Resurrecting Michael Jackson

Ok, so of course I wrote my Michael Jackson blog Is Michael Jackson Really Dead? If So, Could Kanye West be Behind it?’  in the hope that it would be read by a wider and different audience than my usual work. Of course I was deliberately contentious, with a view to provoking some responses (although precisely what sort of responses I would receive, I didn’t really consider). Of course it was an absurd suggestion, to pin Jackson’s death on lamecore rapper Kanye West. I didn’t feel the need to explain that I was mocking targets left, right and centre: the media, the conspiracy theorists, West and, yes, Jackson and his ‘fans’. Of course it was rushed. I knew that there would be an insane media frenzy – it was already in full spate while the news was still breaking. And yes, I’ve long maintained that a good title counts for a lot.

At the time, however, I didn’t truly appreciate just how good my title was, although had I thought about it, it would have been quite apparent. As is the case with every dead celebrity, people are incredulous. Ok, fans and the gullible are incredulous, the conspiracy theorists simply refuse to accept what the media present as ‘fact.’ If Elvis isn’t dead, Diana isn’t dead, Richie Edwards isn’t dead and Jesus Christ isn’t dead, why would Michael Jackson have popped it for real? The circumstances surrounding his death, not to mention the way in which it happened, were truly ideal for the formation of conspiracy theories. So half the world took to the ‘net in search of theories, and facts that they could use to piece together half-baked theories of their own.  Within a matter of days, it was abundantly clear that the phrase ‘is Michael Jackson really dead?’ had serious currency, and my article, being one of the first published under this title, shot toward the top of any Google search using that phrase. Bingo!

Right now, if you simply type ‘is Mic’ into Google, it will offer ‘is Michael Jackson really dead’ (without quotation marks or question mark) as a popular search above, amongst others, ‘is Michael Schumacher the Stig,’ ‘is Michael Ball married,’ ‘is Michael Buble married’ and ‘is Michael Jackson a Muslim.’ Taking the first option yields some 409,000,000 hits. My article is at number two.

Almost a year on, and that phrase remains incredibly popular. The hits were tailing off, though, and the comments were only being posted very occasionally. Still, I’d had my fun, made my point, wound up a fair few idiots who had completely missed the point, and… what’s that, a new conspiracy theory? Jackson is alive and on national television as a burns victim who was friends with the late star? Jacko even paid for some of this guy’s reconstructive surgery? Brilliant! David Rothenberg had even changed his name to Dave Dave to ‘erase’ his past, a man intent on breaking free from his past by adopting a new identity…

Suddenly, my little article, banged out in a couple of hours as a wind-up, which had settled down to receiving a steady 20-30 hits per day, is back up to the region of 150 hits a day… and rising. Jackson may well be dead, but this article is definitely alive and kicking!

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On Yer Bike! Rights (and Wrongs) of Way

In my previous blog, I considered the current seeming obsession with ‘rights’ – the right to free speech, and so on. Well here’s another: right of way. To clarify, the ever-contentious debate over vehicle / cyclist / pedestrian rights of way.

I should perhaps point out two things before I continue: first, I’m all too aware that everyone seems to believe that they have right of way wherever they may be on the highways and byways, and while I’m no fan of motorists (to put it mildly), but get rather annoyed when cyclists claim that they are legally entitled to go wherever they so wish, and equally by pedestrians who insist that the right of way is theirs, and that if they choose to walk down the middle of the road, then they should expect all traffic to stop. Second, I’m not in the habit of blogging anecdotes-cum-rants, or rantecdotes, and generally find other people’s tales of what annoyed them today quite tedious. However, this one I just couldn’t leave.

Ok, so I’m rarely in the best of humour on my way to work in the morning. Juggling multiple jobs in addition to my writing, I’m usually short on sleep, and so rather crotchety. However, I’m also fairly awake and cogent: I’m something of a morning person. I just happen to hate my job, and also get annoyed by groups of schoolchildren walking five abreast at a quarter of a mile an hour.

Cyclists, pedestrians, motorists… it makes no difference to me. Returning to the point I made in my previous blog, it’s not about ‘rights’ or even ‘responsibilities.’ My rule for living: ‘don’t be a twat.’ So when people are walking three or four abreast and I’m on my own, it’s difficult for me to reduce the space I occupy in order to make way for them. I have permanent bruises on my shoulders from almost daily pedestrian collisions, but what can I do? I can’t go less than single file.

