Friday 3rd February


February arrived with a blast of icy chill and the disconcerting news that two of my favourite haunts in Edinburgh- Cabaret Voltaire and Axolotl Gallery- are to be no more in the very near future. Thankfully in Axolotl’s case it is a matter of relocating rather than closing down but unfortunately it seems as if Cab Vol is leaving us and no matter how many cries of ‘one more tune’ permeate its interiors the doors will close permanently soon .This is sad news not only for me personally but for Edinburgh in general as both venues although poles apart in what they showcased shared a spirit of independence and vive la difference which is essential in establishing the city its own identity. What both represented was an independent wave of relentless individuality in a sea of corporate blandness and thus fulfilled a need as part of the city’s cultural landscape.

Further to this they are both helmed by incredibly strong, indefatigable women that, as coincidence would have it, both answer to the name Sarah-David (Cab Vol) and Wilson (Axolotl) –whose input to the success of these two venues has been inestimable. Within the next couple of weeks I will hopefully be doing feature articles on both of them and discussing the achievements and successes they attained during their tenure. Both venues are also departing with more of a bang than a whimper- I wouldn’t expect anything less- with Axolotl hosting a closing down sale with amazing artworks at discount prices with all proceeds going to Cancer Research and the Cab has a closing night pencilled in for sometime in February – I need to confirm this- so February may be holding some memorable events as I have been ably assisted from both places after evenings of excessive hedonism in the past.

It is rumoured that the Cab is to be replaced by one of those dens of bad taste which pander to the cultural blight that is Stag and Hen Parties. Great! Just what Edinburgh inhabitants need yet another reason to stay in on a Saturday night? At least it will keep the understaffed, cleansing department busy whilst also providing ample opportunity to sneak a first glimpse at what will be available on the singles market in the near future describing themselves as divorcees. Oh well perhaps the youth will get up off their lazy arses and create a scene of their own for the first time in decades.

Elsewhere this week I caught a documentary on BBC2 on Tuesday called My Child The Rioter concerning the London riots in August which gave an interesting insight into parenting in this day and age. Whilst I was in some agreement with the original premise behind the riots- dissatisfied youth with no future being led by a hastily assembled government no-one voted for- it seemed to spiral into opportunism and simply became retail rioting with flat screen TV’s and a new pair of trainers being the solution for many. Whilst I do not want to disparage those who felt they had an axe to grind I do not feel setting fire to local businesses already struggling in the recession and terrorising locals then clearing out Dixons and Foot Locker assisted their cause in anyway.

Things became a little clearer however during this documentary as the parents who agreed to be interviewed alongside their errant offspring seemed even less remorseful than the children they were supposed to be instilling a moral code into. One of the interviewees Lei admitted he heard about the riots and then nipped out and stole two pairs of trainers then made home simply to dump them in a pile of stuff already cluttering up his room. Hardly the actions of someone desperate and doing without is it?  Likewise the army recruit Ian who tried to sell a stolen guitar worth Two Thousand pounds he claimed he bought unsuspectingly for twenty had his mother protesting his innocence saying he simply was not like that at all. Sorry love, but opens your eyes and you might discover that he was caught red handed so he is indeed very much like that. On and on it went with every parent defending their child’s actions the very liberal David merely tut tutted when his son Fabian admitted arson and seemed more alarmed when he revealed he didn’t even know what arson meant until he was charged with it.

The most worrying case however involved a girl who accidentally caught up in the action was wrongly identified as being involved in theft valued at over a hundred thousand pounds, when all she had done, as CCTV footage attested, was lift two odd trainers which she promptly discarded, received a custodial sentence whilst the arsonist received a suspended sentence.  Somehow she still received a custodial sentence whilst the arsonist received a suspended sentence. It showed how unfair the situation which sparked the riots had become as the arsonist from his comfy middle class background was treated more leniently than the working class girl who stole nothing and didn’t destroy someone else’s property.

Perhaps people should be more appreciative of what they have and realise that sometimes the best things in life are free.

You wouldn’t know this however by an experiment carried out in Washington this week wherein internationally renowned violinist Joshua Bell performed six Bach concertos in the subway and remained virtually ignored. This despite two days earlier performing the same pieces at a Boston theatre with seats averaging a $100 apiece which only confirms how self obsessed and unappreciative our culture is becoming. Passers by were probably too busy checking their iphones constantly to remind themselves of how important they think they are- one of my personal pet hates are people who text and read their phones whilst half heartedly engaging in conversation as if to state their importance and diminish yours- or else plugged into the bubble of their ipod. The most attention he received was from a three year old child  promptly dragged away by his impatient mother, so perhaps the future, without the interference of their parents, does lie in the hands of the young after all.

Several good films out this weekend and after the disappointing and lacklustre The Descendants, for which George Clooney has been nominated for an Oscar but was competently out-acted by his Hawaiian shirt and old English Sheepdog grey locks I am looking to be impressed. The first up is Martha Marcy May Marlene (God-awful title) which is already being acclaimed as a cult classic even before its UK Release, followed by the new Polanski offering, Carnage, and Charlize Theron’s latest Young Adult. It looks therefore like a weekend spent in darkened rooms ahead for me though many might add this is nothing new, but they would indeed be wrong.

The Black Keys- a current favourite their album El Camino, all glam stomp, crunchy guitars and euphoric almost disco hook-lines, has been soundtracking my days recently- are on at the Corn Exchange tomorrow so this will replace the Danish drama Borgen as my Saturday night entertainment. Similar to Eddy in the Ab Fab Xmas special I  think I am now fluent in Danish and find myself mumbling unintelligibly at the screen at inopportune moments by way of offering an opinion or insight.. Thank God then for catch up TV and iplayer otherwise I would be having a dilemma worthy of a drama all in its own category, whilst giving an award winning performance of sorts.

Oh, and if anyone is interested someone has exhumed Steve Strange and he is making a one off appearance at The Citrus club tonight where you will probably see him quite literally fade to grey. Nope, didn’t think so but thought I’d mention it anyway. As a remembrance of his heady heyday and a record which helped to ignite a national club scene here is the original video of Fade to Grey from 1981.


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