There Really IS Something In The FogPosted: June 18, 2013
I’ve now attained the fortunate position in life where as soon as any kind of cultural event themed around the subject of ‘Fog’ appears on the social calendar (both the phenomenon of fog itself and any object bearing qualities that could be classified as fog-like or fog-related), my inbox becomes awash with messages from well-wishers alerting me to it’s imminent arrival. And so when word spread that John Carpenter’s soundtrack to his 1980 creep-fest ‘The Fog’ was about to get the deluxe reissue treatment thanks to the folks at the Death Waltz Recording Company, it didn’t take my confidants long to join the dots. After all, as one of them pointed out, it’s my nom de plume. But frankly, who wouldn’t be excited about a double-heavyweight vinyl featuring a veritable glut of extra cues that never made the original release and artwork by a certain Dinos Chapman? Even the discs themselves looks pretty gorgeous:
While not a quivering mass of anticipation, it’s fair to say I was pretty jolly bouncy by the time I received the weblink to where the freshly minted release was said to be waiting for purchase. But unfortunately it proved to be a bad link in quite a number of ways, whisking me off-course to one of those weird holding pages that simply list a number of ‘related’ search topics that in reality seemed squarely aimed at desperately amoral middle-aged men. The internet seems convinced that whenever hunting for obscure vinyl, tickets to the theatre or flowers for mother proves fruitless, an extra-marital affair, a cure for baldness or a Thai bride is just the thing to soften the blow:
…And so today as I return from an admittedly enjoyable week of elicit encounters in a Static Caravan with a group of over-50s Playstation enthusiasts (don’t tell my Ukrainian wife!) it looks as if the curse has struck once again: The new pressing appears to be sold out everywhere and copies already selling for ‘Bugs Bunny Money’ on Discogs. The Fog has rolled out. Damn.
However, all this excitement caused me to reminisce on the occasion a few years ago when I paid a visit to the lighthouse at Port Reyes on the Californian coast which served as one of the locations for the film. You might remember it as the location of DJ Stevie Wayne’s radio station (KAB, Antonio Bay) and I thought I’d include a few pictures here, NOT as a stroke of sulky hauntological one-upmanship, but purely because this particular part of America is one of the most staggeringly beautiful places I’ve ever visited. Alright, perhaps I’m sulking just a little bit…
As you can see, there would be very little room for a radio station in the lighthouse. I have a feeling those scenes were probably filmed elsewhere using the magic of editing. Inside there’s just about a enough room for the lamp itself and a nice lady in a US Parks uniform. I didn’t like to broach the question of cat-swinging, but in such cramped conditions I doubt we would’ve accomplished much.
Most exciting was the old engine room containing the fog horns. Despite the sunny weather the lighthouse’s horn was in operation when I visited, although of course it’s just a modern electronic tone these days. There’s no way I would’ve stood this close if these horns had been in operation. And of course they wouldn’t have been positioned in-dooors:
Oh, California, you really are lovely. if it weren’t for the earthquakes and rattlesnakes I would move to you first thing tomorrow morning. Perhaps some nice US promoter on the West Coast fancies booking Howlround for a live tour? Just a suggestion…
Speaking of Foghorns somewhat closer to home, I hope you’ll be joining me in attending the Foghorn Requiem taking place this Saturday at Souter Point Lighthouse on the North-East coast. A gigantic composition featuring three brass bands and a flotilla of vessels out at sea, all lead by the incredible voice of the Souter Point foghorn, one of the few remaining working foghorns in the UK (no longer operational, but maintained for special occasions such as this), it’s the work of artists Lise Autogena and Joshua Portway with composer Orlango Gough and apparently new technology has been developed to enable ships horns several miles offshore to play in time with musicians on the shore. The performance starts at 12.30 on Saturday 22nd June and I shall definitely be there in my capacity as a fan of foghorns and also in my capacity as a broadcast journalist. In the meantime you can find further information by clicking the link above and get a teasing glimpse of just what the foghorn sounds like by watching this quite charming video that I found on youtube:
I’ve also been raiding the BBC Sound Effects database for foghorns again and thought you might like to hear one of my favourites. This very short but somehow instantly familiar recording was made in 1968 in Southampton Harbour, and that’s pretty much all I can tell you about it. Absolutely wonderful, though:
If all goes according to plan, things are going to get even more Fog-horny on these pages in the coming months. I think I can safely say it’s going to be ‘a blast’.
A noisy great blast.