Soho – keep it 'unreal'!

Yesterday I spent the afternoon at the old St Martin’s School of Art campus. The building stretches between Charing Cross Road and Greek Street. The frontage is impressive but the interior takes me straight back to Soho in the 1970s, when London was truly down and dirty. In the main entrance there’s even a ‘blue’ plaque stating the Sex Pistols played their first gig at the college in 1975. A lot of bands played at St Martin’s over the years, and you’d have thought the administration could have found a better group to commemorate than the Sex Pistols.
I’m not sure when the Sex Pistols moved into their Denmark Street rehearsal room, but if they were there by November 75 it would have been literally just a stroll across Charing Cross Road to get to the gig. Not much further away is the site of the old Marquee Club at 90 Wardour Street, the building that housed it is now demolished. The Sex Pistols played the Marquee but I managed to avoid them both there and at St Martin’s. That said, I did spend a lot of time at the Marquee in the late-seventies. Although the Marquee was originally located on Oxford Street and much latter moved to Charing Cross Road, the Wardour Street address is its core location and the club was run from there between 13 March 1964 until 18 July 1988.
When I went to the Marquee in the 1970s, Big John the bouncer would be standing at the entrance, I’d pay between 50p and a pound to see the band, and as I walked down the corridor to the first bar I’d hear Jerry Floyd or Ian Flemming spinning disks as a warm up. The place is etched in my memory, and so is how dirty Soho and the rest of London were at that time. When I walked into St Martin’s yesterday it reminded me of how great London used to be before it was cleaned up and gentrified. The Marquee in the late-seventies was peeling, and so was the rest of London. St. Martin’s is in ruins today and repairs are avoided because this institution was merged with The Central School of Art in 1989, Central St Martin’s is now a constituent college in The University of the Arts London, and is moving to a new purpose built campus in Kings Cross in 2011.
Wandering around St Martin’s yesterday I could feel Soho history wafting through the corridors, and some of it smelt rank. The building was built around 1938 and at the time would have been really grand. Now there are little locked rooms all over the place, and I wonder if when they’re finally opened there will be a yield of dead bodies. No one seems to know what is locked behind those doors. While plodding tourist ‘heritage’ items like the Sex Pistols now form the official history of St Martins, it has a much more interesting subterranean past. To give just one example, beat novelist Alexander Trocchi was employed by the sculpture department on a pretty much a full-time basis between October 1964 and March 1966. As far as I’m aware that episode is still fairly blank in terms of published biographical accounts of Trocchi’s life.
Moving on, I guess everyone imagines Soho was best in whatever state they first got to know it. My real love affair with the place was between 1974 and 1980, from the ages of 12 to 18. This was the era of the dirty bookshops and sex cinemas. The sleazy feel of the place at that time totally grooved me and I hated the way it was subsequently cleaned up. If you read the memoirs of fifties London gangsters then they tend to bemoan the arrival of the sex shops, which they say brought about the decline of the family businesses that gave the area its distinctive feel. What those who first discovered Soho in the nineties are nostalgic about I haven’t a clue… But luckily for me it looks like the credit crunch is taking what was once my favourite part of London back to the state I think it ought to be in; i.e. a dirty rotten mess. Who knows, I might even catch Sohoitis once again! Yes, going into St Martin’s yesterday gave me a real whiff of a London I know is no longer lost forever….
And while you’re at it don’t forget to check – – you know it makes (no) sense!


Comment by Michael K on 2009-05-21 10:32:59 +0000

Sex Pistols fire blanks!

Comment by Ricardo Terrori on 2009-05-21 11:46:40 +0000

What would be lovely is that St Martin’s School of Art uses the picture of the Queen with safety pinned lips as it emblem.
Anyway, the Sex Pistols had the merit that at least part of the band did’t attended Art School…and refused any instruction at all.

