Archive for the ‘ JUST AN OBSERVATION ’ Category

JUST AN OBSERVATION

Just an Observation

Confirming my assertions last week that we are living in a world in seemingly permanent freefall this week has brought light to producer Harvey Weinstein’s decades of abuse towards women.
Whilst it should come as no surprise to anyone that Hollywood moguls in positions of power would violate their positions of power and influence- this scenario is as old as Hollywood itself- but it is the extent of his abuse that is shocking. What is just as shocking is that it has been an ‘open secret’ in the industry for years and no-one has thought to speak out about it until last week when the floodgates opened.
This in itself exposes a darker underbelly to Hollywood life as it is not that industry insiders have only just discovered this vile information and decided to do something about it but that they have known it has existed for years and done absolutely nothing about it whatsoever. It was only the threat and eventual inevitability of it becoming public knowledge that necessitated some action; they haven’t just found out about it but we-the public- have and that is unacceptable and has a whole industry running scared as I doubt Weinstein is the only perpetrator.
Meanwhile Weinstein grew in power and influence gaining more control and support enabling him to wield such a reign of terror; here my thoughts turn to Marilyn Monroe on her marriage to Joe DiMaggio- an influential figure in the sporting world – expressing her relief that she no longer had to provide the obligatory blowjob in order to secure a part. If a star such as Monroe still felt obligated to prostitute herself –her career was up and running at this point- then imagine how intimidated and pressurised a younger and more unknown actress might feel.
Spiralling from the Weinstein fallout is another telling story in that Ben Affleck was quick to hold his hand up and apologise for some of his past predatory actions but denied having any knowledge of Weinstein’s behaviour. Untrue, countered actress Rose McGowan followed by a heated and abusive exchange which found her suspended from Twitter for inappropriate language.
Yes, this is the same Twitter which allowed the President of the United States to use heated and abusive language to virtually declare war on North Korea. Again it is the woman who was silenced and put in her place-for daring to answer back and challenge- whilst the male of the species run rampant doing whatever they please it would seem
Of course with America having a President who advocates sexual assault and abuse on women- and is actually on tape doing so- is seen to get away with such indecency but still manages to get elected then it is time to realise the problem lies much deeper than politics or the entertainment industry. It is a sad indictment, yet again, of the world we live in.
Over here in the (not so) United Kingdom our very own emboldened female Prime Minister- snigger away at the back please- is unfortunately the worst example of a woman who has made her way to the top on her abilities by messing up everything she touches by her sheer incompetence.
The Brexit fiasco- and it is a fiasco-is a total shambles and sixteen months on is no further forward in any shape or form: it seems to be a stop start game of truth or dare without anyone either telling the truth or being daring. May herself is unable to answer the simplest question on any issue; if asked what two and two was she would probably reply that it is a number but there are all manner of things to be considered and there is government department dealing with this and it is strong and stable on and on and etc., ad nauseam….
At least Boris Johnson has had a thankfully quiet week and it was good to see Nicola Sturgeon –now there is a woman who is on the ball and has used intelligence, integrity and insight to achieve what she has and even answers a question when asked- lay into him and actually say that he is a liability in the position of Foreign Minister. Admittedly, his own party should be saying this but it was refreshing to hear what so many of us think at last.
Out and about in the city tonight is another worthwhile Refugee Benefit at the Leith Depot. The last one was excellent and this one features Little Love and the Friendly Vibes, Cat Caldwell and Screamin’ Whisper; doors open at 7.30. I meanwhile will be participating in a David Bowie quiz at the Pond but may stop in after to buy a drink with my winnings

