Saturday, 26 February 2011

'They are not underground'

Whilst away for half-term this post appeared at The Dabbler. It has a rather morbid subject but is, I hope, full of life.

Friday, 18 February 2011

An English boot in New York

As we're on matters lost in translation, I've been meaning to mention that on a recent post-snowstorm trip to New York I saw more Hunter wellies than I've ever seen before in one place. About 1-in-5 people were wearing them - for real. To think that a boot invented by Kate Moss to be worn by urban hipsters whilst picking through the mud of Glastonbury should do so well in Manhattan!

One other thing. Whilst wondering the streets, I noted a strange lack of cheese-cutter tweed caps - surely it's only a matter of time. I offer this advice to Britain's hatters: ramp up production, call Barneys and hold on to your, er, hats.

Tuesday, 15 February 2011

How them lot see us

The trailer from Don' You Go Rounnin' Roun to Re Ro:

The illusion of sepia

...and the temptations of nostalgia. At Ye Olde Dabbler.

Monday, 14 February 2011

Russian reality

I've mentioned before how Russia is one of the most deeply cynical and corrupt places I've known. Peter Pomerantsev, a British TV producer, spent the last four years in Moscow making programmes for Russian television. From his latest diary entry:
The fundamental premise for most Western reality shows is what people in the industry call ‘aspirational’: someone works hard and is rewarded with a wonderful new life. The shows celebrate the outstanding individual, the bright extrovert. For the Russian version of The Apprentice, Vladimir Potanin, a metals oligarch worth more than $10 billion, was recruited to be the boss choosing between the candidates competing for the dream job. Potanin goaded, teased and tortured the candidates as they went through increasingly difficult challenges. The show looked great, the stories and dramas all worked, but there was a problem: no one in Russia believed in the rules. The usual way to get a job in Russia is not by impressing at an interview, but by what is known as blat – ‘connections’. Russian society isn’t much interested in the hard-working, brilliant young business mind. Everyone knows where that type ends up: in jail like Mikhail Khodorkovsky, or in exile like the mobile phone billionaire Yevgeny Chichvarkin. Today’s Russia rewards the man who operates from the shadows, the grey apparatchik, the master of the politique de couloir – the man like Putin. Promotion in such a system comes from knowing how to debase yourself, how to suck up and serve your master, how to be what the Russians call a holop, a ‘toady’. Bright and extrovert and aspirational? Not if you want success. The shows that did work were based on a quite different set of principles. By far the biggest success was Posledny Geroi (‘The Last Hero’), a version of Survivor, a show based on humiliation and hardship. This chimed in Russia – a country where being bullied by the authorities is the norm.
What’s Russia’s problem with reality? The basic principle of reality-based programming is that the audience believes the characters are having real experiences, that the action is not predetermined. The producer’s skill lies in nudging and manipulating the heroes into behaving in an interesting way. Russian channel heads refused to countenance the idea that you could make ‘reality’ programmes which weren’t scripted beforehand...

Read the whole thing: there's also some great stuff on the routine extortion of the tax authorities. What a fucked up place.

Wednesday, 9 February 2011

Faulks on Fiction

Fun with Faulks on Fiction at The so-good-it-could-be-fictional Dabbler.