This was written for my newsletter, but it’s also pretty bloggy, and there isn’t a service that reliably does both email and RSS, so…

The main world-of-Pete news has been the care of a sickly rabbit – again. After Bunminster’s near-death experience last November (he lost a third of his weight and we were advised to “say goodbye” – he’s all fine and fat now, of course) we thought we were due for a breather, but then Joy, the youngest of the pack, got a runny nose. Which can be fatal in rabbits. Because everybloodything is fatal in rabbits. We’ve been giving her medicine for a fortnight and wiping the encrusted snot from her nose, because rabbits don’t breath through their mouths, of course. Thankfully she’s the docile one - heavens knows how Clem would react to having her nose wiped - and it’s all worth it, of course.

I will one day write a book about keeping rabbits because I have MANY OPINIONS, most of which are not controversial and are slowly making their way to our Awesome Rabbit Website. The big one, however, might not sit well with the rabbit community. I’m not convinced that rabbits are supposed to survive as individuals. In the wild rabbits breed prodigiously, a female producing maybe 30 young a year, but hardly any of them survive, being an important part of predator’s diets. Rabbits are pack animals, meaning they function as a group, so it kinda makes more sense to think of a colony as a single organism made up of rabbits. In fact, this article on the nature of trees could apply to rabbit packs just as well.  

Rabbits have been engineered by evolution to be disposable, as benefits the group. But rabbits as pets are seen as precious creatures that can live in good health for 12 years. Keeping rabbits is a constant battle between these two truths, along with the creeping realisation that maybe, as individuals, we too are not that important in the grand scheme of things…

Lots of good stuff in my Instapaper Faves of late. Here’s the cream. 

Molly Ringwald Revisits “The Breakfast Club” in the Age of #MeToo - Heralded as “one of the most insightful and honest pieces of cultural criticism in ages, and a model of how to discuss movies within the context of when they were made without excusing their faults and failings”*, this is a fantastic read about a movie that has been too blindly celebrated as genius or dismissed as nonsense.

When will Britain face up to its crimes against humanity? - There’s been an uptick in wanting to properly deal with the legacy British Empire of late, possibly a side-effect of Brexit-boosters citing it as a golden age, and this is a good summary of why unpicking the uncomfortable facts is essential if we’re to finally move on. 

Raised by Wolves - I loved this review-article on how humans and dogs co-evolved, particularly for the theory that rather than domesticate them, dogs taught us how to live in communities of mutual interest, or as an author reviewed puts it, “wolves had a powerful influence on the social ethics of early human groups through a kind of ‘lupification’ of human behavior.”

Spacecraft cemetery - When the Chinese space station fell to Earth I found myself reading this Wikipedia article on the area of the Pacific Ocean where orbiting spacecraft are sent to die. It’s also known as Point Nemo, the most inaccessible area from land, and is relatively devoid of marine life due to the South Pacific Gyre keeping nutrients away, so it’s the perfect place to crash space junk. 

On Britain’s unruly streets, rich and poor are not so far apart - Ian Jack’s portraits of modern Britain are becoming essential reading due to his sharp knowledge of history. This one, on street begging, looks at how it was normalised pre-WWII and then pretty much eradicated with the welfare state. As that started to be eroded (co-incidentally with the dawn of neoliberalism in the ’70s) begging returned under Thatcherism. As a child then, this was about the time I became aware of street begging and so it’s been normal throughout my life. It’s weird to think there was a period when it went away. I wonder if I’ll live to see it happen again.

Art News

I’m still writing the Instructions for Humans essay/book (4,500 words and counting), but I have an actual deadline now. I was asked to run a workshop for the Art & AI festival in Leicester on how artists can use and respond to massive data-processing systems (aka AI for Artists) and that happens on Saturday May 5th at the Phoenix. So everything has to be wrapped up by then!

Alongside this I started work on the Rivers of the World project last month in Worcestershire, beginning with an excellent workshop session with pupils in Tenbury. This month it’s Evesham and then the month after is Pershore. Each school produces an artwork through me and they’re all exhibited in London, Exeter and Worcester in the Autumn. It’s quite exciting and once I actually have something to show I’ll tell all about it.

Not really Art, or at least not my art, but June will hopefully see me hauling 15-odd boxes of zines and underground comics from the 1990s to Artefact for an exhibition / discussion / something event. A young person is organising it because young people find zines fascinating and I, hopefully with Jez who was with me in the trenches, will be wheeled in to regale the youth with tales of photocopiers, staples and stamps. More later.

Music Corner

Do you remember when I used to recommend music? Let’s spin those wheels again and see what happens.

Burnt Paw is actually an old flatmate, Andy Green, and usually when an old mate puts out music it’s not that great. This is actually great, kinda like if Bill (Smog) Callahan was a British folkie.

Annihilation soundtrack - The film was really good, especially the last act, and a lot of that was the soundtrack by Ben Salisbury and Geoff Barrow, the latter being one half of Portishead.

Related no-doubt to my recent adoption of Spotify and embrace of its algorithm, I’m finding myself discovering new music again for the first time in a good decade. Here’s a couple of notables.

Des Demonas ’s The South Will Never Rise Again appeared on my Discover Weekly algomix and reminded me of another relatively obscure New York band, The New York Howl, kinda.

Fire! has that grinding sax-and-bass thing going on. You know, like Morphine. Only more like sewer jazz.

That’s not to say my Spotify experience has been all great. There’s so much awful bloke-folk on there. You know in Girls when Marnie and Desi start a musical act and think they’re like proper artists but they’re really fucking terrible? That’s what half my recommends are like. Algo needs more training, methinks.

That’ll do for now

Thanks for the notes people sent last time. I just realised I haven’t replied to a bunch of them. I have a bad habit of flagging emails that I want to spend more than five minutes replying to and then not finding that time, or just forgetting. But, as the saying goes, I do read everything and am grateful for your time!