Warren Oakes Leaves Against Me! – We Are Upset (that is to say, fightclubsandwich and I)

Fightclubsandwich says (16:47):
Ripper says (16:48):

Fightclubsandwich says (16:48):

It irks me that this band already uses an exclamation mark
it feels like I should add in a special one
to connote my shock
Ripper says (16:49):

You have to add double, yeah
Because AM! without Warren is like a pirate ship with no beard.
Fightclubsandwich says (16:49):

Ahaha, quite the apt imagery
Ripper says (16:49):

Fightclubsandwich says (16:49):

It’s so weird. I mean, in a way I kind of feel like… now that they’ve had their first line up change, they’re a real band now?
Ripper says (16:50):

They’ve had lineup changes before now, I swear. But it’s like, the first major one since Andrew joined.
Fightclubsandwich says (16:51):

Oh, duh
you’re right
I need to go back do some Revising Axl Rose
Ripper says (16:51):

Ahahaha, for reals
Fightclubsandwich says (16:51):

You enjoyed my bad pun?
Ripper says (16:51):

I did indeed, I’m probably the only person in the world who would
Who’s gonna play drums now, anyway?
I forsee sad times ahead =(
Fightclubsandwich says (16:52):

Mr Hot Water Music
George Rebelo
Ripper says (16:52):

Oh, that might not be so bad.
Fightclubsandwich says (16:52):

sounds like he may be a bit of a rebel
shake things up a bit
Ripper says (16:52):

But tricky for both bands, I imagine
Fightclubsandwich says (16:52):

are Hot Water Music even together, still?
Ripper says (16:53):

Yeah, they reformed last year
Fightclubsandwich says (16:53):

Not gonna lie, I know little to nothing about Hot Water Music
Ripper says (16:53):

Chuck’s doing a load of solo shows at the moment so I don’t forsee much HWM activity right now
Fightclubsandwich says (16:53):

I mean, I’ve liked what I’ve heard, but… geh.
Didn’t Chuck play solo shows with Tom Gabel?
Ripper says (16:53):

Yeah, Tom supported
That I would have loved to have been able to see.
Fightclubsandwich says (16:54):

You would have a beardgasm
I suspect
Ripper says (16:54):

It would be heaven
Anna Is A Stool Pidgeon live, I’d just lose my shit right there
Fightclubsandwich says (16:55):

The Tom Gabel solo album is totally on my List
Ripper says (16:55):

I love it, it’s awesome
Fightclubsandwich says (16:55):

but I am poor and also need the latest Trophy Scars and the latest Morrissey ones
Ripper says (16:55):

Pfft, nobody needs the latest Morrissey, hahaha.
Oh, and further investigating…
Fightclubsandwich says (16:55):

What, is it really bad?
the new Morrissey, I mean
Ripper says (16:55):

AM! are bringing out an EP of older material
and no, but it’s SUMMER and you need happy music
not Morrissey, ahaha
Fightclubsandwich says (16:56):

Ripper says (16:56):
Fightclubsandwich says (16:56):
Ripper says (16:56):
Fightclubsandwich says (16:56):
Ripper says (16:56):
Not gonna lie, that actually sounds like fun.
Fightclubsandwich says (16:57):
It is from the song Cemetery Gates
I forgot you don’t know much about The Smiths
Ripper says (16:57):
No, I’m a Cure girl instead, haha
Fightclubsandwich says (16:57):
did I put it on your mix CD?
Ripper says (16:57):
Yeah, you did, but I didn’t listen to that so much, I was rockin’ the Armalite and Cher
omg, that Cher song, best thing to put on a mix cd ever
Fightclubsandwich says (16:57):

Gotta love the Cher
Every mix I ever make is full of hardcore punk and cheesy guilty pleasures
and other bits
Ripper says (16:58):

I don’t make that many, so yours was an interesting experience for me
Fightclubsandwich says (16:58):

Ripper says (16:58):

Fightclubsandwich says (16:58):

Ripper says (16:58):

Everyone needs some Jovi!
My mum would kill me if I didn’t like that song, ahahaha
Fightclubsandwich says (16:58):

I don’t even like Bon Jovi, but that song is awesome
I despise Living On A Prayer
I mean, seriously, if you could stab a song…
Ripper says (16:59):

Livin’ On A Prayer is overplayed, that’s the problem
but it’s the best thing to do on Guitar Hero
cause everyone just screams it out
Fightclubsandwich says (16:59):

