Who’ll Stop the Rain? (Seriously, I Need to Know)

This week, as part of the ongoing process of digitizing my vinyl — a project which really should have been done a decade or two ago, and is now largely redundant due to everything being online already, but that it amuses me to carry on with — I found myself listening, for the first time in ages, to Heaven 17.

This is like hopping on a time machine straight back to the early Eighties. Heaven 17 perfectly encapsulates a certain mood of that era — a giddy, heedless youthful optimism that I don’t think exists anymore. The Seventies were finally over and now the future could begin, and we were going to get it right this time. Even now, knowing how things turned out, I find I can get caught up in it for three or four or seven minutes at a time. (Lengthy remixes were de rigueur during this period.)

Weirdly, many of H17’s lyrics are vaguely Marxist, with income inequality a recurring theme1 — which is totally incongruous with their sleek, spotless technopop sound.

That’s right, I said “technopop.” I know that’s a dirty word to some people, but I was a sucker for it back then, and I guess I still am.


R.I.P. P.R. a.k.a. P.W.H.

Paul Reubens died this week, and while I was never a big fan of Pee-Wee Herman — who I found more annoying than amusing — I admired some of Reubens’ other work. Particularly his small but memorable role in Buffy the Vampire Slayer, which included possibly the most hilariously extended death scene in the history of cinema.

The normal and compassionate thing is to wish someone a quick and easy death. But I have to admit, I kind of hope Paul went out like this:


There are several great songs with this title, including Bowie’s and Pink Floyd’s. But the one I recently discovered is by Richard Hell, who I think deserves to be in the conversation.

Hell refers to “Time” as “what some people, including me, consider to be my best song.” But he had a hard time recording it to his satisfaction; he remade and remixed it numerous times. Five different versions appear on Destiny Street Complete, the omnibus edition of the Voidoids’ star-crossed second album.

My favorite, I think, is the one from the original album. It’s raw and ragged, but really, really real.

The 2021 remaster is cleaned up, maybe a little too much:


Reading Report, July 2023

Books Acquired:
Martin Amis, Heavy Water and Other Stories, Night Train
D.M. Thomas, The White Hotel
Gore Vidal, Death in the Fifth Position, Death Before Bedtime, Death Likes It Hot
Michael Wolff, Fire and Fury

Progress Made:
Flann O’Brien, The Third Policeman
Gore Vidal, Death in the Fifth Position

Books Finished:
Martin Amis, Heavy Water and Other Stories
Martin Amis, Night Train
Richard Brautigan, Dreaming of Babylon
Michael Wolff, Fire and Fury

Note: This month’s entry is on the long side. I’d like to guarantee that it will be worth it, but I can’t in good conscience do so. Sometimes things must just be written, irregardless, know what I mean?

Dreaming of Babylon was an easy read, with short chapters that start halfway down the page. Too easy, really — I was enjoying it, and then it was over. The central mystery is never resolved, or even explored in much depth, not that I really expected it to be. Despite being subtitled “A Private Eye Novel 1942,” this is Brautigan, after all.