Harlan Ellison talks about Saving Mr. Banks

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I love Harlan Ellison. I also think he’s a cock at times. He’s also an amazingly nice bloke. He’s also an arrogant arsehole. He also fights for the right things, and the right people. Ellison is a mass of contradictions and when you read about him, he seems like this immense larger than life figure. So when I met him at a SF convention in Glasgow in the 1980’s I was partly shitting myself, and partly in awe of meeting one of my serious heroes, so to say I was nervous was an understatement.

He ended up being quite a lovely bloke to people who gave him respect. He spent some time chatting away to myself and a few others who were working in the dealers room. This was generally about comics, but also about Glasgow, and the city’s architecture. He also asked for my original Marvelman badge, which I gave for him in return for a nice little signed copy of the Glass Teat, which ended up being nicked about five or six years later  which I’m still bitter about.

Ellison has also been one of those people in the media who says things at times that needs to be said. In this case it’s about what looked to be, and from all accounts is, a travesty of history which is Saving Mr. Banks, Disney’s new film about Disney’s attempts to get the rights of Mary Poppins from it’s creator P.L. Travers. Starring Tom Hanks and Emma Thompson, the film looks to hit a few obvious marks by telling a story of how kindly Uncle Walt didn’t shaft a creator at all, oh heavens no!

Thankfully here comes Ellison to put things right in what can be best described as one of the most glorious rants you’ll have the pleasure of seeing.

Realise as well that Disney are still shafting creators. This isn’t history but is an ongoing process for Disney, but films like Saving Mr. Banks serve up a whitewashed version of history which reflects upon the present. Thanks to Ellison we can a chance of some realistic criticism.

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Glasgow 1980

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This is remarkable film by Oscar Marzaroli released in 1971 which details Glasgow’s redevelopment from a post-war city suffering from the ravages of Nazi bombing and a massive industrial expansion to a city which would be ready for the 21st century.

Sadly a lot of the redevelopment cheerily outlined as being hugely positive in this film ended up being as bad, if not worse than the slums they replaced so there’s a horror watching this as the cheery optimism of the future here is tempered by what actually happened during the 1970’s, and the decline of Glasgow during the blight of Thatcherism in the 1980’s.

Of course some of what’s proposed in this film worked out well for Glasgow, but my memories of the 1970’s of Glasgow is full of old buildings being demolished and the new high rise flats being built which straight away felt less welcoming than that which it replaced. The film’s idea that the Glasgow of 1980 wouldn’t be sweat and labour became true, but not for the reasons suggested in the film.

So enjoy this wonderful bit of archive from 1971. Look at a city looking forward and try not to let history judge it too harshly….

Walk out to Winter

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Aztec Camera are one of those bands who should be held in the same sort of awe and reverence The Smiths or New Order are. Roddy Frame should be held up as the same sort of songwriting genius like Johnny Marr or Morrissey. Frame’s songwriting should be acclaimed by more than a hardcore of aging fans as the sort of perfection you rarely get in pop music of any kind.

Sadly it isn’t, so here’s my little attempt to correct things and give the Sound of Young Glasgow a bit more credit. Here’s the best song you’ll hear tonight, and the one that made Johnny Marr up his game. Enjoy…..

How a Northern Soul Girl dancing through the streets of Bristol will make you smile

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I wasn’t a fan of Northern Soul when I was younger. In fact I didn’t have a bloody clue what it was until well into my late teens when I began to become more and more educated about music.Since then I’m grown to love the sound, and although I never got into the scene I’ve sort of circled it every now and then throughout the years as I love the working class glamour of the scene.

Today has been another crap day, in what has been a crap month in a crap year. This video of a ‘Northern Soul Girl‘ dancing through the street of Staple Hill in Bristol made me actually chill out and feel there’s better things around than being stressed and miserable. Not many things do that, so here it is. Enjoy!