Comment by lkfjlskjl on 2009-05-21 11:49:39 +0000

An interesting discussion point made in ZPD is the enduring image from the 2000 Mayday of the vandalism of the Churchill statue in Parliament Square. Mastaneh is correct that this image – this action – this vandalisation is indeed an essential moment of resistance in the semantic warfare against the ruling power. However I would like to take her analysis a little further in looking at the decomposition of the zone here.
The ZPD primarily frames the action, much like the situationist ‘situation’ in the immediate space and time of ‘here’ and ‘now’. However when we move away from that point we start to collapse coherence into an unlimited number of interpretations and permutations that then come more directly into the pull of power.
One feature of the mutation of the Churchill statue was that the head – and green turf Mohican addition – became a separate iconograph – a letter even – which was subsequently taken up by different agents including Banksy. This artist is also famous for doing stencils of the Queen as a monkey. His prisoner monkey stencils I would argue, display a certain racism and besides that also echo his one time teacher Jamie Reid’s graphics for the Sex Pistols which was always and already a recuperation of situationist detournment. In this case the recuperation is even more complete, given that revolutionaries looking at the Churchill graff from outside of the ZPD that Mayday 2000 constituted saw the consolidation of British identity in London. As proletarians we do not want punk royalty or punk politicians – we want to consign these pompous idiots to the dustbin of history once and for all.

Comment by Ricardo Terrori on 2009-05-21 12:06:30 +0000

“But luckily for me it looks like the credit crunch is taking what was once my favourite part of London back to the state I think it ought to be in; i.e. a dirty rotten mess…”
I never really knew that we shared that taste for urban decay…which is a “bad” thing for most people. So, maybe you heard about Urban Exploration, that infiltrating tunnels, abandoned and closed up sites, haunted hospitals activity, etc. What a perfect metaphor for industrial capitalism and modern society.
I think street art, of course even it even got a name, WAS interesting just because of that. The work of Bäst really got the feeling, and he tactically vanished from the “scene” when started to attract too many attention.
Benjamin would had a word about peeling and cracking walls too, I think.

Comment by Ricardo Terrori on 2009-05-21 12:11:35 +0000

Is that so that that “Z” stands for “zapatista”?
For Ganesha, and I thought you lacked any sense of humour, lkfj !

Comment by Terry Atkinson on 2009-05-21 12:16:10 +0000

Trocchi sa’ on David Bainbridge’s sculptures, injectin ‘eroin – t’ tinker

Comment by mistertrippy on 2009-05-21 12:17:33 +0000

When the buildings fall apart and the ‘landcape’ cracks open then there are infitie possibilities for new worlds!

Comment by David Bainbridge on 2009-05-21 12:35:42 +0000

This could perhaps be regarded as sculpture; my own analytical procedures may be inappropriate here: they rely a good deal on Panofsky’s notions of tri-stratified subject matter (I bet Michael Baldwin wrote this. What a twat!)

Comment by howling wizard, shrieking toad on 2009-05-21 12:47:05 +0000

Yes Mr. Home, I remember going to those garage band clubs too,as a young teenager in the late 70’s — rubber trousers, home made paint spattered T shirts , brothel creeper shoes,etc — it’s all distant memories now. I remember lots of good pub rock bands, some reasonable reggae/dub bands, who somehow lacked edge, and still didn’t seem to have found their musical identity yet in late 70’s UK, and some awful punk bands I won’t mention.
I don’t remember the DJ’s, but I do remember one guy called DJ Scratchy/Barry Myers, totally into rockabilly/the stoooges/r n b /dub etc, but he may have been in North London — I met him many years later, and he was a nice guy. He toured with Wilko, and on the Cramps/Ramones 1st UK gigs, and also played bass in the excellent and underrated Snivelling Shits.
As I am sure you did Mr Home, I also went to see loads of early punk/rockabilly bands in places like Dingwalls, where punks, teds, rockabillies, skins ,and rude boys would mix with bikers/hippy long hairs et al each night.
A very different time. Some gigs, everyone would mix ok — gigs like r n b/pub rock bands/Wilko’s lot , or the Damned gigs, where punks, skinheads, bikers and hippies would rub shoulders — but then other nights, nasty minded, harder skinheads would always try and corner some good looking, perhaps effeminate young punk rocker to give him a kicking.
Many years ago now — London is a different place — right,I am off to my cave now. C’mon toad, people are no good.

Comment by howling wizard, shrieking toad on 2009-05-21 12:55:08 +0000

“When the buildings fall apart and the ‘landcape’ cracks open then there are infitie possibilities for new worlds!”
Yes — agreed. In the ruins we can find places not touched by time and money, forgotten by time and money , in other words,places that have escaped the “logic” of the market.

