Danny Smith’s Guide to 2008 Pt9

Danny Smith was writing lots of guides to Brum for the Itchy guide, last year. It never happened, so we present his guide to the past in a number of parts (see all the parts):

The Goose @ The OVT
561 Bristol Road,
Selly Oak
Birmingham
B29 6AF
Tel: 01214723186
In the heart of student country (Selly Oak) there is a bastion of ignorance, a place where the ill informed and the badly dressed can come and mix with the flat broke and shouting drunk. Cheap enough to attract the occasional brave student but normally frequented by the usual Wetherspoons crowd, last time I was there we invented a game called “Mad or Drunk” where participants have to discern whether the most vocal of the inhabitants were mentally challenged or merely inebriated. Unfortunately the game was short lived as the answer was almost always “Both”.
Mon-Sun, 11am-12am

The Zen shop

Brindley Place 
Broad street 
Birmingham
Tel: 0121 643 3933
Pretentious crap sold
by exploiting beautiful
Eastern concept. Tat
Mon–Thu & Sun 10am–10.30pm, Fri 10am–11pm, Sat 10am–11.30pm


Check out The Shouting Gypsy – Danny’s ‘wordcast’

Danny Smith’s Guide to 2008 Pt8

Danny Smith was writing lots of guides to Brum for the Itchy guide, last year. It never happened, so we present his guide to the past in a number of parts (see all the parts):

International stock
1a Silver Street, Kings Heath
Birmingham. B14 7QX 
Tel: 0121 443 3232
King heaths best kept secret but not in a good way, secret in the sense of the deformed half brother kept in the loft as not to embarrass the family. Depressive tat emporium that sells stock from bankrupt, fire damaged or flooded shops, frequented by haggard old ladies, pinch-faced wives and bored men listening to the football scores over the music system, the chances of getting a bargain here are slim, but it does happen. Visiting here will instil such a large hatred of dull commercialism that Al-Qaeda should set up a recruiting stall in the car park.
Mon-Fri, 9am-5.30pm; Sat, 9am-6pm

The Manic Organic Café
45 Poplar Road, Kings Heath 
Birmingham B14 7AG 
Tel: 0121 441 3802
Charmingly eclectic vegetarian organic café just of the high street, a cosy little place that feels like a friendly hippy’s living room, but clean. Made all the more welcoming by free WiFi access and walls covered with cartoons and art for sale. A seasonal menu with tasty food which in my opinion needs meat, but hey each to their own I suppose. It can get busy during weekends though. A good place to work on a lap-top without the distraction of booze, especially if it’s warm enough to use the sun terrace hidden out the back.
Vegeburger served with salad, kettle crisps and coleslaw – £5.95
Mon-Weds, 9am-5pm; Thurs-Fri, 9am-6pm; Sat, 10am-6pm; Sun 10am-2pm

Check out The Shouting Gypsy – Danny’s ‘wordcast’

Harry Palmer: The Summer Edition 2009

The Eccentric City thanks the Summer Edition 2009, Dublin, Ireland for a wonderful event and visit.

Last weekend (July 4th 2009), myself and co-founder/publisher of The Eccentric City, visited The Summer Edition 2009: An Artist’s book, Comic and Zine Fair in Dublin, Ireland. We had no idea how large and how diverse this fair was going to be. Having had a brief correspondence with the organisers, it was clear that they were arranging an important event and one that we identified with. Importantly, Summer Edition 2009 was an opportunity to raise the profile of many independent artists working in Ireland and not just within Dublin itself. Many zine publishers alongside a large collection of comic makers attended and shared their work at Filmbase, Temple Bar. It was the first art and zine premier event to occur in Dublin. Small and discrete magazines as well as art catalogues and art/zine books, poets to printmakers and lowbrow artists – made for a highly stimulating environment, one that was occurring at grassroots and from the simple passion of DIY and beyond… Obviously, we took The Eccentric City newspaper and handed out many free emotional papers to strangers as well as giving a reading…

Danny Smith’s Guide to 2008 Pt7

Danny Smith was writing lots of guides to Brum for the Itchy guide, last year. It never happened, so we present his guide to the past in a number of parts (see all the parts):