That sounds like my hell
Ripper says (16:59):

Then I’ll put you through it one day, and you’ll love it, it’ll be like masochism
Fightclubsandwich says (17:00):

What did you think of the Neutral Milk Hotel songs, incidentally?
Ripper says (17:00):

Fuckin’ ace
Fightclubsandwich says (17:00):

I adooooore that album
Ripper says (17:00):

I’d listened to SOME Neutral Milk Hotel before, but not from that album
and I love it, I’m gonna have to buy that one
Fightclubsandwich says (17:01):

If you want, I can copy it for you?
I would trade you for Balzac, maybe?
Ripper says (17:01):

Haha, go for it.
Balzac are like the Japanese Misfits
but their singer is nowhere near as foxy as Danzig
Fightclubsandwich says (17:02):

not… now-Danzig
Ripper says (17:02):

Back in the day Danzig when he was still skinny, ahaha
Fightclubsandwich says (17:02):

Does he still go topless?
Iggy Pop style?
Ripper says (17:02):

Yes, he does
Fightclubsandwich says (17:02):

Oh no
Ripper says (17:02):

It’s not as terrifying as Iggy though cause he still has muscle
Fightclubsandwich says (17:02):

Iggy Pop has muscle, but it’s like, cover it up, Grandpa, I don’t want you to get a cold!
Ripper says (17:03):

Iggy Pop looks so gross though, on account of the drugs
Fightclubsandwich says (17:03):

and the smashing broken glass into his own body
Ripper says (17:03):

Yeah, not so fun
Danzig’s just built like a tank
but I could take him
Fightclubsandwich says (17:03):

I would like to see that
Ripper says (17:04):

Remember the video where he just got owned?
Fightclubsandwich says (17:04):

… no?
In what way, “owned”?
Ripper says (17:04):

Oh man, gonna have to find it
he picks a fight with this guy and gets punched in the face
Fightclubsandwich says (17:04):

I could probably go without seeing that
Ripper says (17:04):

Check it out
It’s hilarious, you need to see it
Fightclubsandwich says (17:05):

my favourite is the video where he talks about his library
Ripper says (17:05):

and he’s shirtless
in the library
Fightclubsandwich says (17:05):

“this is a book about angels of death”
“this is a book about how Christianity is a religion founded on death and murder”
Ripper says (17:06):

What was his favourite?
I can’t remember
Fightclubsandwich says (17:06):

me neither
it was probably about demons possessing children
Ripper says (17:07):

Most likely
Fightclubsandwich says (17:07):

or perhaps I’m thinking of the song Teenagers From Mars
Ripper says (17:07):

Either way, I’m watching it now
Fightclubsandwich says (17:07):



Ripper says (17:08):

When will they learn?
Fightclubsandwich says (17:08):

This is the most horrible band…
that I have ever experienced
I’m sorry, Bon Jovi, all is forgiven!
Ripper says (17:08):

Not to mention that Decaydance just sign any old shit these days
Fightclubsandwich says (17:09):

Poor Vinnie
I know he left FBR like… two years ago?
But I bet he still winces when he reads about shit like this.
Ripper says (17:09):

He got out when it just started to go downhill, yeah
I know, right?
Fightclubsandwich says (17:09):

Didn’t Discount used to be on FBR?
Ripper says (17:09):

And Jimmy Eat World, for a brief period
Fightclubsandwich says (17:09):

Ripper says (17:10):

It still breaks my heart that Lifetime are the only good band on that label.
Fightclubsandwich says (17:10):

it’s just kind of blowing my mind
it’s like living in wonderland
Cheshire Katz is mad, of course, we’re all mad here
Ripper says (17:11):

Not to mention, bands GET shit when they get signed to FBR these days
Fightclubsandwich says (17:11):

Who are you thinking of in particular there?
As in, bands that get shit?
Ripper says (17:11):

VersaEmerge, I used to really like when they were unsigned, then they signed to FBR
and their sound is awful now. They just sound like a Paramore clone
Fightclubsandwich says (17:12):

Oh. Well I’m not familiar with them, but…
Paramore… :/
Didn’t The Academy Is… play shows with the Grabass Charlestons before FBR?
Ripper says (17:13):

Dunno, can’t remember. Either way, I still like TAI…, even if the latest album’s a bit tame.
Fightclubsandwich says (17:13):

