Friday, 30 March 2007
wants me a great deal.
They also love me
and have loved me for years.
I’m not called upon
to emote much
This is often enough:
just imagining being wanted.
Sexual contact is complicated
because I don’t allow myself
to break my husband’s heart
even in a dream.
With hard-earned permission,
I’m allowed to kiss
a person in the dark.
She caresses my hair,
touches my lower back
until regular life distracts
and impulse dissolves into where
unfulfilled need lies,
though my heart is aching.
The sacrifices we make
to have safe families.
It’s a shame
to be an animal
means all this longing.
Thursday, 22 March 2007
Tuesday, 20 March 2007
Monday, 19 March 2007
It’s not very often you get the privilege of your own private screening of a new film. Particularly when you’re a low-rank no-mark like my nearly good self. It wasn’t meant to be this way of course. I’m sure the financial backers of Factory Girl, the latest depiction of Andy Warhol’s speed-fuelled 60s New York boho set didn’t imagine that their baby would be being watched by just two people in a empty soulless garage of a cinema one cold March Sunday in Old York City. But it was, and we were the two.
Maybe the people who were conspicuous by their absence had read some of the reviews. These were nearly enough to put us off as well, in which case it would have been playing to itself. So expectations on our part were not that high. Broadsheet reviewers by and large wanted to hate the film. Warhol and the Factory set are so much part of the alternative cultural narrative of the last forty years that any attempt to put them on the big screen is going to run up against territorial resistance. Particularly when that film features a Warhol played by a man who used to be in Neighbours and an Edie Sedgwick who is a regular in Heat Magazine. Which may be slightly missing the point. Sedgwick was an IT girl, if she were around today she’d be in Heat Magazine on a weekly basis. I would also lay a bet that Warhol would have quite liked the fact that he was being depicted by a man who used to go out with ‘Plain Jane The Superbrain.’
The story is of course tragic. Sedgwick came from a wealthy family that was dominated by a controlling, obsessive and abusive father. Edie was routinely sexually assaulted by him from the age of 8 onwards. Her gay brother was driven to suicide by their father’s violent disapproval. Sedgwick senior put his kids into a private psychiatric hospital and pumped them full of tranquillisers as almost a rite of passage. Edie was drug dependent at the instigation of her father long before she arrived in New York or met Warhol. The true villain of the piece is primarily not Andy, but Fuzzy, the family’s pet name for their monster of a father. How did he get away with it ? Wealth, status, standing. All those things which still give some men all the permission they feel they need to take exactly what they want and stuff the consequences. People around them turn a blind-eye, just because the Alpha-Male can do what the hell he likes. Complicit in the fact was Edie’s mother who decided that the comforts of a wealthy lifestyle were more important than the well-being of her children .That men like Fuzzy Sedgwick are mourned when they die is the greatest travesty. The demise of a monster should be accompanied by fireworks. It was the conventional world, not the freaks which first fucked with Edie’s head.
Warhol always retained a child-like quality, something which Guy Pearce managed to convey throughout. The sense of emotional retardation, the desire not to get involved, the need to keep himself distant, seeing the world from behind a camera lens was cleverly captured. During a time of civil rights riots, body bags being shipped back from Vietnam and the world on the edge of massive political change, Warhol preferred to watch ‘ I Dream Of Jeannie’ than news reports. He always put pleasure before politics. It’s easy to forget however that Warhol was older than the people with whom he associated. He was a child of the 1920s, not the 40s or early 50s. He was old enough to have experienced the grim atrocities of the second world war. He was defined by a period of massive conflagration. The world he wanted to create was colourful, pleasure-loving and accessible. He had little time for the dour realities of life. In that he was not that different from his contemporaries, many of whom would have looked on the coming generation with horror and disgust. Warhol befriended and encouraged them, always one step removed from the madness which he prompted.
Sienna Miller as Sedgwick was a serendipitous piece of casting. Throughout the movie there is little to suggest that she is really playing outside of herself. The comparisons are there to be made. Beautiful media darling with a troubled and temperamental past, a tendency to put her foot in her mouth and the ever-present suspicion that someone that perfect must surely one day have to painfully pay it all back. The fragility, innocence and accepting nature of Edie is never far away keeping check on any negative feelings you might have towards aspects of her behaviour. That she was used, abused and manipulated goes without saying, but it’s hard to point the finger at any one of the parasitical men who leeched off her beauty. Warhol was certainly culpable. He failed to intervene, failed to step out from behind his sunglasses to see what was happening. He lived up to the myth of the passive voyeur, the idea more important than the person. Edie represented an ideal of beauty that fascinated Warhol, when the sheen fell from that beauty he lost interest.
