The Bowl.

I haven't been to a hairdresser's since I was 16. I finished my last day at school and in act of symbolic act of freedom from arbitrary school rules, went and got my head shaved. Since then I have yo-yo'ed between a shaven head and a long, unmanaged mess. I feel like something has to change, and so, I have recently started cutting my hair with scissors and a mirror, rather than just shearing it all off like a big human sheep. Now I feel like I can take this one step further, I need a style, I need a bowl haircut.

Like Rowan Atkinson in the first series of Blackadder. Serious Medieval vibes.

Or perhaps the guy from this band doing a floor windmill while he plays some excellent riffage. (This is from a story on Vice about bowl haircuts so maybe it doesn't count, though the article is very informative...) Look how it moves, so silky.

But really, the urge to get The Bowl is more fuelled by a sudden and drastic re-assesment of how cool I looked when I was a kid. A bit like this.

I have brown hair though. Also I didn't have to wear a dress.

I'm tempted by an undercut.

But the centre parting puts me off. I like the moustache though. I'd probably keep fairly clean shaven. Nothing should distract from The Bowl.

Jim Carey in Dumb and Dumber is an obvious reference point.

It is the clarity of The Bowl that is so alluring. Everyone knows what's happening with The Bowl. It is unmistakable.

Let us leave the final word to style icon Randy Taylor. Represented here through a poor quality youtube video made up of clips of him in Home Improvement, badly filmed off the telly with a camcorder. Thank you internet. Thank you.

"Once the first-person pronoun creeps into your agenda you’re dead, art-wise. That’s why fiction-writing’s lonely in a way most people misunderstand. It’s yourself you have to be estranged from, really, to work."

Great (and almost diarrhetically verbiose, obvs) interview with David Foster Wallace from 1993.

"I saw Wittgenstein as the real architect of the postmodern trap. He died right on the edge of explicitly treating reality as linguistic instead of ontological. This eliminated solipsism, but not the horror. Because we’re still stuck. The “Investigation's" line is that the fundamental problem of language is, quote, “I don’t know my way about.” If I were separate from language, if I could somehow detach from it and climb up and look down on it, get the lay of the land so to speak, I could study it “objectively,” take it apart, deconstruct it, know its operations and boundaries and deficiencies. But that’s not how things are. I’m “in” it. We’re “in” language."
An interesting article on about farts. Say what you like about Vice magazine, their investigative reporting is second to none.

Matthew Breen and Buddy J. Finowicz

Buddy J. Finowicz (1944 - 2009 R.I.P) was a cult writer who divided literary critics. A Vietnam vet whose writing was as experimental as his drug use; Finowicz was the epitome of the hard working, hard living American novelist. He is also entirely fictional; a creation of Matthew Breen, an artist living and working in East London.
  A few weeks ago I went to Matt's studio to speak to him about Finowicz's place in American counter culture. Matt showed me some of Finowicz's books while we drank two incredibly strong cups of coffee, and I helped myself to an unreasonable amount of biscuits...


ashortdescriptionofmypoo: How did you come up with the idea for Buddy?

Matthew Breen: About a year ago, my work wasn't going well, I had no real idea of what I was doing. I had just read Pulp, by Charles Bukowski, which he wrote very soon before he died. It's this weird, hard boiled crime fiction pastiche. It's a real piss take of people like Micky Spillane and Dashiell Hammett. The main character is an idiot private eye, called Nick Belane, which is an obvious play on Micky Spillane. It's just so crazy and badly written - like all of Bukowski is, but brilliant and post-modern and referential. So I finished reading it and thought maybe I'd try and write one!
  I wrote this twenty page short story called, 'Mary Lou in the Alien Desert', a sort of perverse Alice in Wonderland. I re-read it the other day and it is total crap. I came up with a pseudonym for the writer of the story, which was Buddy J. Finowicz, gave him a bit of a back story, and suddenly realised that he was far more interesting than the story I had written.
What I was putting together was an amalgamation of various writers, or artists behaviour. So you've got the typical things of... well he is just an absolute shit really. He's got a bad relationship with alcohol and drugs, he's a misogynist etc. I wanted to make him really American, so I made him a Vietnam veteran. He is from Texas, a real redneck, but he has these delusions of grandeur, he really believes he is an artist. So the whole thing is that he's caught in this limbo land between art and pop. He thinks his writing is changing the world!

asdomp: So is he set in a particular time period?