So yesterday I was walking toward town with my wife. Our journey takes us through an underpass beneath a railway line, and the route is shared by both pedestrians and cyclists, with no marked divisions for either. Seeing an oncoming cyclist, my wife went ahead of me and we proceeded in single file and pulled in to the right. A third pedestrian remained to the right, but there was still what looked like a navigable gap in the middle.

The cyclist – a middle-aged woman – clearly thought otherwise, and without really slowing down, veered straight toward me as Mrs Nosnibor, ahead of me, rounded the corner out of the underpass. I maintained my trajectory: I didn’t really have anywhere else to go, and besides, I figured she would surely apply the breaks before she landed her front wheel between my knees. Inches away from me, I pulled away a little, but with a wall inches to  my right, didn’t have much scope for evasive action. She, meanwhile, weaved to her right by a few inches and ploughed straight into my left arm. It hurt.

‘This is a cycle path, you know!’ she shouted irately.

‘It’s also a pavement!’ I retorted, similarly irate and not just a little bit shocked. Yes, I had meant footpath, but my full vocabulary often escapes me at 7.45am when I’ve just been hit by a lump of pedal-powered metal.

‘I know!’ the idiot shouted over her shoulder as she regained momentum, leaving me no opportunity for a further response. Not that I’m sure how I would have made a comeback to such an evidently nonsensical rejoinder.

Rubbing my bruised arm, jarred to the shoulder, shocked, and above all enraged, I continued on my way, ranting inchoately about the fucking bag who clearly thought she had the divine right to mow through pedestrians just because. The question is, would she have continued her collision course and berated me for failing to evaporate into the air in order to make way for her if I had been a small child or an elderly person? Of course, I don’t know, but I’d be curious to see the scenario play out again in different circumstances. One has to question the logic and mental capacity of someone who goes straight toward the largest target – the two pedestrians close together instead of the one walking alone – or, better still, the space between the two objects. Was she trying to make a point, or just a complete fuckwit? Again, I don’t know.

Believe it or not, I’m actually all in favour of cycling. It’s an economical and environmentally way of getting about, not to mention a good way of incorporating some light exercise into a person’s daily routine. So yes, I’m very much in favour of cycling. Responsible cycling that it. Wearing a helmet, high visibility clothing, lights when appropriate, riding on the road or in the cycle lane or on cycle paths rather than the pavement, and following the flow of traffic (the number of cyclists I see riding the wrong way up one way streets is just insane)… that’s responsible cycling. Oh, and not being a twat. Is that really so much to ask?



And if you’re loving my work, there’s more of the same (only different) at

Christopher Nosnibor: Writing Machine



2010: the story so far… 1 anthology – edited and containing 2 previously unpublished prose pieces

2 new short pieces of fiction published in zines (both in consecutive issues of the superb Paraphilia)

9 interviews conducted with authors who contributed to the Clinical, Brutal… anthology.

1 interview given, to one Lucius Rofocale

91 music reviews published at Whisperinadhollerin.

Much more in the pipeline.

Just because the blogs have been less frequent shouldn’t be taken to mean I’ve not been working…..

A Reflection on ‘A Reflection,’ or, 2009: A Year of Four Quarters

Well, I did it: I wrote four stories and published them as limited-edition pamphlets at quarterly intervals through 2009. I can’t exactly recall how or why the idea came about, but the objective was to release the literary equivalent of a series of singles that together form a set. I could have published a collectiom of short stories, but having done that in 2007 with ‘Bad Houses’ I decided I needed a new strategy, a new challenge. Moreover, as the publishing industry is as fucked as the music industry, it’s down to the writers themselves to come up with innovative new strategies for getting their works not only out there, but sold. There’s no small irony in the fact that, as a music obsessive, I elected to employ an old music industry tactic in the form of the limited edition for my 2009 project. After all, there’s nothing like a limited edition to create buzz, not to mention a potential future collectable.

By using the same artwork but in a different colour for each publication, the thematic unity of the contents would be reinforced by the visual presentation (while also recreating the effect of coloured vinyls – sort of). Having declared that I would be producing these pieces, I then had to do some serious writing. At the same time, I was aware that there was a very grave danger of overkill after a fairly prolific couple of years, with ‘Bad Houses’ and ‘C.N.N.’ in 2007, ‘THE PLAGIARIST’ and ‘Postmodern Fragments’ and a proliferation of magazine publications in 2008. Consequently, I decided I should cut back on other works save for a few carefully and strategically selected contributions – primarily in Paraphilia Magaine, which I believe is the best zine out there right now, and THE place to be seen.

