Friday, January 31, 2020

The top 100 books

Warning – includes photography and art books! Comics! A dictionary (of sorts)! And no Austen or Dickens or Middlemarch! In alphabetical order.

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn Mark Twain
The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes Arthur Conan Doyle
The Adventures of Tintin Herge
Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland Lewis Carroll
The Americans Robert Frank
Atomised Michel Houellebecq
Batman: The Dark Knight Returns Frank Miller 
A Biographical Dictionary of Film David Thomson
Birdsong Sebastian Faulks
Bound for Glory Woody Guthrie 
Brave New World Aldous Huxley
The Canterbury Tales Geoffrey Chaucer
Catch-22 Joseph Heller
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory Roald Dahl
The Cheese Monkeys Chipp Kidd
Chronicles Volume One Bob Dylan
A Clockwork Orange Anthony Burgess
Cloud Atlas David Mitchell
Collected Stories Tennessee Williams
Collected Short Stories W. Somerset Maugham
A Confederacy of Dunces John Kennedy Toole
The Corrections Jonathan Franzen
Cryptonomicon Neal Stephenson 
The Day of the Triffids John Wyndham
Death and the Penguin Andrey Kurkov
Designed by Peter Saville Emily King
Dracula Bram Stoker
Eric Gill Fiona McCarthy
Factory Records: The Complete 
Graphic Album Matthew Robertson
Factotum Charles Bukowski
Fahrenheit 451 Ray Bradbury
Fictions Jorge Luis Borges
The French Lieutenant’s Woman John Fowles 
Fungus the Bogeyman Raymond Briggs
The Ginger Man JP Donleavy 
Going East: Two Decades of Asian Photography Max Pam
Gulliver's Travels Jonathan Swift  
Guns, Germs and Steel Jared Diamond 
Herzog Saul Bellow
The Hills Were Joyful Together Roger Mais
Hitchcock Francois Truffaut
The House of the Spirits Isabel Allende
In Cold Blood Truman Capote
In the Eye of the Sun Ahdaf Soueif
Jane Eyre Charlotte Brontë
The Journey is the Destination: 
The Journals of Dan Eldon Dan Eldon 
Journey to the End of the Night Louis-Ferdinand Celine
Jude the Obscure Thomas Hardy
Letters Francois Truffaut
London Fields Martin Amis
Lolita Vladimir Nabokov
The Lorax Dr Seuss
Lost Horizon James Hilton
Madame Bovary Gustave Flaubert
Maus Art Spiegelman
Max Ernst Collages Werner Spies
The Metamorphosis Franz Kafka
Midnight's Children Salmon Rushdie
Miles: The Autobiography Miles Davis
Moonfleet J. Meade Falkner
Nico, Songs They Never Play on the Radio James Webb Young
Nineteen Eighty-Four George Orwell
No Logo Naomi Klein
On the Road Jack Kerouac
Oryx and Crake Margaret Atwood
Perfume Patrick Süskind
Pigeon's Luck Vladimir Tretchikoff
The Plague Albert Camus
Riddley Walker Russell Hoban
Ringolevio, A Life Played for Keeps Emmett Grogan
The Rings of Saturn W. G. Sebald
Rip It Up and Start Again Simon Reynolds
Robinson Chris Petit
Saul Bass: A Life in Film & Design Jennifer Bass
A Scanner Darkly Philip K Dick
Scorsese on Scorsese Ian Christie (Ed.)
A Season in Hell Arthur Rimbaud
The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole, Aged 13¾ Sue Townsend
Short Stories Paul Bowles
Slaughterhouse-Five Kurt Vonnegut
Their Eyes Were Watching God Zora Neale Hurston
The Songlines Bruce Chatwin
The Story of Art EH Gombrich
The Sun Also Rises Ernest Hemingway
The Tiger Who Came to Tea Judith Kerr
Treasure Island Robert Louis Stevenson
Twenty Thousand Streets Under the Sky Patrick Hamilton
Under the Volcano Malcolm Lowry
Utopia Parkway: The Life and Work of Joseph Cornell Deborah Solomon
The War of the Worlds HG Wells
Watchmen Alan Moore
Ways of Seeing John Berger
We Need To Talk About Kevin Lionel Shriver
Where I'm Calling From: The Selected Stories Raymond Carver
Where the Wild Things are Maurice Sendak
Wide Sargasso Sea Jean Rhys
William Eggleston's Guide William Eggleston
The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle Haruki Murakami
Wuthering Heights Emily Brontë
Yoga for People Who Can't be Bothered to Do it Geoff Dyer

I really need a parallel life just for reading. I own about fifty books that I've never read but slowing getting through, plus I've a list of about a hundred I want to read (The Master and Margarita,  Steppenwolf, etc) then after that (so in about a decade), all the books I should read – Middlemarch, One Hundred Years of Solitude, Moby-Dick, Tristram Shandy, Tolstoy, Dostoevsky. Then recent novels which I hardly ever read, something by someone like Sally Rooney or Three Women by Lisa Taddeo (which'll be about twenty years old by the time I get around to reading them).

