Peel no longer seems to be the presenter, but when he was there was something
particularly poignant about this show's basic premise. The message seemed to be:
John Peel, who formerly brought you -- with evident relish and affection -- great
British eccentrics like Viv Stanshall, Ivor Cutler, Syd Barrett and Marc Bolan, is now
bringing you -- with, apparently, equal affection -- Viv Taylor from Aldershot and her
difficult daughter Nicola, and Don Jones from Syddenham-under-Lyme and his
attempts to get the twins out of the house for some exercise.
It strikes me that this brings us to a difficult question. Should normal people be
interested in other normal people, or in exceptions, freaks, visionaries, loonies?
Should entertainment reconcile them to their own inherent value, their 'all-
rightness', or should it be leading them to new worlds of wonder they haven't even
begun to imagine?
Obviously Home Truths seeks to justify a belief that 'every man and woman is a star',
but listening to it yesterday, I just couldn't accept this. There were items about a man
who digs his garden all the time and a moronic-sounding woman who had
successfully battled a brain tumour.
I found myself saying to these people, half-seriously: 'Don't propose yourselves as
interesting when you're not, English pigs! Go and read Nietzsche or Oscar Wilde and
try to become truly exceptional! Become superbeings rather than convincing us that
'the herd' (as Nietzsche would have described you) is worth anybody's attention, or
has any inherent dignity!'
So, am I setting up a false opposition here, Oscar Wilde (genius) versus Mrs Viv
Taylor (breeder)? Is there enough space in the world for attention to both of them,
or do we have to choose? And if I choose to fill my bandwidth and my headspace
with Wilde rather than Mrs Taylor, am I beginning a process which will alienate me
irreversibly from my fellow human beings? Also: if there is a way back to 'normality'
from the world of art, aspiration, excellence and exception, will the afficionados of
eccentricity call me a traitor to the cause if I take it (as Peel apparently has) later in
I hope they will. I hope there are a few of them left. I certainly blame Peel. How
could the man who introduced me to PiL and Palais Schaumburg now be introducing
me to Bob Black and his bad back?
― Momus, Saturday, 13 April 2002 00:00 (nineteen years ago) link
― ethan, Saturday, 13 April 2002 00:00 (nineteen years ago) link
― anthony, Saturday, 13 April 2002 00:00 (nineteen years ago) link
― Daver, Saturday, 13 April 2002 00:00 (nineteen years ago) link
― grebe., Saturday, 13 April 2002 00:00 (nineteen years ago) link
― kiwi, Saturday, 13 April 2002 00:00 (nineteen years ago) link
― electric sound of jim, Sunday, 14 April 2002 00:00 (nineteen years ago) link
― Chupa-Cabras, Sunday, 14 April 2002 00:00 (nineteen years ago) link
― mike hanle y, Sunday, 14 April 2002 00:00 (nineteen years ago) link
I sometimes find people who think they're choosing the artistic high
road do so to mask or divert others from seeing their essential
conservatism. Almost (cough) like a straight man pretending to be gay
to insinuate himself with women who would otherwise steer well clear of
Also, the word you're looking for is 'aficionado'. Wilde would be
shocked; he never misspelt anything.
― suzy, Sunday, 14 April 2002 00:00 (nineteen years ago) link
― geeta, Sunday, 14 April 2002 00:00 (nineteen years ago) link
― anthony, Sunday, 14 April 2002 00:00 (nineteen years ago) link
― jel --, Sunday, 14 April 2002 00:00 (nineteen years ago) link
i get enough slice of dull life experience just existing, i'd rather
expose myself to something else
― bc, Sunday, 14 April 2002 00:00 (nineteen years ago) link
1. I saw a poster for a zoo. I thought, in the 'Home Truths' view of the world, a zoo
is rather uncomfortably exotic. I mean, why would anyone go to stand in front of a
cage containing 'difference' when they could stand in front of a mirror instead? That's
what Home Truths is, as Suzy points out: a mirror for the kind of people tuning in.
Not a through-the-looking glass, just a looking glass.
2. The family is a sacred social unit for politicians of the right. The suburbs are
where people go to have families. Many kids come of age at 20 grateful for the
security their parents and the suburbs have given them, but determined to do
something more with life, to go somewhere else. This we could call 'becoming'. To
pick up the PiL reference, it's that sense of 'My entrance, my own creation...' This,
above all, is what I believe in. The moment when someone decides to 'become'.
