Billy Childish 

British poet, musician and artist

British poet, musician, artist and art star Tracey Emin's ex (acknowledged in her artwork "Everyone I Have Ever Slept With: 1963-1995"), Billy Childish is an underground cult figure whose fan base includes the White Stripes, Nirvana, Beck and filmmaker Larry Clark. An artist who has heralded the importance of amateurism and failure in his work, to that end Billy was kicked out of St. Martin's School of Art and as a teenager intentionally injured his own hand so that he'd never have to work as a stonemason again. Childish's paintings and prints can be seen Aug. 31-Sept. 23, at Decatur's Vinson Gallery. (Note: Childish fell ill and canceled his scheduled appearance at the AJC Decatur Book Festival.)

Dostoyevsky: "At the moment I'm reading The Insulted and Injured by Dostoyevsky, interrupted by The Himmler Brothers and some book on spiritual practice by Anthony De Mello. Five chapters in The Insulted and Injured, it is turning out as mad as all of Dostoyevsky's other novels. The great thing I like about Fyodor is how contemporary he sounds compared to our modern-day brave and daring novelists who, despite living in the modern age, manage to sound as if they are writing from some turgid backwater about naughty sex and shopping sometime in the mid-1800s."

Airport security: "Traveling into the U.S. again I'm looking forward to negotiating the new measures installed for our safety. I distinctly remember President Bush saying that 'we shall never give in to terrorism.' Has no one pointed out that changing the way we live, travel and police ourselves is actually giving into terrorism? Or maybe that's the idea."

Melting the ice caps like a lolly stick: "In England, as in many other parts of the globe, we have been enjoying the bizarre weather conditions: extensive flooding, never-ending gales interspersed with stinging bursts of intense, razorlike sunlight, etc. Some people find this worrying, but on the plus side you can experience a year's weather conditions in a single afternoon. The press have been very excited about melting the ice caps, but there is nothing I have read or heard about global warming that wasn't expressed to deaf ears 20 years or so ago. Despite this sudden interest in our extinction via flooding and civil war, it is heartening to know that the captains of industry are going to keep plowing their unsinkable ship at full speed ahead in the certain knowledge that the iceberg has melted."

Conceptual art: "Conceptual art, the art of ideas -- which paradoxically has only one idea: to call what isn't art art -- is at last dying a death in Britain, Europe and beyond. But have no fear, the vacuum will not be filled by informed, emotional painting that gives art resonance and meaning but by gallery-led 'droid' art, which effortlessly appropriates the sterility and emotional retardedness of conceptual art and applies it to painting instead."

Celebrity: "It is very easy to knock the cult of celebrity, and anyone who dares do so is plainly a big jealous baby. Of course we all hate film stars, pop stars and idiots who become well-known, but we must ask why, in a free and liberal society, should an individual be forced to 'not be famous' simply because they are useless. Plus, if any idiot can become a celebrity, then there is hope for all of us morons to one day be living in isolated misery in Beverly Hills with our alcoholic partner and children in rehab. No, don't knock the film stars, pop stars or our sex-obsessed society for promoting that, for we live in a brave new age where a patriot can truly say that 'never before in the history of the world has it been possible for so many untalented nobodies to climb to the top of a pile of untalented nobodies.'"

The Idiocy of Ideas: "This spring, after 10 or so years in the writing, I published a novel called The Idiocy of Ideas. Virgin books offered me $4,000 advance on the novel plus the right to dictate the contents and cover and talk to me like I am an idiot. Instead, I opted to print 500 copies and released the book without an author, barcode or ISBN. The books were then hidden in the travel, philosophy and fiction sections of bookshops 'round the U.K., to be rescued by the public or binned by the sales team."

Pirates of the Caribbean: "I saw Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest, which made the fundamental mistake of entering the pirate cave twice. Directors, take note: You cannot return to the pirate cave. You have one shot at the pirate cave, then it is time to go home. This summer I watched Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End with my 7-year-old son. I found the film overly loud, long, tedious and boring. But there was nothing that couldn't have been saved by cutting the film by two hours and employing a screenwriter and director. The film would have cost less to make, I'd have been happier and so, too, would my son and countless other millions of parents and little ones who had to sit through this mind-numbing drivel. Anyway, that's my review of Pirates of the Caribbean."


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