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


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!

cold_lips_4_final_apr18 SMALL

Entry includes the new summer edition


THE FAT WHITE FAMILY’S ADAM J HARMER and his one man destruction show

Greta Bellamacina, Robert Montgomery

Stuart McKenzie, Ana Seferovic

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

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


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! 💖



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


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…




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.



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…




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.




Narrowing Spectrum of Control


I went to Erdoğanland and freaked out.


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


Johnny Thunders ⚡️⚡️⚡️Nina Antonia


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

FETE OF PERVERSITY #peacefornice

Poetry, spoken word, sylvia plath fan club


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


AK47 air guitars

holographs of Nixon n Kissinger

on drums

At the Dawn of uncivil war

Come to the

Merkel Mercedes auction


Lucky shot Trump


Gold bullets in a bottle


Rose petal oud


Monsanto tombola food

Drakma.  Dollar.  Euro. Riyal. Out.

Roll up

Roll up


rubber grenades in your skin


DLT riding a baby mammoth on a plinth


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


And bureaucrating

media Jet Stream Rainbow

Over Yemen

And Mosul and Ukraine:

Naked kid writes apolitical songs

freedom fighter


Your brain

Ping ping pow

Take Captagon

So good

So fast

To Die

So Young


On Diamond shattered screens

Ride aside



With cats

Eye flicks


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


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



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


Rebels sold hashish cookies

spiked with death

To Putin

Old money Crusaders

Sanctioned chocolate

city waders

Patented cures,

for spells bound by


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





Indexed superstructure

Or bombed


Red card

Calling it:

We fund

this rescheme as

brand Fans


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


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…)


literature, Nightlife, Poetry

The Sylvia Plath Fan Club


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?


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

DJ til late.

Philly Press – Shoreditch as a cultural model

Journalism, Press


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.


A Fish Out of Water: Spirit Reporter Discovers Another Fishtown Across the Pond

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.

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.


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.

A Fish Out of Water Part Two: Class and Sustainability

“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.


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.

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.

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.”


A Fish Out of Water: Spirit Reporter Discovers Another Fishtown Across the Pond (Part 3)

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.

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.”

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.”


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.




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:


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.



Thurston Moore + Burroughs + Cunnilingus

Fiction, Journalism

Never has the art of getting down and worshipping sounded as sexy



Thurston Moore is as close to William Burroughs as I’ll ever get.  Moore’s band, Sonic Youth, were borne on the back of the New York punk scene which groupied the king kong of cut up.

I’m born on the back Ciccone Youth – one of their best albums.  Covers Madonna songs.

Thurston, currently living in this joyous town of layers (LDN) with girlf, Eva Prinz both curated this show at Red as part of the Burroughs 100 series – celebrating the centennial of the guy who shot his wife dead in the head, when playing William Tell.  William Burroughs was a Yale grad with a parental stipend, put most of it in his arm.  Which, as Thurston rightly said in an interview to NME, will continue to inspire folk forever – the act of being creative on drugs, not everyone can afford it…

The show at Red Gallery DOES IT THROUGH PHOTOS OF BURROUGHS HANGING WITH MUSICAL COLLABORATORS + THOSE HE PATRONED WITH CROAKED OUT WORKS OF ADVICE.  It’s a black n white who’s who of the world’s renegades standing aside their hero.  The catalogue features a total list of his recorded works. Oh, HIGH praise, I give.

Back from teaching at the Naropa University (Ginsberg’s palace to Kerouac et al), PRINZ MOORE put together a nice lil ‘catozine’ – feat. interviews and work by the students: METAL DREAM MACHINE MUSIC – that kinda explains the show as good as anything.

But the pictures on the wall,



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THIS WAS ON THE TABLE, AN OFFERING – better than buying newspapers with stories about a world I cannae change


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Cool bananas


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You gotta read to believe – Tom Verlaine from Television is in there under a pseudonym…GEEK OUT, PUNKS




Me n Rosie – pic by PAUL SAKOILSKY x





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Fiction, Poetry

I’m part of the LAZY GRAMOPHONE collective – misfits of the modern world.

