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Frankie Vaughan: Glasgow’s Gang culture of the 1960s
10.19.2012
07:28 pm

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Crime
History

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Gangs have been synonymous with Glasgow since the 1800s. The poverty, squalor and terrible overcrowding of this great industrial city led to a harsh indifferent attitude to life and self-preservation.

The Penny Mob came out of the East End of the city. They had their own rules, dress code and even collected fees for a shared fund to pay police and court fines - hence their name. The Penny Mob elected their own chairmen to take charge of collecting money for the fund and its distribution.

The Penny Mob bred many rivals, who they fought for territorial dominance of a few blocks of street. The San Toys operated out of the Calton, a district close to the city center, and they fought with the Tim Malloys. Battles were brutal, bloody and quick. Fights often took place in Glasgow Green, a large municipal park to the east of the city, on the banks of the River Clyde. These were called “square gos” - one-on-one fights, where gang leaders slugged it out with each other. More often than not, these ended in pitched battles between rival factions.

Gangs spread throughout the city - each district, or block, was demarcated with its own gang. The South Side had some of the most vicious gangs, including the Mealy Boys, the McGlynn Push and the Gold Dust Gang, which operated out of the Gorbals. Gangs used bars and drinking dens as their HQs and meeting places, from where they planned their next territorial battle.

By the First World War, gangs were rampant across the city, with the most infamous being the Redskins that ruled the East End. Unlike previous gangs, the Redskins preferred swords, hatchets, machetes, razors and lead-weighted clubs rather than fists. They also operated as a major criminal organization, running protection rackets on local shops and businesses, and were involved in extortion, burglary and random mugging.

The Redskins fought rivals like the Calton Black Hand, the Bloodhound Flying Corps, the Hi-Hi’s, the Kelly Boys from Govan and the Baltic Fleet, which ran out of Baltic Street. The Redskins were eventually crushed by the police who were not afraid to use their own brutal tactics to quell the gangs.

Gangs always flourished during times of poverty. The 1930’s Depression saw a rise in violence and a new wave of gangs using cut throat razors as their weapon of choice, not just on their enemies (where they were used to inflict the “Glasgow Smile”), but on innocent members of the public.

In the 1960s, singer Frankie Vaughan famously visited one of Glasgow’s most troubled areas - Easterhouse. Here the singer successfully co-ordinated an amnesty between rival gangs, raising thousands of pounds to pay for amenities and youth centers. Vaughan, who had starred with Marilyn Monroe in Let’s Make Love, and had a highly success singing career, became a hero to the community.

By the 1970s, gangs had lost much of their appeal as judges gave out stiff sentences - a 2-5 year jail term for carrying a razor blade. Some gang members moved into more serious crime, running drugs and extortion rings, and carrying out major bank robberies across the city.

Today, though Glasgow has changed dramatically for the better, it still has an unfortunate reputation, In part because it is sadly still one of most violent cities in Western Europe. The homicide rate for males aged between 10 and 29 is on a par with the countries Argentina, Costa Rica and Lithuania. Not other cities but whole countries. A stabbing occurs every 6 hours. Many more go unreported. Alcohol-related death rates are 3 times the British average. And there are parts of Glasgow have the lowest life expectancies in Europe.

Yet, I love this city, for there is a great humanity amongst the people of Glasgow, that reflects a genuine belief things can and will get better.

This documentary focusses on Glasgow gangs during the 1960s, interviewing various gang members and looking at Frankie Vaughan’s involvement in bringing an amnesty to parts of the city.
 


 
With thanks to Racket Racket.

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
Krautrock legends Faust performing a live soundtrack to the US Presidential debate!
10.19.2012
05:57 pm

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Art
Music
Politics

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Faust at The Comet, Seattle, 10/15/2012 by Ian Buck

A friend of mine asked me the other day if I was going to see Faust play and I said “No” and then I saw this apocalyptic footage of Tuesday night’s show at The Comet Tavern in Seattle and I think I might change my mind!

Emily Pothast writes on the translinguistic other blog

“HAVE YOU EVER PARTICIPATED IN A GENOCIDE?” a wide-eyed Jean Hervé-Péron asked a roomful of enraptured onlookers. “YES,” he answered himself, with a near-maniacal grin. “AND SO HAVE YOU.”  As the improvised cacophony swelled around him, abstracted, acid-damaged images of Mitt Romney and Barack Obama arose and melted away like candied phantoms emerging from a zig-zagged field of processed video feedback.

