Monday, November 29, 2010

Great Suburban Traditions: Number 10 – The Leaf Blower

I often complain that suburbia’s too quiet, even though the human desire for silence and inertia is the main reason that suburbia even exists. And just because it’s quite, that doesn’t mean it’s peaceful. In autumn especially, semi-urban dwellers seem able to tolerate a profoundly jarring kind of noise annoyance – the almost ever-present, soul-gnawing monotone of the leaf blower.

Yesterday, on a beautiful and still Sunday afternoon, and in a rare show of decadence, we were sitting in a friend’s hot-tub enjoying the end of the long weekend, casually chatting and, as it happened, quaffing Moet Chandon as the sky around us slowly changed colour behind the silhouettes of spindly, naked trees. It should have been perfect, but a couple of gardens away someone had decided to take out their anger and grief at another Redskins’ loss by clearing the garden of leaves. We got to enjoy his motorised penile extension’s buzz-saw growl and the olfactory consequence – wave after wave of gasoline wafting across the fence.

Friday, November 05, 2010

Throwing Memories

David Narzico, by an amateur photographer

I'm reading Kristin Hersh’s memoir Rat Girl, which is just the book to take you back to 1985 in Rhode Island and Boston, inside the head of a funny, sassy, precocious teenager diagnosed as bipolar and writing some of that decade’s most thrilling, frightening music. It’s also prompted me to unearth the photograph above, my one and only experience of trying to take ‘proper’ pictures at a concert.

It shows Throwing Muses drummer David Narzico at the Town & Country Club in March 1991, the month that Hersh’s band released their stunning album The Real Ramona. My friend and chronically untidy house-mate Tim Bradford was working for Amateur Photographer magazine at the time, and was always bringing home new cameras to try out and abuse. We took along one each, and smuggled them in to the venue, then edged our way to the front. The cameras must have looked fancy, because people kept making space for us, like they thought we were real photographers. That the above picture was my best shot testifies to the fact I didn’t go on to make a career out of it (nor anything else, for that matter).