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Sending out the dispatch. Hope the book arrives before these things.


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Some more doodlings with 0.1 mm nib, black ink, Steadler pigment liner Fineliner pen, on Moleskine plain paper notebook..


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0.1 mm nib, black ink, Steadler pigment liner Fineliner pen, on Moleskine plain paper notebook.

sitar city

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Looking out over Dakar while listening to a recording of Annapurna Devi & Ravi Shankar from the 1950s.

Annapurna Devi, born Roshanara Khan) on 23 April 1927, is an Indian surbahar (bass sitar) player of Hindustani Classical Music. She is the daughter and disciple of Allauddin Khan, the founder of Maihar gharana, and was married to sitar maestro Ravi Shankar, also one of her father’s disciples from 1941 to 1962. After her divorce, she never performed in public, moved to Mumbai, became a recluse and started teaching. link

Photo by me of sketch by me

nodding in agreement


I’d never heard of Wendy MacNaughton before I listened to her interview on the excellent Longform podcast today. She’s an “artist, illustrator and graphic journalist”. The way she describes how she works and how she gets work is very similar to how things have worked out for myself; she blogged, people noticed, she got work. And, like me, she also worked in Rwanda. It’s the first Longform podcast that I’ve listened to and found myself nodding in agreement to pretty everything the interviewee says,

We’re getting so much information right now… non-stop with the Twitter, the Tumblr, Instagram and the whatever, we’re getting so much, so fast, of all of these digital based images, gifs and all that, that when you see something that was created by hand, like you see that someone actually drew something, I think that you see, Oh, it took somebody time to do that, it took energy and some kind of like care, and so we treat it in the same way, like we actually slow down to the pace of the person drawing and I think that that provides a real break in this, like, crazy rapidness that we’re all involved in constantly. link

Illustration of surfers by Wendy MacNaughton

the second pass

folded pages of the galley edit of Eating Viet Nam Dispatches from a Blue Plastic Table copy

The second editing pass, that’s the one before the final editing pass, officially starts on October 23. I got a head start today by adding all my first editing pass edits and more recent edits to the galley, pictured above. That way I can effectively start the second editing pass, the one before the final pass, before the official second pass start date. You follow? After the second pass is over, and during the final pass, at least five pairs of eyes will look it over. After the final pass changes are made, the book is published. Goddit? Meanwhile, on the importance of the editor,

Like a counterterrorism operative, a good editor had done her best work when you don’t realize she’s done anything at all. link

how to do it

Douglas Hart, the original bass player with The Jesus and Mary Chain and now a film maker, released a 7″ single in June, 2013. I had no idea. It’s pretty good. Listen to it below. It was a very limited release. The point of this blog post is just to mention how he packaged the single.

This handmade edition contains:

1. Pencilled and printed numbered card covers ( each cover having a slightly different pencil rubbing )

2. Signed tracing paper and card insert

3. 7” vinyl record

4. Cut off 8mm film strip owned and shot by Douglas Hart

Limited numbered edition of just 250 – available from Blank Editions

Now, THAT’S the way to release a physical object in the post-pixel era. Unsurprisingly, it’s long since SOLD OUT.

whither the street?


By the sounds of this excellent article in The Guardian – Has Britain’s street food revolution run out of road? – the ‘British street food scene’ should more accurately be described as ‘quality assured food served in designated car parks at regulated times’. It sounds about as daring and vital as I imagine a cover version of Anarchy in the UK by One Direction would sound.

And that’s a shame, because – from the article – it appears as if the British street food scene began from quite honest, passionate origins. However, it has since transmogrified into a public school strewn, venture capitalist driven, corporate stink where an eye for an ‘opportunity’ is the most important entry qualification,

“There is big, serious money floating around street food,” he says. “It all comes from venture capital. Some of the most exciting restaurant openings of the past few years have been rooted in street food.” He cites Meat Wagon, Pitt Cue, Pizza Pilgrims, all of which started as trucks and now have fixed-venue catering empires. “There is a whole raft waiting to join them, and for very obvious reasons. We are in a society that values realness. The whole thing of keeping it real – that’s what these brands offer.” link

Do people really say “keeping it real” with a serious face these days? I’m sure there are some great people cooking great food in these city wagons, but when KFC rock up with their very own street food truck, I suspect those more serious vendors, who are doing their best to keep it real, must contemplate the noose,

The idea of street is bound up with our great obsession with authenticity. We’re in this desperate search for something that’s real. But street isn’t a real place,” he says. “We see it as the ultimate in authenticity, but it’s a mythical place.” link

Beyond fashion, regulation and the battle between ‘authenticity’ and ‘corporate interest’, I wonder if there’s a simpler reason why street food thrives in other countries, but is unlikely to in the UK – the weather.

I’ll leave the last word to this commenter on the article,

Yeah, its stuff like this that makes me glad I left the UK sooooo long ago, nothing is allowed to just ‘be'; it has to be ‘underground’, then rapidly become trendy, then commercialised, then passe, then everyone gets cynical and decides it was always shit. Later, there will be a ‘revival’ and it starts again but with a new lick of paint. It is just incredibly vacuous, as if the entire country is trapped in the mind of a fashion conscious teenager. link

Photo taken by me in Sài Gòn.