I’m admittedly biased, since I had something to do with coaxing the event into existence in the first place, but I’m fairly certain that I just witnessed history being made.  Faust—yes that Faust, the sublimely absurdist German “krautrock” band—just performed a concert that opened with an improvised soundtrack to a live feed of the US presidential debates, psychedelicized by Hair and Space Museum (the multimedia duo comprised of David Golightly and myself.)

The happening happened at the Comet Tavern, a Seattle dive bar that barely accommodates 150 patrons (a far cry from the music halls that Faust has commanded in Europe for decades). It came together at the last moment as the result of a half-joking fantasy about how to best spend the day off that Faust had to kill between scheduled Seattle and Vancouver shows.  (My band Midday Veil played both shows with Faust. I am infinitely humbled by the opportunity to spend time with these amazing artists.)

If it weren’t for Faust, many people in the room would have probably been at a regular bar watching the debates for real, myself included, but I think this actually may have been the more informative way to experience them. There was a moment during the set, when Jean-Hervé was singing into the cement mixer, the sound of gravel nearly drowning out his voice as a horrific, hot-pink Romney floated ominously overhead, when I thought to myself, “Huh. This may well be the single most inspiring artistic performance I’ll ever witness.”

What the hell was I thinking? Faust play tonight in Los Angeles at REDCAT and tomorrow night at CalArts.
 

 
Thank you Chris Musgrave of Lumerians!

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
Giorgio Moroder posts rarities and remixes on Soundcloud
10.19.2012
12:22 pm

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Music

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The wonderful WFMU alerted me to Giorgio Moroder uploading some amazing mixes and rarities to Soundcloud. My Friday just got a whole lot funkier...
 

Posted by Tara McGinley | Leave a comment
Get in the weekend mood with The uplifting sounds of Jim Jones’ People’s Temple Choir!
10.19.2012
11:26 am

Topics:
Belief
Crime
Music
Occult

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“He’s a friend – to the friendless
He’s a father – to the fatherless
He’s your joy – he’s your sorrow
He’s your hope – for tomorrow”
(“He’s Able”)

This week I’ve been busy putting various menial finishing touches to an exciting forthcoming Headpress release on music and the occult by Mark Goodall, Gathering of the Tribe: Music and Heavy Conscious Creation. The collection includes essays on various “occulted” artists ranging from Captain Beefheart to John Coltrane, the Beatles to the Wu Tang Clan, and features contributions from Mick Farren, David Kerekes and myself, among others.

For the last day or two, I’ve been mostly embroiled in the book’s final chapter “Mindfuckers: Cult Groups, Outsider Artists and Their Sounds,” and so by osmosis have ended up predominantly listening to music made by psychopathic demagogues and their unfortunate minions. Most distinctive of these, perhaps, is the saccharine, sunny, seventies pop gospel of Jim Jones’ People’s Temple Choir, almost all of whom would be wiped out in the Jonestown massacre about five years later, resulting in the re-release of their 1973 He’s Able album with a far darker cover (see above) than the one in which it first appeared. The playlist below treats you to the entire life-affirming record – which was once described as, “coming out of your stereo speakers like a sunbeam through a stained glass window.” 

Hands up who’s in the mood for a refreshing glass of Kool-Aid?  
 

Posted by Thomas McGrath | Leave a comment
‘Adamson’: The original Homer Simpson from 1949?
10.19.2012
10:54 am

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Amusing
Animation
History
Pop Culture

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Meet Adamson - a dead ringer for Homer Simpson, as published in Icelandic paper Fálkinn in July 1949.

Adamson was created by Swedish cartoonist Oscar Jacobsson, whose work was published successfully around the world. In America Adamson was known as Silent Sam, and had a considerable following. Was Adamson a possible influence on the look of Matt Groening’s Homer Simpson?
 
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More pictures of Homer, d’oh, Adamson, after the jump…
 

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
Notes from the Niallist #6: Happy Birthday Divine!
10.19.2012
08:26 am

Topics:
Heroes
Queer

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When it comes to alt-culture icons, they don’t come much bigger or more fabulous than Divine, who was born Glenn Harris Milstead 67 years ago today.

I shouldn’t need to explain to the readers of Dangerous Minds how important a figure Divine was, not just to gay people, drag queens or the plus-sized, but to freaks, misfits and outcasts anywhere and everywhere. I mean, you just gotta love Divine. Anyone who flaunts their flaws that proudly and boldly, turns them into cornerstones of their appearance in fact, should be held up as an inspiration to everyone.