Advertisements

JUST AN OBSERVATION

Just an Observation

This past week has certainly confirmed the fact that the world is in a bit of a mess at the moment and shows no signs of pulling itself together anytime soon.
Things started off badly with disgusting scenes at polling stations in Spain as Catalonians made a bid for independence and met with brutal force from authorities who are generally there to protect people. The scenes were quite horrific to watch and even though the vote was in favour of independence it is regarded as an illegal referendum by the Spanish government. The EU has since upheld this view and the violent altercations that were seen around the world have been dismissed as the authorities using ‘reasonable’ force.
Really?
On what planet exactly does kicking a middle-aged woman down a flight of stairs and dragging her by her hair constitute ‘reasonable force’?
Meanwhile over in Trump Land –every day I hate Donald Trump a little more and every day I wonder how that is even possible but he never fails to deliver- the most ridiculous President in history told the people of Puerto Rico that they should feel blessed at being struck by a natural disaster as its death toll was not as great as one that the US had several years ago. I am not sure when a death count of human lives became a competition but it seems to endear this orange faced buffoon to enough people to keep him in office.
Once again how is this even possible?
Not that over here in the (not so) United Kingdom we have any real right to sneer and snigger as our own political system is also an international joke.
First up we have our own straw-haired buffoon in the unsightly shape of Boris Johnson; the Foreign Secretary who thinks that a war-shattered Libya could become a worthwhile tourist resort in the manner of Dubai as soon as the dead bodies are cleared away. I seriously cannot comprehend how this man holds onto his job and further dismay engulfs me every time I hear a member of his party refer to him as some sort of ‘rock star’ figure.
Again I ask myself, on what planet?
He was however superseded in the idiot stakes as Teresa May took the stage at the Conservative Party Comedy Farce in Manchester this week.
Struggling to talk through a coughing fit- as if her own body was rejecting the bile coming out of her mouth- a member of the audience then handed her a P45. We are supposed to believe somehow that this party is in charge of our national security when they can’t even control the security at their own conference. Then the set behind her began to disassemble itself until it was like the opening credits of a Fawlty Towers episode. It would be funny if it wasn’t so tragically frightening.
This will surely go down as the worst Prime Minister’s speech ever and I doubt that even her smug arrogance can save her from the wolves in her party. With Boris waiting in the wings however I fear that things will get a lot worse long before they ever get better.
If you need something to take you away from all this mayhem then I suggest maybe going to see the new Bladerunner 2049 film out today.
Although it is not exactly a barrel of laughs it does have the bonus of having Ryan Gosling, Jared Leto, Robin Wright, Harrison Ford and Ana de Armas to look at. Any fans of the original film will not be disappointed. Set, like the original, in a near future dystopia it is a master-class in film-making; the music and cinematography are simply stunning and the cast is top-notch.
A full review –with no plot spoilers- can be found here.
To make some sense of a crazy week in world affairs I am heading off to a Grace Jones themed club night at the Wee Red Bar in the Art College- the culmination of a two day symposium of the celebrated Ms. Jones- as at least her form of (un) reality and artifice is one I can actually relate to and stomach!
Maybe Grace can save us all. There but for the God of Grace go I!