Meh. They were never my favourites, but they are fun. I didn’t like Fast Times at all, it just is so boring, it runs right out of your mind
Ripper says (17:14):

also the best quote from this Danzig interview is ‘shaking a baby in his mouth. that’s pretty cool.’
Fightclubsandwich says (17:14):

I have the sudden itching to listen to Danzig’s self titled and Almost Here
Ripper says (17:14):

‘occult roots of nazism… every schoolchild should have this book’
Fightclubsandwich says (17:15):

Going to a school run by Danzig would leave you completely ill equipped for the real world
Ripper says (17:15):

You’d be able to kick a werewolf’s ass
Fightclubsandwich says (17:15):

well, quite possibly
Ripper says (17:15):

And he’d teach you how to have amazing volume in your hair
Fightclubsandwich says (17:16):

you need to be built like Danzig to pull off the Devil Lock, I feel
I tried it once
I have no shame
it looked bad
Ripper says (17:16):

Well, he had the Devilock when he was all skinny like
so that’s not too bad
Fightclubsandwich says (17:17):

well he probably wasn’t as skinny as me, like, ever
Which reminds me, I need to sign up to a gym this summer so I can beat my housemate at arm wrestling
Ripper says (17:17):

This is true
You’re puny, it’s not your fault.
Fightclubsandwich says (17:18):

It is my fault if I refuse to do anything about it!
or… something
Ripper says (17:19):

Maybe… but for you to become incredibly beef would be like Michael Jackson becoming black again, it’s impossible.
Fightclubsandwich says (17:19):

I wasn’t planning on actually going full-Danzig
Ripper says (17:19):

He’s bringing out a new video game, you know?
Fightclubsandwich says (17:19):

Michael Jackson or Danzig?
Ripper says (17:19):

Fightclubsandwich says (17:19):

see who can warp the brains of the most children!
Ripper says (17:19):

Not gonna lie, I’d totally buy that
Fightclubsandwich says (17:20):

the real MJ game or my idea?
Ripper says (17:20):

They’d have to have special powers in yours though
Like, MJ does a moonwalk and then moon rays fire down on his opponent
and Danzig rips his shirt off and then werewolves come and attack his opponent
Fightclubsandwich says (17:21):

That sounds amazing
They would both have secret bases. MJ’s is protected by legions of crazy animals
It’s Neverland, of course
Glenn Danzig lives in a pit under a graveyard and he has zombie butlers
Ripper says (17:22):

They nom on the unsuspecting
Fightclubsandwich says (17:22):

Morrissey is the final boss, too. You have to shake him out of a big sulk
because his tears are drowning the world
if you’re playing as MJ, you have to make him hpapy and entice him to dance
if you’re playing as Glen Danzig, you have to make him angry and bloodthirsty
But anyone who wants to kill Morrissey can gtfo please

Rant by Chuck Palahniuk (a review by fightclubsandwich)

Disclaimer: the pseudonym “Fight Club Sandwich” under which I write for this website is merely an expression of my love of stupid puns, not the work of this particular author. In fact, I’ve never read Fight Club, though I do have the film on DVD, and really strongly hated the only other work of Mr Palahniuk’s that I had ever read. Appearances can be deceiving.

If Chuck Palahniuk ever decides to start his own militia for whatever reason, he will have no trouble accomplishing this. Palahniuk fans are a strange breed. I’d hate to call them “rabid” – not only because it would be a really terrible pun in context, considering the subject matter of this book, but it would also be inaccurate and misleading. They are a devoted bunch, though, for sure, basking in the quirky and grotesque worlds that Palahniuk builds, seemingly by picking on the most disenfranchised, skewed or obsessive perspectives he can find, working out characters who think that way, and placing these characters at the eye of the tornadoes that are brewing up around them.

In Rant the misfits at the heart of the story are the “Party Crashers” – a subculture of nocturnal kids who crash their cars into one another on purpose. It’s a sort-of-biography of Buster “Rant” Casey, an individual who is heavily involved in the Party Crashing scene, told by those who knew him best, from after his death. This format is a really great choice, allowing Palahniuk to stay true to his very controlled, technical narrative style, to peel back elements of the real world and immerse us slowly into the one he has created, which grows further and further from reality as it goes, but at the same time, a lot of the story is left ambiguous, and for the reader to interpret however they want.

