JUST AN OBSERVATION

Just an Observation

I don’t think anyone can say its been an uneventful week: the collapse of the British Cabinet, Donald Trump’s arrival in the UK, the rescue of twelve young boys and their coach from Thai caves and last but not least the fact that England didn’t after all bring football home.
With all these distractions it is often easy to forget that we are living in a state of permanent freefall so it is good that Theresa May and her shambolic government are there to constantly remind us that this is indeed the case.
The week got off to a bad start with David Davis resigning as Brexit secretary and only got worse when within the next twenty-four hours the buffoon that is Boris Johnson also resigned his post as Foreign Minister. The official reason is they did not agree with her Brexit proposals but whenever Boris Johnson is involved rest assured another agenda will be obvious very soon.
If it wasn’t for the fact that I don’t think any politician in Westminster covets the Prime Minister role- I mean it really is, more than ever before, a thankless and impossible task- I would say he had his eye on that position but I doubt his ego could cope with the unpopularity that goes with it. The thing is no matter how bad it gets with the Tories there is always the likelihood that it is about to get even worse.
May has been truly stitched up by those closest to her but it is hard to feel any sympathy for her as she is as incompetent in her job as they were in theirs. It really is a mess beyond comprehension now and it is hard to belief that it is each and every one of our futures they are playing their childish games around. Seriously I think a stronger cabinet could be found in IKEA.
Then there is the arrival of Donald Trump who seems to think that constantly repeating a lie makes it a truth; he claims the people of the UK like him ‘a lot’ a fact which is negated by the number of very obvious and large demonstrations all over the country, each and every one protesting his arrival on our shores. This man is a threat to our very civilisation and the fact that he seems to be unstoppable signals scary times ahead. He makes no pretence regarding his racism, bigotry, sexism or even his disregard for the disabled or weak.
Somehow this doesn’t seem to matter to his supporters who are deluded into thinking that he is some sort of beacon of hope. It is like living in a nightmare you can’t wake up from and the purpose of his visit here is to set up trade deals for after Britain leaves the EU. What May hasn’t quite grasped is that there is always a loser in any deal with Trump as negotiating is not in his vocabulary and he is already denigrating her before the talks even start- he also thinks Boris would make a great PM so there you go-so I can’t imagine this is going to go well.
Perhaps if the England team hadn’t been beaten by Croatia on Wednesday night and therefore out of the World Cup final then perhaps this would have been a distraction to keep the population down south happy as the country unravelled.
However as they will now have to content themselves with either third or fourth place the dream of football coming home anytime soon is on hold for the moment. Unfortunately the media already had them in possession of the trophy and I suppose Theresa May has an empty cabinet for them to store it in but it is this swaggering arrogance and the behaviour of many of their fans which disappoints more than the efforts of the team which were outstanding and took everyone by surprise. Better luck next time guys!
Away from all this and in some good news the twelve young boys who were stranded in a cave in Thailand after their football coach lost his way have all been rescued-unfortunately one of their rescuers didn’t survive and I think it is important that he is remembered- and it is a story that has cheered the whole world. Whether I am ready for the already discussed movie is another matter.
In a bid to distract from all these tribulations why not get along to see Fur Dixon- ex- Cramps- who is playing at Opium tomorrow Saturday 14th July supported by The Trama Dolls. This looks like being a total belter of a gig and one definitely not to be missed.
Go on treat yourselves…
you know you want to:
Be There or. Be Nowhere!

