Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Written in a Hurry...

Oh jeez, I keep thinking of things to say, and it's late and I haven't packed. But quickly:

I'm leaving for Berlin tomorrow. I will stay for five days. I'm staying with a certain musicologist known to many of you. I'm excited!

I went to the Proms. The Proms are fun. Selected details at my most recent L'ist post.

I saw what was essentially Kraftwerk show manquée. Exactly like the Kraftewerk tour last year, except smaller, and there was only one member of Kraftwerk singing, and we were in a movie theater. The next day, I heard the same member of Kraftwerk read a lecture about media and society. It started out badly, but then got better at the end. It was all very pessimistic though. The Q&A was bizarre.

Paycheck drama is all resolved.

I finally got a haircut. It looks damn fine. Pictures to follow.

Everything else is late. Late late late!

Oh and my Genius Bar experience was lovely. Lovely! They didn't have the battery in stock, so it's not exactly fixed, but it will be as soon as I'm back from Deutschland.

Thursday, July 21, 2005

First as tragedy, then as farce

Once again, I'm fine.

Except this time I was(-slash-am) stuck in central London. I had come into town to wait in line at the Apple Store Genius Bar. I was told there were no more appointments today, which I sort of expected (I'd intended to get there at 9am, but got, um, delayed.) So to console myself for not getting my damn laptop battery fixed, I decided to walk through Selfridges. I came this close (gesturing with thumb and forefinger) to buying a pair of lemon yellow Marc Jacobs trousers for £30. In any case, there was a beep over the P.A., and then the music stopped. All the music, all over the store. That was what told me that something had happened.

I heard various people on cell phones muttering something about bombs, and I saw little clutches of employees muttering among themselves. When I left the store, Oxford street was swamped -- although this isn't entirely unusual. I called J—, which whom I planned to go to this IMAX Kraftwerk thing tonight. She told me what the online newspapers were saying.

My first impulse was, of course, to get online. I started hiking the BL, where I have wireless internet access. By the time I got to Tottenham Court Road, I decided it would be better to buy airtime in my nearest Starbucks, from which I write you now. Thank you, T-Mobile Hotspot!

Why is this Starbucks coffee so bad?

More soon...

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Paycheck Drama Continues

Okay, so I know y'all don't actually care about this, but it does, in its way, make for a good story, and I'm still flummoxed by GF's reference to "British efficiency."

So on Monday I asked the Institute to stop payment on my check and issue me a knew one. This would take ten days, but since Royal Mail's online tracking said the envelope had been in JFK airport for more than a week, I figured we might as well get the ball rolling.

As anyone would have predicted, the very next day the check was deposited in my account. Of course. That would be twelve days after I mailed it, and seven days after the other checks that I mailed at the very same instant (with much less postage) arrived safely.

Now, mind you that Royal Mail is telling me, even today, that the envelope in still in New York. This, it seems is a lie. Who can I blame for this?

I can console myself that I wasn't actually getting charged $23 a day. I was only getting charged $23 per check -- there were only two of them, paid out on consecutive days. The thing is, I really don't know if the check was deposited before the stop-payment order came through or not. And I don't know if this makes a difference. It appears that there is a hold on the check, but this is normal for large deposits, and some of the money is available now.

Aren't you all so fascinated by my paycheck drama? Sure you are!

Tomorrow: video art by a member of Kraftwerk, projected on an IMAX screen. And I wait in line at the (sigh...) Genius Bar. The Sonnambula note will be late.

A Rather Significant Milestone

The 19CM submission is really and truly sent off! The various misadventures I went through to get it sent off are fairly uninteresting, and hinted at in the comments sections of the previous post, so won't be related here. And in any case, the important thing is, it's in the mail! And I found only four typos immediately after sending it! Ha ha! For the record, the typos were entirely confined to the footnotes (I think):

de for der (in a German title)

Hippcrate for Hippocrate (in a French title)

concened for concerned (in a newly-written footnote)

and most distressingly:

Physiolgy for Physiology (in a reference to the title of my own dissertation...)

Well, it's all in the hands of Hepo now. Wish me luck, everyone.

The barbeque was less like an episode of Melrose Place, and more like... I dunno, Brideshead Revisited or something? There was a great deal of tension, but it all remained unspoken and seething beneath the surface. One member of the Bizarre Love Triangle reacted to the tension by talking very very quietly, another reacted to by trying to entertain everyone at the same time, and my friend R— reacted to by drinking himself into a stupor. Meanwhile, the two fifty-something lesbians who had been invited kept everyone on their best behavior, the crowd of twenty-year-old girls, who were friends of a friend and known to no one, just sat around looking awkward and not talking to anyone, and the Israeli attempted to smooth things over with marijuana. I'm pretty sure everyone escaped unscathed. Did I mention that R— made tasty enchilladas? Mmmm...

The weather has cooled down. I'm happy. It doesn't take much...

