Jar Of Awesome
This week: three short-ish pieces on cars, planes and specifically NOT yellow submarines. (Shudder)
And welcome to whatever this newsletter is.
Whatever it was last week went down so well that I had to dust off my Jar Of Awesome for this barnstorming compliment:
Wow. If I was printing out your emails to keep. I’d put this on the top. Brilliant stuff. Thank you for taking the time to write this.
No, no — thank you!
I can’t remember where I got the idea for a ‘Jar Of Awesome’ — and, intriguingly, the Internet seems to have forgotten as well — but it’s basically a folder in my email account where I can dump emails in which people give me compliments.
Imagine you could create your own room in a prestigious national art gallery, where the walls are crammed tight with framed lithographs of every compliment you’ve ever received, every positive review you’ve ever garnered, every laurel wreath, every ‘well done’, every ‘thank you’, every love letter — in short, every personal note anyone has ever taken the time to write for the sole and specific reason to let you know how awesome they think you are.
Well, you can.
(Not the prestigious national art gallery bit — it’s still just a folder in your email account.)
I’ve been doing this for four years now and I can tell you that it’s a powerful place.
I should spend more time there.
Now, settle down because we’ve got a lot to get through. This week: three short-ish pieces on cars, planes and specifically NOT yellow submarines. (Shudder)
Ogmios’ Zen School Of Motoring has made it to the BBC. Take a bow, commissioners.
Ogmios is the alias of writer, performer and GoPro Buddhist Ivan Battaliero-Owen, who started the Zen School during lockdown as a way to embrace the traffic chaos of North London, improve his own driving etiquette and balance his road state of mind.
The result is an utterly charming blend of social observation, reverse road rage, ASMR, Zen Buddhism, comedy and rap.
I defy your eyes not to shed a tear over Ogmios’ poetic exploration of the Magic Roundabout in Swindon and his empathetic pigeon battle rap. This is television that makes the world, in particular the battlefield of its roads, a better, safer place.
In ancient mythology, Ogmios was an older, more tanned version of Heracles who defeated his enemies, not with strength, but with eloquence.
Unlike Heracles, whose enemies were generally a little irked to find themselves on the receiving end of the hero’s battle club and poisoned arrows, Ogmios’ enemies were positively thrilled to fall under his lyrical spell.
The pen is mightier than the sword. The tongue is mightier than the battle club. The Zenway Code is mightier than the road rage.
Thanks to Paul for sharing the quiet delights of Zen School. Let’s be better drivers, in life as well as on road.
End ‘ghost' flights
I just signed a petition to end ‘ghost’ flights.
There may well be things that we, as individuals, can do in our daily lives to help us live more closely aligned to our environmental values, but we shouldn’t forget to save enough strength to pull the lever of political change.
To paraphrase Rebecca Solnit and Bill McKibben: Individual actions do add up — they just don’t multiply.
At a time when many of us feel acute eco-distress, we need to come together to end frankly piss-taking industries and reform our outdated institutions and paradoxical regulation.
That’s why Flight Free UK are acting now to end the crazy regulation that forces airlines to run empty ‘ghost’ flights:
UK regulation states that airlines must use their landing slots more than 80% of the time in order to keep them. This was suspended at the outset of the pandemic but is now 50%, with plans to return to 80% by March 2022.
We ask the Government to reduce this to 0% as a permanent measure.
Airlines have been flying planes empty to retain their landing slots. These ‘ghost’ flights are a shocking waste of resources and a needless source of emissions.
At a time of climate emergency we need to drastically reduce our fossil fuel use, and in the context of our steadily dwindling carbon budget, it beggars belief that planes fly empty.
‘Ghost’ flights are of no benefit to anyone. This is a needless, wasteful practice, and reforming historic rights to landing slots will bring it to an end.
Please don’t waste any more energy worrying about whether that plastic food tray can or can’t be recycled. Put your energy into pulling that lever.
The Beatles: Not As Good As Dylan
I know how enthralled you all were by my breakdown of every single Dylan album (see 88 Percent Perfection), so it was only a matter of time before I inflicted the same analysis on The Beatles.
I went through every single Beatles song on every single canonical Beatles album (except Yellow Submarine because: huh?) and ranked them according to the same vigorous scale:
SKIPPER. I’d skip this song more times than not. Actively unpleasant.
FILLER. I’d probably leave this song on, but might skip. Unmoved either way.
BOPPER. This song would get me moving pleasantly and possibly singing along.
BANGER. I’d be singing by now. A thoroughly enjoyable experience (the song, not my singing).
KILLER. My life would not be the same without this song. I’d stop what I’m doing to listen and probably rewind when it gets to the end.
I won’t agonise over the details and let this chart speak for itself:
Before you weigh in with invective, it’s worth remembering that over 60% POP is, as I said in my original piece, ‘a sublime album’.
Once they got their cover album training wheels off, The Beatles delivered six sublime albums, including one that almost rivals Dylan’s mid-sixties output.
Of course, no metric can fairly judge something as subjective as a song — our experiences are so fluid in our own minds, not to mention in other people’s. Already my Dylan chart has changed. I expect my Beatles chart to change with almost every listen.
But there are a few surprises in the data: I have long held as a truth self-evident that The White Album is my favourite Beatles album.
That’s as may be, but according to the POP chart it is surpassed in perfection by Revolver, Abbey Road, Let It Be and, top of the rankings, Rubber Soul.
Although it contains almost a quarter of my favourite Beatles songs of all time, The White Album’s rating is stuffed by a surfeit of tracks all too easily skipped.
Naming no names, but ‘Dear Prudence’ (mainly composed by Lennon), ‘Wild Honey Pie’ (McCartney), ‘Piggies’ (Harrison), ‘Don’t Pass Me By’ (Starr), ‘Revolution 9’ (Lennon), ‘Glass Onion’ (Lennon), ‘Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da’ (McCartney), ‘Long, Long, Long’ (Harrison) and ‘Good Night’ (Lennon) could have been saved for a Bootleg Series-style retrospective.
But even if The Beatles had shown a little more, er, prudence in the cutting room, The White Album would still only have ranked fourth in a combined Dylan-Beatles album chart.
I suppose that’s why Dylan was awarded a Nobel prize for his songwriting and all Paul McCartney got was a red ribbon with a threaded golden border and the letters CH after his name.
(What about the others? Annoyed with Britain’s support of the Vietnam War and ‘Cold Turkey slipping down the charts’, John Lennon returned his MBE in 1969; George Harrison, hoping for a knighthood, refused an OBE in 2000; Ringo Starr, in 1989, accepted an Emmy for his role as The Fat Controller in Thomas The Tank Engine.)
That’s all for this week. Ooh, no — one last thing. I’m now officially a research study.
Thanks to AH for linking me to the study and to GC for the action photo!