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JUST AN OBSERVATION

Just an Observation

In a week that the news has seen Donald Trump rip families apart and imprison children in cages it is hard to imagine that there is anything good in the world as this personification of evil grabs the headlines. The fact that he backtracked in the face of such adverse publicity shows not a concern for these distraught children or their heartbroken parents but merely an eye on his poll ratings which let’s face it is the only thing Donald Trump actually cares about.
Even his wife Melania spoke out at the inhumane treatment of these families then blew any notion that she may actually be human by wearing a jacket emblazoned with ‘I Really Don’t Care’ emblazoned on the back, whilst visiting said immigrant children at their detention centre, then insisting it was not a message but merely a jacket. Seriously, are these people for real?
It would seem that any form of outrage or sadness at these situations in the US- although we are playing catch up and not far behind them here- is fruitless as there seems little way to get through to these people and their bigotry, hatred and outright contempt for human beings except themselves and their appointed sycophants,
Trying to stay positive there has been a huge support for Scottish independence in the last week and even small sections of the media are opening up to the possibility that it may be more likely even though-excepting the National- they stop short of any real support. Hopefully the smug arrogance of The Tories, ably assisted by Labour, which precipitated last week’s SNP walkout at Westminster will be a lesson they deservedly live to regret.
Out and about in the capital this weekend there is more than plenty to see and do to distract from the abstract reality we seem to inhabit these days- ironically going out seems to provide a reality more real than the supposed real one we live in on a daily basis. How and when did that actually happen?
First up is the Refugee benefit at Leith Depot this evening which has a great line up including The Primevals, Johnny and The Deadbeats and The Normans all for the great price of £7.50. Doors open at 7.30 so get there early as all the acts are worth catching.
Also on at the National Museum of Scotland in Chamber Street is ‘Rip It Up’ a look back at Scotland’s contribution to pop and rock music over the last sixty years. Included are memorabilia, rarities and artefacts by artists such as Lulu, The Rezillos, Midge Ure, Simple Minds, The Skids, Big Country, Garbage, Franz Ferdinand and Young Fathers.
However the big one this weekend is The Rezillos at Summerhall on Sunday at 7pm which is the grand closing gig from a series at the venue over the last week which included The Skids and Big Country on a double bill. The Rezillos however will be a mighty show and with The Trama Dolls opening for them it is bound to be a night to remember.
Oh and if anyone is still interested the Edinburgh International Film Festival is also on, although I must admit I have found my appetite for this waning over the last few years but this year must admit I have lost interest completely.
There is also the matter of some football tournament that is called, I do believe, The World Cup. I must admit that I have found myself quite taken with it much against my natural instincts. Admittedly I am unable to distinguish which team is which as their strips confuse me; however that doesn’t matter as it is quite aesthetically pleasing to watch!

JUST AN OBSERVATION

Just an Observation

It has been a while since politics has been a benign area where things run smoothly and in some relative order but this last week has been particularly inventive especially with the midweek SNP walkout during Prime Minister’s Question Time when they made it clear enough was enough.
Of course Donald Trump’s highly publicized visit to North Korea and his ‘summit’ with Kim Jong-un also made headlines with the assertion that North Korea was now a safer place but how much faith I place in that is highly disputable.
Back to the SNP walkout though and it certainly was interesting to see a party actually stand up not just for their constituents but for their country in general. The power-grab that Westminster instigated with less than twenty minutes debating time and not one member from Scotland being allowed to speak due to Tory filibustering- an antiquated method of blocking any serious debate that is a methodology they consistently return to but needs to be seriously reconsidered- was a shocking display of arrogance and contempt. It totally undermined the devolution process which has served Scotland and Wales well for nigh in twenty years.
Well done Ian Blackford and the rest of the SNP representatives for having the balls to stand up to this bullying and hateful attitude –when asked what the SNP could do about the situation a Tory response, to much jeering and laughter was ‘commit suicide’. I’ll just leave that remark there for a second and let it sink in!

It is really quite shocking that such a hateful response can be allowed to pass with no reprimand from the House Speaker whatsoever. Imagine if this took place in a school playground, or on social media, or a workplace or just anywhere else you would like to consider. Would it be considered acceptable? I very much doubt it so why then is it acceptable in the House of Commons by elected MPs? I am seriously baffled by this and am left in no doubt that the Tory party have no respect for Scotland whatsoever and possibly never have done.
The whole situation has obviously galvanized the Scottish electorate however as the SNP increased their membership by 5085 in the 24 hours following this incident which has been rather derogatorily referred to as a stunt and amateur dramatics by the jeering, boorish Tory party who would know more about such things than anyone else I suppose.
Meanwhile Donald Trump continued in his role as world saviour and advocate of peace and harmony- when he’s not tweeting about bombing people that is- when he visited North Korea to meet with Kim Jong-un this week in an apparent bid to persuade the dictator to give up his nuclear arms programme. There are many theories surrounding this and let’s face it when Trump is involved anything is possible. My own personal theory is that he misread his diary and was probably convinced he had a follow-up meeting with another Kim-of the Kardashian variety- and merely wanted to continue their conversation regarding who is versus who has the biggest arse in the world right at this moment.
Sometimes when it all gets too much- most of the time these days- there is very little else to do other than embrace hedonism and this is exactly what I intend on doing today. Or rather I am going to see a film which documents Studio 24 where hedonism was the byword for entry into an exclusive nightclub and world which is still legendary today. Really looking forward to this one and a review will be up as soon as I have seen it.
Also there are a few very worthwhile gigs coming up over the next month in the capital-before The Fringe returns and disrupts our lives for the whole of August- kicking off with The Rezillos at Summerhall on Sunday June 24th, then there is former Cramps bassist Fur Dixon at Opium on Saturday July 14th and last but very much not least there is legendary Sylvain Sylvain of The New York Dolls alongside The Filthy Tongues at the Voodoo Rooms on Friday the 27th.
All in all plenty to be getting on with!

