Saturday, September 23, 2006

Keith Richards goes straight

It's not quite accurate to suggest that Keith Richards has given up drugs.

It's more the drugs have given up Keith:

"I really think the quality's gone down. All they do is try and take the high out of everything.

"I don't like the way they're working on the brain area instead of just through the blood system.

"That's why I don't take any of them any more. And you're talking to a person who knows his drugs."

A spokesperson for the British Drug Manufacturing agency strenuously denied Richard's claim, although he admitted that there had been "problems with supplying enough top-notch shit to the regions" when Pete Doherty had been buying up everything he could lay his hands on.

Tequilaobit: Danny Flores

There are few people who are lucky enough to build a career on one word; much less a career which ran for four decades. Danny Flores, who has died at the age of 77, managed the feat.

In 1957, Flores came up with a saxaphone riff which he kicked around with songwriting partner Dave Burgess. Licked into shape, Flores hit upon the idea of a single, shouted lyric to punctuate the tune - "Tequila" - and changed his life. The tune took a while to hit, not being recorded until 1958, and only then as a b-side for a Champs song, but something in the song (or perhaps Burgess' delivery of the order) hooked, and by the end of the decade the tune had become a hit in its own right, and Flores had a grammy to show for his inspiration. He would happily spend much of the next forty years yelling the word, perhaps making him the only person to ever have got richer from a repeated bar order.

Letting Timbo down gently

There's nothing noble in a white lie, for if you believe the person you're fibbing to is so fragile as to need protection from the truth, imagine the hurt when they find out you've lied.

I expect Justin Timberlake is crying his little burger-hued face off this evening, as he discovers that Chris Martin lied to get out of working with him.

Martin told Timberlake he couldn't sing with him, as he only sings on his own records. But that just isn't true, of course, because he's brought his trademark dirging to an unreleased collaboration with Nelly Furtado and another with Jay-Z.

Next time he meets Timbo he's going to make it worse by attempting to construct another lie to get out of it: "Nah... what I meant was I only record songs for my records, unless they're not going to be released or something... no, I mean, if they're songs I've written. Or helped a bit with. No... no, I thought you were joking. I mean, I was joking. Yes... joking..."

Okay, men... one of us is going to have to bite the bullet

Transcript of briefing held at A Brigade headquarters, 2030h this evening
Men. Thank you for coming here tonight.

We have, it's worth saying, a chance to change the world this evening. Change the world for the better. But for one of us, that chance is going to come at a tremendous personal cost.

Lily Allen has said that she's quite prepared to give up making records if she was to settle down and become a housewife:

"I want to get married and have kids and do their homework and drive them to school," Lily explained. "That's the main thing in my life. And I don't think you can do this at the same time as having children.

"I wouldn't want to anyway. I'd be upset if this ended tomorrow but I really don't think this is my place in life. I'm really happy to be here now but I've never understood those people who want to make albums when they're 65."

Now, clearly men, the thing we need to do is parachute in a man to be her husband before she can make a second album. Before she can re-release any more singles. Before - and if we move fast, I believe it to be possible - before she gives any more interviews talking about how she used SpaceTube to become famous and it's nothing to do with her connections.

I'm looking for a volunteer, men. A husband for Lily, to spare the rest of us. Any questions?

Yes, Ginger, I'm afraid it would have to be consumated.

Yes, in the normal way.

What? Well, that would be up to you - certainly more than once, but the paramedics have advised us that more than a couple of times a week might result in irreversable trauma. I do realise I'm asking a lot.

Any more questions?

Well spotted Blenkinsopp. Yes, the suggestion of her helping children with homework does make it seem like these are more the ravings of fantasist than a serious pledge, and it is possible that she might come out of retirement as soon as the first nappy needs changing. I did say it was only a chance, there's nothing certain in a mission like this.

Now then, do I have any volunteers?

Sit down, Allen - even if that wasn't creepy it would be illegal.

Anyway else?

Oh come on, there must be someone...

Actually, yes, I did ask B Brigade first. Entire bunch of them shot off their toes with their own pistols... no, put them away, men... stop that...

Orderly, fetch two hundred bandages. I'm off to try the D Brigade. Might have more chance with men who keep the regimental goat in their quarters.

Noel loves little Noels

When somebody is basically following your career plan note for note (and, to be honest, there aren't many notes in it), you'd expect to feel flattered. So it's with little surprise we hear that Noel Gallagher really, really likes Kasabian:

"They're up there with Prodigy and The Primals," he explained.

High praise indeed, suggesting that their days of invention are behind them and they're now doomed to spend the rest of history becoming more and more like a bad tribute band to themselves; although at least the Primals and Prodge started out as something more than tribute acts in the first place.

Interesting that Gallagher doesn't attempt to fit Jet into the line-up - weren't they his hot-tipped young things a couple of years back (and, oddly, they sounded like the Gallagher brothers, too.)

What this tells us is less about Kasabian, more about how limited Gallagher's musical tastes are; and his desire to become some sort of post-McCartney John The Baptist to any club-footed indie band that trumpets past his window.

Soapobit: Peter Ling

Peter Ling, one of the co-creators of Crossroads, has died at the age of 80. Ling had a couple of connections to the music industry, not least his role in the development of Marlene, the Singing Hairdresser. Played by Sue Nicholls - now better known as Audrey Roberts in Corrie - Marlene's single, Where Will You Be was released for real in 1968 and made the Top 20. This was one of the first times a soap-opera single broke the fourth wall and got a real-world existence, a move which would pave the way for Letitia Dean and Paul Medford and Malandara Burrows' presence in the charts.

Ling had a more direct influence on the chart before Crossroads; he'd been a jobbing songwriter at the end of the 50s. He'd done so without much in the way of success, but one of his efforts did score a hit for Matt Munro in 1961.

He also created Radio 2's 1970s soap Waggoners' Walk, which punctuated the Jimmy Young show to the delight of millions. Surely when BBC7 runs out of Westways, it's time for a revival?

Make room for Beyonce

London fashion week was graced with the glorious presence of Beyonce, who threw such a stink about the size of her dressing room (tiny, apparently) that the organisers rushed to build a whole slew of extra rooms to keep her happy. Rather than telling her to go change in the bogs if she had a problem with it, what with the laws of physics constraing the space available.

The MOBO organisers must be sucking a thoughtful tooth seeing the Beyonce was happy to traipse to London to attend a garment-manufacturer's beanfeast but couldn't be arsed to come a couple of days early in order to pick up their prize.

Which turns what looked like a cold-shoulder into a deliberate snub.

Robbie Williams is not well

It's probably not much of a surprise, but the real reason for Robbie Williams' sudden Asian-tour axing appears to be nothing to do with an expectation of his likely being a bit tired, more to do with his being treated for alleged depression at The Priory.

Embrace tightens

After telling 6Music that Embrace would do one more album and leave us be, Dannny McNamara's sudden change of heart and "clarification" to Chris Moyles might rank as one of the most inept attempts to dig oneself out a hole in recorded history. It turns out when he said "that's all folks", he forget to add "for now, anyway":

"We're going to make the next album as if it's our last but we always do that anyway."

He added: "That's kind of how we go into it because you've got to be wholehearted about these things you know?"

Ah... so it's like a little inspirational poster, is it? Perhaps a photo of a bird soaring into the sunset, the words "treat each album as if it's your last" written in a flowing font across the top. It's a shame McNamara isn't canning Embrace; what a loss he is to the motivational speaking industry.

Funnily enough, I once worked for a bloke who thought the best way to inspire us was to tell us each month might be our last, funding could be pulled, we could end up out of work soon, unless our standards were the highest we could hope to attain. Naturally, the general result was morale depressed to an almost flatline, and some of the shabbiest work ever seen outside of a knicker factory after payday. So it is possible that McNamara really does tell the band "this could be the last Embrace record ever" each time, judging by what they're flinging out.

