Simian Substitute Site For May 2017: Monkey Tree
MONTH END PROCESSING FOR APRIL 2017
Food and Drink: "So, are you lot real punks, or just pissheads with business acumen?" asks the lead singer of The Stranglers (the new one, not Hugh Cornwell). To be honest, there was a time when you could have asked the same thing of The Stranglers. But he's asking the assembled shareholders at the 2017 BrewDog Annual General Meeting, so the line between the two is somewhat blurred. Particularly as some news that was dropped earlier in the meeting - involving a large investment from a venture capital firm - has sharply pushed up the value of our shares, at least on paper. I'll talk a bit more about what all that actually means in a future episode of BrewDogging. But if we leave aside the financial for now and just focus on the AGM as a social event, it was generally pretty good with a few ups and downs. The main downer this year was that having successfully worked out the right number of staff to serve 6000 thirsty punters, this year they invited 7000 but kept the same number of staff, leading to appalling bar queues. One of the ups for me, though, was BrewDog's beer tasting session: in recent years they've fobbed off attendees with beers we already knew, but this year they hit us with a couple of barrel-aged monsters unlikely to be drunk again outside that event. And, yes, The Stranglers were terrific: if you're going to hire any band of pensioners where the only original members left are the keyboardist and bass player, they'd have to be top of the list. Meanwhile, The BBG wants me to point out that if you're ever in Aberdeen with 90 minutes to kill, BrewDog's Dog Walk brewery tour is a rather great way to get over a hangover that you may have picked up for some reason or other.
Internet: John B. McLemore lives in Woodstock, Alabama. Except he doesn't call it that: he thinks Shittown works better. When he calls up NPR reporter Brian Wood with a story of corruption and murder that the town is covering up, and that story's turned into a podcast by the makers of Serial, you think you know what to expect. And in the early stages, S-Town fits the template that Serial more or less invented. It's a beautifully edited and produced package of voices, sounds and original music, all tied together by a narrator who starts to develop a personal interest in the story. But none of that can prepare you for the way S-Town evolves over its seven episodes (all available for immediate download). It's a seven hour audio documentary that meanders down blind alleys and doesn't answer all the questions it asks: but in the end, it answers the most important ones. If the phrase 'must-listen' didn't exist before, it does now.
Movies: I don't always get to see every film I want at the London Film Festival: too many movies, too little time, the usual story. Even worse, sometimes a great film turns up on general release which actually had an LFF screening I wasn't even aware of. Mohamed Diab's Clash is one of those. Set in the aftermath of the 2013 military coup in Egypt, it shows a hellish nightmare on the streets as rival demonstrators kick the crap out of each other and the police kick the crap out of them both. Diab's stroke of genius is to show all this from the most limited perspective possible: the entire film is set inside the back of a police van, as pro and anti protesters are piled into it and tensions reach boiling point. It's a remarkable technical exercise, and not just an experiment in cost-cutting: we frequently get glimpses of what's going on outside through the doors and windows of the van, and it's terrifyingly well-staged, contrasting boldly with the claustrophobia inside. Clash is in the tail end of a spotty cinema release across the UK, and should be seen there if at all possible: it's one hell of an experience.
Comments below, please! I'll get around to reading them, um, eventually.