Comment by mistertrippy on 2009-05-21 13:06:23 +0000

Hey Howling Wiz, yeah I went to Dingwalls sometimes and the Sunday night gigs that moved from The Roundhouse to The Lyceum very regularly, the 100 Club a lot, Nashville and Hope & Anchor a fair bit, The Music Machine and Global Village for later nights etc… But the Marquee was still very special to me and the DJs are a part of that… coz Jerry Floyd had his roots back in the sixties and played a lot of quite mod and 60s garage type stuff, and some old soul records, and the obvious in the form of The Who and The Kinks… In most ways DJs like Jerry Floyd educated me more about music than the bands I went to see….
But that time was the time for me when London landscape was cracked open… Definitely from 1974 to 1980, maybe a little more either side… But I think it was cracked open in the mid-sixties too and although I was walking through it then I was too young to be aware of it and what it meant…. And other times as well. So late-seventies is just the special time for me and you… Others have other times as their special times, and now I think it is all opening up again and it’s gonna be great! And NOW is always the best time!

Comment by howling wizard, shrieking toad on 2009-05-21 13:09:48 +0000

Errrrr….. I described Myers’ band as “the excellent and underrated Snivelling Shits”…….
Urrmmmm….don’t know if they were… errrr…..excellent as such, or even under rated — I mean, they only made a handful of records, and didn’t gig that much….I will ammend that and say I dug one or two of their 45’s, which had some wit and energy about them.
I miss one off bands like that sometimes — another example of a total one off character was that guy called Johnny Moped.

Comment by Ricardo Terrori on 2009-05-21 13:29:09 +0000

jfklskd: brother, would you clarify something for me?
would you like to stop being a prole (you say you are), or you would like to “supersede” “your” “class”?
(quoting marks with no “irony” intended)
Thanks for the answer to my last response, “Chris”!

Comment by Ricardo Terrori on 2009-05-21 13:40:18 +0000

AND FOR ANYONE WHO LIKES SCULPTURE: “What lies at the shadow of the statue?”

Comment by lkfjlskjl on 2009-05-21 13:53:10 +0000

no irony taken
its a good question – unlike the questions about whether i am white or israeli or pakistani etc, a question to be taken seriously i think. now we can write about class.
“class” and definitions of class have of course changed over the last few hundred years – and the definition of proletariat too. “i” have not “said” i am a prole – another assumption u are making. but i will write here – we must resist bourgeoisification – of course this process happens unevenly throughout space but it doesnt simply depend on nationality, location, shade of skin colour – but on class which is a combination of many factors which go to make up a situation. ZPD – if u didnt check the link above, is Zone of Proletarian Development. the writer also refers to Zones of Bourgeois Development – although i reckon Borgeois Retardation is a better phrase.
I got to go now but we’ll chat more later

Comment by Ricardo Terrori on 2009-05-21 17:09:43 +0000

I have no doubt that you study this things seriously, lafakjs.
Yea, I didn’t check the link, my mistake. I’ll do it soon. I’m “stealing” “time” from other less interesting activities to come here, as surely you also do.
Any problems with misspelled words, by the way, are due mostly that I’m not native speaker, just in case. My keyboard also sucks (it is from 1997).
I did a lot of assumptions, but maybe because you didn’t seem like wanting explain youself better, untill now.
I can get the feeling of a lot of old situ stuff coming from you, plus at least three other influences -let’s put the kaballah things aside for a while- that I can’t tell right now, but I’m almost there. Maybe the old missed Workers Councils stuff. That make me thing that you maybe come from Eastern europe, which would be lovely. I’m born in Chile, and if you look at me, i look like a regular latinamerican guy (“How is that like, anyway”, you think). I’m 37.
In Europe they use to do a lot of talking about political philosohy- economics, and I can perceive that you maybe are not stranger to assemblies, platforms and the like.
What about memetics? What about discourse? The French S.I. was contemporary to “deconstruction”, but chose to ignore that, while at the same time, doing his own brand of “deconstruction”, without naming it. e.g. Vaneigem. The Socialisme ou Barbarie link is there, though.
What you think about the scandinavians? are they unorthodox for you?
The concepts behind ZPD seem like could be appealing to me, cause I use this term “zone” very much too. And not just because the Hakim Bey book, that’s for zure, but more for the Tarkowsky movie and War Games.

Comment by Christopher Nosnibor on 2009-05-21 19:53:05 +0000

The credit crunch is a groove sensation and I say no! to economic recovery. After all, there seems to be a direct correlation betwee exciting music and literature and mass unemployment and widespread disaffection with the government. Frustration breeds innovation and so on (which is probably why so many ‘real’ punk bands and much of the New Wave are infinitely more exciting than the Pistols – what did they have to feel dissafectd and pissed off about?). Forget smashing the system, watching it crumble’s much more fun and exciting!