3. Arguably, the world's number one problem now is social conformity. We have
more people alive than have ever been alive at one time, and yet there are not
enough different ways of living. There is, increasingly, a global monoculture based on
'the family' and 'shopping'. Episodes like Sept. 11th merely worsened things by
making all different ways of being look like 'evil'. Where do we attack conformity,
and with what tools? We attack it at the level of the family. With Nietzsche, perhaps.
4. Whenever I see things being done differently, I'm filled with admiration. For
instance, a band is setting up for a performance. But instead of drums, bass, guitars,
there are all sorts of strange instruments, in strange places, some folk, some
electronic, miked oddly, and a video screen. And when the performance starts, it's
unclear whether this is vaudeville, or theatre, or dance, or rock, or art. Now, this
kind of thing is easy to attack, just as it's easy for Ethan to jump in and call me an
asshole. But I feel strongly that we have an obligation to attack, not deviants (who, no
matter how unacceptable today, might be signposting the future) but conformists.
5. 'Breeders, normals, straights, squares, plastics...' These insulting terms sound so
60s because it's not since the 60s that the world of 'normals' was really on the
defensive, really threatened by revolution in politics and art. Yet we need such
attitudes all the more now we're surrounded by Gaps and Starbucks, when cultural
diversity is really threatened, despite the numbers of people on the planet.
Those are my home truths, anyway.
― Momus, Sunday, 14 April 2002 00:00 (nineteen years ago) link
Of course, i-D toys with the concept of Family. But look at their family special issue
of a couple of years back and you find that the 'creatives' interviewed mean by 'family'
the people they work with, gangs of likeminded fellow refuseniks, with the
occasional biological family thrown in.
By the way, one of the saddest things I've read recently is what i-D publisher Terry
Jones says in an interview on Nick Knight's website Showstudio about an anti-
globalisation photoshoot killed in i-D after September 11th:
'We were very aware of what people were saying after September 11th, for us it
would have been totally hypocritical if we also started saying that these events
occurred as a result of global capitalism, or if our actions could be read as that. I
thought the images and the styling of the shoot were fantastic, but thinking about it
intelligently it seems we are all part of that business, we are all part of the
promotion of capitalism. Whether it is StarBucks or Dior, Gucci or McDonald's, you
can take a variety of companies that have entered the consciousness and each are
ultimately part of the shopping experience. Essentially, we are part of the promotion
of the shopping experience. So for us to attack it at that point seemed totally
I know you can't bitch about your employer, Suzy, but how sad is that? Jones is
essentially saying: 'After September 11th, anti-global messages are no different from
terrorist messages. Consumer magazines must be on the side of consumer culture.
There can be no self-criticism in the fashion industry.' So even i-D is just more
canned music in the shopping mall.
― gareth, Sunday, 14 April 2002 00:00 (nineteen years ago) link
I have a great respect for the 'ordinary' individual, the problem being that I don't believe that such people exist anymore. The suburbs have destroyed the (American) honorable working class, the inhabitants of small towns, etc.
by definition, how could everyone be "exceptional" at the same time??
also, a genius is only fun to study and talk about etc. not much fun to talk to, they tend to be assholes
― Ron, Sunday, 14 April 2002 00:00 (nineteen years ago) link
― Andrew L, Sunday, 14 April 2002 00:00 (nineteen years ago) link
i don't think peel's evolution is in any sense a surprise: his "anti-mainstream" attitudes carry the same seeds of the
reaction as yours sometimes seems to -> but he's a "find a companion i can die with" kinda fellow, reduced to seeking
the ever-changing pure sensations of the new in one familiar loved face, whereas you are notoriously mr serial best
girlfriend, so you hunt on round the world for the realm of untainted non-conformism (which you will NOT btw find in
japan, beguiling as it doubtless is for a year or so)
my objection to indie-world has always been that it has ALREADY signed its pact with the devil it defines itself as
resisting: which is to say, it underestimates the devil and overestimates itself
― mark s, Sunday, 14 April 2002 00:00 (nineteen years ago) link
ps anyone watching POPULAR will understand that as usual american teen tv is exploring these issues more
intelligently (= dialectically heh) than peel ever did, or even PiL and you KNOW how much i heart lydon
Here is my home truth: the advertising/marketing industry is THE MOST
CONSERVATIVE of ALL, no question. It is imperialist, sexist, racist
patronising, totalitarian, and utterly mediocre, colonising anything
'new' - and if you give an ad exec one inch, they'll take the mile
eventually. In fact, anyone in ANY line of work who mentions their
brand more than once in the first ten minutes of interaction must be
taken away and shot in the spirit of revolutionary insurrection. Or at
the very least this is a reliable guide for spotting assholes who
The current climate in consumer magazines, where advertisers claim to
be tightening their belts, is detrimental to freedom of expression
because the magazines in question are tripping over themselves to win
favour with the stealth conservatives who make up the industry (look, I
don't care how cool the toys are that you buy with your £50k a year
are, if you use your economic power to prevent someone from disagreeing
with you in public, you are on the same primrose path as Pinochet).
