And I Still Ain't Shit

Here's a surprising fact for you. Bastille Day isn't just the birthday of this website (created on July 14th 1998), or the birthday of our sister website for The Bermondsey Beer Mile (created on July 14th 2018). It's also the national day of France.

You may remember that The BBG and I were actually in France a month ago: I wrote a bit about the craft beer bars in Nice, and promised that a second piece about all the other stuff in the city would be coming soon. And in the back of my head I thought, wouldn't it be cool if I could publish that on Bastille Day itself, as a nod to the French as well as a bit of special content for the site's birthday?

Unfortunately, while all that was in the back of my head, the front of my head caught a cold which wiped out all my non-work time for the best part of a week, and the Nice post isn't ready yet. So here's the usual lazy birthday fallback post for you. Happy 26th birthday to me, and thanks to all of you reading along. New content soon, promise.

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Simian Substitute Site for July 2024: Summer Of The Monkeys


Music: Late last year The Belated Birthday Girl announced her (and, by implication, our) project for 2024: we were going to go to 12 DJ nights despite our advanced ages. Shortly after that, we began to feel slightly targeted, as more and more clubs started putting on dance parties where young people (typically under-30s) were banned, the music was aimed at an older demographic, and everything was wrapped up by early evening so we could all get a decent night's sleep. The biggest of these - or at least, the most-hyped - is Vicky McClure and Jonny Owen's Day Fever, which runs a number of events around the UK, including what's become a monthly residency at ludicrously-named London venue HERE at Outernet. It's spooky to realise just how precisely it's aimed at our particular age bracket, not only because of the music - solid cheese from the seventies to the nineties - but also the video backdrop of adverts and TV title sequences from our childhood. But there's no denying the sheer fun of it all, especially when at one point DJ Jon McClure calls a halt to the dancing so we can all YELL along to Total Eclipse Of The Heart. You wouldn't want to make a habit of this, but it's an enjoyable afternoon out.

Music (again): Glastonbury's all done and dusted for another year. Obviously we weren't there, and just vegged out in front of the BBC coverage at home. My big discovery this year wasn't a band, it was a nifty hack involving the live streams they run every day from each of the major stages. It's possible to actually wind backwards within the stream, so you can time travel through the day hopping between stages and catching stuff you missed. The bit I didn't realise until it was too late was that those streams are cleared off the BBC servers at the end of each day. Not every set gets saved for posterity, but a lot of them do, and here are ten that I'm linking to partly for my benefit and partly for yours. Some of these are things I watched over the weekend, others are ones I'm saving links to so I can catch them before they vanish at the end of July. Sugababes; PJ Harvey; Little Simz; The Streets; Janelle Monae; Yard Act; Otoboke Beaver; Orbital; Lankum; Arooj Aftab. Other sets are available here: remember, they'll all be gone by the end of July.

Ah, sod it, one more time, Music: You know how it is: I've been away for a chunk of this month, so I haven't spent much time doing things that won't be covered in a future travel piece. So here's one of those Spotify playlists I throw in when I'm short on content, with ten tracks that have some sort of recent significance for me. YouTube links also supplied for Spotisceptics.

  1. Mdou Moctar - a glorious bit of Tuareg-tinged rock, passed on to me by the Spotify algorithm. Ta!
  2. Noep - two London gigs this year and a couple of banging singles, he's obviously got plans.
  3. Johnny Dowd - a late reaction to the legend's London show on St Patrick's Day this year.
  4. Knower - included for the lovely reveal halfway through the somewhat crowded video.
  5. Richard Hawley - still as soppy as ever when he wants to be.
  6. Anna Erhard - the ability to rhyme 'hammam', 'mum' and 'bum' has piqued my interest for her next album.
  7. Shabaka and Saul Williams - one for the Bible scholars, as Saul Williams will be followed on track 9 by...
  8. Yannis & The Yaw - Afrorock enlived by the presence of the excellent but four-years-dead drummer Tony Allen.
  9. Paul Williams - frustratingly had an excellent album launch gig in London recently, but can't say when the album's coming out.
  10. Kamasi Washington - a track that's pretty confidently booked its place on POTY halfway through the year.

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BrewDogging #89: Nice

It should be noted that this picture's been swiped from the BrewDog Nice website, which is happy to show off the hotel above it. Meanwhile, the photos on the Albert 1er's own site all seem to have anything below floor 2 cropped out."Founded in the early 1930s, Hotel Albert 1er is an historic establishment in the city of Nice, which invites you to relax in an elegant Riviera-style building at the entrance to the old town. Overlooking the sea and Albert 1er public gardens, the hotel is just a stone’s throw from the Promenade des Anglais and Place Masséna. The ideal base for discovering the charms of the Old Town or a shopping trip, Albert 1er hotel will seduce you with its elegance and comfort in the heart of the city."