Comment by dave kelso-mitchell on 2009-05-21 20:09:12 +0000

This frigging government is trying to privatise the Royal Mail now.
You can go here and sign a petition (for what it’s worth)

Comment by Tony D on 2009-05-21 22:40:30 +0000

There used to be no better way to start the day than visiting CBS Records in Soho Square, picking up a load of promotional records and sauntering across Soho to Honest John’s Second Hand Record Shop to flog the lot.
I was in Charing Cross Road on Wednesday afternoon, stood outside St. Martins around about 3.30-4pm. Our paths almost crossed Mr Trippy.

Comment by mistertrippy on 2009-05-22 10:37:36 +0000

Where you waiting for a bus? We were even closer than you think, coz I would have been out just before you were standing on the street grabbing a coffee in Salsa across the street. I love the way they bring in these Brazilian girls who only speak Portuguese and they learn on the job.
Took a while to get a couple of coffees the other day coz the girl serving had only been in London two weeks. She had no problem with the double expresso, but the black filter coffee for my friend took a while… eventually asking for an Americano did it. Not always a struggle to order coffees there but even when it is it is worth the effort coz the coffee is good. I’ve never been there for the dancing at night but I’ve come across a few people who really rate the place for that too.
I can’t believe they ripped out that beautiful original interior in what was 101 Snack Bar across the street on the same side as St Martin’s…. The coffee was never good there but I’d drink tea just so I could groove to that yellow and chrome decor. I was pissed when they changed the original sign, but now they’ve ripped out that interior… And the canteen in St Martin’s isn’t up to much these days and there is only one there now…
Back in the day I guess you did better with free records than me… I’d get stuff but not in the quantities you were blagging.

Comment by BOMBLONDON.COM on 2009-05-22 16:22:54 +0000

coming from “east” “london” or “west” “essex” we didnt go “up west” (london) much but when we did to goto megatripolis or the pink pounder – this is in the 90s, we’d always pop by old compton st for a coffee even if u didnt have much cash, you’d always get bought a coffee by cruisers at one of the all night cafes there and the street culture was very powerful – i remember when the white wolves bombed london in the late 90s and soho, brixton and brick lane were the 3 sites of proletarian resistance that they targetted and even though alot of gentrification goes on these areas are still magical

Comment by mistertrippy on 2009-05-22 18:01:37 +0000

I always loved Old Compton Street too, particularly Cafe Espana before it became a tapas place, when it was open late and no where much else was and all the prostitutes would come in when they knocked off work. The coffee and food were great and very cheap. Plus of course there were other major Soho cafes for me, Court Cafe on St Anne’s Court was major from the seventies, and there are many others….

Comment by jlkjlk on 2009-05-22 18:35:22 +0000

for self organised cultural workers the 2nd situationist international the situationist antinational the situationist bauhaus are the real situationist internationals but the lettrist international are even more real and the ultra lettrists are more real yet but the new lettrist international are the most un real yet

Comment by Ricardo Terrori on 2009-05-22 19:09:37 +0000

Well, lettrism was a groove sensation, but I think in France they treat it as national Cultural Heritage already.
“After all, there seems to be a direct correlation between exciting music and literature and mass unemployment and widespread disaffection with the government. ”
So right, Christopher. I recall the early Stewart Home on the net, which had so may traces of his works of the 80’s and with no doubt that depressed London was the origin of his unique style and ideas. Then, later on when general public was opening to “underground” stories, you got this more literary things as “Aberdeen rocks”.
But I, unfortunately, haven’t read any SH’s books in his entirety, and maybe I won’t at least some of you upload a little something to Scribd!
jlkjlk: don’t forget the under-recognized “Gipsy Natural Children of the Original Posh Situationists International” organization! They have a lot to say too!

