Adam Parfrey RIP

Never met him.  Don’t think I ever spoke to him.  We had a few friends in common over the years — once you’ve been doing this job for a while, the degrees of separation between you and the people who made your favourite things decrease quite alarmingly. And APOCALYPSE CULTURE was one of my favourite things, as was CULT RAPTURE.  The story going around is that he simply fell over, hit his head and died. This is unfair.  If he was going to go, then he should have exploded in a shack on the edge of a volcano, or have been found in a cult compound surrounded by people having sex with cars.

Parfrey was one of the last essential windows into the weird outlying territories of the world before the internet brought it all into our homes. He continued to be a force in bringing fringe literatures out into the light.  He made strange-looking choices in his work and his publishing because he was so obviously just so damned curious about the cracks in the planet and the things that lived in them. 61 is no age for the culture to lose him at.

I didn’t know him at all, but he brought me all these gifts, and I’m sad to see him go.



Waiting For A Train

Leaving York shortly. Should be in London in a couple hours, and after I’ve stopped for a drink I’ll be headed back to the Thames Delta. My throat is sore. This is because I sometimes go days without speaking to another person, and then I do something like my Visiting Professor gig here and talk for five or six hours. And the next day my throat is all “what did you do with all the noises I don’t like it any more ”

Hermit life is weird sometimes. Time to go home.

In York Today

It’s a bright chilly morning. Once again, I’ve seen next to nothing of the town so far. I am out on the hotel balcony with coffee, looking out at the city wall and enough people in waterproofs that I could easily be in Denmark. Which I suppose is apt. Some big Norse beards happening here now, too. I’m here as Visiting Professor to talk about narrative, and York is a place of big old stories.

I might walk the walk later. Get the history under my feet again. Here we go.


Heading up to York this morning, to do my Visiting Professor bit at York St John University.  Followed by a murky trail of digital carrier-pigeon shit.  Trying to put an artist on a comics series (remarkably hard for me, because I’ve been doing this so long, with so many hiatuses from the medium to write novels and the like, that people either think I’m dead or have never heard of me), dealing with deals, doing show notes and dialogue rewrites… I actually wrote out my Monday, on a private Slack with some other writers, as we like to share the misery.  And it was so absurdly full, mostly with things that were not actual writing, that I am oddly glad to be spending time on trains, talking to students, and being nowhere near my desk.  Followed all over the country by the electric ghost-pigeons of email and texts.

Yes, I’m a little punchy today.  Ghost-pigeons.  Fuck.  I need some sleep.


No Such Thing As Mornings

I used to have a rule.  If Warren has been awake less than three hours, it is Morning, no matter what the time on the clock says.  I am returning to this rule, because my sleep schedule is shot.  Last night I finished and delivered a script at 145am and my brain was still spinning while I was laying in bed three hours later. And that was after I necked two painkillers to try and switch it off.  Today I have to rewrite three episodes of something to take casting into account, as well as try to get my inbox back under 30.  There are no mornings.  There is simply “when Warren wakes up.”  I am 50 now, and working harder than I have in years.  I trust I will continue to wake up.

Voice recording schedule notes just arrived.  Good morning.


Future Ways

I got told I should have a hobby.  So I’ve decided to build a physical collection of German experimental music from the 1970s, the kosmische.

What they used to call Krautrock, back in the dark ages. Typing it in that way is pretty much the only time you’ll catch me using that word – in its context as an old, awful word from a worse time.  Kosmische is better.  German experimental music from the 1970s covers it all. (Although, if I had a drink, I could argue that Kraftwerk were kosmische via “Autobahn” in the same way that a dual carriageway represented intersidereal space in ALPHAVILLE – a “fable on realistic ground” in Godard’s words) It might be ungainly as a term, but I haven’t found a better term that describes all of it.  The laboratories of Germany that sought to create a new music for a new country.

I love the sense of all these groups of people reaching for a condition of new futurity, many launching themselves on radically different trajectories from the others, others tumbling into similar motifs, as if the Apache-beat/motorik has its steam-engine time.

It makes you want to look around for the laboratories of today.  Notable, many of these groups worked in conditions of isolation. What next shall steam-engine at steam-engine time?

Thomas The Tank Engine In Hell

I attempted to destroy Lavie Tidhar’s brain yesterday by affirming that, yes, THOMAS THE TANK ENGINE is a dystopia, and in fact is a post-nuclear-apocalypse story about the Strategic Reserve ghost fleet.

The Strategic Reserve is one of Britain’s finer urban myths.  It holds that a ghost fleet of pristine steam locomotives is stored in a secret base under Box Tunnel, in the west of England, ready to be deployed on the rails in the event of nuclear EMP frying the electric lines. In the aftermath of atomic war, the steam trains would roll out of Box Tunnel to serve the survivors, eating fire and breathing soot.