The story’s events are very strange, to the extent that some readers might be put off by the sheer leaps and swirls and crashes and other words with connotations of movement that the narrative takes. There’s a plague of rabies, very old, very valuable coins, potential time travel, it’s a very busy plot, but arranged in a way that is obviously designed in reflection of real life – a lot of strange stuff happens, often in random and unconnected ways, that’s just how it goes. But events and characters are linked to one another, and you’d never guess how. It gets eerie and is done very cleverly. If you like strange plot elements, you will like this book, Palahniuk manages to pass off a shocking amount of supermarket-tabloid-weirdness, on the strength of the way the story is told.

Weirdly, the world constructed within the book somehow comes off as completely believable. This is aided by characters who feel utterly real – one of the most satisfying feelings that accompany the finishing of a novel is the feeling that the characters are not fictional creations but people you’ve just met, and many of the figures in Rant feel this way. These include many of the titular character’s team of Party Crashers, and his mother Irene, and the fact that many of the strongest characters – the characters who get the strongest writing and ideas attributed to them, not necessarily the strongest personalities – are female is particularly refreshing. The women in this novel are not treated as “female characters”, as a defining trait, and it doesn’t feel as if Palahniuk has stopped and tried to force himself to consider “how women think” at any point. The believability of the characters is also important since many of the weirder elements of the story are introduced in their words. The character of Christopher “Shot” Dunyun introduces the reader to the concept of “boosting peaks” – a sort of virtual reality industry involving plus in the backs of many characters’ necks – in one of the strongest written chapters in the book.

There are of course exceptions to this, which is pretty inevitable considering the way the book is put together, there are so many characters and a good deal of them play very small roles and don’t get to say much. Galton Nye, for example, is a right wing Christian minister whose daughter rebels against her parents. His character is an entirely two dimensional straw man type, and feels like a bunch of the most negative, unpleasant traits propped up into a paper-thin excuse for a character. This is the complete opposite of Irene Casey, the mother of the titular character, who is written in a way that constantly evades falling into the pit of cliché, despite how easy it would be to turn her into a caricature of a red-neck-ish mother and wife who only bounces like a tennis ball between those two roles.

Conversely, the believability of the world Palahniuk has built may be one of the novel’s greatest strengths but also exposes a weakness – his attempts to reconnect his fiction with the real world can be problematic. The attempts at academic writing that crop up from time to time – due to the myriad “contributors” who write paragraphs in the novel – are, for the most part, just unbelievable, whether they’re too stylised or just over-simplified and clumsy. But the most grating part, for myself at least, is the way Palahnuik delivers his observations or speculations on humanity. I just have never been convinced by his philosophies, and perhaps this is a position that I’ve arrived at only because of outside sources twisting his words and adopting very crude and basic forms of nilhism that makes the interesting, complex versions boring. Or perhaps Palahniuk’s observations are just too simplistic to begin with.

This may just be a personal thing – when I read Haunted, the only other novel of his that I have read, I found the unrealism of the scenario grating – and it was a scenario that revolved around human nature and inner darkness. Rant has a far less believable plot in terms of the events that actually happen – or do they? – but the characters are much stronger than the earlier book. On the whole, Rant is a book that has strong enough foundations to be a really enjoyable read, and is satisfying enough as a whole for the few flaws to fade from your mind. It’s sufficiently strange to be off-putting to some, changing stylistically throughout, but the wacky events are handled solidly. Palahnuik has really proven himself imaginative enough to shame the likes of me, who might be only too willing to write him off as an unfavourite. That’s hard to do when one single book has the most vivid ADHD about its subject matter, there’s so much going on that this is a book it can’t hurt to try.

[Pop-punk showdown!] – The Ergs by fightclubsandwich

The break-up of The Ergs! has left me feeling sourer than the break-up of any other band of recent times. Bands like Gorilla Biscuits or Operation Ivy or The Misfits (you know, the good version of The Misfits) broke up before I could talk, so they’ve always seemed sort of mythic and unreachable, and not at all the bands of my own generation. The very idea of seeing them play a live show feels like the idea of sitting up on Mount Olympus, chugging nectar with Zeus himself.

Then again, if the music is truly timeless then it doesn’t matter too much that the band broke up. It doesn’t feel like anything’s been lost, there’s none of that sting that if you weren’t there, you’ll only ever know a part of what that music was, because it was so much more than just music. Operation Ivy are a great example of this, because their popularity exploded so astronomically after their break up. They recently vetoed the idea of a reunion just because they only played tiny little clubs when they were around, and couldn’t figure out how Op Ivy would work in the massive venues that they’d have to play if they came back.