Comment by adsmj';lmgd on 2009-05-22 19:15:41 +0000

have u got ‘open creation and its enemies’? send me yr address and i’ll post u a copy

Comment by Ricardo Terrori on 2009-05-22 19:37:42 +0000

You mean the “original situationist text”?
Yeah, comrade. I read it first in 2004 when we were painting on the streets (literally, painting the streets) in Valparaíso, Chile, and a lot of Bougueois propietors started to attack us. So, I plagiarised a bit of that in the form of a leaflet to turn some young people on our side. I made a big “CREACIÓN ABIERTA” banner to hang from a second floor window.
I would say that I have read pretty much all situationist texts freely available, including scandinavians. Not that I remeber all, and you have to be re-reading it all the time, I think. The problem with that is that you get in a “too situationis” state of mind. And hence, too occidental.
But anything you want to send in, hopefuly not insults, cos I already get my share on my blog on a daily basis, the mail is:
The ZPD wiki is interesting. I like graphics and got a mind for symbolism, but stiil thing it could be a bit odd for your regular worker. Maybe I’m patronizing, as you say in the UK.
To be honest, I’ll have to read it carefully, and the Isou PDF too, maybe a week worth to really get it, to undestand the difference with other “weird” synthetic stuff as Crystalpunk, Movement of the Imagination, AAA, etc. All your help with that is wellcome.