In the film Hayden Christensen plays ‘Billy Quinn’ a poorly disguised portrayal of Bob Dylan. He is vitriolic in his distaste for the Factory set, seeing himself as the knight on a white charger who will rip the veil from Edie’s eyes and rescue her from herself. He is the polar opposite of Warhol. A fiercely self-possessed and strident man obsessed with ideas of authenticity where Warhol sought out frippery. Edie is torn between the two. Quinn/Dylan hides behind the conceit of the big I am. He doesn’t want to adore Sedgwick, he wants her to adore him, not Warhol. That Dylan’s lawyers sought an injunction on the film speaks volumes of his own feelings towards that period in his life. The Dylan character only enters the narrative towards the end and is shown, like everyone as mixed-bag of motivations. That the gravel-voiced one should attempt to pre-empt the story maybe suggests that his own conscience is not quite as clean as he would wish it to be. Film critics have attacked Hickenlooper for his decision to portray everyone around Sedgwick as being somehow culpable in her eventual demise. You sense they would have liked a neat tidy villain, and a clear missed escape route. That Dylan is still deified and seen as beyond criticism in some quarters doesn’t help matters. At no point does the film suggest that his musical canon is somehow less than what it is, just that maybe he didn’t act entirely in line with his own publicity. Dylan is as much a myth as Warhol and Sedgwick. His later relationship record if anything serves to highlight his own deficiencies in that area of his life.
Sedgwick relentlessly descends into substance abuse and mental illness, a pattern of life that was maybe cast the first time her father climbed into her bed. The emotional and personal failings of successful men is as much a theme of the film as that of female self-destruction. The world still requires its little baby nothings. Edie was just one in a long list stretching right back through history.
The last word should perhaps go to Valerie Solanos, another Factory girl rejected by Warhol who later attempted to claim her revenge by trying to assassinate their master of ceremonies. She famously wrote in her SCUM manifesto that to be male is to be “a walking abortion, aborted at the gene stage. To be male is to be deficient, emotionally limited; maleness is a deficiency disease and males are emotional cripples.” Read coldly it is nothing but hate-filled misandry. Set against the backdrop of life amongst the cold, calculating and emotionally crippled men with which she and Sedgwick once mixed, you begin to feel that she might have had a point.
Friday, 16 March 2007
baby strapped into the buggy,
toddler whooping at the rear
riding shotgun for Wells Fargo.
This splash of brilliant Caribbean
forges through a dull grey morning,
chasing sunshine that falls just short
of burning through the North Sea mist -
red scarves swirling in the slipstream
rainbow-mittens dance on strings
flashing over granite cobbles.
At the corner, these energies collide
with old men babbling in black suits,
shocks of white hair tousled in the breeze.
Spilling out of Morning Mass,
they're making for the nearest ale-house
to continue their saintly celebrations
for all the world like pints of Guinness,
glasses poured and left to settle
on a long and well-worn bar.
Tiny fingers wave in passing -
writing a message of innocent joy
upon their frothy heads.
trying so hard to look important -
feverish glances at wrist-watches,
straightening of ties.
Hyper-confident movers and shakers
reduced to schoolboy awkwardness -
laptops clamped under their arms,
white-knuckled grip on Jiffy Bags
contents mummified in bubble-wrap,
trussed up with crumpled Jumbo Tape,
addressed in strangely child-like writing.
Their mobiles ring - setting nerves on edge
shifting from foot to foot, they mutter
about working-lunches that over-ran -
contractual obligations pending - tricky stages
This is the one they won’t palm off
on a personal secretary.
That's OK for buying those 'special' gifts
for their wives - and mistresses -
they still believe it isn’t obvious.
But this is far too close to home,
and you can see they’re starting to sweat -
offering up some silly money
when told there is an outside chance
that their fragrant gifts for Mother
might not arrive on time.
Thursday, 15 March 2007
Hello, I am Carole from Aberdeen. I am semi-retired so I have plenty of time to tinker about with my various interests. I love taking digital photographs and then editing them to death. I am interested in philosophy, religion, and logic to mention but a few. I have difficulty focussing on one thing at a time, although I can spend enormous amounts of time messing about on the computer. We have had a relatively mild winter this year, with the promise of a pleasant spring. Here is one picture which has escaped being transformed or deformed, although I admit that I did crop it.
On Devils and Prairie Dogs (for Keith)
His voice was spluttering onwards through them
like a dodgey outboard-motor
forging past the white-capped waves
of invented words, non sequiteurs.
He was giggling fit to croak -
only taking time to catch a breath
and mutter some hasty apologies.
Sitting tight on the sidelines,
we wondered just how much politeness
could be stretched
to say we knew what was so funny.
Someone had read it and said he was 'barking' -
he told them it was probably the sound
of their discomfort
at, for once, being the tail that was wagged
by a prairie-dog tearing at a carcass.