A few years ago I suggested a piece where advertisers would be called
into question for appropriating the ideas of the creative types (eg.
Gillian Wearing) regularly featured in the magazine, which never ran
shy of profiling, for example, the McLibel trial people or grassroots
anti-government protestors. But when faced with a criticism of the
advertisers buying space in the magazine, my editor said no to such a
piece because she was scared the advertisers would pull their spending
if criticised (it was okay to criticise McDonalds because they didn't
buy space, and the government because we do ostensibly live in a
democracy in Britain). There was a similar problem with the criticism
of 'foundations' run by fashion companies to give artists money for
projects, eg. the Prada Foundation. As a friend of mine, a very
prominent artist, said, 'Oh, a *foundation*. If it makes them feel any
more intelligent, fine. But it has TAX DODGE written all over it.'
These companies want to be seen as having a link with the cutting edge
of the culture, to elevate themselves above mere 'shopping', but
quickly display their true colours if challenged with the sort of
discourse found at the cutting edge, where people argue about intent,
content motivation and appropriation.
I've met virtually no-one who has achieved *nothing*. Of course stuff
like building a boat, renovating a house, running a marathon,
learning a couple of languages, coming out as gay at 30, working for
charity, and juggling work and family through serious illness,
probably rates as *nothing* vs the ability to flaunt a surface
knowledge of two or three philosophers. (These examples btw were
taken from my immediate family and folks at work).
**We live in a world in which the dogma is 'we're all equal, we're
all as valuable as each other'. But that doesn't mean we're all the
same. I, and most people I know, are people who were ostracised at
school as 'freaks'. And school was the last contact we had
with 'normal' people. We gravitated to people like ourselves -- by
and large self-employed, artistic, creative people**
What Gareth said. If you bothered to find out, instead of holing-up
with fellow pseuds 24-7, you'd see what people had to offer, and
value what they know, respect the way they live. Problem is, they
might just spot that you're a ridiculous, pompous bigot.
― Dr. C (Suburban Breeder, Square), Sunday, 14 April 2002 00:00 (nineteen years ago) link
Equality: we are supposed to enjoy equal protection under the law
regardless of sex, income, beliefs or race. Talent of an exceptional
type can crop up anywhere.
For someone so interested in seeing the world
and dinding 'interesting' folks, how can you have so little faith in
people? How fucking boring.
― Graham, Sunday, 14 April 2002 00:00 (nineteen years ago) link
If I was Joe Orton I would probably be fucking them, though.
― david h, Monday, 15 April 2002 00:00 (nineteen years ago) link
But if Momus is defining this as bettering oneself, I agree
absolutely, but you are talking to someone who dropped out of
university in the second year to work in a factory. So, maybe I am
not the best example.
Do we live in a system of mediocrity? Yes. YES. YES.
Are the normal people (who I count myself as part of) responsible for
the mediocrity? No.
It is the artists responsiblity for this, the artists and cultural
critics, who, as there job, should be responsible for this.
But then it's a tricky question, is there nothing more subversive
than normality, nothing more violent and interesting than the
psychosis of the american dream?
