I’ve always depended on the kindness of strangers and this has been especially true during the long nights and evenings of lockdown. Not for a secret late night tryst but more strangers I kind of know, in one way or another.
I haven’t baked bread (because it would be sad to see a loaf for one going stale on the kitchen counter). I haven’t done any yoga (because I’m not very bendy). I haven’t learned a language (because coronavirus cancelled my holiday).
I haven’t watched any plays through NT Live (because if I learned nothing else at school I learned that plays filmed and then shown on television are nowhere near as good as plays at a theatre.
What I have done is either really look forward to or stumble upon and enjoy a whole host of musical entertainment with a smattering of drama/ comedy. Oh yes, and also a journalism event I never would have imagined experiencing.
So this week’s ‘episode’ of Fiskal Policy is kind of a list of recommendations of things to look out for during the week (especially if, like me, you have moved home recently so don’t have the requisite number of friends nearby to conform with the latest ‘meet up in parks even though the infection rate is still way above most of the world’ policy) – and some you’ll find saved on Facebook/ Instagram pages.
Get down with DJ Yoda
I’ve loved DJ Yoda for a long time – since seeing him play at a Sony party in 2003 (or it might have been 2004) when I worked at PlayStation. But I’ve only managed to catch the last two weeks of sets because I always used to forget what day it was, or even what time it was.
Both the ones I heard have been epic though and I’m excited for this Wednesday.
It’s (listening) party time
The Charlatans have been part of some of my favourite musical memories of my lifetime (from the time I met them at a signing in the Virgin Megastore in London’s Oxford Street and – for some reason – Tim Burgess really appreciated my Marion t-shirt, to getting applause in the Dublin Castle when I played White Shirt on the jukebox, and running as fast as I could from my tent so I could get to the front row when they played Glastonbury in 2015) so it makes sense that Tim Burgess is playing a big part in getting me through lockdown.
Tim’s Twitter Listening Party is a simple enough concept of everyone listening to an album at the same time while the band in question posts tweets giving information about the tracks.
And that’s exactly why it works. There’s a great feeling of listening to music with other people and learning some things at the same time.
But, similarly to missing DJ Yoda sets, I’m left with lots of questions. I thoroughly enjoyed The Subways Young for Eternity listening party so why did I not notice, until now, Mercury Rev‘s Deserter’s Songs was on the same night?
Using this post as a calendar for a second – I think next week I’m going to try to be there for Maximo Park‘s A Certain Trigger (9pm on Tuesday), Gomez‘s Liquid Skin (9pm on Wednesday), some of Mystery Jet‘s Twenty One (9pm on Thursday – but only some of it because it clashes with a pub quiz), Four Tet’s Rounds (9pm on Friday) and I’m especially excited about Camera Obscura‘s Lets Get Out of This Country (8pm on Saturday).
In a Terminator style
The Robert from the past would never have believed it if the Robert from the future had told him there would be a time where his favourite bands would hold listening parties where they would chat about their favourite tracks. But during lockdown it has happened twice for Salad and three times for The Subways.
The first listening event for The Subways was something I stumbled upon after an all too short virtual leaving party for someone from my work. Thankfully I did find it because it more than made up for the rest of the night.
A few weeks later was something I never would have imagine when I was 15 – Marijne from Salad talking about Drink Me to mark 25 years since it was released – yes, my favourite singer from when I was a teenager talking about my favourite album.
In a festival clash style The Subways were talking about Rock n Roll Queen at the same time and it’s one of my favourite songs ever so I couldn’t make a difficult decision.
Instead I used my skills from my days of political journalism (when I’d listen to a radio show and two TV programmes at the same time) and listened to both at once. It worked – kind of. (Just two days later it was just about The Subways with the All or Nothing listening party.)
On Friday night there was only Salad on the menu and, although I didn’t win a prize for my puns, it was a delight to learn more about some of their B-sides, and the triple A-sides!
Almost finally, because I haven’t spoken about Community for a fortnight (read the original post here) it’s important to mention the table read of Cooperative Polygraphy, the fourth episode of Season 5, which first aired January 16, 2014 (aka more than six years before I’d seen any of the episodes) on NBC.
The table read, shortly followed by a Q&A, both aired on YouTube at 2pm Pacific Standard Time which worked well for me because 10pm my time is a great time to be entertained. But I still don’t understand why that time was chosen.
The read wasn’t live so surely it would have made more sense to premiere it later so more Americans could have watched it after a day of work.
If it had been a live Q&A I would have asked Alison Brie where she got her record player from, because it looks great.
If you watch nothing else from the table read, make sure you watch Pedro Pascal losing it over some sperm.
And on Thursday night while waiting for a photographer to call (it’s a story for another time) I chanced upon an Instagram Live with Joel McHale (from the aforementioned Community) speaking to Dr Joshua Schiffer about coronavirus.
In the 15 or so minutes I was watching I learned more about COVID-19 than I’d ever known before. I’ve also enjoyed the occasional Instagram Live by Yvette Nicole Brown (also from Community).
But throughout all the weeks of lockdown the only thing I never expected (and, to be honest, never thought would happen in my lifetime) was a live Q&A on Zoom with the other Robert Fisk.
As a journalist the furthest I got was to Cyprus, to eat and drink a lot, whereas he has spent countless years reporting on the Middle East, including interviewing Osama Bin Laden three times.
Sadly I didn’t get to ask any of my questions but if you have any interest in journalism at all then you should watch the film the Q&A was promoting.
Stay safe for another week!