FLOATING IN SPACE WITH YOUTH, GAUDI, THE EGG & STEVE NORRIS

Music, Nightlife, spoken word

SPACESUITS ARE GO!  Honour and a pleasure to be asked to float the astral planes on stage at the Portobello Live finale on Monday at Subteranea.

Ledge sonic astronaut Martin Glover aka Youth (bassist with Killing Joke, producer of everything from Naked in the Rain, to The Verve’s Urban Hymn, n back via Primal Scream, The Orb, Paul McCartney) performed with Gaudi (who’s a regular on Alex Paterson’s WNBC radio) backed by Maf and Ned Scot of prog ambienteers, The Egg (new album coming v soon), with Steve ‘Marineboy’ Norris on guitar, and some talented strings – a cellist and violinist.  And I guested with some raps…

 

 

Previous space odyssey collabs between Youth and Gaudi can be heard here.

More classical ambient beauty from Youth here.

Thanks to Gil De Ray for filming. x

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RADIO RADIO 📻

Journalism

LISTEN AGAIN, for the next month (30th April) > guest to one of the best journalists in the business, great writer, and he does some kind of festival in Bucks…listen up!

PAUL WATERS @paulwaters99 (twitter)

http://listenagain.wycombesound.org.uk/index.php/shows/paul-waters-show/

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Cold Lips 04 + launch party

Art, books, Design, Fashion, Fiction, Film, Journalism, literature, london, Music, Nightlife, spoken word

Please come and celebrate the best edition yet…

FRIDAY 27th April at London Fields Brewhouse

Entry from a fiver includes the magazine (RRP: £100), and ace music and poetry.

I began putting together the features last year.  It’s the kinda thing I’d like to read… designed by the beautifully talented  Personality Crisis who is now on a jet plane!

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Entry includes the new summer edition

PUT ME ON THE GUESTLIST NOW!

GIL DE RAY
[LIVE]
+
THE FAT WHITE FAMILY’S ADAM J HARMER and his one man destruction show

POETRY:
Greta Bellamacina, Robert Montgomery

Stuart McKenzie, Ana Seferovic

Kirsty Allison (COLD LIPS editor) with Steve Norris on guitar

DJs TESS PARKS
+
Chris Rotter

INSIDE, on the sexy paper: 💥Anti-fashion by Carl Fox ✨Duggie Fields on Syd Barrett (whose Madcap Laugh album inspired the cover shoot with Greta + Robert) 🔥 In the studio with Billy Childish 💥Malik Ameer Crumpler (Madison Washington) on hip-hop 👁 Judy Nylon on collaboration 💖Beyonce’s fave: Scooter Laforge – on The Odyssey ⚡Jeffrey Wengrofsky on digital subcultures 💥New poetry from Rob Plath, fiction from David Noone, and Joseph Coward (CXR) 💥Centrefold: Ana Seferovic by Tamara Suskic, and her collab with the painter Sam Hacking
and plenty more fashion, literature, art, music against the world. x

ORDER YOURS NOW

The night also celebrates the release of PERFUME by Gil De Ray… 

Gil Perfume

IMAGINE Roxy Music riding into town on balearic horses, all Clash Magnificent Seven after a few lost weeks at the rock n roll disco.
There’s a ska bassline to take us into the summer. FIYA! 💖

 

LONDON, NEW YORK, NEW ORLEANS…

Art, Fashion, Journalism, literature, london, Music, Nightlife, Politics, spoken word

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words chez moi –  photos by Lilly Creightmore at the NOKI x COLD LIPS party for LFW 15th Feb 18 (artwork below by me for the Tweet Me Up show at the Tate, 2012)

The artist NOKI’s work is Fashion AND anti-brand – ya – confusing, right 🤓🤪😫🤯 (you can read more to understand his work on Cold Lips, and i-D, or in the exclusive interview in the third issue we created for the show – Paypal: studio@coldlips.co.uk with £2.99, and a bit for postage if you can afford it, or visit the www.coldlips.co.uk shop), and in the same way, I don’t really know when a zine becomes a magazine, or a fanzine becomes a zine, becomes a magazine.  Sometimes Cold Lips gets called a zine, sometimes a magazine, sometimes a fanzine.  Labels fuck everything up as much as money, and our desire to have the beautiful things in the world.  I mean – I’d wear some of that new Fendi garb… But my conscience battles with the lameness of existing to an index of any kind – negotiating my life through stupid tokens of success, and signals of others. OM! Be gone!  Whether we want to become collectors of water-chiselled bedrocks from Korea, or a piece of Vetements bearing a DHL logo – let’s not be slaves in a battered joke of a vehicle that’s cruising towards a major crash in a post-Colette world of slavery to pop-up distractors.  So when I see content from fashion lifestyle magazines doing little else but promote the production abilities of their glorious advertisers: LMVH (who look after Loewe, Louis Vuitton, Moet, Fendi, Celine, Dior, Pucci, Givenchy, Kenzo, Mark Jacobs, Thomas Pink, Nicholas Kirkwood, Edun and more) or Chanel S.A. (who own Chanel), or Kering (who own much of Gucci, Saint Laurent, Bottega Veneta, McQueen, Stella McCartney, Christopher Kane, Puma, and more) – or the mega-firms of Proctor and Gamble, L’Oreal and Unilever, all pushing ideas of beauty upon my information-pummelled eyes, just to keep the cash circus circulating, I get sick, and I want to withdraw.  Because that’s just one idea of Fashion.  Not only do I want some of the clothes and the wedge from holding those ads, I don’t wanna compromise anything we’re doing in COLD LIPS – which I started to perpetuate the subculture that created it.  Which I’ll come back to – but meanwhile, rather than bemoan the luxury oppressors who I adore, we shall party.  Which is good.  As I’ve always enjoyed a good underground night out.  So it was an honour to be a part of the propaganda team for the NOKI private view on the dawn of London Fashion Week this February – and later all laugh on WhatsApp seeing FENDI do what FILA do, throwing the South London streetwear irony back in the face of the kids that created that look, and see Feral’s look parade down the Gucci line eleven years late…

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FACE UP

We had performances from Anne McCloy, who was a resident at the spoken word night that began Cold Lips, she’s toured with Peter Doherty, made merch for many, and lectures at St Martin’s, asking people to challenge what fashion is, daily. Gary Fairfull stepped up with his NHS poem, he gave the original spoken word night its platform.  Feral Is Kinky – a fashion subculture stalwart, known most for singing Everything Starts With An E with Boy George – but currently slamming it out of the underground gay scene to River Island commercial mainstream brilliance, and back again. We also had the word artist Robert Montgomery and poet/filmmaker/model Greta Bellamacina who are the forthcoming cover stars for Cold Lips IV – it’s SUCH A HOT SHOOT by Lilly Creightmore (we turn Robert into the muse of Syd Barrett as per Madcap Laughs, and dress Greta in Vampire’s Wife).   I also put down some lines.  And the beatbox supremo Killa Kella, and DJs Q Boy and Ladylaw.

The Opiate & Phoneless in Berlin

Journalism

New published work:

👉PHONELESS IN BERLIN 👈 travel diary on COLD LIPS: pics by Martyn Goodacre, featuring: Stroke Order, Danielle De Picciotto, Mark Reader, The Horrors, Anton Newcombe, and more…

HOLLY GROVE new poetry published on The Opiate magazine, edited by Malik Crumpler et al.

The poem, about my new hood, inspired by this photograph:

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BBC 6MUSIC + 3:AM MAGAZINE ☄️

Journalism

Ace to rise the lift to BBC 6Music HQ as guest for the inimitable Murray Lachlan Young. Taking over Jarvis’ reg slot, the pathos-invoking don of the cautionary poem, bard of the iambic block, introduces the series exploring lyrics by genre.  I’m on for the last half hour of the show which looks at PUNK- but listen to the whole thing.  Penny Rimbaud who I once wrote a poem for, adds much light…

 

I spoke about PUNK IS DEAD, edited by playwright, Richard Cabut, and Andrew Gallix – on 3:AM Magazine…and much more…

 

x

 

I fucked Harvey Weinstein T-shirts – coming soon

Journalism, literature

Every girl grows up with the threat of Weiner Productions: from the beaches of Thailand to the villages of Russia, refugee camps, to banking; the spectrum of prostitution that women maintain to better themselves is alive, and flourishing.  It’s not solely aligned to girls either – boys and trans alike, we all know placating men with sex, and the possibility of it, is the trade of marriages real or unreal the world over.  It’s the denial of this reality which is harmful.

The fact is, Weinstein delivered.  Two fold. If the girls chose to suck his cock, he made them famous.  Don’t put your daughter on the stage, Mrs. Worthington, it is only a step away from prostitution.  But Mother, the stage is Everywhere.

It makes me sad that my cum face is the best face.  We play the roles of the female stars, sucking it up like Marilyn.  To pass Go! successfully, independently, without passing a cock, has anyone ever done that?  I’m not saying any of my sisterhood have stooped, but it’s about time we had an honest conversation about why paying it down to a hyperreal cartoon of a Trump-like Harvey Weinstein is impossible to ignore in all industries.  Show me a girl who hasn’t had guilt for feeling dirty about her choices, and I’ll find three that have been raped.  Ultimately, no woman who wanted stardom turned Weinstein down.  He played out his own masochistic fantasy that women would not fuck him UNLESS he could offer them fame.  And all of us fell for it. The power that the co-founder of Miramax represents is endemic to masculinity.   The danger of Weinergate is the flipside, the shadow, the villain to the heroine:  it perpetuates an acceptance that women are victims.  We are not.  Feminisation does that.  Falling into roles.  And this is the first case in the media where the women admit to being implicit in the rape by saying, yes, we did try to use our female powers, and it wasn’t as straight forward as a gun being-held-to-our-head situation.  The polarisation of victimhood is where this is too black and white; if we were born into worlds where equality was the norm, and girls’ muscles were accepted to be as strong as the man’s wallet, we’d all be richer.

We can hope that by exposing Weinstein, as he exposed his power and penis to us, it will lead to a greater understanding of casting couch mythology, and dialogue about unwritten behaviour of knowing when to flick your hair, go Diana-coy, bash your eyelids like you’re Manga.  Because it is not only in Hollywood where a casting couch is the route to stardom or bettering one’s opportunities.

The issue revealed here canonises a false belief that women can’t enjoy sex as much as men.  The reality we create, the one we indulge, the one sold to us – behind the screen, it fizzes with the moralistic micro-chimera we carry in our souls of being as good as the last person we fucked.  That is the reality.  When this is abused, it means we carry heavy guilt.  Rape sucks.  We are who we’ve slept with, and still, we seem to accept that we have to fuck the cock that feeds us.  It’s a tragic feedback loop.

 

Entitlement to sex through dominance is what this is about.  It is owned by men, but also by girls, young women, consciously, or without awareness capitalising on eyelash length and bouncy hair.  Why wouldn’t we, those are the images we receive.  Yet tropes of max excess infantalise our own expectations of men.  Weinstein is just another victim of our beauty, a symbolic representation of power, of super-patriarch being our prey: of youth and beauty.  We are part of this system, and we need to fess up, that the norm is a girl who nicing up the boss,  smiling, looking maternally, or sex daughterly, or with a promise, all the way up the greasy pole: we all wear the I FUCKED HARVEY WEINSTEIN T-shirt.   And there has never been such a clear symbol of this dichotomy.

Weinstein has hounded people for the rights to their works as they lie on their deathbeds.  He is no angel, but we could say that if it wasn’t him, it would have been another pursuing those ‘rights’.  It is the culture.

In my novel, DEATH WISH (my agent loves it, other agents love it, the few friends I’ve shown it to love it) – the main character, Scarlett Flag, a victim of the patriarch wears an I SUCKED A LOT OF COCK TO GET HERE – T-shirt.  It’s too strong.  For a woman to say that.  I’ve had 8 solid refusal letters.  I think they’re all from women.

My ol’ DJ blud, Irvine Welsh assures me: ‘Trainspotting would never get published now’ – in the world of middle class gatekeepers.  But I can’t help feeling it’s because I’m a woman writing about a lifestyle that’s usually reserved for men.  As I get older, the shield of my youth falls, thank fuck – but I find women like Cosey Fanni Tutti guiding my way:  speaking at Frieze recently, she was keen to explain expectations of sexual behaviour being codified by sexuality, citing women who have written with male pseudonyms, and vice versa.  We need to discuss why men rape and don’t realise they are doing it.  They don’t accept they rape like they don’t accept No.  Women are forever the victims, accepting Men are more powerful.  Men are predatory.  They hunt.  They rape. They earn more.  So we have to be nice to them. Girls, seriously, is our only option to stop playing out ideas of beauty in wanton fuck me imagery of selfie-filter-face culture?  All of us enact gender roles: sadly affected by what we consume on all screens, literature, news, friends, role models. Everywhere.  It does not have to be this way.

We are the society we create.  Create the culture we want.

In my life as a DJ, I worked with strippers – empowered by the Hugh Hefner super-sexualisation of us, and the laddish culture that was apparently about men reclaiming their manhood post-rave and equality – but I’ve known a lot of girls less into it.  You could say forced by circumstance.  Forced to wear mascara.  Forced to be judged on image.  All of this may be as old as the hills, as is it being about what is inside that matters.  That is what we radiate.  Many burlesque dancers I meet are the kind of girls bullied at school, their sexual spectrum makes them drop dead sex magnets, who express themselves through dancing and fantasy.  Everything is on a spectrum.  I am happy naked, on a beach.  I took my clothes off at Manumission.  In solidarity of my sisters, like it was a taboo I had to break with myself, towards liberation, from being fucked by men.  I was born naked, ran around a hippy kid, camping for months at a time across Europe.  Why apologise for liking heels?  They make my legs look longer, my arse better.  That’s the imagery I fancy.  Or is that something I should police – along with the production of feel good hormones?  I don’t accept anyone telling me what to do, so why should I accept the way they make me feel?

Back to Harvey: he’s not the first and last guy to whizz around the best hotel suites in the world, eating the best food, being offered sweet pussy.  He’s done exactly what he wants.  Sure it’s a filthy habit but we all know acting is one step away from prostitution.  As long as we are acting, we all are one step away from prostitution.  Yeah – we could lose everything and end up on the streets.  The moralistic media and BAFTA backlash reinforces such fears  – reputation, victimhood, it’s one long bog roll, perpetualising imagery of the sexes.  So wear the T-shirt – be proud.  If you’re acting, you’re taking part – so choose and accept what you suck up.  Be the directors, and producers of the world that we want to live in.

Enshallah.

THE FILM & ALBUM PROJECT, GHOST DRIVER BY KELLI ALI, IS NOW HAPPENING!  I AM PLAYING HOLLYWOOD ARCHETYPE, GRACE RIDER – SUPPORT IT NOW!

https://www.pledgemusic.com/projects/ghostdriver

Pavement poetry and road movies 🌵📹🤳

Art, Film, Poetry

I like cutting poetry as video.  Pavement poetry films.  From notes on a phone.

Here’s a new one, from the groves of Peckham to the branded streetart of Shoreditch. I’d been listening to Terence McKenna, watching Unity Matrix and Rachel Bladerunner…

The story is the journey – the poetry is as we walk.

Classic road movie Palm Spring colours and my photographs using a Holga lens around the Joshua Tree inspired the art direction of the first edition of Cold Lips.

The colours numbed for the second edition, stripped back to fading Polaroids and Shedville typewriter font.

 

Did the first pavement poetry film on  Instagram last summer as I wandered.  Primrose Hill slate, sounds better than other pavements.

It’s a few minutes through this Unedited film, that I’ve had projected through performances…

I’m doing something on 3rd November with Ana Sefer and her pal.  The next one with Dave Barbarossa (drummer, Adam Ant/Bow Wow Wow) will be with Factory de Joie, November 25th.

And in the meantime, I write as I walk, and put together the third issue of Cold Lips.  x

Narrowing Spectrum of Control

Journalism

I went to Erdoğanland and freaked out.

http://www.3ammagazine.com/3am/narrowing-spectrum-control/

Please read & share the essay here.

It’s about globalised hysterical normalisation in digital culture, brought on by autocrats, and corporate-serpents.  The slave dance marches on…

 


Illustration by Gil De Ray

John Cooper Clarke

literature, Nightlife, Poetry, spoken word, sylvia plath fan club

  

“Cold Lips is artistic and fabulous” John Cooper Clarke

Very proud to have the punk laureate support the second edition of Cold Lips as our cover star and with a rare, intimate performance on April 22nd – plus the rest of us. I’m doing poetry with Dave Barbarossa for the first time. And the music’ll be amazing. Look at that line-up!
Please come! The new edition will be back from the printer!

Having to pay John’s driver, hotel et al – hence modest charge.  More info and tickets: HERE

   
 

GHOST DRIVER

Art, Film, Journalism, Music

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I first met Kelli Ali when we were both new – I was writing for an MTV mag – BLAH BLAH BLAH (it was actually called that) – I was commissioned to interview the Sneaker Pimps down in Greenwich, for some reason.  It was a day out from Old Street, f’shiz.

As a good journalist, I did my research, listened to their music – got into it enough to write further pieces in MIXMAG, and go on a US tour when I was editing on the fashion mag, SCENE which I edited on (prior to getting sacked for crashing out in the fashion cupboard).  The diary for that US tour is good.

Kelli and I have collaborated a heap over the years.  I did a film for her last album:

We had a party at the W Hotel with Sink The Pink.  It was fun.

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Now Kelli’s making an amazing film, Ghostdriver, which sounds all Suicide, but takes from everything hip on celluloid ever: Jubilee, to Warhol, to noir.  It’s done with a cast of all our fave people, and is half-funded.  It’s interesting the way the music and film are phoenixing together.  Neither is yet quite finished, but bouncing between mediums – you can be part of her journey by Pledging.  The cameras are rolling.  The piano is playing – it’s kinda trip-hoppy, deep jazz.  And is dark as life.  I play Grace Rider, Hollywood actress.

http://www.pledgemusic.com/projects/ghostdriver

Kelli continues to be a great influence and inspiration.  Someone who never stops learning.

X

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GIGS, n WORDS, n ROCK n ROLL x

Art, Film, literature, Poetry, spoken word, sylvia plath fan club

Since launching the anti-literary Sylvia Plath Fan Club in 2015, I’ve been doing more gigs, as a poet.  What does that even mean, huh?  Basically, I stand up on stage – often between bands, MCing, introducing, doing poems – y’know?   Come see me…and you’ll get it…

I published my first collection late last year – got it on billboards outside the Ace Hotel in Shoreditch.  Thanks Daylite LED Media. So easy.

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The cover was designed by Luke McLean – one of my fave people, and designers (Supergrass, London Field Brewery, Wrangler etc).  You can buy Unedited on the Cold Lips website, or from me at gigs for a fiver… [here’s something nice on it by fellow Lazy Gramophone member, the brilliant skateboarding performance poet, Mat Lloyd].

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Lovely to get invited onto James Meynell’s Garage show on internet station of the year, Soho Radio.  Listen back below, and the post continues underneath…  

My nearest gigs are tomorrow – Thursday – the last night of the residency I’ve been doing with Saint Leonard’s Horses at the International Club’s Winter Conclave at the George Tavern in Whitechapel, then on Saturday 18th, I’m doing my first out of town gig for Cultural Traffic.

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Sometimes I do readings with film – this is work in progress…

My first reading was for Ambit, nearly 10 years, I was terrible – it was a 2000 word short story, called Lyla, and I just got up and read it cold to some poor  darlings above a pub in Soho.  After that, my  ol’ pal Salena Godden started the Book Club Boutique.   I’d been working on my novel, and needed to break up the style, and found poetry a good way to find a more honest voice, away from the corporate writing, and paid media work I’ve grown up doing.

Now people say nice things:

Kirsty Allison is the most rock n roll poet in LondonKelli Ali

Wordsmith wizardryAdam J Harmer, Fat White Family

Her poetry is the only that gives me goosebumpsDelilah Holliday, Skinny Girl Diet

She’s a modern day Patti SmithJohny Brown, Band of Holy Joy

x kirsty

Johnny Thunders ⚡️⚡️⚡️Nina Antonia

Journalism

Extrapolating drugs, sex, rock n roll and great art is never easy.  Be it poets, artists, singers or the destitute, they all get wrapped in myths of madness, nymphomania, witchcraft, addiction, crazy clothes and all things normal members of society can’t be.  Thank you, Satan!  But when you’re one of the most romantic artists of the 20th Century, Johnny Thunders, there’s a frustration from biographer, Nina Antonia, in separating the goods from the chattels…

In Cold Blood was Nina Antonia’s first book, she was a struggling single mother and got a break with Leee Black Childers, Jerry Nolan and Johnny Thunders…they became her fam, an apprenticeship with rock n roll blood of the highest order…

It’s always hard to be a woman, she wanted to write but says she wasn’t the kind of girl, or person to be taken on by Sounds or NME. Already typecast as a cult heroine, working-class from Liverpool, the opportunity offered through this book was her golden dawn.

The rest, is written…yet I chiselled away a little more into the legend at this talk, and made this lil film for ya…

Punk, a label that many originals prefer to deny, gets blamed for spreading heroin from the boho set of the 60s to the football terraces of the 70s, whether there’s a wider conspiracy – like the way cocaine flooded the streets of Harlem in the race riots, who knows – smash the oiks…as Nina says, heroin was everywhere before punk, you could buy it in shops in the Kings Road, and Finsbury Park, the Irish ghetto was awash with it – but Nina seems to believe it’s a case of repackaging the old as something new… this time, the press created totems of behaviour (spitting, violence, rudeness, green mohawks, etc) which overshadowed the talent – and  in the same way that Johnny Thunders proudly stuck a needle in his hat, heroin became a symbol of its era, as the culture became commoditised into a look you could buy, and now appropriated into middle-class events at cinemas, and galleries, with Johnny Rotten sticking a finger up at the canon of the Queen and a burning, safety-pinned British flag.  How very quaint.  What’s clear is the seventies were bleak.  There wasn’t the panache of super-loans that we see now.  Powercuts were frequent, blamed on the poor (as Ballard notes in Highrise), money was scarce, squatting was normal, and the only option was to go out in a bin bag…now that trashsack is the meat-bikini of Gaga, or perhaps a post-bling world of filters where flagrant abundance of Primark devastates the future with plastic on beaches.  Today is a world of crap wigs, and Italian fashion companies tipping leather-dying byproducts into the eco-system.  The new punks tote Starbucks on Insta in a recession, wilfully sheltered in desire and post-modernist digital submission and corporate oppression – but the G at a Grindr party, or the sanitised normality of Adele or Ellie Gould, these poisons are as toxic and complex as Sid Vicious’ mum being a junky, lest not forget – heroin was not new, as it was not new in the 90s with heroin chic, it was not new when smoked in pipes in the 20s, nor had poppies never been seen in the Opium Wars of the 1800s.  LSD was not new in the 60s, and ecstasy was not new in the 90s, speed is still used to get soldiers marching in wars.  But drugs and subcultures often seem inexplicably bound, the psychedelic art of Beardsley to the acid of Hunter S. Thompson, Tom Wolfe,  the symbolic rhetoric of culture is never as simple as a stand-alone product, be it an album, book, poem or picture – because we are ether, we are sentient, and we take in all around us like the cellulose of our skin…pop culture’s symbols, be them flares, drainpipes, mini-skirts, kaftans, pills, pipes or needles often overshadow the art at the time, and it’s not until the products of art have been rinsed in a sieve of centuries that the good stuff sticks.   Yet the myth is always part of the attraction to legend.  Anaïs Nin, for example, is appealing because of her porn writing, and the mystery of her personality; Gertrude Stein, some of her writing is terrible, but her courtly abilities are as pithily attractive as a line of Dorothy Parker shouting down the Algonquin Table.

