GUM / issue 2 / 2012

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2012 / FREE

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features / art / fashion / politics / music

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editor’s letter features art fashion politics music Let’s talk about sex.

That’s the name of the hugely popular Salt N Pepa song, released in 1991. Backed by that nostalgia-inducing 90s hip-hop beat, they told us “don’t decoy, avoid, or make void the topic, cuz that ain’t gonna stop it.” Now, nearly 21 years later, it seems that the students of Glasgow University still agree.

I’m not quite sure whether it’s the season, perhaps you have all been locked inside all winter or maybe it’s that first whiff of spring in the air, but for some reason a lot of the articles submitted for this issue have been on or related to the topic of sex. So, as a result, this issue has somewhat accidently been given a theme.

To start off, James Gaddis discusses sexism and ponders upon how most of pornography seems to distort our idea of what sex is and should be. True or not, if you’re looking for some rather unusual inspiration, then have a look at Phoebe Crompton’s article about a group of American enthusiasts who have taken pornography to a new level and included bikes (yes, bikes) in their sex lives.

In the Politics section, Judy Barrett examines how attractiveness may affect our system of law and justice, and Peter Stewart gives an account of the battle of the sexes that long went on in the university unions. In the Music section, Ruby McDougall takes a look at some rather sexually explicit lyrics by female rappers. Finally, in the Features section, I thought it might be a suitable time to resolve a few issues on the topic of feminism. Exciting, isn’t it? And so is the rest of our content, ranging from surrealist comedy and meditation to the (predicted) death of Dubstep. In addition to stimulating your intellect, GUM always wants to give your eyes something nice to look at. Throughout the magazine you will find some truly eye-catching illustrations and photos, including our fabulous fashion shoot. GUM never forgets where it came from and we have of course dedicated some well-deserved attention to our beautiful, big, buzzing city. In this issue you will find a great guide to Glasgow nights out, a report on Glaswegian Turner Prize winners and of course an article on the ever so pressing issue of Scottish independence. Lastly, GUM is always looking for new contributors and since there is only one more issue coming out this academic year, it’s high time to get involved. You will find the email address on the back of this issue – if you’re interested in writing, taking photos or illustrating, then we want to hear from you! Speak soon! Ina Andersson (Editor)

Want some more?

CREDITS

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Editor (contents) Ina Andersson Editors (design and layout) Ina Andersson & Andy King SECTION EDITORS Features Ina Andersson Art Laura Stockwell Fashion Ginger Clark Politics Keith Marin Music Megan Donald CONTENT CREDITS Cover Agathe Weiss Writers James Gaddis, Daniel Magee, Sarah Phillips, Ryan McNab, Ina Andersson, Amelia Bayler, Stella Rieck, Phoebe Crompton, Lauren Clark, Alice Healy-Smith, Lucy Cheseldine, Rose Henderson, Emily Cook, Peter Stewart, Keith Marin, Charlotte Smith, Daniel Patterson, Judy Barrett, Ross Watson, Lucy Molloy, Alexandra Embiricos, Megan Donald, Marcus Jack, Ruby McDougall Photographers Gavin Shand, Olivia Vitkazkova, Claire Maxwell, Kate Regan, Rolan Bosma, Colin Davidson, Hannes Gall, Derrick Argent, David Sams, Andy King, Chris Smith, Adam Rosero, Shayne Laverdiere, Innoxius, The Artificial Asylum Artwork Ina Andersson, Andy King, Robyn Dale SPECIAL THANKS TO

u GUM has a fabulous new website where loads of brilliant content gets Shaun Murphy, Cole Cohen uploaded. We keep an eye on events all around town and bring them straight to you. You will find live gig reviews, club nights, restaurant reviews, playlists and much more on: glasgowuniversitymagazine.co.uk u Then, if you like us, make it official on Facebook: facebook.com/glasgowuniversitymagazine

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GUM / issue 02 / 2012


Disclaimer: Any views or opinions expressed in GUM are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent those of Glasgow University or the SRC

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Glasgow Comedy Festival We live in a hilarious city. Over the last decade, this festival has brought some of the biggest names in comedy to Glasgow, whilst at the same time promoting local talent. This year features big shows with stars like Stewart Lee and Doug Stanhope, as well as regular gigs down at all-time favourite venue The Stand. Don’t miss out on a good laugh and get your tickets online at glasgowcomedyfestival.com, on between 15 March – 1 April, prices vary.

Bad News It is rather ironic that this new night at the Arches should be called Bad News, since all they bring is good ones. The debut night saw acts like DJ veteran Zed Bias alongside Girl Unit, Pinch and more. The next Bad News is coming up on the 9th of March and features Benji B, Coki, Phaeleh and popular Glasgow DJ collective Mungo’s Hi Fi. Don’t miss out on this chance to get your bounce on! Tickets are £10 from the Arches box office.

Captain’s Rest 0It’s been called the best small music venue in Glasgow, and it’s with good reason. This pub might not look like much at first glance, but once inside you will find a friendly atmosphere and a busy gig schedule. Apart from the music, the Captain’s Rest also does two for one pizzas (which are delicious, by the way), burgers and burritos. 185 Great Western Road, gig prices vary.

Say it Ain’t Sew We like to stay fashionable here at GUM, and what better place to do so than just down the road from the university at Hillhead Bookclub. Every Tuesday until the 27th of March, Say it Ain’t Sew are in the house with what has been described as a ‘boozy sewing session and DIY fashion club’. If you feel brave enough to combine cross-stitching with a few drinks, then don’t hesitate to head down. 17 Vinicombre street, Tuesdays 5.30-8pm, admission is free.

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TEXT: INA ANDERSSON

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all about glasgow

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To Have a Voice GUM is all for Glasgow University students and Glasgow School of Art students mixing and mingling a bit more, so we suggest you head down to this upcoming exhibition to make some new GSA friends. To Have a Voice is a group exhibition offering a fresh, contemporary perspective on the established canon of figurative painting. It’s held at the Mackintosh Museum, 167 Renfrew Street and open until 31 March. Admission is free.

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Monty Python’s Spamalot Since this issue features an article on surrealist comedy, we thought it might be appropriate to let you know that Spamalot is coming to town. The classic Monty Python tale tells the story of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table, and includes unforgettable characters such as the Black Knight and the killer rabbit. Tickets come at £20.50, but it is guaranteed to be a good night out. Spamalot is on at the King’s Theatre, 297 Bath Street,12-17 March.

Dear Contributors, if you could be present at any time in the past, what event would you choose to be at?

Lucy Molloy:

Daniel Magee:

Alice Healy-Smith:

“I’d like to jetset back to prehistoric times, I think it’d be well fun to jam with the dinosaurs!”

“I would love to be able to go back to any concert by the German band Neu! circa 1975. It would have been amazing to see the band at its peak.”

“I would like to travel back to the beginning of the universe and watch the Big Bang unfold, just to resolve a few arguments.”

GUM / issue 02 / 2012

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music / politics / fashion / art / features

features

What has pornography done to our expectations on sex? And what exactly is ‘sexism’? James Gaddis clears up a thing or two. Several months ago, I was drinking with friends in a place we frequent. It was a particularly busy night and we were struggling to find anywhere to sit.1 We eventually spotted two girls sitting in a booth designed to seat six, so approached them and asked if we could take the unoccupied seats. With only good manners as a motive, I asked the girls if they were studying at Glasgow and discovered that one was in fact studying English Literature and was in the same year of study as myself. We then began to discuss which authors we covered in the essay that was to be submitted earlier that day and upon discovering that I had chosen an Alasdair Gray novel – the conversation went thusly: “You like Alasdair Gray?” “Yes. You don’t?” “No, his novels are very sexist” “How are they sexist?” “They’re overly sexualised” “Since when did liking sex become synonymous with sexist?” “Sounds like the typical sexist opinion of a sexist fan of a sexist author” She then proceeded to stand up and leave the table.2 Unless I missed something here, I was called a sexist for liking a particular author and liking sex. The first didn’t bother me much, but the other boiled away until I almost began doubting myself and questioned whether liking sex did in fact make a person sexist. The answer is no, but this time of meditation on the topic – and my general annoyance – became this essay. Before continuing, however I would like to directly address the girl who claimed I was a sexist: You know when you’re insulted and then come up with the perfect comeback three months later? Consider this my greatly ex-

PHOTO: GAVIN SHAND

sometimes i like being the little spoon

 tended version of that. I would hate to start this essay with some sort of pseudo-psychological evaluation of an individual, but I fear it will come across that way regardless of how I phrase it, so I’ll put it plainly. I think the reason I was called a sexist boils down to the way society’s perception of sex has been warped by two things: pornography and a flawed and hypocritical sexual etiquette. Pornography has been sparking debate and controversy for years, this is nothing new, but one of the problems I have with it is that it has infiltrated and twisted our idea of sex in the same way that the fashion world infiltrated and twisted our idea of body image.3 The majority of pornography is laughable and the minority of it is profoundly disturbing. What is much more disturbing is that there are an incredible amount of men – be it my age, older or younger – who believe that this is what sex is, and I will take this opportunity to say that it isn’t. If any males are reading this who have this perception of sex then please take a moment to ask yourself this question: do you genuinely believe that a girl’s ideal way of ending a night of passionate love making is with her partner ejaculating on her face? I’m going to say no. The example that is at the forefront of my mind - when this influence that pornography has had (and still has) over the mind became so blatant – was one night when I was standing at the bar of a club, waiting to be served, and couldn’t help but overhear two men my age exchanging witty banter. The witty banter concerned one of the men express-

ing his yearning to engage in coitus with a girl he had spotted across the room. What made me shiver about this conversation was that he referred to the girl as “cunt”4 and as I heard him say this two things ran across my mind: a profound and unsettling feeling of guilt for this person being a member of my gender, and that he clearly watched far too much porn. Since I’ve now pretty extensively cemented my problems with pornography, I’ll get something else off my chest that ties in quite nicely with this – though it will be much briefer. I stated earlier that I have a problem with the wildly differing sexual etiquette that is expected of men and women, which again I feel is due to the way the majority of women are expected to act in the majority of pornography. To put it simply, I’m not hugely comfortable with the fact that a man who sleeps with numerous women shall be labelled a ‘legend’ while a woman who sleeps with numerous men is dubbed a ‘slut’. I personally think of sex as a wonderful thing that should be readily available to any consenting adults. Not only that, but it can be a beautiful thing too. The fact that two people can present themselves to one another, as they are, and send a silent message to the other that simply says “take me as I am” is a truly beautiful thing. However, sex is also a natural urge, no different to our need to eat and drink, and we should live in a world where a man or woman should have the right to readily seek it without judgment. Unfortunately, I don’t see that being possible until we get over these frankly ridiculous double-standards. What a fucking mess.

1 I was approximately eight pints deep at this point, so not standing was priority. 2 Which, by the way, does not constitute a victory. 3 I’ll take this opportunity to be honest with you and admit that I do – like many – watch pornography, but I’m picky. When I say picky I mean that the legal definition of pornography is “the depiction of sexual acts” while the majority of ‘pornography’ that makes my skin crawl should be more accurately described as “eroticised hate”. 4 This in my opinion is a word that needs to be reclaimed by women in an attempt to disarm men like this. Hell, ‘vagina’ is Latin for ‘sword sheath’; the c-word is much less offensive than that when you think about it.

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GUM / issue 02 / 2012


ILLUSTRATION: INA ANDERSSON

S. Thompson:

Dr. Gonzo and the American Dream

Daniel Magee delves into the life of the man who said that “if you’re going to be crazy, you better get paid for it.” With the release of Bruce Robinson’s adaptation of The Rum Diary late in 2011, Hunter S. Thompson’s name has begun to be noticed once again. The renowned author responsible for works such as Hell’s Angels: The Strange and Terrible Tales of the Outlaw Motorcycle Gangs, Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail ‘72, and of course the infamous and hugely influential 1971 work Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas has found himself subject to a long awaited and much deserved renewal of interest in his writing. Robinson’s The Rum Diary has lead many (including myself) to pick up the earliest available Thompson novel, with his actual first novel, Prince Jellyfish, yet to be published. Written in the early 1960s but only recently published in 1997, the appearance of the film starring Johnny Depp has helped to introduce a new generation of readers to the unique and insightful works of Hunter S. Thompson.

His coverage of the disastrous 1972 presidential run, which saw the man he calls “a man with no soul”, Richard Nixon, re-elected, is a work described by Frank Mankiewicz, campaign manager of Nixon’s rival George McGovern, as “the least factual, most accurate account” of the campaign. If this is not tribute to his ability, then I don’t know what is. His Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas is a vile showcase of the gross possibilities of those who seek the American Dream, a fluorescent nightmare in the worst city in the world for low-lifes and the desperate. As well as this, his collection of essays and newspaper articles in The Great Shark Hunt: Strange Tales from a Strange Time is a potent example of his diversity, covering subjects ranging from the Kentucky Derby of 1969, to Marlon Brando and his fight for Native American Indian rights. Thompson’s ability to deliver these pieces at full potential, opening the eyes of the reader to the truth of these events is testament to his skill and creativity as a writer. Anyone who has not indulged in Thompson’s writing should do so as soon as possible. He is a man deserving of recognition for both his writing and his character, which, though far from the “norm”, is inspirational in his drive for freedom in a world which seems to thwart as many people like him as possible. He is both a survivor of his times, and a survivor of the times.

