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A PERIODICAL FOXY COMPENDIUM ISSUE NO. ELEVEN — 14 OCTOBER 2010
F ROM T HE S NOUT Like a fighty fox lunging at a little shit of a rat, we pounce at the second half of our Snifferly oeuvre with eyes gleaming, teeth shining and tongue drooling. Ten down, ten to go and this is the eleventh. To see us through the return leg of our woodland ramble, I am neutrally disposed to announce a new inmate in this prison of mediocre penmanship: His Master’s Choice. When Parker comes to compose a fit of The Ballad, he arranges himself in a Starbucks armchair, with laptop burning thigh and bollock, and dons a giant pair of cans to silence the nutty natter and brewy brouhaha in which his brain could drown. Through these cans he pipes a keynote album, metallic or at least guitarish in timbre, specially chosen for each fit, and lets thrum, chug and scream stain his foxy thoughts. Here are his picks for the first ten fits: Fit the First: “Paranoid” by Black Sabbath Fit the Second: “What’s This For” by Killing Joke Fit the Third: “Songs From The Wood” by Jethro Tull Fit the Fourth: “Wavering Radiant” by Isis Fit the Fifth: “Animals” by Pink Floyd Fit the Sixth: “The Unkindness Of Ravens” by Eagle Twin Fit the Seventh: “Snakes For The Divine” by High On Fire Fit the Eighth: “Matador” by Zoroaster Fit the Ninth: “Focus Level” by Endless Boogie Fit the Tenth: “Dog Of Two Head” by Status Quo In each of the ten His Master’s Choice installments, one of these albums will be humanely slaughtered, splayed out on a marble slap, and then dissected quickly and sloppily with a rusty scalpel.
He arranges himself in a Starbucks armchair, with laptop burning thigh and bollock.
Will we chance on any hidden truths when we come to parse this aural layer of Parker’s bonce? Perhaps. H IS M ASTER ’ S C HOICE Each installment of His Master’s Choice considers a single album that has graced the gramophone of Cocky’s creator and master, James Parker. There is nothing formal about this consideration; it is simply a wrinkled flab of opinions, facts and loose attempts at tying music to muse. In this inaugural outing, we turn our cockular cochleas to Black Sabbath’s 1970 album, Paranoid.
Man, and recognize them as also issuing from the four Brummie long-hairs. But his knowledge of Paranoid will probably end here. And it’s only once you skip these three overplayed hits that the masterful, metaphysical moodiness of this metal landmark begins to creep around you like a pre-dawn churchyard fog.
Sabbath were the architects of the edifice that is modern underground metal. So many sub-genres stem from the down-tuned Iommi sludge, the devilish Butler-Ward groove and the reverbed Ozzy wail: doom metal, black metal, stoner metal, drone metal. Disco metal, even. Just turn your ear to Electric Funeral, the mournfully slow and leaden dirge that, for a minute in the middle, gets distracted and becomes an amphetamine swing tune. Or Hand of Doom, the laid-back toe-tapper that jumps into metal marching anthem and back. These schizoid creations are the blueprints for so much that the modern fan of heavy music hears. And it’s the schizoid-ness of these timeless tunes that unlocks the interpretative door to the Parker story mind. There we were in Fit the First and we needed to know something about foxes. Like all animals roughing it and living paw to mouth, foxes are Jekyll and foxes are Hyde. One minute there is cheery chit-chat about Quavers; the next there is the frantic and frenetic gouge of eye and tear of fur. By the end of the fit, we get the idea. Animals are rudderless vessels thrown about on the stormy sea of need and impulse. And I can’t help wondering how much the Sabbath song structure, flitting as it does between doom funk and metal chops, influenced Parker when he laid out these beastly fundamentals back at the beginning of the Ballad. O VER A P INT The author of The Ballad of Cocky the Fox and the editor of The Sniffer are known to
The uninterested layman who hears the title track of Paranoid playing in whichever shitty roadhouse he happens to be getting drunk, will instantly recognize Tony Iommi’s chugging riff and Ozzy Osbourne’s whining hymn to his own bat-head munching nuttiness. He may, on another night, hear Ozzy’s laughable, hihatpunctuated intonation about generals, witches and black masses on War Pigs, or the silly, trudging, sci-fi fable told in Iron
enjoy a chinwag over a pint. In each edition, The Sniffer eavesdrops on their beery blathering and presents a randomly chosen chunk of it to the readership. The Author: I love how we sounded in the ninth Sniffer. You know, the one we were all maudlin and self-reflective. That lethargic lull where we stared at each other for long periods. The Editor: Yes. It was a barometer of the times. And related to the long, lazy summer where we did bugger all. [They pause, furrow their brows in self-reflection and take contemporaneous glugs.]