Although my punk pal, Bruno Wizard, of The Homosexuals would say there’s no such thing as subculture, or the underground, only what the government and establishment don’t want to be mainstream; ultimately, tabloids love to find new enemies such as Johnny Thunders to entertain, vilify and nail to the crosses of sacrifice.  It’s no coincidence that Nina Antonia has edited the diaries of Peter Doherty, who loved In Cold Blood…

Artists are forced to be as extreme as Van Gogh under the pressure of not conforming – to challenge the demonic hegemony of the day.  If they’re true geniuses.  And this is the mortal trap.  To be a true soothsayer, one must live outside of a system, like a monk – but this is the privilege of few layabouts, saints, and people who really can live on lentils 365.  Even Rimbaud gave up poetry to sell coffee.  The issue of current day culture is the system that raises those to be distributed is generally one of privilege.   Obscurity is ever easier on the internet, and without a little genie’s magick, it’s hard for smoke to be seen.  The cultural superstructures are so cataclysmically embroidered to the weaves of corporaations and networks, you’ve got to be in it to win it, to pervert from within.  If Vice is largely owned by Hearst, Disney, an ad company, and News International, all we can do is trust in the power of our art, and rock n roll.  As Nina says, play the game, or lose.
Whether Looking For Johnny is a hagiography or not (a word I learnt last night, meaning the method of creating saints in story),  any ripples in the pond lead towards a cultish or glorifying process and yeah, it’s impossible to explore a whole life in a film. But as Viv Albertine has been very clear to point out, the women are often left behind. Not in Looking For Johnny, one gets a sense of equality from a series of strong business women but aside those women, there’s a somewhat never-ending stream of floozies, muses, and beauties, invoking a ‘player-ness’ to the rockstar hero.  But perhaps there is a darker tale here, where actually women are far more than accessories, they are part of this hero-making crime, because Johnny is accused of beating someone, and it’s brushed over.  I thought it was just the lifestyle but serial domestic abuse is common in all situations and it made me wonder if this parade of women through his life, was actually more to do with the women saying no to the patriarchal blows of rock n roll, bored of the bruv-hood of bands and violent, vain frustrated bastardness.  Hanging like useless decorative objects to the carved bust of sex and drugs and rock n roll is a pretty pointless preoccupation, and most girls get with that programme, yet are still vindicated by their associations to this epic image frequently outdoing their own success.  The competition between women to be rock n roll empresses repeatedly enables this imbalance;  whether it’s Posh Spice hanging by Beckham, or Hilary Clinton double-matriarching Monika Lewinsky.  Many women believe matchmaking is a contract – but poets believe in love, and I for sure would rather die at that altar than rise with a pre-conceived maliciously intended gameplan, but life is full of greys, and freedom is rarely black and white.  But this phenomena of women enabling gender-roles to continue with all their romantic and flawed tropes is as crazy and beautiful as the fact that great artists are murderers, philanderers, rapists, and thieves.  Should we rip up every book by Burroughs because he shot his wife, or walk out on all the recordings of Joe Meek because he shot his landlady, before himself?  Carravagio was a murderer, but we still look at his gods over Italy…I know it’s hard to listen to Gary Glitter – but maybe it’ll come around again; Lewis Carroll, Benjamin Britten – they seemed to get away with it…Roman Polanksi, Woody Allen…as Johnny Thunders said, “You can’t put your arms around a memory…”

So, tortured genius, we salute you.  We take pleasure from your pain.  Nabakov, or die.  Without Keith Richards’ gonzo-ism, the fascination with the Stones would not be as great, without Madonna’s proclivity to boundary pushing ideas of sex, society would not have embraced liberal attitudes as easily, perhaps – or maybe, we’ve been cheated – and if we take it right back, there is nothing new, ever…the Greeks did it, the Romans – the Egyptians, ETs… but don’t forget women have ruled this world too, matriarchs maybe just need to be repackaged and glorious, and embracing and wild – because, like there is only one of each of us, there was only one Johnny Thunders…and without sex and drugs, rock n roll is straight and sober and uninspiring.   It’s great to have some Coldplays, because they make Nirvana look better.  Life’s edges are all so wilfully intertwined.  The only precipice is death and destruction – which is one hell of a muse.  Far stronger than any woman.  Or man.  And that cliff is the one walked by rock n roll at its finest.

 

Find Nina’s beautifully penned In Cold Blood, or her others on Peter Perrett from The Only Ones, or the bestselling: Too Much Too Soon about The New York Dolls (I need my copy, Ninaawwww!).  She writes thoughtfully, poetically and with great reverence to decent research and those that have flown the earth in laudanum twilights.  Nina Antonia is just finishing her first novel, which I can’t wait to read, and In Cold Blood is seeking the perfect Johnny T in Hollywood…

To hear more, watch the film above…x

It’s the lovely Colm Forde & Vanessa Lobon Garcia at Doc N Roll Festival who put the event together that sparked these deliverances, please do comment below.   Danny Garcia’s documentary about Johnny Thunders, Looking For Johnny was screened at ArthouseN8 on 21st August 2016. I’d intro’d for Doc N Roll before, at a special screening of The Sex Pistols’ The Filth and The Fury (Julien Temple) at the 100 Club to celebrate 40 years since the Pistols first played the stage – did a chat after with Viv Albertine and Skinny Girl Diet for Converse (will hopefully feature some of the convo about fashion and punk in the next ed of Cold Lips). 

Vive la Rock! x August 2016

When Kirsty first met Nina, 2015

Soho Radio

Journalism

Carl Loben, my dear ed at DJ Mag, where I edit films, books and arts, invited me into the show he was covering for Eddy Temple Morris…

He wanted me to speak about culture – I wrote the words below in response, which I read over the top of a new Daniel Avery mix of Soft Bounce by Beyond the Wizard’s Sleeve…

KULTURE

Bass field

Treble sky

Dance or die

At the convention

Marquee curtains

Hangar Steppenwolf doors

Four to the floor

Wanna live all night

Alright

Infernal dayglo

To down below

The tweaking Underground

With the smoke and the writers and the bartakers and drugsellers

Poppy myths

Rock hits

Reluctant indie conscripts

Toking chancers

Dance wonderland

Taking it

Cashing the cheque

Kulture couture encounters

Nailing all to its cross

Stone us

Shoot us

Put Targets on our backs

Profiled

You gotta be selling something

Poisoned soul

Nuked by the Voice of other people

MK Ultra

Old show

Submission

Perception narrows

Locked up

System maintained

Do not restrain

The right

To dance in your own light

Wear a

Cloak of fright

Stabilise the kool aid of sobriety

With offline rebellion

In Fake society

Destruction is necessary

In the fight

To stay free all night

FETE OF PERVERSITY #peacefornice

Poetry, spoken word, sylvia plath fan club

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Read this after the Paris bombings at the Sylvia Plath Fan Club…and still the Fete of Perversity goes on.  #peacefornice

And there’s a vid of it…

At the Fete of Perversity

Kardashians, cut the ribbon

Inspo-quote university

manipulating biddable malignancy

spectacle o

Art Deco sunshine filters

an Insta-speriential souk

smashed it

Bush n Blair dribbling

over

AK47 air guitars

holographs of Nixon n Kissinger

on drums

At the Dawn of uncivil war

Come to the

Merkel Mercedes auction

Shoot

Lucky shot Trump

Guess

Gold bullets in a bottle

Smoke

Rose petal oud

Eat

Monsanto tombola food

Drakma.  Dollar.  Euro. Riyal. Out.

Roll up

Roll up

Win

rubber grenades in your skin

See

DLT riding a baby mammoth on a plinth

Pin

Titanium tanzanite tails to

Platinum camels and donkeys

and ten tonne snails

Coney island badtrip

Freak shows and weirdos and psychos

Murdoch whip pans

Drone focussed

Paid for this content

The robots

Over Gaza

The terror-drome eggshell bullseye

The quiet

The peace

The people

The megalosaurus

Climbing a flagpole

and Theresa Maypoles

and melting and fracking

and hating and

Banking

And bureaucrating

media Jet Stream Rainbow

Over Yemen

And Mosul and Ukraine:

Naked kid writes apolitical songs

freedom fighter

Champagne

Your brain

Ping ping pow

Take Captagon

So good

So fast

To Die

So Young

PUNK SUICIDE

On Diamond shattered screens

Ride aside

Warlords

Distract

With cats

Eye flicks

Lips

And Brats schtik

Range Rover bomb

amber sky

Ammo fired

Explosions –

Gunfire cried

Displaced Ants ran

Birds sang

Boats sank

Horror songs

Howl dog

FGM Rape scream

Snoop snoop bang

The infadels stopped dancing

Dropped their drinks

Couldn’t think

Beyond

Vertically distributed smiles

Legs hung from the mic stand

Silver jewellery fell to the floor

An arm was on the curtain and a shoe was in the door…

Blood already lay on the floor

Colonies had risen, been defeated

Died

Bang

Jesus, Mohammed, defied

The board of Idolatry paused

In a reign of flames

carbon soaked atmos

Every stall burning off

Oil backsheesh

splitting the world

into lazy divides

Social media lockdown

Connections finished

Data cached

For chips

In heads

To help you remember

Shopping

Rebels sold hashish cookies

spiked with death

To Putin

Old money Crusaders

Sanctioned chocolate

city waders

Patented cures,

for spells bound by

wizards

Against lizards

Scales down

Never swept up after

Arrows of judgement shot from the clouds

Held in Boston and Oxford

The vloggers and bloggers

Styled as Refugees in burkhas.

bribed mouths

pouting in

sanitised mud cleanser faces

They’re cool – called the magazines

In exchange for dough

And artists

Are

Monitored

Cached

Consumed

Indexed superstructure

Or bombed

Judge

Red card

Calling it:

We fund

this rescheme as

brand Fans

fanatics

crazy and stupid

As Fran Leibovitz said:

the best died

And still, the fete of perversity

will not give in to terror:

Workers march

Loafers lunch

Cake thrown

Roll up

Roll up

Best show on earth.

November 2015, Kirsty Allison

COLD LIPS

books, Fiction, Journalism, literature, london, Music, Nightlife, Poetry, Politics, Short story, spoken word, sylvia plath fan club

Started a fash and spoken word zine:  BUY IT

Beyond the editorial, read why in a piece for the Literary Platform

Look at these gorg photos by Charlotte Freed from the London Fashion Week party at The Library.  Thanks to DJs, Gil De Ray and Feral is MC Kinky, and all the amazing performers, and supporters.  Massive appreciation to London Fields Brewery for keeping artists happy

For more info: studio@coldlips.co.uk

 

Like Cold Lips on Facebook, Love us on  Insta, baby

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LIBRARY INTERVIEW

Journalism

http://www.lib-rary.com/library-news/2016/2/11/kirsty-allison-sylvia-plath-fan-club

 

Kirsty Allison: Sylvia Plath Fan Club

February 11, 2016

What inspired you to put together the Sylvia Plath Fan Club?

I wanted a home for people with a bit of integrity, and rock n roll, the true meaning of literature.  Sylvia Plath is a very loose icon for the night – she’s not a literal paragon; people are surprised when folk from all worlds come together to celebrate lyrics, writing and words of all sorts – we had Mussolini come down to the last one and perform his final speech.  Lisa Moorish has read lyrics, Gail Porter’s tried out bits from her forthcoming memoir…I like to make films for people who have performed.  We’ll start playing those back.  It’s good to play some records too.  The place it happens in is important, people have to feel comfortable as it’s kinda naked doing words without music, the way we listen is important too, it has to feel easy.  Words offer light, through the darkness,  I like the space to reflect that…it’s about words all ways.  Words always.  Words against the silence of voices.  The outside world may be fucked, so let’s create our own.  I’m a total aesthete like that.  I think short bursts work well from a variety of voices.  Like a cool magazine – as a writer, it’s always about the way different people speak, I’ve been transcribing people’s dialogues for years – everyone speaks differently, I love that, but I hate slams, sure they encourage perfection but it’s not about that, it’s not a competition, it’s about appreciation, and unity, through words…

What do you consider to be the perfect environment for writing?

It’s in the soul, primarily.  I do some of my best work in bed.  Ha.  Relaxed.  I have a decent desk too.  It’s solid.  I get synesthesia, so there’s only some music I can write to, but having written professionally since a teen, I can do it anywhere.  I write on my phone, wherever I can.  I think having a pen or a keypad is like having a cunt, you’ve always got it on you – it’s how you use it that counts.

Name three Instagram accounts we should be following.

@idea.ltd

@yazbukey

@kirstyallison_

I also like @MakeBlackOutPoetry

What are the top three items on your bucket list?

My bucket is happily on its own experiential bucket list experience, without me – I think it’s on holiday, or washed out to sea – I’ve lived so many lives, I can’t keep up with dreams – it’s one long and beautiful trip, making the most of every day.  Of late, that’s been more about trusting inward than outward.  So that would be top, then remembering the bucket is the journey, then being switched ON in the bucket.

What can we except from the upcoming event at LIBRARY?

It’s gonna be hot.  It’s London Fashion Week, and I’m launching my first ever magazine at the club.  It’s called COLD LIPS.  I am super excited. Amazing line-up.  It’ll be a fun!

Kirsty Allison is bringing her already legendary Sylvia Plath Fan Club to LIBRARY on Monday 22 February 2016. 

The all-star line up includes:
Justin Cartwright
Tony White
Johny Brown (Band of Holy Joy)
Zoe Howe
And residents: Kirsty Allison, Anne McCloy & Gary Fairfull…

Members RSVP | Non-members may purchase a ticket here

Share

Scandal at Manumission

Journalism

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Mike and Claire Manumission are infamous for first shagging live on stage in Paris in the 90s, and continuing the tradition at Privilege, in Ibiza – the biggest club there, where audiences of 15 000 were regular, every Sunday night.  Their shows were a spectacle of imagination, with fetishes for all tastes, guided by the most beautiful dancers on the planet.

I played in the backroom, with Kris Needs, and friends from Primal Scream and writers such as Irvine Welsh and Howard Marks.

DSC03100From the days when I was known as K-RoKA  – and that’s Jade Jagger all bound up…

On NYE it was a total honour to be invited to go all 50s guitar twang, and play aside friends and accomplished folk such as Paco Fernandez, Mark Moore, Feral is MC Kinky, Richard Norris, Andy Carroll,  and see the wondrous Polly Fey and Johnny Golden.  Shoreditch House put on one hell of a party, with piles of lobster, and mountains of cake, and it was good to be closer to the legendary NYE fireworks.  The hosts, my dear compadres, part of my Ibizan fam, Mike n Claire Manumission are forever inspiring.  Claire’s vision and Mike’s will to enable his queen’s desires have always been their magic. Their creative connection is fabulous.  As are their shows and parties.  There’s always sleaze, in the best taste, but it’s balanced with Claire’s pure panache and class.  They had the Royal Ballet perform before jumping into the pool at midnight.  What fun times we have had, from Cannes film festival to the summer living in the Manumission Motel, a former whorehouse near Ibiza Town, replete with waterbeds, for the resident DJs, and dancers (separately, always, of course).  Wild times.  The music never stopped, and the bar rarely closed.

 

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More gin, doctor?

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Hearts vs Minds @urbancoterie

Film, Journalism

Series 1: Tech vs Film with host Kirsty AllisonObeyKirstyAllison  6182.jpeg

HEARTS VS MINDS: a series of discussions exploring the culture of creativity as millions of pounds get thrown into start-ups around silicon roundabout. The space between investment, automation, audience research, leadership and ideas – uncovering the gaps, collisions and future in the fringes of tech, arts and the creative industries.

Film with Tyrone Walker-Hebborn of the Genesis Cinema and Alexander Snelling of Slack Alice Films and more expert panelists TBA in coming days…

http://www.urbancoterie.co.uk/events/tech-and-film…

Please RSVP with your free ticket.

 

 

https://billetto.co.uk/events/106485

SYLVIA PLATH FAN CLUB #1

books, literature, spoken word, sylvia plath fan club

Films for words

From the first meeting of the Sylvia Plath Fan Club:

Kelli Ali   Erik Stein from Cult With No Name Anne McCloy   Gil De Ray Tim Wells  Tony White   Tony Bears

Gary Fairfull Janel Forsythe and me…

(Gary’s film currently embargoed by Slack Alice Films…)

INAUGURATION: 5th NOVEMBER

literature, Nightlife, Poetry

The Sylvia Plath Fan Club

Head-in-oven

Please join us to celebrate the inaugural night of the Sylvia Plath Fan Club at the Arts Club East aka Gary’s Place, 64 Shoreditch High Street, London, E1 6JJ.

NOVEMBER 5th 2015

Words (stolen or otherwise) from the gorgeously rebellious mouths of:
Gail Porter (bigger than any politician, projected on Parliament in the 90s, the former kids’ TV presenter hurtled through a rockstar marriage and the bedlam which ensued – exclusive preview from her forthcoming book), Kelli Ali (once upon a time there was a band called the Sneaker Pimps, but punk bands before that, and so much since – pure poet, dying by the sword), Anne McCloy (she has the answers, Some Product, artist, professor, everything), Tony White (true gent of London’s literary scene, author of novels including Foxy-T, much published, amazing mind), Erik Stein (Cult With No Name, recently completed the hugely lauded Blue Velvet Revisited soundtrack, film to follow next year), Gil De Ray (rock n roll’s finest), Gary Fairfull (the guv’nor), Kirsty Allison and you?

dj@kirstyallison.com

Doors open from 4pm, we’ll start by 8pm.

DJ til late.

LE GUN of LE EAST, SAMUEL JOHNSON & THE SOCIETY CLUB

Art, books, london

LE GUN are my fave collective of illustrators:  their drawings and installations rip through urban horror like Hogarth on a bender with Hunter S. Thompson.

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Getting in early on the Christmas pop-up scene, they’re strapping us into a dentist chair to inhale a Le Gun kinda Halloween in Notting Hill of the East: Clapton.*

29th November – 1st December: 33 Chatsworth Road, Hackney, E5 OLH

*Yeah – I’ve heard there’s a Hackney House opening up on a council estate…(part of the Soho House group).  That’s what happens when a ‘fashion hub’ gets invented around the Burberry, Aquascutum, Anya Hindmarsh outlet.  Hackney – from murder mile (other than that shooting in the butcher’s the other day) to Bicester village – how lovely.

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These black ink superstars started at the RCA, before creating their own worlds as installations in Brick Lane, Red Gallery, V&A, Shakespeare and Company and far beyond –  I interviewed two of the original founders, Robert Rubbish and Chris Bianchi for the book I wrote for RED GALLERY – the interviews took place in 2012, when Shoreditch’s visible colonisation by the evil overlords was nowhere near capacity…

Chris Bianchi rolls along Rivington Street with an up-all-night glide.  He’s tall with humble shoulders.  His eyes catch me like the wells of ink that create the tribal, post-psychedelic stories of his art.  Around in the Bricklayers’ outdoor yard, the Summer 2012 Artist-In-Residence of RED tells me he sees the world in cartoons, and a ‘lil more:

Where are you from, originally?

CB: Malta, born and bred – 1977 – there was no art school there, I had to come here.  I started off in a basement in my parents’ house and used that as a studio, making paintings, I had a darkroom, made music, had friends there, and it got to point where I was 18 or 19 and came here and went to Chelsea, then Camberwell, then finished at the Royal College.  I tried to stay in art college for 8 years – I’m an art college whore!  But at the Royal College I met the Le Gun – it was good to find like-minded people because I didn’t have an art college education at a young age.  It took me a while to find myself; here in secondary school you have art classes, but not in Malta, so it came from me.  My old folks helped me out because I built myself an easel, and they saw it as a sign of commitment, and they were serious, wish I still had it, probably still in the garage.  My dad’s a lawyer.  Mum did a bit of social work but has loads of grand-children, she plays cards and they’re all Maltese.  The education’s in English over there, it’s like a suburb of England, everyone speaks English, although they’re trying to change that…it’s got a population of 250 000.

There’s an island off Malta called Gozo, there are weird things and weird people there, I’m half from there, there’s an isolation to it.  They take a roundabout, and a guy will start drawing on this public place, makes it nicer, they do a lot of that.  In Malta there’s a lot of rural strangeness, decorating farmhouses with old dolls and wind chimes made out of old toys, there used to be a lot more.  That’s getting lost, in the fields they have machines that set-off to scare the birds.  It does take over, technology.  I was in Sri Lanka, and there were all these amazing scarecrows, handmade, they look like people, scary.

So from Malta you came to a bigger island?

Robert [Rubbish, from Jersey] and I always used to say: two boys, two islands, two reprobates, two drunks – it carried on like that, we’re both from small islands and wanted to escape, Jersey is about the same size as Malta, everyone knows you, we were both trying to escape that.  In London you can be whoever.

Where in London did you live to start off?

I lived in a flat in Fulham and every time you took a bath it leaked into the kitchen, really crazy flat, crazy people.  And I knew some people from Malta, who knew all these rich people in penthouses in Chelsea, with billiard rooms and coke, and thought: this is great!  This is London!  Then moved into Camberwell and my vision was shattered, ha.  But five of us were living in a flat down in Camberwell, with two hundred people coming to parties, and our landlord was an E dealer, and there’d be a pile of pills outside his door upstairs where he’d pulled his keys out.

I was cagey about being at art school and the change of being here as an immigrant, so met some guys who I’m still very close with, Harry [Malt] and I stayed in touch, we got a studio together in 2008 and started Bare Bones, and did shows with RED.

With Bare Bones, I wanted to do something that was more immediate.  Le Gun had a formula – we did ten issues of Bare Bones, then Harry wanted to move to the country.  He lives in Walsingham in Norfolk where there’s a shrine to Mary.  He grew up around there, in Hoe.

When you’re here and on your own, you start new families: your friends become your family, if you need any help, you have them, my real family are three thousand miles away and I’ve been with Steph [Von Reiswitz, also an illustrator and part of Le Gun] for 13 years.  She’s pregnant:  it’ll be a new chapter, inspire new thoughts, ideas, feelings, as a human, good to experience.    