― doomie, Monday, 15 April 2002 00:00 (nineteen years ago) link
if the artist or culturalists places himself in the exceptional
rather than normal mind set, which is fine, he will have to expect a
cult sized audience of people who, as he does, think that they are
successful but that way of thinking is hardly successful with the
mainstream. You can still educate to some extent but it has to be
if he were to write a subversive and educating pizza hut jingle I
would honestly think that he was exceptional.
but the thing is that he's stuck in the artist ghetto, by his market
audience, the only way he can escape if he has some message of intent
before entering the mainstream. If he had a pop hit, he would lose
his bread'n'butter (his fanbase....who want him to be
exclusive/elusive) but me thinks he wants to have the big pop hit and
that is the interest aspect of Momus. One foot in cultdom and the
other in mainstream superstardom, back and forth. Until he goes fuck
it and goes for it, then he really can't complain. His cultdom has
provided him probably the income of a city investment wanker or a
member of Westlife, he has a couple of pads and meets interesting
It's possible to overrate the importance of how people earn their
living: some (many) people lead outwardly 'normal' lives while being
Similarly, Suzy's 'cannon fodder' statements overrate the importance
to having a full / rich / strange life of consuming the stuff she
Both of you seem to be saying "if you're going to be strange you'd
better do it like us".
― Tim, Monday, 15 April 2002 00:00 (nineteen years ago) link
*Something ineffably male too; the kind of lofty contempt
tossed around for 'breeders' and hyperbole re artistic 'difference'
neglects that the feminist (if not female) take on Momus' account
might bring to light whole sets of social and artistic/cultural
relationships, contradictions and possibilities otherwise
steamrollered over here. Of course the 'life of the mind' (good god)
is possible in conjunction with the domestic and the parenting; a
history of women artists have (had to) make this pretty clear in ways
that a fleeting reference to Patti Smith's retreat into the suburbs to
raise a family doesn't address.
I can't help wondering if what irks you about H Truths (and like other
people have intimated, picking on it is a straw man for cheap
potshots; the issue w/ Home Truths is style of discourse rather than
content) is Peel's occupation of what might conventionally be thought
of as a woman's role, picking through the detritus of the
ordinary/extraordinary in family life (a version of the lady novelist,
perhaps), his move from sibilant seducer of sixteen year olds to
domestic partner, rather than what it might have to say about the
state of culture more generally.
― Ellie, Monday, 15 April 2002 00:00 (nineteen years ago) link
― michael, Monday, 15 April 2002 00:00 (nineteen years ago) link
― Momus, Monday, 15 April 2002 00:00 (nineteen years ago) link
― anthony, Monday, 15 April 2002 00:00 (nineteen years ago) link
A couple of years a whole ad campaign for an online knowledge service called
Questia was based on my cabaret show 'Electronics in the 18th Century'. But by the
time it was stripped down to 30 second clips with the URL and the selling line, it was
just some guy in a wig with a silly french accent. It had none of the gestalt shock that I
put into my original cabaret, the 'what if' proposition about a parallel world where
they had Pong games in the 18th century. Was I surprised to have all the interesting
bits smoothed off my original concept? Was I fuck. It's the story of the majority of
creative people working in capitalism.
Yeah, but my original point stands, you are still attempting as well
as drawing money out, to enter the mainstream through the
advertisements. It's clever and it's often done.
Stereolab/Spiritualized/Lilys/Clash/New Order/etc. Do it. And do it
alot. Just not as blatant as you are.
Prog — which was an anti-canonic cross-class space in the late 60s and early 70s — was aggressively de-working classed
by punk, a younger-sibling-rival strand of anti-canonic cross-class bohemianism.
(very early prophet of where peel was always headed = julie burchill) (both now shill for difftly shrill versions of
normalcy, of course)
― mark s, Monday, 15 April 2002 00:00 (nineteen years ago) link
― The Ghastly Fop, Monday, 15 April 2002 00:00 (nineteen years ago) link
1. I came to Peel in the late 80s when he was already domesticated.
His show was the first place where I heard reggae, techno,
experimental pop musics and any kind of African musics. Yes
admittedly at the time I endured these while waiting for that next
Weddoes session track but I'm still grateful. Crucially he also
played all this stuff with constant asides about Flossie and William
and The Pig. Doing this he was setting out an inspiring having-it-all
style model to me - he can have the comforting intimacies of family
life and still be collecting thousands of records and reaching across
the airwaves to shape the tastes of geeks like me, hooray!