McQueen

McQueen

The legend that is Alexander ‘Lee’ Mc Queen and his legacy ripped at the heart of the fashion from his earliest recognized appearance in the early nineties. His legacy runs even deeper than even his impressive legend though and his contribution and art of tailoring can never be underestimated.
This film co-directed by Ian Bonhôte and Peter Ettedgui strives to bring together the disparate strands of his already well documented life and place them into sharper focus and succeeds in most of its intentions. Dividing the film into chapters relating to his most famous and iconic collections provides a cohesion to the chaos of a too short life.
For die-hard Mc Queen aficionados there is little in the way of new information and the usual suspects such as the drugs, the liposuction, the HIV diagnosis, the various lovers. The Givenchy years, the Gucci deal, Kate Moss as hologram and the well documented mutual ‘love’ affair with Isabella Blow and its subsequent fall-out all make an appearance and somehow only add to the enigma.
The Isabella Blow sequence is of particular interest as it reveals the ruthlessness of his ambition as she is tossed aside when the real money starts to flow in. Some would argue that her work was done and there was no longer a position for her in the new regime- Blow never operated well in any restrictive circumstances and serious business requires a discipline she perhaps didn’t possess- but there is a feeling that she was discarded at a vulnerable time in her life and her subsequent suicide indicates she never quite got over this rejection from someone she had placed so much time, faith and energy in.
However if Blow took the rejection hard there is also the sense that McQueen himself never really forgave himself as her death precipitated an inherent sadness and tendency towards the grotesque and macabre which became even more apparent in his work than it had been previously; it had always been there but now it was prevalent and heavy hanging memento mori.
The footage of the shows however is simply transcendent and this is where the film shines as it serves to remind us of his genius. The early shows put together from unemployment benefit and quite literally rolls of cling-film are especially intriguing as although the clothes are un-wearable facsimiles of them exist even now on the fringes of mainstream fashion whilst some of them have had major fashion moments.
An intriguing film which whilst offering nothing new reminds us of a time when fashion actually meant something- nowadays the time between catwalk and chain store mass production is the blink of a camera shutter- and was both inspirational and aspirational rather than disposal.
McQueen himself states in the film that if he died then he wouldn’t want his line to continue in his name and the collection I saw recently in Harvey Nichols merely confirms his worst fears; commerce before art. As any purist will agree the McQueen line died with the man himself.

Just An Observation

Just An Observation

As the results filter in from the English local elections there are no great surprises as the Tories manage to hold onto vulnerable seats and make gains in others whilst Labour-in the wake of anti-Semitism smears and unfounded Russian collusion sympathies- struggled somewhat not making the progress many expected and hoped for. Then again we are living in an abstract reality created by a power-hungry media who seem to be driving the feeling of the country further and further to the right; which is so very , very wrong.
Admittedly I have given up any hope in expecting any truth from the mainstream media and have totally abandoned any belief in the BBC news which seems to be feeding propaganda with such a clear intention that I am amazed how many- and it is a growing number judging by these latest results- are actually taken in by it. I suppose however that people only believe what they want to and if they are comfortably off then they adapt the rhetoric to what they want to be hearing rather than what is actually being said.
It used to be that a week in politics was a long time now it seems that opinions are changed on a daily basis as has been proven yet again this week after Amber Rudd resigned as Home Secretary –actually to claim she was a human shield and sacrifice for the hugely incompetent and cowardly Theresa may would be closer to the truth- to be replaced by Sajid Javid in the wake of the Windrush scandal.
After adopting the Tory meets Blackadder power stance, in an unfortunate but highly amusing photo shoot which saw the window behind him clearly feature the word ‘asshole’, Javid declared after accepting the role to get to the bottom of the debacle which has seen many long-time UK citizens deported from their home country and hold those responsible accountable.However only forty-eight hours later, in a total volte-face, he voted against any of the details of the enquiry into the scandal being made public. It would seem it is now completely acceptable to blatantly lie and get away with it. And still people vote for them!
Meanwhile over in Trump’s America the ridiculous Kanye West is claiming that slavery must have been a lifestyle choice.
Seriously?
His reckoning that as it went on for over four hundred years must mean that people went into it voluntarily beggars belief but what is really amazing is that this overpaid, pampered musician- married to a reality star who actually has fat injected into her arse to make it bigger- and is obviously on the lowest end of the intelligence scale is given a platform to spout this nonsense. It is insulting beyond almost anything I have heard in recent times and an indictment of just exactly is wrong with our world today.
Closer to home it would seem things are no better with the release this week of the plans showing the monstrosity that is planned for Stead’s Place in Leith Walk thereby seeing the demolition of Leith Depot, Punjabi Junction and several other essential local businesses as well as replacing the aesthetically pleasing existing frontage. The plans when they were revealed were totally incongruous and far worse than anyone could actually have imagined. Totally hideous!
If any locals haven’t already signed the Save Leith Walk petition or attended any meetings then I urge you do so as this is more than just the loss of local businesses, community and a much needed live music venue it is the destruction of Leith’s history.
It is not all doom and gloom on the capital however as May 17th sees the return of the fantastic The Trama Dolls to live performance at a gig presented by exciting new music company Fresh Produce aiming to showcase new bands in a double bill line up. The first Fresh Produce production sees The Trama Dolls alongside Glasgow two piece Run Into The Night. Anyone who has seen The Trama Dolls in the past is no doubt aware they were always an exciting proposition but having undergone some personnel changes they are looking forward to an even brighter future. Certainly not a gig to be missed and tickets are already selling fast. Looks like Sneaky Pete’s is the place to be come May 17th.
As if this wasn’t enough on the Edinburgh musical front the following evening- May 18TH- the intriguing Voicex led by ex-Scar Paul Mackie make their debut at The Voodoo Rooms.
Two great gigs on two successive nights:
Edinburgh what are you thinking?
Edinburgh get off your arses and get out there!

