Today I have mostly been playing with Transformer, an easy online interface for the 345M OpenAI neural network. The network uses a predictive text model with 345 million parameters to generate plausible endings to any sentences that you give it.
I made some lists on Twitter, starting with Borges’ Taxonomy of Animals (follow the link for more):
Another thing doing the rounds today is Elle Hunt’s glorious excerpt hit-piece in the Guardian on the autobiography of early 2000s EDM star Moby, who is possibly even more of a sleazy pseudo-hippy pseud than you’d expect even from seeing a picture of him.
So I thought I’d combine the two. Headlines and first italicised are from the Guardian piece, the rest is Transformer’s attempt at completion.
Oh, and the headline to this post is from asking Transformer, “What is a good headline for an article about Transformer and Moby?”
A low ebb in King’s Cross
It is 1999, near the end of the four-week Play tour, and our hero is feeling sorry for himself at his aftershow party. He has just a played 75-minute set to a half-empty Scala in King’s Cross, and no one is interested in having sex with him. “How badly was I failing as a musician that I couldn’t even find someone to flirt with at my own party?”
So he looks for another dancefloor in our local bar in The City. We have to have fun. Then the music cuts to the end of Live at the Scala. “I was so shocked at the result of the band’s performance”, he says, holding back tears. I feel really sorry for him right there.
“I can’t believe people wanted to have sex with me”, he adds, holding up the photos of us wearing the same outfits. I know now what they’re doing – doing something really, really wrong on your debut.
A near miss for Moby and his New Zealand fans
After playing a small concert near the Moulin Rouge in Paris, Moby has gone back to his friend Lorraine’s house, conscious that he can’t stay out too late: he has a 9am flight to New Zealand, where Play has gone gold. (Moby concedes that New Zealand’s small population is a factor.)
Moby is playing on Radio 1’s ‘Talkin’ Talkin′, and he says that’s where he finds the music he wants to hear most – that sort of relaxed, intimate, organic, organic, experimental music. “I’m not trying to reinvent jazz. That sort of stuff is out of reach for people; the only thing in the world that feels realistic to me is live music. I’ve never found it on radio or on TV. I wanted to make my own genre of music to express myself and I’ve made some really well, kind of interesting records.”
Moby also notes that, as he grows older, “there’s a strange pressure to have more sex. I think about people who’re having less sex and they’re kind of frustrated. When you’re having sex the biggest thing you can do is have fun. But what?”
Moby enjoys tofu pups at the Holiday Inn
At a Holiday Inn in Minneapolis, Moby makes himself a sandwich with some frozen hotdog sausages, or “tofu pups”, as he calls them, “as warm as a lawn on a summer day” after being defrosted in the sink.
There’s also this sandwich on offer: one big bag of iced tea. The iced tea is a favorite among Moby’s customers, but not without its fair share of criticism.
“It’s like a water bomb,” says one diner. “You’re trying to drink too much and it tastes like something else, like you just dropped a water bomb. That’s just the nature of the business. I don’t drink any water. If it had been cold, I would have put one. It’s not like an ice water.”
Moby is a self-admitant tea drinker, and his iced teas are very drinkable, so he has been known to throw them all away. Others say iced teas are toxic like beer or ice. It makes sense, says Moby, because iced teas should be drinkable.
Moby drops E and some celebrity names post-Glastonbury
As Play sells more and more copies, Moby finds it easier and easier to become promiscuous. “To keep myself from feeling creepy and ethically compromised, I told myself I was looking for love,” but his panic attacks keep him from pursuing relationships. Nevertheless, tonight, after Glastonbury 2000, a woman named Becks is charitable enough to spend the night with Moby.
If you’ve read this far, you might have asked myself whether the man has any idea what’s in store for him today. Perhaps you’ve seen where he’s been all day at the beach, playing video games. Perhaps you’ve watched one of his performances.
There’s a possibility that he’s been thinking through what he could do to improve himself. If that’s the case, why’d he never talk to me? And why would he be so worried about me anyway? The fact is that I don’t want to leave him anymore. I don’t want him to go back to his life of drugs (he can’t drink anymore because of the overdose). I don’t want him to be a victim of violence.