JUST AN OBSERVATION

Just an Observation

Bypassing summer completely this year we seem to have arrived at an early mid-autumn and all that brings with it.
On the plus side a vast improvement in films at the cinema, television programmes other than just endless sport, slightly more reliable weather in keeping with the date on the calendar and a good reason to eat comforting foods- not that the latter ever requires any reason at any time of year really.
On the minus side the slightly darker evenings are just a precursor to seemingly permanent darkness, cold biting winds and rain, endless layers of clothes in a misguided attempt to stay warm, endless chats with everyone about how awful the weather is and an insatiable appetite for comfort food!
It also means that the parliamentary summer recess is over and once again we have to reconcile ourselves with seeing politicians we despise on the news on almost a daily basis.
I had almost wiped out the sight and sounds of Theresa May from my mind when up she popped last week and reminded me once again just how insincere, annoyingly delusional and smugly arrogant she actually is. Mind you she has some stiff competition from Jacob Rees-Mogg in all of the aforementioned categories and sometimes you wonder whether there is a competition within the Tory party to see just how misguided and evil it is possible to be and still somehow manage to get people to vote for you.
I find it all quite bewildering!
Both going out and staying in are preferable ideals at this time of year and as already mentioned cinematic offerings are infinitely preferable to the blockbuster fodder served up over the summer months.
One film definitely worth seeing, possible contender for film of the year, is Francis Lee’s God’s Own Country starring Josh O’ Connor and Alec Secareanu as mismatched lovers set against the bleak but beautiful Yorkshire landscapes. Annoyingly referred to as a British Brokeback Mountain, a lazy comparison which does this tender yet brutal film a disservice as the beauty and harshness of this film has more bite, genuine emotion and gritty realism than the aforementioned Hollywood fare, which only tipped its toe in the water by way of contrast.
A moving and oddly sentimental film which refuses to drown itself in schmaltz; God’s Own Country, like Weekend before it, shows a new sensibility in gay film making which steps out beyond the gay theme at their core to show a more universal approach to relationships in general.
In direct contrast to this the other great film out at the moment is Steven Soderbergh’s Logan Lucky which really is a product of Hollywood although it is far from being mere Hollywood product.
Featuring a virtually unrecognisable Daniel Craig, who has stepped well out of his comfort zone, alongside Channing Tatum, Adam Driver and Hilary Swank it is that old Hollywood staple, the heist film. Somehow it works and although it is totally fantastical it is a thoroughly entertaining and compelling film which does not insult your intelligence. Against all the odds I actually loved it!
Even television schedulers seemed to have lightened up to the fact that after being bombarded with sport over the summer months autumn is the time to return to drama. Rellik on BBC1 has some great promise as a small screen Brit version of Memento- the story unfolds in reverse- but was marred by the BBC affliction of bad sound-why can’t they apply this whenever Theresa May is on screen?- which along with the difficult narrative structure makes it hard to follow. I watched it again on iPlayer and it is certainly worth sticking with. Likewise ITV’S Safe House with Stephen Moyer and Ashley Walters is marred by the channel’s annoying adverts every five minutes stance which ruins any sort of atmosphere or tension.
Tonight also sees the return of the worthwhile Refugee Benefit Nights at Leith Depot and what a line up there is for their return; The Safari Surfers, Mattie Collins, The Omega Corridor and the Filthy Tongues’ front-man Martin Metcalfe in a solo outing. Looks like being a great night and for only £7.50 and for a good cause what is there not to like!
Image by Liz Tainsh.

JUST AN OBSERVATION

Just an Observation

Well less than a week to go until the Fringe kicks off officially and already the streets are busying up.However to add to the chaos of all the road works, especially around the Leith Street area where the demolition of the St. James Centre has been causing problems before this busy season, there is the added prospect of the new security barriers/gates stationed in the Royal Mile and its surrounding areas to add to the confusion and frustration.
Whilst I think it is admirable that the council are at least implementing safety measures and can now be seen to be doing something, I do question whether this is the wisest decision. Apparently they are in place to prevent terror attacks such as the one on London Bridge where a vehicle ram-raided several victims injuring many and killing eight. However as the congested traffic of the Fringe rarely moves at little more than two miles per hour- a slight exaggeration maybe- if at all then the likelihood of anyone gaining enough speed in their vehicle to cause any serious harm is highly unlikely. My attentions run more to the Manchester Arena attack wherein a suicide bomber had his targets inside a venue and struck there. These security gates may slow down entry to the busiest area of the town at its peak time of the year but they will also slow down any escape if something tragic was to occur in this designated area. I am sure the council have considered this and have safety measures in place but if not these gates pose more of a risk than anything else.
As for the Fringe itself, as said before the streets are hotting up and yesterday the Royal Mile was in full flow. I can only imagine it is a matter of time before I am shouting at dithering tourists to get out my way; a matter only made worse if it is raining and judging by summer 2017 so far I think this is already an inevitability. Then again we may have used up our rain supplies for this year already. I certainly hope so.
Elsewhere the BBC and Channel 4 have been celebrating 50 years of gay rights and the repeal of anti-homosexual laws in 1967. Watching some of these documentaries, films etc. has brought it hom to me how far we have come in the last fifty years and how much society has changed its attitudes with each successive generation. It is quite bewildering to think of the fear the gay community lived in before these changes in the law were made. Now being gay has been subsumed by mainstream media and culture not that the work is ever done as there is always someone trying to inflict their bigoted and harmful views and opinions on any impressionable minds willing to listen. In the main though the last fifty years are definitely something to celebrate and reflect upon.
In complete contrast over in the Trumpton States of America Trump has announced that transgendered people can no longer serve in the military. Whether this is legal or not has still to be confirmed but it does beg the question who is actually pulling his strings behind the scenes. Certainly his tweets reveal am impetuous, irresponsible and irrational egotist but the systematic removal of the heads of significant departments in a manner of months shows a calculated mind I honestly don’t think he possesses. His outbursts and tantrums are merely a front to distract from the evil going on behind the scenes.
Out today is the long-awaited new Arcade Fire album and on first listens mighty impressive it is too. Less sprawling than their last offering and its lead off single- and title track- Everything Now would have been the perfect summer anthem if we had had any kind of summer at all.
Oh well, at least we have the Fringe to look forward to!

