Archived entries for Profiles

David Bowie: Loving the Alien

Richard Pearmain on the loss of David Bowie.

“Where the fuck did Monday go?” A line from a song on an album that had come out only three days before. That particular Monday went floating in a most peculiar way.

I first saw the news on the platform at Hackney Downs station, idly scrolling through Facebook on my phone whilst waiting for a train in to work, noticing an unusual number of Bowie related posts, and then I saw a link to the story on BBC News. You get that immediate sense of incomprehension (“but he’s only just released a new album! I’d just been to a Bowie birthday club night in Brixton!”), and then a sense of – well, I don’t know really. Why was I feeling so upset? I got a text from a friend, who I’d been to that club night with, who was in tears, and asking the same question. We didn’t know David Bowie personally, we’d never met him, but it felt almost like a death in the family. Continue reading…

Alfred Hitchcock

Let us look

Hitchcock. The word sends chills down the spine of movie lovers around the world. What a name and what a man but where does the man stop and the movies begin? Hitchcock was his movies and so was his desire to entertain through pure cinema. So let us delve into his life the only we can, through the pictures he made. Let us look, as he allowed us to in Psycho when he put us in the place of Anthony Perkins looking at Janet Leigh during her final shower – she was getting cleaner right before an audience getting dirtier and a director who was only to pleased to accommodate in revealing those secret desires. Let us look deep into someone, not like the crowd in the tennis scene in Strangers On A Train who are looking left to right at the volleys and lobs but like Robert Walker’s Bruno who we see staring at Farley Granger’s Guy Haines, a chasm of a stare, a look that says I know what you’re capable of and I’m going to make you think terrible things. Let us look, like James Stewart in Vertigo onto Kim Novak and watch as she changes into someone else and back again; a burning look, the look of Alfred Hitchcock. Continue reading…

Bruce Springsteen Profile

Ahead of Bruce Springsteen’s 2012 Tour coming to the UK this month, Alan Fisher writes about the enduring positive values that remain constant in the work of The Boss.

Rock music is fast approaching the Era of the Geriatric. Those stars from six decades of rock and roll who aren’t bloated on royalties or substance abuse are shlepping round revival tours, a pallid cardboard cut-out version of their former selves. Many make more money than they ever did in their heyday. Where the acts themselves can’t quite get it together or didn’t make it this far, tribute bands fill the vacuum. For those of us of a certain age, three chords over a snappy backbeat will always set the toes a-tapping but there’s no denying a lingering unease that we’ve heard it all before.

Bruce Springsteen has chosen a different option. At 62, he’s discovered a rich seam of creativity that shows little sign of running out. After a fallow period in the middle of his career, Springsteen can’t stop writing and touring. As a misunderstood punk-kid on New Jersey streets, the songs tumbled out faster than the embryonic E Street Band could keep up and forty years on little has changed. Albums, concepts, styles from full-blown storming rock through American folk to acoustic, his prolific energy puts his contemporaries to shame. His latest album, Wrecking Ball, released earlier this year, is his 17th studio effort, adding to a catalogue fans own including a cannon of live recordings and collections of previously unreleased material, and he’s already begun a world tour that comes to Britain this month. The album was number one in the States and they still queue overnight for tickets, even though he tours regularly. Seeing Springsteen perform remains special. Continue reading…

Arsene Wenger Profile

Sian Ranscombe profiles the man who single-handedly changed the culture of a football club.

I appreciate that a profile on a person is normally written without too much emotion or bias. I appreciated this long and hard while writing and rewriting the first paragraph for this profile – and then again as I rewrote the rewrite. I eventually decided it would be far easier to ignore this fact and go for it regardless. This is a profile on Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger, unfortunately written by an Arsenal fan and, worse, one who would most definitely list Mr. Wenger right at the top in a list of ideal dinner party guests. Sorry.

In August 2011, Arsene Wenger was under fire. Journalists, football supporters, pundits and former players alike began adding their voice to the constantly simmering minority in expressing the opinion that Wenger was a man who had taken his job as far as he could. Some were respectful in their criticism, claiming he ought to be applauded for his achievements but equally that he ought to close the door quietly behind him as he bowed out. Others were less diplomatic in their views that he was past it. Football fans, a mildly insane bunch at the best of times, have an incredible ability to take any old fact and suit it to their own agenda. Some Arsenal fans claimed they wanted their Arsenal back. When pushed, few could explain exactly what this Arsenal they spoke and dreamt of was, but it sure sounded better than the current predicament to some. Continue reading…

Mervyn Peake

Hanging in the National Portrait Gallery, dated 1932, there is an oil painting of a young man with a distinctive shock of thick black hair, which seems to stand upright and undulate at the same time, like seaweed growing from the ocean bed. Surrounded by a dark, mysterious landscape of midnight blue skies and ominous mountains, he is wide-eyed, startled, leaning back fearfully from our gaze, his neat pencil moustache an almost comic contrast to his obvious eccentricity.

