Sign of the times: Books are making a secret comeback


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The Independent Online

“How Millennials Consume Content” might not be the most promising title for a report, but a recent OnePoll survey does reveal the surprising fact that people aged between 18 and 34 in the UK and the US overwhelmingly prefer reading books on paper (71 per cent) to electronic devices.

This will come as a surprise to a San Francisco-based comedian named Joe Klocek. In a recent Facebook post, Klocek told how he had just sat down to read in a local café when the following occurred: “Two pages in and the beard who made my coffee came up to me. ‘Sir, this table is reserved for people with laptops.’ Before I could respond he pointed at a sign on the table that said ‘For laptop users only.’ The beard took out a cellphone. ‘Look, I’m hungover and in no mood. I’m just going to call the police if you don’t leave.’”

After posting the story to Facebook, Klocek was inundated with requests to reveal the name of the café in question so that “old San Francisco” could fight back and hold read-ins there. He refuses to do so, and now says: “It is not my goal to get a small business closed. The employee is gone and the laptop-only sign removed.  I think we have to apply some of that ‘hippie’ spirit of tolerance while we deal with this latest flood of people and personalities.”

Or he could borrow a line from his late fellow comic Bill Hicks: when asked by a waffle waitress what he was reading for, Hicks replied: “For a lot of reasons – but the main one is so I don’t end up being a waffle waitress.”

This Mike is on

Imagine if, every time your parents had come into your room to scream at you as a kid, you had recorded the conversation. For 16 years Mike Cohen did just that, and now his friend Rodd Perry has animated  one of the recordings in the first of  a series of cartoons called “The Brother Mike Tapes” which, since being posted to Vimeo last week, has notched up more than half a million views.

At one point in the short film, Cohen’s father tells him: “It is not a normal life the way you’re leading it. You got to go out looking at records! Nobody’s telling you that you can’t do your records. I hope you make your living as a disc jockey.”

In fact, when I caught up with Cohen last week, he told me that he did spend 11 years as the in-house DJ at the Virgin Megastore in New York City. Now 50 and a “stay-at-home dad”, Cohen first played the recordings to friends at college, one of whom, Perry, remembered them when he decided he wanted to make a cartoon.

“I would love to do more and we’re already working on the next one,” Perry says. “The success caught us by surprise and I would love to be a 25-year-old with endless time to pursue a passion, but I’m stuck with three kids and a full-time job.”

Are Mr and Mrs C around to savour their fame? “No,” says Mike. “But I have come to appreciate them as I have gotten older and have a two-year-old of my own.”

An opera with snap

A remark whispered in his ear while he was playing keyboards with Razorlight led Darren Berry on a two-year quest to write  the world’s first “punk opera”.

“Johnny [Borrell, Razorlight’s singer] came up to me one day and said, ‘Wouldn’t it be funny if the Marquis de Sade couldn’t get hard.’ It was just a little tour joke but it soon took on a life of its own and began to take shape as a full-scale opera called The Crocodile of Old Kang Pow.”

And where does the punk bit come in? “It’s an embracing of punk’s ideals and irreverence and it shares with punk a boredom of working within the guidelines,” Berry explains. “It also harks back to what opera used to be: the opera buffa; the belly laughs, indecency and vulgarity that was at its heart.”

And who, in his dream production, would play the Marquis? “Rhys Ifans loves it and is interested,” Berry says. “Now I just have to get the funding to stage it fully with a cast of hundreds as opposed to the excerpts we’re doing at the moment.”

Storm in a D-cup

If you find Mumsnet users a little strange (“penis beaker”, anyone?), wait until you meet the people who live next door to them.

A user known as ScotsWhaHae recently posted the following to a thread called “Am I Being Unreasonable?”: “I’m in shock. Was hanging out my washing and having a chat with next-door neighbour. I pegged out two of my bras among everything else. As I made to go back inside she said, ‘Oh, I’ve been meaning to mention your underwear.’ She went on to ask me to refrain from hanging out my bras as her husband found them ‘distracting’.”

God knows what happens when the poor man walks past a Victoria’s Secret.

No rhyme or reason

Another in a regular series of limericks based on recent events:

If ever you’re feeling the strain,

And feel life is a runaway train,

You could, on reflection,

Choose One (less) Direction,

And follow that fellow named Zayn.