It also, as you may have noticed, has a bloody great big BrewDog bar on its ground floor. Which I guess is why we're here.

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Simian Substitute Site for June 2024: Kai's Monkey Business

Kai's Monkey BusinessMONTH END PROCESSING FOR MAY 2024

Books: We're only a short way into the audiobook Your Face Belongs To Us, written and read by New York Times journalist Kashmir Hill, but it's already turning out to be quite the rollercoaster ride. Its subtitle - A Secretive Startup Quest To End Privacy As We Know It – hints that it’s going to be another one of those True Tech Crime books that we’ve enjoyed before (see also: Fancy Bear Goes Phishing). It begins with Hill discovering the existence of Clearview AI, a spookily accurate face detection program. Alarmed by the possibility of being able to identify anyone from a single snapshot, she tries to investigate it further, but is shut down every time she gets close. From there, we flash back to the story of a pair of right wing tech bros who, somewhat predictably, are the people behind its development. And just as we think we’ve got a handle on the timeline, Hill throws up a 350 BC caption on screen like we’re in an episode of Doctor Who or something, and goes deep into the history of dumb people assuming you can judge human character from facial structure, from Aristotle onwards. It’s a book that covers a huge number of contemporary hot button topics, but does it with the lightest of touches. At least, that’s how it feels three chapters in, and I hope it stays that way.

Music: "Did you know that Sexy Sadie was originally about the Maharishi?" asks The BBG. Well, actually, yes I did, though it turns out it was news to her. She discovered this towards the end of the Liverpool multimedia exhibition The Beatles Story, which we were visiting as part of a Christmas present from my sister (ta!). But that made me realise that the Beatles didn’t really have a story: they had hundreds of stories that intersected in various ways. And even an exhibition the size of a city block could never hope to cover all those stories to everyone’s satisfaction. This exhibition partly acknowledges that by putting all the important stuff in front of you, and relegating much of the other material to the audio guide, so you can choose to listen to it or not. For example, I don’t think there’s anything in the exhibition proper about the existence of Hey Jude. Still, the large number of stories we get make for an enjoyable couple of hours, enhanced by the substantial afternoon tea that was part of our package. Inevitably, the gift shop at the end is mostly full of Beatles-branded tat, but at least I was able to pick up that remastered copy of Revolver I’ve been promising myself for a while now.

Travel: And a few more highlights from our recent flying visit to Liverpool, with apologies to Eddie and Lee for not managing to touch base with them while we were in town. Aside from The Beatles Story, we did a couple more music related things. Over at the Jacaranda pub (which itself played its part in the Fab Four's early days), they're regularly running a fascinating event in their upstairs record shop called the Vinyl Listening Bar, where they play vinyl albums while pairing them with specially designed cocktails. The cocktails are excellent, but the noise leakage from downstairs stops you particularly enjoying the albums. Basically, I’d like someone in London to steal this idea and do it better. A slightly more successful musical event was the gloriously named Shit Indie Disco at Electrik Warehouse, although this being Liverpool they tried to persuade us at one point that Twist And Shout was an indie classic. In terms of pure touristy stuff, the tour to the top of the Royal Liver Building is worth the trek, and not just for the views. Finally, of the various beer joints we ended up in, we can recommend copying our crawl around the Baltic Triangle, taking in Baltic Fleet, Black Lodge Brewing, Love Lane Brewery and the one-of-a-kind Hobo Kiosk.

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Circumresurrecting Iceland part 2

Whenever I see this picture, in my head I'm hearing one of those bits from Monty Python & The Holy Grail where they're shouting 'Run away! Run away!' With all the coconut shell noises, obviously.Thursday 28th March (continued from here)

It’s Good Thursday in Reykjavik. Not just because it’s the day before Good Friday – it’s a tradition they have on the last Thursday of every month, when the city’s art galleries and museums all do something special. Some reduce their entrance prices, others stay open late. The House Of Collections (a name I keep accidentally misspelling like it’s some sort of bondage dungeon) is doing both, and one of their exhibitions appears to be ridiculously topical.

Flight from volcanic eruptions – sketches and paintings by Ásgrímur Jónsson does exactly what it says on the tin. It’s a collection of 50-60 images – paintings, watercolours and sketches – all on the same theme: a volcano going off, and people and horses running away from it. The promotional material for the exhibit is a bit deceptive, as it makes it sound like Jónsson made pictures of nothing else, like the art equivalent of that guy who only ever wrote stories about Roy Orbison wrapped in clingfilm. In fact, the House has cherrypicked these images from Jónsson’s wide-ranging oeuvre. Also, because much of what’s on display is in sketch form, the whole exhibit fits in a single room.

Still, at least I now know what the first picture on this page is going to be.

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