So Robert [Rubbish] came through Soho, did it have that much of an impact on you?

Soho was more Robert and Neil [Fox]. I used to like walking around Soho alone, and when there was stuff to discover, then Robert and Neil showed us around, it lost its mystery.  It’s changed, it used to be rougher, there were more dives and social clubs – nudie dancers for a quid.  The charm of it is meeting it, and Robert and Neil had a B-line of hangouts, where famous people drank.  Neil’s work’s about that, and Robert did the Rubbishmen of Soho [a band].  It’s fun but not the beginning and end for me.  They like olde worlde stuff.

So the Max Nog Shop, the first installation…

We wanted to make a drawing you could walk into.  It took about two months, we were papering the walls, everything.  I think we called it International Festival Le Gun.  It was all about making then, y’know, we’ll work out what it is and what it means later, and have fun with it.  Nog shop became a club where bands would play, take a few cans, he called it the Cave.

That’s what Faris’ club (from The Horrors) was called…

Maybe he came down, saw it.

Nog stood for something stupid, Nuclear Organic Graphics or something.  I think [Max Nog’s] mum was married to a Visconti, so every time he got broke, he’d just go and sell a house in Rome.  He had a skate park in his house, he pissed off a lot of people, he was in New York in the 80s, friends of Madonna, William Burroughs.  I think he liked young boys.

I’m not really into the fame thing, if you become notorious, people are taking photos, Pete or Amy Winehouse, it’s not very nice looking at someone coming out of a club off their head.  Yet, you need to be part of it – I haven’t got a Facebook account, but do have one for BareBones.  And you need to tweet or you get left behind – but I think you can rebel against it – someone like Robert, he didn’t do it until a year ago and now he’s all over it.  I’d rather stay away from social media and see what happens, but you need people to know about it and you get to 3000 people at the hit of button.

I found the best way: I did a show at RED and I was there from eleven in the morning to eleven at night and talking to the people buying your work, I don’t think it gets better than that.  You can go global on the internet – if someone buys my art I like to talk to someone.  Most collectors like to know the artist, it’s important.

I’ve been listening to Grayson Perry, the Reith Lectures.  You get your art, your handbag, and your car.   Sol Campbell was at Frieze.

Is it a strength that you came from illustration?

Street art, boundaries, high art, low art, whatever.  Banksy setting up a kiosk, selling it for forty quid, it’s challenging, he’s playing with that, he’s concerned that he doesn’t get that freedom, he’s the papa of street art, it’s stencil art, but he’s social commentary, he’s like a Hogarth of our time.

I’d rather go to the National Gallery and go see old paintings, I see the world in pictures, that’s how I see the world, in cartoons, that’s why I did illustration.  I like the primal instinctive – if you look at my paintings they’re coming from that old school – the iconography.  Symbols and metaphors and making your own symbols…

I met a woman the other day, at a private view, Gaynor O’Flynn – performance artist – she said: What do you do, I said: A bit of an illustrator/artist, she made me think I’m just gonna say: I’m an artist.  I make money as a commercial illustrator, but do my own art.  Andy Warhol did commercial art, it’s all about adapting to your environment.  I’m not an accountant, I quite like Visual Artist – I quite like the constraints of commercial work, coming up with solutions for things that aren’t your own ideas.  Sometimes, as an artist, you can do anything, so it can get narcissistic.  I like to make interesting images that make people think and get a reaction.

I’ve been writing for the last few years, I’m a closet writer and poet, and I was going to burn them and thought these are quite good, that’s something new, but I was dyslexic and scared of words and reading,  I’d rather listen to an audiobook, because if I read, I’d jump massive sections.

Would you perform?

Performance would be too much about me, the drawings are performance.   Would I do it though?  If I came up with an idea I liked….

Le Gun –  are you doing much now?

I took a break for the V&A show because I wanted to find myself a bit more, thought I was getting a bit lost, so wanted to do the [solo] show at RED.

And I was doing Bare Bones and Le Gun together for a while, so was doing a lot on others, not myself.  I feel I can go back now, reinvigorated, and with an understanding of how I fit in the gang.

Will hipsters kill East London?

They have.  It doesn’t mean that East London’s dead – the truth will always be stronger, and there’s always going to be people doing strong stuff, but that’s not the end, just got to learn how to live with them, it’s a bit annoying that rent’s getting more expensive because artists wages haven’t gone up.  Maybe more support would be good.  We should get the corporations to pay for studio spaces and be given more of a helping hand, stop it being so elitist: ten people making loads of money and then thousands struggling.

I think there’s an attitude of: you’ve chosen to do it, live with it…

Yeah, deal with it.  I used to do a bit of teaching but there’s no part-time and the colleges are a bit broke. With Le Gun we set up a shop and have had to turn it into a business but should we, as artists, be the businessmen?

Do you think there’s space for countercultures in London?

It’s suppressed, they look at people who protest and they’re terrorists.

…I spoke with Robert about the Poverty/Organic divide…

It’s always been split, what can you do?  I feel privileged, I’ve never come from a poor background, middle-class norm, I’ve never experienced it – but I struggle to pay my rent and my brother became a lawyer.   He’s got the Volvo, the pool, but I do have a richer life.  I dunno, when he can do what he wants – I hope it won’t be like this forever.  I’ve never paid NI, I think I pay enough, you pay tax on everything you buy, on council tax, on and on.  I don’t make that much so why should I pay more, and then big corporations skimming…

Consume or be consumed.

Yeah, and all they’re doing is making money.

Yarda [Krampol] and Giuseppe [Percuoco], they take me out for lunch, when I’m doing a bit of art for them, and they’re starting it from scratch – there has to be money if you’re spending money…

What do you think of the way RED runs, as a vague co-operative of ideas?

I think RED, if you explain an idea, they give you space and don’t ask too many questions.  They’re supportive, and financially – they’re there for you – I did all the work in a week, for the show and they liked it – so they did the catalogue, I gave them a bit of artwork, they gave me a space.  I’ve been speaking to Yarda about spreading a residency programme over Napoli, Prague, and London.  Rather than an application process, I hate those people.  It would be nice to approach [artists], make it more exciting.

And then speaking to Yarda about pop-up galleries, there are spaces for it – you have business rates, so if you do pop-ups, it avoids it, and the landlords, that’s in the pipeline.

So projects with me and Yarda and Giuseppe, they’re not paid jobs but there are some artists, like a Turkish guy who I really want to do a show with, I really like his paintings, and he’s sort of trying London out, it’s not easy to just come here in two years, a lot of people have to leave – it would be good to support people who are here.

I think RED do goody-goody causes, sometimes a bit too many and the graff art, it’s getting worse and worse, I think it should be controlled – it can be quite rash – it could be really important.  I don’t know that scene but if that was curated better – and spend some money on getting really good people, it could be a lot better.

I live near Toynbee Street, people have moved up to Stamford Hill.  I have this thing where I really like London and social problems, I don’t know if we are getting pushed out or if it’s because we’re getting older, I don’t want to move to the countryside, I think maybe it’s time for another city – I can make it in new cities, my wife likes comfort.  I like the South, somewhere in the Mediterranean, or maybe as an artist, go and look at the world more.  I was in Madrid recently and you go two stops on a train and it’s gypsies, and it’s wild, and no one works, I was there for this festival, San Juan, 25th June – it’s a different scene.  I went there twice in a row, gypsies singing for a week.  I’d like to do some work about that: belonging, and where we fit.   I don’t think I could live anywhere but London and fit in.  Maybe San Francisco rather than LA.  In LA people buy [art] out there, it’s a bit older – we need a gallery who could do that, maybe organise doing something.  We did China, Istanbul, Berlin and Paris, and it’s fun to take what you do to new places, we spend a lot of time working with the space and working it out.  It’s good fun.  It’s that thing of talking to people, living and breathing the space.  I feel like a traveller – I don’t think I’ve found my home yet – I don’t want it stop here.  But y’know, I leave my house – I can have Chinese, sushi, Thai, whatever in a very close period of time.

I like the city.

But you have to blend with your environment, in this toxic city.

That’s a good name for a show, Toxic City.

http://www.chrisbianchi.co.uk

http://www.legun.co.uk

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Robert Rubbish’s facial hedging swirls in puffs of dandy, tweedy smoke around us.  His ebullient stature lumbers through the gates of RED Market, like a Churchill of yore.   A confident statesman for Le Gun, he painted the MAKING SOMETHING OUT OF NOTHING mural behind the sandpits for the shoot we did for Freestyle magazine over the summer of 2012.   

Where are you from, originally?

I’m from Jersey.

And how did you end up here?

I came first off to Bristol to do a BA in Illustration in the mid-90s, although I’d lived in London in the early 90s, living with a mate, but progressively slipped into mundanity and went back to Jersey, did a course that got me to Bristol because I’d left school with an art GCSE because I’m dyslexic, eventually moved back to Jersey for a couple of years, then in 2003 I moved back to London to go to the Royal College of Art to do a master’s in visual communication…

What did you get out of that?

I got in a lot of debt but good friendships.  I met Le Gun guys and we started a magazine.  I went there to expand my work but ended up collaborating a lot, and it was a meeting place for all these new people, and I’ve been here since.

Where did you live to start off?

I lived in Hammersmith and moved East in 2005, we were going to Soho a lot…

That’s where I got a lot of my education…

Yeah, us too, and there was stuff going on East and after college we got a collective studio space where we worked together on Le Gun, it was near the London Fields pub on Mare Street.  We’d have parties there.  It was probably better around there then: it was a bit crap, and I couldn’t afford a space, but when we had a big project we’d work there together, so it was a hub of where we were hanging out, and it carried on after college, some of Le Gun are still there.  There was six and now there are seven.  Steph [von Reiswitz] , Chris’ [Bianchi] girlfriend didn’t go to the Royal College so she got involved later, she’d been doing other stuff…and it was around then, 2006, that we met Yarda [Krampol].  We did that thing in Brick Lane in the Max Nog gallery on Brick Lane, where Yarda was working – a black and white cave of drawings, and we did a back room.  That was good for us, he was a bit of weird slippery guy, though, Max.  He gave us free reign which we couldn’t quite believe, and we thought he’d come along and say he didn’t want this or that.  We covered the ceiling in chequered paint, glossed the floor.  We were building a world and we thought it would last a month, but it was there for longer, and it was a nice place to hang out, and made us think we could actually build stuff.  It was quite immersive, you could tell it was our sort of thing and it was better than a sterile gallery.

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Is it a strength that you came from illustration?

I think individually we’d worked on separate things, but together we were putting on parties to fund the [Le Gun] magazine, so we’d do a six-foot drawing to sell in the Royal College bar, then we’d hone it, and realise we could do a better by drawing and embellishing it for each other, and we sold it, and that would fund the magazine.

How does the physical process of building an installation, such as the one at RED, occur?

First off, an idea, whether it’s Le Gun, or a commercial project, we think of the idea, and then see how feasible it is, if there’s a budget we’d cost it – say here, we did a twenty-five metre room in there, which has now toured everywhere, but we need a set builder or carpenter, price up the wood, and that starts a story.  With the RED one, we did a drawing of a story and the drawings turn from 2D into 3D, there’s not one person that’s good at this, people don’t go over each other’s work, but someone might shadow it, add to it.

It’s very instinctive.  When it’s taken back down to a commission or a drawing it gets tighter and more annoying because they say: Can you move that?  But it’s a free-for-all if it’s just us…

We did a Bare Bones show here first, then Le Gun and Bare Bones.  Both times we had parties in the basement, but it all comes from parties.  We got to know Yarda better because after the Nog shop, we did a Le Gun party in a block in Cambridge Heath where we had a studio, Yarda did the door for us, and he started doing stuff here, and introduced us to Ernesto [Leal].

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Will hipsters kill East London?

Yeah – they have already.  In my view.

I think all of London, there’s a bit of a problem.  Without sounding very, very negative, the hipster thing is causing problems because it’s areas that people went to because they were cheap because other areas in centralised areas were too expensive, so cheaper areas create artist colonies out of economic reasons and it results in the trendification of East London.

I like that word: trendification.

It’s making out something is creative when it’s just capitalism.

Consumerism.

Yeah, and it’s just all they’re doing is making money and pushing people out of areas, not just artists, I don’t understand where people go to.  It might be doing some people a favour!  But price wise, my experience in London: I now live in Stamford Hill which is South Tottenham which is nothing, and it’s never going to be.

Shoreditch is obviously too expensive to rent.  Dalston, Hackney, wherever, they get regenerated, revived, whatever, but where’s the choice, like you get organic or nothing.  On Mare St, we used to have a caff there, where you could just buy a meal but now there’s a burger place that’s dressed up, it’s got writing saying THIS IS AN EXPERIENCE or whatever but it’s just a burger place, instead of where you could get a meal, there’s either really shit fast food, or that.

Poverty or organic.

These two cultures living together, one is survival, the other is affluence dressed up as something else.  You’ve got to have a certain amount to buy into that kind of lifestyle, and it’s just money driven.  I don’t think it’s creative, I’d like to see artists making money from it, but it’s entrepreneurs opening up Things.

Central London will become everything up to Tottenham and parts of the South and it will be unaffordable to most people.

Y’know Shoreditch Box Park, it’s not temporary but it’s sold as a pop-up experience, but it’s just the high-street dressed up to be something else.  Somewhere else, it’s just like: this is a shop.  I think people are being made to buy into the mythology of recent past history.

People in London buy into areas that become a product of their success and then the real people can’t afford to be there.

I think East London was bombed catastrophically, and it’s been used as a toilet for immigration.  The East London thing is not the same as regentrifying Notting Hill or Chelsea.  There wasn’t a cash machine here when I first moved in the 90s, and the contrasts have always been hyperbolic.

This band I used to manage in South London have a thing called Yuppies Out, in Brixton, which is a bit misguided but they are scumlords fighting back, half of it is funny, but half of it ridiculous, that there are fromage and champagne street parties now in Brixton.  The band are Fat White Family – they’re unruly, but I was managing them for a while but got my fingers burnt.  The lead singer I’d been working with was in my film and we’d been working for a while, but the band had drug problems and I had this first-hand insight, everyone’s on heroin, on crack, none of them had train fare to get to the studio – and I made them a video and artwork and it got somewhere but I was giving myself to them, and I loved what they were doing but they’re so like that, they don’t give a shit about themselves or anyone else, but there was a hostile takeover from another guy and I love what they’re doing, but had to depart, and you see what you see, and you know if you go into the lions den, that’s what it is…

Is that like London?

The things that are dangerous and scary would attract me when I was younger, and London’s got a lot of it. The band were the last bastion, I found it exciting, and all the older people behind them were in Brixton holding banners around Thatcher’s funeral…London creates those people.

There are a lot of pricks to kick against here.

It’s attractive in some ways but it’s good to look at it from a distance, unless you’re bulletproof.

(We run in from the rain, resettling in the RED Market marquee.)

We’ve changed sides…so yes, inside here, the RED Gallery are willing to give people a chance, to do an exhibition, a crazy night, when I was doing that mural there, talking to Yarda and Greg [Konready], they both grew up in Communist countries and Ernesto was going on about doing a hammer and sickle but what they were saying was critical, yet they’re all doing a…

Co-operative.

You are drawn to what you like, even though you don’t even know what that is, Greg’s view on Communism and the west, he’s harsh about communism.   What’s nice about Le Gun is we share money and we work as one, and that’s the same as here, they use a bit of business…

They give this space away for free.

And they’re in the centre, I enjoy what they’re doing, and it’ll take groups of people like this…

I’m reading a book at the moment about Rebel Cities, and city centres needing autonomous places to form ideas.  Chatting to Gary Means, from Alternative London, he’s like, you couldn’t replicate this where he’s from, in the Isle of Wight,  because there aren’t enough people to make it diverse.  

I think I was growing up in extreme capitalism, in Jersey, but in the late 80s, early 90s, they had free parties, and we’d go there to smoke weed, take acid, but all the nutters, all the druggies and no-one was fighting. Like skinheads or rockers.  So it was interesting for a while.  The police didn’t know what to do, but they banned it – Jersey can pass their own laws in about three weeks, so they made one where you’d get imprisoned.

The background I come from, it’s only drugs that allowed us to crossover into that world of rich people, but they can’t keep their kids away from hooligans, in the same way.  We ran this club, through a grammar school, and it had a private members club, where you could sign people in, so I’ve always been interested in, I guess, collectives.

Collectives sound like a bad jazz funk band.

Yeah!  It does.

It can be horrible working with people and their moods but it can be amazing, and you eat, party and work together…

I think if we tried to label what we do, it gets complicated and money has never been our driving force, so if you’re excited about something, you can worry about the money later.  Money taints it.  But that’s how people make money, and some will leave.

I’ve been living hand to mouth for so long…not everyone can cope with that…

I want to live a life that’s interesting.  It’s more important than amassing fortune, but maybe some more balance would be good.

Ha! 

It’s exciting and it’s shit.  The agony and the ecstasy.  Throughout history I like the balance of you’re broke but partying with whoever, where the world is blurred.  I used to be friends with, did you know Sebastian Horsley?

I met him in the last three weeks of his life. 

An interesting three weeks…

I was quite reserved in the friendship because I thought it was going to be one that lasted…

I knew him for quite a while, and someone I considered a good friend for a while and, of course, there was bravado but genuine compassion, he was fascinated and fascinating.

He introduced me to this filmmaker once and he was like: “The reason I love him is because he’s got nothing.  He’s got nothing!  And I was like, what do you mean?  What he was saying was that broke isn’t a badge of honour but this guy was doing what he wanted to do, whatever the consequences, and couldn’t get on in whatever world.  I think if you look at the old dandy thing, of two amazing looking guys smoking in poverty…

Like Rimbaud and Verlaine, or Withnail and I…

Yes…it’s all about those ideas.  London’s got a big history of that.  And that is the best quality, where genuinely good ideas get attracted to it, from toffs to the people on the street, they all gravitated towards Sebastian.

Our British attitude towards culture is not embracing like France, here we don’t put creatives on a plinth.  We get shat on, it encourages imperialism…

I think England is a very interesting place because of our working classness.  Deep down, I think they want to be ruled and oppressed.  They’ll never have a revolution, certain things will happen but they won’t connect, or think they’re the same because there’s so much suppression – my theory’s not watertight, but the British get really into football, not getting rid of poverty, not getting rid of the Tories. When Margaret Thatcher died people were saying you can’t say this or that, but she ruined whole communities and those communities are being victimised by the new Conservatives for not having jobs.   She destroyed lives, industry.  Now they’re supposed to feel bad about what was done to them, and media maybe works really well here, but there is not a mass uniting to save the NHS, and I think in British culture there’s an affluence issue.

Affluenza – Ernesto came up for a word for it: Arrivista – in French/Spanish, it’s a cuss in Spanish, means you think you’ve arrived and look down on others.  Always looking up, hegemonic culture…

Always being ruled and being oppressed.  Coming from a small island, London always feels like there’s an immense amount of freedom, some people say you’re on CCTV, the police etc. but I feel very free.  I’ve walked across the city, at 5am, coming down from whatever, and I’m the only person here.  I like walking across the city in Paris too but here, you’ll meet someone you know but also have the anonymity to drift across it and that feels better than walking in the hills and country.  I find it has a lot of spirit.  I think maybe I’m out of touch, but there will be a way for the young, as long as they aren’t victimised for being poor or living somewhere.

Could RED be replicated in Jersey?

No.  Architecturally, no, you couldn’t do it – there was a funny incident when Le Gun were invited to go and do a show in an old magistrates court and the police cells, it was part of the Branchage Film Festival, my friend was organising it and I found it weird that I’d been there before with friends who had been sent to prison and we did a show in the old cells, and took this guy, Lord Bath [aka Paul Vincent Lawford, not “thee real Lord Bath”] to DJ, after the Mayor of Jersey had done his speech, playing Fuck Da Police, and it was going really nuts, like Chris was getting kids to skateboard along the parquet, and it was proper nuts, and it brought a little bit of something but then we’d probably be arrested, so for one night, maybe…

If you tried to recreate this in Jersey, they’d find something to really hate, and be negative about, and you’d get ten people and a dog there. I think this is unique but if you took these characters and gave them an opportunity there, they’d make something, but something else.  I think they’ve made a lot just out of the building, from the Bare Bones show in November with no heating, freezing hands, thinking why are we doing this, then when they started to get electrics it grew, but that non-permanence…

Do you think that’s part of its appeal?

I think because it’s not going to be here, it would have to be run established as an arts space where we had charitable studios, which kinda happens.  It’s like Berlin-past, a bit rough and ready.  I think what they’ve done is allow people to curate their own space, and that works when you have good people involved.  I think it’s an interesting thing.  Out the back of my mind I always think it’s going to be turned into a hotel with a Banksy in perspex, and they’ve done so well, for what it was, it was all a bit shit.  So when it changes into a hotel, you’ll think, wow, that was a good space, but London is layers upon layers upon layers.  Every room in Soho has layers and things reoccur, like this was something in the 60s, it’s been everything and now it’s something similar – I mean could this work somewhere else in London?

Blue in West London, my husband’s joke.  They did a successful pop-up in Ladbroke Grove…

In this space, when it began, with all the agro with The Foundry, the squat, they were looking at these guys in one way, and I think the whole of London is becoming more friendly to consumers, so Soho is like Covent Garden…

The world is like that, you’ll walk down streets in Madrid, Barcelona, Tokyo, and all the same brands’ll be on the same streets…

In Soho there are going to be some major architectural changes.  City Road is changing really quick, with canalside developments.  I think progress is good but having something of the past is good as well, that’s when London works, I don’t know how new flats culturally improve something.  My vision of the future is that there’s a circle being drawn around London, and you won’t be able to live in it.  In Paris all the estates are out of the city, it’ll be reversed here.

Do you consider yourself to be tech friendly, or a luddite?  Where do you fit with TechCity?

50% luddite, 50% technology.  The problem I have with technology is the same problem I have with my dyslexia, like if you showed me how to do something on Photoshop, I couldn’t remember it.  I find Social Media fine, but technology to aid my art is frustrating, and I have no logic in that area, but we’re in interesting times with technology, you can do films and stuff you couldn’t have done 5 years ago, it’s bringing an affordability to making things, but the gatekeepers and distribution problems still exist.  I think technology is good and empowering but frustrating and I don’t think it’s going to make anyone more creative than they are, it’s a tool.  You could get the best camera ever, and call yourself a photographer…

Some people would say the democracy of the internet allows everyone to hear it, but I think it would be possible to record the best album ever and remain obscure.  It may be that rising population combined with a wider access to cheapened technology means there is more content, but indie stuff is always battling mainstream distribution…

You can make a print but may spend ten years getting that money back.  Or you could ask someone else to sell it, make half the money, and have more time.