JUST AN OBSERVATION

Just an Observation

So it transpires the British Biased Corporation are a little bit sexist in the way they decide what rate of pay to pay their ‘stars’. It would seem that if you are of the male persuasion then it is highly likely that you will be paid considerably-quite considerably- more than if you are female. It makes me wonder whether the recent appointment of Jodie Whittaker as the long overdue first female Dr. Who is simply a money-saving exercise disguised as a step into the more gender fluid and equality based 21st Century, but we will come back to that later.
It wasn’t just the gender based pay gap which was shocking however but the actual levels of pay themselves were quite astounding: Chris Evans on over 2 million basic, Gary Lineker on 1.5 million, Graham Norton on 850, 000 and trailing behind the highest paid female Claudia Winkleman on 500, 000.
It would seem that the more irritating you are the higher you get paid- Gary Lineker is probably the least irritating out of this bunch although his Twitter response was regarded as smug but was really just a misjudged attempt at irony- and why anyone would want to pay Vanessa Feltz £350,000 for anything other than to just go away permanently is beyond me.
There has been talk since the pay gap was revealed that perhaps by lowering the male salaries to bring them onto line with those of the females is a solution but somehow I can’t really see that happening. Can you?
Meanwhile whilst this debacle was raging its way through the headlines and stealing the limelight the government very sneakily brought in an earlier start to new legislation raising the retirement age to 68. Funny there was no mention of this in their manifesto before the election. It is almost like they thought it might lose them votes and therefore best not to position it alongside such sure-fire election winners such as Fox Hunting and the Dementia Tax. I mean Really!
Back to the other BBC scandal this week which was the appointment of the first female Dr. Who, Jodie Whittaker. Personally I can’t see what the fuss is about as the idea of a time travelling alien with two hearts who can regenerate almost at will whilst flying around in a blue 1960’s style police box is hardly grounded in reality itself. It could certainly introduce a new slant on the ‘it’s bigger on the inside’ line frequently used in the programme.
I feel similar to how I felt when John Barrowman played Captain Jack Harkness –in both Dr. Who and its anagram spin-off Torchwood- that it was a huge and positive step forward for gay role models on television. I mean a gay man who is not only immortal with special powers but also on the right side of good-looking was a new thing on television.
The fact that Barrowman went onto blow it by going all musical theatre on us is irrelevant; it was the fact that gay men could be shown in a positive light that was new. What was important was the belief that he was virtually indestructible which meant that he didn’t have to die or suffer too much for his perceived sins which was both innovative and refreshing. Somewhere out there teenage boys struggling with their sexuality had a positive role model that could make them feel better about themselves as opposed to troubled gay men on TV who came beset with a whole set of issues merely to make them appear interesting and give them a raison d’etre. The other TV stereotype was the mincing queen which was generally stripped of any sexuality at all. Barrowman ushered in a new breed of desirable gay men.
I am hoping Whittaker has the same impact on young girls and helps to break down the socially constructed binary gender rules which have been stifling western growth for generations. Hopefully this is a step forward in smashing those restrictive walls. On a personal level she is lovely as I met her during last year’s film festival when she was promoting her film Adult Life Skills and we even danced at a cailidh –Kim Cattrall also joined us- so I can now say I have actually danced with Dr. Who. And she was a FEMALE! Bonus!
Now let’s hope she is paid accordingly and at the same rate as previous Doctors.
Still struggling with the upcoming Fringe and have ‘narrowed down’ my possible shows to a slightly impossible sixty-six so a bit more streamlining is needed. It doesn’t help that it still all seems so far away-even though it is only two weeks- as the weather still feels like it is late winter/early spring. I wish it would hurry up and catch up before the summer is over and it hasn’t even started!