Born on the 18th of July in Kentucky and described as ‘difficult’ from early on by his mother, Hunter Stockton Thompson began his life as he would live it out. Known as an extrovert, a misfit, and a genius - to offer but a few from a multitude of adjectives which could be used to describe the mystery that was Hunter Thompson - he found himself intent on escaping the restraints placed on him by each and every form of authority, be it school, adulthood, or Western society as a whole. Thompson would often find himself on the outskirts of society, an outlaw in a mad world, and this was exactly where he wanted to be. Living his life on a diet of politics, booze, strong drugs, a love of music (he was a lifelong fan of The Grateful Dead), and literature, Hemingway and F. Scott Fitzgerald being two particularly influential authors to him, the man behind Gonzo journalism proved a constant thorn in the side of the square and banal American society of the 1960s and continued to be so up until his death in 2005. With “Gonzo Journalism”, his greatest creation, Thompson delivered a bizarre outlook on the ‘ugly’ world of American consumerist society, showing it for all its lies and shortcomings, revealing to the reader the darkness which lurked beneath the surface of the bright and shiny superpower. Known for his writing style more than anything else, he delivered first person coverage of events, mixing fact, fantasy and exaggeration. Through his vivid tales of grotesque political campaigns, drug frenzied days in Vegas, and high tension runs with the terrifying Hell’s Angels biker gangs of 1960s America, Thompson offered a new view of the times which were popularly accepted to be the peak of the American Dream. His works are consistently filled with hyperbolic description and brutal honesty, creating a refreshing mixture of shocking revelation and dark humour. These ingredients elevated Thompson’s celebrity to impressive heights during his prime in the 1960s and early 1970s, as both a counter culture figurehead and a fully fledged political commentator. The release of Robinson’s The Rum Diary has highlighted the need for a re-ignition of Hunter S. Thompson interest. Despite the fact that the GUM / issue 02 / 2012

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 Hunter

film adaptation of Thompson’s early novel is far from brilliant, with its subdued and plastic Hollywood face clear for all to see, the author’s writing ancharacter has gone unnoticed in popular circles for too long. The man behind these works is much more than the drug fuelled madman (which he undoubtedly was) who is seen by the common onlooker. He was a key spokesman for 20th century America, a man whose vision and wisdom, however twisted and harsh, must be appreciated.


the myth of scottish food When you think of Scottish food, what springs to mind? Perhaps the national dish of haggis, neeps n’ tatties? Or maybe Scotch broth, stovies, cullen skink, clootie dumpling and the infamous deep-fried Mars bar washed down with a can of Irn Bru or a wee dram o’ single malt whisky? Food remains a major part of Scottish culture, taking a central role in celebrations such as Burns Night and Hogmanay. Yet simultaneously, Scotland also has a reputation for poor diets and unhealthy habits. In October 2011, The BBC published an article declaring that ‘more than a quarter of adults in Scotland are obese, according to official figures’. These results ‘suggested 27% of people between the ages of 16 and 64 were obese in 2010’, and ‘the Scottish Health Survey said it continued the upward trend from just 17% in 1995’. So what is a typical Glaswegian diet? Government figures would suggest regular chippies and processed meals, with this trend increasing. Take a trip down Sauchiehall Street at club kick-out time and you will see takeaways at bursting point, crammed with drunken party revelers attempting to sober up and avoid the dreaded hangover the morning after. Here fast food reigns king in the bustling hive of Glasgow’s nightlife. Yet compare this to the daytime, when the numerous coffee shops and bistros, found tucked down many lanes in the city, are brimming with customers. Used as a place of relaxation, or as refuge from the unpredictable and somewhat erratic Glaswegian weather, such places are similar to the chic, laid back coffee culture of major European cities. Add to this the numerous award-winning restaurants found in Glasgow and throughout the whole of Scotland, and previous views of a limited and poor diet can quickly become misconceptions. 6

music / politics / fashion / art / features

PHOTOS: OLIVIA VITAZKOVA & GAVIN SHAND

 To initiate myself into being a full Glaswegian student, I decided it would be necessary to try one of the local delicacies. So late at night I went into a Blue Lagoon, a chain of takeaways popular throughout Glasgow, and I ended up having my first ever deep-fried Mars bar. To be honest, the thought of eating it terrified me. It seemed like such an odd idea, yet, surprised as I was, I enjoyed it. A friend referred to it being similar to a chocolate doughnut, with the salty batter and rich gooey chocolate providing an interesting contrast of tastes and texture. However, when handed to me wrapped in brown paper, I saw puddles of greasy patches forming and so only managed a couple of mouthfuls. The deep-fried Mars bar may be a national treasure, yet I wondered how many Glaswegians actually ate this snack on a regular basis. When I asked the man at Blue Lagoon who normally bought it, he gave a non-committal shrug and merely replied ‘tourists’. Could this be a famous delicacy that is falling out of favour with the locals, to be resigned to the amusement and, equally, bemusement of others? It has added to the image of Scotland as an unhealthy nation, yet the reply I was given seemed to prove that it is not part of a local’s regular diet.

“Here fast food reigns king in the bustling hive of Glasgow’s nightlife” Could it be said that the outlook of Scottish food is changing? Living as a student in the trendy West End, I am exposed to a numerous amount of fashionable restaurants, cafés and delis, selling some of the finest quality food and drink. It was a sunny Saturday afternoon when I stumbled upon a local farmers market on the corner of Hyndland Street, that a friend had told me about. What seemed like a quiet residential area was bustling with shoppers looking for a bargain, with retailers selling quality Aberdeen Angus beef and fresh, seasonal, local produce. Farmers markets such as this one serve as a GUM / issue 02 / 2012

reminder of the diverse food scene which is available, and that fresh produce is attainable, regardless of where you live. Scottish country music was ringing through the air, adding to the ambience and bringing an essence of the countryside to the hectic life of the city. Many restaurants and bistros throughout Glasgow strive to exhibit the best in Scottish produce. I happened to be in Merchant City dining out with my parents, when we came across Rab Ha’s, a traditional Victorian hotel, named after Robert Hall, a man ironically nicknamed the ‘Glesca Glutton’ for his immense appetite. The cosy restaurant was rustic in appearance, with the walls decorated throughout with tartan fabric. The menu was similarly nationalistic, with Scottish seafood broth, Scottish lamb shank and hand dived seared scallops from the isle of Barra appearing on the menu, as well as the infamous haggis neeps n’ tatties. How, with all this healthy, good quality food does Scotland still hold one of the highest levels of obesity? Money may be a factor, as good quality produce comes at a price. Convenience foods have risen greatly in popularity, as cheap meals can be cooked quickly and easily. However, they are often packed with saturated fats and added chemical flavourings, creating an unhealthy, unbalanced diet. This rise in popularity may account for the upward trend in obesity rates, even though many hearty Scottish dishes can be made on a budget. Fast food is dominating the diets of many nations; yet walking around this city it is easy to see that there are many other options available. Scotland’s rugged scenery produces some of the finest, richest produce, but sometimes this is forgotten amongst reports of poor diets and growing rates of obesity. From Lochmuir Salmon to Orkney crab, Aberdeen Angus beef to Stornoway black pudding, Scotland’s cultural food status should not be underestimated. With cities such as Glasgow becoming ever more cosmopolitan, the food scene in Scotland is inevitably evolving, yet their proud heritage remains. TEXT: SARAH PHILLIPS


features / art / fashion / politics / music

our relationship with the icon Ryan McNab examines the relationship we mortals have with those who are made eternal by their fame. With award season coming to a close, the presence of the biopic in this year’s nominations points to a continued interest in those lives that strayed from the usual. The Iron Lady and J. Edgar offer a glimpse at the personal behind the political, whilst My Week With Marilyn gave us a new perspective of a timeless screen icon.

Attempts to bring a star down to earth, to put them in the everyday, often seem unsatisfactory. Can there ever be equality amongst a fan and their idol? Even if so, does this necessarily in- tic in our idea of who she was. Eventually, we’ll crease the relationship between the two? I think forget or disregard the lesson staring us right in not, as this kind of view of a famous person is the face in favour of using her persona as a new actually far from a democratic appreciation; it’s Halloween costume. an act in iconography, in elevation. We are a fascinated by the idea that famous people are However, it’s not all tragedy when it comes to in fact not so different from ourselves. But it’s icons. The most prominent propagator of the this fascination which makes them immediately fan/star relationship is Lady Gaga. Gaga is the removed from our level. We don’t ultimate indulger of fan-interspend time traipsing the Internet “Can there ever be action, her christening them to find pictures of our best friends equality amongst a ‘Little Monsters’ being only doing their shopping in Tesco. We the tip of her media-iceberg. fan and their idol?” Now whether her intentions don’t do this because we don’t elevate them in the same way that we are purely marketable press do to famous people and their personas. We or whether she is in fact offering herself as the give icons constant, perhaps even undeserv- new living pop culture deity is personal opinion, ing, awe for even the most trivial of acts. of which I’m inclined to believe the latter (call me blinded if you must.) But what is clear is that Indeed, these people remain personas to us through this encompassing protection that she due our inability to flesh out their characteris- attempts to give to her fans through her persotics, and so they become almost deified. For na of celebrating diversity, she has an awareexample, the late Amy Winehouse will be re- ness of the position of the icon in many people’s membered, in the most obscure and physical psyches as something of strength and inspirasense, as a parody of her stage persona: the tion and, unlike Madonna for example, does not beehive will be remembered bigger, the black take this responsibility for granted. eye makeup more dominating. This is something both sad and inevitable. Her frail inebria- This apparent individual relationship that each tion will become a two-dimensional characteris- fan possesses with a star is of course going to GUM / issue 02 / 2012

 be a source of star-blindness through devotion. This borderline religious loyalty to a famous person is something highly cryptic, often with their work becoming jigsaw pieces of the true identity behind a persona, which we feel must be uncovered. The externalisation of ourselves into the bodies of our idols is, for want of a better phrase, a coping mechanism. It’s a projection of our own perceptions into a world away from our own. This explains why the most fervent loyalty is often found during times of loneliness and hardship, when the need for the icon is a necessity. However, this does not have to be as manic or miserable as it initially sounds. In fact, it is clear that our obsessive attempts to deconstruct complex constructions will ultimately feed our own understanding of ourselves; refractions from Hollywood, Woodstock, and MTV (when it was about music) will all contribute to adding further dimensions to our identities. The star and our perceptions of them are far from fully formed character assessments and judgments founded on reality. Rather they are our greatest form of escapism and self-exploration. Their lives illuminate our own through the spectacle of the fireworks they appear to us. 7

COLLAGE: ANDY KING

The unwavering fascination with people such as Marilyn Monroe is indicative of the relationship between the fan and the star (I am reluctant to use ‘celebrity’ as it connotes Kardashianism). For many fans, finding the woman behind the peroxide hair, the goo-goo baby voice, and the thrust-out chest is seen as an attempt to reclaim and re-evaluate who someone really is (or was, in Marilyn’s case). Through this intent exploration into a famous life, there is an attempt to share complicit knowledge with the unattainable figure. Of course naturally, every fan believes their perception is the closest to the truth. But ultimately, people like Marilyn Monroe are artifice and theatre, and cannot in reality be approached with the intention to befriend.


music / politics / fashion / art / features

WHO  RUN THIS MOTHER?

Well, it’s not girls, Beyoncé. And for me, as a feminist, that is of course something that I’m very happy about. There are few words in the English language more misinterpreted and wrongly used than the word ‘feminism’: girls running the world? All men locked up and castrated? No makeup and hairy armpits? No, no and not for me, but if you like it that way then by all means go ahead. Considering the recent attention that has been given to a couple of not-so-genius statements made by website UniLad, I thought it might be a good time to clear a few things up. It really is a shame when misinterpretations become a commonly accepted definition of a belief. Feminism as a doctrine has seemingly caught a severe case of misinterpretation and without quite knowing what happened, we seem to find ourselves today in a society where ‘feminism’ has become an ugly word. A feminist today seems for many to be a stereotype to make fun of, a hairy, shouty radical who never gets laid if you will. It takes no more than one quick Google search to find amazingly thought through and profound jokes, such as “Feminism – Nature’s Chastity Belt” and quotes like “Feminism is the radical notion that men are not people.” The mind boggles. Jokes aside, feminism is also in more sophisticated debate perceived by many as a bad thing, something that causes bad things to happen in our society. In contemporary discussion, feminism has simultaneously been accused of causing a rise in the number of abortions, causing eating disorders in girls, increasing female violence and increasing both female and male depression. Now, I would hope for a future debate where these social trends are rightly perceived as far too complex than to be conveniently attributed to one ideology alone, yet it is easy to see how with such accusations people get confused. Let’s leave the top ten Google search results for a second though, and turn to a good oldfashioned dictionary: “Feminism: a belief or movement advocating the cause of women’s rights and opportunities, particularly equal rights with men” Did you see that too? Yes, I know. Equal. Because equality is what feminism asks for. It asks for equal pay, equal parental conditions, and equal opportunities. It asks for women to be equally in control of their lives and of their 8

bodies as their male counterparts. Equally, not more. It seems simple, and it is simple. Like feminist author Caitlin Moran has stated, there is a quick way of finding out whether you are a feminist. Simply put your hand down your pants and answer the following two questions: 1 Do you have a vagina? 2 Do you want to be in control of it? If you answer ‘yes’ to both, then congratulations – you’re a feminist! If you’re a boy it’s even easier, you only have to answer one question: do you wish for your female counterparts to go into this world on equal conditions with yourself? (If your answer is ‘no’, do me a favour and come up with a few good reasons for why not). It is important to remember however, that ‘equal’ is not to say that women should become like men. This seems to be another common misconception surrounding feminism, perhaps it is where the idea that a feminist is hairy and masculine comes from, that women somehow should become equal through adapting and ‘becoming male.’ No, feminism is not saying GUM / issue 02 / 2012

that there should be no differences between women and men. What it is saying, is that these differences do not justify that someone is treated differently based on sexist assumptions about their capability. Equal pay for example, does not mean that a woman should necessarily carry out work in the exact same way as a man would; it means that if the nature of a job and the workload is the same, pay should not differ because of sex. Further, feminism does not mean that all women should be the same. There is no dress code, no specific lifestyle choice, and above all no feminist stereotype to conform to. There might be radical man-haters out there (some people just have a lot of hate, I think) who call themselves feminists, but there needs to be a distinction between them and the majority. An ideology is bound to hold various subsections, but they are rarely synonymous with the original idea. Since the tragic events of 9/11, the world has suffered from a severe case of what sociologists have termed ‘Islamophobia.’ Countless interviews have been