Comment by Alan J on 2009-06-13 11:48:56 +0000

St Martins- I served aa a front line resistance fighter on the old St Martins School of Art ‘Sculpture A Course’ from 76-80 – nope not the one which welded together great bigsblabs of steel – a production line churning out mini replicants of Anthony Caro- but the other one- we picketed the Scuplture B course studions during the Steel Strike- my what fund to see the trot’s- all privelaged cross our picket line.
I recall the infamous art ‘crit’s when the good the grat, empowered and enobled would attend to look over students latest offerings at the temple of mammon. Best was the time the simmering conflict between the proto- post Situationists prankrsterim performance happenings and oddball anti art punks, druggies and fags of the A course and the rank and file boiler suited psuedo proles of the B course ‘Abstact Conformanists’ erupted into a mass brawl. As one so offended by the ‘work’ of one of the A course rebels poured petrol on it and lit the flames- a riot!
What about Covent Garden, the squats opposite the tune station served as rehearsal rooms for a horde of nascent punk bands Clash et-al. The upstairs bar at the old Cambridge tavern? You’d have the Pistols, part of what was to become Madness, parts of the Clash, a multitude of Art students, fashionista’s, tramps, gays, et-al & you could still get a bar tab let alone the tabs of Durophet black bombers and French/German Blues
that could be had for 6 per £1.
First short of Heroin and cocaine in the squat over in Covent Garden. Then their was the last bastion of 1960’s hippy/yippy communal life squatting and living in the old M15 HQ opposite St Martins Best gigs- Reggae night every thursday down the 100 club. The Vortex, the Roxy,
the pistols at the ICA, Throbbing Gristle, soul down at the Global Village near Charing Cross, you could still score on the last stand of the old Dilly scene.
The London Film Co-op. Derek Jarman and art school enterouage in Valeries and Bertuax’s. Te Iron Mongers just of Cambridge Circus. Working backstage in the theatres as crew and flycrew- to supplement this prole rebels measly income unlie a lot of the middle class debutantes that saw St Martins as a ‘passing out school’.
The nascent gay club scene- & the cross over with the prole soul circuit.
The Catacombs and Colherne Earls Court. Squatting ‘Sarf of the River’.
Going into Mclaren and Westwoods sex at 15- culture shock nope- this was IT- no more fucking dead bread heads and pomp rock crap- lot’s of MIGHTY BASS & thunderous DUB- Dr Aliantado- Aceme Atttractions when Don Lett’s DJ’s and little Nell worked the till. The Lambretta centre peice. The Roebuck Tavern upstairs bar. The ‘Hyper Hyper Market’ heroin scene- first Brown Heroin in the UK surfaced among those fleeing
the Iranian Revolution.
The Goldmine in Canvey Island- the Lacey Lady in Ilford- part’s of the Essex Soul Scene that x’d over and transmuted to become part of the ‘punk’- we never called it that- Janet Street Porter chose that label.
Punk was only part of the sondtrack- soul- ( what was later to become market second time round as ‘Rare Groove’) DUB- Pistols- (1st version one album), PIL, Throbbing Gristle, ACR, the Nashville Rooms, cruising the Westway- 1981- drinking in a bar near ladbroke Grove watching the flames of Brixton licking the distant Sky.
And Thatcher- smashed it all- milk snatcher- she was far more malign than that she was an ‘eater of souls’.
Reading Debords Society of the Spectacle the first time round circa 77- Jamie Reads’Leaving the 20th Century’, Compendium Books in Campden Town- a real radical bookshop now sadly long gone.
The old CPGB headquarters in Covent Garden. Soho when it was seedy –
scoring diconol in the bar on the corner of Old Comptom Street- Boot’s 24 hour pharmacy.
The long- grey- dark-bleak winters- bitterly cold in squats with no central heating off Victoria park. The RAR gigs- kicking the nazi’s out of Brick Lane -seeing Asain youth mobilise against them for the first time.
Soho – full of cheap cafes and deli’s- Italian food dirt cheap. Cafes still in perfect 50’s future- abandoned to time- as fashion came and the white heat of Wilsons revolution turned to dust and was crushed- extinguised by Monetarisims theological moneterist tosh posing as economic ‘science’.The Cafe at the End of Shaftsbury Avenue which was next to the Jazz specialist shop-
great- greasy frie up’s-
Sunbathing on theatre roofs with good afghani hash- RIP. All the dead and dying friends and faces- so many lost to the blight of prohibitions folly and harm. Overdoses, Hep A & B, HIV/Aids, Hep C, TB, the list goes on- all who died from booze. The homeless and marginalised being hosed out of the cold comfort of their cardboard boxes under Charing Cross Bridge- every morning- brutal- all gone.
Aniffing Glue Magazine- Here’s three cords- and how to play them- go and form a band. The early Rough Trade. Cold post party mornings at Camberwell Green waiting for buses that never arrived.
The last embers of the Shop Steward movement- crushed by an alliance of employers, court cases and union heiracrihies. Grunwick, Blair Peache,
the year the Veit Mingh liberated Saigon and the US cut and run- the second hand clothing shops full of US troop’s off duty waer- all emboidered with dragons and other such arcane remnants of the war they lost.
Discovering Black and Red Books- Fredy Perlmens ‘Against History: Against Leviathen”- pshyco-nughting the passageways under the old Adelphi Hotel near Charing Cross- working as a road sweeper during Summer Holidays- not much sweeping- lots of reading- learning how to duch and dive from the old lags who worked the brush and pins.
The old Drug Dependency Unit at the ‘National Temeperence Hospital’ as the US funded flood of Afghani brown changed the UK for ever- drugs for £££ that turned into $$ $$$$that bought the guns and stnger missiles that the US sponsered Narco fundementalists bled the old Soveit Regime dry in an arms race it could never sustainnor win.
The speed with which the religous fundementalists liquidated the Iranian Communist Party cells, the Anarchists and other’s who had made common cause with them in the Iranian revolution that toppled the US sponsorded Shah and his tens of thousends of relatives. (They brought out their wealth in the form of heroin- sold it in London and moved on unlike the next wave of Brown that came and stayed).
The first protest by Drug users who were on scripts from the great Dr Anne Dally when the GMC punished her for daring to be different. The start of harm reduction in it’s London form- it’s counterparts in Liverpool and Manchester.
The bleak days when you couldn’t score and the withdrawal set in- trying to get a maintenance script- the fight to get one the stability it gave- destroyed as the GMC struck yet more Doctors off.
The days when you could buy a roll of foil without raising suspicion- even smoking H roll up’s on the buses and tube- the sweet sickly smell of good gear wafting over from another persons seat- this was when H was ‘up-market’- the start of a life times learning and commitment to helping others- William Burroughs and the Nova Academy at Brixton – everyone was there.
Patti Smith’s first london gig- hearing the Pistols version of @Roadrunner’ on the SEX jukebox. The Slit’s-the first Mcdonalds- argghhh—
Alexander Trochii’s bookshop in Kensignton.
Meeting the Factory records mob for the first time- Joy Division’s first London gigs- ACR- ACR & Throbbing Gristle at the Scala-
Going into the Colony Rooms for the first time- insulting Peter Blake at the exhibition of work by artists who knew Murial Belcher- insulting Victor Burgin- your works ‘boring- boring- boring’.
Kerry Trengrove tunneling his way out of the gallery system- literaly- one of the better performance art works of that era- the old Acme Gallery and studios.
Giving up art for direct action- April after Marx, Tony Negri, the save Radio Alice campaign, the Italian autonomista, Christiana before they marginalised opioid users- this came back to huant them decades later when they turned to the most radical, politicised, drug users in the world- class A opioid users- at the Union who said – ‘in effect- what goes arund comes around-
Paris- seeing James CHance play a Le Bains Douche- Jah Shaka’s sound system and Notting Hill when the carnival had not become commodified and was edgy things could kick off at any time-
The SPG – and the met polices £2000 cash- no questions asked ‘get out of jail’ free card. The corruption then was minr compared to now.
Bing Spears the only Home Office Inspector for Drugs who went and talked with users- they even could drop in at the home office for a chat, biscuits and a cup of tea. His book ‘ Heroin Addiction: Care & Control the British System 1914-1984’ and his savage inditement of prohibition , of the failure to prescribe heroin to those habituated, his searing critique of the malign influence of the post Brain 2 hearings cabal of the new order of Consultant Psychiatrists and ‘Drug Dependancy CLinics/Unts’ that saw an end to the GP led ‘British System’ and the emergance of abstiance fixated compulsory ‘short sharp shocks of involuntary withdrawal’ as recomended in one training mannual of the time.
Trying to get fresh works- thank fcuk that some of us were ultra paranoid about Hep A & B so never shared but for those who did out of neccisity not choice ( there were no needle exchanges in those days) ending up among the first wave to die from the ‘Gay Plague’ as it become headline material.
Slipping ‘dodgy’ croakers £10 for scripts of DF118’s, Valium, Temazepam and lomotol. Thank fcuk for them- they saved many lives.
The ravages of Diconol and Cyclazine – great hit but people started to lose limbs as the silicon content turned solid in their veins and gangerene set in.
Shining young friends dying from TB- this wasn’t scripted. Operation Julie. The treasure troves aqquired from pharmacy’s out of hours DD cabinents. You’d start with the Diconol, Diamorphine, Morhine and work your way through. Barbs nasty murdrrous drugs- many- so many died so young- HARM REDCUTION works I know- I survive.
The myth that all opioid habituee’s are dole que scroungers- most grafted and grafted hard. Many were gifted misfits- out of time- out of caste- out place- the song in our blood crimmiinalised and prohibited.
All the victims of overdose’s hidden behind bins, dumped on the street, because users faced 14 years+ for calling an od in and saving a life. All those who died from ‘overdoses’ in police cells. All those who were banged up for 7-14 years for trifling offences but that served to feed the frnzied pirahnas of the reactionary press.
Photocoying. The first Roland drum machine- rigged to a jerrymade diy phaser synth kind of thing before the PC and digital media change swept the world.
The first ‘portable’ video camera- plus seperate recorder-plus seprate battery pack plus sound plus lighting pack- made portable a bit of a ‘fib’.
*mll colour and black and white movie stock. Learning how to retint 7 touch photo’s by hand \7 eye 5 years before the whole skill became redundant.
All of lifes rich tapestry- all dust as so many depart this mrtal coil.

