Thursday, 29 April 2010

Chest Freezer

My grandmother loved her garden but was cold to children – her chest freezer was full of babies: gooseberries, raspberries and blackberries, frozen in Sainsbury’s bags, molded into the shape of babies. There was a white tomb in her utility room; when you opened it, it looked like a baby boom: fruit of the tomb, she called it.
Fruit Of The Loom - a clothing company based in Ireland - manufacture bras, and I had a hot-affair in Ireland once: with a fireman’s fiancĂ© - older than me – burned for three nights. I was left with a puffed-out chest an empty bra. No idea I’d hung on to the bra - I’d been home for a week and eventually got around to turning-out my rucksack; must have unknowingly scooped it up with my dirty laundry. It was the smell that hit me – her preserved: more fragrant than Mary Archer, as dirty as Monica Coghlan. Vapour-locked, as Frank Zapper would say. Elvis Costello sang, ‘My Aim Is True’, but it was Costello’s line, “you think your love’s like frozen food, you think it’ll last forever”, that spoke to me - told me to freeze the bra. My grandmother’s chest freezer: it was only right and fitting  - what better place to freeze a bra than in a chest freezer?
OAP inhaling a defrosting bra.
I moved out of teens, moved away from home, moved to my mid-twenties; but the bra remained – a chest holder in a chest freezer - a tiny baby (never filled-out); preserved - like Walt Disney - in a state of suspended animation. Until the morning after the night of the great storms of 1987, when my grandmother phoned: “We’ve had a power-cut, you better get here quick, your bra’s defrosting - along with the fruit of my tomb”. We couldn’t save the fruit but we could saver the bra. We took turns inhaling its dying aroma, out of a baby-bag on my grandmother’s allotment, affectionately known as ‘the bog’.
OFP hanging on to the bra (foetal position aided by chalk, not baby powder).
Re the infamous Jeffery Archer and the prostitute court case (at the time of my Irish affair): The Guardian reported: Monica Coghlan was the greatest victim of Jeffrey Archer’s lies. Her involvement with him left her reputation forever tarnished; like Christine Keeler her name became synonymous with prostitution, but unlike Keeler there was no glamour in her trade, no Snowdon to take her portrait.
According to Mr Justice Caulfield, trial judge at Archer’s infamous 1987 libel action, Coghlan provided “cold, unloving, rubber-insulated sex in a seedy hotel room”.
He called her piteous, and she was portrayed as the apogee of vice, in contrast to Mary Archer, apparently the embodiment of virtue (the Judge went further, he called her ‘fragrant’). The stain stayed with her for the rest of her life: 14 years later in her home town of Rochdale people still whispered behind their hands when she went shopping.
The words, vapour lock, inexplicably punctuate Zappa’s wonderful, ‘Jewish Princess’ (Sheik Yerbouti, 1979).
'Love’s like frozen food’, comes from Costello’s ‘Uncomplicated’ (Blood and Chocolate, 1987). 

Saturday, 24 April 2010

Atmospheric Advertising

The planes are back in the air, but there’s still a volcanic cloud up there. The RAF found ash in the engines of two of its Tornados this week. Jules Verne - writing in 1889 - predicted that by 2889 the clouds would carry advertisements: they’d be writing on the clouds. A thousand projectors would achieve this ‘atmospheric advertising’ by constantly displaying on the clouds, mammoth adverts and news stories. I can see tomorrow’s headline (cloud-line?) now: ‘Volcanic ash causes Tornado crash’.
This is not a hairdryer
Magritte was a great painter of clouds (in light skies, dawning on dark days), and there’s ‘an advertising-quality’ about much of Magritte’s art; indeed, Magritte’s imagery - from Homepride flour to The Prudential Building Society - must have visually influenced more adverts than any other artist I can think of. But let’s stick with things that smoke; consider things with wings; let time fly. 

 This is not a pipe
This is not a clock
This is a wing-mirror
This is not a mirror

Thursday, 22 April 2010

The Preserve of...