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made with American Muslims trying to get on with their lives after the terror attacks, and they all state the same thing: the attitude towards them has changed. What seems to have happened is that the radical opinions of an extremist minority have come to define a whole belief. This should not have happened with Islam, and it should not be allowed to happen with feminism. In neither case can we allow a radical minority to become spokespersons for our belief. Feminism is not extremism; I’m a feminist and I think men are brilliant. At the same time, I demand equal rights and opportunities. Why should the two not be compatible? Of course, there has been a lot of anger directed towards the patriarchy on behalf of feminists, and rightly so. The patriarchy represents an unequal, even oppressive, social order that needs to be done away with. This is not to be confused with man-hate or the reversal of inequality in favour of women. When after nearly 30 years of imprisonment based on racist laws Nelson Mandela was released and made the president of South Africa, he did not seek to punish the white minority who had oppressed

him and his fellow black South Africans for so many years. Oppression had been and still was real, yes, but now he was committed to peace and equality. So is feminism. It is very important that we reclaim feminism and its actual meaning. It is, again, simple: we need it. We need it, without the misinterpretations, without the stereotypes and unfunny jokes. Oppression of women has been, and still is, a very real fact. Something needs to be done about it. We need a debate, we need action. Because when statistics come out showing that more than 80% of women in some subSaharan African countries believe that it is right for her husband to beat her if she has left the house without his permission, I wonder how some Western intellectuals can confidently claim that feminism is redundant because it has already achieved its goals. Feminism has achieved a lot, but gender equality has a long way to go. Policies such as the ‘family wage’ and ‘marriage bar’ that kept women out of work during and after industrialism may have been abolished, but still today, nearly 42 years afGUM / issue 02 / 2012

ter the Equal Pay Act came into force, women continue to earn less than men performing the same jobs. Women continue to be excluded from positions of power and influence, they continue to make up the majority of people living in poverty and they continue to suffer unequal treatment across the world simply due to the fact that they are women. ‘The patriarchy’ is not just some tricky word you find in a 1970s book by Kate Millett, it is present all over the world today and it is, above all, completely unnecessary. We really don’t need it, any of us. Because not only is the patriarchy bad for women, it also reproduces a social order in which men are expected to conform to male stereotypes of power, control and oppression. What we all need is equality and, no matter what Beyoncé will have you believe, feminism is about running this world together. Are you in?

TEXT: INA ANDERSSON ILLUSTRATION: ANDY KING

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art poetry by

amelia bayler barney the dog likes dogs like Hey DAD. Can you hear me? You like Daft Punk; I like Punk I like dogs; You like bitches PLEASEFORGIVEME Maggie was a munter Overly purple; ICE COLD Different coloured eyes; NOT COOL Put some COKE In the BOWL Classic & Timeless AMERICAN U.S Us

vampire dug Ronnie only eats chocolate on a Wednesday. The day his friends come roond tae Smoke dope. He yells at ‘em tae open a windae. It’s his turn. They eat Biscuits Snowballs They couldnae go tae Midget’s place: He’s goat a swirly carpet And swirly curtains. An a dug. Naw. It’s a nice dug like. But he hinks they shud call the RSPCA. It’s a vampire dug. Hinks it’s the only Bulmastiff In the world Eh Only gets walks at night. Midget hoovers

BOOM BOOM BOOM At midnight. Hud a look at Midnightaffair.com Typed in Dundee Eh And Midget’s sister wis there! Aw naw! Poor Midget. And his POOR DECOR. And the Only Bulmastiff In the WURLD. They’ll NEVER KEN EH. The dug will have tae have Ray-Bans.

Look me in the…
 EYE Feel it WE Feel it W.E.E - WEE - Lampost! 

 Let me be FRANK. You need to TALK TO FRANK. Who can TALK TO PONGO. We can Co-incidentally Meet M.E.A.T Meet. At all the hot SPOTS BUT NOT EVERYTHING NEED TO BE Black & White PHOTO: CLAIRE MAXWELL

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GUM / issue 02 / 2012


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worshipping the god of carnage

Stella Rieck takes a look at the Roman Polanski adaptation of the play ‘The God of Carnage’ and finds herself asking questions about the moral choices we all make.

‘Your child deliberately maimed our son.’ In roughly these words Penelope marks the moral territory for the debate that is about to ensue between the two parental parties. The plot, or at least the catalyst for Jasmina Reza’s play The God of Carnage, which can be seen in British cinemas in Roman Polanski’s film adaptation Carnage as of February, is relatively simple: One child has hit another child with a stick in the playground. The parents of the hurt party, Penelope and Michael, played by Jodie Foster and John C. Reilly, decide to talk the matter over with the ‘aggressor’s’ parents Nancy and Alan, who are brilliantly represented by Kate Winslet and Christoph Waltz. But what unfolds takes the simple childhood disagreement to an entirely different level. As the parents contend over their offspring’s supposed guilt or innocence, they begin to slowly unmask their own moral convictions. The chat over coffee ends up as a diplomatic warfare, where front lines move between couples, but also markedly between the men and the women. Said char-

acter constellation raises the play’s first question. Penelope’s and Michael’s actions show their wish to exercise control - A hope that their discussion will yield impact in the life of their child. But as the dialogue progresses, Reza and Polanski challenge the notion that anyone can control anyone else - not one’s partners, not even one’s children.

“Paying the monthly due to an aid organisation is nothing more than a collective silencing of our bad conscience” The play, by the French writer, was first performed in 2006 and has since successfully travelled various theatres in Europe as well as in the United States. Due to the very Aristotelian or frugal set-up, only one space - Penelope’s and Michael’s living room, and only the time frame of one afternoon’s conversation, the objects in the flat take on special significance. Everything that these comfortable New York couples own begins to speak against everything they profess to believe in. Penelope, the self-proclaimed humanist and caretaker of the poor in Africa, almost bursts into tears when Nancy relieves her upset stomach on her collection of art books. With the figure of Penelope, Reza mocks what can be termed the modern charity-shop mentality. In the age of Misereor, Red Cross and Unicef these doubts are especially poignant. Paying the monthly due to an aid organisation is nothing more, GUM / issue 02 / 2012

Alan insinuates, than a collective silencing of our bad conscience. All this happens in a witty, fast-paced cinema that makes the viewing a very enjoyable visit indeed. Be it the play or the film adaptation there is sure to be laughter at numerous scenes. Laughter that triggers a thinking process, not a catharsis. This is why Alan’s revelatory moment, ‘I believe in the God of Carnage,’ is so strong. Yes, one wants to agree. Yes. How easy. How above all the turmoil. And obviously no at the same time. A God of Carnage, what a barbarous idea. Reza in the play, as well as Polanski with the film adaptation, grab especially the well-to-do Western viewers by the neck to ask them: What are your actual motives for helping others? And where do your priorities ultimately lie with those other people or with your own peace and comfort? In this sense one can give the film another twist- to point out that there is a certain responsibility that goes hand in hand with our constant consumption of goods, and ultimately also with our enjoyment of art. Since the 1970’s, Roman Polanski has been accused of the rape of a thirteen year old and consequently never returned to the States, in an attempt to avoid his sentence. So for you to go and enjoy this piece of cinema, you will also have to pay a small tribute towards its seedy director. But then again, this is what ‘The God of Carnage’ is all about - the inevitable moral choices.

PHOTO: KATE REGAN

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way with a bike seat, then a seat post, leading to carefully balanced intercourse.

Whilst opening the minds of the audience to such an array of pleasures, the show brings basic pleasure derived from bikes and sex into the social and communal. The Bike Smut experience comes off the screen and into the flesh in a burlesque-style intermission by the group’s proclaimed ‘Queen Bee’ Poppy Cox, stripping and spinning the wheels of her up-turned bike and demonstrating the versatility of various avocados and cucumbers. There is no room for prudishness or embarrassment, only the simple and open appreciation of the joy in life of cycling and sexual pleasure. But in reclaiming these basic joys from the conventions of society, Bike Smut seems to make its most interesting conquest in its depiction of female pleasure. Whereas arguably most pornography generally ignores the female orgasm, this collection of films consistently connects the action of cycling with the build-up of sexual pleasure for female riders. One short portrays the exertion of a woman riding up a steep hill as synchronised with the gradual and subtle climb of her orgasm. Another shows a solitary morning bike ride leading to a secluded Grecian field where the woman is able to partake in quiet masturbation. The connection is made even more directly, and perhaps symbolically, in one film, with the humorous depiction of vibrators strapped to the seats of three female cyclists.

bike porn Going under the name ‘Bike Smut’, one group of American cycling enthusiasts are determined to redefine obscenity and our capitalist ideals of pornography. Hailing from Portland, Oregon, the cyclers Reverend Phil, Poppy Cox and Liberty Sprocket have spent the last five years travelling North America and Europe showcasing a collection of short erotic films made by bike lovers from around the world. In what they call a ‘synthesis of transportation and sexuality’ the short films display a vast array of different interpretations of bike porn, from burlesque inspired performances to erotic cycling encounters, combining to showcase the creativity and fun inherently involved in both cycling and sex. But aside from merely providing the cycling world with some risque entertainment, this collection of films aims to probe serious questions about repression of expression and choice in modern society. The group insist that ‘Bike Smut 12

is civic’, existing entirely as a collaboration from the cycling community, and so resisting a single interpretation of pleasurable sexual experience. This is a reclaiming of sex and transportation from what they see as a control of our bodies and narrowing of transportation options by contemporary society. Pulling in intrigued and sniggering viewers, the group’s insistence on a live audience only for their collection actively supports this desire for a collective and open experience of pornography. No one can take home a Bike Smut DVD, or search the show on the internet for their own viewing pleasure. The result is an initial sense of awkwardness, and laughter, at the consciousness of viewing such explicit and unusual content in a familiar community setting. But this soon gives way under the clear enthusiasm and light-heartedness evident in all these films. Only a sense of building anticipation arises as the courtship displayed between body and bike breaks every established taboo, eventually ending in the inevitable consummation of a woman having her GUM / issue 02 / 2012

This spontaneous emphasis resonates with what American civil rights leader Susan B. Anthony claimed of the bicycle, that ‘it has done more to emancipate women than anything else in the world. It gives women a feeling of freedom and self-reliance... the picture of free, untrammelled womanhood.’ This is where the pairing of the freedom derived from bikes and sex comes into complete union. The show offers a clear reminder that the sense of independence experienced when riding a bike in the outdoors leads to a lasting sense of freedom outside formal prescribed modes of transport and enjoyment. More than simply providing a mechanical fetish, bike porn could expand our often narrow modes of living and perceiving pleasure. As Reverend Phil declared; ‘there are many ways to interpret sex and cycling, and after five years we haven’t seen the end yet!’ Still, I will never look at the seat of my bike in the same way again.

Ø Feeling a bit bike-curious? Check out Bike Smut’s website here: http://www.bikesmut.com/ and their tour blog here: http://bikeporntour. blogspot.com/ Ø Bike Smut have toured Europe once and who knows when they’ll be back? Keep yourself posted. TEXT: PHOEBE CROMPTON PHOTO: ROLAND BOSMA and BIKESMUT


Are we ready for some seriously surreal comedy? Lauren Clark examines. Thursday the 26th of January marked the arrival of E4’s intriguing new comedy show Noel Fielding’s Luxury Comedy where Noel and his fellow playmates star as a troupe of unusual characters, donning embellished and absurd costumes. Those familiar with Noel outside of the Buzzcocks family will be more than aware that the delightful man-child has always preferred the fairytale world of the eccentric and marginally insane to that of normal human existence. This was first brought to our attention in the form of mirrorball suits, polo-eyed villains and hermaphroditic mermen that was The Mighty Boosh. ‘Cult’ being the term used to describe its fan base, The Boosh always occupied a cozy place in TV land, but now that Noel has Jagger-swaggered (Cher Lloyd has murdered that term) onto the scene and made a name for himself - spelled out in rhinestones and jelly tots - are we prepared to let him lead the way into a new sphere of mainstream comedy? Is the dawning of prime time surrealism here? Or is the laughter invoked by this luxury comedy purely nervous? Unsurprisingly, the general consensus so far is that the show is just too weird, with reviewers branding it the ‘poor mans Boosh’ and dismissing it as ‘more surreal, psychedelic nonsense’ from the Boosh-man. Most people are summing it up as something new and unique, a televisionary curveball if you like, but still too bizarre to be series linked or granted a position on their On Demand playlists. So do we chalk this one up to a swing and a miss, responding with ‘sorry Noel, but my precious mind is too fragile to be boggled once a week’, or do we muster the energy to push our own conceptual boundaries and agree to breathe ‘the atmosphere of the planet he lives on for a while’? You never know where such an abandonment of sensory ideals may lead, considering that Noel is far from the

“We’re still so quick to restrict ourselves imaginatively” ‘Surrealism’ was, in fairness, a title earned by artists in the 1920s. A time when people were doing the Charleston and Max Ernst was drawing elephants that looked like Henry Hoover sucking up a bulls face. But should the citizens of the ‘roaring 20s’ roared against the wave of Dadaists and surrealists then the medium of Jazz would have never come about and Louis Armstrong would have probably had to stick to his job as an olden day white van man instead of trumpeting his way to the top. Jazz was the juice that fuelled most of the music we plug ourselves into today- Rock, RnB, Hip-hop- so if everyone back then had turned their nose up at surrealism and the prospect of looking beyond ‘the norm’ then Jimi Hendrix would have had some pretty idle hands. The closest comparison we can make with Noel’s on screen violation of logic is Monty Python and their completely-different-flyingholy-grail-of-Brian’s life, which is arguably much more outlandish and peculiar than Noel’s crayon scribbled script. The Pythons instigated a phenomenon of chaotic and illogical cartoonish comedy, with Vic and Bob later expanding that concept to the panel show format with

‘Shooting Stars’. Both ideas completely off the wall and both successfully persuaded the audience to shake off their preconceptions of what television should consist of and just embrace the mayhem.