I made a film, a seventy-minute psychogeographical detective story, purely narrated because I didn’t have any sound equipment, I don’t give a shit what happens with it.  I went to see festival doctors, it’s not my world, but I’m fascinated with having it exist.

You have to be certifiable to work in film…

I agree, it is the nuttiest world, and there’s development money flying around, and technology has enabled it.   It’s very emotionally draining.

It’s like Laura Mulvey, it gets a lot bigger than you.  And £100K minimum publicity and advertising budget is essential to even remotely play in the arts cinemas.  So why bother making something in that format if it’s never going to make it.  Even the Netflix/HBO/Amazon series – it’s all getting sewn up by the same gatekeepers, so as indies we have to find our own way.

I was like: I’m going to make this film, and I’d have meetings with people trying to do it the right way, and they’d say, you need a crew of fifteen people.  And in the end I was like, right, I can make something but it’s not the same way they’d make it.  I’m with you that you can’t expect mass cinema release.  There is interesting stuff, but you have to be a Social Media fanatic, it’s something I feel I should be doing more than I want to.  You can get people to do that.

Technology is not going to improve creativity.  It does enable it, you can make a film that looks alright that is digital, but you can make a film on a video camera and make it look good, I think if you can get a good balance with it, it’s good.

I think it’s more useful to have the internet in the country than in the city.

Yeah, John Reith saw communication as a way to educate and inform farmers.  

It’s all regional, but linked.  The human race will survive and adapt but technology may not be used for entertainment – Social Media was used in the Arab Spring for something amazing, and in the West it’s used for privileged entertainment to make sense of our stupid lives.  Taking pictures of food.  People call themselves foodies, like, we’ve all gotta eat…

I did ten years without food!

We’ve all eaten tissue paper, for our time in the catwalk, ha, but it’s fascinating I was only on Facebook this year, to promote my film, but I got suckered in, and it’s funny, that’s exactly what they’d do if you were sitting with them, so people do connect in the same way, in social entertainment, it could be used for good to help isolated people, it would have blown my mind on Jersey as a boy.

I got that through magazines, The Face, reading i-D.

I don’t know if we knew what we looking for – you’d get a record, read the sleeve notes, it was manual.  I think digital is interesting but it’s like anything [is available], I’m not going to listen to stuff on a valve amp ‘cos it’s authentic, or Modern is Bad.  Because we live in the modern, some of it is shit, but computers have helped me personally in some respects but can be a bit annoying if I’m there with my girlfriend, and I’m on Facebook.

I’m time obsessive and it kills me how much time it leaks.  

We do like to kill time though, boredom, we have to be entertained…

http://www.robertrubbish.co.uk

http://www.legun.co.uk

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IF YOU GET THIS FAR:  HERE’S THE PROMISED SAMUEL JOHNSON, from 1738…

Tho’ Grief and Fondness in my Breast rebel,
When injur’d Thales bids the Town farewell,
Yet still my calmer Thoughts his Choice commend,
I praise the Hermit, but regret the Friend,
Resolved at length, from Vice and London far,
To breathe in distant Fields a purer Air,
And, fix’d on Cambria‘s solitary shore,
Give to St. David one true Briton more.

For who would leave, unbrib’d, Hibernia‘s Land,
Or change the Rocks of Scotland for the Strand?
There none are swept by sudden Fate away,
But all whom Hunger spares, with Age decay:
Here Malice, Rapine, Accident, conspire,
And now a Rabble Rages, now a Fire;
Their Ambush here relentless Ruffians lay,
And here the fell Attorney prowls for Prey;
Here falling Houses thunder on your Head,
And here a female Atheist talks you dead.

While Thales waits the Wherry that contains
Of dissipated Wealth the small Remains,
On Thames‘s Banks, in silent Thought we stood,
Where Greenwich smiles upon the silver Flood:
Struck with the Seat that gave Eliza Birth,
We kneel, and kiss the consecrated Earth;
In pleasing Dreams the blissful Age renew,
And call Britannia‘s Glories back to view;
Behold her Cross triumphant on the Main,
The Guard of Commerce, and the Dread of Spain,
Ere Masquerades debauch’d, Excise oppress’d,
Or English Honour grew a standing Jest.

A transient Calm the happy Scenes bestow,
And for a Moment lull the Sense of Woe.
At length awaking, with contemptuous Frown,
Indignant Thales eyes the neighb’ring Town.

Since Worth, he cries, in these degen’rate Days,
Wants ev’n the cheap Reward of empty Praise;
In those curst Walls, devote to Vice and Gain,
Since unrewarded Science toils in vain;
Since Hope but sooths to double my Distress,
And ev’ry Moment leaves my Little less;
While yet my steady Steps no Staff sustains,
And Life still vig’rous revels in my Veins;
Grant me, kind Heaven, to find some happier Place,
Where Honesty and Sense are no Disgrace;
Some pleasing Bank where verdant Osiers play,
Some peaceful Vale with Nature’s Paintings gay;
Where once the harass’d Briton found Repose,
And safe in Poverty defy’d his Foes;
Some secret Cell, ye Pow’rs, indulgent give.
Let —— live here, for —— has learn’d to live.
Here let those reign, whom Pensions can incite
To vote a Patriot black, a Courtier white;
Explain their Country’s dear-bought Rights away,
And plead for Pirates in the Face of Day;
With slavish Tenets taint our poison’d Youth,
And lend a Lye the confidence of Truth.

Let such raise Palaces, and Manors buy,
Collect a Tax, or farm a Lottery,
With warbling Eunuchs fill a licens’d Stage,
And lull to Servitude a thoughtless Age.

Heroes, proceed! What Bounds your Pride shall hold?
What Check restrain your Thirst of Pow’r and Gold?
Behold rebellious Virtue quite o’erthrown,
Behold our Fame, our Wealth, our Lives your own.

To such, a groaning Nation’s Spoils are giv’n,
When publick Crimes inflame the Wrath of Heav’n:
But what, my Friend, what Hope remains for me,
Who start at Theft, and blush at Perjury?
Who scarce forbear, tho’ Britain‘s Court he sing,
To pluck a titled Poet’s borrow’d Wing;
A Statesman’s Logic, unconvinc’d can hear,
And dare to slumber o’er the Gazetteer;
Despise a Fool in half his Pension drest,
And strive in vain to laugh at H—y’s jest.

Others with softer Smiles, and subtler Art,
Can sap the Principles, or taint the Heart;
With more Address a Lover’s Note convey,
Or bribe a Virgin’s Innocence away.
Well may they rise, while I, whose Rustic Tongue
Ne’er knew to puzzle Right, or varnish Wrong,
Spurn’d as a Beggar, dreaded as a Spy,
Live unregarded, unlamented die.

For what but social Guilt the Friend endears?
Who shares Orgilio‘s Crimes, his Fortune shares.
But thou, should tempting Villainy present
All Marlb’rough hoarded, or all Villiers spent;
Turn from the glitt’ring Bribe thy scornful Eye,
Nor sell for Gold, what Gold could never buy,
The peaceful Slumber, self-approving Day,
Unsullied Fame, and Conscience ever gay.

The cheated Nation’s happy Fav’rites, see!
Mark whom the Great caress, who frown on me!
London! the needy Villain’s gen’ral Home,
The Common Shore of Paris and of Rome;
With eager Thirst, by Folly or by Fate,
Sucks in the Dregs of each corrupted State.
Forgive my Transports on a Theme like this,
I cannot bear a French metropolis.

Illustrious Edward! from the Realms of Day,
The Land of Heroes and of Saints survey;
Nor hope the British Lineaments to trace,
The rustic Grandeur, or the surly Grace;
But lost in thoughtless Ease, and empty Show,
Behold the Warriour dwindled to a Beau;
Sense, Freedom, Piety, refin’d away,
Of France the Mimic, and of Spain the Prey.

All that at home no more can beg or steal,
Or like a Gibbet better than a Wheel;
Hiss’d from the Stage, or hooted from the Court,
Their Air, their Dress, their Politicks import;
Obsequious, artful, voluble and gay,
On Britain‘s fond Credulity they prey.
No gainful Trade their Industry can ‘scape,
They sing, they dance, clean Shoes, or cure a Clap;
All Sciences a fasting Monsieur knows,
And bid him go to Hell, to Hell he goes.

Ah! what avails it, that, from Slav’ry far,
I drew the Breath of Life in English Air;
Was early taught a Briton‘s Right to prize,
And lisp the Tale of Henry‘s Victories;
If the gull’d Conqueror receives the Chain,
And what their Armies lost, their Cringes gain?

Studious to please, and ready to submit,
The supple Gaul was born a Parasite:
Still to his Int’rest true, where’er he goes,
Wit, Brav’ry, Worth, his lavish Tongue bestows;
In ev’ry Face a Thousand Graces shine,
From ev’ry Tongue flows Harmony divine.
These Arts in vain our rugged Natives try,
Strain out with fault’ring Diffidence a Lye,
And get a Kick for awkward Flattery.

Besides, with Justice, this discerning Age
Admires their wond’rous Taients for the Stage:
Well may they venture on the Mimic’s art,
Who play from Morn to Night a borrow’d Part;
Practis’d their Master’s Notions to embrace,
Repeat his Maxims, and reflect his Face;
With ev’ry wild Absurdity comply,
And view each Object with another’s Eye;
To shake with Laughter ere the Jest they hear,
To pour at Will the counterfeited Tear;
And as their Patron hints the Cold or Heat,
To shake in Dog-days, in December sweat.

How, when Competitors like these contend,
Can surly Virtue hope to fix a Friend?
Slaves that with serious Impudence beguile,
And lye without a Blush, without a Smile;
Exalt each Trifle, ev’ry Vice adore,
Your Taste in Snuff, your Judgment in a Whore;
Can Balbo‘s Eloquence applaud, and swear
He gropes his Breeches with a Monarch’s Air.

For Arts like these preferr’d, admir’d, carest,
They first invade your Table, then your Breast;
Explore your Secrets with insidious Art,
Watch the weak Hour, and ransack all the Heart;
Then soon your ill-plac’d Confidence repay,
Commence your Lords, and govern or betray.
By Numbers here from Shame or Censure free,
All Crimes are safe, but hated Poverty.
This, only this, the rigid Law persues,
This, only this, provokes the snarling Muse;
The sober Trader at a tatter’d Cloak,
Wakes from his Dream, and labours for a Joke;
With brisker Air the silken Courtiers gaze,
And turn the varied Taunt a thousand Ways.
Of all the Griefs that harrass the Distrest,
Sure the most bitter is a scornful Jest;
Fate never wounds more deep the gen’rous Heart,
Than when a Blockhead’s Insult points the Dart.

Has Heaven reserv’d, in Pity to the Poor,
No pathless Waste, or undiscover’d Shore?
No secret Island in the boundless Main?
No peaceful Desart yet unclaim’d by SPAIN?
Quick let us rise, the happy Seats explore,
And bear Oppression’s Insolence no more.
This mournful Truth is ev’ry where confest,
Slow rises worth, by poverty deprest:
But here more slow, where all are Slaves to Gold,
Where Looks are Merchandise, and Smiles are sold,
Where won by Bribes, by Flatteries implor’d,
The Groom retails the Favours of his Lord.

But hark! th’ affrighted Crowd’s tumultuous Cries
Roll thro’ the Streets, and thunder to the Skies;
Rais’d from some pleasing Dream of Wealth and Pow’r,
Some pompous Palace, or some blissful Bow’r,
Aghast you start, and scarce with aking Sight,
Sustain th’ approaching Fire’s tremendous Light;
Swift from pursuing Horrors take your Way,
And Leave your little All to Flames a Prey;
Then thro’ the World a wretched Vagrant roam,
For where can starving Merit find a Home?
In vain your mournful Narrative disclose,
While all neglect, and most insult your Woes.

Should Heaven’s just Bolts Orgilio‘s Wealth confound,
And spread his flaming Palace on the Ground,
Swift o’er the Land the dismal Rumour flies,
And publick Mournings pacify the Skies;
The Laureat Tribe in servile Verse relate,
How Virtue wars with persecuting Fate;
With well-feign’d Gratitude the pension’s Band
Refund the Plunder of the begger’d Land.
See! while he builds, the gaudy Vassals come,
And crowd with sudden Wealth the rising Dome;
The Price of Boroughs and of Souls restore,
And raise his Treasures higher than before.
Now bless’d with all the Baubles of the Great,
The polish’d Marble, and the shining Plate,
Orgilio sees the golden Pile aspire,
And hopes from angry Heav’n another Fire.

Couid’st thou resign the Park and Play content,
For the fair Banks of Severn or of Trent;
There might’st thou find some elegant Retreat,
Some hireling Senator’s deserted Seat;
And stretch thy Prospects o’er the smiling Land,
For less than rent the Dungeons of the Strand;
There prune thy Walks, support thy drooping Flow’rs,
Direct thy Rivulets, and twine thy Bow’rs;
And, while thy Beds a cheap Repast afford,
Despise the Dainties of a venal Lord:
There ev’ry Bush with Nature’s Music rings,
There ev’ry Breeze bears Health upon its Wings;
On all thy Hours Security shall smile,
And bless thine Evening Walk and Morning Toil.

Prepare for Death, if here at Night you roam,
And sign your Will before you sup from Home.
Some fiery Fop, with new Commission vain,
Who sleeps on Brambles till he kills his Man;
Some frolick Drunkard, reeling from a Feast,
Provokes a Broil, and stabs you for a Jest.
Yet ev’n these Heroes, mischievously gay,
Lords of the Street, and Terrors of the Way;
Flush’d as they are with Folly, Youth and Wine,
Their prudent Insults to the Poor confine;
Afar they mark the Flambeau’s bright Approach,
And shun the shining Train, and golden Coach.

In vain, these Dangers past, your Doors you close,
And hope the balmy Blessings of Repose:
Cruel with Guilt, and daring with Despair,
The midnight Murd’rer bursts the faithless Bar;
Invades the sacred Hour of silent Rest,
And plants, unseen, a Dagger in your Breast.

Scarce can our Fields, such Crowds at Tyburn die,
With Hemp the Gallows and the Fleet supply.
Propose your Schemes, ye Senatorian Band,
Whose Ways and Means support the sinking Land;
Lest Ropes be wanting in the tempting Spring,
To rig another Convoy for the K—g.

A single Jail, in Alfred‘s golden Reign,
Could half the Nation’s Criminals contain;
Fair Justice then, without Constraint ador’d,
Sustain’d the Ballance, but resign’d the Sword;
No Spies were paid, no Special Juries known,
Blest Age! But ah! how diff’rent from our own!

Much could I add, —— but see the Boat at hand,
The Tide retiring, calls me from the Land:
Farewel! —— When Youth, and Health, and Fortune spent,
Thou fly’st for Refuge to the Wilds of Kent;
And tir’d like me with Follies and with Crimes,
In angry Numbers warn’st succeeding Times;
Then shall thy Friend, nor thou refuse his Aid,
Still Foe to Vice forsake his Cambrian Shade;
In Virtue’s Cause once more exert his Rage,
Thy Satire point, and animate thy Page.

SAME AS IT EVER WAS

AND HERE IS MR KIRSTY IN A BEAUTIFUL MEMBERS CLUBDSC02888 DSC02892It’s the closest to our house…next to me:  Danielle Kendry aka Porcelain, of Porcelain and Red – my fave vintage shop ever, next door to The Society Club.  x

1:54 Contemporary African Art Fair // Frieze London 2015

Art, Journalism

1:54       Somerset House, 15-18 October

#FriezeLondon2015

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HASSAN HAJJAJ, born in 1961 in Larache, Morocco. Lives and works in Marakech, and London where he runs the Larache Studio , 32-34 Calvert Avenue, E2 7JP.

HASSAN HAJJAJ, born in 1961 in Larache, Morocco. Lives and works in Marakech, and London.

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OMAR VICTOR DIOP, born in 1980 in Dakar, Senegal. Lives and works in Dakar.

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MALICK SIDIBÉ born in Bamako, Mali in 1936 where he has worked most of his life, documenting subculture.

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SIAKA SOPPO TRAORÉ’s family originates from Burkina Faso, Siaka was born in Douala (Cameroon’s largest city) and spent most of his upbringing in Togo. Today, he navigates the creative scene in Senegal as a street photographer. Heavily influenced, as well as involved in hip-hop performance and capoeira, Traoré Soppo documents the rising Senegalese scene of urban street performance.

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OTOBONG NKANGA was born in 1974 in Kano, Nigeria. Lives and works in Antwerp, Belgium.

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PAULO KAPELA, born in 1947 in Uige, Angola. Lives and works in Luanda, Angola. Enrolled at Poto-Poto School of Painting in Brazzaville, Republic of Congo in early 1960s.  He is well-respected on home-turf and internationally.

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More Paulo Kapela…

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PAA JOE and JACOB TETTEH-ASHONG. Born in 1947/1988 in Akwapim, Ghana. Both live and work in Accra, Ghana. Did someone say TANZANITE? Actually, wrong, these are fantasy coffins…ha.  Seriously, google image ‘ghana funerals’ – there are airplanes, and Coke bottles – shoes, I’m getting one of them…not shoes, I’d like to have an eagle, or something with antlers on its head – maybe a pyramid with antlers, and an eye…this is my new fave question.  IF YOUR COFFIN COULD BE SHAPED AS ANYTHING, WHAT WOULD YOU MAKE IT INTO?  Excellent…there’s a fish, a cow in a rowing boat, a pineapple, a petrol station, AMMMMAZING.

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LAWRENCE LEMAOANA. Born in 1982 in Johannesburg, South Africa. Lives and works Jo’burg.

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JEBILA OKONGWU Born in 1975 in London, UK. Lives and works in Rome.

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MAURO PINTO. Born in 1974 in Maputo, Mozambique. Lives and works in Maputo.

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KAPWANI KIWANGA. Born in 1978 in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada. She lives and works in Paris, France.

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AYANA V JACKSON. Born in 1977 in New Jersey. Lives and works in Jo’burg, Paris, and NYC.

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Cannae read my notes on who this is by – if you do, please get in touch! x

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MÁRIO MACILAU. Born in 1984 in Maputo, Mozambique. Lives and works in Maputo.

MÁRIO MACILAU. Born in 1984 in Maputo, Mozambique. Lives and works in Maputo.

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Africa is the most raw of nations, the rage I feel when I listen to stories from just a handful of the 54 countries, is raw, as can be the laughter – as deep as the rape of the land.  I hope you like this selection of amazing art…there’s so much more if it, if you’re able to visit, either the countries, or this sideshow for Frieze – which my friend calls: ‘the art supermarket for the super-rich’, tickets to 1:54 are £15 or £10 for concessions.  2015 sees the third edition, where 33 exhibitors present over 150 artists, aside five curated projects.  There are a number of events, talks and films between now and Sunday, when it closes at 18.00.   The fair was founded by Touria El Glaoui, daughter of the Moroccan artist, Hassan El Glaoui.  She worked in banking and international business development before becoming a member of the Executive Committee of The Friends of Leighton House and a trustee of the Marrakech Biennial.  The first 1:54 Pop-Up was in May, at Pioneer Works, Brooklyn.

http://1-54.com/london/

https://twitter.com/154artfair

https://instagram.com/154artfair/

FASH ON WEEK LOND ON

Fashion, Film, Journalism

O M Geeeeeeeee – it’s happened.

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Versus.  Redchurch Street.  Opposite the HQ of Sean McClusky (1234 Records).

The Versus party is tonight.  I’m wearing an invisible cloak.  Or maybe some Obscure Rebellion:

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This year, fashion is regenerating Soho:  the British Fashion Council have taken over the car park in Brewer Street.  You can almost smell the patina of 90s raves, and Soho sex.  Plus Diptyque, obvz…

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The big question:  will the principal sponsor keep on replenishing the display sunglasses in the PRESS area?

DSC02631There’s more energy in the designer showrooms than I’ve ever known in the official stands.  Piers Atkinson said the same thing.

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Upstairs makes a natural catwalk with its gritty, pitched glass roof.

I made this 12 second film about the Fyodor Golan show:

The major thing in this video is what’s going on in the head of Laurie Long Legs.

AN ASIDE:  Laury Long Legs (aka Smith) may now be stylist to the stars, living in LA – but once upon a time SHE MADE me hang about in a warehouse in South London in a bikini for X magazine, edited by the perfume writer, Tessa Williams and art directed by Mat Maitland (pictured next to me).

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The first day of LFW had a distinctly Irish flavour – and co-incidentally we have the Irish actress Ash Sands staying – so she became my fash wife.

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First stop: the amazing Ed Marler tudor tableaux in the new Kingly Court of Brewer Street – Smith’s Court, where Tatty Devine used to be.

I made another a slightly longer film of that:

Marler was recommended to me by photographer Louie Banks, whom I chaired the talk for at Shoreditch House a few weeks ago.

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Ed Marler was way post-Derelicte.  Really exciting and clever.

Then dived in to see the amazing make-up of Thom Walker at 100 Club’s Stupid Girl/Garbage show by Le Kilt, sponsored by Converse, Wolford and Famous Grouse.  DSC02679 DSC02677 DSC02673

The ICA held a presentation by a selection of Irish designers – fave out of the selection: Laura Kinsella.

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My personal highlight of the day was Dame Zandra Rhodes – she has pink hair, I have pink hair (this week).  Without pink hair, the world would be a very dull place.

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Stopped off at Gary’s Place – Arts Club East on the way home to get my membership card signed by the special calligrapher.  Good to see more pals down there. x

DJ Rosie Don’t Give A Sh*t

Journalism

Thank you to the marvels of Newstand – online delivery – the first edition of DJ Magazine, September 2015, in my new tenure as editor of films, books and arts – OFF THE FLOOR – has made it to my rural writing rehab – where I’m working on the next edition, reading Grace Jones and soooo much more.  x

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DJ Rosie – scratches for sticks

So delighted the new editor, Carl Loben, found the space for me 🙌.  Feeling very proud today.

Yeah – and those are my writing shoes, sheepskin, British…before I’d only had a writing cardigan, which is leopard-skin wool, Juicy Couture. (Ha – you remember that blog?)  Photo on 03-09-15 at 12.18 #6

Philly Press – Shoreditch as a cultural model

Journalism, Press

Spirit

After writing the Red Gallery book on Shoreditch last year, I was delighted to be interviewed by Andrew Mark Corkery for this three-parter comparing Shoreditch with his hometown of Fishtown, in Philadelphia…

The last chapter is my favourite. And there’s also this lil film he put together with me n the artist/editor of Dark Times, Paul Sakoilsky.

http://spiritnews.org/articles/a-fish-out-of-water-spirit-reporter-discovers-another-fishtown-across-the-pond/

A Fish Out of Water: Spirit Reporter Discovers Another Fishtown Across the Pond
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BY ANDREW MARK CORKERY | JUNE 17, 2015

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A street festival in Fishtown, and a street festival in Shoreditch.
A street festival in Shoreditch, and a street festival in Fishtown

Art galleries, coffee shops and street art. Community gardens, street food festivals and First Fridays. Start-up tech companies, converted warehouses and creative spaces. You may think theses elements describe the vibrant community of Fishtown, but not in this case. What I’m actually describing is a community similar to our Riverward, only this one is more than 3,000 miles and an ocean away in London, United Kingdom.