Perhaps aware that his downgrading of "last album" to "...for a bit" seems a little at odds with what he'd said the day before, Danny continued to flip in the wind for a bit:

"The tour that we're on at the moment might be the last we do for a while because there's some other stuff that I want to do, but you know our next album's got to be amazing and it needs a lot from me to do that."

McNamara claims that he'd gone to sleep after talking to 6Music, and had switched off his mobile while 20 missed calls tried to find out what he was talking about. Since there's not 20 people in Embrace, we wonder who the hell all these people that bothered about the future of the band are?

Five one short of a full comeback

There's a sting in the tail of the Five reunion: only four of them are going to be doing it.

Apparently, Sean Conlon has a lucrative solo deal which means he won't be rejoining his band mates as they hope people remember them. We think that effectively means he can't persuade Mr. Grimsdale to give him the time off for the tour, and he's been warned that if he calls in sick, he can kiss goodbye to being given a go on the co-op bacon slicer ever again.

So, it's just going to be Abs, Cornelius Goosefat, Micko Micko and Tamperage, or whatever the other four of them were called. There's a source, a deepthroat if you will, who has the inside scoop on why they're reuniting:

“Ritchie, Abs, Scott and J have kept in touch since the band decided to call it a day in 2001.

“After watching Take That and East 17 being rejuvenated, they began to consider a comeback.

“A few of the lads were still in touch with record label contacts who said now was the right time to do it.

“A lot of work has gone on behind the scenes and they are ready for a fully fledged comeback.”

We wonder in what way watching the reunion of East 17 - largely unnoticed and ending in two of them having a bout of fisticuffs and calling it all off - might have led anyone to decide now is the right time for a second-string boyband to be getting back together?

Even Victoria Newton is so sure it's going to flop, she flings her "exclusive" back in their stupid faces:

But this latest move is clearly a cynical bid to cash in on the man-band comeback craze.

It stinks of an idea cooked up by bored record execs with pound signs in their eyes dreaming of a telly deal for yet another tedious fly-on-the-wall comeback show.

I can’t imagine the ratings will be set alight by the story of four lads who still haven’t come to terms with their names slipping off the guestlist, desperately clinging on to fame.

But I suppose it will give them some much-needed pocket money.

I give them about four months before they are all back on the dole.

Let's hope they were just pretending when they said they'd put loads of work into it.
Shame to see it wasted.

Friday, September 22, 2006

Bye, fond Embrace

Embrace are going to split up.

Not so fast with digging out the bottle of sparkling Pomagne, though: they're going to make one last album, says Danny McNamara:

"I think our next album will be our last ever album. If we get as far as making it and finishing it, I want it to be a masterpiece and I want to take as long as it takes."

He added: "We've worked solidly since I was 17 - that's half my life - and I've done nothing except look at the bigger picture. I haven't stopped to smell the flowers along the way at all. I spend all my time cooking and not eating and I just want to spend a bit of time doing that."

To be honest, Danny, you have the look of a man who's spent a lot of his time eating and not exercising.

He hints he's got plans to do something that doesn't involve making records. Which goes to prove online petitions do sometimes work.

Madonna: Jesus would endorse me

Look, people.

She told you in May.

She told you in August.

And now, she's telling you again - Jesus wouldn't be upset at her riding onto stage on a giant Swarovski cross. He would chuckle, people.

"It is no different than a person wearing a cross. My performance is neither anti-Christian, sacrilegious or blasphemous," she said in a statement.

It's no different, you see, wearing a small crucifix as a symbol of your faith to being strapped onto one and being lowered slowly onto a stage as part of a pop concert.

In a similar statement, Regan MacNeil has insisted that masturbating with a crucifix is a sign of Christian fidelity, and there's no difference between that and "simply wearing one on the outside, when you think about it."

"It is my plea to the audience to encourage mankind to help one another," the 48-year-old added.

The best way to do that, of course, is by being gaffer-taped to an enormous "T" shape. Certainly, just seeing Madonna do that has made us feel better about helping our neighbours. Even the drunkard who sits bellowing Nizlopi songs all night.

"I believe in my heart that if Jesus were alive today he would be doing the same thing," she continued.

Well, maybe if he found himself on some awful cable TV chat-show: you can picture Eammon Holmes or somebody telling Jesus "we've got a bit of a surprise for you..." before unveiling a giant cross. "Now, Jesus, it'll have been a while since you saw one of these... would you get on it for us, and perhaps have a little pray for world tolerance?"

There's room to ponder if Jesus was alive whether he'd want much to do with crucifixes at all, and especially if he'd be making his plea for man to do right to his brothers at 150 bucks-a-head events, and doing it from a cross peppered with thousands of pounds worth of crystal.

What's tiresome about this is that Madonna knew that the cross was going to be a red rag; and she went ahead and did it anyway. Which is fine - as David Stafford said, a belief which can't cope with having the piss taken out of it is a tendency, not a faith. But when the hoped-for publicity arrives, to then start pleading that you meant no offence - and, worse, to try and claim there was some sort of humanitarian subtext to the showing-off - suggests that whatever convictions Madonna may have left inside her heart, she does not have any courage to go with them.

Banton booted from LA

The worldwide boycott of dancehate - resurrected after a breaking of a promise by some of the artists to drop the homophobic parts of their acts - has seen another venue axe a Buju Banton gig. Last month, a Brighton Buju date was pulled; this time it's a planned gig at the Highland in LA which has gone.

However, Buju was able to play Copenhagen. He promised he would not fuel homophobic sentiments. An easy thing to promise, since it's not clear how one would go around fuelling a homophobic sentiment even if one wanted to. It's not as clear cut as promising not to sing the songs about killing gay people, for example.

Who's the sucker?

Strange tales from The Sun's Bizarre this morning, where they report that Russell Brand has done it with Henry the Hoover. They know because, erm, he said so on "his BBC Radio 6 podcast". Which means it's taken them from Sunday to Friday to download the audio and play it. Let's be generous and assume Victoria Newton was having trouble installing the iTunes update, shall we?

Even so, it seems to have escaped the paper's notice that Brand is a comedian, and as such perhaps not everything he says should be taken quite at face value. Even if that face is the cheery little squint-box of Henry the Hoover.

The way the creaky story is written up is quite eye-opening in itself:

But the outrageous comedian’s latest love confession will really blow you away.

We think this is meant to be a pun, although it doesn't quite work, what with Henry being a sucking device. It's not totally the paper's fault, though, as the erroneous use of "blow" in blow job doesn't help.

Deviant Brand has admitted he once enjoyed a sexual liaison with a HE — and his name was HENRY.

But it gets worse.

Sorry? The "it gets worse" suggests that you might think there's something "wrong" about men having sex with men - an impression not entirely dissipated by the use of the word "deviant" in the first sentence. Is the Sun being sub-edited from 1954?

I should probably leave the specifics to your own imagination. But put it this way, Russell was the plug to the hoover’s socket.

That doesn't even make sense - you could have said "Russell found a whole new use for the hose attachment" or "Henry found himself cleaning some crevices which vacuum cleaners shouldn't see" or something.

Is there no end to Brand’s depravity? He’s previously boasted about doing it with a woman 30 years older than him (he’s now 31). And he claims to have bedded five women in just one day.

Sorry... did she just suggest that having sex with someone older than you is in some way "depraved"? That would make Catherine Zeta-Jones the most kinky beast on earth, wouldn't it?

It’s just a shame vacuum cleaners can’t come forward to kiss and tell.

You could just make something up. It's what you'd normally do.

The paper missed the really big story, though: when Russell's then-partner Dusty Bin found out, he was furious.