Basically, where I’m going with this article – although I’ll forgive you for missing this point since I’ve gone about it in such a messy, round-about sort of way – is that the music of The Ergs! is such perfection that I think it will apotheosise the band’s memory, (I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I’ll drop the mythology imagery now) and outlast them, and snowball and become as much a staple of the average punk-music-diet as Energy did.

Firstly, let’s be honest with ourselves, The Ergs! do sound an awful lot like most other pop-punk bands. Their most obstinate fans would have to concede to this – including myself, the writer of this article in support of them – because it is the truth. However, I doubt many pop-punk fans are really that bothered by ‘that nagging feeling’ that one song sounds suspiciously like another. Pop-punk is not a genre that takes itself nearly seriously enough for such accusations to stick. It is youthful and snotty and playful, it cares about dancing and crushes and fun and not at all what you might think of it. The best pop-punk bands are not renowned for their technical merit or sparkling innovation, they are beloved for their jaunty, catchy melodies and simplicity of expression – why would this singer use a four syllable word to describe his feelings for a girl he likes when his feelings are not that complicated to begin with?

There is, of course, a balance that has to be reached here. What makes pop-punk music interesting and lively and fun, or just plain boring and unoriginal is difficult to define because it doesn’t really come from anything we can measure critically. The Ergs! are unstoppably fun and lively, and even if a lot of what they’re doing is, musically, built upon hand-me-downs from The Ramones and Screeching Weasel and so on, who cares? Because they way they play it, it certainly sounds new and fresh. This is why I think their music deserves to – is going to – last forever. There’s a charm to The Ergs that’s going to keep appealing to people so long as The Kids are still Alright and listening to music.

In particular, the song Pray For Rain (off the album Dork Rock Cork Rod) is perhaps one of the most perfect pop-punk songs ever. The lyrics are at turns sweet and sour in sentiment, and just when you think they’re coasting on the most obvious rhymes, something clever comes along and knocks you out with a wit that you weren’t expecting. More than anything, these are purposefully rhythmical lyrics, designed to keep the song bouncing along, perky as ever. The subject matter (the lead singer can’t write a song about how infatuated he is by his love interest because “it seems like broken-hearted love songs are what I’m all about” and suggests, tongue in cheek, that they will have to break up so that he can write a song about “how everything went wrong. And you can sing along”) is a brilliant distillation of the entire basis of a genre, a clever but unpretentious little comment on the whole idea of love songs and the importance of angst and misery in love songs. The guitars are loud and clangy, as if they’re trying their hardest not to sound cute and melodic, but aren’t succeeding in the slightest, because that’s exactly how they sound.

Most importantly, this is a song that you will not get out of your head for months. When you finally do get it out of your head, it will likely be replaced with another Ergs! song because their musical canon is pretty much geared towards catchiness with all the intensity of a Britney Spears hit. Music can do a lot of things – it is a mysterious source with many mystical powers. The music of The Ergs! is designed to be ‘The Best Pop-Punk We Can Build’ and it does its job beautifully. If you want the distilled essence of why pop-punk is a genre that will never die, listen to The Ergs! and it will make a pop-punk fan out of you.

So this is the new year (resolutions of 2009) by Nox

What is a new year’s resolution? Why do people seem to make such a fuss over it? Moreover, how come the only time we ever hear about these resolutions besides at New Year’s is when they’re broken?


A New Year’s resolution is a goal a person sets for themselves, something they want to improve or achieve in the year, after reflecting on the previous year and realizing their mistakes, priorities, or what they would like to better in their lives or themselves. Usually, there are the generic ones such as cure cancer, bring world peace, stop world hunger, etc., but here at Two Beats Off we’re not trying to win a beauty pageant. Therefore, here are our New Year’s Resolutions!


My New Year’s resolutions are always completely and utterly ridiculous. Some of the ones I achieved last year were getting a better haircut and completing a Final Fantasy game. This year, I might be a little more serious though. This year, I aim to make sure this zine keeps going one way or another, because well… TBO is kinda cool. There’s the usual ‘get fit’ one, because no matter what, I’m always unhappy with my appearance. There’s a special condition for it – being female. I want to make sure I get into a good university, so actually studying would be a good one, instead of relying on just sheer luck and talent. I want to finish a novel this year, considering I have about three half finished ones on the go. And, because I can’t not make a geeky one, learn how to play Dungeons and Dragons properly!