A few years ago, founder and editor, Sam Rawlings approached us with an ambitious project that catalogues TIME – Childhood, Adolescence, Wisdom.

I got to write a poem about ADOLESCENCE…all the pieces interlink and it’s a spectacle of book, immaculately conceived – I am super-proud to be included alongside some excellent poets, writers and illustrators.

You can read my poem and see the beautiful illustration by super-cool artist, Lola Dupre by purchasing the book – leave a comment with your email and I’ll send you 20% discount code.


Mat Lloyd – skater poet, Philip Levine – publisher, Kirsty Allison


Sam Rawlings, Time’s editor

Kirsty Allison, Time

Contributors’ Five Things Journal Posts:
– Adam Green
– Bryn Hall
– Inua Ellams
– Zoe Catherine Kendall
– Andrew Walter
– Laura Dockrill
– Mat Lloyd
– Sorana Santos
– Will Conway
– Hannah Stephenson
Matt Black
– Claire Fletcher
– Carl Laurence
 Zophiel Webb
– Jude Melling
– Stacie Withers
– Tom Hirons
– Megan Leonie Hall
– Vincent J Prince
– Kaitlin Beckett
– Guy J Jackson
Eliza Gregory
Jeannie Paske
Jo Tedds
– Maria Drummey
– Tom Harris
– Liz Adams
– Lola Dupre
– Kirsty Allison


Time is a vast collaborative book project containing short stories, poems and artwork by fifty-five contributors. Ever since the project’s inception, the idea has been to create an environment where independent writers and artists could come together in order to share their work. The result of this endeavour is a collection of stories, images and poems based around the theme of time, its pages placing particular focus upon the relationship between words and pictures. By sharing in this way we hope to inspire each other as well as those around us, to draw a diverse audience and so help to illuminate the work of alternative artists and writers everywhere.



For media enquiries, speak with the fabulous editor: Sam Rawlings / sam@lazygramophone.com / 07870 687 649


Art Saves Lives //Radio// 02.12.12


Latest instalment of the Resonance FM radio show promoting the charity, Art Saves Lives, founded by writer, Dean Stalham, who kindly invited me onboard as co-host & resident poet on this run of eight shows.  Music from a capella group, Apollo 5; uke player and actress, Anne-Marie Piazza. Plus, the graphic designer, art director and contemporary street art expert, Olly Walker – speaking about his stencil art book, Stencil Republic – tasty launch at The Griffin pub in Shoreditch this Thursday, plus The Illustrated Ape party at the Orbital Gallery, plus Book Club Boutique’s – and a zillion others in this sexy Lahndon town, what a happy Thursday that’ll be… and a happy Christmas, oooh, yes, that Stencil Republic book would make a lovely present.  As would some of the art to be auctioned at the Art Saves Lives Fundraiser on Sunday…g’wan, put a sneaky bid in…

Stencil Republic

Kirsty Allison by Stephanie Correll

Photo by Stephanie Correll 



Man Saws Brick: Series 1 by Kirsty Allison.

Donated to the Christmas fundraiser for Art Saves Lives at Blacks in Soho, London.

Six acrylic, wax pastel, wax crayon, marker scrawled, Indian & Chinese ink written, illuminated by light gel pieces on 12″ inch cardboard record covers.

Motifs of ariels, Aleister Crowley symbolism, CCTV eyes, with lines from notes taken on iPhone.

Fantabulous show, darlings!


The Art Saves Lives Radio Show on Resonance FM.  TX: 11/11/12

“Obscure Kirst, lovin your work babe! x” IRVINE WELSH

Feat: RSC Writer in Residence – MARK RAVENHILL, post-pop artist and Commes Des Garcons collaborator- DUGGIE FIELDS, The Hep C Trust’s GEMMA PEPPE, writer of The Obituarist –PAUL  A. WATERS, music from ALETIA UPSTAIRS and poetry from YUYUTSU SHARMA.