I didn’t set out with any specific theme in mind, although other pieces I had already been working on suggested emerging concerns – obsessions may perhaps be a more accurate choice of word – and so I decided to focus squarely on these issues in ‘Lust for Death.’ It didn’t so much stare death in the face as take it outside and challenge it to a bout of bare-knuckle fisticuffs, while also taking a new approach to narrative, recounting the same events from three different narrative perspectives.

Despite wanting the publications to be quite closely linked and thus evidently part of a sequence or collection of related works, it was essential to me that I tried a different approach for each story, and set myself a new challenge. As such, the styles of the stories are varied, although I’ve been pleased with the results on each occasion, while also feeling a sense of achievement  knowing that I had pushed myself every time.

 ‘Before the Flood’ took a slightly more oblique approach to issues of (im)mortality. Taken from a much larger piece the tone was also rather different, and more overtly literary. The third pamphlet, ‘Counting the Hours’ was a more introspective piece, with events confined to a single hour in the life of an agoraphobic first-person narrator. Because I was in the process of moving house at the time of its publication, I didn’t do a great deal to promote it, and this was reflected in the sales, which were, frankly, abysmal. Disappointing, to say the least, as this is, in my opinion, the strongest of the three (not to mention the longest by far).

I was almost tempted to ditch the project at this point, but having some this far, I got back on that bike and rode it… hard. The result is the fragmented, multi-voiced, many-angled ‘A Reflection,’ which revisits many of the themes of the preceding works of the series, and even echoes some of the narratives contained therein, while interweaving these with my own personal reflections on events, concepts and even the writing process of the series and other (dis)connected texts. It’s as close to autobiography as I’ve come in any of my (published) works, although it’s a most postmodern literary exercise, in that it intentionally blurs the boundaries between author / narrator / character, fact / fiction, biography / fabrication. Moreover, as much as it is ‘a reflection’ on the past tear and the closing decade, it’s also a hint of the direction my writing is heading, the avenues I’m inclined to pursue over the next couple of years.

I intend to publish less still in 2010. Paid work and a focus on the completion of longer works mean that shorter pieces will simply not be viable. In addition, I have a substantial hoard of works – including 2 novels and 2 novellas – that lurk unpublished, and submitting work is easily as time-consuming as producing it. The reviews and blogs will continue, and there will be more fiction and rants. But less is more, and while exposure is the way forward in any quest for ubiquity, there is such a thing as overkill, and there are other avenues yet to be explored.

Anyway, 2010 will kick off in dramatic style with the launch of the ‘Clinical, Brutal’ anthology that I’ve edited and am inordinately proud of, and I have a stack of pamphlets in the office just waiting to be dispatched. They’re only available via and are sure to be worth a packet in another ten years’ time!

‘A Reflection’ is officially published on December 30th. Orders are being taken now at

Over the Border(s) (RIP): The Changing Face of Consumerism VII

While there’s been talk of ‘green shoots’ and other such piffle relating to an imminent recovery in the market and of the economy, the evidence of recent events suggests that such positively has been, and remains, somewhat premature. Now, it’s my opinion that those who say that the end of the recession is in sight are those who are gullible enough to believe what they hear in the news. Of course politicians want us to believe that things will be rosy in next to no time, and talk up ‘consumer confidence.’

The trouble is, I can’t see where this additional consumer spending is going to come from when redundancies are being announced on an almost daily basis – or where these people with cash to burn are going to spend it given that there are a diminishing number of shops trading.

Last week, our city centre Threshers began its closing down sale. Within a couple of days the shelves were looking extremely bare. Ok, so I rarely shop in there, not least of all because I tend to brew much of my own beer. I don’t think however that my lack of custom alone has brought about the demise of a chain of off-license stores.

I was more concerned by the news that Borders has gone into administration. I’m a big buyer of books, and while I do purchase a lot of my books second hand, and many via Amazon, I have been a regular shopper in Borders, too. I do think that Borders was significantly better when it was owned by its American parent company. I remember when Borders first opened in York, being bowled over by the range of books, in particular US publications. On relocating to Glasgow in 2000 and finding the largest Borders in the UK, I was in book heaven.

