Metal & Ink / Beard & Kink

 

Ah, hipsters…don’t you just love ’em?  Apart from drinking out of jam jars (honestly, what’s wrong with just using a plain glass?), riding around on absurd bikes, and overly ostentatiously having a love for vinyl, they’re seriously hirsute and seem to take their grooming cues from the latest series of Vikings, and like to show off their very visible animal tattoos. 

 

They are the ones who globally embrace Movember, supposedly “for charity”, but really because they just love any excuse to manscape. Yes, they are the ones with waxed beards, ‘taches and sideburns, tattooed from head to toe, and invariably accompanied with various body-piercings (private or otherwise).  And with it, they like to scream “I am a hipster.  Hear me roar.” 

 

They also like wearing statements on their (almost always) goth-like black apparel, whether that be t-shirts or hoodies, the latest craze being “Metal & Ink / Beard & Kink”, as spotted here on Glasgow’s Viccy Road.

 

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This is practically on my doorstep on Victoria Road (more affectionately known to all as the “Viccy Road”), the main artery of Govanhill – easily the most racially and culturally diverse communities in Scotland, a district on the south side of Glasgow, home to some 15,000 souls, with people from an estimated 42 different nationalities all living and managing to coexist with each other within one square mile.

 

Here, you’ll find two mosques, one synagogue, and about half a dozen churches.  Its boundaries are narrow yet its horizons are broad, with community action having a long tradition in the area. On May Day, 1960, thousands marched along the Viccy Road to Queen’s Park demanding better housing, led by Paul Robeson, the radical American civil rights activist, who sang Ole Man River for them.

 

And this year proved a special one for the community, as the same venue hosted recently the inaugural Govanhill International Carnival, a new addition to the UK-wide summer festival circuit – and to help its launch, it also included a music festival that ran alongside the main carnival, and the political speeches coming from Scotland’s First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, and Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn.

 

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Sitting here overdosing on the sunshine by the pool in Saint Louis, in the US Midwest, tuning-in to the TV in the evenings offers up almost end-to-end promotions for a week of festivities in tribute to the 40th anniversary of the death of Elvis Presley, who died on August 16, 1977. And despite being on a month-long work/vacation, I thought we’d pay tribute also by delving into the Seattle archives to bring the King out of the shadows – well, at least his hidden bronze statue, that is.

 

The unmistakable lip-curling, hip-wiggling, quiff-quivering, guitar-gyrating stance is there for all to see in this statue – but only if the public look carefully for it, as it’s hidden in the shadows of a courtyard off Broadway on First Hill (directly across from the Elliott Bay Book shop on 10th Ave). It was one of three statues of rock icons – Jimi Hendrix, Chuck Berry and Presley – commissioned by Mike Malone, a music-loving real-estate developer.

 

The statue of Hendrix, directly on Broadway, at Blick Art Supplies, is by far the most iconic and most photographed. But Malone also commissioned Seattle artist Daryl Smith to do similar ones of Elvis and Berry – and all three can be found within a few blocks of each other.

 

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In 1987, Deacon Blue released their iconic debut album, Raintown, that propelled the Glasgow band to international stardom.  And as we celebrate its 30th anniversary, Raintown has stood the test of time by not only being universally regarded as the “perfect pop album”, but the songs it featured continue to litter every Deacon Blue live set.

 

Rarely is Raintown spoken about without the artwork getting a mention: The bleak yet beautiful cover shot captured by Glasgow photographer Oscar Mazaroli (1933-1988), is rightly hailed as a stroke of genius, as it perfectly encapsulates the mood and feel of the album – and Glasgow!

 

This town certainly gets the wet wet wet stuff, even at the start of the Glasgow Fair Fortnight, the Friday in mid-July that’s traditionally the start of the holiday season, as today’s image taken on Buchanan  Street will testify to, as even the pipers resort to craftily attaching an umbrella to their bagpipes in a forlorn effort to stay dry.

 

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June 21 marked the Summer Solstice in 2017. And as well as being the longest day of the year, the Solstice is also a time for great Druid revelry and naked shenanigans at Stonehenge (where not everything stops when the music does!), as apparently a crowd of 13,000 watched and welcomed the sunrise strike up across the Neolithic landmark.

 

So “Hello Summer” then as most of England baked in a near tropical heatwave with a 41-year record temperature high – but here in Glasgow, the temperature was somewhat subdued with the traditional solstice celebrations of pouring rain, interrupted only by the occasional thunderstorm as everyone dived for cover.

 

And that also looks to be the case for WALL-E, Pixar’s small waste-collecting robot, who as I took this photo looked not so much as he was covering himself from the rain, but somewhat sheepishly as if he had perhaps been on the razzle and recovering from a rough night in Glasgow.    

 

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See modern art?  See Glasgow?

 

An empty gallery has been unveiled as the latest work by an artist who “cancelled” her exhibition at one of Glasgow’s leading venues.  Marlie Mul asked for no exhibition be held in the city’s Gallery of Modern Art (GoMA) on Royal Exchange Square. Instead, Gallery 1 at GoMA will lie empty. 

