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Volume 479

What’s your name, where you from, what you on? From Madchester to Madrid, sweaty warehouses to AI scarehouses, punk poetry insurability to cloaks of invisibility, this week’s coolsh*t takes you on a journey through time, space and Stoke-on-Trent. The Milky Bars are on us.

The Real Deal.

PSG x Jordan. Juventus x Palace. Dominic Calvert-Lewin x skirts. The worlds of football and fashion have been on a titanomachic collision course in recent years, and we may now be approaching the apotheosis of sartorial soccer satori as Jude Bellingham ascends to enlightened divine status in a pair of custom Y-3 adidas Predators.

The blurring of the lines between football and fashion tends to divide opinions, particularly amongst your more ‘traditional’ fans. And as regretful as the creeping commercialisation of the game can be, it’s hard not to crack a smile at the thought of Big Terry in the Dog & Bigot crying into a warm pint of John Smith’s whenever he sees a footballer doing literally anything aside from playing football. Game’s gone. Or rather it’s been nicked, and it now belongs to oat milk-drinking, tote bag-carrying, virtue-signalling hipsters in Hackney named Hugo.

Speaking of Hugos, this new Real Madrid Y-3 capsule is boss. And the aforementioned Yohji Yamamoto-signed Preds are the nominatively-appropriate crowning glory. Even Terry approves. And all it took was some clean design and court-mandated community service to bring him round.

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Rave New World.

Until this week I mainly knew Glenn Kitson as the bloke who posts those lookalike memes on Instagram, but it turns out he’s also actually a proper, serious director making some proper, serious work. When he’s not passing off Prince William as Woody Harrelson – the nerve, how dare he do that to Woody?! – he’s making films for Clarks celebrating the brand’s heritage in the 90s rave scene.

Sunset: A Clarks In Manchester Film is billed as “a love letter to the rave”, teleporting us back in time to the Hacienda during its peak acid house era – a time many people feel an immense amount of nostalgia for, even if they weren’t alive at the time. It’s a shame so much of new culture is but mere recycled simulacra of the past. I blame Greta Thunberg.

Even the director himself admitted he wasn’t raving until after the Hacienda’s heyday, forced to seek his jollies further afield in exotic locations like Wigan and Stoke – a place famous for ceramics, Robbie Williams and not much else. Granted, it’s not quite Ibiza, but at least there’s very little chance of bumping into Wayne Lineker. And I imagine post-Thatcher urban decay probably looks prettier when you’re off your face.

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Now You See Me.

With the unrelenting rise of AI showing no signs of slowing, it’s become a hallmark of the hack journalists stealing a living on the dirt-rag publications we frequent for coolsh*t fodder to compare the current state of the world to Black Mirror, iRobot, Her or any other of the many tech-induced dystopias that now clog up Netflix. But at last, we have some novelty, with an invention plucked right out of Harry Potter. J.K. Rowling will be delighted – if she hasn’t been arrested by the time this comes out.

Invisibility Shield Co. launched its second-generation shields on Kickstarter this week, featuring a compact design that collapses to 1/30th of their assembled size, facilitating easy transport and allowing you to harness the power of invisibility at your utmost convenience whenever the urge strikes you.

If you do happen to want an invisibility shield of your own, they’re now available for pre-order. But best act fast – rumour has it Diddy already reserved the lot. Although we think he’d be better suited to Jude’s new boots.

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Evidently Chickentown.

If you were to prompt Midjourney to create an interpretation of Bob Dylan in the style of Tim Burton, you’d probably end up with something that looks a bit like John Cooper Clarke. I was about to commend Dr. Clarke on remaining so prolific even at his ripe old age, but it turns out he’s only 75. I don’t know how old I thought he was, but I’d assumed it was somewhere between at least 85 and… neolithic. We don’t mean that in a bad way; a slightly weathered look is de rigeur for a poet. Maybe I’m old school, but I don’t want my poets to have a skin-care routine.

Despite being a full decade beyond the State Pension Age, the Bard of Salford has taken on an unexpected role as the ‘(Under)Writer in Residence’ for insurance company Hiscox, releasing a series of poems inspired by unusual insurance claims ranging from equipment stolen by baboons to a farmer’s claim for the loss of his prize bull’s semen.

This was a partnership nobody saw coming, but we support it. Because if there are two things we love – and there may be only two things – it’s poetry and insurance. Although I do wish they hadn’t put that unsettling royalty-free 1970s porno music over the top of the videos.

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We don’t usually do this, but we would encourage you to go listen to Lex Fridman’s recent interview with OpenAI CEO Sam Altman. It’s no Coolsh*t Podcast, but it does offer an interesting framing for the following, with much of the conversation focussed on Sora, the AI model created by OpenAI that uses text prompts to generate hyper-realistic videos. Despite having only been available for public usage for a couple months, Sora is already being used to create short films – one of the first of which being this effort from Toronto-based filmmakers ‘Shy Kids’.

Now, I don’t like to be the skunk at the garden party. Actually that’s a lie. I love nothing more. And now I’m going to unleash my miasmic cloud all over the sausage rolls.

While I appreciate that the technology behind ‘Air Head’ is pretty extraordinary, if we set that aside for a moment and critique the film purely as a piece of content… is it really all that? I mean, it’s fine, but if your unemployed creative friend said they’d made a short film and showed you this, I imagine you’d instinctively respond with an awful lot of forced smiles and hollow words of affirmation. Again, I’m not trying to poo-poo it, but let’s not be more charitable to AI than we would be to our own species. Call a spade a spade, and don’t be afraid to identify an A-Level Media Studies project when you see one.

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Deus Ex Machina.

We didn’t want to close on such a sour note revealing ourselves to be nothing more than a bunch of tech-cynical luddites, so here’s a second helping of AI wizardry – this time from our friends at Google. Let’s hope it’s an improvement on the ill-fated Gemini program released a few weeks ago. If you don’t know what we’re talking about, just search ‘Google Gemini Founding Fathers’. Yep, yikes indeed.

VLOGGER is an AI model that can create video content from a single still image without the need for prior learning, maintaining an advanced level of photorealism. It then interprets audio recordings of the subject speaking to create hand and body language that emulates natural movements such as blinking, gestures and facial expressions.

You may be wondering what the implications of such a model will be. In its essence, VLOGGER is basically a superpowered AI video editor. So while the long-term consequences are yet to crystalise, in the short term you can at least use this to frighten any editors you know. Anyway, best be off. I need to go show this to Pablo. Perhaps next time he’ll think twice before suggesting we get ChatGPT to write coolsh*t.

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