Daniel Johnston

This was the first Daniel Johnston song I ever heard, played to me by Marie Javins, who knew him. This was way back in the 90s, you understand. Daniel Johnston, who in many ways was the most perfect pop song writer of our generation, died last night.

And, to prove that point about Johnston as a pop song writer, here’s one of his songs arranged and performed by M Ward.

BTTM FDRS, Ezra Clayton Daniels & Ben Passmore

Once a thriving working-class neighborhood on Chicago’s south side, the “Bottomyards” is now the definition of urban blight. When an aspiring fashion designer and her image-obsessed BFF descend upon the hood in search of cheap rent, they discover something far more seductive… and deadly.

This new graphic novel from Fantagraphics was a lot of fun. Gentrification-cycle near-cosmic horror, absolutely ruthless and clear-eyed about threat and victims both:

Brilliantly constructed, beautifully cartooned and lit – just look how Passmore 1) remembers to get the glow of the phone on her in the violet hour 2) how he matches the colour of the glow to the colour of the speech balloon – this book was a rich, weird journey. and deserves to be nominated for everything next year.


I am, infamously, Not Good with poetry. But, googling around after falling for the record SING AS THE CROW FLIES by Laura Cannell and Polly Wright, I found this short book of Polly Wright’s poetry, COLD BLOW MARSH.

It arrived as the temperature dropped here, so “Winter, Always Winter” immediately struck a resonant note.

It is gorgeously written, with surprising bursts of humour, and it speaks of places I know. The rusted melancholy of broken microwave ovens laying in fields with their mouths lolling open, old homes being eaten by vines.

Teeth rattle in tobacco tins with rusted corners

she says, and I know exactly what she means. It’s a book of the life of the haunted marshes, the sparse woodlands we throw out old dreams out into, and the sounds of the past whistling through the long grass.

It’s nine quid from this website, and I loved it.


I am technically on a blurb-writing moratorium for the rest of the year, but when Sean McDonald told me he had a book by an old acquaintance, I had to give in. This arrived today from MCD. Thanks, mate. I love the publishing economy.

Inbox 24 / 12 C / status: whisky

Please God Let There Be A #Brexitcast Tonight

For some considerable time, one of the most essential podcasts on my list has been Brexitcast, and I hope to god there’s one in the morning to help explain and contextualise what I’ve been witnessing on BBC Parliament all day. Here’s its homepage.

Laura Kuenssberg and Katya Adler, Adam Fleming and Chris Mason, and editor Dino Sofos, thank you so much for all you’ve done, all the madness you’ve navigated, and all the years you’ve clipped off your lifespans by staring into his faecal abyss for us.