O Tempora, O Mores

Back in the day, it was de rigueur for your blog to sport a sidebar stuffed with links to the other blogs you read, admired, commented on, considered your peers. Early versions of the WordPress CMS had a dedicated function for the care and maintenance of these links. That function has long since disappeared, replaced by a plugin, then by widgets.

It is now so far divorced from the operations of the typical site powered by WordPress that even the solutions I found when I searched online rely on a legacy widget that will doubtless be deprecated in another release or two. The article describing the workaround I’m using also warned gravely about the foolishness of pissing away your search-ranking juice by improvidently linking to sites that are not your own. Different times, indeed.

Still, we persevere, and the sidebar of Hors Catégorie now sports a larval collection of links, under the heading Essential Reading. Perhaps it says something that these four could have appeared on any such list I made in the last ten or fifteen years, the hardiest of survivors from a once-febrile blogosphere.

{ feuilleton } — John Coulthart recently marked his 5,000th post, demonstrating a work ethic I could only dream of. The steady accretion of posts over seventeen years has built into a massive reef, wide-ranging yet coherent: illustration, comics, psychedelia, surrealism, Ballard, Lovecraft, the occult, industrial music, animation, cinema…whether he’s writing about Thomas Köner or Tom of Finland, it’s astute, informative, thorough.

Blissblog — Ground Zero for Simon Reynolds’s blog empire, he lists ten more in the sidebar. Reynolds was maybe the first music journalist I learned to look out for, after his Melody Maker review of Flying Saucer Attack’s second album, Further. Energy Flash and Rip It Up And Start Again remain two of my favourite books about music, read and reread countless times. Our tastes have diverged over the years (I’ve never grasped the appeal of hauntology) but it’s still interesting to watch the endless flicker of connections and signifiers across his mind, the mulch from which his finished work emerges.

The Blue Moment — Richard Williams is nowhere near as prolific as Simon Reynolds, but his posts tend to be more polished and coherent, finished articles rather than unedited notebooks. A long career in the business (editor of the Melody Maker, A&R for Island) means that he brings impressive first-hand knowledge of some of the artists he’s writing about, but it’s the way he shares a lifetime of listening that shines. I might not listen to much of the modern jazz or vintage soul that he writes about, but I always enjoy reading about it. The blog is legacy from his book of the same title, which is long overdue a reread.

The Inner Ring — I have no idea who the anonymous author of the Inner Ring is, but it hardly matters: whoever they are, they know professional cycling. During the season, the bulk of the posts are race previews: analysis of the route, predictions of the likely protagonists. In the off-season they delve more into the wider pro cycling scene, the economics, the politics, the history. The Roads to Ride posts, detailing the climbs that any dedicated cycling fan dreams of tackling, are one of the inspirations for this blog.

Thoughts, hopes, exhortations?