November 2009

A few months ago, I had the pleasure of an extended phone interview with Boff Whalley of Chumbawamba for a piece I was writing about musicians’ contributions to the miner’s strike of 1984-85. Unfortunately, most of that interview was never used – the scope of the story, and the space I was afforded in the magazine, meant some nasty cuts. (“Fight the Cuts!”)

Ever since, I’ve planned on someday arranging the whole interview into an “as-told-by” style piece, and posting it here online. Reminded by the affably dangerous old red, Norman Strike, that this strike anniversary year is ticking away, and by an e-list update from the Chumbies that they’re partaking in a lovely-looking theater performance this December, it seemed like it sure-as-hell was time to get moving. (more…)


The village of Cockermouth has been swallowed by over eight feet of water as flooding sweeps Cumbria, Cork, and other parts of N.W. England and the Republic of Ireland.

Those patron saints of the Old Weird Albion, Mekons, wrote and recorded their album Natural in and aroung Cockermouth and the Lake District. The song “Cockermouth” seems so horribly appropriate, even if it’s more about war machinery than Mother Nature, that I’ve been listening on repeat this morning. Here’s the promo video, complete with introduction by master Psychogeographer, and founder of the New Arcadian Journal, Patrick Eyres.

Chicken tikka masala for dinner last night (at the illustrious Peoples Restaurant) makes me think of the dish’s illustrious British history: Invented, it seems almost certain, by a Pakistani chef in Glasgow, Scotland, it has – over the past decade – ascended to that holiest of English cuisine holies and become the most commonly eaten takeaway meal in the country. Surpassing those fish ‘n’ chips.

Hence the more in-the-know Brit restaurants around the world, like Piper’s Pub here in Pittsburgh serving curries – and, perhaps more importantly, curried chips – on their “across the pond” menu; and hence The Saxon in lovely little Steyning, W. Sussex, an aptly named Indian and Nepalese restaurant.

Maybe even more interestingly, where on the face of this earth would there, today, be an “Indian” restaurant that did not serve chicken tikka masala? Could it be that this South-Asian-Scottish meal has become Britain’s most ubiquitous contribution to world cuisine? England’s favorite fast food an “Indian” dish created by a Pakistani in Glasgow? Enough to make the BNP curl up and die – at least hopefully. Reminds me of a song… Cheers, and Namaste!