A guy I’ve known for 16 years, rock critic and historian Ed Ward, died in May. Ed and I went on lots of long walks in Berlin and talked about music, of course (Ed even got a rave review of a band I sort of faked, in order to kickstart the project, into Paste magazine) and we talked about lots of other things, too. Not trusting Fate to handle the transaction for us, despite the fact that Ed and I were both living in Berlin in the early 2000s, we initially met Online, in the comment section of his … Continue reading ED WARD OBIT


1POSTCARDS FROM THE LAND of BEFORE I COULD WRITE: Came across this, just now: While Turkish eugenicists were trying to establish the whiteness and Europeanness of their civilisation, Hitler was fantasising about a superior race that availed itself of what he saw as Islamic immorality and ruthlessness. In his memoirs, Albert Speer, the Nazi Minister of Armaments, noted that Hitler expressed admiration for the ruthlessness of Muslim Turks. Hitler wished Turks had conquered Europe and converted the continent to Islam. He imagined a superior race of ‘Islamised Germans’ who could circumvent the moral limits of Christianity. Which made me think … Continue reading LITTYBITS

But now a gentleman passing

  A few weeks ago, an old friend I’ve known since the 1980s, a musician, a friend from that side of my life, stopped answering emails. We were in the habit of sending each other preposterous news items and reacting to these news items with pithily sardonic one-liners. I sent three or four unanswered emails to him and began to worry after the third week of silence. I sent an email that said, “Hey! Just checking… everything okay in California?” An hour later he replied: he’d been busy with building a new recording studio. I was relieved. I sent a … Continue reading But now a gentleman passing


Dear____: This hardhearted year keeps blowing old troubadours down like some tyrannical Baron striking Serfs with his blackthorn and it got Leonard Cohen last week. I was expecting Leonard to slip his way elegantly through the stage door, at the end of the year,  as usual, doffing his cap, singing Auld Lang Syne, a song he could have written, waltzing wisely up the alley to 2017.  But: no. If 2016 were represented by a Tarot card, it would be one eerie card. Unlike Prince, Leonard’s music was appropriate for grownups (much of it, in fact, is indecipherable to kids) and, unlike … Continue reading YET ANOTHER OBITUARY LETTER


DEAR _____ :   I actually have some Prince tales (maybe you’ve heard a few of these from me already): a) Some time in 1982 or so, Owen Husney (Prince’s first manager; the guy who got him his first record deal) asked me to write some songs for a guy Owen was hoping would be  “the White Prince”.  The guy was Peter D___, a Bowie look-a-like who was a guitar genius but who LOVED Jethro Tull prog-rock a little too much… and he would NOT compromise on his silly faux-Tull vision… the “white Prince” thing therefore never happened.  (Peter was … Continue reading ANOTHER (!) OBITUARY LETTER REGARDING CURRENT EVENTS


Dear _____ : I have to admit it doesn’t bother me terribly much that Bowie finally bit the deathcock… although it is certainly unsettling, because the first time I heard him (in 1969) he was actually YOUNG, a man in his twenties, I think. So, to watch the better part of anyone’s life-cycle like that is a little eerie. As I’ve said elsewhere, Superstars are there to remind us that we all age, decline and die. Or just die. But it’s not as though I knew DB or was into his music lately (though, have you heard the “outtakes” from … Continue reading AN OBITUARY LETTER REGARDING CURRENT EVENTS