Divine’s legacy has gotten stronger since Milstead’s death in 1988, and in a strange way Divine has come to represent a time when society was both more conservative, but oddly more liberal. What film star would gulp down real, live dog shit on screen these days and be called a hero? I think we need Divine now more than ever, so it’s no surprise to me how truly iconic she has become in recent years.

As today is Divine’s birthday, I contacted Lotti Pharriss Knowles, the producer of the upcoming feature documentary I Am Divine, to discuss the incredible performer, and to get the scoop on their film, which promises to be the definitive document of Divine’s life.
 
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THE NIALLIST: How did this project come about in the first place?

LOTTI PHARRISS KNOWLES: Our director, Jeffrey Schwarz, has been kind of obsessed with Divine and John Waters since he was introduced to their films in college. Many years later Jeffrey interviewed Waters for SPINE TINGLER! THE WILLIAM CASTLE STORY, and many other Dreamlanders for the doc YOU CAN’T STOP THE BEAT: THE LONG JOURNEY OF HAIRSPRAY, and became inspired to make a definitive documentary about the immortal star that is Divine.

TN: How is the Kickstarter going? And when is the finished film due?

LPK: Kickstarter is going great—we made our goal of $40,000 earlier this week! But that goal was the bare minimum we needed to raise to help finish this film, so we are setting a new, “unofficial” goal of $50K to see how far we can get by Friday at midnight when the campaign ends.

We don’t have a specific due date, but we are applying to festivals where, if accepted, we’d premiere early next year. So time is definitely of the essence to make sure we polish the edit, get the soundtrack and graphics completed, and legally clear all the photos and footage we’ve included. And none of that comes cheap!

TN: What personally attracts you to the character of Divine?

LPK: I’ve always been an oddball and attracted to others who are, especially people who are fearless about being different. No one embodies that spirit of the in-your-face punk misfit more than Divine. I also love that while Divine was completely subversive, you always felt a tender heart beating underneath the wild persona—I think that combination is ultimately why Divine’s fans love him so fervently.

TN: Divine’s legacy has gotten stronger since her death - why do you think that is?

LPK: Well, we always seem to truly idolized those who leave us too soon: Marilyn Monroe, James Dean, Jimi Hendrix, Divine. They go out when they’re still young and beautiful, and they’re forever trapped in time… There’s something sentimental about that, because the fans are left to fill in the blanks of what might have happened had they lived longer. I also think there are always those new fans coming along, the next generation of folks seeing the Waters movies for the first time, and responding to those characteristics I mentioned. There are always going to be misfits and outsiders, and so there will always be a need for a role model like Divine.
 
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Divine in Melbourne, Autralia in 1984, pic by Andrew Curtis
 

TN: Where do you think Glenn Harris Milstead would be today if he hadn’t died?

LPK: I think he’d be an accomplished actor with a wide variety of roles under his belt. He had so much talent, and was just about to enjoy a breakout role out of drag on “Married With Children” when he passed away. Wouldn’t it have been wonderful to have seen Divine live to play Edna Turnblad again in the Broadway musical??

TN: Indeed it would!! Do you think modern society/culture could produce another Divine? And who do you think is closest to that mantle now?

LPK: I think it’s possible but tough, because since the 1970s we’ve already kind of seen it all and done it all in our culture, and no one could truly have the shock value that Divine and the Waters movies did at the time that they were made. There is no one even close to Divine who exists now, but I see shades of Divine’s legacy in people from Lady Gaga to Sharon Needles [check out The Niallist’s interview with Sharon Needles here], Sacha Baron Cohen to the “Jackass” crew—I think Divine paved the way for them and others like them.

TN: What’s your favorite Divine song?

LPK: Maybe a cliche, but I gotta go with “You Think You’re A Man.” It’s classic, catchy, and totally fuck you. I love it.

TN: I have to admit I am a huge fan of Divine’s music, from “Born To Be Cheap” to the Bobby O-produced classics, all the way up to the Stock, Aitken and Waterman productions. For a complete non-singer, Divine really knew how to belt out a song, and by compensating for the vocal weaknesses with pure attitude made for a very compelling performer. I also like the music because it’s overtly gay but takes no prisoners, it’s very “fuck you” which “gay” music hasn’t been for a long time. My favorite Divine track is probably “I’m So Beautiful”, which actually IS beautiful, as well as cheap, nasty, funny, filthy, and funky as hell. Anyway, what is your favorite of Divine’s many looks?