chaff and all that shit. Now, this is useful, don’t get me wrong. But it doesn’t help advance the story at all. I came back from England with literally four lines. They were good lines, sure. But they were all about the wheat, the sky, the trees and so on. The Editor: So, basically, you turned into an impressionist painter. The Author: Exactly. And I was utterly lost for two weeks when I got back. Which is why I had to bend the deadline. The Editor: Thank you. It worked out well for me. I got the extra week I sorely needed but it looked like you were the lazy bastard. [Contemporaneous glugs again, autumnal glugs; brisk and enthusiastic.] The Editor: But you seem to be back into the routine again now. The Author: Oh yes. I’m right back into it. I’ve got a subplot on the go that fits in nicely to the main plot. There is a problem, though. I’ve now split into two different people. There’s the noble Parker who juggles all the ideas and suckles greedily at the muse’s tit. And then there’s the poor peasant Parker who has to hobble along behind and write the fucking thing. The Editor: So you are your own creative twinhood. You are twin ravens in one. The Author: Yes. It’s awful. Imagine trying to contain those two energies in one mind. In Starbucks. The Editor: While not getting ejected for foaming at the mouth. The Author: Exactly. [The Author locks his gaze on the empty glass in front of him; begins foaming at the mouth.]
The Editor: So how have you found it getting back on the horse after the long layoff? The Author: It was very difficult at first. Very difficult. I thought I was having ideas all through the summer as I wandered the hedgerows of East Anglia. But I wasn’t, really. I was just in this bucolic fucking daze sucking up sense impressions from the countryside. Sponging up the pollen, the
T HE I NFOXICATOR
The Infoxicator is a tribute to Cocky's occasional tendency to get off his tits on aftershave and glue. In this installment, you will accompany the author on a rags to riches tasting of a Belgian ale called Reinaert.
patient’s bed. And smell. I took a gambler’s noseful and caught leather upholstery, petrol and milky bile. In short, a Santa Monica SUV after a Saturday morning trip to baby yoga. None of this augured well and it was with some trepidation that I lifted the glass to my chops for a glug. As I feared, it resonated instantly with the poo-pee-puke prelude. Odd, base, sour. But was this just my malleable mind playing tricks? I zoomed in on taste alone and ignored the effluential associations. The taste was still sour, yes, but it was clean. Much cleaner than the cloudiness would suggest, it left a titillating tint of this sourness on the tongue and, later, the tonsils. Meanwhile, the sweet Flemishness gave the teeth a strong, nectary soak. This was complex sequence of sense events indeed for a single mouthful.
The minute you pull a bottle of Reinaert Wild Ale from the shelf, you know it’s a cheeky bugger. Slap bang in the middle of the label stands a fox, exploratory paw raised, sniffing at the dot of the Reinart’s “i”. But take your hand and cover up everything below the dot. Suddenly, we see the truth. Our beery tod is poking his snout into a micro-stool. He is a surreptitious scatophage who uses language to disguise his earthy predilections. Just like Cocky! With a single eyebrow raised in suspicion and with both eyes darting left and right in search of some dastardly trap or trick, I popped the cork and poured. And, as I did so, I think I saw the reynard wink at me; for the toilet humour continued. This cloudy yellow gloop didn’t look right in a glass. It should have been giving bulge to a plastic bag on a hook next to a dehydrated urology
The rest of the bottle slid down easily. I felt refreshed and I felt surprised that I felt refreshed. Strong beers are often syrupy, powerful and pungent, but they don’t refresh; they warm and nourish. Refreshing beers, on the other hand, are often as weak and bland as bath water. But the Reinaert?
Like a Darwinian hybrid, it offers the best of both boozy species. I bought this Belgian brew on a vulpine whim. Would I buy it again? Definitely. And, while rummaging through my wallet for a twenty to give to the beermonger, I’d glance at the bottle on the counter and wink knowingly at the stool-sniffing figurehead: “Ha! I know your game.” F OX F ACT The foxtrot has been a popular ballroom dance since the early 20th century. But many foxtrot dancers are etymologically in the dark. It was “invented” by the English librettist, Decimus Hargrove, when he saw a drunk couple swaying around on a dance floor. In Hargrove’s mind, the gentleman, with face gripped by urgency and buttocks clenched in desperation, seemed to be suffering a dose of “the trots”. Meanwhile, the lady of the sozzled pair, face vandalized with a rictus of panic, followed helplessly in her partner’s wake like a half-dead fox being dragged through a wood by a hungry hound. Hargrove, ever the wordsmith, decided thenceforth to call this frenzied dance the “foxtrot”. T HE C OCKY C OMPANION Each edition of The Sniffer features an extract from The Cocky Companion, a Rosetta Stone for decoding the less obvious elements of Cocky's London vernacular. This extract squeezes male friendship, Rod Stewart and fake snacks out of the strangely appealing damp dish-rag that identifies itself as Fit the Eleventh. A LBION Let us not speak of Albion Market, the Northern soap opera from the late 80s that tried to take Eastenders on in the ratings war and failed miserably, mainly through hubris, untimely scheduling and bad accents. Let us not count off five
hundred shitty pubs called The Albion, as if, in naming a pub The Albion, a publican might delude the average drinker into thinking that he is partaking in a noble tradition and not just sinking watered=down lager in a corner slab of a concrete council block. Let us not even bow obsequiously and whisper “Albion” in the presence of that portly, gouty and ruddy Court Psychiatrist to London, Peter Ackroyd. Let us simply acknowledge that “Albion” is a poncy word that drunk and teary expatriates use when they mean “England”.