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tripping swingballs

trailblazer of mind expansion. Far far from it, in fact, as surrealism plummeted into the cultural arena centuries ago- with Lewis Carroll’s ‘Alice in Wonderland’ still befuddling the public as much today as it did back when Queen Vic was a person and not a pub. Surely the resilience of this nonsensical literary delight says something about the public’s undeniable urge for the illogical and ludicrous? And if Alice had been cast out into the sea of forgotten tales, then maybe Hunter S. Thompson wouldn’t have felt so inclined to grab hold of the line between reality and fiction and shake it like an etch-a-sketch to create Gonzo journalism. Both writers rejecting the rules and logic set out for them by society, instead opting to separate us from the everyday world and drag us into the psychedelic (and yes, largely drug induced) reality of the surrealist.

A man from France told me the other day that he found Monty Python hilarious. Now. If someone who barely speaks the language can find humour in men with flowerpot foreheads and musical mice that claim to squeak The Bells of Saint Mary then maybe we’re looking at this all wrong. As I’ve shown, in just under 100 years we’ve come through a whole lot of fantastical manifestations and avant-garde overspills in the cultural hemisphere, yet we’re still so quick to restrict ourselves imaginatively. People seem to crave narrative in visual mediums, which is understandable, as we all like a good story we can get on board with, but if we simply dismiss any form of entertainment that doesn’t lead us by the hand towards its inevitable, logical conclusion, then we’re missing out on an entirely different form of enjoyment. One where we can just kick back and take on the view of a toddler, delighting in all the pretty colours and funny sounding words. It may not strike you as the most sophisticated approach to watching TV, but I think its worth looking into, with everything else in the world being so damn complex and mentally challenging, maybe what our brains need is some playtime. Having said that, I think it’s unfair to suggest that Noel’s new comedy hasn’t had heaps of thought put into it, with amazing graphics and each character possessing its own distinctive and wonderfully weird personality. I maintain that the deep mental neurosis and fragile nature of DondyLion is pure, perceptive genius, and on top of that, Noel’s versatile acting skills alone are incredibly (and unexpectedly) impressive. So, before you condemn this luxurious comedy to the murky depths, think about where surrealism has taken us so far, and consider what new and exciting path you could be blocking yourself off from. With that in mind, maybe it couldn’t hurt to ask yourself…Saucer or ball?

PHOTOS: e4.com

 GUM / issue 02 / 2012

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PHOTO: BALTIC & COLIN DAVIDSON

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the turner prize Exclusive pretention or available to everyone? Alice Healy-Smith takes a look at the countrys most prestigious art prize. For many, the Turner Prize has come to represent the infuriating obscurity and perceived pretension of Britain’s contemporary art scene. Perhaps the art of the Turner Prize has been overshadowed by the controversial and conspicuous celebrity personas of the artists themselves - previous entrants have included Grayson Perry, Damian Hirst and Tracey Emin. Also, thanks to institutions such as the Turner Prize, you wouldn’t be blamed for assuming that Britain’s art scene is reserved exclusively for a few square-miles in London and that all other peripheral British cities have been lost in a cultural abyss. But in recent years the Turner Prize has become overwhelmed with Scottish entrants - and this year marked a hat trick of Glaswegian Turner Prize winners. In December, Martin Boyce became the third Glaswegian artist in as many years to win the Turner Prize, arguably the most prestigious and well-known contemporary art prize in the world. Karla Black, another Glasgow School of Art graduate, also made the shortlist- confirming Glasgow’s undeniable significance to Britain’s contemporary art scene. I was lucky enough to be able to visit the Turner Prize exhibition, held in Gateshead at the Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art. As I waited in a lengthy queue to visit the exhibition, in sight of Newcastle’s famous Quayside and Millennium Bridge, I found myself surrounded by tourists and art lovers who had travelled particularly for the exhibition. “I can’t 14

wait to tell my friends in London that I got to see the Turner Prize,” declares an excited mother in front of me, whilst her daughter complains that “contemporary art is total rubbish, I could probably make something better myself!” Ten minutes in, a couple behind me decide to give up queuing and go to the café instead. There is a sense that most of the visitors are waiting with a pre-determined anticipation or judgement about the artworks, which is unsurprising considering the prestige of the exhibition. The leaflets that have been handed out upon arrival claim that we will be presented with “the very best of current British art”, and this is received with a healthy dose of northern cynicism and pre-emptive eye rolling by most of the queuing visitors. I was pleasantly surprised by the entire exhibition, which was put together from the work of the four shortlisted artists- Hilary Lloyd, George Shaw and Glasgow School of Art graduates Karla Black and Martin Boyce. Karla Black’s mammoth installation combined large-scale, spatial grandiosity with the physical vulnerability of chalk, powder and tissue-like materials creating a compelling paradox of fragility and immensity. The enormous pastel structures were so invitingly tactile yet so delicate and breakable that I found myself, along with the other viewers, cautiously tip-toeing through the installation, fighting every impulse to reach out and grab the paper constructions which seem to burst through the gallery space. Black’s installation overwhelmed not only your sense of sight and touch, but also your sense of smell - the artist used crushed up bath salts and cosmetics to create a sensory explosion. Viewing her installation is probably an experience comparable to hallucinating inside your local ‘Lush’ store- the bath bombs are ten feet tall and most people around you are aloof, judgemental, giving you the strange sense that you don’t beGUM / issue 02 / 2012

long. The exploratory nature of the sculpture combined with its overwhelming scale and fragility conveys a notion of child-like creativity: messy and intangible yet undoubtedly authentic and uncorrupted. The organic nature of Black’s sculpture contrasted entirely from with that of the winning entrant and fellow Scot, Martin Boyce. The Glaswegian artist’s installation is a quietly atmospheric urban dreamscape: a park scene interpreted with hard lines, modernist shapes and architectural imitations of nature, what Boyce described as a “concrete autumn.” Compared to the sensory overload of Karla Black’s entry, Boyce’s installation was peaceful and melancholic. The sculptures were recognisably suburban yet eerily nostalgic, mournful and empty. The artist himself described the work as “a peculiar landscape: a collapse of the interior and the exterior world.” It was easy to see Glasgow in the steely, concrete beauty and poetic decay of Boyce’s envisioned scene. Perhaps it was this likeness which made Martin Boyce’s installation my stand-out entry of the exhibition. From the perspective of a Glasgow resident, his portrayal of faded urban landscape and its beauty is all too familiar. But I also believe that the poignancy of his art is unambiguous and far-reaching, making Martin Boyce in my eyes an indisputably worthy winner. Although many may still see the Turner Prize as “cold, mechanical, conceptual bullshit” and maddeningly London-centric, Boyce’s victory suggests that the powers that be in the contemporary art world do in fact recognise the value of accessible, non-exclusive beauty. I expected to leave the Turner Prize exhibition alienated and entirely bemused, but in reality I left with a new awareness of the geographical diversity of ‘valuable art’ and a notion that this art can, in fact, be for everyone.


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z the art of silence Recently I’ve been thinking a lot about a lot, and I’m sure we all like to wallow in a little self-indulgent head examining from time to time. But thinking is hard in a city, especially when the bay window, which looked so appealing upon first viewing, lets in a constant gush of cold air and the noise of several traffic jams seemingly climaxing just outside. So, in the midst of exam stress and winter blues, I went in search of a fresher solitude and managed to find it at the end of my own street. Buddhism wasn’t something I had considered seriously and still isn’t, but out of this fascinat-

way. I left my shoes by the door, ing religion has grown the long feeling the first notion of release as practised art of meditation. It was my feet sank into the plush carpet. recommended to me by a friend who couldn’t quite explain the I walked tentatively to the meditation room, following a soothing, benefits, but coaxed me (albeit haunting female voice luring us, with not too much difficulty) to visit the Vajrayana Buddhist Centre on siren-like. On the way, I passed a Bentinck street - just behind Kel- strange shrine of chocolate and vingrove park. which “Meditation completes Capri-suns transformed into They hold free afternoon medita- the jigsaw of Buddhism” golden Buddhas and oriental dection sessions on Wednesday and Thursday and so, orations as I took my seat, in slight one bright sunny mid afternoon, I discomfort, ready for the abyss. pulled on the most colourful pair of hippie trousers I could find and set The room was fairly empty and I tenuously gravitated to a seat furoff in search of my Zen. thest from the front in that natural Ringing the doorbell of the house, British self-consciousness. As I a mysterious feeling overwhelmed sank into the red fabric I felt immediately at ease and so began me, as if I was entering a secret place. I imagined being rejected the transformation. Once you because I didn’t know the passhave relaxed all your muscles, word to get in. But my cultish fears your body begins to feel numb were calmed immediately by the and your mind naturally focuses beaming woman who welcomed on concentrating your energy into us into the cream, glowing hallgoodness. I can’t adequately exGUM / issue 02 / 2012

plain the feeling but it would be fair to say I felt a little bit drugged. Coming back from this state was difficult, like getting out of bed or a hot shower, but when I did my skin was quilted with warm tingles and I felt a certain completeness that was missing before. Stepping back into the world outside was easier than I expected and, as is so rare for Glasgow, the sun was beaming down over the park, inviting me to start the day anew. I suppose you could say that meditation completes the jigsaw of Buddhism, placing the final internal piece into its position in your mind. But taking it a little less seriously, life is hectic and moments like that put a little perspective in the picture frame. It was like holding up a rose-tined mirror to situations and a massage for the brain. Now tell me, who doesn’t want that?

TEXT: LUCY CHESELDINE PHOTO: HANNES GALL

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fashion

 Photo- David Sams Model - Esca Rose MUA - Kaeleigh Wallace Hair - Steven Hewitt

Photo - David Sams Model - Chloe Campbell MUA - Kaeleigh Wallace Hair - Steven Hewitt

PLUCKED FROM OBSCURITY Rose Henderson caught up with Jennifer Coyle and Lyndsay Pagan - the design duo behind explosive womenswear label Obscure Couture - to talk about fearless fashion, Glasgow get-ups and world domination. GUM: How did Obscure Couture get started? OC: Lyndsay and myself met at Heriot Watt Uni (School of Textiles) in 2002, we always knew we would work together. It seemed like the best idea to both go off separately after uni and gain some industry experience then we would meet up later and start. I ended up in Australia for a few years and Lyndsay had registered and started Obscure Couture here. I came home late 2009 and we got to work, approached Business Gateway who were brilliant, PSYBT helped us and the Starter for 6 programme, run by The Cultural Enterprise, was an amazing help. We would really recommend everyone to check out these services, they are so helpful and definitely gave us a kick-start. We spent the first year prior to launching going to class after class: business classes, tax classes then more tax classes (we had to do that one a few times…) We worked on our first collection Flesh and Bone and launched on the 15th of October 2010.

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GUM: Tell us about your designs, who wears Obscure Couture? OC: We create street/stagewear for the introverted extrovert. Taking a stance against mass production, all of our limited edition, individually numbered collections are hand made with love in the UK. The Obscure Couture woman is strong, confident and likes to stand out loud from the crowd. We create seasonal ranges in Couture and Ready-To-Wear form. GUM: What inspires your collections and how do you go about creating them? OC: We are inspired by everything and anything. It really can be anything, this season (SS12) will see the release of our “Us Vs Them” collection, this was (basically) based on Glasgow neds and gangs of youths, trying to harness the feelings you get when faced with them. Aggressive silhouettes and sport luxe undertones. We never really thought about it but we designed it just after moving studio to the Barras… it was subliminal designing (laughs). GUM: Being a Glasgow-based label, what is it that attracts you to the Glasgow fashion scene? What does the city have to offer? OC: This is always a tough question, every city you go to they all have their distinctive styles and Glasgow is no different. We are very accepting here and that is great, fully grown men can walk about in oversized tracksuits, people can be pierced, tattooed, prim, prissy, 50s… the list goes on but we accept them all. That’s what is great about Glasgow’s style: no restrictions. There has been a massive influx of designers on the scene too which is nice; new ideas, creative people seem to be everywhere. There’s this bubbling going on which is going to explode soon.