[Plug: You can have your own Henry. But please don't get carried away trying out the "robust construction" and "Hi/Low control on brush head"]

Liam Gallagher: A handbag?

Oh, Liam must be delighted - his partner, one of the Appletons out of the All Saints, went on Radio One yesterday and started trilling away about the lovely handbag she's bought him.

Nicole suddenly realised what she'd done and called him, before telling Chris Moyles:

“He said if you slag off his man-bag he’ll put you in it.”

First: it's a handbag. It's not a manbag. Trying to pretend it's something else is like a weekend transvestite being caught by his wife trying to claim "PVC hobble skirt and fishnets? No, no, this is a bloke-smock and macholeggings. They're all the rage, even Brad Pitt wears them."

Second: if you can fit Chris Moyles in it, it's not very practical. It must be the size of a haversack.

Third: At least next time you have a fight with the maffia in a German bar, you'll have something to hit 'em with.

Fresh n Fly spill the beans

Good lord. It turns out the music industry - far from its popular image as a kind of magical fairyland where twinkly-eyed kindly managers hand out free lollipops and candy kisses to people as they ascend to celebrity status. No, it seems - and this will shock you - it's more like a nasty place where dreams are crushed by evil men just to be fed into their sex and drugs machine.

Michelle GayleWe've been fed a lie all along, it appears. Luckily, Michelle Gayle - yes, Michelle Gayle - is set to reveal all by writing a book which will challenge our assumptions that getting a recording contract is a route to kittens and giggling:

"I’ve written a novel which is coming out next year. It’s going to be a real eye opener as it’s about the music industry.

"It is a fictional book, however I’ve seen a lot in my career so of course it will be based on my real experiences. I wanted to tell people what goes on."

What's that, Michelle? You've written one of those fictional novels, as opposed to the other sort of novel, then?

"At the moment it is called The Last Chance.

"It’s about three young girls who have a hard time. The main character is a music mogul who has screwed over a lot of acts."

The Last Chance, eh? That's kind of appropriate, don't you think?

We just can't imagine how the music industry has kept the lid on this darker side to its activities for so long - presumably Gayle has been emboldened by the new whistleblower legislation and the not having had a contract this side of the millennium to worry about.

Let's just hope that now she's becoming an author who writes fictional novels of fiction books that it doesn't turn out that publishing has a darker side that nobody has written a book to expose.

Anastacia just like in the Whitney Houston film

The way she attempts to cram too many notes into each verse and does that strange bellowing type of singing has always made Anastacia look like she was modelling her career on Whitney Houston's, only probably without the crackwhore ending.

Now she's starting to base her life on Houston's films: she's marrying her bodyguard.

Wonderfully, he's called Wayne Newton, although since he's from Beckenham, and "burly", presumably he isn't that Wayne Newton.

The question is, though, can he continue to be her minder after he marries her? Because if that's what his business is, can he really go on charging his own wife? It's one thing when it's a financial transaction, but if he's going to continue billing her for looking out for her, will she find that getting her husband to take a spider out the bedroom suddenly becomes tax-deductable? Or if Anastacia is attacked by a crazed fan - or perhaps Whitney Houston - and he saves her and sends her an invoice, isn't she going to say "you mean you didn't step in because I was your wife? You did it for the payday?"

It's not quite as complicated as marrying your sister's gynecologist, but it's getting there.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

MTV: trust us

MTV haven't had a change of heart since Billy Bragg pointed out their wide-ranging rights granted when people upload their videos to help them fill out time on MTV Flux. Indeed, judging by the Technology Guardian report today, they really don't understand what all the fuss is about:

"I don't think our Ts & Cs are any more strict than anyone else's out there," says Nayeem Syed, vice president of legal for MTV Networks UK & Ireland. When pushed, Syed admits people who upload to MTV Flux forfeit payment and relinquish their rights "in perpetuity". That is, forever. Removing your content doesn't revoke MTV's right to use it.

Which is fairly strict, when you stop to think about it.

But MTV says you don't need to worry about that, because you can trust it:

MTV doesn't plan to be quite so tough as its terms allow. It does identify content creators, and if you leave MTV Flux, you need only give MTV seven days' notice, as content might have been scheduled to air on an MTV TV channel or mobile service.

But while that's slightly better, it still means that MTV will have the right to happily pad out their programming with your content, sell advertising off the back of it, worldwide, and forever, without you ever seeing a penny. More importantly, while it's fine for MTV to say it won't use the full force of its legal rights under these terms and conditions, the rights are still there. So, if MTV is sold to someone else, or suddenly became in some way evil, their vague promises not to use the material or keep perpetual rights won't mean a thing.

"We want to make sure we have the rights we need and we are also trying to future proof them for stuff we don't know about yet, but we are not the bad guys," says Syed.

This isn't about if MTV is currently evil - and just because it's part of a multinational corporation doesn't mean it is, you know - but about the land-grab implicit in their terms and conditions, and what that would mean if they were suddenly replaced by bad guys. It's a rubbish deal, and that's what the problem is, Syed.

His colleague makes matters worse by holding out an even vaguer promise that you shouldn't worry about losing your rights on the videos you upload, as they might make you a star:

"We are trying to raise the bar on UGC, taking our 25 years' experience in television and music TV and tying the UGC clips together with real music videos to make more interesting television," says Angel Gambino, vice president of digital media for MTV Networks UK & Ireland. "We'd like to get to the stage where we can commission content from people and pay them directly." But Gambino is clear that it is MTV's decision when and if the company decides to commission someone to make content. "We won't change our T's & C's, but we could contact those people directly and enter into a separate negotiation with them."

Apart from the vaguely insulting suggestion that videos being uploaded to UGC (user-generated content) sites is pretty shit right now, and lacking the high production values of MTV, is there anything more hollow than this? Dangling the vague chance of some cash at some time in the future, if the clips come up to some undefined standard. But if the content is that poor, why does MTV want to claim all rights to it?

There's another interesting little feature tucked away in those terms and conditions, which is equally worrying:

You must ensure that nothing in your Material infringes any trade mark or copyright or otherwise violates anyone's right of privacy or publicity, or contains anything that is defamatory or offensive.[...] You agree to indemnify and hold MTVNE harmless from any claims, suits, losses (whether foreseeable or not), damages and expenses (including reasonable legal fees) that arise from any breach of these Submission Conditions regarding your Material.

MTV could fairly argue that this is a standard clause for this sort of relationship, but what does it mean? If you make a knockabout video which contains an inadvertent libel, or something offensive, for example, and sent it to Channel 4, they'd have their legal team look at it before they aired it. Presumably MTV would do the same.

But what if their lawyers made a slip or waved it through, or the clip aired by mistake? MTV have a bit of form for airing things by mistake - bungling a caption with the word "fuckers" on MTV Dance during an afternoon in November 2003; slipping up and putting out an unedited Dirty Sanchez on its Polish service while children were watching in April 2004; MTV Dance wobbling (again) and airing a show intended for late-night viewing during an afternoon one May; full-frontal daytime nudity on MTV Hits and a MTV2 "fuck" at 10am in the morning and... well, you get the drift. MTV sometimes makes mistakes and broadcasts things other than it was expecting to be broadcasting. All TV networks, no matter how well run, can sometimes slip.

However, if it does that in the future, with something you've uploaded unders its terms and conditions, it can pass the buck to you - because you've agreed to take the full heat for anything in your video which is "offensive" or libellious.

This is potentially worse than you might think at first - because it doesn't just mean they'll tell the lawyers to sue you instead of them; it means that if they get sued, they can pass the full value of a judgement against them or out-of-court settlement against them, onto you.

What this could mean is that you could mount a full and successful legal defence of an alleged libel in a video you made and MTV showed, even having costs awarded against the person who has sued you, but still end up having to fork out because MTV could have settled separately, out of court; a settlement you have agreed to underwrite.

