NORTHERN SPIRIT

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A Recommendation to the City

November 2, 2012 in A WONDROUS SPACE, TYNE AND WEAR, Wondrous Cities

Resize Monsters

It makes my day when I get a letter or a postcard through the door. And it thrills me and shocks me when it is from someone I have not met yet. But most weeks, this happens because I am always – like now – putting it out there that “I love post” ; that you can write to me ; that you can submit a band review for my fanzine ‘Opinionated Geordie Monsters Review the Local Band Scene’; that I will write back or swap zines with you; and that I find one of the friendliest sides of human nature in the things we write to each other, one to one.

I think other people share that same sense. Of how the communication we do on paper is thoughtful, and committed, not halfhearted and not distracted by text messages or checking facebook or showing off in public. And how a letter is a message to YOU, that it has been especially created and dedicated and sent and carried to you. To and through your door. That, to me, is far more of a fillip than the other conventional ways of recognising each other – birthdays, for example, I simply do not celebrate. I don’t get them. But I will write to you.

For Turps see here.

For ‘Even Clean Hands Cause Damage’ see here.

For the other bands and venues mentioned, you are quite capable of google-searching yourself!

The Crack, Narc and Novel have online presences, but it’s good too to turn the pages and feel the paper as you go across town on the number 12 bus. Don’t miss out on that experience by staying home, alright?

The Paper Jam Comics Collective are here, and much more active in the real world than their internet echoes might suggest. Some of them, for instance, have gone and organised the Canny Comic Con in December, which will be a marvellous event.

The Writers Cafe talk on Facebook (just do a search), and they meet here, a great little cafe that keeps winning awards despite operating on a shoestring. The philosophy groups operate outta here.

The Star and Shadow’s website lists its always-changing, always-different events here. One thing we did there in October is here. There’s no reason to think we’ll ever do that again.

And to finish my posts on this blog, I have a question to put to the next stranger. To the next unknown individual with so much going on in their head and through their eyes and in through the ears and out through the body movement and choices and words and ideas that they move through. I would like to ask next week’s guest curator Lesley Taker from Liverpool:

“How has your hometown affected how you see the world? What part of yourself can you put down to the influence of that place?”

Bye!

Avatar of Mike Duckett

Mike Duckett

I live in my favourite city, I make lots of zines about my thoughts and my travels, and I try to get involved in every piece of underground beauty I can find. I think you should do these things too. And while I hate a lot of things about the way the world operates, I can testify that this is vastly outweighed by the love - real love - to be discovered amongst the music, ideas, creative endeavours and shared experiences we give each other. If you see me drawing somewhere, come sit down and draw with me.http://zine-it-yourself.blogspot.co.uk

Questions on Paper

November 1, 2012 in A WONDROUS SPACE, TYNE AND WEAR, Wondrous Cities

Resize Q0

I was asked a question by last week’s guest curator Pete Collins¬†about the the smells and sounds and sights and touch and tastes of Newcastle. I have to say that this question makes me feel most of all the limitation of my awareness. Right now, Newcastle smells of Autumn leaves and feels like the nip of first snow. But that is just here, just now. So many other smells and touches are happening, of red brickwork roughing up fingertips trailing along; of a fart in a lift; of the muggy breath-smell on the bus; the comforting tug of a winter jumper coming into use again. And I smell the smoke machine that set off the fire alarm at last night’s gig, and the feel of paint in my toes from the game we were playing (wrestling in paint, don’t ask). And the way that my neighbour’s cat has never let me stroke it so I DO NOT KNOW HOW ITS GINGER & WHITE FUR FEELS and how that’s a strangely agonising soft sense in the back of my consciousness.

It is so hard to sum up a general answer. The sights are of faces, the creases of lines on my fellow-volunteers’ faces as they smile in tiredness in the act of mopping up, or pulling pints, and the constant reassurance of seeing my own familiar hands trail a pen across paper to try and make sense of this glut of sensation. A simple, contained black line on a little piece of white paper: now that I can understand, that I can sum up, that will be my filter for this week on the blog. It is my place of clarity. The cypher that simplifies this sheer profusion of reality that I otherwise find so hard to keep up with, or to know how properly to respond.

The sounds…the sounds of soundsystems, Hallowe’en partybabble and shouting to make ourselves heard. The bus pulling away from the bus stop. The melodic Bangladeshi unheard story going on behind me, and the taste of vegetable samosas. Greggs cheese pasties and the constant dosing with coffee that I rely upon to propel me round my rushing, unsettled days. One day I say I’ll cook me a proper healthy meal, but my mouth this morning tastes, frankly, rancid. Some of my senses, I guess, are suffering some neglect.

I think visually, and I don’t like thinking alone. So I often pester people to join me in drawing, in writing letters, in making comics together and so on. Last night, I sat down with an old friend and asked her to draw me a question. In return, I drew her a question. I do the same thing with postcards sometimes, and have even conducted an interview – entirely with postcards – with a cat who lives in Manchester, as a way to get to know him. He’s called Elvis and is apparently a bit of a legend on his street. I suspect his owner helped him with the writing.

So here are some more questions, in a not-very-linear order. Unplanned, open, like most of the creative encounters I’ll be talking about this week.

I explored this nostalgic theme a few days before, as part of a 24 Hour Comics Challenge at the Globe Gallery in Newcastle. The comic I made that day is here. My friend, with whom I have had a bittersweet relationship, has often talked about leaving, or no longer feeling at home in Newcastle, and this too influenced my first question of her:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We drew these on the first night that snow fell. We had snow in April AND October this year. A curry from the Brighton Tandoori was the perfect antidote to my wet feet, and collecting it took me past all the international students taking photos of the snowfall. Three separate snowball fights were taking place on the street – very gentle, very polite snowball fights. They were either between friends or, what I actually suspect, between neighbours who don’t know each other that well but kinda like each other.

 

Avatar of Mike Duckett

Mike Duckett

I live in my favourite city, I make lots of zines about my thoughts and my travels, and I try to get involved in every piece of underground beauty I can find. I think you should do these things too. And while I hate a lot of things about the way the world operates, I can testify that this is vastly outweighed by the love - real love - to be discovered amongst the music, ideas, creative endeavours and shared experiences we give each other. If you see me drawing somewhere, come sit down and draw with me.http://zine-it-yourself.blogspot.co.uk

Letters by Train

October 31, 2012 in A WONDROUS SPACE, TYNE AND WEAR, Wondrous Cities

Resize Thomas Spence

Newcastle is on the train route. Every day, old friends pass through. Many of them get a thrill of nostalgia when they cross the Tyne gorge, over the bridges that link Gateshead and Newcastle. Some of them think of me, as a part of their city. And for a few of them, I am thinking about them when they go past. The following fragment of a letter was written when one such person was about to pass.

For more about the freethinking quayside radical Thomas Spence, look here. For more about ‘Wor Diary’, look here. Apologies for spelling ‘millionaire’ wrong, but it was in a letter, so it’s okay. And to finish the story, I did go to the station. I did meet the train, and I did hand over the letter. The first snow of the year started falling as the train pulled up, and my eyes were welling up when I left the station.

Avatar of Mike Duckett

Mike Duckett

I live in my favourite city, I make lots of zines about my thoughts and my travels, and I try to get involved in every piece of underground beauty I can find. I think you should do these things too. And while I hate a lot of things about the way the world operates, I can testify that this is vastly outweighed by the love - real love - to be discovered amongst the music, ideas, creative endeavours and shared experiences we give each other. If you see me drawing somewhere, come sit down and draw with me.http://zine-it-yourself.blogspot.co.uk