Archive for July, 2008

10p for a pimple

Wednesday, July 9th, 2008

Time to refill the supplies. I was shopping in Sainsbury’s (big UK grocery chain for those that don’t know) the other day, replenishing my stock of nourishing goods when I remembered that I was out of shower gel. Off to the toiletries aisle to find some glossy sheen. Broken down into sections I found the “Men’s” section. Simple shower gel is all I wanted, but the sheer choice is daunting, every configuration, scent, and colour on display in a wide range of prices. The demographics of placement of goods on shelves are simple, the lower you go the cheaper you get. The poor, stooped in our posture as it is, always look down, could be a dollar down there. You can tell the class of the shopper simply by head posture, posh looks up, down-trodden looks down.

I scoured the shelves in search of some glittery gel to polish myself up with. I had settled on a manly looking bottle of “faux Caribbean splendour” when my eyes discovered the jackpot. At the very bottom of the shelves, mere millimetres above the dingy floor, was an entire section of 10pence shower gels, Sainsbury’s own! 10p for shower gel, how is it possible that the gel can be made, put in a container, and sold for only 10p? I was sceptical, not to mention somewhat leery of the institutional-green color of the stuff, so I turned it around the read the ingredients. Now I am not a scientist but 95% of the ingredients do not register in my head as being pronounceable words. But nonetheless a deal is a deal, it’s fun to be a guinea pig sometimes anyways, and if it was no good I could always throw it away right?

Heading home, I hopped into the shower to try out my new SUPER stuff. Container flipped over, lid open I squeezed out some slime, only for it to squeeze right back in again, a little shy are we? This was some strong, thick stuff, fix a ceiling leak perhaps? Overcoming the nuances of use (how does something so cheap afford nuance?) I eventually figured out how to get it out and lather with it. It was pretty goby all-right, but hey, 10p remember?

End of shower I was satisfied enough with it that I decided to spread the gospel of the 10p shower gel. We’re in a credit crunch, time to save our pennies and cut back, I’m just being a savvy frugal-ist. So impressed at what I was getting for 10p that anyone coming into my path was up for a green stuff sales pitch. Sceptical eyes abounded, but hey it works, look how shiny I am, here, smell me, no really, don’t be shy. And so it was that I went on using the gel for a few weeks. Then came the punch line, me!

 At the gym doing some standing squats, I looked at my femur (lower leg, come-on now people!) and there was this strange red mark. I must have cut myself I concluded, an itchy cut mind you. Workout done it was time to examine my blemish. A cut you say? T’was not a cut at all, it was a pimple! A bright glowing pimple, on my leg! Who gets pimples on their legs? Contagious for sure for over the next few days, the pimple brigade began to spread, but only to curious places. My bicep, my chest, my forearms and my inner ear! Yes, inside my right ear was a bright red pimple.

Woe is me, after careful self deliberation I came to the only logical conclusion, I had paid 10p for a pimple growing serum. With none of the benefits but all the side effects of a cycle of Steroids, I abandoned my miracle 10p “stuff”. I now stand pimpled declaring, 10p shower gel, sure it exists, but do not under ANY circumstance go near it. Defy the experts, pay through the nose and get some REAL shower gel, your pimple free leg will thanks you greatly. You’ll have to excuse me now; it’s time to drain my ear!

Pimple of the leg

Lou Reed is a curmudgeon

Friday, July 4th, 2008

Lou Reed you old curmudgeon. So it was, a week ago, that I found myself in a great theatre in Mayfair, the Mayfair Curzon to be exact. The event was a screening of the new Julian Schnabel film “Berlin” which is essentially a documentary of Lou Reed performing his Berlin album in its entirety in St. Ann’s warehouse, New York City, in 2006. This album, Berlin, has taken on mythical proportions since its release over 30 years ago. A complete commercial failure, it was a tough act to follow Reed’s monumental work “Transformer” and sadly Berlin crumbled under the pressure.

Such was the negative reception of this concept album that it had never been performed, held in perpetual limbo, forgotten perhaps, discarded to be forever relegated to the sales bins of the unloved. The idea behind the album was the story of a variety of characters that all interact over the course of the album. Appearing, leaving, re-emerging later on. This was not an album with a few choice cuts, the idea was to listen to it in its entirety, at least if one desired to fully grasp the concept.

The film Berlin was well made, with hand held footage mingling with static conventional shots. An elaborately decorated stage, projections created by Schnabel’s daughter were shown over top of the musicians while they played. Basically the visuals were supposed to represent the words, with both important for the overall show.

Now the work was good, well put together, but it was slightly too long, with some songs seeming to drag on and on, musicians getting their glories on stage perhaps? But after containing these notes and nouns for over 30 years, a few extra minutes to savour them wouldn’t hurt the audience now would it?

At the close of the film, lights came up and some charmless British rock journalist took to the stage to act as questioner of the great one. Calling upon his interrogatee, Lou Reed arose, from the audience where he had apparently been sitting the entire show. Watching him rise, I expected him to keep getting up, but alas, Lou Reed is small, such is the way with icons, they’re much smaller, and lifelike in person. And so to the stage he took, not in some exaggerated Warhol inspired getup, but a simple white top, jeans and trainers, Nike’s to be exact. We want the underground, but we’re getting the suburbs. Slightly stooped and rambling, I expect that the effects of alcohol consumption could be blamed.

Over the course of some 45 minutes Lou Reed discussed Berlin “I had never been to the city when I wrote it, the city was just a metaphor for the album, divided…”; discussed mp3’s “…those who don’t care about sonic quality can have their mp3’s…. studies have shown that people only really download 1 track anyways…”; and all the details worth noting (note: he would only discuss Berlin, anything unrelated was not allowed) that are Lou Reed. The moderator then read off questions that audience members had written down on cue cards (so to remove the possibility of spontaneous disaster). Fan questions for the most part, they were what you wanted to ask but didn’t want to ask for fear of seeming slightly uncouth. The highlight of the question period came when Lou Reed had an audience member ejected. The constant heckling from a seat in the back became too much and Lou Reed proclaimed “Jesus Fucking Christ, can’t you just shut up? Can someone throw him out of here?”. Which did proceed to occur. The offender was a middle-aged man with a Mohawk; he wanted attention more than anything.

At precisely 45 minutes, the question period was finished, and everyone clapped. Little time for an encore, Lou quickly exited the stage, not through the audience this time, his cover was blown. Off to practice no doubt, as he had a few nights of performing Berlin to Londonites still to go. An enjoyable experience all in all, it’s always nice to see the icon’s of the world in the flesh to help remind us that while their work may be monumental, the creator themselves is only human, for big or for small…

Lou Reed Berlin