All with my co-host, and founder of Art Saves Lives, the playwright DEAN STALHAM.

“I think @kirstyallison should have her own show. She’s intelligent, well read,interesting, a bit mad and today she looked like a flag” Gemma Peppe, The Hep C Trust


Baby love me ’cause I’m playing on the radio


Great to be behind a big sexy mic on Sundays, 3-4pm with Art Saves Lives on ResonanceFM, 104.4FM (www.resonancefm.com or via iTunes Radio, appropriately filed under Eclectic).

Guests from this first show are Darian Christian, talking about his film, Breakin’ The Cycle, Brooke Star, poet, singer and daughter of *some* legendary footballer, Hassan Craftz, future media maestro and rapper.  Also She (Katrina) – great poet, and fellow wordsmith, King Soloman.

Joining me on the mic are the playwright, artist and director of Art Saves Lives, DEAN STALHAM, and his occasional writing buddy, David Frederick.  Dean’s cousin, Lee Stalham also makes an appearance on the show.

I love my radio – more than Taffy – I went back to college to study it after DJing around the world, it worked, I got a Sony Award for one of the documentaries I made with BBC Current Affairs.  My first job in radio was when I was about 14, on the pirate station, Fantasy FM.  Naughty.


Art Saves Lives is a not-for-profit arts organisation dedicated to providing inspirational and inclusive arts experiences for disadvantaged and underprivileged young artists internationally – I got involved with them after I was invited to perform at one of their events in London.

[Photo by Stephanie Correll]


Art, Fashion

@kirstyallison @TraceyTM #tweetmeup  #thetanks @tate

Friday 24th August 2012, 11-5pm

Dear Friends,

I’m proud to present: AUTOMATONIKA E-GO E-ROTIKA DEMONIKA.  A short film about online existentialism.

Commissioned for Tracey Moberly’s Tweet Me Up show at the Tate Modern in London.

You can WATCH an exclusive preview here:  https://vimeo.com/47128360

Love n Sweet Rebellion.  Kirsty Allison.

Get Tantric Tourists


‘TWEET-ME-UP!’ – Tate Tanks

‘TWEET-ME-UP!’ at The Tate Tanks by Tracey Moberly is a mass participation installation and exhibition generated by social networking sites. It is part of the UNDERCURRENT programme in the Tanks at Tate Modern on Friday August 24th. 11am-5pm. The artist will be delivering a talk on her work in the Tate 3-4pm.

TWEET-ME-UP!’ focuses on art, music, photography, words, short film and fashion. The theme explores Sub Culture/ Counter Culture – Undercurrent/Underground from numerous perspectives.

August 24th has been designated ‘International Day Against Intolerance, Discrimination and Violence based on Musical Preferences, Lifestyle and Code.” The day marks the death in 2007 of Sophie Lancaster, a Goth who died from injuries sustained by a gang targeting her and her boyfriend for their dress code and music preferences. TWEET-ME-UP!’ encourages contributions that celebrate subculture and the free expression of individuality.

Contributions have come from as far afield as Eastern Siberia, Uzbekistan, New Jersey, Haiti, Trinidad and Japan – along with many parts of the U.K. Well known names are juxstaposed with the new, such as ex-Cabaret Voltaire’s Stephen Mallinder with his collective Wrangler; The Pop Group’s Mark Stewart now part of the New Banalists; the Human League and Heaven 17’s Martyn Ware in an instagram collaboration with his daughter Elena; TV presenter and journalist Kirsty Allison; Damian Alban’s African Express co-founder Steve Budd; Blur’s Ex-manager and Teardrop Explodes Dave Balfe to name a few. In the cross-platform work duos and acting debuts’ feature unexpected roles for the unlikely, from Captain Sensible to Goldie Lookin’ Chain’s Eggsy.

The digitally received works, photos, sounds and statements will be projected into the the Tate’s cavernous new space creating an evolving multi-media installation. Live art will be streamed in through Twitter Instagram and SMS text on the day. A list of contributors and the countries they are from is available.

