28 September 2009


Michael Kearns has finally published his historic tome 'The Drama of AIDS: My Lasting Connections with Two Plays that Survived the Plague'. This poem to celebrate that, and to remember all my brothers who were lost.

It is ostensibly about Katharine Hepburn.

I’ll let you into a secret. I’m not a fan
of the pricks that ask for a hymn or a
gin-bottle memory of me and my African
man so I drive about booted up like a
soldier, head up and my chin out like
a hunting rifle
foot on the gas
and a whisper so the crowds don’t
part: fill her up, please, spat out in tiny
Kate, Kate,
Calm the voice, tone it down or
you’ll hitch that hick on your knife-
sharp suit; this fruitcake’s got me doing
a Hepburn high kick but like I told him I’m
just passing through. Clatter Kate he called
me, stilting tower-high down Sunset in his
textbook memory with my stilettos
weren’t stilettos kid but knives on the soles
of my feet to deal with the wives.
What a
schmuck.) I’m your biggest fan; here we go
again, just pour me the damn juice. I’m
an ass - and this cut-out moose for an attendant?
He wobbled like a set-piece and clocked me
feather-thin which is all
I can muster these days.
I’m old.
He’s all slick with grease-monkey gumption
and a pot of gold and a box-set and in debt
to my career so I told him:
Buster, stick to the pumps.
I could have pushed him over with my pinkie

and when the sky came down like a fist
the winded revelation went something like
this: you ain’t got more smarts than me Miss
Hoity-Toity so get off my ass
Damn, boy’s a
pro. But if I’m not good to go in five seconds
I’m finding a cop
and he laughed a big meaty laugh, I said get off my
ass Miss Kate
and I had to laugh too,
jazz-bop and
bamboo-lined booths and the grooves with me in my
uptight fishnets and a cigarette on a stick with
Mister Tracey fug-bound,
mouthing something quick.
Those were the days.
I have a life kid, so fill me up
then I’m highway-hugging ‘til I hear singing.

Spencer, oh how the boy talked of Spencer,
queer little pump kid with Hollywood’s back bars
and fast cars and an old film-star in his
forecourt, filling me in and sucking up the fame:
an addled dame and a boy with an eyeful
on her angles.
I’m getting tired

Every kid’s got a Tracey in their soul, a Tracey-
sized hole that makes them drive a state or two
to fill it up.
That’s on the house, not like you deserve it but
like I say
and he turns away too quickly.
I can hear the smoky sounds of a faraway
jazz night, boy, but I won’t tell you
that, right? Better put up a fight and like I said I’m
only passing through.
Thanks kid. I shove on the old Hepburn
grimace: nice pumps, shame about the face.

Gas, AFG

23 September 2009

The Green Gallery, Buchlyvie

Colliding Tides, Roseanne Barr

Just popped in to peruse my acquantaince Roseanne Barr's work currently showing at the hidden gem Green Gallery in Buchlyvie, fifteen miles from the city of Stirling. Near Buchlyvie I have made my home, hence the bucolic posts and rhapsodic tales of countryside living. I went with blog friend Claudia Massie, her of the incomparable landscapes and featured many a time in this blog. Both artists are fresh from a triumphant run as finalists in the Jolomo Awards earlier this year, and Claudia has spent the summer as part of the 'go reborn' project and also showing at the Flaubert Gallery in Edinburgh's Stockbridge (see earlier posts).

We were met by Andrew Walker, husband of the inspiration behind the Green Gallery, Becky Walker. He gave us a marvellous tour of the gallery which is set in fab surroundings in the village of Buchlyvie. They've quite recently moved from a place in nearby Aberfoyle and here the bespoke space is a gleaming light-filled old Coachhouse with a spectacular sculpture garden. Outside in sweeping fields a shepherd was a work with his three sheepdogs, and the grounds of the house at Ballamenoch where the gallery is situated are pretty special.

Becky herself shows various exhibitions every year and apart from Roseanne Barr, other well-known local artists such as Marion Drummond, Rowenna Laing and Francis Boag can all be found here. For a more comprehensive list check Becky's website.

It's wonderful now I'm out in the sticks to find such a thriving art scene, situated as we are between Edinburgh and Glasgow, and the Green Gallery is well worth a look.

For more info about Becky Walker, the lovely Walker family and their space out here in Buchlyvie call 01360 850180, or email greengallery@sol.co.uk, or find more details and directions here.
More art posts (mostly Edinburgh based) are available and updated regularly on my 'go reborn' collective blog which you can find here.

22 September 2009

Cormac McCarthy: The Road

In anticipation of the new film with Viggo Mortensen, possibly the finest man ever to exist (actor, poet, multilinguist and craggy beauty - ooft), and because of my love for all things American or rather americana I bought this on one of my forays into the big smoke. I'd read 'All the Pretty Horses' and 'The Orchard Keeper' and various others and loved the wide, sweeping images of the States and, of course, anything with cowboys and horses is generally good. Fact. I even liked the movie 'No Country for Old Men', although found Javier Bardem's role as a Wild West Uncle Fester somewhat bemusing and unfortunately hilarious.