WESTWOOD;PUNK, ICON, ACTIVIST/ HERE TO BE HEARD:THE STORY OF THE SLITS

Westwood: Punk, Icon, Activist/
Here to be Heard: The Story of the Slits

In the year which celebrates a 100 years of women having the right to vote it is fitting that two very different tales-with some connecting threads- of how women gained a strength then took that acquired power and used it as a means of expressing this recently found freedom through fashion and music. Athough the stories of Westwood and The Slits are very different and have vastly opposing outcomes in terms of financial success- Westwood has a global business generating millions whilst The Slits have still to recoup the advance on their nearly 40-year-old debut album- they do have a shared and significant starting point: Punk!
Technically Westwood had moderate success before punk but it is her association with Malcolm McLaren and The Sex Pistols –whom McLaren managed- that she first became widely recognised and forever associated with.
Not that this is something that she wants to discuss in the documentary by Lorna Tucker. In fact it would seem that Westwood is reluctant to discuss anything of this era or any other in this documentary by Lorna Tucker as she appears curmudgeon like, awkward, brusque and downright rude whether she is aware she is being filmed or not.
Often the viewer is left wondering why she agreed to participate in this film at all as she waives most questions with a haughty air, rarely even making eye contact with the camera at all. Having since distanced herself from the film it is easy to see why as she is painted in a very unflattering light although this is no fault of Tucker who continually tries to draw out Westwood’s more pleasant side. Despite this car crash quality-or maybe because of it- it is still extremely watch-able whilst the clothes are never anything less than exquisite and her influence can never be underestimated.
Perhaps Tucker should have made the film about Westwood’s husband Andreas Kronthaler as he makes for fascinating subject matter, more than willing to discuss anything even if he is like a comic creation of Sacha Baron Cohen; a figure of ridicule who takes himself so very, very seriously.
The only time Westwood’s icy demeanour melts a little is, ironically enough, when she is discussing climate change. One is left with the feeling that this is a subject she would happily talk about for hours and hours on end.
By comparison Tessa Pollitt and the former Palmolive of The Slits seem more than happy to recount their glory days as members of all girl band The Slits as it at last focussing on their side of the story as previously the media focussed on the perspectives of the late Ari Up- who sadly passed away in 2010- and Viv Albertine. Like Westwood, The Slits have a great legacy and were hugely influential in the punk and post punk era.

Their debut album ‘Cut’ is a classic which transcends the era that bore it due to it sounding nothing like anything else either then or even now (by default they were the first band I ever saw live in my early teens as they supported The Clash on 1977’s White Riot tour and being the opening band therefore makes them my first live music experience). The fact that it was produced by young women with a fierce attitude and a blinding vision was a revelation at the time is this is simply not how women were supposed to behave or look; at least in the nineteen seventies male dominated patriarchal society. Patti Smith may have opened the door for them but The Slits booted it in, and then used that same door as a weapon thus making sure it would never close again.
Albertine makes an appearance and is always a worthy contributor but her side of the story was more than ably told in her 2014 book Clothes, Music, Boys and one feels this is more Pollitt’s and to a lesser extent Palmolive’s film.
Although the overall feel of the film is occasionally disjointed there is some very fascinating early footage captured by Don Letts which raises the interest quotient somewhat. When it does begin to drag around the time of the reunion tour another dimension still remains as some of the last ever clips of Ari Up not too long before she dies give the whole thing a sentimental twist one doesn’t normally associate with The Slits.
Now that the 40th anniversary of punk in 2016 has passed both of these films can stand alone in their re-telling of an era which forever changed the landscape of the country; with things in even more disarray now than they were then perhaps neither are films of sentiment or history but a lesson in how to drag a sexist,racist, backward, bigoted country with delusions of grandeur out of the quagmire it has entrenched itself in.