A Completely Unexpected Blog About One Deacon Blue Song…

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I haven’t done any personal blogs in a while, this is due to my being occupied with other things, and frankly unfurling the mess of my recent redundancy. As things look to be more stable I think it’s time to get a few more blogs out that I’ve been sitting on for a while, some of which are going to be a wee bit painful.

Before I do all that, here’s a little aside. This Deacon Blue video of their cover of I’ll Never Fall in Love Again was filmed near where I grew up. The flats you see at the start are the imposing Westercommon flats, that dominate the landscape of North Glasgow, and in fact can be seen across a large part of the north and west of the city.

They’re not as dreadful as some of the other high-rise flats in Glasgow but they’re still monstrosities, and here’s a little known fact, my first girlfriend lived in them. The one on the far right to be exact.

Anyhow, that Deacon Blue video was filmed near the Forth and Clyde Canal near Possilpark. It also manages to capture the sheer stark industrial beauty of the place. Here’s a recent picture of the area taken from this site.

I used to walk along the canal a lot when growing up around the area as it was a handy, and more scenic, walk from Possil to Maryhill to watch the mighty Partick Thistle play at Firhill, or wander along the Maryhill Road to pop into the seedy bookshops looking for comics, books or anything weird and wonderful. Reach the end of the Maryhill Road and you’re in Glasgow’s West End with all the wonders and joys that once held.

It never dawned on me growing up in the 70’s and early 80’s that this area was a prime bit of land, or that it was indeed, somewhere wonderful and beautiful until I saw this Deacon blue video of their average cover of a good song. It reminded me that somehow my memories of living in Possilpark and Maryhill were actually in black and white, even the sunny days I remember in black and white. So this video was scarily like my memories.

That was in 1988, a year after I moved from Glasgow to Leicester. I’ve only been back twice to that area since moving. Once was a year or so later in 1989. I was doing a comic mart in Glasgow one weekend and finding myself with a few hours to kill on a Sunday afternoon before linking up with friends to go drinking on a Sunday night (and with around 800 quid in cash in taking from the day before) I took a walk from where i was staying at the Central Hotel (money was no object! Frankly I couldn’t be arsed crashing on friend’s floors this visit due to working the mart. I needed an actual bed) in the city centre up to the north of the city to take a walk on a shiny day to see how things had changed.

They hadn’t. It was still the industrial landscape I grew up with. The last visit was a few years ago. It’s now utterly different yet it still carries that hopeless honest beauty you get in working class areas when you least expect it.

So this video sums up a snapshot of my life over a number of years. I can’t listen to the song without the video because they don’t work separately, and also the video is a strange little bit or archive of a piece of my childhood and youth which isn’t really there any more. That shouldn’t make me sad, but it does. It makes me painfully sad.

The White Room-The KLF’s road movie.

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In 1991 the KLF released the album The White Room, which to this day is as far as I’m concerned, one of the best albums of all time. They made a series of films, including their road movie, The White Room. I’ve never seen in beyond trying to watch it on sketchy third or fourth generation bootlegs or the odd festival showing at 3am when you’re hammered so I’m chuffed that it’s popped up on my Youtube recommendations.

It’s a fantastic record of it’s time, not to mention in many cases a better time. I’d like Drummond and Caulty to do a decent release of this and their other films on DVD, but I won’t hold my breath.

So it’s just this video. Enjoy…

Public Image

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I was ten when Punk broke across the UK in 1977. I never really appreciated it at the time but thought God Save The Queen sounded fun, but I wasn’t really shaken out of my love for pop. It wasn’t til I listened to Public Image by Lydon’s subsequent band after the Sex Pistols, Public Image Ltd, that I got Punk, what it was about and how great an ideology it is beyond the cartoon image of Punk as mohawks, leather jackets, drinking cider and spitting.

So share with me again as I’m suddenly an 11 year old realising that David Bowie isn’t the be-all and end-all of music.

As a special bonus, here’s PiL doing the song at this year’s Glastonbury. It’s a great performance and finally getting to see PiL live after all these years was a wonderful occasion.

Enjoy.