'The Road', as my mother would say, is a different kettle of fish. It is clearly a McCarthy book - those staccato rhythms, glaucous images of nature and monosyllabic characters all stand out as his trademarks - but the subject matter (a post-apocalyptic world ravaged by fire) is something new. His nameless characters in a featureless landscape managed to evince such emotion from yours truly that I spent two hours wandering around the streets of Stirling thinking the world had ended. It is, admittedly, quite easy to do this in Stirling, being as it is a semi-wilderness, but it is the kind of book any writer would give their teeth to get close to creating.

Now any book I read after seems clumsy, pretentious and longwinded. Strangely when I started 'The Road' I though his habit of piling up short sentences was to be his downfall, but the build up of tension obviously works as I could not put the book away. It is not often that you come away from a book feeling so entirely ravaged, wretched and yet strangely elated, and it shows a master at work when the cityscape you are trudging around is blurred out and you are left lost in a landscape straight out of a book. Very pleasing, in a way, and the best kind of escapism.

Can't wait for the film - of course there are shallow reasons, but one must never overlook ogling as a pointless pastime. Cormac McCarthy is probably the best American writer of his generation, all things considered, and now that he's captured the future of our human race so succintly as well as the past and present, he seems to have reached heights previously undisturbed.

The film also stars Guy Pearce and Charlize Theron. Checking out the cast list I notice a chap called Mark Tierno bagged the role of 'Baby Eater' - a clue as to what you might find on a post-apocalyptic menu.

20 September 2009

The Hot Seats at Gartmore Village Hall: Bluegrass Explosion

Since I've moved out here to the wilds of Stirlingshire, it's been all hare-watching, buzzard-stalking, horse-riding and deer-creeping. But my pal, photographer, journalist and mountain rescue expert supremo Ian Dawson suggested we take a hike over to Gartmore Village Hall and catch the Hot Seats, quite a coup for such a tiny village. Apparently, however, Gartmore is quite the bohemian hideaway and has a thriving music scene. If the Dawson family are anything to go by, with Finn Dawson at their helm with a youthly grin, Gartmore is alright. Yeehaw.
The Hot Seats are quite simply breathtaking. They dived straight into a old-time bluegrass set which had the red-faced audience, bathed in the glow of candlelight and wine for £8 a bottle (the delights of Gartmore!), whooping and hollering for more. I chummed up with Indie and her girlfriend, two folksters from Aberdeen who had come down especially for the Hot Seats set and they were not disappointed - more on them in later posts.
Here is how the Hot Seats describe their sound: "Their original music is simultaneously hard to classify and instantly identifiable, combining the virtuosic soloing and tightness of bluegrass, the band-driven rhythm of old time, the jerky bounce of ragtime, and the swagger of good old rock and roll. Add some eastern melodies, a few modernist ideals, and an uncanny feel for comic timing, and you begin to approach this sound".
For the audience at Gartmore, hardcore fans at the back clearly appreciated this, but the general feel of old-time americana and the Hot Seats hilarious and at times surreal banter pleased a crowd who may not know their fiddle from their double bass but certainly knew how to party.
I felt pretty honoured to have been present at such a band's performance - a real treat and a lesson in bluegrass and roots. It's been a while since I've seen such dextrous fingers! They're in the UK for a while so catch them if you can.
The latest Hot Seats album 'Retreat to Camp Candy Temptation Island' available to buy here

16 September 2009


Holy cow! What a summer it's been. Now, as always, onwards and upwards - I'm just trying out some stuff for the Sunday Times Short Story Competition as last night I dreamed I won huge amounts of money and spent it all on Scottish castles and priceless vintage champagne - considering the ST are shelling out £25,000 to the winner, and that my dreams are always haunting vignettes in an otherwise stagnant pit of despair - I'm saying - let's do it!

For those addicted to irony, here's a repeat of my past triumphant fuck-off-fest 'Futurism'. Geddit?

There´s a bed, an alarm clock and a line of

uncounted sheep waiting to eke me out of this dogme

dream I keep having, but each time I doze off to

'Action!' I´m Lars von Try-hard directing my past lives -

ugly heads rear, a hydra´s memory bank

muddled with washed-out faces and words

blurring the Icelandic soundtrack that tick-tocks in tongues

with me reflected in the camera lens. The rooks, overused

set pieces from some Streep bird-woman epic,

shift and bustle heavily and scowl, cowls and wings sticking

my Oscar-worn face like butter to the dream. I´m

stuck in strips and run criss-cross over

the set, lines on a hangar floor with Nicole

barking up from the grid, the dogme dog that lost

her cue. (Off-set she´s no less off world, woof after

method woof in her caravan while I switch

the late night channels to Cruise control). If like me

you´ve been living in a box for the past few years – not

that "out of the box" fandango that preaches bungee-jumping,

bongs and brave new worlds – then tomb raiders and

movie stars are still God and I´m walking

a never-never path slung together

by mountains, spit and trouble. Look me up under

dream-weaver to the stars, Google-heads, I can afford to

delicately duplicate verse, line after line, dropping geek-by-

night mysticism and lit by top of the range lamplight.

You can watch me every time I make a mistake and

continue dying, one more talking head

nodding to the tumble and fall of the universe.

Futurism, AFG