Justin Quirk is the author behind Yellowman, a glorious graphic novel about an albino being hunted through Victorian London by two groups who want his skull for its magical properties. There’s also a load of stuff in there about the psychic power of Kent, a mind-reading cat, the birth of modern science and a secret society called The Hidden Reverse. We caught up with him to ask about the novel’s world…
New York poet Kenneth Goldsmith is leading a new international movement. He tells le cool about reading the traffic news to the Obamas; the ‘Big Ideas’ he’ll be floating today at the Whitechapel’s Art Book Fair; and the kilt he wants to buy while he’s in London
Kenneth Goldsmith makes poetry out of traffic reports. He makes poetry from the New York Times: read cover to cover, not a scrap of text omitted. He makes poetry out of recording each movement he made during a 13-hour period.
He does not want his work to be ‘poetic’ in the romantic sense; he is not concerned with it being a ‘sensation of the ear’. He is one of the founders of ‘conceptual writing’, which he says is the first international writing movement to emerge since the 1940s. An explanation of the concept can be found here.
He’s founding editor of UbuWeb, senior editor of PennSound and he’s at the Whitechapel Gallery this afternoon to launch the book he’s co-edited with Craig Dworkin called Against Expression: An Anthology of Conceptual Writing. I called him in New York prior to his trip.
Jayde Adams (that’s her on the right) and Oli Bettesworth (that’s him on the left), along with Oli’s mum Janet (she’s hiding) are the founders of east London’s newest, and arguably, best comedy night, The Painted Grin. Comedians themselves, they are picking only the very best on the circuit to appear at the weekly, free to get into, night that you’ll find in the basement at Benny’s bar on Bethnal Green Road. And they’re totally crushing on each other. Josh Jones asked them some questions. And these are their answers.
Tell us a bit about the Painted Grin… what’s this all about then?
Oli: The Painted Grin is a new comedy club in east London, started by my excellently funny mum Janet, my quite droll girlfriend Jayde (I don’t like to go overboard with the compliments as her ego tends to get by somehow without them) and I. It’s a family-run night, although I don’t mean that to sound as tediously wholesome as it does. We’ve been gigging on the London circuit for a while, and in that time we’ve gotten to know loads of excellent comics, so each week we invite six of the best stand-ups around to come and perform. It’s a friendly, relaxed atmosphere, and we’ve had a whole lot of fun running it so far. Oh, and it’s in a darkened basement bar – which is exactly where comedy belongs.
Jayde: My ego is perfectly formed and completely tamed. Haven’t you at least got one little compliment for me?
Vyvian Raoul meets the unicycling boater James Bentley, organiser of the annual Pirate Regatta
James Bentley is a bit of a legend down by the canal. If you don’t know him by name, you may know him as the owner of easily the most interestingly monikered narrowboat on London’s waterways; you may also have noticed him lurching up and down the towpath on his second favourite mode of transport: the unicycle. He’s also one of the boaters behind the Pirate Regatta, an annual event that brings the cruisers together for a big ass two-day party. And Wuff, Bark, Donkey is centre stage: James’s double wide roof – all edged with light bulbs – hosts bands and sound system.
Hackney is his water and we caught up with him (listening to rock’n’roll records) by climbing through a set of railings on the opposite side to the towpath, near the gas works at Haggerston…
Katherine Templar is an actress who’s gone down that well-trodden route of doing a degree in genetics, then acting in period dramas and then, of course, getting a role in the soon-to-be-released Human Centipede II. Josh Jones had a chat with her about what the hell happened there, what the hell happened on set of the ‘sickest film ever’, and the rest of the things she’s doing. In other news, she’s just got back from prancing about in the desert at Burning Man.
So how did you go from genetics to acting?
When I was ‘advised’ to get a more ‘sensible’ degree aged 18 I found myself gravitating towards genetics. In all honesty I absolutely loved it. I am a complete geek on the inside. However, once I’d done that I realised I still desperately wanted to act so I applied to drama school, which I have never once regretted. Although, I am still occasionally found reading New Scientist in the green room…
This summer, UP Projects’ Floating Cinema has toured the waterways of the five Olympic host boroughs, hoping to create a ‘human blueprint of the waterways and connections to the Olympic Park and Games’. Having collaborated with other artist groups from Films on Fridges to Botanical Busks, it has taken in the best of watery London. Le cool talks to UP’s Laura Harford about the communities and hidden spots they have found along the way.
DJ Hooch is a legend of the b-boy scene. He’s recently written a book called B-Boy Championship: From Bronx To Brixton – a history of the worldwide competition he founded, which features the awesome Crazy Legs as a judge, the music and the moves from the last 15 years
What was it like meeting the legend that is Crazy Legs for the first time?
The first time I met Crazy Legs was a bit strange I suppose. I picked him up from the airport and, like everyone else at that time, I’d only seen him on films and TV. He is one of the most recognisable faces in hip-hop and now you’re having a conversation face to face with the guy. But we seemed to hit it off straight away and we’ve been working together ever since.
Vyvian Raoul hangs out with a boating family who tell him about making a garden on the towpath and why British Waterways has got it all wrong
These laid-back cruisers introduced me to the concept of boat time: a mañana, mañana, mañana attitude, born of taking each bend as it comes, that puts boaters on their own clock entirely. Over two hours late for our meeting, they blamed ‘serendipitous meanderings’ when they arrived. And who could argue with that?
When we met, Tara, Du and Bee were making their home 200m south of the Lea Bridge Road in Clapton. As we sat in their impromptu, open-air, towpath parlour room – odd furniture against a wall opposite their boat – we spent as much time talking to passers-by as we did talking about them.
Gabriel Swartland is the man behind the brand new Hackney Picturehouse that’s opening on Mare Street opposite the Empire this October. As well as screens, it’s going to have bars and host gigs. They’ve also very kindly offered le cool readers £5 off either single or joint membership to the cinema that offers a whole range of benefits. All you need to do is ring the box office and quote ‘le cool’. We thought we’d have a chat to see what’s going on.
How did you get into cinema?
By accident, really. Too many years ago, a friend recommended me for a job at the Clapham Picturehouse when I was between acting gigs (another life). I quite liked the company so probably took things more seriously than I should have and wound up where I am now. Either that or simply the acting jobs dried up so never left — probably a bit of both.
What’s your ultimate film to show at the Hackney Picturehouse?
Impossible question. Someone here said “Surely it’s just Jurassic Park” — probably right? There are so many things I look forward to seeing there but I love a good western so I’d love to see Once Upon A Time In The West on Hackney’s gorgeous new screen 1.
Welcome aboard Sarah Henshaw’s floating bookshop. Sarah tells Vyvian Raoul about bartering with books for a shower and a bed for the night, and why she prefers London seen from the canal
Sarah Henshaw shows us the possibilities that continuous cruising has for those with a bit of determination and a lot of time on their hands. She’s been aboard her floating bookshop, the Book Barge, on a tour of England’s waterways since May.
We went aboard near the bridge at the bottom of Broadway Market on the day Sarah and her Book Barge were leaving London. Having been all over the country, she says that London living, down by the canal at least, is the friendliest she’s found…