I always find it difficult making resolutions, but here goes. This year, I want to start doing things again. I feel like I put things off too much and waste a lot of my time. I want to make good use of it. I want to look back and feel like I’ve achieved things. I’m also going to try be less of a commitmentphobe, and stop pushing people away because I’m scared of where it might lead. I don’t want to be a coward. Finally, I want to get a job, go to uni, and I want to start a band. Here’s to ’09, baby.


I have a few things I would like to do this year. Mainly, I plan to let go of one particular hopeless cause I have been clinging to for too long. On a different level, I’m going to try to be less introverted. I think I’ll take more chances. I decided I play it too safe and honestly, it gets quite boring. This year I would like to see Chicago, New York, and Denver. Also, I plan to be less of a heart breaker. It’s bad karma you know? Seriously though, I will be more cautious around others. Finally, a quick run down of lesser things: read a lot of books from my list, sing louder, write more, keep my straight A streak, keep up with my friends better, and hopefully get a baby turtle named Ringo.


fightclubsandwich was unavailable to comment at the time, so we’ve decided that we’re going to give her some. Whether she likes them or not. So, we reckon that she’ll want to start or join a punk rock knitting circle and make jumpers filled with revolutionary stitching, be able to co-ordinate better with Ripper when they go to gigs, start a band and write some kick ass fiction.


I’m not an advocate of New Year’s resolutions. I’ve always held the belief that if you really want to change yourself, you’ll change it now, and in my experience, most people manage to keep their resolutions for about five minutes. However, it’s nice to feel like you have a clean slate and a new year for a ‘new you’… or at least a ‘slightly improved you’.

Now, I am an angry person, and there’s nothing wrong with that. Henry Rollins makes a living out of being an angry person. Anger is a good thing, it’s a healthy thing. Good things have come from being angry; revolutions have changed the world we live in!

The problem is, too many of us – myself included – don’t use this energy and passion constructively as often as we could. It’s far too easy to sit around and complain at length and volume about something we disagree with, but not use the opportunity to change or better ourselves or the world around us.

So that’s my New Year’s resolution – not to be a less angry person, but a better angry person!

But, we decided to get you involved this time, and we’ve had some pretty cool responses. So, here’s our readers’ New Year’s resolutions!

Richard’s resolution:

My resolution is not to make a resolution. That way I can break it immediately and not have to worry about it, while having a laugh at all resolutions’ expense.

Hab’s resolution:

To learn to control my drink. I think a few people can vouch for that!

Alice’s resolution:

To bag myself a surfer. It could happen, you know.

Ben’s resolution:

1) Quit masturbating (I failed this one on the 2nd January)

2) Get the girl, get the job, get the car

3) Get fit for summer.

Hannah’s resolution:

Find a rich man at university… or marry Fernando Torres!

Mike’s resolution:

To quit that nasty oxygen habit I have… no, really, I want to learn to be more
understanding of people this year.

Heather’s resolution:

I want to learn to dance, because I’m a big fan of Strictly Come Dancing and I think it would be sweet if I could pull off some of those moves. Also, quitting smoking would be good.

James’ resolution:

Read more books. It might be a smart idea, considering I want to go to Oxford University!

Megan’s resolution:

I want to find myself a wench. It’s been too long since I had a girlfriend!

On The Road by fightclubsandwich

There is an odd smell about the gallery section of the Barber Institute Of Art, kind of like chocolate that’s been half melted and the mixed with wax. I have no idea what the actual source of the smell is, though. The gallery part is up a curved staircase, and the curved staircase is at the end of a very fancy corridor which has very high ceilings and very tall doors, but is not in anyway intimidating. The whole place is very marble and shiny, and there are lots of leaflets about future events to be taken, all over the place, and when I leave later, back down this same marble corridor, there’s very live, very fancy piano music coming from behind one of the very tall doors. This music may also have been playing when I entered the building, but I was listening to Jawbreaker, which drowned it out. I obviously chose Jawbreaker in order to “psych myself up” about what I was going to see, but when I started to ascend the stairs, the sound of jazz wafted down my way, and I decided that this maybe set the scene a little better than Shield Your Eyes. (I don’t have Boxcar on my iPod, though it would clearly have been the obvious choice)

The actual display itself was kind of lean and modest. The room was very small, and the walls were all white, and there weren’t nearly as many people there as I had expected. I think I might just be a huge geek, really, and my geekiness caused me to over estimate the appeal that this artefact had to the majority of students on campus. I won’t go on the first day it opens, I had thought to myself, there’ll be so much crowding, so many queues! I went to see it on the second day and saw something like five other people there. Admittedly, it was lunch time.

