Posted by: seanxsmith | April 30, 2009

OVER the course of my career, I’ve interviewed Morrissey in his hotel suite in Thessaloniki and Bjork in a transit van in Sheffield. I talked to Fatboy Slim in the bath in Brighton and Brian Glover in a graveyard in Leeds. Along the way, I’ve also chewed the fat with everyone from Bill Hicks, Boy George and Amy Winehouse to Christopher Eccleston, Sporty Spice and Mick Jagger. I ask well-researched, engaging questions and get interesting answers.

I’m as comfortable covering the celebrations for Bob Marley’s birthday in Jamaica as I am looking at the battle between the councils of Preston and Blackburn over the proposed £700million Tithebarn shopping centre, as happy talking to 15-year-olds about the evolution of street language as I am talking to ornitholgists about the perils of wind farms.

Here are a few highlights ..

Posted by: seanxsmith | April 24, 2013

Looking for Fidel

You have to search long and hard to find any statues of Fidel Castro in Cuba.

There is no shortage of statues and images of Castro’s revolutionary compatriot Che Guevara. The iconic stencil-style image based on Alberto Korda’s photograph of Che is everywhere.

From murals and T-shirts to tattoos and three-peso notes in Cuban pockets, Che’s black beret, flowing locks and smouldering eyes are never far away.

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Posted by: seanxsmith | April 29, 2009

For the love of Stephen

Morrissey avoids Greek tragedy shocker

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WHAT did Morrissey do that was so wrong? For the tabloids it was his undisguised loathing for the Royal Family, his rampant vegetarianism, his refusal to play Live Aid, and his audacity, as a mere pop star, in discussing the crimes of Myra Hindley and Ian Brady.

The music press, his initial champions, never forgave him for the split of the Smiths in 1987. He’s too intellectual, they say. He can’t cut the mustard as a solo artist without Johnny Marr, they claim. And worst of all, he has been tainted with accusations of nationalism and racism since he wrapped the Union Jack around himself at a Finsbury Park gig in 1992.

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Posted by: seanxsmith | April 29, 2009

Vital and Ital

800px-7milesbeach2                                           PHOTO: Chaoleonard under a Creative Commons license

Negril, Jamaica on a budget 

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SUDDENLY it’s five am, neither of us can see straight and Beyonce’s Crazy in Love is booming out of the battered bass bins that teeter above us like so many rickety skyscrapers. The crowd goes bananas. Time for another drink.

Jamaica takes the birthdays of its heroes seriously and Bob Marley’s birthday is the cue for celebrations right across the island. The main event in Negril is an open air all-nighter fifty yards up the road from our hotel.

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Posted by: seanxsmith | April 29, 2009

FCUM manifesto

Punk football comes to Bury

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A middle-aged bloke is waving the white and blue Argentinian flag, with the word ‘MARGENTINA’ printed on it, wafting the aroma of chips, pies, beer and aftershave towards the back of the stand. Someone passes around a hip flask full of fiery liquor of indeterminate origin.

Everyone in the crowd wearing FC United of Manchester scarves starts twirling them above their heads like so many synchronised red and white helicopters. I catch a hint of weed on the breeze. A minute later, they’re all singing, “I don’t care about Rio, and he don’t care about me ..” to the tune of Mellow Yellow.

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Posted by: seanxsmith | April 29, 2009

Sweet inspiration: Shazia Mirza

3481436727_4485f00b53_oShazia Mirza’s success is the product of years of hard work and determination

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THERE’S something about holding the attention of a bunch of unruly kids in school which prepares you for a career entertaining drunken adults in nightclubs: French and Saunders, Dave Spikey from Phoenix Nights, even Tom O’Connor served their time at the chalk face before moving into stand-up.

But it’s unlikely any of them put up with anything like Shazia Mirza dealt with when she taught at a tough inner city boys school in the East End of London.

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Posted by: seanxsmith | April 28, 2009

Fear and loathing in West Yorkshire

David Peace’s Red Riding novels are adapted for TV

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WHEN the final volume of David Peace’s Red Riding Quartet was published in 2002, the one thing that shell-shocked readers knew for sure was that his compelling saga of lost children, corrupt coppers and accidental heroes would never make it to the screen.

Peace’s thrilling, visceral, often unhinged prose seemed resolutely unfilmable, his grimly compulsive tales too complicated, too perverse, too downright ugly for the increasingly risk-averse and anodyne worlds of TV and film.

Telling a story of dirty deals and bloody murder in Yorkshire over the best part of a decade, the books almost seem to imply that evil triumphs whether good men do anything or not.

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