The Wellington
37 Bennetts Hill
Birmingham
B2 5SN
Tel: 0121 200 3115
No music, a huge range of ales, friendly staff and traditional décor, make this a perfect “Dad crèche” while you go shopping, where his bored sighs and niggling comments about your overdraft could distract you from buying that perfect pair of trainers. They don’t serve food – unless you count Pork Scratchings, which I certainly do – but you are welcome to bring your own in and use their plates and cutlery, which is a nice touch. Bonus points for spotting their cat “Welly” who some times prowls around wondering why there are so many ooomans in her house.
Open Mon-Sun, 10am-12midnight
http://www.thewellingtonrealale.co.uk

Lickey Hills
The Visitor Centre
Warren Lane
Rednal
Birmingham
B45 8ER
Telephone/Fax 0121 447 7106
Arrrrgh where’s all the buildings gone? What’s that green stuff? What am supposed to do here? Why do those trees look different? There are how many different types? Why? I need litter or neon or something! As you can tell we are more city boys and girls but if nature does call you could do worse than taking the short bus ride to the Lickey Hills. Over 500 acres of woodland and green stuff including a golf course, tennis greens and nature centre with activities and guided walks.
Open – all the time apparently, the countryside doesn’t close for some reason

Harry Palmer’s canal eccentric archaeology

VICTORIAN ICE-SKATING CLOG  It was with some amusement that local fisherman, Alf Barnsley, retrieved this skating clog from Soho Loop, Winson Green in 1972. But where did it come from? The story concerns the great winter of 1901 when the entire stretch of the canal from central Birmingham towards Smethwick became iced over. Many people came from all of the West Midlands to enjoy skating and join with the local canal families (who were usually resistant to ‘foreigners’ as they called them). It became such a marvellous four weeks in January that ice skating competitions soon started to occur. Many enthusiastic people made their own ice skating clogs. As you will see from this original clog specimen, many had managed to adapt their working boots to great effect, never underestimate the innovation of the canal boatworker!
VICTORIAN ICE-SKATING CLOG It was with some amusement that local fisherman, Alf Barnsley, retrieved this skating clog from Soho Loop, Winson Green in 1972. But where did it come from? The story concerns the great winter of 1901 when the entire stretch of the canal from central Birmingham towards Smethwick became iced over. Many people came from all of the West Midlands to enjoy skating and join with the local canal families (who were usually resistant to ‘foreigners’ as they called them). It became such a marvellous four weeks in January that ice skating competitions soon started to occur. Many enthusiastic people made their own ice skating clogs. As you will see from this original clog specimen, many had managed to adapt their working boots to great effect, never underestimate the innovation of the canal boatworker!

The Siren (in which this excerpt is taken from)

About Harry Palmer

Harry Palmer is an eccentric archaeologist who has, for many years, actively explored places, spaces and people, circumstances and situations. From early work from the mid 1990s as a reverse pedestrian world record attemptee, through to conversations with Catfish specimen masters and friendships with allotment champions, Mr Palmer has taken it upon himself to joyfully roam and enquire (within) here on planet earth for a sustained period since his birth…
Harry is the co-founder and research editor-in-chief of The Eccentric City newspaper – the world’s first dedicated eccentric tabloid newspaper

Forthcoming events: Eccentric Treasure Hunt across Birmingham (UK). Also, touring talks and visits. For more information and updates www.eccentriccity.co.uk

Harry Palmer’s Life and times of a Submerging Artist 1990-2009 pending www.harrypalmer.co.uk

Bio-active rubbish dumping; A self-imposed consultation and medical survey with a leading medical healthcare centre in the UK

A survey by eccentric archaeologist, Harry Palmer 2009.

Earlier this year I managed to conduct an independent and self-imposed survey into street litter and poor rubbish dumping habits. With the help from a leading healthcare company here in the UK (which included CAT/CT scan monitoring) – I undertook a study into the potential relationships between my mental state and overall health, daily eating habits and reasons. Although results are still being examined, early indications seem to support my concern regarding wellbeing associated with differing nutritional eating patterns and street-trash discarding actions. In addition, I also looked at any potential disturbances from noise pollution, housing provision demands, street billboard advertising by way of pervading psychological nuisance, as well as mapping associations between my regular pedestrian thoroughfare routes, lifestyle and employment schedules, mobile phone usage and seemingly ad-hoc phone calls and ‘demands’ – as external trigger factors for example. The following article introduces some of the key reasons why I initiated this independent consultation (upon myself).

It is hoped that the report might be made into a televised documentary highlighting problems concerning rubbish on our streets linked with challenging mental health and socio-economic factors and commercial expediency.