Sunday, July 17, 2005

Foul Mood

Last week, for any number of reasons, felt very very long. This week flew by. Lots has happened. The article (which is 10,000 words now, cut down from 15,000) will be really truly submitted Monday or Tuesday. I'm very, very overdrawn from my American bank account because my paycheck got lost in the mail. Yes, lost in the mail. I'm getting charged $23 a day in fees.I had made a plan to call KT's cell phone during my high school reunion, which was yesterday. And I just forgot. I had been thinking about it earlier in the day, and then I just forgot. I'm feeling retarded.

You know what? I'm in a foul mood. I'm kind of not in the mood to write here right now. Oddly, I've been not in the mood to write here all week. Shall we catalog more disappointments? The proms started, with me never having written my preview. Probably won't write that tomorrow either, what with having to laser-print the article at Kinko's, and wait in line at the Apple Store Genius (fucking) Bar since my laptop battery still wont work. Oh and the L'ist people found and read this blog, including the post in which I say "I have no qualifications or justification for writing for the Londonist," which was awkward. (You see why I use pseudonyms? If I'd just called it only the "popular London website" and left it at that, then they never would have found it. As it is, it's like the second thing that comes up if you search "Londonist Greg")

There have been some good things, including a nice night with the cool girl on my fellowship -- we went to this wonderful restaurant, and then a genderfuck cabaret in Hackney, which was okay. I got a wonderful, reassuring, invigorating letter from the Advisoress. I met the Londonist kids, and they're (as expected) very cool. I went to XXL ("the world's largest bear disco") which was fun, but maybe not as fun as I thought it would be. (Yes, that means I went home alone, but may mean more than that.) In any case, I think my tolerance for house music is actually declining.

D— and his friend were here from New York, and then they left, and now they're coming back, but I may have to ignore them, with so many other things to do. While there were here before we had a good time, but they managed to literally run me ragged -- I was destroyed physically.

Today, I'm off to a garden party at the home of the ex of the wonderful American R— (the prematurely-shacking-up one). The gay drama involving R—, his sort-of ex, the ex's new sort-of boyfriend, and the cast of thousands which are also implicated, is both impossibly complicated, and oddly tiresome. Thus, the garden party this afternoon may be some sort of Pimm's-soaked Melrose Place with accents. In which case I may have to run away.

Friday, July 08, 2005


So it's late, and I'm tipsy, but I thought I'd write up a few notes. First of all thank you all so much for you notes and comments and everything. It feels almost selfish to say how much it meant to me, since I was never in danger in the least and had no real reason to need comforting. But, although as the story unfolded I was feeling pretty calm, at some point I really did start feeling quite scared, however irrational it was. It was really the first pictures of that bus with the roof ripped off that did it. Hearing from all of you really did mean a great deal.

The biggest thing, though, is the way Londoners reacted. "Stiff upper lip" is a pretty ridiculous term, and I guess I had believed it only existed in Hollywood parody or as an auto-exoticist costume. But no: it reflects something real and, I think, quite deep-seated. On the one hand, this could be seen on the BBC news presenters—it's not entirely fair, but just unavoidable to compare this to my memories of 9/11 American television. But more than that, it was in the demeanor of the victims interviewed—both non-hysterical, and in a way dignified. This was both incredibly moving, and quietly reassuring. Example: one woman, very calmly and articulately describe what she'd seen. The camera panned down and revealed that she was bleeding from her leg. This was pointed out to her, and she said—completely sincerely, almost urgently, but totally without a trace self-dramatization—"no, that's nothing. Really, it's nothing."

I saw similar composure and lack of self-pity "behind the scenes" with the Londonist contributors. There's, like, a forum where normally we just discuss what going on on the site. But on Thursday there was a sense of pupose, this very inspiring drive, but again without a sense of self-importance, hyteria, or drama. The Londonist entry for the day might look to you to be minimalist, but in fact it was a great resource on the day for a lot of people, and the result of some really great work on the part of the guys. I felt pretty useless. My own contribution, which I wrote up today but I decided was really too... tasteless to go up right now, will be visible Monday.

For the record, the bus blew up about two blocks away from Senate House, where the Institute for Historical Reasearch, as well as the library where I sometimes work. Russell Square Tube station, the site of the third bomb, is the tube station that I use to get to said office and library. I had been there the day before to pick up my paycheck.

Some thoughts: the housemate that just moved out... oh hey, did I forget to mention that the Welsh dancer moved out, and has been replaced by an Italian? Anyway the Welsh dancer left on Friday for Tel Aviv. When he left we were all like "be careful!" So of course he got an email from me saying, "You go to Israel, and we get the suicide bus-bomber?! What gives!?"

Dear American friend who left, J—, used to use Algate East station, one of the three affected by the first bomb, fairly frequently when he lived in Whitechapel.

New American friend had to walk to work when the buses stopped, although no one knew why at the time. He ended up walking past panicky crowds in the Liverpool St area. That's about as close as I got.

Didn't know where other Welsh housemate was in the morning. He commutes on the bombed line, but wasn't sure when he had left for work. Sent a text, sent an email. Turned out he had the day off, and was asleep in his room the whole time.