I guess you would have had to be there,
inside of his skull right where he wrote it,
to really get close to the vibes,
and yet, this business
of sparking dry language into flame
must allow for the occasional forest-fire
that consumes all sense in its path.
It's always an edgy high-wire act
with toes curled round the dancing cable -
flickers of Earth in peripheral vision
somewhere away down there.
It can be hard to strike a balance
between seeing the joke - and carrying on
when the Devil with a feather-duster
is tickling under your arms!
When your printer runs out of paper
and you put more in,
what button do you push
to tell the printer to try again?
What does your partner really believe
When it comes down to it,
will he spank your children?
Will he understand post-partum depression
after a hard day’s work?
What’s a good food to make
with the cast-off ingredients given to you?
Zucchini bread and zucchini cake
could be helpful.
What’s the phone number
for the police
and the nearest hospital?
What color of clothing
makes you feel most comfortable?
How do you take care of an orchid?
Just a regular orchid.
How do you tell someone
convincingly that you need more time
before you’re certain of something?
Without it sounding like no, basically.
When should you do the things
you’ve been avoiding?
Should you do them at all, really?
Say, the things you’ve been meaning to say
to the neglected parishioners.
Where’s the circuit breaker,
the manual can opener,
and the gas switch
are three good questions for an emergency
like an earthquake,
but not an emergency like someone
dying before you were ready.
Where’s the right counselor?
Where’s the flower shop
and funeral shoes?
Will the salesperson push you down?
Does prayer help?
And why, if so?
Will you forgive me if I suggest
it’s the power of positive thinking?
Why not look in the mirror
with a confused expression,
Will you offer yourself one yes
to crown the collection of no?
Will the light of God
give mercy to absolutely everyone?
I’m sorry it’s not possible to know.
I’ve faltered more than usual,
and the poem ends
with the usual apology.
Wednesday, 14 March 2007
At this point, no-one in The UK, other than me, knew who "Stalkers" were from a hole in the ground, so theri visit to The UK, would have largely involved them playing such quality venues as "The Pleausure Unit" in Bethnal Green and "The Good Ship" in Kilburn, ie places where any half decent band could get a gig.
However, since that spanner-mission in November, the "Stalkers" Machine has gone into fucking overdrive. I will not name drop the people and organisations I have met recently over this, partially as I cant be arsed, and partially because I am unsure about what I am allowed to openly talk about, but from the looks of things, they are about to become fucking huge.
So, this brings me back to what I was doing today. One of my closest freinds is a guy called Adam who runs an Arts Collective/Entertainments Organiser called TURBOBRUT, and it is at his TURBOFEST (amongst other dates in an extremely heavilly scheduled visit) in April that "Stalkers" are playing. The other week , he showed me a picture he had drawn, just after I had mentioned "Stalkers" for the first time to him. It featured a woman looking scared, hiding round a corner, whilst 5 shadowy figures lurked menacingly behind. The woman looked like me, and the picture made me laugh, so I decided to re-create it for the TURBOFEST Flyers.
So I found myself today, outside Chelsea School Of Art, wearing a fetching collection of PVC and lace, (BUT NOT IN A GOTH WAY)being photgraphed whilst "hiding" from Adam and Warren BRUT and assorted Art Students, drafted in for the photo.
It looked pretty good, and I daresay if you have a Myspace Account, or live in the East London Area, you will see it very very soon. As for me though, I feel tired, very very tired, so I think I shall sign off to sleep. I guess you will hear from me soon though.
During the past few years, as a person with ME/CFS, the garden pond proved a real haven, away from the restraints imposed by the domiciles four walls. Having been invited to contribute to this new blog, this poem (which emerged as I sat by the pond this afternoon) seemed an appropriate introduction.
SPLASH INTO SPRING
A sprinkling splash,
a sudden flash
of ruddy gold -
the first spring stirrings.
A long, slow, turgid rest
by these vital chimes.
they share the sunshine's joy -
and ripple wilfully.
Last seasons debris
stirred and shaken,
the fish escape
their sedimentary rest,
herald the promise
of brighter days to come.
Like me, they must have felt
they'd plumbed the depths
for far too long.
14 March 2007
Monday, 12 March 2007
We're looking for different viewpoints, high culture, low culture and everything else in between. You can be as pretentious or as populist as you like.
You'll need a blogger account to be able to contribute and your first post should be a brief introduction. If you've got your own corner of the web somewhere do link to it and tell your friends and online contacts all about your contributions on here. The idea is that collectively we can build up a decent sized readership and showcase some emerging talent. We are aiming for eclecticism and variety.
So if you think you can contribute in any of the following areas then please get in touch :
* Gig Reviews
* Short Stories / Novel excerpts