us feckless little overachievers over the past 200 years, with our boats, planes, cars and computers. I don't know if the human race is really doomed to witness this spectacular apocalypse which it seems zealots of all persuasions are gagging for at the moment.
Somewhere inside myself I think I believe it, but still... call me a fool... the fact remains; I just don't know.
What I can say for certain is that in my eyes Tiny Tim was a great artist. He was also a sad artist, a lonely man and a tragic figure. He lived his life in a way which seemed eerily beyond his control and for this fact alone I guess I'm grateful. Not one of us really knows what's going on, but the least we can do is sing a song because we think its a great song.
I suppose this post in all its insignificance is nothing more and nothing less than a tribute to Tiny Tim, in all his twisted glory.
Werner Herzog claims that he never dreams in his sleep, only when he is awake. Harmony Korine claims that there is nothing more boring than someone telling you their dreams from the night before in lieu of conversation. Dr. Carl Gustav Jung had other ideas.
With these things in mind, here's something that happened to me today and that I decided to try and write down, for some reason...
...I pop a Valium and quickly swill a large bottle of cider.... Sleep comes rushing and is filled with dreams... On waking intermittently I check my Facebook account and each time find no notifications... I stumble and sway around the empty house, encased in a swamp of comfortably furnished amnesia... Turn on the TV... It registers as a miss...
...I fall back to sleep and my next dream is of a mountain ski resort...
"...Can you slide..?" I'm asked by a vaguely anonymous young woman...
"...Yeah..." I reply...
...My recollection of the preceding scene is unreliable at best, but I think it was a replica of a sequence from the film Into The Wild (Penn, Sean. 2007), wherein the young 'hero' and the wife of his emotionally ailing hippy road-friend cast their clothes off onto the wet beach and lovingly punch and dance into the sea... In my dream it was colder, far less epically liberating and covered in dirty ice...
...By some omnilateral transition we are at the top of the ski slope...
"...Can you slide..?"
"...Yeah..." I reply and bind into a snowboard and boots...
...Sloshing and slicing down the melting piste, naked but for some white underwear, I make it to the bottom...
...The way out - back onto the well worn route that leads to the woodsmoke wood-cabin town - has been shut off for the end of the commercial day's skiing... I come to a halt at the foot of an enormous launch ramp, much bigger than any I have ever jumped from...
...Its not clear whether they have been with me the whole time, but I am now in the company of my father and his second wife B... There is a palpable intoxication in the air...
...A mountain ranger directs us down a pine lined side path and into a kind of large wooden cubicle... We're joined by a host of other high spirited professional types - all drunk and smiling... Cheeks beaming red with whiskey anti-depressants red wine and bought-and-payed-for mountain air... Jokes ensue encased in little reciprocal recitals of improvised songs... rude and witty limericks... Not one individual is off the pace... (I regret now not being able to recall any of the jokes or songs. They really were good) ...B's jokes in particular, her rosy cheeks, lolling head and glassy eyes are affecting, welcome and a catalyst for us all...
...There is a comfortable presence of human fluids, like wet lips going in for a kiss, or tears at a funeral...
...The wooden room is octagonal and partly comprised of polished plate glass windows... All in all it bears more than a slight resemblance to The Great Glass Elevator at the crescendoing moment of Roald Dahl's masterpiece, only this one is distinctly alpine and seems to swing and spiral down through the snow instead of firing up into the heavens...
...One of the skiers in the lift is unmistakably Malcolm MacDowell, red headed and around 35 or 6... His inclusion in the group is indicative of the loose and violent genius of hatred...
...Pine handled knives appear cooly amidst the joviality and it is not long before I awake from the dream - the words "...and then we'll chop their heads off..." reverberating softly in my ears...
... to the one person waiting to hear the cassette tape recording, I've kind of dropped the ball on that one a bit. I've been trying to make a video and its proving a bit more difficult than I'd hoped it would be. I just need to sort out some technical lamery like fire wire cables and using my friend's sound recording equipment.