JUST AN OBSERVATION

Just an Observation

Rain, rain and yet even more rain!
The end of June and it would seem that in Scotland-and other parts of the country- it feels more like winter with wellies, winter jumpers and even the central heating back on. Hurry up summer!
The sun certainly hasn’t shone on our public services such as nurses, fire-fighters and the police this week when an amendment to allow them a much-needed and well deserved pay-rise was denied them. This is despite them having been stretched to their limits recently with terror attacks, the Grenfell Tower fire tragedy and being generally short-staffed and grossly underpaid for the work they do.
And just who was it who denied them this long overdue pay-rise?
Step forward the new Tory/DUP alliance that have possibly made their first fatal error in their guise as our hastily assembled new government.
Let us not forget also that the DUP received 1.5 billion pounds as a ‘bribe’ only days before from the Tories as a means of propping up their minority government and backing them in decisions such as these.
Let us also not forget that it was announced that the Queen is also to receive a pay rise from the government in the near future alongside the 365 million pounds to do up her Buckingham Palace residence.
And let us certainly remember that when it was announced in the House Of Commons that Labour had lost their battle to lift the pay cap on these much-needed and sadly depleted public services that the Tory side of the house cheered. They actually cheered.
Theresa May may have claimed when talking to a nurse during her disastrous election campaign that there was ‘no magic money tree’ to shake for anyone who asked but somehow seems to have found said money tree when it is needed to buy her votes in parliament or when one of the richest people in the world needs one of their houses done up. Maybe the magic money tree has its roots somewhere in the North Sea, in the oil we keep being told is virtually worthless!
Five more years of this?
I sincerely hope not!
And still it rained…
Talking of rain it would seem that rainy season aka the Edinburgh Fringe and Festival are on the horizon. Not had much time to check out the programme as yet but will get onto it in the next week. I certainly hope it is more exciting than last year’s offerings which I felt were treading water. So much has happened over the tumultuous last two years- perhaps last year we were too much in the most of it all happening for it to be captured- that there is a wealth of scenarios that can be adapted and turned into effective dramas.
Mind you how you turn the events of recent times into something for the stage when the actuality is pretty fantastical and unbelievable itself is a tall order for any writer. Certainly it is something that is hard to top.
What I would say I already recognise as unmissable are live shows by PJ Harvey, Jarvis Cocker, a David Bowie based play ‘ Ibiza to the Norfolk Broads’, a Jock Scot memorial with John Cooper Clarke and a certain Neu Reekie event which set my social media off all day yesterday.
The latter looks like being one of those nights that everyone who is anyone simply has to be at. Ostensibly a celebration of Irvine Welsh and 21 years of Trainspotting it certainly has a very impressive line up: the much-loved and legendary Fire Engines are regrouping for the event, the influential Arthur Baker is appearing and of course there will be Welsh himself.
It is a night that captures what is best about Edinburgh but to me personally it also captures what is worst about it; a willingness to celebrate our city’s great past and importance but at the same time a sense that there is an unwillingness to move on from it and instead content to wallow in past glories thus rendering the current scene dull and uninspired in comparison.
Being out and about on the scene in Edinburgh I see how its inhabitants are set in their ways and only move in their own comfort zones almost fearful of embracing anything new. Its live music scene is quite stagnant at the present time and its club scene is stuck somewhere in a mid-nineties hinterland; unable and unwilling to move on. I personally am always looking for new things to try out but it is hard in a city where the main mindset seems to be living in the past and frantically trying to relive lost youth.
And then there’s the rain…
Seriously though I do feel the dreich weather is in some way responsible for the lack of inspiration in our great cities nightlife as it is for the most part quite uninspiring. Often it doesn’t even inspire or encourage you to leave the house.
The prices in bars, clubs and music venues are extortionate when you get there anyway so it is little wonder that people hark back to the times when a fiver could get you a night out and even a kebab on the way home if you were lucky. The days of going for a night out with no money in your pockets have long gone. Nowadays you need to have plenty money and a certain amount in reserve…just in case.
It never rained in those days either!
Mind you things could always be worse; just imagine that Geri Halliwell had written and recorded a tribute record in your memory as she has done with George Michael. Now that is bad!
Worse than all this rain I’d say!