If they hadn’t have been voting to ban the burka, in Belgium today; and if the actor Lorne Green’s middle name hadn’t have been Hyman, I might have left this most mysterious of ‘found’ negatives, unprinted and in the dark, forever.
Barthes states, "the photograph becomes ‘surprising’ when we do not know why it has been taken…" Some years ago I found (rescued?) this 5x4inch black and white negative from the ‘lost student negative box’ of a college darkroom. The fact that it was found in an educational establishment suggests that it was made to fulfill a photographic brief. We don’t have the recipe (brief), and we don’t know whether the image was considered a success (its possible abandonment suggests not); but we can consider the ingredients:
A bed of oats
An unidentifiable vessel covered in cling-film
Large preserving jar covered with greaseproof paper
Half a hand
A bit of thigh
Two eyes (no face)
Two onions (hairy)
The desire to preserve is at the core of all photographs, but this is still a difficult image to penetrate. The cling-film could have been standing-in for muslin (often associated with jars of preserve), and the greaseproof paper - standing-in - for a Sheik: muslin and Muslim – it’s a construct of the ‘student imagination’, remember. The entire image could have been a rehearsal for ‘the real thing’ – whatever ‘the real thing’ was meant to be. The picture seems to be about ‘the act of preserving’, in an unnerving (perving?) sort of fashion. A sealed, concealed image with its intention preserved. And when the photographer took the picture he/she would have had a dark-cloth over his head and have seen the image upside down.
The one-time Goon, Michael Bentine, had a pretty topsy-turvy view of the world, and the closest I can get to this ‘lost preserve’ is an image from Bentine’s children’s TV programme, ‘Potty Time’ – a strange puppet-theatre show from the mid 1970’s.
Frank Zappa wouldn’t have banned anything even though the American media were always banning him. His brilliant album, ‘Sheik Yerbouti’ (1979), comes to mind. Zappa was as topsy-turvy as they come – he sang about dental floss - and might have gone on to pen a song about cling-film, if he hadn’t died so young.
And Belgium has a nerve - trying to ban the burka. Rene Magritte - their most famous son and export (after Stella Atois) - made several surrealist paintings of women whose faces are hidden beneath fabric. 

Saturday, 17 April 2010

Arrest The Pope?

Thanks to a vast cloud of volcanic dust from Iceland, the skies of South West London – indeed of the majority of Northern Europe - are clear of planes. That bankrupt country (Iceland) has found something to export: ash. A heavenly silence reigns.
Talking of things Holy. The Papers are calling for the Pope to be arrested. Never liked those black circles around Pope Benedict’s eyes. They remind me of records – a couple of 45’s. And today it’s Independent Record Store Day, and even though I don’t have a gramophone - and I’d love to see the Pope on Crimewatch - I’d hate to see the death of vinyl.
My last blog, Fatography, discussed Scientology (as well as lard, brothels Cheddar Gorge and L Ron Hubbard), and was written a couple of days before the Icelandic volcano made the news and closed our airspace. With this in mind it’s spooky to ponder Scientology’s volcanic beginnings.
75 million years ago, an alien galactic ruler, Xenu, controlled 76 planets in our galaxy, including Earth, whose name at that time was Teegeeack. All of the planets were overpopulated (by, on average, 178 billion). Xenu thus devised a plan to rid his sector of the galaxy of this overpopulation. All of the planets Xenu controlled were over-populated by, on average, 178 billion people. Social problems dictated that Xenu rid his sector of the galaxy of this overpopulation problem, so he developed a plan. Xenu sent out Tax Audit demands to the entire population, demanding that they attend special audit inspections, where the people were arrested, held down and injected with a mixture of alcohol and glycol. They were then frozen, put into spaceships and flown to planet Earth, where the frozen people were dumped in and around volcanoes. When Xenu’s Air Force had finished dumping the bodies into the volcanoes, hydrogen bombs were dropped into the volcanoes and the frozen space aliens were destroyed - all 1.4 trillion of them.
The final part of Xenu’s plan, involved setting up electronic traps in Teegeack’s (Earth’s) atmosphere. These traps were designed to trap the souls or spirits of the dead space aliens. When the 1.4 trillion spirits were being blown around in the nuclear winds, the electronic traps – sticky, flypaper-like traps - worked like a charm and captured all the souls. Out of these trapped souls: Scientologists?