Comment by Alan J on 2009-06-13 11:59:21 +0000

Sorry about the typo’s I suffer from ME and it’s cognitive impact over many years have created a form of dyslexia and without a spell check I’m doomed to mis-spell
Alan J

Comment by Albertus de Groot on 2009-06-13 20:31:38 +0000

Anthony Caro is one of the greatest producers of sculptures we’ve ever had.

Comment by Tom Paxton on 2009-06-13 20:44:40 +0000

One of his sculptures has always been one of my favourites, Emma Dipper, which in steel completly encapsulates Steinbeck’s The Grapes Of Wrath and told the whole story and was sucj an enourmous piece of craftspersonship that it knocked me out. I wasnt at t martins and i saw all the really terrific art in the south

Comment by mistertrippy on 2009-06-13 21:25:07 +0000

Alan – thanks for the memories.
Albertus/Tom, wow you’re typos make you sound like Alan, but I’ve no other reason to think you’re the same person. Can’t say I like Caro myself…

Comment by hl on 2009-06-14 15:37:20 +0000

hey mister-t as owner of this blog u should be able to check the email address [Mail (will not be published) (required)] of every post/er

Comment by mistertrippy on 2009-06-15 11:11:56 +0000

hl – takes you so far, but lots of people have multiple email addresses… the addresses on the Alan J is different to Albertus de Groot and Tom Paxton (which have the same address) – but actually I don’t think the Alan J comments were left by person who left the Paxton & de Groot…. just commenting on the typos…. But thanks for the tip!

Comment by jeff on 2009-08-31 09:43:52 +0000

I went to the party when a blue plaque was put up by Glen matlock at St Martins…. I must have bumped into Mr Trippy many a time…Been drinking in Soho since the PUNK days…So sad they are cleaning the area up….Even my beloved Berwick st !!!

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