If it wasn't such a brilliant name for an arts-based Media Empire, I'd regret calling it The Vile Arts right about now. It is probably the first lesson that they teach in "Marketing Your Murderous Corporate Machine": make sure the name isn't too personal. That way, when you ask other writers to get involved, they won't ask whether the whole thing isn't one big bloody ego trip.
Well, of course it is. Having you been paying attention? I am out of control. I don't review plays, I review myself. I spend more time preening than writing or broadcasting. It takes me three hours to get my make-up done before the Radio Hour. Put an audience in my way, and I'll get up and tell an audience a self-obsessed tale of how some theatre company forgot to send me files for the show, and end it with "Would You Treat the BBC like that?" I fell in love and wrote an opera about it - it had a sad ending in real life but was redeemed by the script. I review shows I haven't seen, still haven't stopped laughing about the time I gave Five Stars to a lap-dancing club and carry a copy of a PhD in my pocket. Not mine - I just get thanked in the credits.
Still, the blog's a good place for it, isn't it?
However, there are a few people who deserve credit for The Vile Arts. Most of all, My Producer Harry. If I manage to keep this blog going for more than two weeks, mentions of Harry will become pervasive. He might be young enough to be my son - assuming I was more sexually active in my early adolescence than I am now - but he provides a stability to my on-air ranting. He also taught me about the hegemony of technology - that esoteric reason that explains why The Black Eyed Peas are successful (the exoteric reason being Fergie's Bumps). He fixes my interviews, makes the Radio Hour sound nice and cuts out my crap. He can say "okay" in fifteen different ways, meaning everything from "I am vaguely interested, now" through to "put another record on, grandad".
One of the essential premises of The Vile Arts is exactly the bickering between Host and Producer that fills up the dead air: I have an idea that New Media is all about diversity, and when Harry scolds me for playing the Swedish House Mafia without listening to them first, it is our contribution to post-modern bricolage.
Next up we have Nick Spaghetti. Nick has another name and a career as a Live Artist. When I realised that I was way too old to be dominating the musical choices, I drafted in Nick on the promise of a glamorous lifestyle. Even after he realised I was just being friendly, and delusional, he stuck around, and has been forging Vile links with bands who would be too busy laughing at my wrinkles to answer my questions. Nick is the reason that the Vile Arts hasn't degenerated into an Alex Smoke - Holy Mountain - Creative Martyrs mash up session. He is also very informed on all sorts of things, from feminism to performance art, and I frequently steal his ideas.
I also told Nick he'd get to meet Margaret Kirk. She works behind the scenes, being a male fantasy of the glamorous and intelligent woman - the rumour is that Wonder Woman was based on her during the 1990s. Margaret does much of the writing around the Radio Hour and has agreed to contribute on this blog, especially when she notices that Vile has got it wrong, again. I have worked with her since University, and she could probably host the show, produce it and write a weekly magazine on Glasgow Arts, if she didn't have a life already.
Michael Cox isn't strictly one of the team, but his Across The Arts is a great site. It might even be better than this one and the Radio Hour combined, as it aggregates theatre reviews from across Scotland. So we won't be linking that, then.
We have had a great deal of help from our guests: Fielding Hope, out of Cry Parrot has been heroic, standing in for Harry; Laurin Campbell did a few turns; Virginia Kennard has done reviews and turned up to plug my gaps. She has been on the show a few times, too. The real strength of the show is the guests: I'll save that essay for another time, though. And a further tip of the hat to those press people who have faith in The Vile Arts. there are those that either don't, or can't quite grapple with how a self-respecting Media Node operates. I am sure I'll be sharing their stories soon enough. I'll mark out the temper tantrums by using a 50 point font highlighted in red.
Of course, I shall never change the name. I read an article about branding once, and think that I am Nike. I would not even have written this if Margaret and Mr Criticulous, who isn't supposed to exist, weren't standing behind me. They have been on a three day binge, Criticulous is wiping coke from his nose and sharpening a knife. When I have got him calmed down, I'll write the article I started off an hour ago about Contemporary Classical Music in The Arches.