Introduction

Arguably one of the more obvious elements that can be traced in any public location is discarded debris, namely litter. Highly selective in regard to what we observe and how we react, the remnants of everyday located ‘rubbish’ is usually seen as abject and unsightly, often ignored and somewhat accepted. The scattering of unpleasant street detritus haphazardly lingers in seemingly random locations, reappearing on many (non) pedestrian routes. It doesn’t go away.

I have, for sometime, been puzzled by public litter. Is such rubbish indicative of an ‘attitude’ – a person with no apparent concern, dropping trash as they determine? I remember the “Keep Britain Tidy” campaigns that used to be prevalent on buses and banners, TV ads etc…, reminding us all to put litter in the bins provided – bins that attempted to be in logistic public positions in thoroughfares, yet evidently many misplaced for effective trash dumping. Take-away consumers for example, after completing quick fix meals, have often relocated elsewhere, away from the strategic bin that would otherwise have been useful. Food containers are easily disposed of, dropped onto floors, thrown over walls, out of car windows, placed on sidewalks – basically dumped with little or no concern, perhaps a reaction to not having a bin close-by?

Continue reading “Bio-active rubbish dumping; A self-imposed consultation and medical survey with a leading medical healthcare centre in the UK”

Danny Smith’s Guide to 2008 Pt1

Danny Smith was writing lots of guides to Brum for the Itchy guide, last year. It never happened, so we present his guide to the past in a number of parts:

Readers World
137 Digbeth
Birmingham
B5 6DR
01216438664
Sure you could go to Borders or WH Smiths who, I’m sure, will always have exactly what you want in clean, well lit, and organised sections. But who wouldn’t rather want to lose half a day rooting around huge Health and Safety defying stacks of second hand sci-fi and fantasy books, in a shop that resembles a cross between a Harry Potter set and a reclusive geeks bedroom? The worlds is a richer place for having shops of this type of uniquely British oddness and consider it your patriotic duty to pop in and grab a musty bargain.
Tues-Sat, 10am-5.30pm

Snobs Nightclub
29 Paradise Circus
Queensway
Birmingham
B1 2BJ
01216435551
Big Wendsdays at Snobs is kinda like the Rolling Stones; just when you think it is due to die, a new generation discovers it and it becomes even more popular than before. The décor hasn’t changed since my parents were enjoying the 50p shots and rutting in the toilets. Most nights have more in common with Caligula’s Vomitariums where the glass walls drip with sweat while you struggle through the elbows of a bouncing crowd. Indie classics in the main room and 60’s soul and funk in the better smaller one; dancing shoes are a requirement. Be warned the queue can get pretty big so check out the Flapper and Firkin for Q jumper tickets.
For details check out http://www.snobsnightclub.co.uk/

Cramps? Best Brum gig evah?

Birmingham Music Archive is teaming up with BiNS to find out What has been the best gig ever to take place in the city and what was/is the best venue. Jez from the BMA is kicking things off, argue the toss here and in the forum.

My favourite gig was The Cramps at the Birmingham Odeon. My memory is not what it was but the gig was either April 25th 1984 or April 30th 1986, I’m tending to go for the 86 one due to me age, but anyway.. For those of you who don’t remember the Odeon before it became a 400 screen cinema, selling 2 tonne bags of sugar to kids who need no encouragement whilst showing Rambo 55, it was a fabulous art deco music and cinema hall.

For the gigs, there was a huge orchestra pit which doubled as the mosh pit (well not if you were watching Ultravox or The Thompson Twins), then those lovely plush velvet seats and above, a balcony were assorted punters would cover the crowd below in piss and beer – luckily they were often indistinguishable from one another!

So there I am, fancying myself as a bit of a psychobilly, knocking around at the Barrel Organ, Powerhouse, Zig Zags and all the others when news comes through of The Cramps coming to town to play at the Odeon. Immediately it’s THE ODEON! Who on earth has booked The Cramps to play there? Have they not seen or heard of the mayhem that normally occurs when the play. This reputation was justified. For me The Cramps remain one of THE live music bands. Raw, threatening, chaotic but always brilliant.

As I say above, my memory is no longer functioning as it used to, but this night The Cramps were late on for some reason and literally ripped through the set. Main man Lux carried around the entire audience, climbing right to the top of the pa system, Poison Ivy machine gunning the crowd with her guitar, legs akimbo, hardly, if any, talk by the band and then 30 minutes later they were gone.

Now I wasn’t in the mosh pit that night for some strange reason but they were going wild, calling for encore stamping their feet and so on. But as it became clear The Cramps weren’t returning they had nothing to really vent their anger on. For us in the seats it was different.