‘TWEET-ME-UP!’ follows on from the artist, activist & author’s work Text-Me-Up! which has become a multifaceted book. Tracey Moberly has used over 2,500 photographs and images and documents the growth of the SMS (short message service) and MMS (multimedia messaging service) eras which has resulted in her saving every text message and phone image she has ever been sent since 1999. Text-Me-Up! It documents the start of the social media revolution beginning with the text message and the unique digital DNA text timeline of one person’s received messages. It concludes with the emergent importance of other media such as Twitter – prior to the Arab Spring – as Tracey focuses on Haiti immediately after her visit to Port-au-Prince just prior to the devastating earthquake of January 2010.

Tracey co-owned the Foundry in Shoreditch, East London for over a decade. In the book she details many events that took place with her there. The many artists from Banksy and YBA members to people putting up their first exhibitions at The Foundry are documented along with the many photographers, musicians, performers and film makers who were also a part of this.

Where Text-Me-Up! offers up a slice of social history and popular culture from the last decade. TWEET-ME-UP! focuses on 2012 and the new communication technologies and behaviours engendered with the advent of social media.


07951 608787 tracey@foundry.tv facebook: Tracey Moberly twitter: Traceytm Instagram: Traceytm

http://www.text-me-up.com/ http://www.tweet-me-up.com/ For information on the Sophie Lancaster Foundation Charity

contact inmemoryofsophie@hotmail.co.uk http://www.sophielancasterfoundation.com

For information on UNDERCURRENTS @ The TATE TANKS contact bethany.bull@tate.org.uk

UPDATE ON OTHER PROJECTS: Yes, I am still writing my first novel, haven’t yet assimilated a book of poetry and have failed to paint any church ceilings.If you would like my mind on your project: I make, listen, learn, look and love with many folk, from Vogue to the BBC, international corporations and cool individuals.
follow on Twitter | friend on Facebook
©KirstyAllison 2012, All rights reserved.

Berlin SubCulture to London NoCulture

Art, Journalism, Money, Music, Politics


I’d been going on at Ernesto Leal to programme Danielle De Picciotto in his Red Gallery in London’s Shoreditch, and am super-proud he invited me to steer this panel.


I knew this picture of Danielle De  Picciotto (with her husband, Alexander Hacke, of Einsturzende Neubatten) prior to knowing much else about her…

It was Chris Bohn, editor of The Wire magazine, who turned me onto Danielle – he was reading her book (The Transgression of Beauty – which I whole-heartedly recommend – she’s a true inspiration, the type of woman I don’t find enough of, and trust her schedule will allow her to perform at Red later this year…) – Alexander Snelling – my boyfriend and I were meeting with Bohn and his girlfriend, Keiko, to discuss a film Alex is directing about psychedelic-techno maverick, Manuel Gottsching (the Berliner who went up a mountain with LSD-guru, Timothy Leary, managed to come down to be chased by Nico, recorded with Ashra Tempel, and made this, the definitive Balearic track, sampled on Sueno Latino, nicked by countless inferiors, re-sampled by Derrick May, who, incidentally, believes Techno is a power greater than the mechanical consciousness feared by The Frankfurt school – which I’ll get to – but let it be known, Gottsching is the DUDE).