Previously on Barnflakes 
The top 100 films
The top 100 albums
Books I've read this year, 2019 
Top ten most difficult fiction books to read 
Notes on not reading anymore, etc
Books of the year 2011
Illustrated children's books (for parents)
Alice and Arthur

Monday, January 27, 2020

The pebbles on Budleigh Salterton beach

We came across Budleigh Salterton beach from Exeter via Exmouth. Approaching the pebble beach, it didn't look anything special, but once we were walking on the pebbles it was a different matter. In fact, I don't think either of us looked up once, until suddenly we realised we'd walked to the end of the beach, transfixed by the patterns on the pebbles.

The beach is famous for its pebbles. Some can be split open and contain fossils. The pebbles have unique patterns. Walking along the beach felt like a history lesson in 20th century abstract art, encompassing abstract expressionism to minimalism. There were Pollock, Riley, Kline and Rothko pebbles. Some were striped, some were blobby, some were birthmarks, some were geological maps. They were all smooth as if polished. Many were so perfectly oval-shaped and smooth they could be sold in crystal shops as semi-precious stone eggs.

The beach has a local bylaw prohibiting the removal of any pebbles; the area is a Site of Special Scientific Interest. The fine is £2000 per pebble. It's going to take my daughter a while to save up and pay the £8k fines.

Previously on Barnflakes
On the beach at Lyme Regis
Sea urchin shells

Thursday, January 23, 2020

Wheal Maid Tailings lagoons

The area around Wheal Maid Tailings lagoons, taking in the complex of Poldice mine, active since the 17th century, and the Poldice valley, is a great place for walking and cycling. Situated about three miles east of Redruth, it's a fascinating area full of the remains of mine workings and steep paths littered with quartz and other minerals.

The lagoons themselves revealed themselves to us completely by chance one day, when we'd accidentally walked a different route to our usual Poldice mine walk. It was as if we'd entered a parallel universe; we couldn't figure out how we'd never spotted the lagoons, and several engine houses nearby, before. We spotted the lagoons from the top of the hill, looking down at them at the bottom of the valley. It was an alien landscape of greys, yellows and reds. The amazing colours of the lagoons occur due to the water evaporating, leaving the waste remains of the various mined minerals including copper, tin, pyrite, zinc and arsenic. Needless to say, though the area is safe for walking around, the earth and water is toxic.

Wheal Maid was used as recently as the 1970s and 80s to dispose of waste from two nearby mines, Mount Wellington and Wheal Jane. It was sold to Gwennap Parish Council in 2002 for £1 (presumably so the owners, Carnon Enterprises, wouldn't have to clean up their mess).

The area forms part of the Minerals Tramways Coast to Coast cycle route from Portreath to Devoran, a 14 mile ride mostly along tracks and paths, so hardly any traffic is encountered. There are cafes along the way, including several places for hiring bikes too. At Twelveheads (a 15 minute walk from the lagoons) there is a fine, and brilliantly placed (all the hundreds of times we've said at the end of a tiring walk: 'If only there was a cafe here!' Well here there actually is) outdoors cafe called Bon Appetit.

Never being lost for words

I often Google words for their meaning or spelling – recently I checked on verdant, for example. What I thought meant 'green with vegetation' is actually a brewing company in Falmouth – Verdant Brewing Co. Oblivion – a state of being unaware of things happening around you? Nope, first place is a post-apocalyptic adventure film starring Tom Cruise. Wayfinder is not 'a traveller on foot', but a type of Ray-Ban sunglasses. Dawn is a Pakistani newspaper. Supreme is a skateboard brand. Ripe is either an insurance company or a Network Coordination Centre. Quartz is a business-focused English-language international news organisation. Catastrophe is a TV series. Believe is a song by Shawn Mendes.

You get the idea. Any word I look up is something else. More and more words are becoming brands, products, bars, restaurants, films, songs. I think it belittles words. And we're now running out of them. Any word is up for grabs for crappy companies and pointless films.

And words don't have anyone to perform SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) for them. The humble spelling and meaning of a word now takes second place to commerce, or worse still, a film (usually starring aforementioned Cruise in a movie such as Collateral or Magnolia).