JUST AN OBSERVATION

Just An Observation

This week the British Government decided to partake in a Carry On style Bond film giving rise to the fact that perhaps Ken Dodd had scripted it before his death last Sunday. ‘To Russia with a Yah, Boo, Sucks’ has a slightly implausible plot wherein a Russian double agent was poisoned by a highly traceable nerve agent that could have been administered by anyone but, according to that ever reliable source of truth Theresa May, was apparently the doing of the Kremlin.
Rushing to put the super power in its place was her weedy Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson, obviously taking diplomacy lessons under the tutelage of Boris Johnson, who stated ‘Russia should go away and should shut up’ despite having the look of a man who finds it hard to fight sleep never mind the Russians.
The whole situation seems to be embedded in a tissue of lies, mis-truths and clouded facts that seem to point anywhere other than Russia and this comes from one who has little sympathy for the nation which houses gay concentration camps where homosexuals are beaten, tortured and even killed for their sexual orientation.
It would seem that the only person who seemed to offer up any reason in the face of all these claims and accusations was Jeremy Corbyn and for simply demanding proof and clarification was branded ‘Putin’s Puppet –courtesy that bastion of truth and righteousness The Sun although the Daily Hail also attacked him- despite merely asking that some evidence should be shown before action was taken.
Of course by this point Theresa May, sick of being called weak and unstable, had ordered the removal of Russian diplomats from the UK opening up the possibility of further unrest; probably following her Thatcher rulebook she has decided that what she needs to rescue her plummeting popularity is a war of somewhat and we all know how the Tories love a war especially if it distracts from their own incompetence.
As a sub plot in this far-fetched movie we have the aforementioned Theresa May removing free school meals from the most impoverished children in England and Wales-not Northern Ireland funnily enough as the DUP were required a sweetener in order to secure their support in this abominable action- but at least the rise in food banks her government has kindly necessitated means they may not actually starve completely.
Seriously I ask myself what sort of country is the UK becoming and why does what feels like being in a bad movie turn out to be real life?
All the while we laugh and sneer at the US and their bumbling buffoon of a President- I feel the Russian situation is in someway a point scoring exercise with him- while our own country lurches towards perilous disaster on a daily basis.
On a more local matter I was saddened this week that it seems that Leith Depot and its surrounding businesses on Leith Walk is now more than likely to close down within the next year and a half to make way for student accommodation. Of course the prerequisite Starbucks and Sainsbury’s will appear soon after as students can’t possibly be expected to survive without these two essentials and they especially need to be housed right next to each other otherwise disorientation sets in.
I personally will be sad to see Leith Depot go as it provides the necessary community requirement of live music- alongside great atmosphere and fantastic food- in an area which is starved of it. Unfortunately Edinburgh Council seems only interested in students and tourists whilst its residents and their requirements always seem to come pretty far down the list of priorities. I see it no small coincidence that talk of the trams being extended is suddenly news again; I mean after all what more pleasant way is there to starting your day than picking up your meal deal, popping next door for a skinny soy latte then taking a tram into town up to the university.
Meanwhile the locals lose an array of local small businesses in an area which until recently has been resistant to the gentrification which the student population automatically engenders. Leith has been a student free zone until the last few years and one of the reasons I left Marchmont to move here was that Marchmont was essentially a student area and I know what living amidst that entails. By the way I have nothing against students it is just that I don’t feel Leith needs to be populated by them.
Anyway I wonder what the next week will bring in the worst scripted Bond movie of all time: perhaps Theresa May will reveal spiked poison tips in her leopard print kitten heels a la Rosa Klebb or we will discover Boris Johnson is in fact Ernst Stavros Blofeld with his worst ever makeover. Who Knows? As long as it doesn’t involve any of its players emerging from the sea in a pair of tight blue Speedos as that is box office poison by anyone’s standards. Fantasy seems to have overtaken reality anyway but unfortunately that is nowhere as good as it seemed when it remained a mere concept.

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