MB: Mescaline Rain was written soon after he returned from Vietnam in 1968, so he was very young when he wrote that. He died as soon as I created him, if that makes sense, so he died in April 2009 at the age 65. I didn't give him a 'big' death, what killed him off in the end was his lifestyle; his smoking and drinking.
  But this is all real in a sense of what an artist could be, like Jackson Pollock. Pollock was a cowboy from Wyoming, that was his persona. When he first hit New York he would wear denim and a Stetson hat; it was part of his mid-west persona. Buddy is a rough neck, like Pollock, with this very American, protestant work ethic.

asdomp: He seems like a trashy writer, but maybe one with a certain level of ironic cool attached to him; almost exactly the sort of writer that would inspire contemporary art to be made about him!

MB: Well, he never had a hard back book published! It's all trash...
  There is a kind of currency of knowledge in art. I've been reading No Brow, by John Seabrook about the breakdown of high and low culture – basically from Warhol onwards. You can trade in this knowledge. In order to form our identity, we collect all these found things - out in culture. We dig them out and put our name on them, or we put them there as our mascot. They are how we identify ourselves.
  I like the idea of inserting Buddy in to all that. I've got this new piece I'm doing for Artvehicle. I've made a dictionary definition for 'Finowiczian', because I was thinking about terms like, 'Borgesian', or 'Tarantinoesque', these weird words. Once something become part of the language it can become part of the cultural currency.

asdomp: What about the faked element, are you hiding the fact that you have invented him?

MB: Sometimes when people ask about him, I play along with it and pretend that he is real. Or I say that he is just someone I'm really interested in; which isn't really a lie... apart from the fact that he is absolutely fabricated!
  An important part of it is putting reality in to his story. His relationship with the world involves real people. I'm making a poster for a movie adaptation of one of his books, starring Dennis Hopper and directed by Francis Ford Coppola.
  I have been weighing up the idea of whether to do things just to flesh him out, like setting up the online fan club etc. But I think I want everything to have a purpose; it needs to make a point about something, rather than just be arbitrary. I'm avoiding a museum thing, I'm trying to get away from that archive idea. All the things I present are second hand; supposedly mass produced and easy to obtain.

The deceitful impulse is definitely there. I always think of Borges' Ficciones, especially the re-written Quixote. Borges presents his invented authors as reality – out there as a proposition, it very much could be part of the world. I'm dealing with specifics like dates and names and events; certain things happened at certain times - real things. Almost as soon as I invented the name, the story became autonomous. The trick is communicating it effectively.

Part of the work is the viewer's realisation that Buddy isn't real. As soon as you realise something is fabricated you imbue it with meaning, it suddenly exists in a very different way. It can be an exhilarating change of perspective; to realise that you aren't looking at an incidental piece of trash but something created by someone.


You can read more about Buddy J. Finowicz here and here.
The Brief Psychiatric Rating Scale (BPRS). Each symptom is rated 1-7 and depending on the version between a total of 18-24 symptoms are scored.
  • 1 Somatic concern
  • 2 Anxiety
  • 3 Depression
  • 4 Suicidality
  • 5 Guilt
  • 6 Hostility
  • 7 Elated Mood
  • 8 Grandiosity
  • 9 Suspiciousness
  • 10 Hallucinations
  • 11 Unusual thought content
  • 12 Bizarre behaviour
  • 13 Self-neglect
  • 14 Disorientation
  • 15 Conceptual disorganisation
  • 16 Blunted affect
  • 17 Emotional withdrawal
  • 18 Motor retardation
  • 19 Tension
  • 20 Uncooperativeness
  • 21 Excitement
  • 22 Distractibility
  • 23 Motor hyperactivity
  • 24 Mannerisms and posturing
"The British Library is trying to preserve defunct websites before they disappear."

This is really nice. I love defunct internet sites - the sadness of uncared-for recent history is fascinating. I was worried when I first saw this story that the British Library was going to record every website that is defunct, which would

a) be mental, and totally wasteful,
b) start a sort of dystopian future where history is totally recorded and categorised as it happens,
c) mean that my adventures through the jungle of defunct websites would be usurped by a bland stroll through an official archive of web-crap.

But luckily they are only taking important web sites, like MP's blogs and old companies' websites. It shows how little old institutions understand the uber-flat landscape of the internet, but also means that I still get to feel interesting and exciting when I spend hours trawling through sites like these...

Tom Smith’s Blog
Tom Smiths Wife's Blog
Tom Smith's daughter's Leprechaun Page

I did a talk about Dead Websites that included these. Tom Smith's Wife's blog is probably my favourite - completely untouched but totally filled with Tom Smith's frustrated enthusiasm for a form of media that he was never going to stay interested in for long.

 Single Lions by Graeme Patterson. 2010.

Graeme 'Pattie' Patterson is an animator from Newcastle. He also used to play samplers and turntables for the original incarnation of Dogtanion. As I remember, he suggested that we should be called, 'Dogtanion and the 70's Plate', I always liked that name.
  You can see his whole Youtube selection here.