Valco Capital Partners, the private equity company that took over in the summer steered the chain in a more mainstream direction, serving up the same 3 for 2 offers on bestsellers as Waterstones ad WHS. And so it is that I’ve found myself increasingly forced to turn to on-line stores to obtain the books that I want. It goes without saying that commentators will blame the Internet for ‘stealing’ trade, but in instances like this, I can’t help but feel that the trade’s been surrendered, handed over to the on-line stores on a plate.

Even so, Borders still carried a far better range of stock than its competitors, and what concerns me is that once again, the disappearance of the chain can only lead to one thing: reduced customer choice. The fact that there’s choice on-line is not the same. Much of the immense joy of perusing the shelves of a bookstore is not knowing what you want until you find it. Through the years, I’ve made many browse purchases, including my first discovery of Stewart Home, whose Slow Death I happened upon in Virgin in Oxford in 99. There have been terrible days in my life where I’ve completely turned things around by going to my local bookshop, picking up something that, on the basis of the cover and the blurb and a quick flick of a couple of pages, appears to be just what I need to lift my mood – or reflect it – and immersed myself in an impulse book buy until things have improved. That can’t happen with on line shopping. I’m not impatient, but sometimes we all need instant gratification.

What’s more, browsing just isn’t the same. ‘Other people who bought this’ recommendations are all too prescriptive, too obviously designed to steer the shopper in a certain direction, can all to easily be rigged to operate as another marketing technique. Browsing is a truly random, arbitrary and physical experience. No-one else can browse on your behalf.

It’s surely through browsing that a great books are sold, and while many some have the advantage of being included in those stack ‘em high, 3 for 2 offers and therefore stand a chance of being the third bonus book that someone throws in simply because it’s free, small publishers simply can’t compete.

This is perhaps the biggest concern raised by the collapse of Borders – a chain who have been pretty good at accommodating small, even local publishers, and were forward-thinking enough to incorporate a print on demand element within some of their stores. Yes, the future of publishing is something that is affected by this latest development in the retail sector. In the first instance, no Borders equals one fewer outlet through which publishers – and consequently authors – can make their works available. For me, there’s a personal dimension to this story also: the plan had been to approach the Borders in York and Leeds to see if they would be willing to stock Clinicality Press’ Clinical, Brutal anthology, given Clinicality’s position as a ‘regional’ publisher. Granted, only a couple of the authors in the book are remotely local, but that’s hardy the point: the point was exposure, pure and simple. Another door closes…

Worse still, if new authors are more likely to be discovered by readers through browsing, then the virtual elimination of browsing from book shopping culture means that only established authors – or authors that readers intentionally set out to buy books by – are going to sell. The result will be that publishers – already reluctant to try new authors because of the increasingly tight bottom line – simply aren’t going to take risks on unknowns. Before long, there will come a point of total stagnation… and then what?

Chances are the long-term outcome of all of this will be a dramatic revision of the way books are sold, the way the publishing world operates – a brave new world, in much the same way that the music industry revolution that is currently under way is seeing bright new ways emerging from the dark ruins of what was once a seemingly unshakeable empire. But right now, it’s rather hard to be optimistic.

Some time ago, I posted a blog pondering on the future of publishing, suggesting that these are exciting times for tiny publishers with innovation on their side and for authors who are willing to adopt the punk ethic in their approach to writing and (self)publishing. I still believe this, but also believe there are some difficult times ahead. It’s going to be a long and difficult struggle for survival. But I’m up for a fight…

If you’re loving my work, there’s more of the same (only different) at… and if you’re really loving it, feel free to purchase a book or two, since you can’t get them in Borders.

Nothing like a good conspiracy theory… the Michael Jackson media frenzy

Well, it’s true, there’s nothing like a good conspiracy theory, and this is nothing like a good conspiracy theory. However, I thought I’d spin something out just for the hell of it and see how it went down, fully expecting it to get completely buried in the media blizzard that has become the death of Michael Jackson. And while it might not be setting the blogosphere alight, ‘Is Michael Jackson Really Dead? And if so, Could Kanye West be to Blame?‘ is proving to be by far the most successful thing I’ve written to date, at least in terms of hits. And while I’m not entirely sure how I feel about this – after all, having been thrown together in a couple of hours, I don’t think it’s my best writing and I’d much prefer a piece like ‘Blogging and the Myspace Generation: Gatecrashing Someone Else’s Therapy Session‘ to be widely read, or, better still, to be recognised as a writer of fiction, I really oughtn’t grumble. After all, all any writer wants is to be read…