Rutger Hauer RIP

utger Hauer has died at the age of 75 and it’s a damned pity. Hauer in another reality would be laden with Oscars, BAFTA’s and be lauded as one of the greatest actors, and leading men of his generation. Instead he forged a solid career but never got the acclaim, or often the roles, he deserved.

Like most people outwith of The Netherlands, I first saw Hauer in Blade Runner and was blown away by him and one scene in particular.

It was when I was older that I discovered his earlier work with Paul Verhoeven, with Turkish Delight

And the still extraordinary Soldier of Orange. Apart from Blade Runner this is the best film he ever made and contains this amazing scene of Nazi homoeroticism.

Then there’s the glorious joy of Ladyhawke

And the barking mad insanity of Flesh and Blood.

The ceeeping dread of The Hitcher. His opening scene is just fucking scary as anything.

The Legend of the Holy Drinker should have cemented his reputation as a true great of acting.

But instead genre fare came his way with the 1990’s being somewhat of a barren wasteland creatively, unless you count his mysterious Guinness ads from the time as a high, which compared to some of the crap he was in, they certainly were.

And yes, I’ll admit these ads shaped my dress sense for the late 80’s with lots of collarless shirts and long black coats.

In 2005 a couple of cameos in big Hollywood films came coming with Sin City and Batman Begins. These should have kick started a revival but sadly no, and Hauer stayed working constantly with his last role of real note being the title character of Hobo With A Shotgun.

Hauer leaves behind a huge CV. Most of it isn’t worth paying attention to but dear god, some of the highlights shine and there’s so many highlights. He’ll be missed for what he did and what he could have done as well.

RIP Bob Napier, an unsung hero of comics

For what seems like a lifetime I’ve been working on a blog about the unsung heroes of British comics. You know, the type of folk who at best may get a passing mention in one of those articles about British comics that leaps from 2000AD, to Alan Moore and then to Vertigo often missing out the folk who didn’t just keep the scene going, but actually helped carve the foundations and build the bloody thing in the first place.

One of those names on the list has been Bob Napier, and sadly, he’s now passed away after battling illness for some years. He was a founding partner in the legendary Glasgow comic chop, AKA Books and Comics, not to mention the entire Glasgow comics scene owes him a debt because if you’re sitting in the city enjoying the scene and the ‘geek’ culture of today one of those people who built the well you sup upon is Bob Napier so raise a glass in respect to the man.

Bob was a big man. Although his other partners were in various forms more public than Bob, he was very much the driving forceand kept things sane when at times it could have went horribly off the rails. He co-founded the AKA fanzine born from drinking in the back of Wintersgills in Glasgow’s West End though to the opening of the shop in the now defunct Virginia Galleries. Although not a full time employee like John McShane and Pete Root, or an occasional presence like Steve Montgomery, Bob imprinted himself on AKA to the extent that to miss him from the history of the shop or the Glasgow scene is an injustice which sadly is far too common. Even in this piece here, Bobbie is reduced to an ’employee’ which is a slight although corrected shows how history often reduces the role of important figures. Though his appearance in a Marvel Captain Britain strip now makes him a Disney character which I think he’d have liked…

I only saw Bob a few times after the disintegration of AKA in the 90’s. As regular readers of this blog will know I was living in England, and by the mid 90’s my trips home were becoming less frequent so the last time I really spoke to Bob was when he had a wee unit in the old Candleriggs Market selling comics for prices which today would be a steal but then were pretty decent. I remember we had a chat, caught up, I bought some Flash back issues, promised we’d go for a pint with Pete Root next time I was up and with that I never saw him again apart from briefly seeing him at the Glasgow Comic Con at the Royal Concert Hall a couple of years ago which made me regret ever living up to that promise of a pint as his battle with illness had clearly taken its toll.

However let’s not end on such a note. We all live with regret but it is with Bobbies friends and families that our sympathies and attention should lie. If you can make it, his funeral is 9am on Saturday the 22 June at Daldowie Crematorium in Glasgow. Say cheerio to one of the people who did all the hard work in appreciating, loving and building up comics at a time in a city where it was hard to do so.

Cheers Bob, I hope to have that pint with you and Pete some day in an afterlife where the taps run with beer and comics…

RIP Billy McNeill

Celtic and Scotland legend Billy McNeill sadly has passed away. It wasn’t a shock as he’d been ill for some time but this absolute giant of a man will be best remembered not just to be the first Scottish and British player to get his hands on the European Cup, but for being one of the very best players Scotland ever will produce.

I’m a Partick Thistle supporter but to not admire the man and there’s fans of many a Scottish club, Rangers included, who think the same. A giant who’ll be missed.

Scott Walker RIP

Back in the long hot summer of 1995 I went down to Glastonbury for a weekend of fun and games, with a couple of friends, Denise and Joe who were driving down. We were travelling in a battered old car which groaned with our stuff but spirits were high as we left Leicester to hit the M69 to head to the South West. As we approached Coventry Joe stuck on the one tape we had for the trip which was a copy of the Best of Scott Walker and as he stuck it in, and pressed play the first chinks of sunrise broke as this played.

It was the sign it was going to be a good weekend.

By this point in the mid 90’s, Walker had gained an appreciation among the Indie kids who weren’t having the dull boot heel of Britpop kicking them in the head, though folks like myself grew up with Walker’s music. Basically if you grew up in the 70’s and your family had taste you’d normally head one Walker tune all the time. Mine was Jackie.