I don’t even know what’s in store for us when we grow old.
Moby finds the silver lining amid God’s cruelty
Listening to Proud Mary in a cab after taking “more than two” Es, Moby bemoans God’s cruelty to that night’s charitable companion, Lauren. “‘Lauren, you are so beautiful,’ I said, and kissed her.
“I said something else too – something I wasn’t sure I had said before. ‘Lauren’, I said, you’ve got more important things to worry about than taking care of ’em. Let’s dinner in my house, just cause we’re good at the music I’m playing. I said a quick word of encouragement Just the thought of it makes me want to break your neck. You have an incredible friend in God ❤.”
*Hands her an open mic*
Moby lands his white whale
On a “victory-lap tour” for Play, playing sold-out arenas, Moby finds he loves being famous. During interviews, he is often asked about being related to Herman Melville and, although he never finished Moby-Dick, he has decided it is allegorical.
With the help of the playwright Henry Louis Gates, whom he meets while on tour with Play, he works with other young kids in South Florida to create their own musical and educational projects. He is particularly drawn to the children’s show, The Play-Doh Show.
As Moby-Dick ends, he is asked if there will be more Play in the future. “If we all just get together and play in a circle … or maybe, just maybe someday,” he responds.
While Moby-Dick is widely admired today, it was initially intended for use in children’s literature, but after the first book, the play became a favourite of writers of fairy tales. In the play, when the ship crashes on a wild island with the evil pirate Blackbeard, the only hero who does not perish is the one boy who gets to go back, with his father telling him that “if he never grows old, nobody shall”.
Moby has his nice moment with New Order ruined
Playing the Area: One outdoor summer tour with Peter Hook, Stephen Morris and Barney Sumner as his opening act, Moby is struck by the surreal thought that “the guys in New Order and I were peers”. “It was also unsettling that I almost thought of them as friends.” He then apparently teaches them the chords to their own song New Dawn Fades.
Who was behind the mask? A mix of the best of New Order and Iggy Pop – with an electric guitar, electric guitar, electric guitar, and there was also a little bit of Neil Young: “there was an electric guitar and an electric bass that I had never heard of before, and I went there”.
This is the kind of artist where he is able to be so offbeat, the way he does things: he was in Paris doing a show and he took a few pictures of Paris. I guess the last time I saw anyone this high profile was in the Sixties.
Moby: “I think when he met Iggy his brain was still there, because he was always interested in singing. He wanted to be a singer, and I think.”
Moby grapples with a fan’s request
Moby is in a club in St Petersburg in 2005, drunkenly telling Vladimir Putin’s daughter – “a lovely and shy young woman”, who is listening politely – of his love for 19th-century Russian literature and that he considers “Leo Tolstoy to be one of the patron saints of veganism”. Their conversation (?) is interrupted by a woman in a gold jumpsuit who demands that Moby sign her “pussy”.
The next morning, it looks as if Moby’s head will explode in the usual way, with every bit of the incident being immediately pointed out to his lawyer, David Seifert:
“The police and prosecutor’s office have given up after a week because it just doesn’t look good – in other words, it’s not the result of any mental illness – so I hope that the court takes this time to figure out what happened, and if the criminal justice system can take responsibility for it.”
The case, which Seifert has described as “a very serious case”, is still on. It won’t be the last. In one of the few moments of hope we have, here is the original.
Lana Del Rey triumphs
In 2006, Moby invites the musician Lizzy Grant, who would go on to be known as Lana Del Rey, to his apartment, which has multiple floors. Grant shakes her head, and tells Moby: ‘Moby, you know you’re the man.’”
Moby responds: “No, I am not, but that’s just the kind of bitch I am. You could say I am a bitch.”
The next day, Moby reveals the entire conversation, telling Grant to let go of her and the phone in order to “put a stop [to] the drama”. Grant is so shocked by this that she cries at the camera.
Moby also opens up to Grant, saying that he’s “never been into music”.
Grant responds: “A lot of times it has been a really great experience. It’s changed my life more than anything else in my life, but it doesn’t change what the music means to me. No, it doesn’t mean shit for me. But I would love that same kind of attention. I don’t want to be in this game by myself”.