Box Tunnel has its own myth.  Designed by Brunel, dug out by thousands of workers who burned one ton of candles a week to light their way, it is said the tunnel is angled so that the sun can be seen to rise through its portals on Brunel’s birthday, April 9.

I used Box Tunnel in my second James Bond graphic novel, EIDOLON.  Charlie Stross used the Strategic Reserve in THE RHESUS CHART, I think.

Anyway, Lavie’s recent book CENTRAL STATION was great and you should read it.  (UK) (US)



Over It

Over the weekend I wrote two comics scripts. This is not something a human body – at least my human body – is supposed to do.  I had chunks of both of them pre-written or floating around in rough note form, but, still. Top to bottom and out the door.  Yesterday I processed a stupid amount of work-related information, proofed a PDF, read most of a book sent on to me for a consideration to adapt, locked the casting of two characters on a tv show, wrote another couple of pages on a long series document.  I’m permanently tired, I’m in a growing amount of pain, my email is piling up, I’m not posting anything anywhere but here and on my newsletter, most people probably think I’m dead and there’s nothing here but the work and the weather and music and the event streams on the big screen and the thinking.

I’m here to report that I’m in my happy place.  You guys can have the rest of the world.  I’m over it.  I am in my place of peace.

You have a place of peace too.  It only takes time and experimentation to find it. Think about doing that.


Spring Is Here

Yesterday I left the house — well, I left the house for ten minutes to get water and cigarettes and that was the only time I went out yesterday because I had to process a tv pitch and movie treatment notes and re-listen to a bunch of audition tapes before actually writing a word, and —

Yesterday,  I left the house with only a henley and an open shirt on my top half, and I didn’t get snowed on or cut through by Arctic wind. I did, however, catch a look at myself in a shop window and my god that winter weight has to go

Yesterday, I left the house with only a henley and an open shirt on my top half and it was crisp and clean without being properly cold, for the first time this year. Spring has finally happened.  If it stays like this for another ten days, I might even shake the cold and the damp out of my bones, where it starts settling by February.

I just felt like noting that the world is starting up again. I like marking the seasons and cycles, these days. Soon I’ll be able to work outdoors, travel light and change hue to actual white from blue/grey.

Image from a couple of months ago, when the girls went out in the snow but decided a snowman would be just too boring.


LEFT BANK: Fear & Loathing In The City Of Lights

(Ernest Hemingway, in a jeep) stopped once more, this time in front of 7 rue des Grands Augustins. Picasso was not in – he was still with Maya and Marie-Thérèse. The concierge asked Hemingway if he wanted to leave something with his note. Without a pause, Hemingway went straight to his jeep and came back with a wooden case full of hand grenades on which he wrote, ‘To Picasso from Hemingway’ and handed it to the concierge.

LEFT BANK by Agnes Poirier is a witty, sharp-edged but not unaffectionate history of the Parisian cultural scene 1940-50.  It is filled with lovely anecdotes like the above.

Also, this was, um, interesting:

Sartre took fame in his stride, not that he looked for it – rather the opposite. This sudden glory felt to him idiotic and a high price to pay. He had wanted to write novels, to be a writer, to be a genius living in obscurity like Baudelaire. Events had decided otherwise and sentenced him to be an outspoken intellectual living in the glare of public attention. Nobody would ever remember what he wrote but only what he was and what he said – in other words, he would be remembered as a public intellectual, not quite the same thing as the great writer he had once wanted to be. ‘From now on, he would put the absolute in the ephemeral, he would lock himself up in the present and in the time he lived in, he would accept to perish entirely with his epoch,’ wrote Beauvoir. What extraordinary clairvoyance and lucidity. Indeed, Les Chemins de la liberté would be his last work of fiction. Sartre would sacrifice himself to commenting and trying to influence the world.

This is exceptionally clear-eyed, cold and well stated.

The book may bear useful comparison with Sarah Bakewell’s excellent AT THE EXISTENTIALIST CAFE, a book that is notably kinder to everyone (except Heidegger) than Poirier’s.  Poirier observes many of the players with a somewhat jaundiced eye – her distrust of the dancing phenomenologist Merleau-Ponty is almost palpable, whether he’s roasting Koestler or creeping on Juliette Greco.  Poirier’s observations of the women of the Left Bank are generally warm, however, and conducted with a fond detail that admirably fills out the female stories that tend to get erased or subsumed among the Sartres and Picassos and Camus’ of the time.  (What is the plural of a Camus?  Camuses?  Camusii?)  The heroes of the French Resistance in Paris had people of the arts among them, and some died for that, and their stories are worth learning.

Anyway, this book is great.

LEFT BANK, Agnes Poirier (UK) (US)