M ATE You may tell a group of people an anecdote about your friend and refer to him as your “mate”. But never call this friend “mate” to his face. “Mate” in its vocative sense is reserved for situations where you are trying to exert your superiority over a stranger. “’Scuse me, mate. That’s my lager.” “Oi, mate. Sit down. I can’t see the mud wrestling.” “Calm down, mate, or I’ll have to stick the nut on you.” Note: While this ritual exertion of superiority usually involves some kind of literal or figurative
brandishing of the genitals, it is not typically known as “mating”. G EEZER To Americans, “geezer” means “old man” or “Black Sabbath bassist”, which are one and the same. To Englanders, “geezer” means “man”, old, young or in-between. Why do “bloke” and “geezer” happily coexist? Because the extra syllable in “geezer” allows the utterer to puff up his male subject and pull him out of the realm of quotidian humdrummery. This bloke isn’t just a bloke. This bloke’s a fucking GEE-zer. If a bloke came up to you in the street and called your old dear a slag, then you’d nut him. But if you found out that the bloke was a geezer, you might think twice about applying forehead to bridge of nose. You might, instead, decide to play it safe by entangling yourself in a war of cor-blimey Cockney shouting.
might even buy you a drink. Before disemboweling you and fobbing the extracts off to the Farringdon meatmen as a lump of kobe offal. Also? Rod Stewart was in Faces. But don’t be scared of him, because he has a croaky voice, he sports a dyed mullet and he has banned the use of drums and guitars in any of his songs since 1982.
T IP -T OPS This sounds like it should be a quaint British playground snack. Imagine it: primary colours and blocky fonts on cheap plastic; a square window through which you can verify that the packet isn’t, unfortunately, empty; the snack itself based on corn (but not made of corn), tubular or hexagonal in body, and carrying a crumb payload that will turn the crotch of your school trousers orange if you eat it on the bus. But what
F ACE “Face” is a way of saying “gangster” in a Bethnal Green boozer without getting a knife in the neck. It’s the “sir” of the underworld. Call Ron a crook or a hoodlum and your innards will end up on a Smithfield chopping block. But talk about him reverently as a “face” and he
do I know? I’ve never once heard talk of “Tip-Tops”. Rather, I suspect that James Parker is incorrectly remembering his British childhood and is, thus, talking a load of old bollocks. G ET F OXED In the last Get Foxed, you were asked to arrange six mammals in a row of theater seats such that friends rubbed shoulders with friends and enemies steered clear of enemies. Here is one possible configuration:
RABBIT FOX CAT BADGER SQUIRREL WEASEL
T O T HE S NOUT Sir, This story is sexy. About a sexy fox, yes? In my country the foxes have no sexy. I like the sexy fox story, making me feel sexy. Respectfully, Kjerra Mapes
*** Dear Mr. Mapes, Never contact The Sniffer again or I will call the police. Yours sincerely, The Editor
*** If there are questions you would like to ask or remarks you would like to make, you can do so by emailing the editor of The Sniffer (email@example.com).
This time, you will need to dig into the relevant brain lobe and dust off the apparatus that allows you to process the hidden semantics of a seemingly random sequence:
What letter comes next in the series and why? M EMORIES OF M ACKIE V ILES That nobody, your herald and saga-composer (freshly appointed), cowered watchful at your side, with his mind¹s nib hovering – what were you about to do? Invade France? Turn back the tide? Once you condemned me (I forget why) Twice you pardoned me (so I wouldn¹t have to die) Ignored by all opinion, unjustified by events – but dilating, dilating, always, in the lens of your own magnificence.
T HE S NIFFER
& WRITER Patrick Cates
P UBLISHERS Matthew Battles & Joshua Glenn of HiLobrow.com I LLUSTRATION Kristin Parker W ITH THANKS TO Generous backers of Cocky the Fox & Kickstarter.com please direct all enquiries to sniffer@ hilobrow.com
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