Sounds far-fetched? The New Statesman was nearly made bankrupt when John Major sued not just the magazine for mentioning Westminster gossip about an alleged affair, but also John Menzies and WH Smiths, the companies which distributed the magazine. Because the distributors had an agreement that the Statesman would cover any costs incurred as a result of content in their title, they were happy to settle with Major, promptly, out of court. And why not? They weren't going to have to pay the money out; they knew the magazine would have to pick up the bill. So, regardless of the rights and wrongs of the magazine's case, the Statesman was lumbered with paying out a huge sum. It's surprising how generously one will settle out-of-court when one doesn't have to write the cheque.

We don't imagine that MTV has drafted these terms and conditions with the intention of leaving some bloke with having to pay a multi-million dollar FCC fine if it uses a clip with his girlfriend's nipple in it on CBS one evening. However, the potential for such a scenario is built-in to what it's asking people to sign-up to when they poke a video into its system.

You might want to think if you want to make a deal where you're never going to see any penny from a video that does well, but could, in extremis, find yourself having to pay out unlimited sums for a video that goes wrong.

Michael Jackson in theme-park talks with Lucky, the Lucky Charms leprechaun

There's something slightly cruel in the way the press seize on all of Michael Jackson's crazy schemes and report them as if they're serious proposals, costed and supported by a full business plan and customer projections.

His latest idea, it seems, is to open a leprechaun-based theme park in Ireland. Apparently, "businessmen" are already queueing up to fund the 500 Million Euro costs of the park - costs arrived at, we'd imagine, by finding out how much it costs to build a full-size theme park and dividing by however many times smaller than a man a leprechaun is.

Still, it'd be nice to see a theme-park where the signs say "You must be smaller than this to ride..."

Jackson's Katrina benefit is now a year overdue; his 9/11 benefit single, What More Can I Give, is five years late.

You're poop-unfilled

Now officially "James Blut's model girlfriend", Petra Nemcova has given an interview to People magazine talking about the "tyranny" of the modelling world and the pressures on them. Of course she has - giving interviews about how awful it is modelling is, like, sooo in right now, simply everyone's doing it:

"I went through so many diets in my life. I've been very, very skinny. I've been a size zero but I'm naturally more curvy", she said.

"I ate just vegetables, carrots, tomatoes. I went from a just-protein diet to just eating apples to eating no carbs. I took laxatives."

The 5ft 10ins stunner told People magazine: "I went through all of it just to be able to model."

We're sure Petra is hoping that young girls reading this will react with horror and learn to love their own bodyshapes, but we're worried "I did this, and got to be a successful model with a pop-star boyfriend" isn't quite the way to put people off the idea. She could at least say "I used to make myself shit and shit and shit again" rather than a coy "I took laxatives" to try and make it sound less like a gameplan.

Axl owes

Back when Brix Smith showed her house to the Daily Mail, we wondered how Brian Molko could afford to lend her a Warhol original. Tim Footman of Cultural Snow suggested that Warhol churned out his work with the all the care to personalisation shown by Microsoft packaging boxes of spreadsheet software, and so the artwork might not be that expensive. Tim's in Bangkok, which places him at the heart of the coup. We hope the new military-civil service junta there aren't Warholites, and wish him well.

However, the vexed question of the value of the world's most over-rated artist has raised itself again as the ongoing struggle to get Axl Rose to pay his arthouse bills. Broker Acquire d'Arte (that's French for 'You might not know much about art, but you know how to write a cheque, don't you?') had managed to beat down the price on a Warhol picture of John Lennon from USD2.65million to USD2.36million. The picture was duly delivered.

Subsequently, Rose gave Acquire d'Arte a payment which was less than they were expecting. According to a lawsuit Acquire d'Arte have filed in New York:

Rose's manager and attorney told the broker that the rocker would not pay the remaining balance because he didn't have enough money and "the painting was not worth the price he had agreed to pay."

If their version of events is true, that's a spectacular flub on the part of Roses' people - you might, with some justification, try and weasel out the deal by saying, once you got it in the light, it looked less like Lennon and more like Blakey from On The Buses, or the frame was scratched, or there simply wasn't a decent painting hidden underneath. But to say "I haven't got the money... oh, and it's rubbish" makes it look terribly like you're trying to get out of buying a picture you can't afford.

Besides, Rose did offer to pay USD1.21million, which has the air of an even more arbitrary figure he's pulled out the air. How did he decide that the picture was worth that? Did he start with the full price, and go around knocking off 100,000 bucks at a time? "He's got the eyes wrong... that's a hundred grand off per eye... and he's coloured over the lines there, that's another 100 big ones..."

Rose's people have indicated that they're not sure things played out quite like this:

Rose's lawyer, Howard Weitzman, said some of the deal's terms and conditions may have been misrepresented to his client.

"It's my opinion that Axl Rose is the victim of some fraud or misrepresentation here," Weitzman said Wednesday.

Only some of the terms and conditions, you note.

SCUM ManifestoPlug: The SCUM manifesto, by Warhol's strongest critic

Asking for the Zune: What's the cost?

For some reason - which could be anything from "we don't know how to make them yet" to "it doesn't matter, we make billions every year" - Microsoft have kept a bit tightlipped over what their Zune is going to cost when it eventually limps to market.

Unfortunately, WalMart made one of those now-incresingly-common cock-ups and put a page that should have been in preview live. They reckon a 30 gig Zune will set you back USD248. In the States, which means we'd expect the price on eventual UK launch to be in the £300 range.

Is it just our inbuilt disinclination to Microsoft, or does the thing really look like an iPod's umarried sister?

DMX cries "rape"

There was a play in London a few years back that got the Daily Mail in a bit of frothy outrage as it featured women raping men in the story - they would, if my memory and the Mail were both correct, bring themselves to orgasm by rubbing themselves up and down on the leg of their victims. We're still far from sure this would actually work, and we're not quite clear how they could have persuaded the men to stay still while they did it.

All of this comes to mind as DMX attempts to explain away his unexpected child as being a result of rape:

"She raped me," the rapper told S2S editor Jamie Foster Brown. "I mean, you know, that might sound like some bullshit. No man has ever been... you know what I mean, like never? Is that the only thing in the world that's not possible?"

Mrs. Simmons [Mrs DMX] recalled an earlier encounter with the woman. "Before the stuff hit the fan, she came up to us while we were in court and said 'I work for kids that are sickly,' said Tashera. "So he said 'Give her my number.' That's how it goes all the time. At first, I said OK. But, then I thought she looked deranged and obsessed with him."

While his wife "blocks out" the experience to cope, X gained a more valuable lesson: "Turn on the light before I go to sleep," he said.

It's not entirely impossible - we imagine that what DMX is implying is that the sex was, in some way, coerced rather than consensual, with him in the role of being forced. But while not impossible... well, it does sound a little unlikely, doesn't it?

Proof and convictions

The bloke who shot Proof to try and stop him from shooting Keith Bender in a Detroit nightclub has been sentenced to probation following the incident.

Mario Etheridge was in his rights to try and save Bender by shooting at Proof, but before he killed Proof, he tried to calm things down by firing two warning shots:

Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy has said Etheridge acted lawfully in defense of Bender when he fired at Proof. But she said Etheridge shot twice at the ceiling in an effort to stop Proof before aiming the gun at him. Those shots were the basis for the charge of illegally firing a weapon.

"No one can calm a violent situation down by introducing a weapon," said Walker, who handled the case. "Today's verdict proves this."

So, it's wrong to shoot away from someone, but perfectly legal to shoot at someone, if you're trying to stop them from shooting someone else. We're not sure if this judgement was based on careful study of legal precedents, or just thrown together at the last minute. Our understanding is that the judgement places greater value on the interior design of nightclubs than on a man's life.