So we’ve visited Manuel’s scene in Berlin – and I’ve fallen in love with the city’s embrace of techno-academic philosophies guiding ART (I’m a long-term fan of Christiane F- Hacke’s first girlfriend, and I love the Helmut Newton gallery by Zoo Station, and just knowing that Iggy Pop & Bowie hung out in West Berlin kills me – I’ve been lucky enough to visit amazing private views over the years and have a few of Sven Vath’s Harthouse records, a couple of Kraftwerk, some Detroit, Belgian, some of Jeff Mills Underground resistance and old Tresor records in my collection…) but the biggest appeal to Berlin for me is the rationalisation and need for structural understanding of  CULTURE in the programming at festivals such as Transmediale, and discussions at squatted buildings which support discussion as an essential element of progressing thought and practice – call it Neo-Marxism, or techno-democracy, stemming from The Frankfurt School (which I have State-lectured in – under the guise of Contextual Studies for Media – in the old syllabus for undergrads, before Marxism disappeared from the current outline, which came out shortly after the current government – NB – how the fuck can you discuss technological and democracy without Marxist-models is beyond me – but I find it easy to blame the State’s need to have conforming, non-questioning workers who love life in the Mall – another soapbox/blog, another day)…however, the German need to evaluate is likely the intelligent evolution stemming from their post-Nazi situation, I find an inherent German characteristic is logic and REASON (I don’t care if nationalistic identification is perceived as rascist, again, another soapbox, another blog) AND I love working with Germans for this, in my experience, Germans deliver – and progress is why, when I used to write for NME, DJ, Mixmag and many other publications including The Face, Sky, Dazed and Raygun (before DJing and going onto make music documentaries for BBC Radio) – I was always on about the ELECTRONIC VANGUARD, and that’s what Ernesto’s events have always been about – which is why we’re drawn to each other – but aside from Ecstasy, Peace, Love & Unity, the aspects of rave culture shared by the British and German scene-are people came together from different worlds – when the Berlin Wall fell,  the former-Soviet East and the Western bloc (which had been broken into districts ruled by the ‘Western Allies’, France, the US and Britain – with consultation with West Germany), having parties in warehouses in former GDR-land (German Democratic Republic/Soviet) where ownership and legislation was murky, dancing under initial idealistic ideologies of anarchy and optimism in much the same way as we did around the M25, in pre-Criminal Justice Bill Britain – before super-clubs, capital super-greed and State taxation were instigated by the devisive mega-minds at the top of the power tree –  so what evolved, particularly in the grimy warehouse clubs of Berlin such as E-Werk, and all the ‘stay up forever’ principals of Doctor Motte’s LoveParade, was the Techno philosophy of Newness being the Future.  Space – the final frontier…

Ernesto has a pre-occupying theme of gentrification, which becomes as explosive as Shoreditch rents when combined with Berlin’s 90s trance culture and the MASS POSITIVISM which accompanied the WHITE LIGHT/WHITE NOISE-TOTEM championed by DJs such as Paul van Dyk, a discovery of Mancunian, Mark Reeder who was drawn to Berlin in 1978,  having started The Frantic Elevators with a certain Mick Hucknall – before becoming Factory Records label rep in Berlin, moving into East Berlin – the nutbag – started managing and engineering bands like this female punk band, Malaria!

He formed the band which toured with New Order, Die Unbekannten (as Shark Vegas – a more pop version) with Alister Gray and Thomas Wylder, who went onto drum with Die Haut and Berlin lurkers, Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds:

Setting up a label “Masterminded For Success” MFS – the initials of the Stasi, Ministry for State Security in East Berlin, in 1990 – he encompasses a brilliant musicological ‘rock family tree’ –  stemming from this post-Geniale Dilettentan (Martin Kippenberger-style post-Dada transdisciplinary movement), post-punk East Berlin-isolation, into electronica and trance.  I’m delighted to get the chance to hear him because cultural entrepreneurialism around the delapidation of the Berlin Wall echoed the rave scene I became involved with in London at the age of about 14 – despite a folk-background, I became a wildchild, aware that acid house had the counter-cultural Power to stand as the last revolution against kill sprees and capitalism, to achieve what Flower Power had failed to…sadly, the fantasy failed again -being part of Thatcher’s youth, I was one of the apolitical monghead tools who thought going to a Spiral Tribe rave was a political dancefloor move (huh hurr), but, it meant a generation led the following generations to float in the bland mediocrity of existence, coupled with Generation Fear – those brought up wary of Bin Laden and if not watching Big Brother, being filmed on CCTV- that no-one can ever be bothered to watch (another soapbox – I’m reaching for the stars on those boxes today).