2. I want to have children so I can make up stories for them, red
others, embellish still more. A huge huge part of the imaginative and
artistic tradition, certainly in the West and no doubt elsewhere, is
born out of 'normal life'/'family life'. Next to religion it's the
biggest artistic motor going - you told stories to entertain the
family; you learnt to play, or compose, music in a family setting. So
perhaps Momus misunderstands the problem - not one of elites vs
normals but a change in the idea of what 'family life' is, one which
downplays the self-created family experience in favour of the shop-
3. I think people are underestimating the wish for individuality, or
at least the wish to define one's own environment - it's a motive
force for 'creatives' but also for 'normals', too. What Momus is
really talking about isn't elitism so much as cliquism, the desire to
find a bunch of mates who share similar interests and disinterests.
Momus producing art which gets consumed mostly by other artists or
wannabe-artists doesn't seem too dissimilar to Pete or Emma or me or
John or Tim or Sarah producing jokes in the pub which get consumed by
― Tom, Monday, 15 April 2002 00:00 (nineteen years ago) link
― Queen G, Monday, 15 April 2002 00:00 (nineteen years ago) link
― Ignore Otherwise, Monday, 15 April 2002 00:00 (nineteen years ago) link
― di, Monday, 15 April 2002 00:00 (nineteen years ago) link
― Ned Raggett, Monday, 15 April 2002 00:00 (nineteen years ago) link
― geeta, Monday, 15 April 2002 00:00 (nineteen years ago) link
Urgh! Those lines make me shudder. I hope he didn't mean for them to
sound the way they do to me. Apparently, this argument is about John
Peel but that just made me imagine a row of pretty but moronic
girls, knees spread, crying "Impregnate me because I could never
hope to achieve anything else in life!". It seems hateful of the
housewife, a male disdain for the drudgery, the "less important"
role of raising children. Can mothers and fathers not produce some
of the most beautiful pieces of art, even more beautiful because it
deals with their children? I am thinking of Mahler's
Kindertotenlieder and Schumann's Scenes from Childhood. Flemish art
that depicted domestic life (specifically female roles such as
laceworkers and spinners) or Caravaggio's fortune tellers and local
peasants were both considered controversial because it deviated from
the 'high art' of the typical classical, elevated heroic mode.
Jesus, I don't know how old John Peel is but he must be getting up
there. He can't be dealing with bouncing girls and perfumed sex
gardens forever, can he? That would be incredibly depressing.
Everyone else will eventually have to deal with liver spots/sagging
breasts/wrinkled penises which will not impress the cute girl/boy
out there unless we happen to be fabulously wealthy. By then, will
perfumed sex gardens even matter? No, you'll be hoping that you have
grandchildren to take care of, tell stories to, admire their
potential. Well, that is what I will be hoping anyways. Oh I am
letting this thread frustrate me, sorry!
― Evangeline, Monday, 15 April 2002 00:00 (nineteen years ago) link
'what things are' is quite open to debate, is not not? what
things are depends on what context you are looking from.
― jess, Monday, 15 April 2002 00:00 (nineteen years ago) link
'SOMETHING GOOD ON TELLY ALERT' thread: 1 post. Mmm Pies: 76.
Come on, admit it, you love it!
― ethan, Monday, 15 April 2002 00:00 (nineteen years ago) link
― Tracer Hand, Monday, 15 April 2002 00:00 (nineteen years ago) link
― Tom, Tuesday, 16 April 2002 00:00 (nineteen years ago) link
Oh but I think there are
several who HAVE heard his music and consider that also.
― Sarah, Tuesday, 16 April 2002 00:00 (nineteen years ago) link
― Momus, Tuesday, 16 April 2002 00:00 (nineteen years ago) link
Ethan, what the fuck.
― Ramosi, Tuesday, 16 April 2002 00:00 (nineteen years ago) link
― jel --, Tuesday, 16 April 2002 00:00 (nineteen years ago) link
― david h, Tuesday, 16 April 2002 00:00 (nineteen years ago) link
― maryann, Tuesday, 16 April 2002 00:00 (nineteen years ago) link
― Norman Phay, Tuesday, 16 April 2002 00:00 (nineteen years ago) link
― Frank Swedehead, Monday, 17 May 2004 18:25 (seventeen years ago) link
lol home truths
― cozwn, Thursday, 15 January 2009 16:46 (twelve years ago) link