051 reborn as kiddie's play centre

Back in February, there was an outpouring of media-stirred outrage at the thought that closed drugpit nightclub the 051 in Liverpool might reopen as an under-18s disco. The police refused to support applications for the venture, on the grounds that, since sometimes under-18s discos caused trouble, they'd never want any to open.

Now, though, a new use has been found for the building, which is one of Liverpool's ugliest but best-positioned (at least until the Duke of Westminster has finished building uglier, but more central, structures): it's been turned into a childrne's play centre:

Paul Connolly, director of Jungle World, said: "The landlord of the 051 nightclub had problems with the licence and it was decided not to run the premises as a nightclub any more.

"The shell of the old club has gone and the speakers and sound system taken out.

"Mums can leave their dads at the centre to watch the football and have a bacon butty, while their child plays in the centre and they hit the shops.

So that's the Mums' dads, which would be the grandfathers, wouldn't it?

Jazz grumbles

The outside of the Albert Hall might have been a more interesting place to be than the MOBOs inside as jazz fans and musicians protested at the dropping of the jazz category.

Mobo organisers had an explanation, of course:

But organisers of the MOBO awards, set up to celebrate music of a black origin, insisted the decision was purely logistical to fit with the constraints of televising the awards show.

Ah, so that's alright then: it was done to fit the rigorous demands of the BBC 3 schedule - the other logistical solutions, such as shortening the time Gina Yashere was talking, or having fewer "international" awards (which are only designed to try and tempt some a-listers to the prize giving, a bid which flopped quite badly last night) seem to have been ignored.

After all, if you're celebrating the best of British black culture, surely acknowledging a British jazz musician is a better way of doing it than giving a prize to the Black Eyed Peas?

Preston is a hypnotic zombie

We're uncomfortable with the claims that "sleeping pills" turned Preston out the Ordinary Boys into a hypnotic zombie":

A source close to him said: “Preston was amazed when he found blood on his pillow and saw what he had done to the room.

“He must have been sleep walking because he has no idea what happened. The pills can turn people into hypnotic zombies — that’s what must have happened.”

We're not happy with the "hypnotic zombie" bit - which would suggest a zombie attempting to hypnotise something or someone; we suspect the source-close-to-him meant a hypnotised zombie, but even that makes little sense: We're not, currently, Paul McKennna, but surely hypnotising a zombie is virtually impossible, like trying to sieve water?

Back to the point, though: Preston has been taking zolpidem for three years, and his behaviour is becoming increasingly erratic. Explaining the drugs, Victoria Newton manages to merge a piece on addiction hell with a My Fabulous Lifestyle flummer:

When I went to LA to cover the Oscars they were all the rage with A-listers taking them to get to sleep after heavy, ahem, partying sessions.

The other Ordinary Boys are concerned. Will J Brown was so concerned, he talked to the Sun about it:

“We’re worried what’s going to happen to him next.

“He’s been taking these tablets for too long. It’s getting to a dangerous stage where he is clinically addicted to them.

“As a band we are trying to wean him off them but it isn’t easy. We’re now going to have to get help from outside.”

You think? Still, at least you gave it three years of trying to get your drummer to sort the problem out - so at least you've explored every avenue before seeking professional assistance.

Hats off, by the way, to Ms Newton for scouring the album for drug references. And she didn't let coming away empty handed mean she was going to waste all the research:

Preston and his pals want to find an answer to the problem so much that one of the tracks on their forthcoming album appears to allude to it.

Ballad Of An Unrequited Self Love Affair has the line: “I am a danger to myself/let alone anyone else in it.”

Triple word score

Life with the Ritchies, part 199: When they have some time to kill, Madonna and Guy sometimes break out the Scrabble board. And usually end up killing each other. Or so say sources, anyway. They get the board out in their hotel room and, quickly, descend into bickering. Then, they get out the Trivial Pursuit board (they seem to travel with an awful lot of board games) and have a little row over that:

“Madonna doesn’t like losing at anything.

“She and Guy were taking on each other every night at Scrabble and Madonna was taking it far too seriously.

“The atmosphere was so intense and she was such a sore loser that he told her he wouldn’t play her again."

They could have spent their evenings having sex, of course. But there'd be a row over who came first with that, too, I suppose.

Ashanti settles

The long and bitter dispute between Ashanti and former producer Genard Parker has been settled, just a few hours into the court proceedings to try and sort out the mess.

Nobody's allowed to talk about the deal, but both sides reckon they've got a great result. There had been an earlier case where Ashanti was ordered to pay a third of a million quid to Parker; that had been thrown out by another judge, so we reckon the cash settlement is somewhere between that figure and the £26,000 that Ashanti had said was all Parker's due.

Boos for no-show Knowles at Mobos

The decision to televise the Mobos live this year might have looked slightly less wise as the audience started to get restless: Jay-Z and Beyonce picked up three awards between them, but for some reason hadn't thought it worth the hassle to fly to the Royal Albert Hall to pick up their prizes. Even the thought of meeting Gina Yashere wasn't enough to tempt them over.

Sam Moore did pop over to get his lifetime achievement award, but then he also once agreed to re-record Soul Man with Lou Reed taking over Dave's bit, so he's not quite as bothered as some people.

Corinne Bailey Rae won the UK female prize; the best male award went to Lemar again - we presume that it's just a lack of imagination on the judging panel's part rather than a real desire to insult black male singers who aren't the urban Daniel O'Donnell. And the best hip-hop prize went to Akala, who's notable more for being the brother of Ms Dynamite rather than anything special.

We know the Mobos have moved on from being a celebration of black culture into trying to be some sort of "leading urban leisure brand", but it's disappointing that in the process they've managed to give out prizes which suggests that black UK music is tame, middle-class and painfully, painfully dull.

The winners in full:

Best Group: Black Eyed Peas

Best U.K. Female: Corinne Bailey Rae

Best U.K. Male: Lemar

Best Song: Beyonce, "Deja Vu," featuring Jay-Z

Best International Female: Beyonce Best International Male: Jay-Z

Best U.K. Newcomer: Corinne Bailey Rae

Best Hip-Hop: Akala

Best Reggae: Sean Paul

Best D.J.: Steve Sutherland

Best African Act: Batman Samini

Best Video: Beyonce, "Deja Vu," featuring Jay-Z

Best R&B: Rihanna

Best Gospel: Nu Life

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

NBC might drop Madonna's descent

They're quite touchy about religious offence in the offices of the American TV networks, which is why NBC are probably less thrilled at having won the rights to broadcast Madonna's tour film Live To Tell now they know she kicks things off by pretending she's like Jesus being crucified, only with a sparkly cross of crystals and much more gusset than Jesus would have had on display.

Now they're lumbered with having to decide how much they're going to cut - and even if they can come up with a solution to the god-baiting bits, there's the equally sensitive would-be sexy bits to worry over. The guys at NBC don't want to risk a Janet Jackson style fine, do they?

NBC Entertainment president Kevin Reilly has suggested that--like it or not--what may be right for a concert venue may not be suitable for prime time, and the pop icon is keenly aware of that.

"She's not revising her act," he told a gathering at the annual Television Critics Association press tour in July. "We've discussed what content will be in and what is out, and we've come to a healthy place that represents her show but is appropriate for television."

Reilly said they'll decide later on which numbers would be included in the special. "We're not going to make any piecemeal edits," he added.

Buying a Madonna gig, and then cutting out the sixth-form salaciousness is a bit like paying for Thora Hird's collected works and fast-forwarding through the religious bits.

At least it wasn't the dolls

How do you show your support for the troops in Iraq? Besides, say, trying to get them brought home while some of them are still in one piece?

