150-WORD BOOK REVIEW: Season Of The Witch – David Talbot

seasonAs a delegate to many trade shows at San Francisco’s Moscone Center, the name of the venue has always intrigued me… but obviously not to the point that I could be bothered to search online.

Thanks to David Talbot’s uber-wonderful Season Of The Witch, I now know him to be the Major of San Francisco who was assassinated a few minutes before Harvey Milk.

The book itself covers the Dark Ages of San Francisco from the time Summer of Love had turned to the Autumn of Homelessness and the Winter of Smack in 1967 to the relative redemption of the San Francisco 49s winning the Super Bowl in 1982.

From the Zodiac killings to the onset of AIDS, from Jim Jones’ malign political influence (which ended in mass enforced suicide in Guyana) to the kidnapping of Patty Hearst, this book has it all. Once upon a time, before Silicon Valley, there was a mess called San Francisco and this is its story during those turbulent 15 years.

FIVE SUMMER GIFTS #3… 2UNDR chafe-free boxers

2undrAs we all become more athletic and obsessed with our bodies and not our brains, our use of the correct equipment becomes ever more important.

For the male of the species, protection of one’s tackle and its surrounding areas is paramount. No mans likes slipping off a saddle onto a crossbar, being hit between the legs by a cricket ball or being pulled from behind in a rugby scrum.

The long-tail of physical exercise, however, is not immediate pain, but long-term irritation and chafing, inflammation and infections. That’s why comfort is as important as defence. So step forward, the 2UNDR range of boxer shorts.

Somewhat weirdly based on the parental relationship between kangaroo and joey offspring (there’s a pouch!), 2UNDR is a useful asset to any regular athlete’s kit. While I have been wearing the Green Envy edition that is pictured here, there are more salubrious colours to sport.

Selling at between £22.99 and £26.99 and available here to purchase this underwear means that awkward conversation early in the morning with a chemist for treating thrush is unlikely to ever happen. If only for that reason, 2UNDR’s boxers are worth a look.

FIVE SUMMER GIFTS… #2 Ridley Road by Jo Bloom

ridleyAs somebody who has just spent lunchtime starfished in the Sussex sunshine, thoughts have turned to summer and similarly lazy days spent reading beautiful books.

Ridley Road by first-time author Jo Bloom is one book I’d recommend, especially for people who have a love of London and the early 1960s… hairdressers who like both of these things will particularly adore it. But this is not a book about celebrity or fringes.

Bloom’s story focuses on a little-known part of London history and anti-fascist Jewish group the 62 Group. This organisation was set up to combat the rising threat of fascism represented by demagogues such as Oswald Mosley, US Nazi leader George Lincoln Rockwell and the lesser-known, if no less dangerous, Colin Jordan.

Bloom’s book, however slight in some areas, is the almost-perfect accompaniment and counterfoil to a lazy, lovely summertime lack of blues… and it highlights a part of London history that deserves to be more widely know.

FIVE SUMMER GIFTS … #1 – Braun Series S7 Shaver

braunThere comes a time in a man’s life when designer stubble becomes dirty-old-man-scrag and a new strategy has to emerge. For those with a weak chin, this is a very traumatic time in life, but a shaved face it must be.

For me, I drive into Brighton every Friday morning to my Turkish barbers, Goodfellas on London Road. I get the whole hot towel experience, a massaged head and I come out about ten years’ younger, it is a pilgrimage I am unlikely to end any time soon. Moreover, if the dirty-old-man-scrag gets too much, at home I have a 20-year-old set of Wahl clippers that smooth off the grey edges.

Ergo, recommending a shaver to my audience is not a natural thing for me to do, in many ways it is anathema. However, the Braun S7 Shaver (790cc-4)isn’t bad at all. I won’t repeat all the blurb that came with it, but if you’re in need of speed and want to look good in front of a trade show audience and in the bar afterwards, this is very good.

It does shit like pivoting and swivelling and the instructions are all-encompassing. Bearing in mind the ridiculous cost for tetra- and penta-razors, this is excellent value at less than £180 and will make a young man out of you, not that horrible dirty-old-man-scragger that you used to be.

Summer… America… music festival… life with no name



* There was no money, no Bitcoin or shit, or time, or whatever currency

* There were no schedules or pension payments

* You had a to-be-hired motorbike on call… a really cool motorbike

* You never looked at the time, just noted the sundial at appropriate times

* You didn’t worry about mortgages and school fees

* You didn’t care about your work projects

* You woke up when you wanted to, not when your wife, or son, did

* And your constant insomnia had nothing to do with you not cycling or not doing tai chi, it just crept in because your head was a screen, the machines were abrading you, via spreadsheets or software, but they were now definitely the masters…

… and you woke up one morning in the Uk, or whatever, and saw this:


* Around the same time that your boxset-binge jumped its inevitable shark

* And you thought to yourself

* As much as I love my my home, my girl and our boy

* I might just fuck off and see this

* It might take £5K out of the family budget, money that might be ‘better spent’ on a new sofa or garden addition, maybe something designed out of chrome

* A place to go where you’re unlikely to meet anybody, however random, who might do you a business deal that might cover the £5K for the trip and cover the dosh for your happiness

* And, let’s be honest, it’s not SXSW… or Austin

* But look, there’s Neutral Milk Hotel

* There’s the Strokes

* There’s even that English wannabe Neil Young that used to be in Oasis

* Lo, not LOL, lo, there’s the Old Crow Medicine Show, last seen live in North London

* Hang on, Wilco, seen early at the Hammersmith Apollo in 1999 before they were famous, and way before they dissed Tom Waits’ pro-Semitic song Road to Peace on BBC Radio 6

* Fuck, the Pixies as well

* Jesus, Tame Impala, those Perth dudes that are like Floyd when they were touring Mother around the Marquee in the 1960s

* Even James Blake, he’s interesting… and English

* And the rest of the bands that you’ve never heard of, but might just discover on the rubbish stage on the first afternoon of the festival, not pissed enough, no way of finding vitamins for at least 12 hours, and knackered from riding the bike to the show

Would you think that this might just be the best festival you’ve ever seen and a red-hot poker up your sagging, middle-aged, middle class, middle-waisted arse, even if Atlanta reminded you of Ted Turner, CNN, Coca-Cola, the Masters and Tiger Woods…

… would you contemplate saying, fuck it, I’m going?

And would you, shock-horror, post it on your blog, WITHOUT SEO, WITHOUT tags, WITHOUT categories or that really annoying ‘Meta description’ bit that should be the intro…

… and you didn’t post it to those six/seven ‘sharey’ sites that you constantly do with your other stuff.

Would you?

Yeah, baby, fuck I would.