Our economy has been on a downward spiral since acid house – I don’t blame the drugs,  I’m with the half-glass full, Nobel prize-winning economist, Paul Krugman, who suggests LURVE will get us out of our current financial straits – basically, positive spending energy encourages positive energy – embrace, LoveWorks – bring it on, let’s just get in debt forever, it will always be future debt.
I’ve previously said I believe there should be a Global Charter of Corporate Social Responsibility (with relative social ‘taxes’ – not wholly binary, or financial – more altruistic and community-based) and with this in mind, should base-level creative projects, such as bars, clubs, and galleries, and those feeding from their existence such as property people and businesses, support the underground matrix of artists which offer them credo – (Shoreditch being a prime example of essential co-existence – if Westwood and McQueen have lots in Redchurch St, will they want to stay there without a little of the grit that attracts hipsters to Boy – or will East have moved South by then – I suspect the rents will have pushed them there) but an alternative model could perhaps exist through something in the grasps of corporations: Land, and the provision of it to artists – seeing as we cannae squat civilly nae more – from September it will be a criminal offense to squat in the UK,  I would suggest areas encouraged giving land to artists to aid gentrification, perhaps if their taxes and business rates aren’t doing so well, what with all these empty shops – but if it is done borough by borough, communication can exist in a real sense between those who need to be provided for in some sense by those bigger than them – let’s call it the the parental duty of the 1% if they can be philanthropic enough to assist, but we know it’ll never work – as long as there is greed and need…
But I hope THE INNOVATOR, DIMITRI HEGEMANN (who’s the key speaker) can spread some advice here – he gives grants to artists, supports them with one job to lead to another, a good guy – labelled a Techno activist through, what I suspect will be a belief about DIY-ism, he had the Fishburo bar, turned it into the UFO club, before setting up Tresor -does his embrace of Techno side along using the Internet and whatever private-app based networks we can think we’re underground communicating upon – to achieve this – because what this talk at the Red Gallery sets out to do, is explore the relationship between Subculture and Creative Industries – Tresor, being a prime example of a Creative project, so passionate in its advancing of the techno arts that it became a philanthropic sport of Hegemann to provide lifeblood to the underground matrix of artists.  Is it as simple as Subculture being another word for Lifestyle – so said Alvin Toffler, the futurist who is cited by Detroit-Juan Atkins (Cybotron, Model 500) for inspiring him with his writing on ‘techno rebels’ in his book, The Third Wave.  Is it true the underground no longer exists in our networked world, and instead, the choice is Lifestyle – and whose we’re buying into, because Money Corrupts Equality.

And if we have to be part of a Lifestyle, can we do it without guys like Dimitri investing in progressive artists in an era where it’s Google vs The World?  (They have  Orwellian-powers you do not want to believe) –  where does the capital fit in with art?  Currently through gallerists – bless their sweet souls, but howabout musicians – it’s hard out there, and writers – wow – well, I lecture, and have a PHD is Ducking n Diving.  Is it as black and white as being either DIY and thoroughly indie-pendent, is there a rainbow of opportunity to find support through sponsorship as a working class artist – or one that has to work.  To offer complete autonomy to artists takes a truly maverick brand, and in my experience, there are very few who don’t want to imprint some level of Ownership, and a corporate-instigated belief system or another bullshit masquerade.    I love the principals of GEMA (the copyright society of Germany) who are responsible for ‘protecting artistic works’ but such are their endeavors, to protect the artist as a creator, they are superstrict – and German YouTube is not as liberal in content as elsewhere (another blog -Creative Commons etc and the need for ownership).  Is freedom of expression the same thing as freedom of audience – in Idealistic times, yes.  Which seem historical by their very notion – amoral times, ladies and germs (that’s a Garfield-ism, he was my philosophic hero when I was growing up).