In this “A Fish Out of Water” series, we’ll take a look at this far away neighborhood called Shoreditch, see what similarities we can find between it and Fishtown and maybe even learn a thing or two from that community’s developmental process.

But why compare these two communities? Are they really that similar?

According to Fishtown resident Nadia James, they are.

“I actually just came here visiting a friend and never really considered [living in] Philadelphia at all,” James said. “But I came to Fishtown because it specifically reminded me of where I used to live in London—an area called Shoreditch.”

James had lived in London for a couple of years, but a desire to start her own business led her back home to North Jersey where she launched her content marketing consultancy firm, Griot Digital. Not long after starting up, James found a new home in Fishtown because it possessed the same creative business environment she loved back in Shoreditch. Today James serves customers like Rutgers University, SemperCon and Practice Unite from her office space located at 2424 Studios.

Shoreditch and Fishtown share commonalities throughout their respective histories. Both communities have a long, storied past of being working class neighborhoods.

Charles Booth, in his 1902 book “Life and Labour of the People in London,” described Shoreditch by saying, “The character of the whole locality is working class.” The UK blog Book Snobs say Shoreditch’s “working class roots” remain an element of the community’s vibrant nature today.

Kenneth W. Milano, a local historian who has published six books on Fishtown and other surrounding neighborhoods, characterizes the Riverwards’ roots in similar terms.

“It’s always been a working-class community,” Milano said. “You have families from the 1730s that are still living here. I think it goes to show the character of the people of Fishtown and the attachment to their community. [It is] a 275 year-old working-class neighborhood.”

Conrad Benner, an artist and street photographer, grew up in Fishtown and his family still lives in the community. Benner remembers how his father installed fire alarms for a living and his mother worked at a bank. Together his parents bought their house in the neighborhood during 1970s. According to Benner, his family will never leave Fishtown; their attachment to the community has become a large part of who they are as people.
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Live music in Fishtown and live music in Shoreditch.
Live music in Shoreditch and live music in Fishtown.

“When I was growing up I really loved it,” Benner said. “I mean, it was definitely rough around the edges, like most American cities at that time, but for the most part [the neighborhood’s residents] were great, loving people.”

Even with these proud working-class traditions and demographics, Fishtown and Shoreditch are also linked by their well-documented past of embracing artistic culture in the community.

It’s not widely known that the first theaters of London were built in Shoreditch. The first of these playhouses was simply and aptly called “The Theatre,” built in 1576. Shoreditch is also partly responsible for breathing inspiration into the man who many would come to regard as one of the greatest playwrights the world has ever known: William Shakespeare. He came to the area as an actor during the 1590s and lived in the community. He wrote a few characters into his plays based on people he had met while living there. Some of his earliest works were even performed regularly in Shoreditch, including Romeo and Juliet.

Milano believes that Fishtown has also nurtured artists and creative people getting their start throughout the neighborhood’s history. He cites influential artists from a more recent history like Frank Bender—who is considered one of the foremost forensic sculptors in American history—as one of the many creatives who have called Fishtown home.

It’s important to note that what’s considered an artistic profession has changed over time; the folks living in Fishtown a few hundred years ago would definitely be considered artists by today’s standards.

“You always had artisans,” said Milano. “You always had craftsmen, cobblers, furniture makers and so forth. But we didn’t bill ourselves as artisans; we were working people with a job. We have always had artists in Fishtown, but it wasn’t an art community. It wasn’t artsy in a sense that it was called artsy. We didn’t have galleries, we didn’t have a scene, but people were definitely artistic.”

The two communities’ storied artistic traditions have stood the test of generations, manifesting their creativity in a number of forms through the openings of boutiques, galleries, cafes and street art.

Philadelphia-based photographer and artist Jen Cleary, recently took a trip to Shoreditch and stressed how impactful the experience was for her own creativity.

“I was told that that’s where the art is, so I just spent a whole day in Shoreditch walking around and shooting as many photos as I could. I remember being like this is a candy store…holy shit,” said Cleary.

“It reminded me of Fishtown. Just so much of it was in one compact area. Like the part next to the Old Street train station in Shoreditch [where] it’s just non-stop street art. That reminds me of underneath the El between Girard and Berks Station.”

It wasn’t until recently, over the past few decades or so, that Fishtown and Shoreditch were openly considered by the public as landmark arts communities with creativity emanating throughout the broader culture of each area. This kind of change doesn’t happen overnight. According to New Kensington Community Development Corporation (NKCDC), more than anything else, it takes years of community development articulated with a vision put in place by people who genuinely care about the community they inhabit.

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Row homes in Fishtown and row homes in Shoreditch.
Row homes in Shoreditch and row homes in Fishtown.

Sandy Salzman, a fourth generation Fishtowner, has been Executive Director of the NKCDC since 1998. She credits her community’s progression to its residents as well as partnerships with various city agencies and organizations like The Philadelphia Horticultural Society and Mural Arts.

“When I started [at NKCDC], Frankford Avenue was a mess,” Salzman said. “We decided that we were going to make it into an arts corridor. We didn’t have one gallery; there were no artists living on Frankford Avenue. We didn’t even have a coffee shop.”

In her office Salzman keeps a picture from 1998 of a trash-strewn lot at Montgomery and Frankford Avenues. The photo paints a clear memory in Salzman’s mind and vividly symbolizes the more than 1,100 vacant lots scattered throughout Fishtown during the the 1990s. Close by is another image of that same lot, but in 2004. It shows a starkly contrasting view of an upstanding and well-tended pocket park with several trees that continue to grow there.

Shoreditch’s similar transformation was put into words by Wong Joon Ian, an East London based journalist, at the start of his article “Gentrification Without Displacement in Shoreditch,” published in the Center for Urban and Community Research’s blog.

“First came the Young British Artists, then it was Banksy and his cohorts,” Ian said. “Now, it’s the million-dollar startups of Silicon Roundabout. Shoreditch and its brick-walled Victorian warehouses have been branded a cultural quarter since the Young British Artists moved into the hollowed out, lightly industrial area on the City’s edge in the early 90s.”

Kirsty Allison was one of those Young British Artists and is now a professor, filmmaker and writer, with articles appearing in publications like The Guardian and a recent book entitled “Making Something Out of Nothing: Red Gallery Shoreditch.”

Allison believes the Young British Artists undoubtedly took ownership of the community and laid the groundwork for transforming Shoreditch into what it is today.

“[Shoreditch] used to be a lot more black and white, but now it’s very, very colorful,” Allison said. “It’s a very fluid area, which means it contextualizes to whatever is around it, and whatever is incoming into the community. It adapts naturally.”

As the neighborhood adapts, so do its businesses, with new tech startup companies like Soundcloud bringing more creative energy to an area well known for its entrepreneurial spirit.

“There are so many tech companies now, which are really part of creative industries. They are the kind of business side of creativity,” Allison said.

In 2013 the Silicon Roundabout of Shoreditch brought 15,720 new tech/creative startup companies into the community, making it the most popular and sought-after startup destination in all of the UK.

While the number of tech startups in Fishtown isn’t quite as staggering, there has been an influx of companies coming to the area, partly because the neighborhood falls under Philadelphia’s Keystone Innovation Zones—geographic zones where young tech and life science companies can apply for up to $100,000 of saleable tax credits. Tech companies in Fishtown include Boxter, Bluecadet, Pixel Parlor, and 3D Printing Dog, among other new and creative businesses popping up at places like 2424 Studios.

According to Fishtown resident Nadia James, another element that makes the local tech startup scene so incredible is the sense of camaraderie and passion she experienced first-hand during Philly Tech Week.

“I came to [Philly Tech Week] and everyone was really open and supportive when I was telling them I was starting my consultancy company, so I just knew this would be a great place to start my business,” James said.

She added:

“What I also really liked about Philly, particularly in Fishtown, is that you get a small community feel even though you are in a big city, and that’s probably the biggest thing I loved about London,” said James.

After moving back from London, James wanted to find someplace similar to the area of Shoreditch. Being a North Jersey native, New York City seemed like the obvious choice. But The Big Apple just felt like too big of a place and lacked a sense of community.

“I mean, you can live in a borough but it does not necessarily mean you get to know the people around you and feel like you know you are a part of something,” James said. “I felt like that in Shoreditch—a neighborhood where I could meet people. When I moved to Fishtown I felt the exact same way.”

This sense of community is fostered in several ways: First Fridays are staples of the monthly calendar in both Shoreditch and Fishtown, and an important component of how the arts stay in focus and at the forefront of the community. According to James, both areas’ First Fridays are nearly identical in layout, setup and overall community vibe:

“Free wine and beer, you just walk around the same little streets. It’s very close together and you talk to people.”

As James continues living in Fishtown, she wants to play a role in adding more elements to the already dynamic nature of her community, especially relating to London’s work culture. James was an account manager for Linkedin, a slightly stressful position at times, but she notes that on random sunny days (which can be rare in London) her manager would tell everyone busy at work to leave the office.

“Everything that I experienced there I want to have for the people that work for me here,” said James.

Workplace etiquette and random lunches aside, James’ attraction to living in Shoreditch came from its blending the conventional with the alternative. She sees the same synergy in Fishtown through the colorful variety of people who call the neighborhood home.

“I don’t really fit into either box personally but I enjoy different aspects of both. So I may be going to a pub that’s full of yuppies [or] I may also like to go to a dive bar that’s maybe full of hipsters. I felt like I could get all of that in Shoreditch and I feel the same way about Fishtown.”

Back in London, writer Kirsty Allison believes that this mix of culture and creativity plays a large role in what makes communities like Shoreditch and Fishtown so inviting and unique.

“It’s about maintaining a spirit of creative community and freedom within a space that should be available for everyone. It’s about cultural equality as much as anything,” said Allison. “There is an important part of cultural progression that needs freedom to articulate itself, and needs space where you can be free to express yourself beyond existing paradigms.”

Allison stresses the life-changing effect that communities like Shoreditch and Fishtown have on the folks who are a part of them. When speaking about Shoreditch directly, Allison stated: “It’s created me.”

“I would not have written my book—it’s a product of a friendship through the community. It’s also inspired my fiction work. My whole novel is set in 1990s Shoreditch,” said Allison. “I would not be who I am without having had the experience and freedom that I have had here. It’s given me my identity really.”

Conrad Benner, photographer and lifelong Fishtowner, echoes the same sentiment about his own home and how it has effected his own personal and artistic growth.

“I would definitely not be the person that I am today if it were not for growing up in Fishtown.” said Benner. “It’s not just the sense of the community and the support that community inspired, which has shown itself throughout the years. It’s also about what it taught me about the world. I saw the world first through the eyes of Fishtown.”

Want to learn more about Shoreditch and the ways it compares to our home in the Riverwards? Check out Spiritnews.org in the coming weeks for more in this “Fish Out of Water” series.


http://spiritnews.org/articles/a-fish-out-of-water-part-two-class-and-sustainability/
A Fish Out of Water Part Two: Class and Sustainability
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BY ANDREW MARK CORKERY | JULY 2, 2015

“A Fish Out of Water” is our ongoing series describing the similarities between Fishtown and a community in London called Shoreditch. The series will explain how these communities have adapted over time to the challenges they face. Part One described similarities of both communities through the lenses of their creative environments, illustrious histories, working-class traditions and deep impressions left on those who have lived there.

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Photos from Shoreditch courtesy Jason McGlade and Kirsty Allison. For full image credits, please refer to the free digital edition of Making Something Out Of Nothing
.

These hip and developing communities, heralded as they are, often bear the brunt of divisive generational and class divides. In particular, the alienating divide of cultural stereotypes provoke deep-seated misunderstandings, frustrations, and occasionally points of anger in those who inhabit these neighborhoods.

This section of “Fish Out of Water” focuses on exposing what might cause these tensions in the community and how best to cultivate understanding through a culture and policy perspective. Beneath the tension and misunderstanding there are new, albeit tentative, perspectives circulating. And in it, the power to make these communities sustainable for the long term by harnessing the same creativity and diversity that made them so dynamic.

When speaking on diversity and its role in the community, Nadia James had this to say about Fishtown:

“You can have racially diverse communities but very rarely…is it also diverse in class. What I love about Fishtown, at least in this moment, is that you do still have that class diversity. I think it has a lot to do with the history of Fishtown and that a lot of people have been here for multiple generations,” James, a former Shoreditch and current Fishtown resident, said. “You have a working class and a young professional class and they are all coming together.”

Her claim is backed by statistics. Census data shows a noticeably wider spectrum of median household income, ethnicity, length of housing tenure and education level in Fishtown than in nearby neighborhoods like Mayfair.

Conrad Benner is an artist and photographer who grew up in Fishtown and still lives in the community today. Benner agrees that this blending of cultures and classes has had a unique role in shaping the community but feels as though he has experienced the community through a different lense than James. Benner believes that the cultural makeup of Fishtown is not something that can be garnered from the narrow context of these census tracts or the framework that broader society uses to define class.

“[There’s] this whole idea that working class families are different than the people moving in because [the newcomers] are creative. I would almost argue that the people moving in are in fact the new generation of working class,” Benner said. “This is the economy of the 21st century. I work in digital marketing and these are the jobs that are available to us. Everyone is working class.”

Kirsty Allison, an English writer, professor and filmmaker, echoes similar sentiments from across the pond:

“I wouldn’t use class to determine people. I just think that the class categories have become outmoded and they are no longer relevant.” said Allison. “The creative people that are actually doing innovative work rarely have that much money.”

As we reported in Part One, Shoreditch boasts a large population of creative people working in an array of tech, art and creative industries.

According to statistics from accountants at UHY Hacker Young reported in London’s Financial Times, 15,620 new businesses were set up in and around Shoreditch between 2013 and 2014. In addition, 305,000 sq. ft. of office space was rented to startups, about double the amount in 2012. With this new, booming industry Shoreditch has been dubbed by many as the primary hotspot of digital creative industries in all of the UK.

Regardless of Shoreditch and Fishtown’s ongoing development of industry and the class discussion that surrounds it, both communities have a distinct collaborative nature where everyone seems to help one another.

As James puts it, “People are trying to build one another up.”

As people build each other up in a personal and professional sense, the ways in which each community has been structurally built up differ. The types of buildings and construction projects happening in each area and how those spaces function within the community highlight some of the major differences between Shoreditch and Fishtown.

Fishtown has always been a largely residential area with rowhomes and condos making up a large amount of landscape, still remaining that way even following the continuing influx of people to the community. As more people have moved into the neighborhood, so has development of additional low-rise residential spaces to accommodate the growing population.

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Photos from Shoreditch courtesy Jason McGlade and Kirsty Allison. For full image credits, please refer to the free digital edition of Making Something Out Of Nothing.

In Shoreditch it’s a much different tale. Before The Young British artists moved there in the 1990s there was actually not a lot of residential space in Shoreditch. Because of that, the area and its property values are currently booming and developers are flocking in to build more.

“There is a supply issue and there is also a rent issue because of the way that housing is done in London and in the UK. There is not enough social housing in general and the total amount of housing is also going up and as a result you have a crisis from the supply side,” Wong Joon Ian, an East London-based journalist, said. “Add to this a spike in global demand because global investors view London property as a desirable and safe asset”.

It’s not just that people are being displaced and forced out of their houses only because the rent is rising. Ian says it also has to do with the fact that a large amount of new residential space is being built to accommodate the influx of high-income people moving into the area, most of which is high priced real estate.

“You have declining supply and increasing demand from outside. So the people who do get squeezed are the people who don’t have the capital to compete with the demand and don’t have the capital to find new supply,” said Ian. “But you have to ask yourself who is that new supply for, who can afford that new supply?”

Some would say the biggest and most controversial “new supply” of housing and real estate on the horizon in Shoreditch is the Goodsyard, an £800 million ($1,254,240,000) mixed-use scheme by joint developers Ballymore and Hammerson. As reported in the Financial Times of London, if the project obtains planning permission more than 1,450 new homes and 600,000 sq ft of office space are set to be built.

“There’s a lot of money in Shoreditch at the moment,” said Matt Cobb of Hatton Real Estate in the FT. “That can be a good thing and it can be a bad thing, because whatever you decide to build you have to make sure you won’t be destroying what made the area desirable in the first place.”

Ian stresses some alternative ideas about the gentrification of Shoreditch in his article, Gentrification Without Displacement in Shoreditch written for the Center For Urban and Community Research Blog.

“Unlike the narrative of commercial or industrial gentrification, in this case, the displaced property owners welcomed the move out of the area. Again, this upsets the narrative of wealthier incoming gentrifiers displacing existing residents,” said Ian. “In the case of Shoreditch there were no existing residents to displace”.

In Fishtown, Conrad Benner believes the traditional narrative of gentrification in his own community may not fully apply either. Benner critiques the framing of gentrification put forth by outlets that influence public perception and offers his own counter argument.

“The media sort of projects this idea that when gentrification happens it’s this clash between cultures, but that’s just not what I have experienced,” said Benner. “On a human-to-human scale and as someone who grew up in the neighborhood, I am very excited to see the way that [Fishtown is] changing in positive ways. Business are opening up, Girard Avenue is getting redone, the highway (I-95) is getting redone, more and more transportation options are becoming available and all of these things are happening because there is a renewed energy in the neighborhood.”

While Nadia James hasn’t been in the area as long as Benner has, she was in Shoreditch during that neighborhood’s development and feels that Fishtown is starting to reach a similarly uncomfortable level.

“I think that there is actually way too much property being developed in Fishtown right now. Every block I go down I see a new building coming up. The good thing about Fishtown, though, as opposed to Shoreditch, is that at least there are the building limitations,” said James.

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Photos from Shoreditch courtesy Jason McGlade and Kirsty Allison. For full image credits, please refer to the free digital edition of Making Something Out Of Nothing.

There are two 42-story skyscrapers planned for development in Shoreditch that have been set on a timeframe to be completed by the late 2020s, as reported by The Independent. This would never be the case in Fishtown though, thanks to specific zoning classifications in the area that would not permit the construction of the skyscrapers currently set to be built in Shoreditch. The only designated zoning code in Fishtown that would permit something close to the 42-story Skyscraper in Shoreditch would be designation SP-ENT.

There are also additional checks and balances on the development of larger buildings in particular areas, including Fishtown. One of these checks that involves the community most is Civic Design Review, a process that occurs when a plan requires both an appeal and a design review. Then there are public meetings and hearings which occur before a Zoning Board, and when City Council considers amending the zoning code they do so with input from the public. Through these processes, the public has some power to influence the development of their own community.

“I think here in Fishtown people want it to be more balanced though so it doesn’t turn into the next Brooklyn, or I mean even just thinking of other Philadelphia communities. There is a reason why people are paying to live here and not Rittenhouse Square,” said James.

In Shoreditch, a number of people in the community sympathize with this same view but within the context of their own community. The Shoreditch Community Association sees the area’s continued development as something that needs to be guarded, regulated and watched closely for foul play.

“There isn’t enough balance on the development. The Council (local government) wants to see only commercial space, the estate agents and developers only want to see residential units—for overseas investors to pay over the odds for but never live in. And the historic locals are trying to protect the historic balance of the area,” said Rachel Munro-Peebles, a leading member of the Shoreditch Community Association. “Everyone, big businesses, companies, and people wants a slice of Shoreditch but it’s only the people who live and work here who understand it and want to protect it.”

Kirsty Allison was part of the movement that lead to Shoreditch becoming cool, and understands the importance of keeping a watchful eye on development. But she also notes that there is an invariable part of community regeneration that we must all come to accept on a fundamental level in order to have progress.

“Change is change, and that’s the thing about it,” said Allison. “That’s the issue with rent control and where artists fit into a community, and whether society values it enough. A lot of people would say that rent control is necessitous to retain a community. There are still a lot of artists and creatives living around here but I don’t know who could get a warehouse now, they would move further out,” said Allison.

With that said the cost of a one bedroom flat in Shoreditch varies anywhere from £335,000 ($513,488.00) to £725,000 ($1,111,280). Additionally the sizes of these flats are regularly priced at £1351.35 ($2071.35) per square foot.

Whatever the multiplicity of factors behind the fundamental changes in communities, it’s imperative that everyone be looking at the issues we all face today through a sense of broader contextual vision.

“Look at how we arrived here. What are the factors driving it? These are global trends and recognizing that, these may not be issues a local council can solve on their own. Maybe there needs to be some redistribution of legislative power or something,” said Wong Joon Ian.

As real-estate prices are skyrocketing in Shoreditch, the market in Philly remains sustainable by comparison. Robert Beamer lives in a repurposed residential warehouse in Fishtown. He sees Philadelphia and Fishtown as a much more economically sustainable environment to live than most other high-priced cities in the U.S., and others internationally. In fact, it was Philly’s affordability that brought him here in the first place.

“Most cities are intensely crowded and expensive,” Beamer said. “But here I can go to a show and see a world-renowned artist, then I can also go to an amazing dinner and not pay an arm and a leg for it and the dinner is going to be really amazing.”

James concurs with Beamer and sees our community as an area that may really remain less affected by these global trends noted by Ian in Shoreditch, in relation to affordability and sustainability. She sees Fishtown as somewhat immune to the high, unaffordable nature of city life that some believe is currently affecting Shoreditch. She notes that Fishtown is not next to such a massive financial hub like London, which in her understanding makes it easy to develop since financiers and developers are only a 10 minute train ride away.

“Somewhere like New York or London, they are international cities and Philly is more of a regional city. So I think that plays a massive role in the development of each city because you have all these foreign investors in these other two cities. And yeah they have the money to throw at Brooklyn or Shoreditch and make it what it is becoming. As where in Philadelphia we don’t have the same kind of people, ” said James. “There are very few large enterprises here in Fishtown and for this area thats a good thing. Because when you’re small you can’t bully and say this is what we are doing.”

But regardless of Fishtown’s fundamental and developmental differences to Shoreditch and other large cities globally, by the numbers Fishtown is actually becoming more unaffordable. From the 2003 to 2013 Fishtown saw a staggering 270% increase in home property value.

Local historian Kenneth W. Milano has seen this first hand.

“What does a working person make, $50,000, $40,000? The point is that a working person cannot afford a house in Fishtown, can’t really even afford a house in Kensington,” said Milano. “So you would need 20 percent down to buy a house, 10 percent in a better economy, and then pay $1,000 a month for every $100,000 you borrowed. Well $1,000 a month is a lot of money. So I mean thats still only a $120,000 house, that’s a little row house in Fishtown, not even Fishtown…Kensington.”

Here lies the issue at heart—gentrification and displacement in both Fishtown and Shoreditch.