Oh yeah, and I got some day-of-disaster rumpy-pumpy.

So life goes on (this, too, is inspiring). The Piccadilly Line, the only one that services my house, is shut down from well north of my house to south of central London, so there will be a lot of bus riding for now. D— from New York, and his wacky girl-friend arrived this morning—they would not be deterred. (Personal to Dr. K: convince the other K not to cancel her trip to London! Tell her there's nothing to be afraid of!) The article revisions are almost done; I still have to write that Sonnambula program note even though the person who hired me for that job has been fired; and I'm looking forward to writing a L'ist Proms preview.

Thursday, July 07, 2005

I'm Fine

Okay, so seriously: I wrote that last post when we all thought that there had been some sort of mechanical failure on the Tube. At this point, we all sort of wish there had been some sort of mechanical failure, rather than what's actually happened.

Again: I'm safe, although more and more shaken up. The thing I saw yesterday was just some construction going on. I'll write more soon.

Loud Noises

Okay, so yesterday morning (that is, Wednesday) I was running along my usual route, and was told to turn around by a policeman blocking the path "because there is a bomb around the corner." In fact, I think it was just an explosion as part of the construction that's going on in the park. But the police were there. And, when I was about 50 feet away, there was an explosion. Not a huge explosion, but an explosion. I was sprinkled wikth little bits of dirt from the sky.

Later in the afternoon, the news that London won the 2012 Olympics was announced, and the "Red Arrows" of the Royal Air Force flew over my house in V-formation. Seriously, if New York had won, would the Blue Angels be zipping over Queens? (Also, let's not forget that San Francisco was in the running to be the US candidate, long ago. What might have been...)

UPDATE: Jesus fucking Christ. This does not seem to be a "power surge" as originally announced. I'm fine everyone, don't worry. (There was never any chance of my being out of the house before 10 am anyway.) Incidentally, londonist.com is one of the best places to get information about what's going on, since the news websites are so clogged with traffic.

Monday, July 04, 2005

That land is my land...

So, first of all, there have been distressing, unpleasant, but in the end inevitable developments in my private life. These developments are, however, unsuitable for recounting in Greg's London Ramblings. Email for details.

Gay Pride was pretty much as expected. It's too tempting to compare it to San Francisco, which isn't fair at all. But still: it was really, really small. And less quote-outrageous-unquote. London pride definitely needs to learn one lesson from SF, and alternate music with political speeches on the Main Stage. Because one political speech after another after another gets... difficult to listen to.

Duckie's Gay Shame event was fantastic. The essay contrasting the Duckie and TShack aesthetics continues to develop in my head.

Happy Fourth, everyone! I've been saying to people, in an offhand tone of voice, "On Monday I'm celebrating the liberation of my motherland from her colonial oppressors..." It gets a chuckle. I'm headed out the door right now (I'm late actually) to head to the Mayflower Pub in Rotherhithe. The pub from which the actual Mayflower set sail in 1620!

Friday, July 01, 2005

My Heroic Battle Against Jet-Lag

So, one of the quirks of the Londonist style sheet is that we have to Capitalize Every Word Even A And The In The Titles Of Posts. (Actually, that should read "Capitalise"; American spellings have been causing me much strife over there.) With the exeption of l'affaire Ferneyhough, which I have stopped reading entirely, and which was the absolute last thing I ever wanted to get mixed up in online, and which (I swear to god!) was not enitrely my fault (the damn post wasn't finished!)... other than that it's going really well. I may have discarded all of my credibility with the biography I just posted on the contributors page but... fuck it.

So jet-lag has been a big, big problem. I woke up at about 9:30 Monday, which seemed okay. But then I woke up at 11 on Tuesday, and 1:30 in the afternoon Wednesday. Why am I moving in the wrong direction? I've been trying to get into bed earlier than normal, but it seems to have no effect. This means I've gotten surprisingly little done all week. Even this morning I woke up with my alarm at about 8:30, and promptly fell back asleep. I then had a dream where I was back at the academic summer camp that I attended when I was a young teenager. Oddly though, a lot of monks and protestant clergy were also students. I was beginning the musicology course. But during student orientation and meeting the teacher and everything, I just couldn't keep my eyes open. In the middle of conversation I would have that feeling where you were just being drawn into sleep and physically unable to keep your eyes open.

BUT at some point I realized that the feeling of needing to fall asleep was actually me trying to wake myself up, and when I finally did fall unconscious in the priests' musicology class, I found myself awake in my bed. I don't recall ever having a dream experience like this. (At least I wasn't, I dunno, being pursued by killer musicology priests, as I would have been a few weeks ago.)

My laptop battery refuses to charge. I have taken it out and put it back in several times. Whatever shall I do?

I have a wart(?!) on my nose(?!). How did this happen?

Basically: it's been a long week. Tomorrow: London Gay Pride festivities. My housemate is dancing on the mainstage. Whoo!