Wednesday, 14 April 2010


Yesterday. I’m in Cheddar George – in a tearoom – when a woman says, “Stop looking at me like I’m fat”. I avert my eyes, contemplate my gaunt reflection in my black - calorie-free – coffee; count the flecks of dandruff floating on the surface. I get up to seventy-six – the amount of calories in a cup of Olvantine Light - and the coffee’s gone cold, so I run my fingers through my salt and pepper hair to try and make it 114 – the same calories as in a Milky Way. I think its safe to look up, but she’s still sat at the next table. I attempt a thin-smile, but gawp at the amount chins I’m faced with. She’s got more chins than Mount Rushmore - and none of them chiseled: we're talking President butter-mountain here. “You’re fattist you are”, she screams. I’m about to leave anyway – I like my coffee like I like my liposuction: sucked through a very thin straw. And I’ve never been known to flatter, as I’m slipping out of my chair, I utter: “ How can I be the fattest? You are clearly much fatter than me - by at least four dress sizes - I’m a size 12. I’ve always responded better to flattery than to a factory. But the factory responded and my dandruff ends up back where it came from: back on my head (along with my coffee).  
Reunited with my dandruff I go in search of the scientologist (climbing partner) I’d left in a cave, reading: “Ron The Photographer: Writing With Light”, L Ron Hubbard’s (the founder of Scientology) classic text on photography. “What’s scientology’s line on fat? No, lets start at the beginning. Where did L Ron Hubbard stand on Fat? And what does the strange L before the Ron stand for? Lard? Lard Ron Hubbard?” Consider the front-cover: a photograph of a somewhat bloated L Ron wearing a jacket, tailor-made to hold lard. Look. The pockets are the size and shape to hold lard. L Ron’s pictured contemplating a landscape of thin trees and thin sunlight, with his feet cut off. He could be standing on two blocks of lard (explaining why his pockets are so deflated) for all we know? 
Not so farfetched. Scientology fights obesity with something called: The Purification Rundown Programme. Amongst other things this detox-diet programme advocates lots of saunas and massages (5 hours a day for 5 weeks), and you wouldn’t expect to find fat – a block of lard - balanced on a sauna and massage sign in the street. Even more bizarre: notice how the sauna changes its name but the block of lard stays there just the same. One minute it’s ‘Secret Moments Health Studio, the next it’s, 'Whispers Sauna - Massage and Relaxation Centre'. ‘Secrets’ or ‘Whispers’ doesn’t hide the fact that both are brothels; and I think the lard’s there to attract punters; as a kind of a take on the saying: “I only have to look at food to get fat”. But in this case: “I only have to see lard to get hard”. And in they flock. Marshall McLuhan was right: “The medium is the massage”.
What ology or ography explains a fat-fact like this one? Or the case of a man called Croissant loosing all that weight? Strange fat-facts can only be preserved through the prism of new medium: Fatography. How can I be fattist? I’m a Fatographer. I’m going to start a new movement. We’ve had Golfography. Now let me lipo-introduce Fatography. And I’m not Greg Lucas, or Robert Croissant. I’m the father of Fatography: Eugene Dupont. 

Sunday, 11 April 2010

I Could Have Been A Game Show Host

I could have been a TV Game Show host. Presented my own post: “Welcome, to Eugene Bridges hosts his own mysterious post”. Lets face it: I’ve got the face to front it (insincere). But above all, I’ve got the material. And it’s visual.
Fingers on the buzzer: “If we look through the rectangular window today we can see a pair of knees. The question is: Which famous actor owns the knees like these? And in what famous movie do his thighs appear, upside-down in a tent?”