I’d never felt such adrenaline or emotion or basic wildness in a live crowd before. As the shouting got louder I can just recall a shower of seats reigning down towards the stage, missing it by some distance and nearly decapitating several hundred pyschobillies (or at least their quiffs). It was over in minutes but seemed like forever, even as everyone filed outside it was as if the whole crowd had become feral.

For the music but mainly for the crowd I think this has to rank as one of my all time favourite gigs in Birmingham. If anyone else was there and would like to dampen my recollection or even agree with it then get it on here and at www.birminghammusicarchive.co.uk, and then add your own best gigs/venues

Nirvana at the Barrel Organ, Oasis at The Jug Of Ale, anyone remember the Birmingham Rock festivals of the mid 70’s, saw the Pistols or Dexy’s at Barberella’s or Rum Runners, Eek-a-Mouse at the Porsche Club anyone?

2007, the sands of time

Birmingham by the Sea by cactusinthesea2007 was all about sand, blogs and noise. Sometimes more than one at the same time. At the end of last year we were all excited about having had a patch of sand up by Millennium Point during the World Cup – if you’d have told us that Brum would be host to more sand than, er, a place with a lot of sand, er Manjits Builders Merchants on Alcester Rd, we’d probably have exploded. The beaches came in, what was supposed to have been a, summer though – so let’s take a shuftie through the calender a month at a time…

January

Midlands Today’s Nick Owen got a myspace page and blog in January – don’t look for it, it’s not there any more – so we were treated to his views on cricket, cricket, and line dancing. Dancing of a different nature was going on at a council house in Great Barr, which was reportedly being used as a night club – complete with pool room, bar, and a “steam room powered by paint strippers”. Moseley and Kings Heath’s own Louis Theroux – Councillor Martin Mullaney posted his YouTube film on graffiti tagging – almost relishing pointing out “Fuk Martin Mullaney”. There’ll be more from Martin in due course…

February

Duran Duran, not in BiNS T-ShirtsIn February we were second best second city – according to a BBC poll – and the rudest city in the country – according to a crap survey promoting a crap supermarket. Still Lawrence Llewelyn-Bowen had some nice words to say about us on the Holiday programme, encouraging visitors to pop into town for a city break. The English Tourist board were also tempting visitors to the fleshpots of the city – specifically Saramoons (as apparently Duran Duran formed there), for a Pino Grigio no less. Not a pint of M&B mild and a fight, which is more usual.

March

March was big on weird goblin-y things, not only did a frankly bizarre Tolkien statue for Moseley get planning permission but it was, of course, Birmingham’s annual leprechaun, Guinness and green things pageant – the St Patrick’s day parade was rained on, but as huge and popular as ever. What wasn’t popular was anything produced by Heinz – as they reneged on their promises and shut our wonderful HP Sauce factory. Self-publicising John Bull character Ray Egan climbed to the top of the tower with a ‘Daddies For Justice’ banner – and we never bought anything made by Heinz ever again.

April

Ray Egan was at it again in April, fiddling on the roof of Harbourne Post Office – but who is the lovely smiling lady in the foreground? It’s Harbourne Councillor (and Edgbaston Conservative Spokesperson) Deirdrie Alden – who is perhaps Birmingham’s most consistent blogger, one post a day, every day, one photo, no comments. Towards the end of the year Deirdre would become worthy of parody, was she in April?

Brum’s other internet councillor, or auteur, Mr Mullaney was targeted by some people with very good handwriting – but by this time there were quite a few people upset with his videos, so I doubt it was clear who was responsible. It didn’t stop his videos tho’, keep going Martin.

Probably the best news story of the year was in April, when the Daily Mail discovered a cat who takes a TWM bus every day on his commute to the local fish shop. No reports on whether he smokes catnip up the back of the number 50.

May

May was the month that the Council and the Bull Ring both announced plans to build ‘urban beaches’ for the summer, apparently inspired by something similar Paris had done a few years ago. The row made it to the national media, although they really used it a a bit of light relief featuring some comedy Brummie voices. Meanwhile on t’interweb, more and more tiny bits of Brum got their own blogs – Camellotment is a blog about plot 171 of the Moor Green Allotments, in Cannon Hill Park, and you can’t get more niche than that.