GUM / issue 02 / 2012


GUM: A lot of designers make the big move to London, is this something you can see happening for you? OC: Maybe… Right now Glasgow is where we want to be, we are happy with our space and there is no need to move anywhere. When we get sample requests from London stylists it’s just a case of next day delivery and they get it probably faster and easier than if we were London based. If we’re gonna move anywhere we are moving somewhere hot! GUM: 2011 was great year for Obscure Couture with being nominated for a Scottish fashion award, showing at London fashion week and having your designs showcased on X Factor. What were your personal highlights? OC: It was such a good year, considering our launch was just over a year ago it’s hard to imagine. Even in our business plan we never expected to come this far so fast. We work a lot, we have a mini bed in our studio and hit nana naps at night then get up and straight back to work again. Classy, I know!

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Photo - Derrick Argent Model - Erin Bradely Scott MUA - Lynsey Reilly Hair - Lou Clave

Photo- Derrick Argent Model - Lauren Andrew MUA - Lynsey Reilly Hair - Lou Clave

The X Factor was a crazy time; anyone who is a fan on Facebook will know how mental we went, sorry about that! We were screen-shotting, dancing around and updating like complete loons. Getting that kind of support and publicity really helped the brand and makes it worth it. Fingers crossed things like that keep happening. GUM: You’ve already dressed celebrities, so what celebrity would you most like to see wearing your designs and why? OC: We have tried to get our pieces on Yo-Landi Vi$$er for so long. She’s not interested but we will never give up! We really want to keep it cool and almost stay in a niche. Up and coming controversial acts like Fever Ray would be awesome, we love Jess Mills too. GUM: What can we expect in 2012 from Obscure Couture?

The Scottish Fashion Awards were amazing, even seeing Obscure Couture up there on the big screen was enough - David Ghandi was there, sitting a few seats along from us. We met Louise Grey, she was so nice and had some brilliant advice - we love her work.

OC: World domination! We have a show in Feb 17th for London Fashion Week, our newest collection AW12 The Lithium Party. Also our SS12 Couture and Ready-To-Wear ranges will be released mid-Feb on our ASOS Marketplace and hopefully our own e-shop on www.obscure-couture.com will be finished by then! We aim to keep collaborating with new designers. This season we are working with Jenivieve Berlin Millinery, she is pretty awesome. We will be releasing a mini range for dogs and cats along with the SS12 ranges so that’s pretty exciting, they are a bit rude but super sweet and quite funny.

London Fashion Week is always mental; we are getting better at dealing with it although in the run up we both lose the ability to construct full, grammatically correct sentences.

Another show in September at LFW - we just aim to keep going: if we can keep doing what we are doing and have a year like last year, we couldn’t ask for more.

GUM / issue 02 / 2012

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Bomber Jacket: Isolated Heroes Shorts: Once Upon a Time

 ACID CANDY MODEL: LAUREN ELIZABETH ANDREW STYLING: GINGER CLARK MAKE-UP: ASHLEIGH ANDERSON WIGS: LOU CLAVE PHOTOGRAPHY: ANDY KING (http://www.andykingstudio.com)


Playsuit: Velvet Elvis Shoes: New Look


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Skirt: Velvet Elvis Tights: Primark Accessories: Tatty Bon


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T-shirt: Once Upon a Time Shawl: Isolated Heroes Shoes: New Look


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fashion safari Emily Cook takes a look at the diverse range of species in the university fashion jungle. University Avenue is a fashion runway. The hectic scuttle to lectures along this steep road consists of a stampede of students, accessorised with coffee containers, Kindles, umbrellas, Pukka Pads, laptop carriers and a demeanour that tells the tale of one too many ‘Pints of Fun’. The theme would most definitely be ‘Eclectic YOOO-NAY Chic RushHour’. A fierce fashion safari it is most certainly not. Or is it? Herds of ‘vintage furry coaters’, who roam the campus with pillar-box red lips and immaculate middle partings, evoke slightly endangered polar bears: their survival is similar to depending upon whether the ice caps will melt, as these brave creatures live in fear of the inevitable torrential downpour that will transform them from an alluringly ‘feline femme’ to ‘drowned cat’. Interestingly, an undercurrent vibe of fur and fleece characterises our wardrobes: from fur-lined Ugg boots, shearling coats, duffle hoods and collars of Aviator jackets. Arguably, it is homage to the arctic fox, whose tundra-surviving traits we wish to align ourselves with. Comfort in these climes does not hinder the popular plumage of jewel coloured jeans that evoke birds of paradise. The plumage and fine feathers that attire nights out are undoubtedly harder to document. Certainly, everyone has ‘Hive shoes’, but beyond this the milieu is not easily definable. Yet specific style tribes do roam Altitude and are usually an interpretation of the theme for the ‘Hockey social’, or the ‘PBL night out’. In contrast, the library is the home of ‘relaxedrevision artists’, who can be found padding from a lair of notes and books to the vendors in Desert boots, to coolly select a crisply cut ‘Mars slice’ and a revitalising Irn-Bru. Adorning themselves with indoor beanie hats, slouchy t-shirts and an artfully slung tartan scarf is a sartorial survival mechanism against mental stress. Meanwhile gym bunnies can be seen hopping enthusiastically to the Stevie, clad in some item of lycra and definitely swigging from a bright yellow water bottle. Overall, student fashion is as diverse as the species of the animal kingdom, with discernible tribes yet without the hierarchy of herds or any lionmauling-squealing-zebra scenarios. We defy the ‘January mean of 4.0 °C’, our slender budgets and hectic scholarly timetables to proudly lead the sartorial evolution of the student.

ILLUSTRATION: ROBYN DALE

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GUM / issue 02 / 2012


boy vs. girl

The student unions of Glasgow University are famous for their preoccupation with sex. And by sex, I mean gender.

placed on the union boards by the university. The continued sexism of the unions looked bad. The university powers-that-be could put great financial pressure on the boards, as the union buildings were university property. It was this pressure, Kennedy says, that forced the board’s hand.

Perhaps the greatest conflicts of internal politics in the union’s history revolve around the issue of gender, the difference between man and woman, and the challenge to tradition that this conflict has brought. The main events of the epic saga occurred quite recently, in the late seventies and early eighties. They have left an intriguing legacy of controversial anecdotes and contradictory rumours. Once upon a time, the Glasgow University Union used to be exclusively male. Its biggest rival, the Queen Margaret Union, used to be exclusively female. Today males and females mingle happily in both, becoming mixed in 1980. This mingling of the sexes did not come easily; an attempt made in 1977 was overruled. Resistance took several vigorous and often depraved forms, and the most persistent rumour of all is that Charles Kennedy, during his political involvement at the G.U.U, took an active part in this resistance. While he denies this, the events of that year are difficult to untangle. In the wake of Kennedy’s political career this opposition seems absurd. He is famous - perhaps infamous - for his liberal approach to politics. It would be assumed that he would have been completely in favour of mixing the two unions. Intrigued by this apparent contradiction, I caught up with Charles Kennedy for an interview, at an event celebrating the GUU’s recent success in winning Student Union of the Year. He was quick to point out that in the late seventies both sexes seemed perfectly happy with keeping the unions unmixed. The first referendum for amalgamation resulted in overwhelming opposition to it, from females as well as males. But by the time he had become president, enormous pressure was being

“In 1980 the university stepped in and threatened to withdraw the GUU’s funding if it continued to exclude women” A dip into the library archives gives some backing to his story. Exacerbated by the Sex Discrimination Act of 1975, a campus-wide referendum was called to unite the unions in 1977. It was voted against by a reasonable margin, but the debate had been fuelled. Protest outside the GUU was quite common, and in 1979 the QM voted to open its doors to both sexes. In 1980 the university stepped in and threatened GUM / issue 02 / 2012

to withdraw the GUU’s funding if it continued to exclude women. It finally caved in. Mr. Kennedy was quick to point out that it took a lot of work to force the process. A rear-guard of protesters was formed to try and stop the amalgamation, or at least make certain areas of the GUU exclusively male. Mr Kennedy argues that he had to defeat this rear-guard, contrasting the rumours that he fought the amalgamation. While he acknowledges that at first the GUU resisted allowing females to attend, he argues that once it was decided that they should be allowed in, he offered his full support. According to eyewitnesses, who wish to remain anonymous, the ‘full support’ of the President was not echoed by the entire membership of the union. Resentful of the decision, they took it upon themselves to scare off as many females as possible. On the opening night they supposedly placed tables on either side of the doors to the beer garden and ‘peed on the lassies as they came in.’ The females stayed firm however, and the battle escalated for several weeks. At one point several girls rang to complain that the males of the union were watching pornographic movies using union facilities. When the authorities arrived, all they found was Donald Duck cartoons.

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politics

It is hard to imagine that the young Charles Kennedy, future head of the Liberal Democrat Party, would become involved in such childish protests. Nevertheless, there remain some unanswered questions about what happened when boy fought girl in the Glasgow unions, and the current rector’s stance on the issue not so long ago. His rapidity and rhetoric result in professionally crafted answers to my prying questions, but leave me with a sense of ambivalence. Perhaps Kennedy chose to defend his union’s ‘constituents,’ perhaps he reined in the extremists among the membership. Whatever the case, it seems that Kennedy was not one of the students who actively pushed for the end of an archaic practice. The preoccupation with sex in the Glasgow University unions still exists. At least now, it’s not so much to do with sexual inequality.

TEXT: PETER STEWART PHOTO: INNOXIUSS

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the scottish divide

On the drive up the M6, one would be forgiven for thinking they had entered Scotland upon encountering the towering hills and rainspattered greenery of Cumbria. In fact, the border is not crossed for another hundred miles, represented by the road-sign proclaiming: ‘Welcome to Scotland, Fáilte Gu Alba.’ Scotland: a nation of many identities. The visitor to the country is indeed greeted by steep hills and deep valleys, but this quickly dips into the gently rolling plains of the lowlands. Seventy per cent of the population resides in the ancient grey ramparts and modern concrete blocks (also grey) of the Central Belt, far from the windswept mountain crags of lore. In order to encounter the mountains which Scotland is so famous for, one would have to drive for another five hours to the wooded glens of north Perthshire or the tourist-infested shores of Loch Lomond. Undoubtedly upon arriving at such a place, one would be greeted once again with the dual-language welcome signs of the Scottish tourist network. Quaint, really. An all-but-abandoned language of the ancient Gaels, chosen to represent the Scottish peoples for the benefit of outsiders. The reasoning behind it? The Scottish National Party have been conjuring the regional stereotypes of Scotland’s history in an attempt to secure independence in the 2014 referendum. The result? A nation in haste to find a unifying identity. In the great boiled haggis of Scotland’s regional politics, nothing is quite as simple as the tourist board would have you believe. This is a nation teetering on the precipice of a political glen; some people are content to look straight ahead, across the breathtaking mountains and forests. Others are staring into the murky waters of the highland Loch, searching for a monster. Far from the stereotype of kilted ginger Englishhaters, Scotland is a country riven by deeprooted political feelings. Sitting in his office in Inverurie, first minister Alex Salmond must be aware of the challenges – and opportunities - that Scotland’s political geography has thrown at him. His constituency office lies in the traditional heartlands of the nationalist 24

movement, in the area traditionally referred to A three-hour drive down the A9 takes one to as ‘the grim north-east.’ It is here that the in- the governmental and administrative nervedependence movement is most affiliated with, centre of Scotland. Edinburgh’s traditional centred around the oil-rich city of Aberdeen political framework was based upon the vast and the fishing villages of the Moray coast. disparity between rich and poor in the city. In The population of the Northeast have a reputathe tenements of the Old Town, people of all tion for introversion: their lands lie outside the classes lived side-by-side in a heady melange traditional tourist trail and more than one hunof tailored coats and filthy faces. Even now, aldred miles away from the densely populated though the city has extended outwards from the Central Belt. A deep-seated Castle Hill for many miles in all disdain for the British politi- “Far from the stereotype directions, the rich and poor cal machine is imbued in the of kilted ginger English- still share postal codes. In the haters, Scotland is a region. The fishermen of the past, this resulted in a political country riven by deep- battle between red and blue. coast have been infuriated in recent years by the bungling rooted political feelings” In the 2011 elections, a third attempts of Westminster to contender charged the field protect their industry in the and routed both armies. Salwake of damaging quota limitations from Brusmond’s Scottish National Party shocked the sels. In Aberdeen, the citizens are very aware capital’s political establishment, securing five that much of their oil profit is sent to London of the city’s six constituency seats. In a city hisin the form of taxation. The ethos in the Northtorically influenced by Anglo-Saxon mentalities east is one of simmering nationalist aggres– redcoat soldiers and students from south of sion; from the steaming bowls of cullen skink the border - the message was clear: the traand stovies, to the regional Nordic-influenced ditional British political parties are no longer dialect of ‘Doric,’ this is a place that considers welcome. itself firmly Scottish: not British. GUM / issue 02 / 2012


