Charles Shaar Murray and Bex Marshall visit the Ozarks

10514744_10154374334670654_4521194699008061028_n

… that’s Ozark Guitars, not the celebrated US mountain range after which the brand of exquisite acoustic guitars is named. Mi sistah-in-blues, the awesomely talented Bex Marshall, is a major user of these fine instruments and since she was about to pay a visit to the headquarters of Stentor, Ozark’s parent company, to get a couple of her road-battered Ozark resonator electros given a good seeing-to, she very kindly invited me to tag along and get some minor damage to my own beloved Ozark 3515 BTEG repaired.

Such is Bex’s status amongst Ozark users that we got this work done personally by the company’s genial head honcho and chief designer David Carroll … and a fun afternoon was had by all. Megathanx to Bex, and to David. Needless to say, there is no bigger bang (or twang) for your resonator buckage available anywhere in this time zone (a word to the wise guy or gal)… and we couldn’t wait to get home and play our freshly rejuvenated ‘Zarks … and fall in love with them all over again.

3515BTEGx

Hothouse Spring 2014 is GO – we have lift-off!

541398_10152227691108012_967829795_n This is just a quick word to announce that the first session of the first Hothouse Project course of 2014, “Journalism as Craft and Art” kicked off with the proverbial BANG. Another intriguing bunch of students showed, and it looks like the next seven weeks will generate fun and enlightenment for all concerned … me included, of course.

And, equally needless to say, I can’t wait for the first batch of homework to arrive.

(Yep, there’s homework … I’m’a work ’em like DAWGS.)

Farrago Poetry Zoo Awards: Anna Chen and CSM score his’n’hers prizes …

FarragoZoo2014-ACJPCSM01

the lovely one got hers for Best Performance By A London poet (‘Ackney is London, innit?) and the cat in the hat got his for Best Fiction Performance (as if all my performances weren’t fiction of one kind or annuver) and they look lavly in our living room. Making the presentation: Farrago mover’n’shaker John Paul O’Neill and, of course, it all took place at the RADA foyer cafe in Malet St, in the heart of London’s glittering West End.  This was a coupla weeks back, admittedly, but it’s so hard to keep up with such a fast-moving existence, I’m always a few weeks behind myself …

Meanwhile, please be advised that we still have a few places left for seekers after wisdom and enlightenment via my Hothouse course … kicking off this coming Thursday, Feb 20, in the heart of London’s leafy West Hampstead. Hurry hurry hurry, but please form an orderly queue and try not to trample the peeps in front of you …

Jewish Book Week: Old Punk Prepares Reminiscences, Rants And Anecdotes

CSM HamHigh

A little while back, I was delighted to receive — and eagerly accept — an offer to join a panel chaired by my old friend and eternally ageless sistren Vivien Goldman on The Jewish Roots Of Punk as part of Jewish Book Week, taking place on Saturday March 1 at 9pm, Kings Place, 90 York Way, London, N1 9AG. Also on board will be Geoff Travis, Daniel Miller and Toby Mott, so a good time should be had by all, awreddy. (Incidentally, the event immediately before us will feature Mark Lewisohn talking about his rather impressive new Beatles book Tune In, the first volume of the massive eventual trilogy All These Years.)

We haven’t (yet) done anything as grownup and efficient as pre-planning an agenda, but I assume that we may be talking about what it  means to be Jewish, what it means to be punk and how these two states of being might conceivably intersect. I also assume that, old and dignified as we all now are, there will be little or no spitting, kicking over of microphones, shaking up beer cans and popping them in the general direction of the audience or, for that matter, mass chanting of Hava Nagila.

Nevertheless, whilst engaging in preliminary thinkage concerning Malcolm McLaren, Joey Ramone and many more (not to mention Bob Dylan and Marc Bolan, though I suspect someone will), I was reminded of a favourite adage of my late sainted father: “If I ever find out that the Worldwide Jewish Conspiracy really exists, I’ll be furious … because I was never invited to join.”

Incidentally, the above ridiculously flattering portrait may seem like an outtake from my failed audition to become the next Dr Who (damn you, Peter Capaldi!) , but it was in fact taken by Nigel Sutton on behalf of that august periodical The Ham And High on the occasion of my being Cover Boy t’other week.

It only remains to animadvert that while the next session of my Hothouse Project: Journalism As Craft And Art course (commencing February 20) is filling up nicely, we still have a few places left … so don’t be shy. I’ll be gentle with you … maybe.