Back in the 1990’s, for a period of about five years, I was the unwitting recipient of some mysterious post. The format never differed: visible, through a windowed envelope - a detail of a film-still - a bit of a scene from a famous Hollywood film. The whole-picture was only revealed on opening. Apart from my address: no other writing. Never did find out who sent the film-clips or why. My doctor at the time, Dr Rusteburg, suggested I appropriate these strange missives in the form of a game; and that’s when I should have hosted my own TV Game show. But I missed my moment – let it go.
Still can’t put a face to the knees? Here’s a clue: The same knees were exposed in, ‘From Here To Eternity’ (who cold forget ‘that kiss’ on the beach?), and ‘The Swimmer’; where the actor appeared naked. But I don’t think you saw the knees, up any trees in, ‘The Bird Man Of Alcatraz’.
High-flying acrobatics + Gina Lollobrigida = Eugene Bridges.
Yes, you guessed it; it’s Burt Lancaster having his hand tended to by Gina Lollobrigida in, ‘Trapeze’ (1956). Lancaster and Lollobrigida (along with Tony Curtis) were circus acrobats – high-flying trapeze artists – with Lancaster performing some of his own stunts (audience applause).
‘The Flying Paulos'   
I wonder if Lorne Hyman Green and Hughie Green ever met? Hughie Green presented a TV talent show called, ‘Opportunity Knocks’ (In 1970’s it launched many a strange-named star: Bobby Crush, Pete The Plate Spinning Dog, Bonnie Langford, and Lena Zavaroni, who looked like a child and sang like a diva; and who died, like Karen Carpenter, of starvation). It could be argued, ‘Britain’s Got Talent’ is the bastard child of ‘Opportunity Knocks’. Well, Paula Yates was the bastard child of Hughie Green (and not the daughter of Jess Yates, host of ‘Stars On Sunday’, as she was led to believe).
The Clapometer
On ‘Opportunity Knocks’ we the general public voted the winning act, and a machine called ‘The Clapometer’ recorded the audience’s level of applause after each performance. If Lorne Greene and his wife, Nancy Hands, had been in the audience - would it have all been too much - would it have broken the clapometer? Might have even perforated Lawn Hyman Green’s eardrum?
Green + Greene + Hands = green fingers. They could have presented a gardening show?
Painful memories: I got the clap, years ago now. Funny. I always remember it as “Catch the clap”, or “Pass The Clap”, when, as we can see, it says: “Send The Clap Around”. Shespy found and appropriated this key text for children. Then, on my birthday, she gave me the clap. 

Friday, 9 April 2010

Bad-Press For Eugene

You can go years without hearing a bad word about Eugene. Then on the day you decide to change your name to Eugene, Eugene gets bad-press.
Guardian, 6th April 2010

Blow it, if it doesn’t happen again following morning: another Eugene in another newspaper: same bad-press. The concept of ‘handing yourself in’ is odd. How do you do it? Sit on your hands? It’s the ‘yourself bit’ that bothers me. Where, if they (the police) appealed for you to ‘hand a bit of yourself in’ – the bit that’s committed the crime - the offending bit... rapists would look-like real wankers. 

Western Mail, Wednesday, 7th April 2010

Opened the paper this morning: Malcolm McLaren’s dead. Tiger Woods is playing (well) in the ‘Open’, his first tournament appearance since being treated for sex-addiction. And a letter in the ‘Sexual healing’ column (more 'offending bits') starts off: “As a 40-year-old lesbian I’ve seen labia of many shapes and sizes, but have yet to see any as large as mine…” 

Guardian, 9Th April 2010

On the opposite page there’s an advert for a Bolshoi Opera production of Tchaikovsky’s Eugene Oengin.  But it’s the Bolshoi Ballet’s production of Spartacus – with Ivan Vasilev dancing in the air - that catches my eye. 