LPK: God, there are so many… But I have to pick the one-armed green leopard print mini-dress from “Female Trouble,” just ‘cause I love how she STRUTS down the avenue in Baltimore in it, and the (real!) reactions from people on the street. That’s the spirit of DIVINE in her purest form!

TN: Thanks Lotti!

I really cannot wait to see this film, and judging by the people involved it really will be the tribute that Divine deserves. You can see the trailer in this Dangerous Minds I Am Divine post from a while back.

In the meantime, here’s a PSA on body image and self-esteem from the I Am Divine camp, featuring John Waters, Mink Stole, Sharon Needles and Latrice Royale, all set to the wonderful tune of “I’m So Beautiful”.

We miss you and we love you, Divine!
 

 

Posted by Niall O'Conghaile | Leave a comment
‘Artificial Indifference’: John Butler gives a seminar on Drone Warfare today in Glasgow
10.19.2012
07:25 am

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Animation
Current Events
Politics
Thinkers

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John Butler of The Butler Brothers will be presenting Artificial Indifference: A Seminar on the Ethics and Economics of Drone Warfare, at the University of Glasgow, today, Friday October 19th, at 15:30 in the East Quadrangle Lecture Theater.

John will be speaking alongside Dr. Ian Shaw and Keith Hammond, and the seminar ties in with a one-day exhibition of Butler Brothers’ work also being held at the University.

This is highly recommended for any fans of Butler’s brilliant work, and for his critical analysis of drone warfare.
 

 
Previously on Dangerous Minds

The Ethical Governor


 

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
This Charming Man: A delightful interview with David Niven
10.18.2012
06:27 pm

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Amusing
Movies
Superstar
Television

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I always thought David Niven was Scottish, mainly because this great, charming actor regularly claimed he had been born in the town of Kirriemuir in 1909.

Kirriemuir is known as the birthplace of Peter Pan author, J. M. Barrie, and AC/DC frontman Bon Scott. It is also famed for Walter Burnett’s Kirriemuir gingerbread, which I recall eating in thick buttered slices as a child, thinking this tasty treat was the very stuff Niven must have lived off as a bairn.  Of course it wasn’t and Niven hadn’t been born in Scotland, rather he was a son of London, born in 1910.  Still, it only added to his tremendous style and charm, which made me find him so likable as an actor and raconteur.

That and the fact his films, in particular The Way Ahead, A Matter of Life and Death, The Elusive Pimpernel, Around the World in 80 Days, and Separate Tables were regularly screened on local TV during the sixties and seventies, possibly in the misguided belief Niven was Scottish.

Some of this great charm can be seen here in this brief interview with Sue Lawley, from 1973, where Niven discusses his childhood, pot, alcohol and good luck.
 

 
With thanks to Nellym.
 

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
Romney REDRUM
10.18.2012
05:55 pm

Topics:
Amusing

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Yes, totally silly, but I’m still posting it anyway.

Which Romney Son Is Creepiest?

Via Retrogasm

Posted by Tara McGinley | Leave a comment
Never-before-seen footage: The Rolling Stones play the Beatles, 1965
10.18.2012
05:32 pm

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Movies
Music

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A young Mick Jagger and Keith Richards relax playing “I’ve Just Seen A Face” and “Eight Days a Week,” as an unamused Charlie Watts looks on. From the upcoming expanded version of Charlie is my Darling, Peter Whitehead’s seldom-seen film documenting the Stones’ 1965 trek across Ireland:

ABKCO Films presents a meticulously restored and fully-realized version of this first-ever, legendary, but never released film. Shot during a quick tour of Ireland just weeks after (I Can t Get No) Satisfaction hit # 1 on the charts, The Rolling Stones Charlie is my Darling - Ireland 1965 is an intimate, behind-the-scenes diary of life on the road with the young Stones. It features the first professionally filmed concert performances of the band and documents the early frenzy of their fans and the riots the band s appearances inspired. The band is shown traveling through the Irish countryside by train; dashing from cabs to cramped, basement dressing rooms through screaming hordes of fans. Motel rooms host impromptu songwriting sessions and familiar classics are heard in their infancy as riff and lyric are united. Charlie is my Darling is the invaluable frame that captures the spark about to combust into The Greatest Rock and Roll Band in the World.

 

 
Thank you, you know who you are!

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
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