June

The Bull Ring fired the first shot in the sand war, and opened its sandpit. We used an obvious pun and got all manner of comments haranguing us for not falling at the feet of this promotional tool – but it wasn’t really to matter as the Bull Ring beach, the Council’s Chamberlain Square one, the RNLI’s Brindley Place one and the volleyball Centenary Square sanded areas were all washed out by one of the wettest summers imaginable.

It was enough to make you stop in and watch telly – lucky then that Jasper Carrot launched his obscenely convoluted quiz show ‘Goldenballs‘. The show required so much concentration that you needed to have a lie down afterwards, in a darkened room. We went down to the darkest room of all, perhaps, as part of Architecture Week – the tunnel between the Mailbox and New Street Station.

Rootsville was a blindingly ambitious and blindingly weird festival that we loved, more next year please.

June was a month to launch campaigns too – the first stirrings of what was to become Keep Digbeth Vibrant, er stirred up on, gawd, The Stirrer. The fight still continues. We were in angry mode too, and announced Talk Like A Brummie Day.

July

TLAB Day, as we unwieldingly acronymed it, took almost all of our energy in July what with constant rounds of press, TV and Radio appearances, and trying to work out exactly where on the road to Sandwell the word ‘bostin’ kicked in. Luckily there was loads going on to take our minds off it – an art space turned into a real ale pub, symposiums on the heritage of metal in the midlands, the best damn festival (it says here) in the world.

August

Frank SidebottomWe got all worked up over nothing in August, there were rumours (from staff, no less) that The Jug of Ale was to close – people ranted, and were generally horrified – but in the end it turned out to not to be true. At least it gave us and excuse to have yet another tenuous picture of Frank Sidebottom on the blog. It’s scary that despite really caring, the gig going, and drinking, public have absolutely no power over things like this – there really needs to be some sort of plan to save our beloved toilet circuits.

September

September was dominated by Artsfest, Artsfest in turn was dominated by the bloody huge, bloody loud, bloody brilliant Blast – which was fire and industry and trains and a barking review from us that was obviously written with the experience still ringing in the ears. Something else that’s just as barmy is the VTP200 – a huge tower planned for Eastsiiiide – that was announced in September. It’s pointy and tall and odd, and you’ll be able to chuck yourself off it in relative safety.

The UCE was changing its name, and we got wind of the alternatives – including the eventual winner Birmingham City University – but resisted the inevitable Aston Villa University joke ©every bloody commentor on all of the blogs in Brum. It’s not often we get to take the humour-high-ground, so we’re milking it.

October

The highlight of October was without doubt the Plus International Design Festival – including all sorts of lectures, a real-life pacman game, a top party, and for me at least a free tour of Birmingham – focusing on typography (not so much of a niche market as you’d think). October was also awash with ‘something days’; National Poetry Day featured poets sauntering around the city dressed in their pyjama, Blog Action Day featured us coming over all environmental, and Badger Medical Centre day – well, I just made that up.

November

Sorting the soundOn BiNS November is awash with the hustings for the Brummie of the Year Award – Pete Ashton decided he wasn’t worthy, then campaigned like a trojan – but enough of that until December. Gigbeth happened, and for reasons lost in the midst of time we decided to refer to it as Igbeth, it was a huge glob of everything that’s brill about Brum’s music scene (with a few bits that are bad too). It gave us the brilliant sight of three or four bands all playing at the same time (and even sometimes the same song) in the middle of Digbeth High Street – I’m sure it will be back.

There was also the Pantomime Horse Grand National, which got all charity-ed up and moved well outside the pantomime season. Given that the horses aren’t pantomime horses either, I wonder how far removed it will be next year. I’m making a stand of calling for it to be renamed the Pantomine Horse Grand National, since that’s how us Brummies pronounce it anyway. We didn’t win.

December

Winterval kicks of with the crowning of John Tighe Brummie of the Year 2007 – a close run thing, but there wasn’t anyone disappointed with the result. John made a speech of sorts on our blog, but for the life of me I can’t tell you what he was on about.

Noddy Holder got a star on the ‘Walk of Stars’ on Broad St – arriving in the most black country way possible on a Glam Rock Canal Barge. I have no idea exactly how glam rock it was (platform shoes for legging-it through the tunnels?), but we were pretty well disposed to the Black Country for the month – as they went up for £50 Million of Lottery funding. They didn’t win either.

December of course brings the German Market to Brum, being so popular and photogenic that it’s been a struggle not to have every picture in our advent calendar of Evil Santa.

And that just about wraps it up, I’d envisioned doing more jokes about sand. Have you got any good ones? Or more general Birmingham 2007 memories or thoughts?