Some believe these factors could risk pushing members of each community apart from one another if not handled and understood through the proper framework.

James feels, having lived in Shoreditch and now living in Fishtown, that both communities confront the issues of gentrification and displacement on a daily basis and that they have varying degrees of societal impact.

“It comes down to the economics of things. So if the rent is too high then people and business can’t stay here. And it’s the smaller businesses that make it what it is,” said James. “If you have people who are really only interested in themselves and what they do, then those are the same people who don’t mind there being monopolies. But one thing I’ll say about Philly and Fishtown is that everyone is really collaborative and I think that is because the economy has been small”.

With regards to people being displaced in Fishtown, Benner feels it’s an issue that warrants a certain level attention given the climate of gentrification that the community is experiencing. But at the same time he sees his own experience first hand as an anecdote that counters full fledged displacement.

“It’s a question and issue that really needs a study but I can say anecdotally it has not pushed my parents out and it has not pushed me out. And definitely the block I grew up on the vast majority of people I grew up with on that block still live there,” said Benner. “Again, I think that Fishtown has had so much space to grow that there’s room for more people.”

In spite of the fact that Benner feels strongly that there are alternative experiences and viewpoints revolving around society’s limited contextual understanding of what constitutes displacement in Fishtown, he notes though that the increases in the cost of living more generally are, without question, cause for concern.

“An apartment that I would look at three years ago would have been at least $300 to $400 cheaper then it is today. And I do really worry that may really not need to be the case,” said Benner.

Crossing the pond once again back in Shoreditch, Allison believes wholeheartedly that regardless of the community under no circumstances should that kind of systemic and systematic injustice “be the case” as Benner puts it.

“It does not matter who they are no one should be living in a squallored environment if there are people living next door living a good lifestyle. Everyone in an environment should look after each other it does not matter where you are,” said Allison.

“The issue is though whether or not there is a divide being created in the community between the people who have every right to live here and who have their community here and the people who are being sold the lifestyle here for a million pound for a flat. It’s gone to a different level of greed…That is what will destroy it too is mass greed.”

http://spiritnews.org/articles/a-fish-out-of-water-spirit-reporter-discovers-another-fishtown-across-the-pond-part-3/

A Fish Out of Water: Spirit Reporter Discovers Another Fishtown Across the Pond (Part 3)
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BY ANDREW MARK CORKERY | JULY 20, 2015
SOLUTIONS, DISSENTING VOICES AND CULTURAL OWNERSHIP

Despite the varying levels of affordability and overall differences in the sustainable economic climate of both Fishtown and Shoreditch noted in last weeks (Fish Out of Water Part 2), many whom we spoke with believe these communities are prime examples of how people work together to create the essence of a neighborhood. In addition people noted that communities like these are needed on a fundamental level because of the way they are able to help guide society at large.

The way these communities often look to guide our society is through their dissent.

President Deight D. Eisenhower once described “dissent” as inherent within American culture.

“Here in America we are descended in blood and in spirit from revolutionists and rebels – men and women who dare to dissent from accepted doctrine. As their heirs, may we never confuse honest dissent with disloyal subversion,” said Eisenhower.

Despite Ike’s heartfelt patriotic characterization of “descent” the phrase “dissenting voices” however is one that over the years is sometimes confused, not fully understood, and in conversations about communities is often not invoked for fear of upsetting the status quo.

Through this series of stories though it’s clear that time and time again when offered the status quo Fishtown and Shoreditch often opted to reinvent themselves, staying vibrate and taking on an entirely different approach to community.

However the most basic components of the phrase dissenting voices remain murky at best. When pressed for a definition one will find some variation in meaning that includes straying from the beaten path of authority and utilizing speech in some form to do so.

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Spirit Journalist Andrew Corkery and Professor Kirsty Allison

Regardless of how general the definition it still paints a focused clear picture of what the communities of Fishtown and Shoreditch offer to the rest of the world, a vigilant dissenting voice on issues and culture within the larger spectrum of modern global society.

One facet making up the dissention within both Fishtown and Shoreditch is how the communities, to a certain extent, exist within an alternative economic landscape.

Nadia James, a former Shoreditch resident and current Fishtown resident, believes that the fashion and art sectors of these neighborhoods contribute to their environment of independent sustainability.

“It’s not going to be a Forever 21 that has a small up-and-coming artist have a pop up shop in the community, it’s going to be another independent boutique owner,” said James. “So you need those small small local businesses there to sustain each other.”

Across the pond in the UK , professor, writer, and filmmaker Kirsty Allison also sees those same sustainable independent economic models as prevalent elements of their developing community culture in Shoreditch.

Allison’s recent article published in The Guardian entitled “The Cultural Revolution Starts Here” discuss particulars of how many in the Shoreditch see themselves as a part of a more all encompassing economic, political and social movement, dissenting against status quo power structures.

“East London was the first zone to co-opt creative people into its ‘regeneration’ program[me]. The current phase witnesses remaining native communities and cultural migrants rebelling against economic apartheid, creating an urban laboratory of flexible arts spaces for symposiums, screenings, street-food festivals – anything really … IF YOU’VE GOT NOTHING, THERE’S NOTHING TO LOSE is painted high by artist-in-residence, Chris Bianchi of Le Gun,” wrote Allison in The Guardian.

Back in Philadelphia, resident Jen Cleary believes art is what drives the multifaceted discussion fueled by these dissenting voices. She feels it furthers those conversations outside the community as well, and into a dialogue within broader society.

Cleary is a photographer and spends a lot of time in Fishtown and other areas of the city photographing street art. Earlier this year she also took a trip to Shoreditch to experience the street art like the piece mentioned by Allison above, among many others.

She focuses on street art’s unique ability to embody dissenting voices through a medium of social and political commentary that seeks to derive the impetus for societies structural change and progression.

“It comes from a place of rebellion, its the art of rebellion really, and being able to say something through a visual medium,” Cleary said.

Cleary notes that important issues throughout history were brought to the forefront of society’s collective consciousness through foundations laid by street art in years past, which continue to influence other street arts projects today.

“In the 80s [prominent gay-rights activist and artist] Keith Haring had a lot of things to say about how gay men were treated during the HIV Crisis in New York. It was huge,” said Cleary. “And now were talking about people in Shoreditch and how they really don’t think the Tory Party [UK’s conservative political party] treats them well.”

Creativity particularly in the form of street art in Cleary’s view invites people from all walks of life in a simple emotionally powerful manner, to question the world around them and look for solutions within themselves to help solve society’s complex problems. She also sees how similar forms of street art to those mentioned during the 80’s HIV Crisis are represented through different forms of creativity in Fishtown, depicting today’s pressing social issues.

“At one point there were these little cat calls that were on the ground, and you would find them at every bus stop,” Cleary said. “As a woman that kinda shit can happen to you a lot. They were just little pieces of art spray painted on the ground with a stencil that would give you little things that you could say back to Catcallers. It was good to see, it lets you know that you are not alone and it wasn’t just you. And it opened up the dialogue.”

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Shoreditch London

“The funny thing is that it became a city-wide action to place anti-catcalling signs on all SEPTA transit. So its always a political statement, which we need we always need. Every society needs a dissenting voice.”

Street art may be providing a dissenting voice in these hip communities. According to Conrad Benner, a local photographer, these voices are even more dignified in areas like Fishtown because the artists live within the community and respect it. While some may interpret street art as vandalism, the artists who create it do so in a way that is beautifying and thought provoking.

“I think one of the greatest things about artists that live in Philadelphia is that by and large they pay respect to people’s private property and to businesses,” said Benner. “So when they put up a wheat paste and a sticker or some stencils, generally speaking, it’s on abandoned spaces which are sort of abundant in Fishtown. So it’s exciting to watch.”

Robert Beamer lives in a formally abandoned warehouse in Fishtown that has since been converted into creative living space. Beamer agrees with both Cleary and Benner in that the development of dissenting voices along with creativity’s place in that process is not only exciting to watch, but even more inspiring to be a part of.

“Living in a building where every other apartment is filled with other artists, the ability to bounce your ideas off people, to throw a flyer on the wall and know that people are going to see it, it lends itself to creativity.”

In the eyes of those living there, places like Fishtown and Shoreditch are communities that celebrate their residents and the lives they lead. In addition they often function as an olive branch extending the impetus for societal progression in one form or another to those the world over.

Still many questions face these communities today. How do we keep these communities functioning in a manner that benefits all who are apart of them, along with continuing their substantive and positive impact on global society, rather than benefiting just a few?

How can we ensure that vibrant and necessary communities like these will stay at arm’s length from people only looking to take advantage of their message by commodifying the “merchants of cool” surrounding the fabric of the community?

How can we know that 20 years or more from now places like Fishtown and Shoreditch will still remain viable and sustainable for all people?

Having lived in Shoreditch and now calling Fishtown home, James feels she knows part of the answer.

“I think you need a balance. I think Fishtown does that really well. For example you can have the bigger establishments but then you can have a small, little Indian restaurant like Ekta,” said James. “Most of the companies I have seen, they all came up because other people helped them. They understand the value of helping other people, playing it forward, and giving back.”

In Shoreditch Allison agrees with the principle of balance in theory, but offers advice seeing changes play out in her community within a somewhat uneven landscape filled with a seemlinging endless amount of individual interpretations.

“Everyone has their own narrative about what has happened. I don’t know if I am into mass sweeping generalizations about do’s and dont’s for anyone but this idea of ownership is where all the problems start. But what is ownership? Is it a financial investment, or is it creative ownership? So that goes back to the idea of the social and cultural economy. How do you measure those though?” said Allison.

Allison sees cultural ownership as an element that factors heavily into the complicated equation of keeping communities sustainable, but still senses an innumerable amount of questions about how to quantify the concept.

“Do you do it by the amount of time you invest into something, do you go Malcolm Gladwell and say it has to be 20,000 hours you put into Shoreditch to make yourself part of Shoreditch? How does that work?” said Allison. “I think that people still need a space to be a part of the community, and to have a space that is a long term investment. That would be a really radical thing to do.”

Beamer in Fishtown believes what Allison advocates for should not necessarily be such a radical decision, but unfortunately in our modern global society it is. That being said, Beamer recognizes that sustainability is in fact the most sensible choice to make.

“You need to stick around the neighborhood that you helped create, and we should learn from those mistakes and missed opportunities of other cities,” said Beamer. “There has to be some sort of a fusion between making a lot of money from these spaces and keeping them around.”

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POETS FOREVER – JOYOUS ODE TO VERLAINE et al

Music, Nightlife, Poetry

The night before the votes came in…

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Was my pleasure to MC amid left-bank optimism in the wilds of Brixton.  Johny Brown – frontman of legendary folk-punk heroes, Band of Holy Joy invited the gorgeously French band over, A Singer Must Die 

– so it all went pretty indie.

Packed crowd also got to hear Morton Valence.  Love.  Robert ‘Hacker’ Jessett looks like George Michael undercover, Anne Gilpin’s more bonnie than her Hacker Clyde.  

When doing my homework, I discovered how poetic translations can be – finding zillions of versions of Baudelaire, Rimbaud & Verlaine.  Being the kind of girl who has to order the first thing she sees on a menu, in fear of indecision, I went freestyle and opted to make my own really bad translations below…

—-

Enemy.  Baudelaire. Kirsty translation v1.

My youth was nothing but a tempest storm

Broken brilliant with sun rays

The thunder and the rain have ravaged me

And sickened fruit in my garden lays

Voila – touched by the autumn of my creative life

I prepare my shovel and pick

To reassemble the earth and soils

Arrêt – this water must not lick through cracks to tombs beneath

And who knows if the flowers that I dream

of finding in this sun will root or wash away, a tragedy,

Never finding the mystic thing which offers their vigorous beauty

O doulear! Alas – time eats life

and the obscure enemy locked to our heart is blood lost,

growing from this fortified dust…

In response to my enemy

Time is my enemy

Not nature

I fight in bars

On dancefloors

In praise of love

Of life raw

Lost

At the aftershow

Before there was Burroughs, shooting his wife, Rimbaud shot Verlaine.  

And after Rimbaud came Penny Rimbaud (creator of anarchic band, Crass)

Penny for your Rimbaud (based on this video interview with Ian F Svenonius on Vice)

Despair.

Go military.  Go Defense.

Give me a penny for your Rimbaud.

Those left behind

Must get out of bed

McLaren, Branson, cash from chaos.

Exit the existential mess

Take action

Get out of bed.

Time and space are the replacement of place

The holocaust is the spirit of displacement

Accepted face

Of a corporate seditionary policy

Anarchy is rage not rave

Get out of bed

Get out of love

Our price is now

Insurrection, mutiny – see treason.

How does it feel to be mother of a thousand dead

No agitprop to Iraq half a million dead

5 years prep to make the platform blow

SantaClausification of dead rockstars

Dead philosophers

Dead myths

Full Marx Mythomania

There ain’t gonna be a revolution

We have to go sideways so we can’t be seen, he said

The true dimension will be like a prairie fire

Conrad’s anarchist will destroy GMT  – universal time…

Anarchists get out of bed.

We shall be moved

We must not bemoan the loss of dinosaurs

Or the concentration camp we live in now

As long as I can remain outside of it

And get out of bed

WE’VE GOT THE SYSTEM

Vote symbolism

Vote dada

Vote surreal

Vote metaphysical

Vote rock n roll

Vote for the commodification of music
Vote disco

Vote anarchy

Vote punk

Vote religion

Vote politics

Vote homo

Vote labels

Vote The Band Of Holy Joy​

Vote Gainsbourg

Vote Russell Brand​

Vote

Vote Kardashian

Vote vagabond

Vote war

Vote rave

Vote pagan light

Vote silk

Vote nylon

Vote outsider

Vote for death

Vote for soil

Vote for now

Vote for the future

Vote for the past

Vote cancer

Vote hallucinogenic

Vote psychedelic

Vote adolescent

Vote child

Vote baby

Vote death

Vote?

What did one socialist lobster say to another socialist lobster when it went to the voting station alone?

Stop being so shellfish

A very popular translation of Paul VERLAINE’s – THE BULLY – ‘lesser poet’

Through Interminable Land…

(Romances Sans Paroles: Arriettes Oubliées VIII)

Through interminable land

Ennui of the plain,

Vague snow once again

Gleams like sand.

The sky is copper

Devoid of any light,

You might almost gather

The moon had lived and died.

Floating clouds

Grey oak-trees lift

In near-by woods

Among the mists.

The sky is copper

Devoid of any light,

You might almost gather

The moon had lived and died.

Wheezing crow

You gaunt wolves too,

When north winds blow

How do you do?

Through interminable land

Ennui of the plain,

Vague snow once again

Gleams like sand.

— [this was riffed on the back ]

Devoid of light

Avoid the light

a void of light

Metal sky

Bullet hole stars w

Slate oak

Roots remain underground

Sheltered from wheezing city crows

Hunted by gaunt smacked up wolves

Queens of the night

Slumberous reward of narcolepsy

The warmth of dreams

Light – remove it

Through interminable land

Ennui of the plain,

Vague snow once again

Gleams like sand.

Condemned Women  – BAUDELAIRE [didn’t read this, or translate it – lifted from the amazing http://fleursdumal.org]

Like thoughtful cattle on the yellow sands reclined,

They turn their eyes towards the horizon of the sea,

Their feet towards each other stretched, their hands entwined,

They tell of gentle yearning, frigid misery.

A few, with heart-confiding faith of old, imbued

Amid the darkling grove, where silver streamlets flow,

Unfold to each their loves of tender infanthood,

And carve the verdant stems of the vine-kissed portico.

And others like unto nuns with footsteps slow and grave,

Ascend the hallowed rocks of ancient mystic lore,

Where long ago St. Anthony, like a surging wave,

The naked purpled breasts of his temptation saw.

And still some more, that ‘neath the shimmering masses

stroll,

Among the silent chasm of some pagan caves,

To soothe their burning fevers unto thee they call

O Bacchus ! who all ancient wounds and sorrow laves.

And others again, whose necks in scapulars delight,

Who hide a whip beneath their garments secretly,

Commingling, in the sombre wood and lonesome night,

The foam of torments and of tears with ecstasy.

Kirsty’s ODE TO BAUDELAIRE:  

We walked through cows lost after milking – confused as the clouds rushing past the moon

Suitcase of books

Sleeping in sacks

Most people get three chances – I got FIVE

Light over flatus, ignus, aqua, terra, and me

Misty lake – babtism with nature

who wrapped like ivy pulling to her core

Beneath the soil

Buried in stolen black vinyl

And everyday I fight nature

From Babylonia, to the path of Venus across the Wiccan sky

Israel where jesus drives a Fiat Lux (let there be light)

To blood of Guenavere

Changing from clown to pallbearer

choking on the rust of gargoyle’s lungs

RIMBAUD – RAMBO – the shooter, the midnight looter – rebel poet, walked out on words by 20,

Dying in Marseille – a leg less than he was born with.

But who cares? Poets live forever.

#art #soho #12inch #12×12 #sleevenotes #newseries #WorkInProgress

Art, Music, Nightlife, Poetry, Short story

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A group exhibition reappropriating the 12 inch record sleeve as a canvas.

24th – 26th April
At artFix London

Private view
Friday 24th 6-9pm

Curated by
Novemto Komo & Steven Quinn

#12×12
Alex Rayment / Andie Macario / Anja Priska / Anna Kolosova / Blair Zaye / Christina Mitrenste / Christopher J Campbell / Daniela Raytchev / Darren Van Asten / Deirdre Mc Kenna / Ella Fleck / Erin Elizabeth Kelly / Gala Knorr / Gemma Withers / Hannah Alice / Holly McCulloch / Ina Shin / Jonas Ranson / KEELERTORNERO / Keith Connolly / Kirsty Allison / Laura Gee / Laura Liliyana-Raffaella Cogoni / Lora Avedian / Mark Powell / Nathan Evans / Novemto Komo / Oly Durcan / Ricki Nerreter / Satoshi Nakajima / Skeleton Cardboard / Steven Quinn / Super Future Kid / Vicki Cody

Brought to you from residents of Hackney Downs Studios
& friends.
http://eatworkart.com/

Digital Mondrian, London

Journalism, london, Nightlife

The artist formerly known at K-ROCKA went digital, 29.04.15 at the London launch party for the incredible How The Light Gets In PhilosOPhy festival, which runs aside Hay Literary Festival, 21-31 May.  This feat of tech-transgression from DJing with vinyl was guided by one badass rockchick, Kristy Harper at the Mondrian’s Rumpus Rooms overlooking the city of London.  Thank you, Kristy, may light shine on your path.

Rumpus Rooms rooftop Kirsty Allison

The artist formerly known as K-ROCKER on the Rumpus Rooms rooftop

I put together a mix on Garageband for the event, live-ramping some of it up, and used a laptop and phone on two channels with a mixer (demonstrating extreme heights of DJ skillz – ha) – everything from the Dracula-inspired Kelli Ali x Ozymandias to an assortment of Feral is Kinky, Major Lazer (of course) and haaaawt new demos from Gil De Ray & ‎Ösp Eldjárn.  Also paid tribute to the recently departed, Alan Wass.

I love the Mondrian Hotel – Tom Dixon bronzes everywhere.  Situated in Sea Containers House, this area has a special place in my heart, as it’s where I first got a gig as a journalist in my teens – IPC Tower is now being converted into luxury flats.

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The walk along the Southbank always makes me feel like the whole of my life is ahead, at 21 or 22 I had an office in a newspaper office with a Thames view.  One of the many things I’ve lost.  Looking out to the dark river, I always feel a tinge of LIVE NOW – as it’s where my schoolfriend Mandy Wright’s father was taken by the Thames whilst in a boat with a secret lover.  Mandy, sadly, fell after, from a window, tragically, 20 years ago.  RIP.

BUT BEYOND DEATH – I take every opportunity to live a distinguished life – so had the pleasure of joining the Schrager legend on the Southbank for my birthday (back in Pisces season) at the Mondrian Hotel.  (Ian Schrager co-founded the only disco of the 70s, Studio 54, before moving into the hotel business.)

THIS PLACE – Agua Bathhouse + Spa – is less of a hang out, more of an urban treatment rehab.  Likely faster than 28 days and promises to die for.  Feet up, newspapers, placed under crisp, hotel-starched duvet.  HEAVEN.  Best massage I’ve had in London, thank you Motoko.  Think it’s called the Guru treatment,  personalised mix of essential oils after a consultation.  AND I AM ALL ABOUT ESSENTIAL OILS.

Agua Bathhouse and Spa Kirsty Allison

Normal face

It’s a copper funnel funhouse – Clockwork Orange, sci-fi modernism in the basement – and they brought me cake – I AM A ROLLOVER.  That’s Mr Kirsty reading the FT.  He also had a Guru, to whom he shall return.  High praise.FullSizeRender_2 FullSizeRender_1 FullSizeRender

Inferno - Kent Baker

Inferno, backstage at the first Dante show – Kent Baker

The lovely Lou Winwood at Inferno, Foyles, 19.03.2015

The lovely Lou Winwood at Inferno, Foyles, 19.03.2015

Birthday shenanigans continued at Foyles’s bookshop for the launch for a McQueen book published by Olly Walker (I interviewed him on Resonance FM about his previous stencil art book).  And onwards via a classic pub on Tin Pan Alley (AKA Denmark Street), and further into the Thursday night with the cabaret of darlings at Hoi Polloi.

Hoi Polloi

Cabaret darlings of Hoi Polloi

Also had a lil get together at Vout O Reenee’s – the members’ club run by Sophie Parkin, who wrote the book on the Colony Rooms, which I had long coveted, and was kindly gifted, alongside membership.  Vive Sophie,  and all like her.   And the wonderful friends able to join us…

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Underground

ROCK CHICKS - Kirsten Telfer-Beith, Erika Ts, Nina Pall

Lilith 'Lagerfeld' Bussfeld, Nickque Patterson

Kate Clews & Melanie Sturge

Sam Dayeh, Rebecca Minney-Bartels

Kirsten Telfer-Beith, Fiona Cartledge

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COLONY

2099AD – The Illustrated Ape

Art, books, Fiction, illustrated ape, Poetry

Travel with me to 2099AD, deep arse space, a place of over edited fiction, where Planet Prada, Comet CHANEL, Land of Louis Vuitton and all manner of planets preferable to earth leave a few rebels behind… X

This voyage of discovery is yours for a fiver from SOLID distributors of the creative visual word form – also included in this once in a lifetime offer: moonshine recipes, and a dystopia survival kit (a beermat soaked with poetry).

Established in 1998, The Illustrated Ape features 100% original creative fictionpicturespoetrypop – and never, ever reviews! It has won popular acclaim, most notably the Creative Review ‘Best In Book’ award for design, and was one of only five British magazines selected for the Jam Anglo-Japanese exhibition. It is widely regarded as the most exciting and influential creative, illustrationgraffiti, and writing magazine to come out of the British urban underground, and is a primary resource for anyone seeing insights into popular culture.