 

The massive billboards outside the gallery advertising the exhibition states “Cancelled” – and the sign has caused much infuriation for the staff at the GoMA, who since the banner went up, have had to patiently explain to the public that the show is indeed going ahead, and unfortunately for the staff, it is called “Cancelled”.

 

The show opened on Friday and runs through until the end of October.  People are being invited to “visit and interact with the space – and suggest alternative uses for the gallery during the five months set aside for the show. Apparently, the Dutch artists’ “conceptual gesture” was to act as an “implicit critique of what is displayed within museums and galleries”. 

 

GoMA curator Will Cooper adds: “By removing what would traditionally be considered an art object we are instead presenting the gallery as an empty space, giving us a moment to question the value in turning over exhibition after exhibition after exhibition.”

 

Yes, but is it art?

 

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Damning figures revealed this week that four homeless people are dying every month in the streets of Glasgow – that’s one death each week.  And for me, that’s one death a week too many in my own hometown.

 

Figures obtained by the Sunday Herald newspaper from Glasgow City Council via a Freedom of Information request showed the shocking statistic that at least 39 homeless people have died in Glasgow in the space of just 10 months. The deaths occurred between May 2016 and March 2017 with, alarmingly, the council admitting that these numbers more than likely underestimate the full scale of the scandal on our streets. 

 

This is nothing short of shameful for a society in the 21st-century – and, regretfully, I can only see this epidemic of rough sleepers dying getting worse.  As I walk around this beloved city, it haunts me that a large number of closed stores in fabled shopping arteries, such as Sauchiehall Street – where this recent photo was taken – have now been taken over by the homeless, who have more or less taken up permanent residency in those locked-up high-street doorways that once regularly swung open-and-shut with bustling shoppers.

 

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The latest commercial advertisement campaign from the trendy folks at Diesel on the hustle and bustle of Glasgow’s Buchanan Street took a distinctly political slant recently by encouraging consumers to “Make Love Not Walls”, as it promoted its new Spring/Summer 2017 collection by taking a pop at President Trump’s plans to erect a border wall with Mexico.

 

It strikes me as never a good sign for any politician when a High Street fashion outlet has a go at you that proves popular – and it comes at a timely moment just as Trump approached his JFK milestone mark of 100 days in office. And this wasn’t the only Glasgow outlet I noticed having a pop at “The Donald”. 

 

This week the momentous occasion was also commemorated at the Ubiquitous Chip’s wee bar in Ashton Lane – off Byers Road in the city’s west end – with an update to its revered cocktail list of a new drink called “Letter to America”.  Below the title came the very Glaswegian explanation: “Yer Maw Was An Immigrant, Ya Absolute Roaster”.

 

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Yet another year has spun around since the last Record Store Day, but last weekend stores, labels, and enthusiasts around the globe geared up for a milestone 10th celebration of the collision of music and vinyl. And today’s photo, taken at the somewhat overcrowded FOPP store in trendy Byres Road on Saturday, was one of the many RSD venues from around the globe that took part in the occasion. 

 

Although the digital revolution certainly has stymied the survival of record stores worldwide, it never managed to completely eradicate their influence. In fact, vinyl sales are storming up the charts for the tenth year in a row, according to industry reports. That’s not too much of a shocker, given that vinyl’s skyward trend has been accompanied by the ten-year run of RSD that allows us to pick up limited and special edition LPs.

 

It’s nice, though, seeing a resurgence in something that we all once took for granted before the rise of MP3 — but vinyl records are far, far more sexy. Unlike an MP3, with vinyl you can rush home holding it tenderly under your arm, and then begin the seduction of undressing it out of its jacket – and perhaps underneath, if you are lucky, you’ll find another white hidden layer before you get to hold it naked in your hands.

 

While this may seem perverse to some 21st-century listeners, that’s how most of us started our intimate, groovy kind of love with music, through vinyl. Do you remember your first time? My first trip to a record shop was in 1971 – Sound Developments’ in Kirkintilloch – to spend my hard-earned pocket money on the 7” No.1 hit by Sally Carr with Middle of the Road, Chirpy Chirpy Cheep Cheep (we’ve all got to start somewhere).

 

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According to a new research study, it seems that the traditional fish and chip shop is taking a veritable “battering” and could make a shock disappearance from British streets – and all because those pesky, dietary-savvy millennials are shunning deep fried food in favour of more exotic takeaways.

 

Fish and chips are now deemed “out of touch” with modern times (but no doubt Nigel Farago and Ukip will somehow blame all this on the EU), and burger bars – even high-end, boutique burgers for the hipster clientele, such as Meathammer Ltd., located in oh-so-trendy Byres Road in Glasgow’s West End – are cashing in on this market with lighter takeaway menus that come replete with salads for those that like to adhere to the strict five-a-day regime.

 

Growing up in early 1970s Kirkintilloch, it was the ‘Chippies’ that ruled supreme in an era when “five-a-day” would often amount to your daily fried food intake, not forgetting to include a tasty dessert of the Scottish invention of a deep fried Mars Bar. And in those innocent artery-clogging times, we even had dear old departed Bert Schiavone’s mobile fish and chip van – a fire hazard on wheels, as he often called it – that toured the scheme, just like an ice-cream van.

 

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