If you're Kiss, you show your support by sending them bags and bags of coffee. Thereby serving two purposes - one, nailing your colours very clearly to the GOP's mast by helping underwrite the Neocon adventure on the Euphrates; two - much more importantly - you get some cheap publicity for Kiss brand coffee.

Look, we don't know why Kiss make coffee; we can't imagine who would buy such a product anyway. Unless, maybe, the store was out of AC/DC Chicory extract.

Carey grabs the 'ead of the AMAs

Leaves starting to fall from the trees, and nomination announcements are starting to fall from glittering self-appointed organisations. Following on from yesterday's MTV EMA awards comes the American Music Awards shortlist, which is as short of surprises as you'd probably expect. Mariah Carey, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Black Eyed Peas, that sort of thing:


Favorite Male Artist: Nick Lachey, Sean Paul, Kanye West

Favorite Female Artist: Mariah Carey, Kelly Clarkson, Nelly Furtado

Favorite Band, Duo or Group: Nickelback, Pussycat Dolls, Red Hot Chili Peppers

Favorite Album: All the Right Reasons, Nickelback; Stadium Arcadium, Red Hot Chili Peppers; High School Musical


Favorite Male Artist: Kenny Chesney, Toby Keith, Keith Urban

Favorite Female Artist: Faith Hill, Carrie Underwood, Gretchen Wilson

Favorite Band, Duo or Group: Brooks & Dunn, Montgomery Gentry, Rascal Flatts

Favorite Album: Legend of Johnny Cash, Johnny Cash; Greatest Hits Volume 2, Tim McGraw; Me & My Gang, Rascal Flatts


Favorite Male Artist: Chris Brown, Jamie Foxx, Ne-Yo

Favorite Female Artist: Mary J. Blige, Mariah Carey, Keyshia Cole

Favorite Band, Duo or Group: Black Eyed Peas, The Isley Brothers, Jagged

Favorite Album: The Breakthrough, Mary J. Blige; The Emancipation of Mimi,Mariah Carey; Unpredictable, Jamie Foxx


Favorite Male Artist: Eminem, T.I., Kanye West

Favorite Band, Duo or Group: Black Eyed Peas, Dem Franchize Boyz, Three 6

Favorite Album: Monkey Business, Black Eyed Peas; Curtain Call, Eminem;
King, T.I.


Favorite Artist: Michael Buble, Kelly Clarkson, Rob Thomas


Favorite Artist: Nickelback, Pearl Jam, Red Hot Chili Peppers


Favorite Artist: Daddy Yankee, Don Omar, Shakira


Favorite Artist: Aly and AJ, Casting Crowns, Kirk Franklin


Favorite Artist: Chamillionaire, Pussycat Dolls, Carrie Underwood

We think it says it all that the AMA nominations committee thinks of Pearl Jam and Nickelback as being "alternative" - "basically the same, but a bit grubbier", perhaps?

[Earlier: 2005 winners]

Madonna beats out Cher

Normally, it takes a lot to wipe the smile off Cher's face - actually, to alter any sort of expression involves three surgeons and several techniques outlawed in seventeen states. But the smile will be fading behind her eyes as Madonna has overtaken her record for highest-grossing ticket sales for a tour by a female artist.

Madonna took USD193.7million, beating Cher's USD192.5million record for her farewell tour; Madonna hit this level far faster than Cher, though, through the simple expedient of gouging ticket prices to obscene levels - the average price paid per punter works out at USD161.

Lily Allen: Don't shelter the kids

Sometime last week, Jamelia suggested that she'd like to buy her kids a copy of Lily Allen's album but it's full of crack whores and swearing.

Allens response? Not positive, to be honest:

Maybe she should pay for that to get done herself. It's not coming out of my expenses!

"I think the more you shelter your children from that kind of stuff the more they're curious about it.

"It's the same with drugs, alcohol, cigarettes, the more you say, 'no', the more they think, 'Maybe I should try some'. I think, just be honest with them from the start."

Is that totally right, though, Lily? If you never sit down and explain to your children why you hope they wouldn't want to start taking heroin, the kids will be less likely to do smack?

More to the point, isn't there a crucial difference between "sheltering" your children and choosing to not want them exposed to swearing and talk about drugs until they're old enough to be able to understand that there are moral, ethical and cultural questions attached to them? Does it really make sense to suggest that three and four year old kids are capable of processing a song about prositution in the same way they'd respond to Time For Teletubbies?

Top of the Pops miss BBC Doherty denial

We know they're still a little demob happy over at the Top of the Pops website, but did nobody think to check with their Today colleagues before running the Doherty to edit Today story which first surfaced last Sunday and had been denied by the BBC on Monday.

More credible, though, is the news that Beck will be taking charge of 6Music on Monday, October 2nd. Maybe Beck could try his hand at Today, too. Although I don't think we're quite ready for a scientology Thought For The Day just yet.

It's a competition about Brian Jones(town Massacre)

The lovely people at This is Fake DIY are stuffing their readers' mouths with free tickets to the forthcoming Brian Jonestown Masacre gigs. It could be you.

November gigs? In the Northeast? Dressed like that?

Christina Aguilera has confirmed her plans to flounce round the British Isles this November, as part of a undressing trip she has planned for all of Europe, except the dangerous bits.

You can see more of her than her gran would have approved of here:

17 - Sheffield Hallam FM Arena
20 - Belfast Odyssey Arena
21 - Dublin Point Theatre
23 - MEN Arena Manchester
24 - Newcastle Metro Radio Arena
26 - Birmingham NIA
29, 30 - Wembley Arena

After this tour is over, she's going to do a mini-tour of jazzy stuff:

"We're definitely going to mix it up, change it up, do some things that are not on the record, do some favourite classics of mine."

"We're really going to have fun and experiment with new ideas and interesting places to go to that have a throwback appeal and vibe."

In other words, she's going to churn out some oldies with a view to a quick and dirty covers album for the mum-market next Christmas. Billie Holiday is spinning in her grave in preparation.

Napster casts about for white knight; White knights look the other way

While Spiralfrog's advertising-supported-free-music service attracting all the attention, what's happened to the pioneer of the "buy before you try" download services? Things aren't looking great over at Napster, who are looking for a buyer.

They're trying to spin this as a leap for the next stage rather than a fire sale, of course:

Chairman and chief executive Chris Gorog insisted the company could grow independently, while welcoming the opportunity to look for buyers. "Our goal is to enhance shareholder value which could potentially lead to a new strategic partnership or the sale of the company."

If plans to sell Napster fails, they might consider giving it away to anyone prepared to sit through a thirty-second advert.

Pants story from 3AM Girls

Oddly, they've buried it deep inside the Mirror rather than holding the front page, but... as you've probably seen on the emergency telecasts:

Geri Halliwell appears to have worn the same pair of shorts two days running.

Tony Blair is expected to address the nation on this later this morning.

Robbie Williams is not one for consistency

Back in December last year, Robbie Williams made newspapers apologise to him in the High Court for suggesting he'd lied about his sexuality.

Clearly, for Robbie, the suggestion or insinutation of homosexuality is a serious business.

Last night, on stage in Milton Keynes, Robbie Williams dedicated a song to Robbie Fowler:

“Here’s one for Mr and Mrs Robbie Savage. You do know he’s gay?”

Clearly, for Robbie, the suggestion or insinuation of homsexuality is a bit of knockabout fun and not to be taken seriously.

The Simpsons: Baps, not Baptists

There's nothing unusual about a Texan priest having a pop at painted Jezebels, but what is strange is that Bizarre Online has taken space in this morning's computer edition to report the views of Reverend Bob Harrington on Jessica Simpson and her sister, little Jessica Simpson:

“Their father has replaced his faith in the Lord with the love of money, which is the root of all evil. He has replaced holiness with horniness.