Jamie Reid – the design king of punk, Julie Verhoeven – described in Taschen’s modern design bible, Illustration Now as one of the world’s top designer/illustrators, Paul Davis – award winning illustrator, John Lennon (previously unpublished work), David Hockney (previously unpublished work), Michael EnglishMartin Sharp – sixties design icon, Felix Dennis – OZ and MAXIM magazine founder and poet, David Sims – fashion photographer, Ryuichi Sakamoto – composer and film-star, Junko Mizuno (HELL BABIES) – manga artist and author, Jason Atomic – illustrator, Honey Manko – alt-diva, Heather Jones – songwriter and HOLE founding member, James Berry – poet, Michael Horowitz – poet, Tim Wells – poet, Cheryl B – New York feminist poet, and hundreds more acclaimed heroes of the pen and pencil.

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Joy of Punk FM

Music, Radio

Honoured to contribute to Bad Punk – performing a piece by Johny Brown at around 20′. There are also bits from Bill Drummond, Brian Eno – trainspotter’s paradise.

The engineering/production is by Peter Smith, keyboardist in Band of Holy Joy – he’s good, uh?

Images from Phil Strongman’s exhibition of Street Culture at 8 Balmes Road, London, N1 – closes Tuesday.

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McQueen, Victoria and Albert Museum, London

Journalism

Fashion is a kingdom – and when the king, Alexander McQueen took his own head, fashion died. And of course fashion comes back, every season, every day, with relentless collections and handbags and perfume but never will the freedom of 90s Shoreditch be experienced again – and such a unique brand birthed.
The V&A exhibition, which adds 66 pieces to the show from the Met, is an emotional ride from humble, radical beginnings to carrying troupes into the war of international fashion.

I only met the designer once, backstage at a Primal Scream gig with Alister Mackie, the stylist, whom I was helping out last night via Olivier Van De Velde (the archivist and stylist), dressing 101 models in black kilts. Yes – tis a tuff life. But Alexander introduced himself as such that one time, I’d always heard him called Lee, and was as nervous as he may have been, in a golden compound. Although he undoubtedly deserved to be there, he’d probably commuted in from Paris, where he was working as head of Givenchy, before his own line joined with the Gucci empire.

And this exhibition is the story of destruction. Between fabrics and creatures of haunted nights. As with every McQueen show – it is all encompassing, and purposefully overwhelming in its beauty. One of the curators, Louise Rytter kindly guided us around – she’s been working non-stop for 11 months, closely with Katy England, McQueen’s muse, and the wife of singer, Bobby Gillespie. Her influence is everywhere – she’s an artist of the highest calibre and this tribute to McQueen’s talents does him great justice. It is only too sad that he could not run with us around darkened galleries surrounding this new London wing at the cocktail party last night.

After the warehouse-y room of graduate pieces and key tailoring, a breathtaking golden hall of antiqued mirrors bears funereal feathers and Mohican masks by Helen Woolfenden (pictured with Olivier, below). Through hallowed regalness we tread, tartan and red and white. The death waltz continues into a catacomb with the hair-wig coat, and sublime claustrophobia opens into a magical wardrobe, or shoppe, of curiosity. Like a hall of mirrors, video and sound continue to escort this experience – benches – where so many weep at the tragic beauty of lost talent – but he did everything. Every boundary pushed, from razor and mussel armoury to defences of animal horns – no one can save another who cannot be saved. This is an art show.
The collaborations here on video with Nick Knight, couple with perfect set design. Music from Bjork plays with many others…

And after the madhouse video, my favourite of the immersions, comes the ‘holograph’ and light: flowers, and net and Plato’s Atlantis. And then into the gift shop with Fashionaries (a designer’s dictionary with patterns and a sketch pad) and scarves, and books: Nick Waplington’s is there – carrying photos of the working process of the design team: some of which are carried at his current show at the Tate, making Waplington the first living photographer to have a solo show there.
I missed the gift bags with the catalogue, and will have to flick through Vogue to see the event with a flashbulb but it was great to see so many talented friends. There was much collection-spotting, who in what from seasonal themes which read like lines of poetry or album titles. Clues which were not always read as they are retrospectively.
This exhibition is the most marvellous of any sort I have ever seen. It is art. The epitaph of which may read: make fashion. Always.

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HATERS

Journalism

I’d encouraged him.
Showed interest. When he asked me to listen to a song.

But

I dropped him. He’d been too active and I follow who I follow. I guess I should follow everyone? Jesus would – or more likely no-one…what does Kanye do?

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Tonight he came back, said “your a venomous hack.” – please provide sources/citations for these supposed exertions, and check your grammar.

He said: “your stupid” – with kisses.

I must have hurt him. He thinks I am someone who could have helped him. Twitter is not utopia. It is a simulacrum of the wars upon our world.

He called me an opportunist. Yes. Or I’d be dead. Raised by Thatcher, reared in the selfish 90s. The thinker. The speaker. But “fake” – what? I don’t speak my mind, on social media, why of course…

I thought media would allow the truth. but I was forced to find art a faster medium for such nuance. live n let breathe, n no judgement, n peace.

If I’d been a man, and said, “Yeah, nice music,” – it wouldn’t have led to:

the abuse I just got. the hate.

I am sensitive. He too. He’s blocked me now. And I too him.

Is there a power which we are supposed to wield? A grace, a torch to lead with from all we yield?
Give me a hammer and give me a gun – I’ll build a place to defend myself from.
The offence and the lies. The fear of spies.

Or give me a pen and give me some ink. I don’t want to add a hyperlink.
But here we are. in the future, far. we reap what we sow, and I’m trying to grow
An understanding of social, behaviours, observed. Gotta lead, speak truth. To shock, to defy, to challenge, to flower. To go to seed. Or blossom forever. But defending ourselves from free will- the choice to Unfollow? The choice to engage. To be social. Manners and openness. Tracking. Recorded forever. Archived and stored to define who we may be. Are we only digits and bites, with no fight? The weight of Proper Distance (Silverstone/LSE) – is that another Foucaultian prison. Transparency- a failed dream, when profit is motive and kills equality.
But our freedom is dying, or is it multiplying? Maybe I am as dim as he said. People don’t always get what I said. The fear of the new. The fear of the brave. The screen between cyberspace and ‘real’ life.
140-character debates – the depth of this joke.

I’m taking so many of my thoughts to my grave, and they should have been said, they should have been shared.

I once got sent a cock on Instagram. Instacock. Snapchat wankface. Shitter. I blog.

💙💻💻💻💙🔫Kirsty Allison 2015

(Main image: Inga Tillere.)

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LDN to BUDAPEST to BUCHAREST to SOFIA to THESSALONIKA to KAVALA to THASSOS N BACK – travel writing

Journalism, Travel

I half beer
I champage
I palinka
I red
I palinka

And then she stopped counting

Chainsaw
Holy soup
Holy goulash

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A spunk-strewn British flag lies over a black, metal trunk in the alcove of the gay bar on Prague’s outskirts. It is daytime, late December 1992. The action has left the building, leaving a smell of beer, good-times and a plastic policeman’s hat, which is scraped up from the floor by an English-speaking manager who took pity on the three of us – female students, who somehow found ourselves without somewhere to stay after a two day bus ride from London. Directing us to a grand flat, dripping with gold and literature up near the famous clock tower. We’d made it.

I’d been to Prague before. In 1990 I’d carried memorabilia from Amsterdam to Charles Bridge where me and a Dutch-Indonesian guy whom I became biro pals with (who later had plays on Dutch radio which were banned, I never asked why) worshipped at the Lennon Wall – my fave monument in the world ever, which on that first visit was just a candle, burning for world peace and love, with a photo of the dead Beatle. Flowers hung around it like a Hindi temple and a few of us left messages, in biros on the walls. (I was travelling with my parents, from Amsterdam, with my own tent, them giving me freedom to explore. It was a pretty cool trip.) By this return in 1992, the sacred shrine of Lennon’s Wall (who I often spelt like Lenin) prayed on anything alternative: The Doors, The Velvet Underground, but “I heart Guns n Roses” in massive graffiti writing – that didn’t make sense. To me, at that time, Guns n Roses stood for nothing – the west was impacting.

By 1997, of course my appreciation of songs such as Mr Brownstone grew. And it was around then, reporting for Scene with the British shock artists, that I checked in on my rock n roll mecca once more. The acid-house generation were still in naive belief that Blair would never go to war and unity would guide us into the next millennium. The popular belief he manifested (until he lost us) by getting Oasis over to Number 10 for all that champagne supernova malarky. Yet we were desperate for a government to believe in after Thatcher’s rave dissolution, taking our parties into superclubs she could tax, and monitor. In came artists we could believe in: their values of privileged liberty were explored in video, installation and on walls: porn, freedom to fuck, vegetarianism etc, and after a rather loud night on the absinth, fellow hotel residents pushed a note beneath Tracey Emin’s door saying they were “ashamed to be British”, (the note Mat Collishaw made into a T-shirt). It was punk and Cool Brittannia. Although, I found more light at the Lennon Wall, standing as a glocal foreshadow of mobile phones bringing everything closer, the iron curtain peeled back bad hip-hop graffiti, stretching far along the river. The west wanted more west, as my friends had wanted more city, back in the New Year of ’93. Taking an overnight sleeper to Keleti, Budapest’s main station. For £20. It was serious adventure. Communism fell in ’89, as it had in Czechoslovakia, but unlike Prague, we were the only tourists in Hungary. Or maybe there were a few other bravehearts, but they’ve vanished from my memory in these blurs of youth. A woman pounced us as we arrived, offering us a place to stay. Trustingly, we travelled an hour out of Budapest (!) to a pine forest village covered in snow. We fed village dogs our old salami, only to have village children pull it from the dogs’ mouths. The alpine houses were all made with local wood. It was modern and excellent for young explorers. Every little shop in the village (of which there were two, basically sheds with no signs, built onto living rooms) offered us vodka shots as soon as we were through the door. That’s the kinda behaviour that can make a girl fall in love.

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Budapest was a train ride away, and I remember it being very dark at all times. No shops with illuminated anything – no flash windows, just huge black cement buildings, Tudor-esque hills of medieval voids, wide-roads rambling ordered forever, entrancing squares of balconied houses that stood off main streets – looking down as if the centre was a theatre. If you wanted to buy something it was held in a glass-enclosed unit behind a big Hungarian behind a counter. My pride purchase was a patchwork sheepskin waistcoat “It’s for a child!” laughed the woman with big arms.

At a Turkish bath, massages were done with soap bars and buckets of water. My pal Juliette, who’d been brought up Catholic, screamed in hysterics at the proposition of walking around naked in public with a towel the size of a flannel.

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Now, in 2014, the baths have signs in English and there are massages available in oils and chocolate and all sorts. I’m sure Grindr and Tinder and Sugardaters work as well as they do in any other western city. For now there are tourists everywhere. You can buy everything from Zara to Louis Vuitton. Budapest has become City Break Central, and with Alex, my husband, we visited Kiraly and Gellert baths. Kiraly is beautiful, more authentic than Gellert, with the obligatory holes in a domed roof, plunge pools where Alex was warned of their shrinking powers, there’s an outside tub, in a square in the gardens. It’s a right hang-out. Gellert, by comparison, is ginormous – they make women wear swimming hats to swim in the pool – men don’t. And in both, everyone wears swimming costumes. The first time I went, with the girls, it was naked and same sex. Annoyingly, if you want to swim and haven’t been before, hats are available to purchase once you’ve locked all your goods away in a locker. But there are bars, for lunch, it’s the kind of place you can stay all day, but of course we didn’t arrive until the sun had nearly set…There are outdoor pools, sun loungers, and yes, Wes Anderson has defo visited. Shame to share the water. Which I made the mistake of perhaps drinking a little too much of, having read of Agua Juventus – offering eternal youth – Bottle That Shit and Sell It To ME, I thought, drinking as greedily as I felt looking at the cream cakes at the Centrál Café (I’m lactose intolerant).

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We were in Hungary for the wedding of artist, Marta Rocamora and composer, Gregor Konready’s wedding. This Catalan / Hungarian couple met working at the Red Gallery and they helped enormously at our wedding, so it seemed a good circle to celebrate their love.
We thought we’d go five star for 4 nights, booking the Buddha Hotel – (and should have stayed at the Boscolo) – Buddha is all red and black, nailed over the top of nouveau – a nightclub-style place full of waiters laughing at the chaos of breakfast and storming into our room for a party at weird times of the night.

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Ernesto Leal, who founded Red Gallery, arrived with the co-founder, Yarda Krampol and Red director, Giuseppe Percuoco. We goulashed it up for a night before leaving town to a place where the Hungarian princes took their crowns – Szekesfehervar, or as Ernesto called it: Che Guevara. I was calling it Shake it Baby. Met by the groom’s brother, we went onto Tac, now 70k from Budapest, where we were all staying, where the reception would be…
Alex and I had a quick look around the village, he thought I was joking when I told him I was going into a shop – it was one of those sheds I’d been to twenty years ago. We returned to our room, changing into appropriate garb and the Spanish mother ceremoniously separated herself from her bridal daughter.

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A big master of marital proceedings with a huge felt cape in cream and red, fairytale leather boots and an accordion was our guide – joining us on the solidarity bus back to Che Guevara Shake It Baby, where the exchanging of rings would occur. With a soundtrack including The Bangles’ Eternal Flame, there was rice throwing, photos, and the Red contingent escaped, now with several more of us, planning to re-group in half an hour. Of course, after taking a beer, and an ice cream and photos, we missed the bus back to the reception. Cabbed it back. We were lucky enough to witness such traditions as the holy cutting of the log – where man and wife each hold an end of a saw before the chainsaw is passed to the wife, with champagne toasts and the first palinka (the stuff they’d called vodka back in the sheds)…

Uncle Andres and his revolutionist’s moustache

There was so much palinka. And pastries. I did a full palinka detox – sitting with catalans, all excited for the forthcoming Scottish election. Singing Kalinka Kalinka with Palinka Palinka. After a few hours, chicken was dropped on the table – we ripped it from the bones before broth followed with aldente gnocci pasta and pimento on the side – amazing food – then holy stew and potatoes – all hail a decent goulash, and sauercraut and gherkins – and once one’s appetite had been met – fried cheese and fried hash brown and fried rolled up ham and we danced all night, found a secret bar with a huge lizard dragon in it. And more alcohol and holy goulash and holy stew. Marta began wearing her belt around her head, all hippy child, before dosie-dohing around and coming back down for dessert dressed as a Hungarian Disney Princess. Greg was all top hat and tales, looked like he was from a century ago – which is quite a weird thing for an electronic music producer…all friends forever – the dawn rose, and the tour with Red Gallery ended at 5am, when Alex and I took a cab to the station to get our train to Bucharest…

City pipes up like rattlesnakes
Ecstasy sunrise
Crowns in the road
Capital comes
And crashes
Full metal church

Woemania.

Men with double earrings
Gypsy with wooden stick
Men with big moustaches
Helmet hat bellend rooftops
Big cereal fields
Meeting puppies on platform
Gypsy no eyes – prison tattoo number, steal a child, beg. Gypsy curse.
One way.
Pear dumpling haystacks.

There is a bored girl called Amelia going to Bucharesti – I give her Polish fudge, the same type my old Polish neighbours used to give me. The Danube is wide as a lake and really is blue. It’s stunning, wild, green hills forever. Takes 15 hours from 7 this morn to 11 tonight to reach:

BUCHAREST

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I leave half a bottle of wine from the wedding with a guy walking with a shepherd’s stick, defo part of the 3% of Romanians who are of Romany stock. (Blame British media for my surprise at this statistic.) 3% battered, tattooed, outcaste. It’s wild here. Loads of men drinking beer around barrel tables at a little nightshop shack at the back in the station, where hard-as-iron women serve. It seems the educational standards aren’t very EU – there’s very little English and there’s the same stupid factor you find in any central city station with boozy guys stepping over luggage rather than waiting for it to be moved. It is midnight…and cities congregations are often stupid.

Having eaten peanuts and crisps since the wedding, we relish a half grilled chicken and a spicy merguez-esque sausage, violent red, with big cut chips. Everyone else eats beer. We could have had about 4 Happy Meals from the undercutting new MacDonald’s for the same price.

We roll our luggage around the outside perimeter – got an hour before the connection to Sofia. The streets are wide and glitz-free. There a couple of uber-lights – from a Subway and the obligatory supermarket-near-the-station which makes most of its cash from meths-esque products. It’s dark here, huge communist buildings reach into the sky, without the glow of cities such as London. Black as the sea we shaln’t see the Danube wash into.

TOWARDS SOFIA

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When a weird Soviet guy starts taking your train ticket from you in the middle of the night, it doesn’t matter if he’s dressed as a night guard in the sleeper train you’re boarding to Sofia. What happens if he just takes the tickets, flogs them on, and tries to kick us off the train? All aboard for pure costume drama. We’ve stepped past an ancient tea toiler boiler, and Hey Jude sings from a ginourous comms device of the same era as the song, all inside a worker’s cabin. There’s a woman in there, bored, getting dressed or undressed. Dark wood everywhere. Red claret carpets and velvet bunks. The weird Soviet guy wants to exchange our tickets for sheets. But he can’t tell us that. Speaks no English, I have no Hungarian or Bulgarian – although later pick up a couple of words – in Greece. A fight nearly broke out as he drunkenly staggered over Alex’s shoe – he seemed to be complaining about the difference in the quality of their footwear before passing over the sheets, as we bid adieu to our evidence of purchase. I’ve always said the problem with communism is shit shoes.
Yet we wake with no problems, Soviet guy is smiling, the morning light shows Bulgaria to be far craggier than Romania, which was soft and undulating.
Raw nature. Verdant – never trodden by human foot, in any kind of shoes, there’s loads of it – on and on. Everything is written in Soviet script/cyrillic.

SOFIA

Che Guevara awaits in shops at the commie station. There are pictures of various revolutionaries, above glistening pastries. No cashpoint. A McD’s in a tent. Left luggage womanned by a little lady. Everything looks like you’re wearing glasses with a nicotine sheen. Part of Europe since 2007 but uses Lei as the currency. A few alco-groupies await tourists at Sofia station – people trying to help for 1 Lei…about the cost of the biggest bottles of beer ever – like maxi-bottles of Coca Cola. We get a train to Centrum. Metro. New. Two stops.

Homemade orangeade with mint for me and big ice cream coffee for Alex. The esplanade is wide, with cafes all along the centre of the main shopping streets. It’s mellow and cosmo with mountains at the ends of the roads. Lunch in a cafe playing house music. Every cafe played house music. Big Byzantine church – gold gold gold domes, amazing mosaics, blues. Beautiful. Walk around town for the afternoon.

Steaming through country now. Back on another train. This time to Thessaloniki. It’s a long way. Agrarian climbs down from the mountains. Rivers, roads. Slow life in the south looks richer than the dying communist bloks nearer the city.

Hark, wheels stopping. That was us and the German interrailers freeeeeaking out. Train has been going in the wrong direction for 30 minutes. It’s picked up some random carriages – we’d just got into Greece, after a 38 hour journey, we don’t really want an extra couple of hours on a train.
Yet we arrive in Thessaloniki 10 minutes early.

WHY DID WE DO THIS JOURNEY

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Thessaloniki station has a lil orthodox corner to light candles in – and an ancient photo booth. Feels like a film set – frozen when the debt happened. Trains have only been reconnected for a few months (post-recession) but it felt pretty India. As it did walking around the bus station later looking for a hotel and finding one with wallpaper over damp and mirrored ceiling tiles – we didn’t get an hourly rate.

Now at the back of a bus going past lush lakes and small fields on the northern coast of Greece – it explains so much having travelled here from the north, over the mountains, rather than flying straight to holiday central.

My big idea for the day is a philanthropic index – where tax and CSR is rated per individual. Everyone needs to do something for others. Alex doesn’t agree with me.

There are clouds across the higher hills as we head into a valley towards Turkey. What the fuck are they doing there? I do not want to see clouds for the next week. I want to turn off – see the temp rise as the minutes strike up from my first coffee in the mornings. I want the blue and white of postcards. I want the pictures in the guidebook. We’re getting a boat from Kavala, pop to Thassos or Samoraki, we’ll leave for the other if they’re too full of package holiday makers, what a weird phrase. Make like it’s a holiday, dudes.

The bus driver’s music is quiet though the air con, Chilli peppers, Guns n Roses, classic soft rock – a long way from where we started. 22km to go. Proper info travel seeing the baltic wilds, the chipped communist faces, German trains exporting cereals.

After a ferry, and a bus, I’m lying on a bed looking at weird Christmas cards framed on the walls – pictures sent from early explorers to this island, an island now overrun by Romanians. It came as a surprise – to get to a beach recommended in an out of date guidebook that you now can’t see for people. CLAUSTROPHOBIA – GET ME OFF THIS ISLAND. Seeing every beach stacked out by cafe owners’ umbrellas and sun loungers, offered for a minimum spend of 25E. So much water falling from the sky now – explains these verdant crags. These domineering hags. These green salads. A wood fire around a fig tree, grape vines, roofs sucking up the skies, sealine and clouds hazed together. My Nike insoles blown to sea. Heavier and heavier the rain and sailboat masts ticking geiger faster. Sun-dried pine replaced with pools of needles and burning logs. Men running under parasol shades and warmed by mama in towels. Water on marble. Olives falling over crazy-paving. Waves bashing over the Byzantine ruins, sandy beaches finally free of peeing children and mothers watching whilst dads channel Olympic swimmers past. This place is not for travellers like us – it is a place of reservations and organised families. But half the ferries no longer run, victims of the recession pushed by the loans offering greatness – so it’s hard to leave.

Giola pool is used on all the guidebooks to Greece – it looks bigger in pictures. Jumping in from quartz diving boards carved by the ocean into this natural round pool, filled with still sea water. Scores of people. Freeform. On a moto – no shades, trying to find an unknown beach, a place to recluse. This restaurant old, with rooms above all with the beauty of Aliki from its sights. A family palace, a unit. Something we don’t have. And then it stops and the island is bathed in sunlight.

Bread and stew go in the fire oven – I feel part of a Greek family – fuck banks – we’re in cashland – why would greeks on an island do anything other.

Moving house – moving house. The place was only available for two nights, we’d tried 6 others prior to this, used to rocking up and seeing what’s available. In a cheap place with another dodgy mattress, booked with a 14-year old spotty kid, his mum apologises for him when she drives our stuff around to the next place we found – it’s hard, getting rooms here. All the Romanians have booked in advance. We hang with some Romanian academics – they’re not coming back next year – too busy. The climate is not of the south islands – yet the sea is stunning and blue and the sun warms the stones so it’s perfect for naked midnight swims.
If we’re up that late.