There were three very long, narrow glass cases in the middle of the room. The centre one obviously held On The Road itself, the ones on either side of it held supplementary materials, like various editions of the book, both British and American; articles about it, when it was first published, and copies of Kerouac’s other works, including one that was signed. That, more than anything else – for some reason – made me sad about Kerouac’s death at the age of just forty seven. Not only is that far too young an age to have died, it’s frustrating to think that he was never even alive in my lifetime. It was very odd considering just how many of my favourite authors are long dead (that’d be most of them) but thinking about it that way only really gets me at random moments, it stabs me like a needle and really bothers me. I had such a moment there, at the Kerouac display.

So, the actual scroll? Every single aspect of it is impressive. My eyes got caught on lines I remember reading in the book, “in their eyes I would be strange and ragged like the Prophet who has walked across the land to bring the dark Word” being one of my favourite parts, that I was hoping I’d see, but never really thought I would be able to pick out, when I saw it for real, but I did pick it out, and it felt terrific. The whole thing is very long, and there’s this aged amber tape holding the reams of paper together. It just reminds you how old, how historical this is, this is an artefact. There are crossings out too, in his own hand, in pencil. Not all of his handwriting is totally readable, but you can see how he changed it so that Sal lived with his aunt and not his mother- the word mother is crossed out a lot, and replaced with aunt. In reference to what I was saying earlier about picking out memorable lines, you’d think that the opening line – one of the most memorable in most novels – would be one of the easiest to find, and to remember it and make the connection between the Penguin Classic you have in your bag and the piece of history looming before you. But the opening line is utterly different, because of course, he changed Neal Cassady’s name to Dean Moriarty to make it less autobiographical, and changed the death of his father to the divorce of his first wife for reasons that can be explained either politically or sociologically.

On The Road is really remarkable for the way it was written – over the course of three weeks, under the influence of lots of coffee (hell yes) and based upon real, autobiographical stuff that Kerouac got up to. As strange, – but at the same time obvious – as it is to think that the computer’s take over of the typewriter as the most convenient way to write in the twenty-first century means an end to such artifacts as these, we have to remember that On The Road is in no way typical in its form, it really is special. As a landmark literary artefact, the scroll follows the original, handwritten versions of the likes of the Bronte sisters, or Dickens, and to go back even further, the extraordinary elaborate illuminated manuscripts of the Middle Ages. Now that we’ve chosen new mediums to write in that save our words as pure information and memory, (like this column you’re reading right now, oh wow!) and have all but discarded traditional, physical forms, I think it’s really exciting to think about what artefacts we’re going to be treasuring – years from now – as physical connections to the writers of today. Will we start keeping tiny things, like J.K. Rowling’s hair slides, or Audrey Niffenegger’s socks? I can’t help thinking about how monks kept bits of the body parts of saints after they died, as relics. What if you went to a library and they said “oh yeah, we’ve got Will Self’s hand in a glass case, wanna see?”

The cases in the exhibit were quite low down, which frustrated me. I’m something like five foot five, and they were about hip level, so I had to crane my neck downwards to read the scroll, not to mention that because of the very long, narrow, rectangle shape of the cases, you have to stand beside the thing at a right-angle to the words, so you have to turn your neck a lot to read it. This makes it a very awkward and uncomfortable thing to look at, and it starts to hurt a fair bit to pore over for too long. Luckily, the exhibit is completely free, and so close to my house, and the places I go every day, that I can go back whenever I want.

If you are anywhere near the Birmingham area, I compel you to go. Really. GO. You will not regret it. There is a train station on the campus itself, (the uncreatively named “University Station”) which is only five minutes walk (ten, maybe if you’re really slow) from the Barber Institute. If you’re remotely interested in Kerouac’s work – or books and literature at all – it’s a really remarkable thing. You will be impressed. You will be inspired. You might have an orgasm. If you miss out on a chance to see something so amazing, you will just be miserable.