Tuesday, 6 April 2010

Lorne Hyman Greene & Rita Hands

I think I think I’m going to change my name, to Eugene Bridges. This’ll be, ‘Gene Bridges Connects’. Ironic: I’m doing it to disconnect my family. Childish. I know. And I know I should know better at my age
It was very nearly, Piers. But Piers Bridges is a contradiction of a name: all piers are wannabe bridges; piers are unfinished bridges; piers are bridges with arrested development; piers are bridges that never grew-up. Bridges and piers: arch enemies. Yet I’ve spent years underneath the arches, doing one-arm-pull-ups - OAPs - on bridges. OAPs leave DNA - genetic fingerprints - from cut fingers and calluses: a combination of gymnastics and genetics. Gene was born where genes were left - beneath a bridge: Eugene Bridges.
Talking of OAPs. I push a woman around, and she has to call me Eugene, even though she’s always known me as Greg. She’s ninety and not entirely comfortable with Eugene yet. If, when we’re out together, she reverts to calling me Greg: I stop pushing the wheelchair - abandon her in the busy street  - walk away - until I hear: “Eugene, come back”.
  A Butter Sculpture of Tiger Woods
Take Tiger Woods (and a lot of woman have): a Wood’s a type of golf club, and Tiger ‘gets-wood’ (fortunately, he’s been ‘treated’ for it: now, he’s ‘treated Wood'). And ever since he drove into that fire hydrant, the world, and his wife, knows, Tiger’s a tiger in bed. That reminds me: I once knew a bad Gene: ‘Golf Gene’ - a student – on, Golf Course Management. He once became so angry he punched a hole in a golf-green. There’s a thought. I could go for a colour. There must be somebody who went from Brown to Blue?
What about the actor, Lorne Greene? Greene was an aging actor (b.1915) when I used to watch him – playing a cowboy - in Bonanza. I wonder if he was a child-star, like Fay Wray: there’s a name? Fay Wray, ‘The Queen of Scream’. Be good if Lorne Green had have been a child-star. I could compile all the film-clips of him – make an art-film out of them - from his earliest appearances to his last - a Warholesque sequence - called, ‘Watching Lorne Greene Growing’: I can see it now - hours and hours of it - as interesting as ‘Empire State’. I wonder if it bored his parents: watching Lawn Greene grow? And was he by any chance an immaculate conception? I ask because Lorne Greene’s middle name was, Hyman! That reminds me: I need to go out and cover a golf hole with cling film
In 1938 Lorne Hyman Greene married a woman called Rita Hands.

Sunday, 4 April 2010

The Butterfly Effect: An Easter Coda

Good Friday. Opened my curtains to the open-wings of the butterball, seen through a halo: still in the same spot, on the grass under the tree beneath my window. Footballs fly into nets; butterflies fly into nets – butterfly nets. Goalposts are made out of wood – have a crossbar; Jesus was - captured - crucified on the cross. Butterflies are crucified in display-cases.
It’s Easter; but I don’t start the day on an egg. Tofu-on-toast. The label on the bread (from Waitrose) says, ‘The Terence Stamp Collection’, and there’s a picture of the actor’s head – Stamp’s head – the size of a postage stamp, on the wrapping. Stamp played a butterfly collector cum kidnapper in, ‘The Collector’ (the 1965 film of John Fowles’ book of the same name). John Clegg (Stamp) is a lonely man - with non-existent social skills - who one day wins a fortune on the football pools. With his new-found-wealth he gives-up work, buys an isolated house in the country, kidnaps a young art student – whom he’s been long admiring from a distance, but with whom he is unable to make normal contact - and adds her to his ‘collection’ of beautiful petrified objects (butterflies).
Greg’s, Clegg’s, Stamp’s, hopeless obsession with butterflies - a fantasy made true by football - observed from a distance: a socked football - that once flew - chewed (by a dog). Dogs are kicked; Dogs fly; and there’s a breed of Spaniel called, The Papillion (Butterfly) Dog. I chew-over these associations, as the tofu sticks to my tongue, like a stamp. 
It’s Good Friday and another kind of ‘collector’ – the cleaner - patrols the garden, collecting rubbish. What stopped me making ‘normal contact’ as she plucked-up the butterball between her pincers? Why didn’t shout out the window: “Don’t kidnap my butterball. Leave my butterball alone”? I’m still in that big sock (my own butterfly net), and a mouthful of tofu is no excuse for allowing a rare butterball to become landfill: extinct. 
Jesus rose from the dead on the third day – from a cave. In ‘The Collector’, Stamp keeps his young art-student, prisoner, in the cellar. 
I fall through the rubbish-shoot into the basement and join the butterball in the bin. At last, I’ve shed my sock - my sin: like Jesus shed his shroud; but I'm not him. And so it came to come: the butterball rose from the dead on the third day and ascended to my bedroom, on a broomstick. Why not? Jesus travelled on a cross.

The Collector’ was published in 1963, and the film was released in 1965. I was born bang in between, in 1964.