JUST AN OBSERVATION

Just an Observation

Another week and another disaster unfolds and once again it is ordinary people going about their everyday business who have suffered either with the loss of their homes or more tragically their lives.
Whilst it is still unclear how many people actually died in the tragic fire at Grenfell Tower in North Kensington earlier this week it is clear that the number seventeen being trotted out by the media at this stage is a gross under-exaggeration which borders on an outright lie. Certainly the unofficial figure being leaked by the fire fighters and police places the death toll around 150 which seems more of a realistic figure and, although I hope I am wrong, this could also be a conservative estimate.
It almost feels as if parts of the mainstream media are part of some conspiracy to cover up and shift the blame- imagine such a thing! – as not only are they willing to underestimate the death toll when usually exaggeration in the other direction is their norm but also they have named and shamed the person they claim responsible for the beginnings of the blaze due to a faulty fridge.
For me personally this is shameful behaviour when there had been many concerns from the residents regarding electrical power surges along with numerous requests for more stringent safety measures. Unfortunately the latter were met with a ten million pound refurbishment which involved plastic cladding outside the building to improve the building’s outer appearance to appease the views of the rich neighbours, no money set aside for sprinkler systems or smoke alarms or anything else which might actually, you know, save lives however. People were actually advised and therefore encouraged to stay in their homes in the event of fire so this is negligence on a huge scale.
The cladding seems to have actually acted as some kind of accelerant in the fire so serious questions need to be asked whole families have been wiped out in this ultimately avoidable tragedy.
In other sad news this week the original rock chick and carefree adventurous free spirit Anita Pallenberg passed away at 73. Although her actual musical contribution to rock and roll is a mere footnote her influence, impact and legacy is huge. Let us not forget that before she, alongside Marianne Faithfull, first hooked up with the Rolling Stones there was no such thing as a rock star girlfriend and in fact such a thing was actively discouraged by management and bands themselves.
Anita Pallenberg changed all this by entering the misogynistic and very male world of the Stones and lending them so much of her exotic appeal enabling them to escape the confines of their rivals, taking them to new and previously unimagined places with an added touch of exotic glamour bestowed on them by their association with Pallenberg.
Unfortunately she paid a high price for this relationship as she never escaped the limitations of her role as Rolling Stones girlfriend- she had affairs with three of their members- at least not in the eyes of the public.
In reality however she was so much more: a muse, confidante, artistic director, sounding board, wardrobe advisor and a huge influence whose input can’t ever be over-estimated. She created the rock chick look-long before even Marianne Faithfull- and she wore it magnificently into her latter years, never allowing age or the loss of her looks to humble her or extinguish that incandescent spirit.
Went to an amazing gig by Chrysta Bell at the Voodoo Rooms the other night and was blown away not just by the music but also the stage craft and the simple but hugely effective visuals. It was a stupendous gig and although it was busy enough it still should have been busier. It brough home to me how stagnant and insular the music scene is in Edinburgh and that its residents who always seem to be complaining about the lack of good artists and venues rarely venture out of anything not in their comfort zone.
I had mentioned this gig beforehand to several people who I knew would love it but was not surprised that not one of them bothered to show up. It seems that in Edinburgh people mainly go and see bands if they know the people in them and are reluctant to step outside of this mindset. I too am guilty of this but recently more and more I am finding that I want more nights out where I am not going out simply to support someone or something or even just to merely show face but because it is actually some thing I want to do: fun rather than duty in other words. It is the way forward!