Nevertheless, a kind of political rigor mortis mundane campaign of anti-nationalist negasets in when the issue of independence is tivity which bored the recession-era voters to raised. People who voted for the Nationalists tears. in 2011 did not necessarily support a complete split from the Union. When the topic is As it stands, support for independence in mentioned, people seem to turn stiff and stale. Edinburgh and the central lowlands is imposIt is almost as if, in the desperation not to sible to gauge. Dithering political affiliations, base the independence debate on romantic historical contradictions and apathetic voters rhetoric, people have been left with nothing have whipped Edinburgh into a state of indecito say. It is the same story as sion. Not so in the Highlands “Nevertheless, a kind and Islands, where an indeone travels further West; in the traditional Labour enclaves of of political rigor mortis pendent Scotland has been West Lothian and Falkirk, peo- sets in when the issue a dream for centuries, or the of independence is ple seem to be shocked at the southern constituencies, raised” political upheaval their votes where the Scottish conhave wrought. Perhaps the SNP servatives maintain a skirt landslide victory came at a time of great apaof blue on the political map, denying the SNP thy towards the traditional parties: the Liberal support for independence along the English Democrats, once a potent force in the Scottish border. parliament, were decimated after their betrayal of students over the tuition fees debacle; the The situation in Scotland’s biggest city, GlasConservatives, never having had much sucgow, is similar to Edinburgh’s but includes cess in Scotland after Devolution, still suffered several potent differences. Although support under the Scottish aversion to the Thatcher for the SNP grew remarkably in the city and era; and the Labour party, once guaranteed its surroundings, Labour managed to keep a a majority of seats north of the border, ran a foothold in some of its most dependable seats. GUM / issue 02 / 2012

The concept of independence is also made murkier by the element of sectarianism in Glaswegian politics. Many supporters of the Union come from the staunchly protestant sections of the population; driven by religious and historical partiality, the minds of these orthodox voters are unlikely to be changed by the SNP. Furthermore, many think so strongly about the issue that they will turn out in numbers to vote against the proposal, stymieing the SNP’s hope that the anti-independence supporters would fail to turn up at the polling booths. The Catholic section of society, often associated with the Irish independence movement, has so far failed to relate historical nationalism to the current situation. Long ties with the Labour party have ensured that many Catholics have voted for a unionist party for years. Nevertheless, support for independence could eventually come from the terraces of Celtic Park. As a force in Glaswegian politics, nothing is more prevalent than the rivalry of its two biggest football teams. In the face of a hugely pro-unionist Rangers support, perhaps the supporters of Celtic will take an opposite stance on the issue. Fickle as it may sound, this is often the way that football-related rivalries operate. Indeed, nothing speaks more about the regional politics of Scotland than petty historical rivalries. In a country forged by fighting and union between Irish, Angles, Saxons, Britons, Picts and Vikings, the disputes between geographical areas of the country were set in stone from the outset. On top of this, the civil war of the eighteenth century left a lasting impression of the divide between Lowlanders and Highlanders. The Thatcher era created a surge of anti-unionist feeling in the country, but this was partnered by a growth in support for the unionist Labour party. In this landscape of clan mentality and infighting, nothing was ever going to be simple in the independence debate. TEXT: KEITH MARIN COLLAGE: ANDY KING

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The industrial nature of Glasgow’s recent past – and subsequent poverty caused by the termination of the industrial sector – is the main reason for the loyalty towards Labour. The citizens, like those of the industrial English cities, are attracted by the socialist principles of traditional Labourites. Although the SNP like to advertise themselves as a party of the masses, they are occasionally seen as too pro-business to attract the hard-core elements of Labour support. It used to be said that you could attach a red rosette to a donkey in Glasgow and people would vote for it. This is an increasingly inapplicable sentiment, but one that might just linger until the independence referendum in 2014. The problem for the SNP is thus: Labour are an unashamedly unionist party, and any voters who still favour them may pose a threat to a successful independence vote. Given the size of the Glaswegian population, this is a relevant worry.


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 off the rails?

our current economic climate there must be a quicker and more economical solution to the nation’s problems.

Is another high speed train line what the country needs? The government seems to think so, but Charlotte Smith disagrees.

With works set to start in 2016 and not finish until 2026, £32 billion is being invested in a project which people may soon lose interest in. A quicker and cheaper solution could easily be constructed, such as simply improving our current train lines. Are British citizens really pining for a transport system that will get us to our destination a little bit earlier? There is a high profile High Speed line in Germany from Cologne to Frankfurt, roughly covering the same distance as Birmingham to London. The journey is about seven minutes quicker than their current train service, much slower than the twenty three minutes which the HS2 intends to cut off the Birmingham line. Here we have evidence from a contemporary example that the train may in fact not achieve its aspiration. Perhaps the 39,652 displeased respondents from the Department of Transport findings would rather see the government prioritise by improving our current bus and train services, and finding alternate cheaper ways to settle the economic calamity.

The High Speed 2 (HS2) trains set to be built between Birmingham and London by 2026, have been given the go ahead by the government to develop further into production. The high speed train line has promised to bring travellers from London to Birmingham within 50 minutes, generate £47 billion in project income and create 40,000 jobs for people nationwide. Birmingham council leader Mike Whitby declared that it would give the city the biggest economic boost it has enjoyed ‘for generations.’ The Government seems to be pushing on with the proposal despite evident disapprobation; according to recent findings from the Department of Transport just 15,257 people out of 54,909 are in support. Several MPs from the West Midlands, a considerate amount of Conservatives and a large proportion of the nation’s public have expressed concern. Although the project seems to offer a number of benefits to 26

Furthermore, HS2 threatens to increase travel inequality: the trains may be too highly priced for a majority of individuals in Britain. It may end up like the M6 Toll, used widely by business people or public officials who simply put GUM / issue 02 / 2012

the cost on their business expenses. It is not fair that the nation’s households will have to pay up to £1700 tax to fund the building of the service only to be unable to use it themselves due to lack of finance. With projected plans only aimed at building the services in England, Scotland is left neglected and paying tax towards a service we will not make use of. Although in the short term HS2 will help with unemployment, what happens when the building of the instalment is finished? Say the HS2 is a success, what happens to the hundreds of people working on the older train lines? With the charge of tax for the HS2 for the building materials, on top of standard tax and the possible long term effects on employment, public discontent will surely soar. Considering the extortionate cost of the project, the small geographical area it will benefit and the inequalities between wealthy and poor travellers – not to mention the environmental impact of the HS2 – it is safe to say that a large proportion of the public will not welcome this project. If the government concentrated more effort on improvement of our current travel services and focused on a cheaper and quicker business plan to improve our economy, the people of our country could maybe start putting some trust back into their hands. The nation’s financial mess needs to be solved through a more sensible and popular solution. PHOTO: CHRIS SMITH


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the united republic As we protect and promote democracy elsewhere in these tumultuous times, it has never been more important that we lead by example and strive for the best here in Britain. Despite efforts by our elected leaders to advance social mobility initiatives, our country continues to be dominated by its aristocracy, with a privileged minority seizing opportunities unavailable to those who cannot rely on titles and connections to impress. It is time to build on the work that New Labour began, by removing hereditary peers from the House of Lords, transferring more power to Britain’s regions and trying hard to develop a meritocratic society. I believe that our country should eventually become a federal republic with regional representation and without the monarchy and all that our shameful class system entails. First Minister Salmond’s quest for Scottish independence has at least been useful in highlighting the problems with Britain’s political system. We currently have a strong Scottish parliament but less significant Welsh and Northern Irish assemblies. I think we should adopt a model of federalism similar to that of the United States, and introduce regional governments throughout England. All devolved areas should be equal in their capacities to drive local policies, with Westminster remaining sovereign in matters such as defence and international development. Too often people feel detached from the political process and that, regardless of their vote, the same problems will persist. Confidence in the good that can be achieved through politics can begin to be restored once Britain is reformed - once citizens understand that their interests can be considered fairly at a regional level by institutions that really can effect change. The Queen has devoted her life to public service and her contribution to Britain and the Commonwealth has been significant. For this reason, it would be unfair to abolish the monarchy while she and her relatives remain alive. I propose that we determine a timeline of change – for example, it could be agreed that Prince William and Kate Middleton’s first-born will be our last monarch - so that all parties concerned are aware of the changes that will be made, and so that we can begin the consultation and preparation that will precede the transition.

The monarchy is archaic and gives power to those who win a birth lottery. Though the Queen’s authority may be largely symbolic nowadays, she and aristocrats around the country exercise an influence that they would not have if they had not been born into the ‘right’ families. Often when the issue arises, people refer to the aristocracy’s traditions and likeable characters and argue that it is harmless. Tradition is not reason enough to retain an institution that is harmful. As long as we allow hereditary privilege, we allow that no matter a person’s character or merits, they cannot reach the pinnacle of our society. The best message to communicate to young people around the world would be that Britain is a modern, pragmatic country in which individuals can succeed on merit alone – regardless of their background. Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg has taken encouraging steps to end what he calls the “who you know not what you know”-culture. One area in which barriers to social mobility are most apparent is student work experience. A lot of people struggle to find even voluntary placements unless they are well connected in their industry. Many banks, law firms and energy providers do not advertise internship programmes publicly because it is easier to deal through contacts instead. As a result, perfectly capable students are losing out. The government has introduced rules that require companies to advertise opportunities online and in schools but there is still much to be done if we are going to achieve the “culture shift among employers” that Clegg hopes will be “driven by the belief that ability should trump connections and privilege.” It is demeaning that today, there are still Dukes and Earls, Viscounts and Countesses, who we commoners are obliged to address with ‘Your Grace’ and similar phrases. More worrying still is the delight with which many people reacted when they learnt that commoner Kate was going to be welcomed into the Royal fold. Now she is the Duchess of Cambridge and commoners must bow and curtsey in her presence. However, aside from marrying the right person, she GUM / issue 02 / 2012

has done nothing to deserve this. Such people are not positive role models. We should not applaud the fact that somebody has ascended to the highest echelons of our society; we should question why that is desirable in the first place. Taxpayers must not fund those who can afford to support themselves and do not keep proper jobs. Often, when the tables are turned and it is working-class families in Glasgow that rely on state welfare to survive, their needs are met with suspicion, resentment and derision. It is the aristocrats who can learn from ordinary workers - who earn their own money, play by the rules and don’t employ airs and graces. Another idea used to justify the monarchy is the money that it generates from tourism, but surely this is not a strong enough reason to keep a system that allows some people to be born ‘above’ everyone else. Besides, there is no evidence to suggest that people would stop visiting Britain if it became a republic. Tourists continue to visit former Royal palaces elsewhere around the world. The French and the Chinese abolished their dynasties a long time ago, yet many thousands of people still visit Versailles and the Forbidden City each year. Britain has a long and fascinating history and it is this that attracts tourists. For centuries, we have led the way in the arts, science and sport. London and Glasgow are major financial centres. Children all over the world dream of being educated here. Whether or not we maintain the monarchy, Britain will continue to be among the world’s most popular destinations because we have a great deal to offer. Of course it would be wrong to strip people of their titles immediately. People are born with them and have little power to change their circumstances. However, we need to explore ways of reshaping our political and social infrastructures so that we can engineer a Britain that is truly democratic – one that can celebrate its rich history but look ahead to what we, from all walks of life, can contribute and achieve together. TEXT: DANIEL PATTERSON PHOTO: SAMCATCHESIDES.COM

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superficial judgements In theory, we have the understanding that law is objective. Aristotle wrote that “law is reason, free from passion”, and we are hard placed to find any faults with this. Reason disregards prejudice, excludes emotive language, calls for evidence and does not make special cases. This is the ideal of how both our political and justice systems should operate, and seems to offer a method by which everyone is subjected to the same treatment. However, as with most circumstances when human nature is involved, the reality is vastly different from the ideals.

Conversely, there is the less high-profile case of Mitchell Harrison, a convicted paedophile recently killed in Frankland Prison. Harrison lived and worked in my hometown. He was known for being “intense”, a bit odd, and was in the habit of perusing women in a manner that could often be described as stalking. However, he was handsome; in a roundabout way, many women and teenage girls felt that his attention was flattering. Had an older, less attractive man done the same, would these women have felt the same? It came as a huge shock to the commu28

 nity that Harrison had already been in court at the age of 13 for a sexual assault case involving a younger child, as well as another case of sexual violence. It came as a shock perhaps because Harrison did not fit the stereotype of a “creep.”

arguably played a part in his success against Nixon. It is as much about being the “face” of the party, as much as having the qualifications to potentially be a success. Gordon Brown fell short of sympathy and into the playground media bullying surrounding his “piggy” features.

So, how do these examples of the danger of a Western society’s superficial attitude infiltrate the running of our judicial and political sectors? The Harrison and Knox cases can be considered a start to understand how criminal law may be affected. Of course, it would be professional suicide for anyone in the law profession to admit to be swayed by such influences. Politicians, however, carefully plan their campaigns round this fundamental theory of human nature - hence the importance of spin, PR and makeup for that appearance on the television. Gone are the days when all you needed was a good radio voice, decent policies and respect within your party. Since the explosion of more varied media types in the 1960s, and the cult of celebrity, politicians are being pushed towards looking the part. We can see how iconically John F Kennedy manipulated this impulse for aesthetics. He was a young, attractive family man with a good profile. It may be cynical, but this

It would be unfair to say that everyone thinks this way. But I ask you to think deep and honestly before you assert that you have never judged anyone based on his or her looks. Tell me honestly, how many of us closely examined the nuances of party policies? Now tell me, what colour are David Cameron’s eyes?