It took a while to realise that to find the definition of a word, I need to Google the word followed by 'definition', 'meaning' or 'synonym'.

Loss of the senses

Tuesday, January 21, 2020

Empty skateparks

Skateboarding photography is usually about capturing the skater in action, but not always. Californian photographer Amir Zaki has recently published a book of empty skateparks in his home state. Titled California Concrete: A Landscape of Skateparks, the book is a beautiful brutalist monument to the board, his highly detailed photos taken at dawn (one of them, top), each one consisting of dozens of high resolution photos stitched together in post-production.

Irish photographer Richard Gilligan spent four years tracking down and photographing homemade or DIY skateparks all over the world. Mostly being built illegally, this was no mean task, with the skateparks being in hidden, abandoned locations. The image, above middle, is from Hamburg, Germany.

Teenage Scottish photographer Andrew Bulloch has only owned a camera for a few years and already won a handful of awards. I love his picture from north Scotland of an empty half pipe with the northern lights behind it (picture above).

With skateboarding appearing as a sport for the first time at this year's Toyko Olympics and Sotheby's last year selling a complete set of 248 Supreme boards for $800,000, its rebellious attitude is perhaps not as it was. Nevertheless, I still love skating culture, from the sense of community and fun, to the graphics, videos and photography. Skateparks are appearing in most cities all over the world, and more popular than ever (so seeing an empty one, like the pictures above, is pretty rare).

Previously on Barnflakes
Record cover of the day: Babes Forever
Powell Peralta Paraphemalia
Transworld Skateboarding Magazine Covers

Elsewhere on the web
The Search for Animal Chin is the most quotable and best skateboarding film ever, dude!

Tuesday, January 14, 2020

Infra ready

Infrared images top to bottom: Bob Dylan by Elliott Landy (1969); Richard Mosse's stunning Congo series, Infra (2011); Kate Ballis' surreal vision of Palm Springs, Infra Realism (2018); Foals album Everything Not Saved Will Be Lost (2019), photo by Vicente Muñoz.

Saturday, January 04, 2020

The moon and the earth

Artist Luke Jerram's stunning Moon and Earth have been touring Europe for several years now. The moon model, six metres in diameter, is currently at the Natural History museum, London. Gaia (Greek for earth), seven metres in diameter, hangs above the citrus grove in the Mediterranean Biome of the Eden Project, Cornwall. Both contain detailed NASA imagery and are on display until tomorrow (Sunday 5 January).

Thursday, January 02, 2020

How many escalators are there in Cornwall?

In 2007, artist Patrick Lowry showcased his Escalator in New County Hall in Truro – Cornwall’s modernist council building, which consisted of a life size, realistic installation of an out of order escalator, leading to nowhere. A metaphor for Cornwall council, perhaps, or job opportunities in the county – interpretation of the installation is rife.

Lowry's installation was part of the MORE Cornwall group exhibition, reviewed on the artcornwall website at the time. The author of the piece mentions growing up in Truro in the 1980s and joking with friends about there being only one escalator in Cornwall, which there was then.

Well, times have sure changed. There are now eight (8) or maybe eleven (11) escalators in Cornwall. I heard this recently from a friend (who couldn't remember the exact number), who has a friend who says it's possible to get to all the county's escalators by bus in a single day. Naturally, this aroused my curiosity.

It can't be that much of a challenge though – presumably most of them are in Truro: Waterstone's, Primark, Debenhams and M&S all have them. The hideous retail parks* at Hayle and Kingsley Village both have them. That's probably about it – but there's a catch.

A couple of the escalator's are moving walkways, or travelators. This got us thinking. Newquay airport? Nope. The Eden Project? Nope. It would have to be somewhere really high tech like Goonhilly Earth Station. Then it occurred to me – Sainsbuy's has them in large branches at Truro and Penzance. 


* I suddenly remembered looking at some new-build flats in the early noughties with my then-partner when we were thinking of buying a place together in London. The flats were tiny, badly made, bits already falling off, no storage, in the middle of nowhere. Where’s the nearest newsagent, I asked the estate agent, to buy a paper or a pint of milk. The supermarket in the retail park, a twenty minute walk, she said. No, I thought, that’s wrong, that’s crazy. No, I said, I mean the local newsagent, the friendly one who knows you. She repeated, the retail park.

Some years later, here we are, or here I am anyway. With a warehouse-sized Tesco as my friendly local newsagent, and retail parks with massive car parks a horrific reality, and the death of the high street, and internet shopping. I didn’t ask for any of it. In fact, I actively despise it all.

Previously on Barnflakes
Bus pass