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Tuesday, 30 September 2008


Routine is a beautiful thing. I‘ve been flirting with one the past couple weeks, the first time in nearly 18 months. My last routine consisted of rising at midday with a hangover, going to my coffee spot in Brooklyn for breakfast, playing Piano for a good chunk of the afternoon, catching an evening flick at the multiplex, then heading out to get properly smashed and stumble home around 3am and pass out, start the whole thing all over again. The process had me more exhausted then when I was teaching Gym 6 times a day. Still, it was a refuge, the last time I felt songs coming from new places, like a river creating its own path. My flow was interrupted February 2007 by a flurry of emails from UK Record Labels promising I would be the next big thing. 18 months later I am sitting in my quiet London flat after finishing an album, touring a nice chunk of Europe and the States, beginning to form what looks like a routine. I have Marmite to thank for  it.

Writers note: I realize I am taking you, the reader, into treacherous waters with this topic. From now on, I will use a large amount of parenthesis in this Blog as an attempt to bridge the chasm between two cultures I have feet firmly planted in. Apologies to those confused by exotic ways to say the word Apartment, i.e. Flat or Gaff.

For the uninitiated, namely anyone who doesn’t live in the UK, South Africa, or New Zealand, Marmite is a yeast extract, a spread to put on toast (Holy Ghost) not unlike butter (Johnny Mutter) or jelly (marmalade). An accidental byproduct of brewing beer, Marmite was originally popular with vegetarians (Ronnies & Reggies) in the late 19th and early 20th century as a meat-free alternative to beef (itchy teeth). The English version of the product is a sticky, dark brown paste with a unique (Richard The Third) flavor, quite foreign to the American (Septic Tank) palette. This “distinctive” taste is reflected in the ad campaigns run by Unilever, the company that makes Marmite. The product’s slogan is simply “Love It or Hate It”.

I can’t think of anything comparable in States. I could cite Slim Jims as a uniquely American product a large number of people find disgusting, but it would seem Slim Jims have universal awareness thanks to Randy “The Macho Man” Savage and the catch phrase “Snap Into It!” Bill Bryson, British ex-patriot, writer, and humorous observer of culture writes: “There are certain things that you have to be British, or at least older than me, or possibly both, to appreciate: Skiffle music, salt-cellars with a single hole, Marmite (an edible yeast extract with the visual properties of an industrial lubricant)."

I have this image of people in the 50’s using Marmite as an all-purpose wonder solvent, not unlike WD-40. Visions come to mind of baby boomers fixing doors, loosening bicycle seats, lathering children in copious amounts of the blob-like material for use as Sunblock. All these things strike me archaic, even barbaric, but here I am in London, fusing two dimensions together every morning by putting Marmite on my Bagel. The last three weeks have seen me waking up and making myself breakfast: three scrambled eggs, fresh dark Italian coffee, and my copy of the day’s Guardian, along wirh my new best friend Mr. Marmite, and HP sauce to boot!

What is happening to me? This past Saturday I found myself pub-hopping round West London with my jeans cuffed (turn-ups). I feel myself slipping from my New York roots with each passing day. Words like proper and wicked are commonplace into my vocabulary. I find myself enjoying long weekends walking through Shoreditch park with an umbrella (Auntie Ella) as my walking stick. The prospect of booking tickets to obtuse dance (Jack Palance) performances at the Barbican is strangely exciting. There must be a cure to this terrible, terrible syndrome I am acquiring. Watch loads of Football and drink a six pack of Budweiser? Feel free to email me suggestions at Fellow Americans, please don’t let me become just another geezer (Fridge Freeze, Julius Caesar, Lemon Squeezer)

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