I will put up what I've done when I can because I said that I would and its bad to leave loose ends like that.
Anyway! Things are slowly but very surely coming together for the new issue. I'm waiting on some pieces from a few folks and some charmingly magniloquent individuals have already entrusted me with some superb short story writing, illustrations and photography.
Seeing as I don't think that this photo will translate very well without the colours, but is fucking amazing, I'm going to post it here... now. Its by Andrew Ferguson, a talented young photographic style-monger who will be having some other lovely stuff in AWKWARD issue 2... but that'll be in black & white, so here's one in all its glory
I mentioned previously that I've been working as an official invigilator of G.C.S.E and A Level exams at a local school.
During these exams, you (the invigilator) are not allowed to do anything. I mean really, nothing. One may not read, talk, sing, dance, sleep, shit, cry, fornicate, masticate or masturbate. One may not even leave the room to urinate until the exam is over and all papers have been collected and accounted for.
Quite obviously this leads to intense and prolonged sensations of boredom and frustration.
Thankfully I'm in the habit of doodling and so I'm happy to report that in this regard if in no other my experience at the job was not entirely worthless.
Here are a couple of doodles:
The Invigilator's Colleague
The Invigilator Himself
p.s. anyone reading this who has even fleetingly considered submitting work for AWKWARD, please... umm... do it. Also email me if you would like to be given an explicit brief to work to, some people have said that this would be helpful.
Here's a preliminary report of content either already gathered or in the works for AWKWARD issue 2:
- Sublimely suggestive photography from the tender tendrils of Amelia Anderson, who is currently residing somewhere in the high hills of China, probably taking pictures that will make you cry.
Here's a small sample of some of Amelia's work to whet your whistle;
- An interview with my favorite contemporary Norwegian oil painter Charlotte Jonsmyr. Readers can expect the conversation to span subjects in equal parts obscure, disturbing, erotic, retarded, anti-ecclesiastical and of course painterly. Image samples of Charlotte's superb work will be ready and waiting for your sordid gaze.
- At least one beautiful and complex pen illustration by Florence Poppy Deary of AWKWARD issue 1 and 'that-girl-that-works-at-the-Cobbet' fame.
- A second cartoon strip contribution from borderline arch-angel and pioneer of fledgling breathing technique Tai Chi Accordian - Toby Dyter. Early reports suggest that the cartoon may or may not revolve around ideas involving The Reverend Thomas Robert Malthus, fleas and hedgehogs.... no, I cannot wait to read that either!
- Something or other from beglittered sculpture artist Carl Gent, whose recent installation The Universe Is Poisonous provoked many a bemused and fascinated onlooker to stop and ponder the very air they were breathing (between gulps of free wine) at the recent UCCA Farnham degree show. The piece itself consisted of a rusty wire cage, about the size of a giant victorian wardrobe, wherein a small flock of bright yellow canaries were lightly fluttering in that delicate, palpitating manner that is common only to very small birds and mice. The floor of the cage was covered in a sprawling array of shoddily constructed cardboard replicas of the sites of human tragedy - I could only really make out the twin towers, some sort of earth quake and the Titanic. With all that in mind, its Carl's cosmically evocative written work that we shall be focusing on in AWKWARD issue 2.
Uprooted from the depths of Youtube by the enigmatic Javena Wilkinson;
My extremely frail memory is telling me that this was first played to me by Luke Branston about 4 years ago. Luke was the first person to ever say the words 'Ethiopian Jazz' to me. Unfortunately I was smoking far too much weed at the time to remember the names of any of the remarkable artists he played to us in the back of another friend's rusty hatchback, but I'm pretty certain that this guy, Tamrat Moller, must have been one of them.
This song sends tickles down my spine that flourish throughout my entire body as flowers whose pollen acts as the greatest cure for a paranoid drug hangover since the dawn of man.
Call your mum and let her know, she's going to love it.