“Jessica and Ashlee will reap the dismal crops they are sowing.”

“Their breasts will sag and their faces will wither and they will be left with nothing but a hollow shell.”

“They don't represent American standards and certainly not Christian standards.”

So, who is Harrington? Interestingly, he seems to know something about the love of money - according to Ann Rowe Seaman's America’s Most Hated Woman: The Life and Gruesome Death of Madalyn Murray O’Hair, Robinson used to take part in debates with high-profile atheist shill O'Hair, which would stimulate a slew of donations to Harrington; it's claimed O'Hair would take a potion of the cash she helped bring in.

He's also not entirely unfamiliar with the seedy side of life, as detailed in his various books. As Christian Pornography details, Harrington seems compelled to describe in full the sexual exploits of those he would go on to save. Not to titilate, of course; just so that people could so how far down these poor souls had gotten.

And Bob might also know a thing or two about the difference between "holy" and "horny" - back in the past, he'd drive around the country in a large bus donated by Larry Flynt, bankrolled by the profits of Hustler.

So, he clearly knows what he's talking about. What's puzzling is why The Sun feels its readers need to know what a preacher - largely unknown in the UK - thinks about the Simpson sisters, and why they didn't at least take the trouble to explain a little of his background. Curious.

Fergie tickles the public

We're sure that Fergie's sexual interest in Dita Von Teese is a deep-seated attraction and not merely an attempt to try and gay up her appeal as she launches her solo career.

She does stress, though, that she's been dating Josh Duhamel, a man, for a very long time and of course, Dita is happily married to Marilyn Manson, but if people want to buy the album and think about them kissing, that's fine.

Fergie shagging DitaThe Sun has gone one better and, erm, mocked up this image of "Fergie ... how she'd look if she got her wish". Because, of course, this is exactly what lesbians do.

She also mentioned her crystal meth addiction, in case you'd missed that:

"You lose weight and look great for a while, but I don't care if it takes six months or five years, it will creep up on you."

Unfortunately, most celebrities had left halfway through the sentence to go and see if they could source some.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006


As happened with the American awards, the Red Hot Chili Peppers have been not-quite-garlanded with a slew of nominations for the MTV European Music Awards, although when they come to give the prizes out in Copenhagen in November, we imagine the small gongs will be given to younger people with better eye make-up.

Anyway, the nominations in full are:

Best Male Artist:

Best Female Artist:

Best Group:

Best Rock Act:

Best Hip-Hop Act:

Best Alternative Act:

Best Song:

Best R&B Act:

Best Pop Act:

Best Album:

Best Video:

Whoever would have thought that Depeche Mode would have been nominated for an MTV award - especially Best Group - in 2006?

Having said which, apart from the odd Arctic Monkeys nomination, this list could be for VH1 Classic Awards.


Is it really five years since Five split up? It's hard to tell, as we've been celebrating ever since they finally took the bloody hint.

Of course, the various members of Five - Frank, Hercules, Darren Q, Darren T, Darren T+1, Eliza Cuthbert, Hortense and Gareth - haven't really been that busy in the last half-decade since they split; most have just spent the time sitting around doing very little. Which isn't that different from what they were doing when the band was going, only this time the sitting around isn't punctuated by a man coming in, handing them ten pounds and asking them to take their shirts off for photos.

Now, in a hopeful bid to prove that you can go back, the band are returning, with a greatest hits package and a "huge" UK tour - lots of dates rather than enormous venues, we'd expect.

The official announcement hasn't yet been made, as they're desperately trying to find if any of their fans left forwarding addresses when they hit puberty.

Mabel rock

It's all swearing and excessive nudity today, isn't it? Matters aren't helped by the return of Selfish Cunt - did they never think their grans might want to boast to their friends about their successful careers?

The band are releasing Avocado, a 7"-only single produced by Youth out of Killing Joke on 6th November; it's going to be supported by a couple of gigs - September 26th at the Notting Hill Arts Club, and then another in London on October 12th; a venue which doesn't mind the name has yet to be found.

Aaron Carter tightens hold on Peniche

We were going to try and bring you a picture of Kari Ann Peniche, so you can see for yourself just how far above himself Aaron Carter is marrying, but it's almost impossible for us to find one where her breasts are covered. Peniche was a Miss Teen USA who lost her title when she did naked shoots for Playboy; now, it seems, she's going to get just dressed enough to marry Aaron [link features a picture of Peniche at work and, thus, is not safe for work].

The forthcoming wedding has taken the family by surprise, surprise which will doubtless be documented in the forthcoming E! reality series.

Privacy is privacy, but book tours are book tours

This weekend's Heaven and Earth show (or "Shh! Don't call it church-time") on BBC One was a strange, rock-heavy mix: Cliff Richard was on it, talking about how his faith had influenced his music - pretty much making it worse, in effect. "I changed the words of Devil Woman so it was a warning," he told a wide-eyed Gloria Hunniford, "and I got a letter from a woman in Australia who said that it had saved her." Richard suggested this might be a miracle - something to file away for after his death, when we can start the move to sainthood, I imagine.

Next up came Robin Gibb: he was promoting some sort of campaign that is encouraging people to take time to reflect on stuff. Gloria seemed convinced the erstwhile BeeGee was wanting us to spend a minute out of every hour reflecting; maybe during the introduction Robin realised the problems that might cause (do we have to wake up every hour during the night, or can we do an eight-minute reflect in the morning to catch up?) - maybe he was even reflecting when the realisation came - and only asked for a "moment" in every day.

Gloria announced she was going to take her minute there and then, telling Robin "you'll have to keep talking for a minute while I keep quiet" - which we think might have just been her being rude to him. In a twinkly way, of course.

Then, plugging her book ("talking about how her spirituality had helped her during the crisis of her son's addiction"), up popped Jackie Doherty. Jackie is a very private person, but she can't expect that book to sell itself, can she?

Jackie's also got a hefty interview in the Liverpool Echo, on the strength of her Liverpool roots. They leap right in to nailing that Scouse connection, retelling the tale of Pete's school essay on Hillsborough, and mentioning Breck Road Lover, before... well, not getting anywhere, really. As Gloria found, while Jackie's story is a heartbreaking one for any mother to go through, she doesn't really have any insight into Pete's story, and very little to offer anyone in a similar position.

While Ms Doherty genuinely seems to have been motivated by something other than greed to write the book, the media tour starts to make it look like any other showbiz memoir - My Life Raising The I Didn't Do It Boy. We hope the writing of it helped her in her troubled times, but we can't help but feel it might have been better to have left it as a diary rather than part of a Waterstones three-for-two offer.

Ming: Not out-of-touch, but can't quite count

God knows why he tried it. Perhaps he's afraid that he comes across as a man waiting perpetually to be called to a starring role in a big-screen remake of The Ghosts of Motley Hall, Ming Campbell decided to drop a reference to a popular music combo while attemtping to stir his audience up at the Lib Dem conference in Brighton:

Asked by Market Harborough activist Chandila Fernando how he intended to "sex up his image", Sir Menzies referred to Chancellor Gordon Brown's claim earlier this year that he listened to the Arctic Monkeys on his iPod in the morning.

Sir Menzies told the conference: "I know where the Arctic Monkeys come from. I know they have sold more records than The Beatles.

"But the idea as was reported by the Chancellor of the Exchequer that I am going to turn off the Today programme and turn on the Arctic Monkeys does seem to be a little remote."

Interestingly, Ming didn't bother to prove his claim that he knew where the band came from - although, to be fair, if The Sun's Victoria Newton doesn't know, there's no reason why Campbell should.