The subject and the painter of the portrait are the same man: Mervyn Peake. When he created this arresting self-portrait, he was twenty-one years old.

Those who have read Peake’s work might not be surprised by his own bizarre vision of himself. His most famous novels, Titus Groan and its sequel Gormenghast, could only ever been the work of the man in that portrait. Dream-like and melancholy, often sinister and full of bizarre characters – yet with a strong thread of humour running through them – the Gormenghast novels were ahead of their time when they were published in the 1940s. Frankly, they still are. Continue reading…

Zlatan Ibrahimovic

Ahead of Milan hosting Barcelona, Il Capocannoniere profiles Zlatan Ibrahimovic. (Exclusive illustration by Lilly Allen).

“Zlatan. The very best there is. When you absolutely, positively have to win the league title, accept no substitutes.”

Of course I’m paraphrasing Samuel L Jackson’s character from Jackie Brown, but you can imagine a number of top coaches in European football would go along with this sentiment. Every season since 2003-04 the team that Zlatan has played for has finished top of their league, one with Ajax, two at Juventus (both subsequently revoked due to the Calciopoli scandal), three at Inter, one in his only season with Barcelona and then last season for Milan. This season Milan lead the way again in Serie A this season and it looks likely that Ibra’s team will finish top for a phenomenal ninth consecutive season. Continue reading…

Graham Taylor

Watford fan and blogger Tom Bodell looks at what Graham Taylor did for his Club.

Every football club has a Graham Taylor, the kind of figure who has gone far and beyond the call of duty for a club with which they have a genuine, undying affinity. When Watford lose you get the feeling that Taylor genuinely hurts inside and when the club is struggling or in danger, Taylor feels that pain within him too. Continue reading…

Woody Allen Profile of a Film-maker

Woody Allen’s prolific output continues, with his next two films to be set in Rome and Copenhagen respectively. He still says he is yet to make a ‘Great Film’: a questionable and modest claim, when there is no doubt he is a Great Independent Filmmaker.

The film that kicked off the recent Woody Allen Season at the BFI, Hannah and Her Sisters, was a reminder of a great filmmaker at the peak of his powers: it has brilliant moments of slapstick comedy, a wealth of strong characters, wonderful dialogue, beautiful cinematography, a perfect soundtrack and a story that is captivating throughout. And Allen, the perfectionist, famously doesn’t like it. Continue reading…

Tony Fernandes

‘QPR: Four Year Plan’ documented the chaos at the club before Tony Fernandes bought the club. Fan Anthony Hassan fills in the gaps and looks ahead to a new style of Management.

On the 18th August 2011 Tony Fernandes completed his takeover of Queens Park Rangers Football Club, having bought Bernie Ecclestone’s 66% shares of the club to become the majority shareholder. He was also named as the Chairman of QPR Holdings Ltd. Finally, a welcome change after four years of chaos. Continue reading…

Mark E Smith

Music critic and fan of the Fall, Richard Pearmain profiles Mark E Smith. 

The Madness of King Mark

Like everyone who says they remember where they were when they heard about President Kennedy’s assassination, I always remember the first time I ever heard the Fall. It was on the radio, approximately 3.02pm, as a student on vacation, and not just a vacation for me either – Steve Wright, then the mainstay DJ of primetime Radio 1, was off on his jollies, and who was sitting in for him? John Peel. “Hello, everybody out there in radio land,” or words to that effect, “this is the Fall.” And there it was, Lost In Music, the Sister Sledge disco classic remade/remodelled in the most unlikely way. And there was that unmistakable voice, over the driving funk guitar (funk! The Fall!), Mark E Smith grumbling about “the brick refurbishment of pubs”. Not sure what Nile Rodgers would make of that….

Admittedly, I wasn’t immediately launched headlong into the Wonderful and Frightening World of they Fall, they were more of a slow burner. Of course, I knew who the Fall were, but they seemed a murkier proposition than the Smiths or New Order. However, I don’t know how, but they got me in the end. I think it’s fair to say that there is no such thing as a casual Fall fan – you’re either in, or you’re not. Continue reading…

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