Is there a middle ground of compromise where artists don’t have to do as De Picciotto and co did – which was recluse to a castle, only to have a hundred skinheads as their door- or is the point to co-exist, to log-in to culture and leave the studio as and when required, rather than build a wall around culture, forcing us to totally DIY it, leaving our small castles to get attacked – do we need to be more unSocial than Social – UNwiring ourselves to the networks where corporate/capital cyber-control leave Analogue the only freedom fighter in the ongoing flotilla of post-modernism – because even private networks will always be hackable, because people and artists will always be buy-able.  Let’s all go and buy an island of ideals.  It couldn’t possibly be this planet.  What is the revolution?  As I read in Vanity Fair’s current issue, Woody Allen has endorsed Smirnoff, Kurt Vonnegurt – credit cards, Hitchcock- Western Union and Salvador Dali – Alka Seltzer (!) – Bobby Gillespie sold his soul to Uniqlo – if you’re stupid enough to buy it, you’re stupid enough to believe it – but free economy… (another box of soapsuds, another blog).
As I draw to a close, I would suggest the corporate wave of digitalisation has overthrown the Techno dream of a democratic internet, and new-tech or old-school are the NU NEW.  All power to Anonymous, or maybe not an oligarchical portion.  Folk jumpers and the craft they represent worn with iPhones continue into the next season, my darlings…(iPhones, I know, still – despite a recession, what can everyone sport?  The symbol of not being lonely.)
So the velocity of techno-times have passed, to be replaced by the arguments for living anti-Socially whilst being wired in – PHEW – had to get that out –
Techno-culture was always the melting of new forms, dripping towards a virtual existence – we are in that place – where morals have been replaced by armageddon.  The devil’s playground, which is what the underworld and new world’s can offer – Money and art, and where the twixt wane, cultural capital and it’s involvement with the state – let’s embrace the arts and intellectual like a fist full of dollars and challenge and progress at this event on Thursday 7th June.  Which is full  – but message me if you’re super-keen and I maybe able to swish you in under my magic cape…or stay tuned on here, Twitter and my mailing list, and I hope to upload the discussion soon…
My mind is sure of one thing, there needs to be cultural friction, such as that caused in the competition for Berlin to reclaim its capital status against Munich, Frankfurt, Hamburg and the riches of Bavaria – cultural friction causes us to fight for progress, unless we’re just creating, man, either in a fog of auteurism and drugs – what Simon Reynolds enchantingly labels some aspects of techno as, “A full-scale retreat from the most radically posthuman and hedonistically functional aspects of rave music toward more traditional ideas about creativity, namely the auteur theory of the solitary genius who humanizes technology,” or in other words, the bedroom DJ – a precursor to the ‘Dead Boys’ of Japan, who are called so because they literally do not interact with society – and this is the darkside, the last frontier, or crossroads that an artist has to do a deal with the devil at in order to create a new beginning…perhaps the Techno dream has come true.

Crossroads and fringes have to shake their tassels right back to the core to have any effect -Techno was a reaction of modernity, a quest for the future, to live on spaceships, in clinical, scientific beauty – away from the wishy-washy drug music of psychedelia – whether Berlin can continue to do this now that the wall’s come down remains to be seen, or as British politics currently suggest, there is, in fact,  a dark secret that if you Build walls, spectacular things will occur, but only once they’re destroyed.

Where are you moving to next?  I heard Athens is pretty cheap…Britain overlooked the importance of allowing people to live as artists to produce exportable merit.  We’ve been drugged goddamit.  And all nanny wanted to do was help.  I take responsibility…TECHNO FOREVER!!!

(the intro track to this, Sugar Daddy, is made by my ex, Kris Needs – he was double my age, I was young, dumb – and errr, full of…blonde ambition – seriously, I was only just out of my teens…don’t do it, Kids, never mind how much you want to learn…)



Kirsty Allison, London, June 2012

Agent Provocateur

Journalism, Music

First published in the mid-90s, in Dazed or Scene or NME or Muzik or somewhere, I can’t remember.  This is an interview with a band I loved, Agent Provocateur.  READ IT, had me in stitches.  I think Marcus Piggot & Mert Alas must have taken pictures because I’ve got a vague recollection of doing the interview round at theirs…

I lost all my cuts when I left my old place on Exmouth Market…but have just unearthed a vintage Bloomsbury box file of old gonzo journalism drafts and notes…