GUM / issue 02 / 2012

PHOTO: CEBImagery

One of the most controversial elements involved within the spheres of law and politics is the evidence - and here we make a plea to your rational self to examine such evidence that superficial judgment takes place both amongst professionals and the general public. For example, did you know that in every single U.S. election, the tallest candidate has always won? Also, how else can we explain the shocking lack of sympathy towards rape victims who have dressed as if “they are asking for it?” There are two sides to this story: those who are victims of this shallow streak and those genetically blessed people who have managed to get away with murder - perhaps literally. Take the recently finalised and media-frenzied trial of Amanda Knox. Knox, an exchange student from the U.S., was put on trial for the murder of her friend and flatmate Meredith Kercher. In the autumn of 2011, Knox was pronounced not guilty and was released. The public seemed entranced by every detail of this young, attractive woman - including dubiously sourced references about her personal life. There was a strong consensus that “Foxy Knoxy” was guilty because she looked the part: akin to an evil seductress, like some Bond villain’s sidekick. She apparently looked like she would have played part in the sex games that reputedly lead to Kercher’s death - presumably because she was a young, pretty and sexually active woman.

We might then ask, what is this obsession with appearance leading us to? Are there modern day Churchills and Atlees falling under the radar because of their lack of mass appeal in our age of image-based media? Will we ever be able to rid ourselves of the intuition that criminals who look like Harrison are nowhere near as plentiful as your sinister-looking fairytale villain? Aristotle might be spinning in his grave: meanwhile, perhaps we will one day see a future in government-subsidised botox. TEXT: JUDY BARRETT


PHOTO: jcex.com

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music

 the jon cohen experimental Ross Watson talks to musical veteran Jonathan Cohen as he stops by Glasgow on his European tour. Jonathan Cohen is something of an indie rock veteran, having played with The Dears, The Social Register and many other bands. However, in 2006, the Montreal-based musician decided to begin performing under his own moniker: The Jon Cohen Experimental. Last year, he released his sophomore album, Behold, which features an impressive list of guests including Liam O’Neil from The Stills, Evan Cranley from Stars and Broken Social Scene, among others. When asked what influenced the decision to put the spotlight on himself, Cohen analogises: “I see it like this example; How long can I work for a large company, lending my skills, time and energy, when I can put that time and energy into a small humble business that may not generate as much, but at least I can say it’s mine, its something that fuels me and something I can be proud of it. Like a farmer with just one acre of land can grow enough to feed his entire family and feel a pride in his work, I can feel proud of what I’m accomplishing albeit humble in proportion. I see the potential

though, I can see the progress, the growth, and it fuels me to no end.” Cohen isn’t lying about his excess of motivation either; he is currently on the road for a two-month European tour, having played Glasgow venues Pivo Pivo and Bar Bloc in January, but instead of touring with a backing band like he did on previous tours, he’s on his own

“I can feel proud of what I’m accomplishing albeit humble in proportion” this time. That sounds like a solitary voyage of self-discovery if there ever was one – and Cohen himself doesn’t doubt how undertaking his decision has been – but more admirably, he chooses not to dwell on the negatives: “It gives me freedom to travel, to play music, to meet people and to show my real personality onstage.” He makes light of the tension bands often feel when travelling together for long periods of time, noting the tendency of these types of scenario to ruin friendships and relationships. Jokingly, he ponders: “I wonder if you can break up with yourself?” Behold is a sonically comforting album, full of dreamy pop and psychedelic melodies. So why The Jon Cohen “Experimental”? The man GUM / issue 02 / 2012

himself puts it straight, claiming that many have misunderstood the true meaning of the band’s name: “Everything about our experiences is experimental”. He elaborates: “In my music, I’m always talking more about how we experience our surroundings, how we express ourselves to ourselves and to others around us and how we grow inwardly through this experimentation. I’m not talking about drugs or mindaltering substances either. I’m referring to the method in which we interact with our surroundings. We are basically making it up as we go along, trying new things and finding new ways to relate to the world around us. We are “creating content” so to speak. Music is just one form of that content and this is how I approach making music.” It has been fascinating to see how Cohen has gone about replicating his densely layered studio work in a live setting without the help of a backing band, but he urges us not to give the game away: “Needless to say, you will be overwhelmed by the layers and layers of sound, by how they are all brought together, by how they are maintained. But I’m not going to give it away here. You have to come see for yourself.” Ø Find out more about The Jon Cohen Experi-

mental at: http://thejcex.com/

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Not quite sure how to navigate the vibrant club scene that is Glasgow? Don’t worry, Lucy Molloy is here to help. You know how it goes - you hear about the night from some random person on Facebook or see it on a poster on your way to a lecture, you trek down to some strange venue, you stand about with a bunch of people in a queue, you give money to some guy and then you walk in, and you party. You drink, you dance and when the clock tolls 3AM you stumble outside and go home or, occasionally, to some not-so-secret warehouse or an after party at some friend of a friend of a friend’s house.

came all this way?!’ Depending on who it is, I either mumble something about the course or the cheaper fees, but if I’m being perfectly honest - it was for the clubs. Yes, I admit it: I’m a club rat. And a big club snob. I can proudly say I’ve managed to somehow avoid Viper, Garage and Kushion. I haven’t quite escaped a night out at Bamboo or The Hive and I may have even secretly enjoyed it, but let’s not talk about that. The one word I hear bandied about every time the Glasgow nightlife is mentioned is ‘eclectic’. And having been here for nearly 6 months now, I have to agree.

Welcome to clubbing in Glasgow.

Unlike that legend from Murano who had that party with the paddling pool, and ended the night by stripping off and jumping out of a second floor window (you know who you are) it’s not often you ever think about, never mind meet, the hosts of club nights. Club promoters are often hidden behind a random name or the DJ decks, and their lives can get pretty lonely. They don’t get the fame or the thanks that the guy who had a great house party does.

I moved to Glasgow from London. Usually people gape at me opened mouthed and say ‘What? You

But if you’re nosy like me, at some point you’ve wondered who’s behind these parties. What’s

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GUM / issue 02 / 2012

their secret? And is there any chance you can give them a high five? So I caught up with a few of our favourite club promoters and did just that.

Deadly Rhythm I first heard of Deadly Rhythm as a London-based collective. After five successful years they reformed in Glasgow, when member Alexsi met some like-minded DJs through Subcity Radio. Hailing from London, Estonia, Manchester, Italy and Edinburgh, they had all wanted to run parties since moving over to Glasgow and used the links they had already established with labels such as Hoya:Hoya and Eglo Records. Alexsi agrees that despite being relatively small, the Glasgow scene has an edge due to the fact that people here are clued up about their genres: “There is a big focus on quality and people here are much more open minded about hearing different things”. In London there are often cliques that form around a particular scene and this goes hand in hand with a ‘hype culture’, which according to Alexsi is yet to make its way up North, probably due to the fact that Glaswegians aren’t shy of “telling you if they think something’s shite.’”


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Deadly Rhythm recommends Vitamins, Animal Farm, Numbers and Freaky Freaky. If you’re into your electronic music, and are looking for a night with a quality line-up and friendly vibe that won’t break the bank, get to their nights held monthly in Chambre 69.

Lock Up Your Daughters I had no idea that LUYD had a club night until a friend mentioned it. I had known of them for their film club, which runs every second Monday of the month at the Flying Duck and produces cutting-edge, forward-thinking shortfilms. LUYD are a busy bunch of girls who started out as a magazine, and their night was born to fund the print run back in 2008. Since then they’ve had a mix of residents including Students for Scarves, and Charm with SPILL taking over the decks for 2012. LUYD’s music policy is mixed, just like the crowd: “Girls, boys, gay, straight, queer, trans, undecided, whatever it’s not important.’” Despite being set up as a lesbian night, according to member Sophie it’s “not just a place for gays to party but an outlet for queer culture so that it can develop.” When

they’re not sunning themselves in Philadelphia, LUYD love to party at Hot Mess in Edinburgh, iBop on the Southside and Blitz. If you’re the type who likes drinking cheap beer, dressing up as a sailor and getting nasty on the dance floor then head down to The Flying Duck on the 3rd Friday of the month.

Mungo’s Hi Fi Mungo’s Hi Fi are somewhat legends of the Glasgow scene, famed for their fun reggae vibes, dreads and homemade sound system. They started DJing and putting on club nights in Glasgow in the 90s playing all kinds of music, but eventually they started buying dub, reggae and dancehall vinyl and got totally hooked on the sound. For a while they lived in a barn near Kilmarnock where they did woodwork by day and DJed by night. Since then they’ve released three albums, a string of EPs and toured round most of Europe and America. But they still maintain that Glasgow crowds are “amongst the best, because they’re not shy of the dance floor. You won’t find Glaswegians standing back and scratching their chins but GUM / issue 02 / 2012

really getting involved.” Having spent the past 15 years clubbing, but also having wee toddlers to contend with, Mungo’s admit their idea of a good party is a quiet evening with a few friends that finishes before midnight. I know everyone in Glasgow moans about the crap weather, so if you’re looking for an injection of summer vibes into your rainy weekend, then I would definitely recommend catching them live. They have a new monthly residency alongside Chungo-Bungo down at Chambre 69.

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PHOTO: SHAYNE LAVERDIERE

 out of his father’s shadow

What is it like to be the son of a musical legend? Alexandra Embiricos talks to Adam Cohen about music, art and his fathers legacy.

Adam Cohen stands around the back of one of Glasgow’s most notorious venues, the Oran Mor, shielding himself from the rain as the band’s equipment gets loaded onto the tour bus for their onward journey to Paris. He has just finished smiling for the cameras and signing autographs for the long queue of fans that materialised after his performance, and still he has that calm and collected aura of suave. He is undeniably his father’s son, the progeny of one of the greatest artists of the last fifty years: Leonard Cohen - poet, writer, artist, musician, ruffian, Don Juan. Just as the father was a charmer, so is the son, and when Adam requests a cigarette I giddily oblige and attempt to roll him my best while we talk about the success of the concert. “Glasgow’s fucking cool, man,” he croons, “this was a magnificent and memorable night. You know the truth of the matter is we had a really horrible gig last night, and tonight was redemption. It was about us, we were relying on the audience to give us energy, and because they had none we had none, and that’s just no excuse. We have to go out and be beautiful and be faithful to the songs, and that’s what we decided to do tonight.” And what an unexpected night it turned out to be. On first entering the basement of the Oran Mor, the seats were already filled up and the air thick with anticipation, as well as an uneasy suspense. Most, if not all, of the crowd were here to see the son of one of their favorite artists - a ‘next best thing’ if you will. Although for Cohen Sr., touring has been rendered an unfortunate necessity since his bankruptcy in 2005 (thanks to a misappropriation of money from his retirement fund) he still remains as elusive as ever, whether it be living in a Buddhist monastery outside L.A, or being particularly sly around journalists. If great expectations could be set up by any lyric,

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surely “I was born with the gift of a golden voice” would be right at the top. Harder still would be to follow in the familial footsteps of a giant, but it appears Adam Cohen has managed to pull it off, with most of the set being comprised of his own original songs. “We don’t play a lot of covers,” he says, “I think my material and my fathers attempt to exist side by side”. I recalled the exceptionally rousing rendition of the favorite So Long Marianne, which not an hour before had the entire audience standing and singing along word for word. It was a heartwarming spectacle, made more so by the fact that Adam not only manages to stand on his own talent, but also accepts, and even cherishes, the long shadow his father casts. Adam’s career is rooted in the acknowledgement that he is in the family business. He is the acting ambassador of the Cohen family to art exhibits of Leonard Cohen Art, which places him in charge of all press coverage of his father’s paintings and drawings around the world. “There was no doubt in my mind I was going to be a musician,” he explains, “I have always been a musician. You know music is one of those things that’s so seductive so I caught the virus young.” When asked on his inspirations he replies in the vein of a man well acquainted to living with an eccentric family: “the slightest thing can inspire me,” he grins, “poets are like little birds, the slightest thing makes them tweet.” It is well known amongst live performers that the energy between the crowd and an artist can make or break a concert. Leonard Cohen was a master of this relationship, utilizing all his quirky charm and sarcastic intellectualism to seduce the crowd. Adam is no different, oscillating between swaggering self-assurance and humorous self-deprecation, interspersing his melodious songs with anecdotes of family life growing up, and flirtatious passes at the female audience members. “Its very important that the audience be a part of the show because its for them and its with them,” he explains, and he knows what his audience wants. “Well sometimes I think that I do know and sometimes I feel like I’m still learning,” he says, “and I’ve got a lot to learn. Sometimes I have three or four beautiful women

GUM / issue 02 / 2012

who throw themselves at me and that’s generally when I know that I had a really good show.” Adam has been touring to support the release of his fourth studio album Like A Man, produced by longtime Madonna collaborator Patrick Leonard, and drawing unmasked inspiration from Leonard Cohen’s 1988 album I’m your Man. “Yeah everything, done, really quickly,” he says of the two week period it took them to record and master the album: “It was made up of songs I had written already. I’ve been doing this for a while- I’m forty, I’m forty years old.’ He laughs, ‘I’ve been making music with my band mate Michael for over ten years. I love him.” When I mention what an admirer I am of his father, he immediately replies, “me too. This record is the closest thing I could have made to a homage to my old man before its too late.” So it seems that music flows downstream, passing from one generation to the next and changing along the way. Adam was signed to Columbia records in 1997, the same company as his father, making music both in English and French to keep in touch with his Canadian roots. After the release of Mélancolista he was approached on the basis of recording more English language material, and was signed to Manhattan Records after a meager fifteen minutes of acoustic performance. This spawned the Low Millions, who will be releasing their second album Beautiful in the near future, the title song of which was written for his, at the time yet unborn, son. Outside the Oran Mor the cigarettes have been finished and the Glasgow rain begins to fall heavily, the time has come for Adam to be politely but firmly ushered onto his tour bus to get going and stop chatting. “Well I have to say that sitting at the dinner table with my father to my left and my son to my right made me feel like I hadn’t quite successfully honored the tradition from which I come,” he explains as he walks towards the bus, “and that’s really the thrust of this record. The thrust of the record is knowing that my son is one day going to consult my work just like I consulted my fathers. I would really love him to be proud the way I’ve been proud.”


