Wednesday, July 12, 2006

RIP: Syd Barrett

Syd Barrett, who died last Friday in Cambridge, founded Pink Floyd in 1965 and led them to their initial success - with very English songs like Arnold Layne and See Emily Play - before dropping out of the band as a result of taking too much acid and coming to gigs in a "catatonic" state, unable to play more than a note, if at all.

He wrote a fifth of the songs on the Pink Floyd retrospective greatest hits Echoes album, even though he was only with the band for a fraction of their career. Two solo albums, released after he left, were not hugely successful in terms of sales, but were massively influential in terms of their spaced-out, sometimes mellow, sometimes manic music.

The song Dominoes is one of the finest ever produced, and echoes of Syd's sound live on in hundreds of hugely popular indie bands today.

Telegraph | News | Syd Barrett

Thursday, July 06, 2006

RIP: Philip Rieff, 83

Philip Rieff, who died last Saturday, was a conservative sociologist who published "Life Among the Deathworks" earlier this year after a silence of 26 years.

"Deathworks" were "an all-out assault on something vital to the culture". Famous deathworks included Joyce's Finnegan's Wake, Robert Mapplethorpe's photographs, and the whole range of Sigmund Freud's theories, which Rieff saw as an "extended deathwork".

Rieff recommended inactivism, as even the best-intentioned action could only make things worse. Now he has achieved that state, may God have mercy on his soul.

Philip Rieff, 83; Noted Sociologist Wrote Books About Cultural Decline - Los Angeles Times

Diving Portuguese Show-Ponies Booted Out of World Cup

The current Portuguese football team have made themselves notorious with their play-acting and diving during this World Cup, and they were roundly booed last night. The preening Cristiano Ronaldo and ageing Figo were the most glaring offenders. Both of them spoil their undoubted skill with histrionics and below-the-belt tactics.

The game in which they "beat" Holland to reach the quarter finals was especially disgusting. In the second half, hardly any football was played, as the Portuguese acted out their neuroses on the pitch, desperately defending their lead against a superior side by rolling hysterically on the ground whenever a Dutch player so much as looked at them.

Noone, aside from the Portuguese themselves, will be sorry to see them go. They represent the apogee of gamesmanship - something which is rife in the game (even Franz Beckenbauer, who fancies himself a bit of a gentleman, praises German players who gain a penalty by diving in the box). Most players sometimes succumb to it, but it should be resisted. Ronaldo complains that too few cards were handed out by the referee in the game against France. This is laughable, and would be true only if the cards were given out to players who indulge in diving and play-acting. But that is obviously the opposite of what the "show-pony" Ronaldo meant.

Having said all that, football players, like any of us, can change, and mature with time. One hopes the Portuguese team will shake off this unpleasant aspect of their otherwise attractive play in time for the European Championships in 2008.

BBC SPORT | Football | World Cup 2006 | Teams | Portugal | Ronaldo defiant after crowd abuse