On the suggestion that a band who are so young they don't remember a time before video recorders have - in a year - outsold the biggest band the world has yet seen, though, there's no mercy for him. Channel 4 News' Factcheck crunches the numbers for him, but does throw him a small lifejacket:

It may be churlish to analyse such an off-the-cuff gaffe, if Sir Menzies meant the Arctic Monkeys had sold more records than the Beatles of their debut album in the the first month , he may have been onto something.

However he would do well to take some of his own advice. After the Arctic Monkeys comment, he said: "The British public is pretty damn good at seeing through artificiality. "I am what I am ... and I sure ain't gonna change."

Such a use of "ain't" may have given him the patina of street credibility, however it seems his knowledge of modern music has been found wanting.

But then... that's as it should be, surely? Frankly, if you bumped in Campbell down the front of a Tapes N Tapes gig, something would be wrong. Indeed, even the back row of the upper circle at a performance of Die Fledermaus would look a little too cutting edge for him.

Reforming 'cubes

It's twenty years - yes, twenty bloody years - since The Sugarcubes released Birthday. Twenty years, remember, in which The Knack managed to never hear the It's Tricky by Run DMC.

To celebrate the anniversary, the band are getting back together for a secret one-off reunion gig in Reykjavik this November. It's going to help out Icelandic musicians who've fallen on hard times. No, we don't mean Einar:

"All profit from the concert goes back into Smekkleysa SM, who continue to work on a non-profit basis for the future betterment of Icelandic music and artists."

They've not played together for fourteen years, which means the ringing in Bjork's ears from her former frontman's bellowing would just about now have died down.

[Plug: We don't think Bjork's ever improved on the Cube debut Life's Too Good]

"Fuck you and your finger food"

Over on, you can read a delightful report of a happy report of Bono introducing Damien Rice at some sort of fashion launch event for Bono and wife's Edun range of vaguely ethical clothes.

It's notable for the complete oversell Bono does on Rice:

What you're about to hear and see is like being at a Bob Dylan gig in the early Sixties or a Cat Stevens gig in the early Seventies or James Taylor, or something extraordinary.

"Damien Rice is able to still and distil the storms into quiet reflection. He's really a remarkable talent, I can't quite believe that he's here. I'm very humbled and very honoured and I would ask New York to give him the kind of welcome only New York, only Manhattan can, and then give him the silence he deserves because this is something very special."

Damien Rice playing a couple of songs is not very, very special - it's less Cat Stevens in the early 70s, more Cat Deeley on a Stars In Their Eyes Children's Special. And if it was such an epoch-making event, you wouldn't need to beg the audience to hush up to listen to him; the point about (the young) Bob Dylan - what made him Bob Dylan - was that if he played, people paid attention.

Unsurprisingly, even with (perhaps because of) Bono trying to get the crowd to put their fingers on their lips, nobody paid any attention to Rice, and his set consisted of two songs and a lot of primadonna begging to be heard.

Aaron S, however, emails with a link to a slightly more revealing report on Empire State View, which picks up the story after Rice had slunk offstage. The audience, it seems, were about to get an old-fashioned telling off:

The drama was not yet over!! Not content with having staged a fashion launch without a single piece of clothing in sight (not even one of the shapeless "One" t-shirts), Bono then came back onstage to make some closing remarks, rattled on for a minute or so and then, tired of having the whispered conversations of a handful of party-goers rasp cruelly on his sensitive eardrums, roared to the emaciated throng: "YOU KNOW WHAT? FUCK YOU AND YOUR FUCKING FINGER FOOD!!! WE'RE TRYING TO DO SOMETHING HERE AND ETC ETC ETC" This is pretty much an exact quote, folks. Fuck you and your finger food. Two fingers to finger food, if you will (to add insult to injury, the finger food was kind of disgusting. It stank the room out, and smelt a bit like sick, which is a not unusual smell at fashion shows, but hardly the effect Edun was going for).

We thought Bono's stance was that you had to approach charity as if it was just another commodity - that's what's behind the starving-children-as-brand-values of Red, isn't it? So if that's the bargain you've made, how can you expect people treat just-another-brand-launch as if it was something special? Either you're a charity - in which case, handing out free goodie bags to the likes of Lindsay Lohan's mother is a questionable way to promote yourself; or else you're a business, in which case you can't expect people to treat you like you're the Pope. Make your mind up, Vox.

Janet Jackson, on drugs, in tears

Janet Jackson has confessed - she's had a bit of help from cocaine.

Yes, not entirely surprising, but what is surprising is it was just the once. She was prescribed liquid cocaine while in Japan. Because the whole point of cocaine is that, besides its unquestionable value in giving the bassists in guitar bands something to "sort" while on tour, it's also a proper medicine. Freud, for example, would usually prescribe it unless he could think of a good reason to not do so.

For some reason, though, Janet couldn't process this, and "burst into tears" when she found out what she'd taken:

She added: "I started crying and told him to take it – that I didn’t want it."

So, that's cocaine, just the once, in Japan. She doesn't explain how she managed to record all of Rhythm Nation 1814 in that evening, though.

Well, at least she's put some weight on...

Yes, yes, David Beckham, Victoria might wear your football shirts, but judging by the picture on the Sun website... they don't make her look that good, do they?

Kate and Pete, sitting near a tree, f-i-n-g-e-r-i-n-g

Upset and alarm - claims The Sun - at the Priory the other night when Pete Doherty and Kate Moss were "practically having full-blown sex" in the clinicesque place's garden. Touching each other, hands up clothes, everything.

This in front of a crowd having some sort of session. Not that sort of session. But how can we be sure it was Kate and Pete? The paper's source has the evidence:

"People realised it was Moss and Doherty — her skinny blue jeans were the giveaway."

Right, so one of the most photographed women of our age, and people recognised her by the trousers she was wearing. What happened next?

"A second later the couple noticed they were being watched and pulled away."

They realised they were being watched and stopped? Clearly wasn't Kate and Pete, then, was it?

Hilton knock-back

Well, we're not sure if it reflects well on anyone involved, but apparently Paris Hilton sets her bar a little higher than Courtney Love: she's knocked back Steve Coogan.

Although since she calls him "Courtney's creep", it seems like the standards run only so far as not sharing with Ms Love. Which we imagine is a health and safety thing.

YouTube comes to terms

While Universal threatens to send the legal dogs in, there's an interesting development behind the YouTube scenes: Warners have signed a deal allowing its artists videos and music to be uploaded and downloaded on the site in return for - of course - cash.

I know, I know - how do you think I feel, having to post something positive about a major label? It's not known what's caused this uncharacteristic move from Warners; why they've abandoned the model of ignoring technological developments for a year, then spending millions and months trying to close them down, before finally launching a more rubbish version of their own isn't clear.

There is a bit of a bug in the apple, though: the deal covers home-made videos, and it looks like Warners might have been handed some editorial control over those. So, if you wanted to lay Madonna's music over footage of yourself dressed up as a lamb, you can - but if Warners want it down, then it'll come down. YouTube is planning to relaunch as YouUpToAPointTube in the next 48 hours.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Nelson pulled for pushing puff

How the political process works in America:

Willie Nelson goes to support Kinky Friedman's Gubernatorial campaign in Texas, and calls for the legalisation of cannabis.

Two days later, Willie Nelson is pulled over and searched in Louisiana. Like fish speared in barrel, the troopers found a bit of blow and some shrooms.

Names were taken; not just Willie's, either:

Aside from the 73-year-old ringleader, citations were issued to his sister, Bobbie Nelson, 75, of Briarcliff, Texas; Tony Sizemore, 59, of St. Cloud, Florida; Gates Moore, 54, from Austin; and David Anderson, 50, of Dallas.

If further action is taken, Nelson and his friends could face up to six months in prison. Of course, it's not a victimless crime because... well, the cops had to fill in all that paperwork, and that hurts their wrists.