Basically the first issue of AWKWARD has been a measured success with almost all of the first print run of 80 copies having been sold, traded for pleasantries or other zines and in one very special case swapped for a set of earplugs.
I'm constantly looking for stuff for the future issues and am currently preparing some briefs for people to possibly work to. PLEASE DON'T HESITATE TO GET IN TOUCH IF YOU WANT TO GET INVOLVED!
In monetary terms its just about broken even. In other less quantitive measures I feel like I've just spent a couple of hours talking to Osho. And no, I don't really know exactly what that means, but check out his fucking watch!
Also I'm pleased to say that I've had some really positive feedback and one puzzlingly aggressive assault of a review from one of my very best, closest and most trusted friends, which I'm still trying to decode. The latter message came complete with one of the most appalling photographs of myself that I have ever seen, taken abound 8 months ago by the friend in question. For reasons unknown, I've put it up there, look, up there, at the top, that's me that is...
"This is all complete garbage though! Where does it leave us Jack?" I (don't) hear you beg the question.
Well, the creation of this website (I really hate the word 'blog') is hopefully going to serve as some sort of power-tool/dare/network hub that will help to keep what momentum AWKWARD has gathered thus far going. I mean I really do want to do more of these. It was honestly so much fun gathering people's work together and editing the thing. All that's left now is to work work work and get better better better in the hope of one day scaling that monolith of apathy and confusion that threatens to beam us all off into no-where, from which vantage point we can commence to unleash the maelstrom of shit from our cosmically augmented arseholes down onto those still scrabbling around at the bottom trying to log onto Facebook with their raw, broken, shattered fingers. Fingers that they broke shielding their ugly and contorted faces from the TV screen on the day it took its mask off and revealed iself to be the lab-born child of Edward Bernays, Andy Warhol and a Space Lizard. Twittering and twitching at the mouth, talking at 10,000 miles per hour with its brain attached by spindly, previously invisible wands of translucent piping to your eyes.
Finally then, here is what you can expect to see popping up on the blog in the next who-knows-how-long:
- Interviews with the artists and writers featured in AWKWARD.
- Synapse shattering mixtapes recorded onto shitty blank cassette tapes bought from PoundLand.
The first one will likely include, amongst other delights; audio from solo girl porn, Allen Ginsberg talking gibberish and about Kerouac, Jun Togawa's incredible self, plenty of sludgy doom metal, blissful electronic waverings, up to 17 songs at once etc.
- Any amazing internet weirdness that I, as ultimate oligarch at AWKWARD, choose to deposit here (likely to be the busiest port-of-call).
- Youtube videos of wonderful and odd shit like this
- Some work that didn't quite make it into the final edit of the magazine for whatever reason.
- Periodic drunk & stoned diatribes as 'blogging' slowly and inevitably takes over my life.
- Oh yeah! Some awesome work every now and again! PRAISE!!!
- Eventual news of AWKWARD's online Pulitzer prize, scheduled for summer 2041.
- .....errrhhhh, that's about it really.
All that remains is to say that there are still a few copies left of AWKWARD ISSUE 1, so if you'd like to take a punt and spend £2 supporting this lunacy, then seriously, do.
To be honest the address doesn't get many emails whatsoever at the moment, so how about sending me a transcription of a conversation you overheard between two ladies on a bus talking about dildos or something even if you don't want to buy one, have no money or simply hate everything you have just read? I'd love it.
Oh, and some excerpts from Issue 1 will be up here soon, as well as some exciting updates on plans for Issue 2, which is just starting to emerge from the dreary fog of working as a GCSE exam invigilator (seriously).
Zine - short fiction/illustration/arts journalism/photography/collaboration
Blog - the surface
Awkward is a low-budget, mid-brow, black and white printed A5 zine. There is no specific theme. The aim of the project is to satisfy both the creative urge and the desire to construct/edit/aestheticize.
In Stock - Issue 2 (32 pages of exclusive fiction and artwork by 16 artists and writters) - £2.75 inc. postage