But the king was this one.

No Regrets was my drunken pulling song along with Blondie’s Atomic for years in the late 80’s and early 90’s. Those were the days.

What I’m basically saying is that Scott Walker is dead but his music won’t die. Walker has been with me musically for more or less my entire life. His music was there during some amazingly memorable times and still will because just listen to the man sing on songs like this…

I mean, just fuck, listen to it! If that song doesn’t move you a bit then you have no soul.

But the sun won’t shine anymore for him and it’s only fitting to close this with this performance of a Jacques Brel song…

Keith Flint RIP

Keith Flint of The Prodigy took his own life at the age of 49 and it is an utter tragedy for so, so many reasons. If one assumes he was suffering from depression then he’s another victim of how men especially find it hard to nearly impossible to speak about something that can be crippling or worse. 49 is no age these days and Flint had decades ahead of him.

And it can’t be said often enough that The Prodigy emerged from a scene in the early 90’s where rave bands were ten a penny and novelty dance tunes were chart fodder, which brings me my first encounter with the band in the form of Charly.

In these early days Flint was a dancer. Basically he was there to dance to LIam Howlett’s tunes as The Prodigy was purely a vehicle for Howlett back then but then came Music For A Jilted Generation and fuck me, it was like an entirely different band.

I first saw them sometime in 93/4 at the Astoria in London and it was clear the band wasn’t just actually becoming a band, but Flint was developing a presence onstage, and not just that the band were getting harder. Sometimes even moving away from the rave sound which by the mid 90s was becoming increasingly commercialised and well, shite.

Then Firestarter came out in 96 at the height of Britpop when British bands were supposed to be inspired by The Kinks and writing songs about going to the seaside or getting drunk, The Prodigy turned out something that sounded nothing like any other mainstream band at the time.

Sure, others had blended dance with Punk before, Sheep on Drugs for example, but nobody really made a success of it til Keith Flint decided to have a serious makeover which ended up scaring the shite out of people’s mid-90’s complacency when the video first appeared on Top of the Pops.

Summer 96 saw The Prodigy tear up the Phoenix festival, but it was 1997 at Glastonbury when they landed fully formed as something extraordinary.

It was Friday night. It’d been raining so hard in the run-up that stages were sinking into the mud. Conditions were miserable. Everywhere had this sucking, sticky mud that clung to everything, and if you stayed still for too long you either locked into place or sank. People were fucked off and waiting for something to kick the festival’s arse into gear. A lot has been said about Radiohead’s set on the Saturday over the years, but without the Prodigy kicking off the Friday night  and giving people a spark, then the crowd wouldn’t have been so up for it. We’d have given in.

By now at the scabby dogend of Britpop bands were dropping off fast, but The Prodigy sailed through the storms, not to mention controversies like the argument with the Beastie Boys about Smack My Bitch Up.

After 98 I sort of took the Prodigy for granted. Subsequent albums never hit the heights of Fat of the Land, and a decent headliner spot in Reading in 2002 was the last time I saw them live, and now I’ll never see them again and that is nothing compared to the tragedy of Flint leaving us at such a relatively young age.

Life is Golden

The other week during an especially tedious corporate team building/training exercise we did a thing where you”re to give away one of six things that mean the most to you. Everyone else picked ‘friends’ or’ family’. I picked time because if you don’t have, or indeed, make the time, then you can’t appreciate that which you hold the closest to you because you don’t realise as you live life that you don’t actually have much time. In an ideal world it should be down to oneself to decide what time they decide to waste, but the mundaneness of modern life enforces one to devalue time to the point where you never consider it, or worse, wish it away, to simply exist.

I say this as a friends back in Bristol passed away this weekend from cancer. I’ll not go into to much details as I’m unsure how much he’d, or his family, would like details splashed on the face of the internet, but needless to say it takes something reminding one of their mortality to appreciate time because for him his time is done, and we can only remember the times we all had drinking while watching the football, or talking bollocks in drunken nights down the Cat and Wheel, the local where a small community grew organically over the years.

Now that community which has been scattered over the last few years comes together to mourn and remember as we take the time to give one of our own their dues. It’s sad it takes an untimely death to remember how precious time is but while people remember you by taking the time to do so then there’s a part of you that never really dies. Instead you live on in the fractured bits of memory we all have of people never to fully fade out of existence.

In the end, once time has ran out for us all, this remembrance is all that’ll remain of us and that’s good because if you can get through life having an impact for the better on one person at least then you’ve lived a decent life and that’s all we want to do at the end of the day.

RIP Jeremy Hardy

The comedian Jeremy Hardy has sadly died far too young thanks to fucking cancer. This is a tragedy all round because there’s a lack of actual left wing comics (as opposed to people who’ll sell out at the first sniff of megastardom) and there’s a real lack of leftish comics who aren’t just painfully woke, or are just treating comedy as a stepping stone to something else like presenting or the panel show circuit before the DVD, the tour and the BBC One special.

Hardy dabbled with the mainstream in things like this great Top of the Pops he presented with Jack Dee.

Or being on the very first episode of Mock the Week.

For me it was his stand up that set him aside from others with his performances at Glastonbury being special highlights but a special talent is gone, and he can’t be replaced. Hardy’s socialism was never the elitist kind or the type that ignores opinion from others who may not agree with him hence why people of all persuasions are mourning him today.

At a time when we needed his particular left voice we no longer have it. He’ll be missed a lot.