Sunday, 14 November 2010

Pugilism At Its Worst: Gerald McClellan

Boxing's latest farce saw David Haye beat a woeful Audley Harrison last night in Manchester. I was doing a bit of digging around on the internet and ended up finding information on an American boxer named Gerald McClellan.

McClellan was scheduled to fight Britain's 'Dark Destroyer' Nigel Benn in London way back in 1995. Benn was the overwhelming underdog as McClellan was pretty much in the prime of his boxing life. Ten rounds later McClellan was taken to hospital where he went into a coma. He emerged eleven days later with severe brain damage, the loss of sight in both eyes and significant loss of hearing. He couldn't walk for a long time but later managed to regain some mobility. He never regained his sight or hearing.

Benn couldn't be blamed for what happened; he was merely fighting for his career, trying to prove all of his doubters wrong in a sport which is more than willing to throw you on the scrap heap if you aren't earning enough money for promoters.

Typically, promoter Don King did nothing to help McClellan after the fight and it was up to other boxers to get together to help raise money for the guy. He got about $60,000 for the fight which destroyed his life but this paled in comparison to the $700,000 Benn was guaranteed.

Boxing is a barbaric sport which sees men put it all on the line in front of a pumped up crowd baying for blood. The promoters are manipulative hucksters, more than ready to put someone else's life secondary to a big pay day. My opinion of the sport has never been one of admiration and after reading up about McClellan I wouldn't judge Audley Harrison for getting out of the lion's pit and retiring with his head in tact.

Below is a video about McClellan. Its a bit of a patchy one I found on Youtube but demonstrates perfectly the horrendous nature of boxing and the pyrrhic lengths people go to in the name of sport. I certainly wouldn't judge anyone if they liked the sport as it carries its history like everything else and has its own catalogue of inspiring moments but I don't think I'll bother with it anymore. These guys deserve better.

Saturday, 13 November 2010

Back For Good/At Least an Album and Tour

You must have been hiding in a dank cave in the Middle-East if you didn’t know that Robbie Williams has rejoined Take That, returning the line up to its original five-piece for their latest album, Progress.

The clamour to get tickets for next year’s tour was staggering, even considering the success they have had since reforming as a quartet in 2006. Any thoughts that there would be a frigid response to Williams, the Great Betrayer, rejoining the group were soon laughed off as ticket sellers were rubbing their flabby guts with the money which had helped ship roughly a million tickets in a matter of hours.

When I was growing up my sister was a Howard Donald fan (she even stuck by him when he stopped showering and got the lank dreadlocks) but I always considered Williams to be the most interesting member of the band. It’s because he never played it safe like the others. He had that riveting unpredictability which would have everyone, including himself, unsure of what he was going to say or do next. Meanwhile, Gary Barlow would sit nervously in attendance, terrified that the applecart would not so much be upset but driven recklessly into a wall at high speed. Which it eventually was.

Williams’ decision to leave the band in 1995 showed that he had the balls to cut the tether which tied him to the biggest pop band in Britain and face the world on its own terms in the pursuit of artistic credibility. Whether he achieved that credibility is a moot point but, my word, did he have a hell of a time trying to find it.

Not remembering recording albums, overdosing in elevators whilst supermodels snorted the rest of his stash back in his hotel room, and all those stints in rehab (“I love a clinic, me”), the singer has gone through a picaresque journey which has now seen him come full-circle, albeit with a little more maturity and a smattering of garish tattoos.

He seems to have found solace in marriage and I’m actually pleased for him. What Williams will always have though is a cloud of capriciousness hanging over him. It’s all happy families with the band at the moment as the pressure is on and the need to play the game has never been higher, but it was his frustration at having to play the game which saw him leave the group in the first place. Watch this space.

Wednesday, 10 November 2010

Kraftwerk - Tour de France Soundtracks

So, I was playing around on InDesign the other day (as that's something I do now, apparently) and thought I would find design inspiration through Kraftwerk and their aesthetic precision. I managed to mock up a double-page spread which I'm sure the varying members of the German electronic pioneers would have winced at, turning away in regal disgust, but more importantly I went home and listened to their last studio album, Tour de France Soundtracks.

Recorded in 2003 to mark the centenary year of everybody's favourite drug-fuelled cycling competition, the album is a collection of songs which, according to the group, is supposed to reflect the mechanical yet streamlined nature of cycling.

My favourite track is Tour de France Etape 2, a song which is so distinctively European that it makes you want to go to France, jump in an old Fiat (the band can cycle but I'm not), and drive along their autoroutes, guided by the neon rhythm of lit streetlights. Enjoy: