Saturday, 25 June 2016

20.16 Blog #12: Me, You & the EU (Strangled with Quaintness)

That’s my lamppost

That’s my sewer drain

That’s my overflowing bin

That’s my closed pub

That’s my duck

That’s my Scarborough Bridge

That’s my ‘VirginRail Do Not Trespass’ sign

That’s my homeless person

That’s my PoundLand

That’s my PoundShop

Because this is my country now.  We’ve won it back.  Previously, if ever I wanted to leave my house a sweaty Brussels bureaucrat would tell me I needed to A.  Fill in a load of forms B.  Not grow any apples and C. Let an immigrant occupy my home while it was gone.

But all this land is finally English again.  The clanking of armoured knights is a soothing melody amongst the chorus of Shakespearean quills scribbling sonnets.  The tooting of Mr Toad’s car driven by the Fab Four is met with the hazzah of Oliver Twist before he noshes on a giant cake.  Aunt Bessie and Rudyard Kipling get snogging.

We have been sold a premise of yesteryear, disguised as a hand-me-down present wrapped in a comfortable blanket.  But really it’s plastic and false.  Your Great Grandmother would be appalled by it’s shabbiness, it’s damp falseness.

For years the creeping seething undercurrent of Nostalgia has infected both the working class and the middle class.  The working class have been treated to a barrage of propaganda from The Sun and The Daily Mail, a non-stop orchestra of violent threats, lies and bullshittery against anything remotely foreign, and constantly blaming anything that might challenge the white hetcis power structure:  Political correctness, health & safety, fairness and equality in the workplace, multiculturalism, diversity, anti-war, pro-education.  We have become Pavlov’s Dog, drooling and dribbling a frothy anger at the mention of these words.  Like Sun = Hot, Water = Wet and Grass = Green anything remotely Foreign/Europe = Bad.  Question this?  Get shot and stabbed in broad daylight.

The middle classes gave enjoyed their vintage fetes and fairs.  Whilst The Mumford & Sons have proliferated a rustic trilby-wearing folksiness, the Great British Bake Off sent people back into their kitchens.  The sheer scale of Keep Calm And Carry On imagery was more a bombardment than a suggestion.  For God’s sake, they remade Dad’s Army, which was twee even in the 1970s.

We are strangling the world with Quaintness.

And, of course, it is only after the fact we are up-in-arms.  Take a look at this Guardian article.

Artists from Rufus Norris, Lucy Prebble and organisations like the Royal Opera House speaking passionately about the result and how we should remain in the EU.

Fair play to this ensemble of significant British figures for speaking their minds, but by the Seven Above…WHY ARE YOU SAYING THIS NOW?

I’m not having a specific attack against Northern Broadsides, but as an example their artistic director Barrie Rutter makes a passionate and spot-on analysis of the situation.  But Northern Broadsides didn’t Tweet or Facebook about the vote once this past week. The London International Festival of Theatre don’t have anything on their Blog.  Royal Opera House make a statement in the article, but none before the 23rd.

Rutter ends his piece with “Then we start the fightback” but here’s what Durham folk-punkers ONSIND have to say:

I'm so worn out from offering ultimately hollow messages of "keep fighting" every time something like this happens, which is all too frequent. The fact is, for as long as I can remember, we haven't fought. I haven't fought. And things have gone from bad to worse.”

Why is it we constantly need to be beaten back to try and fight back.  Why do we need to be knocked by 2 places to try and step forwards?  Why it is we can only rise when already beaten into the gutter?

Too little too late?

I’m guilty I didn’t do enough.  I don’t do enough.  But I have a very cynical taste in the back of my mouth when fellow artists are stirred to make ART in response.  I suppose I’ll give it a go, I’ll write some poems, I’ll perform them, I’ll moan online.  I’ll try I suppose, but I’m cynical whether we’re “fighting.”

But at least our main export is still actors for Game Of Thrones.

Sunday, 19 June 2016

20.16 Blog #11: Not-So-Secret-Wars

Not-So-Secret Wars

Spider-Man is transported to a planet on the other side of the galaxy, where The Beyonder and Madam Webb, powerful being from another dimension, have transported 4 evil villains to essentially ruin the peace of this world.  Spider-Man, as their champion for Good, must assemble a team to oppose the villains and prove that justice will win out.

It’s a good old-fashioned Super-Man team-up, something the 90s Spiderman cartoon did very well, with Iron Man, Dr Strange, Captain America, the X-Men & Daredevil popping up from time-to-time.  This storyline was inspired by the Secret War comic from the 1980s, which tested the water for a grand heroic crossover event which Marvel as since rolled out so much it’s crushed the grass.

The first 5-6ish issues of Secret Wars are pretty exciting, heroes fight, lose, regroup, battle, have infighting and fall in love like a soap opera.  It sets up some interesting subplots, such as the Wasp being kidnapped by Magneto, the X-Men acting as a neutral force and the Hulk losing his savagery and intelligence making him kinda limbo-ishly useless.  Alas, the last few issues just involve the heroes stranding around watching Galactus, and the Wasp essentially gets rescued, Hulk still does his job and the X-Men help out and it’s all fine.

I rewatched the Spiderman saga, and it’s amazing how the Secret War lasts a mere 3 episodes, essentially about an hour, when it felt so massive back in the day.  I guess with a week between Saturday mornings, it was bound to feel more of a saga.  The sheer scale of the heroes is exciting, Cap and Iron Man remind you how this Spiderverse exists without the Avengers, and Doom proves what a cool villain he is, even when guesting in another world.

Team-ups are always great.  Whether a Suicide Squad, Avengers assembling or rogues gallery playing cards, in comic books and cartoons to see all the Insidious schemers in union it’s always a bigger danger, a bigger reward for victory.  Of course it’s also the soap opera element, in the Secret War comic Titania and Absorbing Man bicker before falling for one another, in the Spiderman cartoon Doc Ock and Scorpion, one an educated Doctor and the other a streetwise private eye, trade insults.

Last night I hosted the 4th Words & Whippets night, a collection of poets from across Yorkshire, Joanne Foxton and Dave Jarman from York, Rachel Bower from Sheffield and Andy Craven-Griffiths from Leeds.  These have always been fun compilations of poets, a mix of people who know each other, a mix of strangers and a mix of styles all melting together in the warm blackness of the Studio.

The night before (Friday) I put on a gig with an assortment of bands and musicians, Depresstival from Leeds, my band Pewter City Punks, poet Imi Godwin, acoustic psychobilly 2-piece Dead Drummer, alt-cabaret FloraGreysteel and American folk-punkers Captain Chaos.  It was a real mixture of not just genres and styles, but genders and sexualities and, if I do say so myself, it did feel like a real diverse mix all upstairs in the steam of Dusk.

These are a bit like super-hero team-ups.  Nah, they are EXACTLY like super-hero team-ups.

Nights like these make an interesting concoction.  Joss Whedon said he wanted to add Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver to Avengers:  Age of Ultron because he felt the Avengers for the first film were all a bit “punchy.”  The airport scene in Captain America-Civil War showed a greater diverse range of powers, strengths and styles.  And it was glorious.

The great thing about X-Men films is that there’s always a mixture of powers, and to an extent Justice League and Teen Titans offer this range of abilities (TT is essentially the great format of alien/technology/mutant/martial arts/magic which tend to make up all power-origins).

Yesterday a convoy taking supplies to support refugees in Calais was refused boarding on the ferry, despite everyone having a valid passport and ticket.

This week a fascist with ties to a right-wing organisation, presumably inspired by the fear-mongering of a ‘broken Britain’ murdered an MP.

This week a man went into a nightclub and shot people because they were LBGTQ+ and, possibly, non-white.

Next week we’ll, most likely, vote to leave the EU and see a surge in a nationalism which isn’t limited to patriotically taping the Great British Bake-Off, but one that sees both increased direct and indirect harm to minority groups.

Because we need diversity to fight these wars.  I’m not just talking about our gig line-ups, of course.  I mean how we co-operative, connect and support one another when the going gets tough.

So here’s to diverse line-ups, team-ups, mash-ups and not-so-Secret Wars.

Wednesday, 8 June 2016

Words & Whippets #4


Since 2013, Words & Whippets has brought together some of the finest poets from across Yorkshire. We’re proud to present another annual spectacular showcase of spoken word poetry from across God’s Own Country! In the past, W&W has sold out so make sure you grab your ticket for an exciting night of raw words!

Leeds-based master of weaving words. Unmissable powerhouse story-teller spinning tales of growing up, family and love. Andy is an engaging performer who has played at Glastonbury, Latitude and Battersea Arts Centre, been featured on Radio 1, Radio 4 and BBC 2 and is lead singer for high energy rap band MIDDLEMAN.

Artist-In-Residence at Bank Street Arts in Sheffield and a Cultural Research Fellow at the University of Leeds, Rachel is a fantastic writer and performer. She runs Verse matters in Sheffield, an inclusive feminist poetry night.

You may have caught this Easingwold local lad spouting poetry with the tenacity of a ten-tonne tractor across the fair city. When he’s not spitting rhymes with his band Gobbledigook or writing plays with his theatre company (also called Gobbledigook) he’s performing poetry about life, love, politics and talking cows.

Well-knitted, tender & reflective poetry, Jo has become a mainstay of York’s poetry scene. Themes include: Real ale & dragons. Catch her before she becomes a megastar.

Compered by HENRY RABY.
Henry is co-host of Say Owt Slam, associate artist of Red Ladder Theatre Company and official Nerd Punk. His poetry is anarchic, political, honest and usually references dinosaurs.

Image by Northern Magpie Art

Saturday 18th June 2016

York Theatre Royal, St Leonard’s Place
£6, 7.45pm

(We guarantee words, but sadly cannot promise the presence of whippets)

Thursday, 2 June 2016

PUNK explained with men

PUNK explained with men

Punk: Fuck the man
Hardcore: Hate the man
Oi: OI I'm a man
Post-punk: Are we not men?
Pop-Punk: Never gonna grow up, man!
Glam punk: I'm a man, baby
Nazi punk: No thanks, man
Garage punk: I'm a dog, man
2Tone: I'm a skankin' man
Ska-Punk: I'm a faster skankin' man
Skacore: I'm an even faster skankin' man
Skate punk: The man took away my skateboard
Cowpunk: Ride 'em cowboyman
Psychobilly: You're a dead man
Horror Punk: Boogie man
Indie Punk: 1978, man
Riot Grrl: Kill all men
Afro-Punk: Kill all white men
Macho bro punk: Not all men
Anarcho punk: Feeding of the 5000 men
Crustpunk: Squat the man
Christian punk: I'm a Godly man
Streetpunk: OI fuck the man
Celtic punk: Drink like a man
Folk-punk: Fuck the man like we did back in the day
Gypsy Punk: Men without borders
Taqwacore: Fuck the Americanman
Melodic punk: Fuck the man with noise
Electropunk: Fuck the man with a different kind of noise
Queer Punk: Fuck the man