Now we’re on Kinira Beach – the woman who only speaks German, and Greek, is OCD clean. Not a grain of sand is in the wrong place. We have balconies at the back and front and the sea is loud and hypnotic through the window. Proper mattresses – personal kitch – not blue and white though – here she’s gone for fleshy pink and white. BASTARDS (I WANTED BLUE AND WHITE – that’s why we came to Greece. It was here or Croatia, after the wedding – but we’d had our honeymoon in Mykonos/Anti-Paros/Serifos last year and were keen to feel as good again – and the journey here was worth this disappointment).

RAIN, CLOUDS, GO AWAY.

Epic travel frazzle. From Kinara to Poptos by moped with all our luggage and both of us. It began raining heavily. Potos – nice baclava lady feeds us in her cool Pretty Sweets shop (or something ) all Farrow n Ball colours. Not as good as the stuff we had in the mountain village – but we needed that woman’s spirit. Potos – skala Prinon by bus. Whisky stop for Alex, more camosmile tea for me. Skala Prinos to Kavala by boat. Now on bus to Salonikia.

So we did 2 nights in Aliki Archodika Restaurant, long hike to stony beach by food and they made everything from bread to olive oil on site, was well worth it and the view from the storm has all come back through writing this.

1 night of miscomm at Dolphins on Kinar – gets super- advanced bookings and final 3 nights in Kinara Clean Obsessed, next to Hotel Sylvia.

Makedonia Palace hotel at Thess. I hate arriving after the pool and sauna have shut. Top breakfast. Would return.

We had champagne cocktails by the beach in Navona, the restaurant, and later found a jewish rock bar, full of rich kids, next to a squat a few blocks back…

Paror Calor.

x

I WROTE THIS BOOK & GUARDIAN STORY: RED GALLERY

books, Journalism, The Guardian

I was first approached about writing the book which became MAKING SOMETHING OUT OF NOTHING in 2011. It was published in December 2014.

We had a party. I escaped before dawn. RED gave away 2000 copies. If you weren’t there, you can read the book here. It’s designed by Tomato, art directed by Jason McGlade.

Here’s the related article in The Guardian:

http://www.theguardian.com/society/2014/nov/18/cultural-revolution-red-gallery-east-london-shoreditch-regeneration

Grateful to the Red Gallery’s Ernesto Leal for awakening many of the thoughts that made the final cut. Also for he and Yarda Krampol’s trust in my exploration of the Shoreditch I’d recently returned to. I approached it like a documentary, an archive. Left some interviews entirely unedited.

The essay explores the cultural legacy and necessity of Red – plus 30 interviews with people involved with the building of this unparalleled contemporary hacienda. Thanks to all contributors/interviewees and those that supported the creation of the book.

Pics below by Urte Janus, more here, the cover pic is thanks to Fiona Cartledge.

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BOOK LAUNCH – MAKING SOMETHING OUT OF NOTHING, RED GALLERY

Art, Design, Film, Journalism, Music, Nightlife, Poetry

Shoreditch’s RED is the creative force engaging local communities through facilitation of the continuing Cultural Revolution in the heart of East London.

This versatile, multi-functional space has welcomed a myriad of creativity through its doors since opening in 2010; transforming a derelict group of buildings and unused land into chameleon like art studios, galleries, live events venues, offices, screening rooms, open air event setting, incorporating a street food market and bars.

In keeping with its ethos of cultural guardianship, RED has actively encouraged not only artists and local residents to engage with the facilities, schools such as St Monica’s Primary have utilised the space and in keeping with their continued commitment to communitas, RED plays host to an annual symposium of the religious arts initiative Urban Dialogues, bringing together people from all faiths.

A year in the making, MAKING SOMETHING OUT OF NOTHING documents elements of the magic that takes place behind the doors (and often on the walls) of RED through interviews and photographs.

To celebrate the launch RED will be hosting a photographic exhibition and in keeping with its anti-hegemonic practice, 2000 copies of the book will be distributed at the launch.

Additional commentary from visionaries such as Stirling Ackroyd’s James Goff, Tom Burger Bear – one of the chefs who led Time Out! to dub Red Market as being the birthplace of ‘the new food revolution’, curators and artists such as Alice Herrick of Herrick Gallery, Jerwood Prize winning Svetlana Fialova, Paul Sakoilsky, Chris Bianchi, Matthew Hawtin of Minus, former street artist, Part2ism,Dimitri Hegemann of Tresor Berlin, trends author Dr. Lida Hujic , fashion designers: Roggykei, patron Nick Winter, Stephen Shashoua of 3 Faiths Forum, music consultant: Juan Leal, Gary Means’ Alternative London street art tours and more.

BOOK PRESS RELEASE

LONDON TO NANCY (and Dunkirk, Luxembourg, Belgium) in a campervan // TRAVEL WRITING

Travel

OCCUPY HITCHERS, ALPHABETIC ABSTRACT ART THAT MAKES SENSE & OVER 60s CREW REQUIRED –  Kirsty Allison does a whirlwind camper trip to a canal near Nancy, losing keys in Luxembourg, breaking down in Belgium – finally finding peace in Dungeoness.

The hippy hitchers think I’m a Buddhist.  Telling me about a commune where kids grow up without adult supervision, 800 of them.  800?  Babysat by Buddha?  Checking Stoner-pedia, dudes…

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IN GOV WE TRUST

Jakub and Gem looked the part, that’s obvz why I picked them up.  Anarchic warriors, bright as his red T-shirt, which bears radical calls in frat-house lettering, Jakub pulls the obligatory beanie on and off and on, off and on.  He’s clean shaven with a billy goat’s gruff of a beard.  He looks perfect with Gem: fresh as the blonde dreds she’s paid for, Teva sandals, hippy skirt, layers of T-shirts, huge outdoor smile.  She does horticulture in Poland, where they’re both from.

Waiting strategically at the car entrance to the ferries at Dover – their sign says Calais, I’m going to Dunkirk, but we’re drawn together: I’m driving Freddy, a mid-90s Nissan Vanette. Same engine as a Datsun Sunny.  No one will provide breakdown insurance.  What’s the worst thing that can happen at a max speed of 55mph? Converted by a boat builder, styled by myself, Freddy has day of the dead cushions, star curtains and seats covered in deck chair fabric.  Scooby stripes were lovingly sprayed a couple of years ago, on a campsite in the Pyrenees (admittedly noxious – around all the organic chickens which the dog chased).  Beneath an upside-down tub on the roof, a thick white shower curtain crumples up for extra ceiling height when you stop and invite the giants in.  It has to be roped-down or it flies off.  Freddy has water, a cooker, a bed, music.  What more do you need?   I like being at one with the flowers and decomposing ground, or running over the dunes in the Camargue, past wild white horses – into the sea, the bath of the med, after a week of wild camping down from the Alps,  skinny-dipping in the purest of cold rivers.

There’s no extra cash needed by the ferry company, DDFS, for the extra passengers – only passports.  Yup, I’m passing through with the resistance – Jakub squats in the Occupy building in London.

“What’s going on with the movement at the moment?”

“Nothing…”  Off the record, there are paradoxes within every organisation.

“Do you have to contribute to the ideology as a resident?”

“No.  But for the last couple of years I’ve been working in the trance parties.  We were about to do a three day festival, but after the kid died in Croydon, we called it off.”  Glad to know the leaders of subcultural politics are being responsible about bombing kids with drugs.  Psychedelic uprisings, at the very least, carry the risk of labelling you as opponents to our moral leaders.  Value war?  Sure good start, yes, standing against them, in a warehouse –  if your brain gives a shit.  Just remember to read the label: a bucket load of psychedelics enables critical thinking, just don’t ever call it paranoia, call it truth.  You stand in danger of becoming a conspiracy theorist forever, and in my experience, drugs take up a lot of time.  Far better to get into something more modern, like ISIS, or Call of Duty, or Facebook, or the propaganda of a binge-watch…

This leads Jakub and I to the standards of squat parties being lower in the UK than across Europe.  Having one toilet for 700 people seems acceptable in England.  He suggests governments make money from drugs in the Eastern countries.  The mafia all tied in.  Can’t imagine a mafia house having only one loo.

You have been warned kids – there’s shit out there that’s addictive…find what you like, let it kill ya.  Those repetitive beats, they get in yer mangled head!

We watch the cliffs fall back into the horizon, hanging at the back of the deck.  You know you can only see 12 miles at sea?

I went to a bar on the boat and edited my novel (it has a lot of drugs in it).  We met again and I drove the wrong way off the boat at Dunkerque – French signage was without names of towns, as ever.  I end up driving them down to Calais because there are no petrol stations to dump them at – and that’s it – toodle pip.  Hitching is a good lesson in making the most of life, as you’re never likely to see each other again.  I spent a summer in the 90s hitching around England, hustling pool, sleeping in old ruins.

Through the night – I failed to read the signs – the cats eyes, flashing white like a discotheque – it is Saturday night.  I feel I am on slow zig-zags towards Paris, when I’m trying to get down to Nancy.  I end up pulling into the car-park of a neon green bar, just as Mr Allo Allo is going to the trash.  It’s 11.30pm.  He lurches towards me, pupils wide.  It is his car park, and my vehicle is hardly undercover.  My dog is going ballistic, Rosie, a two-year old Patterdale.  She’s a good wingman.

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ROSIE THE ROVER AT DOVER

 

Bon soir.  I try explaining that I am Ca Va and looking at the map, GPRS on my phone is pulsing, heartbeat.  He doesn’t leave.  I feel like a woman with blonde hair, alone, in a camper van.

“Est il ya une probleme?” I ask, forcefully.  Non.  He fucks off.  But sends out a couple of young, short-haried buffoons – “Lose?” they ask and again, Rosie is going berserk.

“Non.   Ca va.”  Je ne suis pas loose.  Freaked out, I reverse.  Van roams the lanes.  Stop roadside to make a duck egg scramble after connecting the new gas to the built-in cooker.  The only food I brought are a couple of eggs.  Thought I’d stop and stock up on French swag, but with the hippies…

The sustenance helps me make the choice to get on the Peage.  I loathe paying for motorways when there are roads that loosely skirt the same route – in a vehicle that goes so slowly, the promised speed is of little advantage – but I opt for the ease of a more direct route and stop at an Aire – tucking up for the night, pulling the curtains close, using my torch to read beneath the blanket.  I don’t want to draw attention to myself.  There are a few lorry drivers, sleeping, only getting out to piss – but I’d rather our paths don’t meet.

 

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LAY A LITTLE EGG FOR ME

 

Sunday 6th July 2014

We woke in the Aire layby, well- rested.  It is now Sunday morn – Rosie has skinned a tennis ball while I’ve done some some yoga.  I take her for a little wander,  playing my harmonica, she sings along to it.  Always brings me to think it’s one of the most precious moments.  She’s now lying on the words above these, in my notebook. I always write travel journals by hand.  That’s why it’s different to the writing I do on a word-processor, moving words, and sentences around all the time till they find their best order…

We must put some miles behind us.

Getting to Lens, there’s a Louvre museum outpost – the sign makes it look expensive and expansive and all big glass – so we sail through and it’s only when I escape the Peage, having chatted to some Manx bikers whom I subsequently pass back and forth all day, that I see a sign for a Musee de Matisse in the town he was born in, Le Cateau Cambresis.  In my survivial level French, I find a bank, pick up enough words to think I have the gist of a sentence, which of course can send en deviations, wandering misled, through the country, but I arrive at the Musee de Matisse explaining I am a journalist without a press card and I would like to come in (ie. for free) – and places of culture are free across France on the first Sundays of the month anyway.

Amazing collection.  Chagall donations, etchings and pop art coloured painting, Giacometti, the Picasso, the Rothko.  An explanatory journey of Matisse whom I did a project on at art school, or before, A-levels with the printmaker, Peter Smith, the teacher who stopped me getting thrown out.  It was in the days before Wiki, and I was so comforted by some bad information I’d picked up somewhere, saying he was in his 40s before he started painting.  It’s untrue.  He was in his 20s.  But there’s still solace in George Elliot not publishing her first till she was 40.  Mark Twain, 41.  With my book trajectory taking as long a Ralph Ellison, I question whether it’s because of my love of wandering.  Into situations and galleries such as this.  Strolling through another’s practice of still lives.  Fortunately brief, and then his Windows – one I’ve never seen with a rude nude.  I notice the same strumpet whores, and models and wife, Amelie, with their faces painted into pictures on the walls he’s sketched, and these women working themselves into photos of his homes with huge line sketches of faces en the ceiling and stencils of those geranium-style shapes and birds, like McQueen’s recent silver bird logos.

HERBIN’s SAYING SOMETHING – PEACE, LOVE, UNITY

And another discovery – my new fave artist – Auguste Herbin: all Thomas Moore Utopia font and geometric pre-pop/Mondrian-esque placing.  Incredibly, he has devised an alphabet around shapes and colour – coded triangles and circles and squares, in different colours and orders – he then spells out names such as Peace, Love and Union, using nothing more than his representational colours and shapes. The paintings make sense.  They are more than abstract compositions.  J’adore.  And another new artist (to me) Genevieve Claisse – a French Bridget Reilly.  All black and white and angles and some gorgeous circles – again called Union.  The museum was perfectly designed with Eames chairs and stained glass by Josef Albers.  I remember visiting the Chapelle de Vence with my parents as a child – mind-blowing stained windows by Matisse.  Art rules.

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I NEVER PROMISED YOU A HERBIN GARDEN

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UNION BY AUGUSTIN HERBIN

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HERBIN GOES BANANAS

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EASY AS A, B, PARIS

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MATISSE IS SO LIONEL RICHIE: He’s drawing on the ceiling

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POST-CAVEMAN STENCIL ART

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I WAS TRYING TO DRAW A HAND

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Wear that chair like you just don’t care

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HOT WALLS

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HOT TEXT: HERBIN ALLISON

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HOT JAZZY PIANO BY AUGUSTE HERBIN

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LIKE A CIRCLE IN A SPIRAL, LIKE A WHEEL WITHIN A WHEEL, THIS CANVAS IS EXISTENTIALIST, A REFLECTION OF A PILL

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WINDOWS BY ALBERS, Josef Albers

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Windows by Matisse, Henri Matisse

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I’m so sketchy

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Chagall gull

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Chagall sheep

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Chagall chuck

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LEGER primaries

 

 

So Herbin demonstrates the line from 80s Pompidou and Mondrian.  And I walk out of the Musee de Matisse, spellbound by everything France can be – there’s a charming bistro, undoubtedly selling Stella, perfectly cold, with crunchy and soft calming lettuce salad and frites.  An old Citroen, grey, wartime-looking, parked in front of the beauty of the town, of France – the je ne sai quoi, ah, j’adore – I step in dog shit.

I clean my Nike in the ville fountain.  Buy some frites mayonnaise.  We’re near Belgium, Rosie won’t eat potatoes.  Atkins dog.  We leave.

I’d planned to stop at Charleville Mezier – but it looked industrial north.  It’s the funniest part of travelling, the towns you don’t stop in – on appearances, often.*

Instinctively, I had to follow La Route de Rimbaud et Verlaine – obvz – I pull over (in a contemporary poet pit-stop, an industrial estate backing onto the countryside – door on camper is flung open, dog can wander safely).  It’s only when I’m reclining, reading Donna Tartt in the back of the van that I see why the hippy hitchers took me to be a Buddhist – my loo roll in the van hangs off a necklace on the back of the passenger seat.  I was given it.  And I realise they were looking at its giant Buddha head pendant.

The landscape changed 50 clicks back, from the dangerous Norfolk flats of Dunkirk have vanished for verdant mounds and rolling Roman roads.  The churches vary from orthodox-esque mosque-y bumps to Bavarian castles with multi-turrets to Baroque greys and simpler chapels.  Most are curvy and sexy with those gorgeously well maintained houses / chateaux in the centre ville with iron filigree or cut -out metal decorative gates – there’s some shite too, bad PVC conservatories adjoined to otherwise perfect farmhouses – chip shop squalor.  I like the make-do metal and bumpy glass porches, different panels in diff colours of glass.

It’s nearly 5 o’clock – I must try to edit a lil film as part of a pitch I want to send in tmw – for £20K or more.  [It’s worth noting that I never even received a thank you for submission and stressed myself with shite internet and completing this film for the whole time I was away – GRANTS SUCK].

 


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J’ADORE A BIT OF FRENCH WALL-ART

 

On Sunday night, the rain hit hard on Freddy – the windows mist – I break the silence of my thoughts and the engine with an album by Adam Ant – one that I’ve left for the time when I had space to listen.  We’ve hung out recently  – he’s got great stories, is ultimately cool, yet knows his worth which can make him hilarious.  Another time – but I played him and let his lyrics reveal his bruised angelic sides and male mania.  I sang along to the instrumental, finding a voice in myself I had not found before, driving through the country, stopping at industrial mosaics and ceramic stone circles in remembrance of dug up children lost in two mine collapses on the same site.  There are so many memorials to dead soldiers on this side of France – bordering Germany and Luxembourg, over to Belgium – it’s depressing – it all looks like a set from Band of Brothers yet the archetypal squares where I can take a coffee and croissant are rare – particularly this side of Longuyens, where it suddenly changed to being alpine.

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Before darkness comes, I need to eat –  the Turks in the kebab shop gave a plate of meat for Rosie.  I tipped them well, running back to the van in the rain.  They understood a travellers journey and sympathised my lack of language with charm and humour.  Ma Francais est en Angleterre.  It pissed down in twilight – passing the Pharmacie Marx and trying to find a place to stop for the night in Chatel de Saint Germain, or a room in the castle would have been nice – so beautiful but I ended up caught in one way hell of bungalows before heading down to Metz and finding a cycle path in darkness with the moon shining on the Moselle.

 

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I KNOW YOU’RE WATCHING

MONDAY

I woke so early, I’d slept badly, imagining my brutal murder – being cut up to kebab brochette du poulet – I’d locked all the doors and drawn the starry red and white curtains but the door could be prised open.  Waking early, I skirted the Moselle – down to Nancy – my relatives told me they lay a couple of hours east.   Through alpine Coronation Streets, all with no perfect cafes, all Merthyr Tydfils, hamlets and one chicken towns.  And my people were nowhere.  I’d only travelled for 500 miles.  I asked in the Captainerie if they had been through, a Dutch barge, OUI OUI OUI –  sent off in the wrong direction.  Its amazing that one can lose such a large boat.  I eventually called from a lock, several miles away, which I had walked to, carrying gifts from Fortnum’s and tonnes of magazines and the weekend papers – the dears’ starved of reading such things.

Aboard, the smell of contentment – of smells they don’t notice.  Home.  There are fresh flowers cut, and sofas, and tonnes of books.  It’s all very ship shape.  And we set sail, on this floating cottage, overflowing with chilli plants and herbs and flowers.  A two-berth boat, each with their own bathroom.  Between each bedroom lies a lounge and kitchen, most travellers have a television satellite which they’ll spend time pointing through trees towards home. I have an amazing hot shower.  The only problem is Freddy, having to borrow a silly fold-up bike to bring him back to our new mooring.  It’s about 10 clicks.  There are few buses around these parts.

A gay couple – of Swiss descent, on a gorgeous boat, are moored aside.   I don’t want to talk.  I am wound up by the pressure of getting here, maybe needing to return too fast.  And the deadline for the grant application.  Perhaps I’ll stay a little longer.

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CAPT. BEEFHEART SALAD

WEDNESDAY

We travel from Xures – Einville.  It’s raining, but beautiful to chug along the canal.  Life can be so relaxing.  Although, I have to bring Freddy back to the new location again, 15k, this time borrowing a bike from Qantas Suicide Pilot and Alex Gibbons.  These two shipmates, each with peniches well over 20 metres, and several bicycles between them, they travel together on their huge houses – beautiful Fidutia and Unity, full of geraniums.  We’re moored next door and all stop for a drink together.  The inland waterways board demands two crew to be essential on any journey on boats as large as theirs.  So they roll along together.  Advertising everywhere for fe-company, to rare avail.  Over 60s-only!  Such nice guys.  “Dog rolls over, just like my ex-wife” – etc etc.  Funny. Get in touch!  They cook, they travel, better than living cooped up by yourself, no?  Even for a few weeks, they wouldn’t even need rent…You could paint pictures on the back of their boats.  It’s a healthy life.

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I used to work for these guys

 

Later that day, I walk into Nancy.  Stanislas Square, drips with filgree gold. It’s Venetian in scope and Parisian in grandeur.  But we were hit with awful weather. The only clothes I bought with me were a load of summer dresses, and it’s waterproof trouser weather – been working on the pitch.  Now back to Donna Tartt.  xxx

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STANISLAS SQUARE, NANCY

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HARK – IS THAT THE SOUND OF AN ONCOMING TOUR DE FRANCE?

Thursday

Did a flight of 10 locks or so, up the embranchement de Nancy – currently moored near a grand chateau of Fleville – iron gates and silver roofs of imperialism – grain for land – guys in a cafe do peace signs as I drive past in the van.  Sad to leave so soon.

 

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NICE WHEELS

 

Friday 11th July

Lost my keys in Luxembourg – kinda thing that makes you double aware of the people on the street and the women with too much time on their hands.  I’d stopped at Metz shortly before 1pm to send this application – the video was too phat – the wifi too thin – I sat outside Mac Ds, with lil german girls taking my pic as I attempted to upload the film which would never load.  Compressed it, emailed that it’ll be up on Dropbox by Monday.  Metz is a stunning micro Paris with uber Goth cathedrales, rivers, narrow pedestrian streets and I ate vietnamese with Rosie in the church yard which sat in the split of the river like Notre Dame.  Driving out I saw a campsite by the Moselle that I’d loved to have stopped at – and would have if I didn’t have to be at work on Tuesday, I have to deliver a lecture…

It would have been a good idea to stop because as I write this, Freddy has just survived one of those weather driving experiences of having a tornado whizzing towards you in the front and the wing mirrors showing lightning spikes on dark grey behind you.  Christ.  So I found my keys in Luxembourg – having retraced, they’d been handed in to the guy with the shop selling souvenirs and keyrings with climbing caribas, the kind of thing I should have had my keys joined onto in the first place…I stopped to admire the lush ravine gardens and grey fairy castles creeping up the other other side, to another land.  Walking through the square in Luxembourg – jazz played.  Safe jazz.  There were rebels against the clear conservatistism everywhere – kids in blacked out Jaguars  – finest clothes on show, hip-hop ghetto blasting, on a Friday nite.  The kind of place keys get handed in.

LATER

The good thing about breaking down in a camper van is you have somewhere to sleep.  The dog was getting paranoid – looking at the road, realising the speed we were going at, 55mph – could kill her – I’d just spoken to Alex, my husband, back in London, and we, dependent on how he felt in the morn, were gonna meet in Dover or Hastings tmw night or Sunday morn.  I thought I’d truck on – make it to this swimming pool museum  in Roubaix – But I’ve fucked it – blown a gasket.  Gone too far – so wanted to stop earlier