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 auntie flo

How do we listen to and understand music that is made outwith the confines of Western culture? Electronic music is dominated by European taste makers who decide what we hear and what is cool. GUM speaks to GlaswegianGoan producer and DJ Auntie Flo (aka Brian D’ Souza) about how Glasgow has embraced his particular brand of music, which takes inspiration from styles that aren’t necessarily on the radars of the super-hip. Brian D’Souza takes the name Auntie Flo from his vivacious Goan aunt and immediately this lays down the global connections that underlie his work: “She’s about 98 and she lives with her cat. But I’ve produced under that name since 2002, which no-one really knows about.” He began collecting dance and electronic records aged 15, and went from one turntable to two aged 17: “I didn’t get formal training for a long time and taught myself.” But after a degree in Psychology and then Sound Design Brian began more stylistically aware, wanting to focus on more natural aspects in his music: “I deliberately tried to unlearn. It’s so easy to get bogged down by the hardware. I’m not into that hi-fi sound; I prefer it much more raw and esoteric.”

concoction. For those outside of the West, it’s a nonsensical statement. Here, everything is ever changing, one minute it’s dubstep, then it’s future-garage and post this and that. For some reason, ‘world music’ is seen to remain the same, which is ridiculous and patronising. In South Africa, you’ve actually got exactly the same thing happening with kwaito and South African house but no-one hears about it.” So how does he come to know these styles and become a part of it all? Perhaps it’s a relentless quest towards the new and unexpected: “I’ve always collected house, techno and all the variants and have always wanted to get my hands on the latest music. I was the same as everyone else in that I heard DJ Mujava’s Township Funk - I thought that’s great, it’s from South Africa so I dived in. Found a few websites who sold it and it seemed to be at the same time everyone else was doing it.”

The sound of Auntie Flo is certainly a difficult one to explain: High energy, rhythmic bass with unexpected, bracing samples - altogether addictive and intensely danceable. But there is something which truly sets the music apart from what we hear every day. Brian and I begin debating that dubious term that sometimes floats around Auntie Flo’s style: ‘World music’.

For Auntie Flo then, the internet seems to be an integral tool when trying to find music outside his own peer group. In a time when positive globalisation seems like such a myth, is this a true example of how people from around the world can connect and form communities, albeit online? As a result, Auntie Flo has plans for some interesting collaborations in the future: “I’ve got this mini album coming out hopefully in February and I’ve been working on it with this Chilean singer called Mamacita. I’ve never actually met her, I’ve just been relying on Facebook to speak to her. I found out about her through Alejandro Paz who I also hadn’t met. I said: ‘Who is this singing?!’ And he replied, ‘just this girl I went to school with.’ He eventually came to Glasgow and we ended up releasing some of his stuff on Hunters and Palmers and recording Mamacita. It’s so weird, Alejandro is like my Chilean equivalent.”

After a sceptical guffaw, Brian explains that he in fact hates this term: “It’s such a westernised

About a year and a half ago, Brian helped set up the club night Highlife with label Hunters and GUM / issue 02 / 2012

Palmers to give a voice to the styles that they believed needed to be heard. It began in London, but the Glasgow variety features Auntie Flo as resident and guests who have included Esa and Actress in the past: “Andy from H+P and I got really into Matias Aguayo’s label Comeme and he booked Rebolledo from Mexico. His music is a perfect example of what we do because his music is basically a merge between house and disco but he’s got a very distinct Mexican musical personality. The idea was to book acts outside of recognised genres and Glasgow is always so open minded about these things.” And when Glasgow has such an expansive club scene already (have a peek at Lucy Molloys article on the previous page), this is surely something the city needs. Something that is free from being easily labelled means that it is less likely to be over-hyped and to be a fashionable flash in the pan. But what about that Nelson Mandela sample at the beginning of track Highlife? “Well it’s not actually Nelson Mandela. It’s a DJ called Esa who’s really involved with us. He always goes on about how he does the best impression so it was his idea. He did a voice recording of it inviting everyone to the club and did impressions throughout the night – it wasn’t a political statement!” Auntie Flo is definitely different. Not in a condescending-aren’t-you-different-playing-music-from-Africa! kind of way, but in a way that overcomes these small-minded accusations of novelty. What can be learnt from the Auntie Flo is that you can challenge preconceptions and dance at the same time. Auntie Flo can be seen monthly at La Cheetah and some Sundays at SubClub, keep your eyes peeled! TEXT: MEGAN DONALD PHOTOS: AUNTIE FLO

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of wubwubwub. Skrillex isn’t alone, honourable mentions go to: Nero, who saturate the moments of purgatory during Radio 1’s daytime scheduling (rather, Fearne-Cotton-talking-about-herself-andher-famous-friends-for-a-few-hours-ing), DJ Fresh, who scored Dubstep’s first number one with Louder last July – an unapologetic prostitute of half-arsed bass. And we mustn’t forget Katy B. Bad Katy B, always ruining nice things. If the murder of Dubstep were Cluedo, it was Katy B in the recording studio with the Low Frequency Oscillator. Chase and Status and Deadmau5 avoid condemnation because their brands of ‘Dubstep’ simply aren’t. Further cementing death by overexposure is the move from bars, basements and blogs to Ayia Napa, Zante and Magaluf. Where musical integrity is lost as fast as the dignity of that partygoer who stumbles back blistered and underwearless from behind a stack of deck chairs at half 8 the next morning. Where do we go from here? Back. The cure to this futuristic pandemic, where music mimics vomiting robots and epileptic spaceships, is to go back. To a simpler time, when rhythm was a dancer, a soul’s companion, people felt it everywhere (tenuous Snap! reference). All hail the triumphant revival of a sort of glitchy Ambient-House hybrid.

the death of dubstep (please) I’ve courted with Dubstep, anyone who says they haven’t is lying. We first met in early 2009, Skream’s remix of La Roux -‘In for the Kill’. A thing of beauty: flawless minimal production and a sense of soul about it.

boo Wednesdays. Production values lost to speed, churning out wobbles with haste, and the Skrillex bomb. Dubstep is dead, long live anything else.

Forward to NYE, the whole of Glasgow’s middle class suburbia were figuring out how to move to the Jakwob remix of Starry Eyed, it felt precious, a sound we could own. October 2010: Benga at the original Art School [RIP]. Indulgent bass, pure hedonism and the trickle of something explosive coming up through the sticky floor. Any cultural movement will be swallowed by commercialisation, but that is not to proclaim it dead. Renault’s Clio advert, February 2011, writhed in the established cool: Audrey Hepburn, Dita Von Teese, Marlon Brando, David Bowie, Rihanna in 40 seconds.

The utterance of Skrillex’s name is enough to rally hatred – fist-pumping lad-culture vs. cynical-purist hipster. Each prising vacuous notions of integrity and imposing beliefs more inflated than Lana Del Rey’s lips. Giving credence to this war is itself an insult to progression; we can do better than argue over the legitimacy of schizophrenic vocal mutilations and quasi-bassline spasms. A sound wholly in the pursuit of ‘The Drop’, at which point adjectives like ‘filthy’,’ear-gasmic’,’rapey’, etc. are thrown around uninhibited and the kids pretend to have a seizure. Skrillex’s brand of wholesome diluted “Brostep” is a prime suspect in the premature murder of a genre.

All this soundtracked by the future; Clare Maguire – Ain’t Nobody (Breakage Remix), undoubtedly a smooth track, stripped back, icy and emotive. Just strings, synths, vocals and slowly contorting subbass. Dubstep was established cool. Sometime in early 2011: Dubstep’s transition from underground to Monday Night Heat, Juicy Tuesdays and Bam-

Skrillex is to Dubstep what David Guetta was to House, a vehicle for a more bankable sound. His Scary Monsters and Nice Sprites (60 million YouTube hits) soundtracks the scheduling announcements on CBBC, whilst a recent collaboration with everyone’s favourite obscenity peddlers, Korn, proves that even Metal could do with a bit

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GUM / issue 02 / 2012

This new breed of electronic music responds to late Dubstep’s weakness. A sultry antidote to the head banging disconnect of Rusko or Skrillex, wronglylabelled “Post-Dubstep” artists like James Blake, SBTRKT and Jamie xx create a soulful melancholy in their minimalist sound. Electronic music has the capacity to be confessional, introspective and still able to unite thousands under one progressive beat, refuting the culture where the Vodka-Redbull induced Paraplegia is king. Architecture for electronic music of the future should absorb its influences - the soul of the 60s, the social commentary of the 80s, the atmospheric euphoria of the 90s and the lyricism of the 00s. Call it what you want, this sound achieves an almost spiritual response, people know how to move; it’s a carnal instinct. Describing it is to confine it to labels – and to perhaps destroy it. As much as having a seizure to Dubstep can be a release, to feel the future head to a Sub Rosa Wednesday or a One More Tune Thursday. Ominous as the future may be, here are 9 tracks for 2012: Getting Me Down – Blawan Cash and Carry Me Home – Ghostpoet Hold On (feat. Sampha) – Sbtrkt Lonely C (feat. Charles Levine) – Soul Clap Fog (Jamie xx Remix) – Nosaj Thing Every Minute Alone (Tale of Us Remix) - WhoMadeWho Garden (Calibre Remix) – Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs Dead Eyes – Midland Ain’t That Love – Maceo Plex TEXT: MARCUS JACK PHOTO: THE ARTIFICIAL ASYLUM

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z

“i may be bad, but i’m perfectly good at it” Ruby McDougall looks at how sex is used in lyrics by female rap artists and examines its potential for empowerment. There’s no doubt that there has recently been a surge in solo female artists drawing attention to their sexuality and enjoyment of sex. It can strike you as unusual to hear such explicit lyrics about sex coming from female rappers we are so often only exposed to the charming sentiments of their male counterparts. Women however, have recently been singing the praises of sex, and particularly female oral sex, in a way that is likely to shock some listeners. One example of whom is rising talent Azealia Banks from Harlem who has recently signed to Universal Records; her debut single 212 includes sexy and explicit lyrics that are, let’s be honest, not quite suitable for playing at work… or at your granny’s - the line ‘now she wanna lick my plum in the evening’ is followed by a few others that probably aren’t even printable. Another fresh face on the scene, Australian rapper Iggy Azalea, sings similar lyrics in her song Pu$$y. It’s not just the new faces that are exploring the taboo topic of oral sex; Rihanna expresses her enjoyment of the act in the song Cockiness (I love it) off her latest album. The song includes

lyrics which are clearly about sex, not so cleverly masked by a bunch of lyrics which literally don’t make any sense and simply just serve to pussy-foot (no pun intended) around the topic. Rihanna’s message in the lyric ‘suck my cockiness, lick my persuasion’ is pretty darn obvious, especially when it’s followed by the line ‘I love it, I love it, I love it when you eat it’.

are often discussed in reference to their large bums – in an ideal world these women should be recognised for their contribution (whether it be negative or positive) to music rather than what they look like in their pants.

Saying this, as in your face as some of the recent lyrics might be, it’s refreshing to hear this type of content coming from female artists (even if it’s not exactly radio friendly), espeThis is not to suggest that women singing or cially when so much of rap music is aggresrapping about sex is some kind of new phenomenon, the 90s and Noughties saw a shed sive and misogynistic. What I think is needed load of rude-girl sexually empowered female now is a resurgence of female rap artists who don’t conform to the physical ideals that sociacts, even in the mainstream such as Eve and Missy Elliot. I do wonder, however, how em- ety encourages. Rappers from the 90s such as Monie Love and Queen Latifah, managed powering this trend really is - it’s not entirely to express aspects of their positive for sexuality to sit at the root of women’s empower- “Rihanna’s message in the sexuality whilst dressed ment. It can become easy for lyric ‘suck my cockiness, in clothes that their male lick my persuasion’ is equivalents would wear. female artists who mostly sing pretty darn obvious” There seems a clear powabout sex to be seen solely er imbalance when you as one dimensional, and only valued for their sexuality. Of course sexuality have fully clothed male rappers surrounded by naked video girls, and the female artists wearis important; however it’s not the sole way in which a woman can empower herself. Given ing next to nothing as well. Some sort of balance is required for women to be able to sing that many female musicians are subject to critiabout sex and not just be seen solely as an cism based on their appearance, something is object of sexual desire. As Queen Latifa once amiss when we look at half naked artists grinding about on stage – are these women really aptly put it ‘you gotta let them know...you ain’t a bitch or a hoe.’ empowered or are they just reinforcing the idea that to feel sexy you have to conform to a cerPHOTO: ÁDÁM ROSERO tain image? Artists Nicki Minaj and Iggy Azalea GUM / issue 02 / 2012

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GUM is always looking for new contributors. So whether your talent lies in writing, taking sweet photos or just generally being a cool person, we want to hear from you. There is only one more issue of GUM coming out this academic year, so don’t miss out! Drop us an email at: gum@src.gla.ac.uk and become a part of the team. You know you want to.


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