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w/e 2020-07-05

Hello. It’s been very windy here this week.

§ I love BAD MOVES’ first album Tell No One and keep coming back to its catchy guitar tunes. And this week I’ve been enjoying their new album Untenable.

I have a Twitter list of some of the bands and artists I like and while it’s often pretty political – more so than my main feed, which I’ve made an effort to make at least a little relaxing – it’s rare for the music by those people to be overtly political. So it’s good to have an album that’s very angry about precarious jobs, low wages, exploitation…

Working for Free (Official Lyric Video) by BAD MOVES, on YouTube

And still great tunes! No of course this album won’t bring down capitalism or the patriarchy but it’s a nice change from all the (great!) indie songs about sad feelings. Yes. Untenable.

§ The Shepherdess Cafe, at 221 City Road, London, announced its closure on Instagram this week:

A screenshot of the cafe's announcement of its closure on Instagram

It is with great sadness that after 37 years we have decided to close the Shepherdess Cafe.

Circumstances and Covid 19 has made it extremely difficult to continue as we were.

High rents that are non negotiable by the agents and landlords, during this time of global crisis is totally unacceptable.

Up until we moved away from London I’d been meeting a bunch of lovely friends there most Friday mornings for over ten years. Mutual friends visiting from other towns or countries would make guest appearances. This was referred to as “a salon” by Vanity Fair in 2013 which was very funny:

The germ of what would become the New Aesthetic had gestated among a group of English technologists over the years, and this group had in turn shaped [James] Bridle. They had a salon, a Friday breakfast organized by Russell Davies, the former adman on the South by Southwest panel, at the back table of a Shoreditch greasy spoon called the Shepherdess.

When I get round to reading one of those books on my list about Parisian artists and writers I’ll remember that their “salons” probably consisted mostly of stupid jokes.

Like most caffs, the food was (whispers) not great. But, you know, cheaper than most of the newer places popping up in the area over the past decade or two. I ended up avoiding the fried breakfasts, instead settling on “two brown toast with marmalade, please,” the usual waitresses eventually not needing to ask for my order.

It was – is – a good location, with two walls full of windows looking out over a busy junction. The Shep was large and spacious in a way that not many places in London manage, rent and old buildings being what they are. Around our regular table the wall held a long row of photos of famous people (Tom Jones, Judi Dench, Jamie Oliver, etc.) eating in the cafe, or posing for publicity shots (All Saints, Gregg Wallace). It was friendly. It had regulars. Like any independent place that’s existed for decades it felt part of the neighbourhood in a way that a chain rarely manages.

I laughed a lot there and I was missing it, and the friends, before this news. It’s already been gutted, stripped back to the bare walls. Bye bye.

§ I was experimenting with Quotebacks for the couple of quotes up there 👆🏻 because I like the idea. I’m not yet sure how to fit them into how I work, or how I want them to look on my website, but I figured I should at least give them a try. If you’re reading this via RSS, or without JavaScript, then they probably, hopefully, look like standard quotes. I’m not wild about how they have a <footer> element within the <blockquote> — by default it ends up looking like part of the quote itself.

§ This week I joined 2019 by upgrading my Mac to macOS 10.15 Catalina, that year’s update, hoping that all the email-losing bugs have been fixed, or that I’ll just be lucky. There’s nothing in this update I want, never mind need, but I try to keep things roughly up-to-date or else I’ll eventually end up with nothing working. Go with the flow.

So, of course, I spent most of Saturday afternoon getting my laborious bash setup working for zsh, the slightly-different command line shell that macOS has switched to (for reasonable reasons). I thought about adding Oh My Zsh, which seems popular, but I decided I’d prefer hours swearing at my own configuration files than poring over its mess of themes and figuring out how to use its plugins. What a life. My setup’s on GitHub if you’re desperate for something to do.

The Music app, the replacement for iTunes, is not good. It makes sense to – at last – split iTunes up like this, focusing the new app on audio (and music videos) but oh my word Music is a pain in the arse. The column browser has disappeared. When browsing music by artist you can only see their tracks split up by album in MASSIVE VIEW that only fits a dozen or so tracks on screen at a time. Open the new lyrics panel and the filter/search field disappears. All of my preferences about which view to use, and which columns to show, have been reset in every single playlist. Miserable. Thanks Tim Apple. I’m sure it works great for playing your one U2 album. Awesome.

Come back in 2021 for my chilly take on this year’s update.

§ I very much enjoyed lots of the sentences quoted in this LRB review of a collection of Gary Lutz’s short stories. I forgot that I’d read his Stories in the Worst Way ten years ago and now I want to re-read it. Three sample quotes from his narrators used in that article that I just happen to have chosen for no reason:

  • “I was just doing the weary thing of being in my forties”
  • “I was a man dropping already well through my forties, filthy with myself”
  • “Forty I was, and then fortier, fluking through my annual reviews”

I’ve just now read the lecture Lutz gave in 2008, referred to in that article, and I really recommend it if you’re remotely interested in writing brilliant sentences. I now want to go back and rewrite everything above but I do not have the days to spare.

§ I don’t know about you but I do not feel lockdown is over and I’m not planning on changing my habits just yet. Hopefully I’ll remember how to do so when it’s time. Good luck.

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