THE DECADENCE ISSUE MAY/JUNE 2012
INDEPENDENT FASHION SPACE
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Nine days of fashion-fuelled festivities including catwalks, lectures, workshops, eye-popping exhibitions, in-store events and inspirational graduate shows. Donâ€™t miss out on the action - for more information visit:
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CONTENTS /// THE DECADENCE ISSUE REVIEWING DAMIEN HIRSTS LATEST EXHIBIT MUSIC ///
PRE EVO FESTIVAL INTERVIEW WITH LILLIPUT TRANSGENDER PUNK & ALBUM REVIEWS
UNMANNERLY COURTURE INDEPENDENT FASHION SPACE
NIGHTLIFE /// THEMED ///
FUNKTION-ONE. NUFF SAID A CALL OUT TO THE TALENTED
Front cover by Street art collective The London Police - Showing at Unit-44
THE LONDON POLICE ARREST OUR ATTENTION
FULL YET EMPTY A GEORDIE HOMAGE TO HUNTER. S THOMPSON DOUBLE HEART BYPASS ON A PLATE FLASH FICTION ON FAME “WHO’S EVER HEARD OF A SNOZZBERRY!?” THE DECADENCE OF DESPOTS GAMES ///
JOURNEY AND BLACK MESA
CONTRIBUTORS JOANNA ALLAN, FRANK CASEY, BETH DOOLEY, MATT FERGUSON, LEE FISHER, GINGER JOHNSON, MARTIN KELLET, ROSS LAING, SHAUN LYNCH, LAUREN MANSON, CALLUM MCGLADE, JEN MCHUGH, CHRIS OWEN (07814028714), AMY PILKINGTON, MAISIE ROBINSON, KEANO ROSS, THOMAS SMITH, LIAM STEPHENSON, MICHAEL TEASEDALE MURRAY THOMPSON (INSIDE COVER POSTER IMAGE)
CHIEF EDITORS LEE HALPIN - email@example.com KERRY KITCHIN - firstname.lastname@example.org DESIGN & CREATIVE DIRECTOR KERRY KITCHIN - email@example.com SUB-EDITOR JOE TURNBUL - firstname.lastname@example.org MUSIC STUART HEATHER - email@example.com http://soundcloud.com/stuheather GAMES MICHAEL FINNIGAN - firstname.lastname@example.org Twitter: @Finniruse SOCIAL MEDIA RUTH COMER - email@example.com
www.novelmagazine.co.uk http://www.facebook.com/novelmag twitter @Novel_Magazine
Back cover and this alternative version by Keano Ross
DECADENT PARTY MANIFESTO
We have an issue of decadence... The boom years of the late nineties and the beginning of the twenty-first century have passed, we have gone bust, twice, and a double-dip recession is upon us. But memories of those boom years are still fresh, it seems, as many of us struggle to form new and frugal habits in times of apparent hardship. It seems contradictory that in a society where one-million 16-24 year olds are unemployed, most young people still seem able to keep up-to-date with the latest technology, carry smartphones, use laptops and consume other media on flat screen T.Vs. Those who choose are still able to drink to excess and use drugs; the ever inelastic products of youth culture. I’m basing these observations on a relatively limited catchment of young people in the North-east but we are the region suffering the most in terms of unemployment and average earning figures, and I live in Walker. Does the above qualify as decadent behaviour? Are we suffering from a period of moral decline after a societal peak? Was setting a theme of decadence an astute observation of the zeitgeist or merely an excuse to photograph models eating cream cakes and diarise our partying? You decide. There is, in the following pages, I hope, a healthy and lively discussion of decadence. There is also material that will shock and maybe even offend some readers so we ask that you read and look with an open mind and remember what came before in previous issues. Novel has and always will be a platform for local writers and artists to gain exposure and, we hope, further their careers. We are a local, independent publication relying on the support and submissions of our readers and contributors therefore we remain humble and grateful, even in our decadence. LEE HALPIN
Novel issue 8. Published bi-monthly by Novel Magazine, all rights reserved. Printed in the UK. Reproduction in whole or in part without written permission is prohibited. Opinions expressed in articles are those of author and do not express the opinions of the publisher.
THE LONDON POLICE
Chaz and Baz, The London Police have been producing unique, striking and highly popular street art for fourteen years now. Their dexterously intricate style of drawing and their famous lad images distinguish them and have made them notorious on an international level. Novel gives you an introduction to the chaps before their upcoming exhibit this May at Unit-44, Houltâ€™s Yard.
First things first, what has Bob got on his feet today and are there any other sartorial points of interest you’d like to kick off with? Bob’s hooves are generally housed in strong, durable footwear that favour practicality over sartorial elegance. Today he is wearing some camel coloured youngsters that make him look like a cross between Ronald McDonald and someone’s uncle who has been found guilty of murder. That last part sounds scarily specific, I won’t ask you to go into any more detail. Moving on, we know you like to write songs about dogs. Have you written anymore canine symphonies lately? There have been a couple of new dog songs on the horizon. Dog songs are born from strange dog related sightings. They take form slowly by being sung repetitively in the shower (where the acoustics are best). The other week I was in Dusseldorf for example and I saw a ‘pug’ with such a long tongue that it hung outside its face like a big piece of bacon, literally dragging across the floor as it sniffed and snuffled. It was like he’d had a tongue transplant from a Labrador. The underside had become all dry and leathery. Now I haven’t penned it yet but try to tell me that there’s not a song in there that all the family can enjoy! If The London Police was a retro cartoon about two mice with a perennial desire to take over the world, which one of you would be Pinky and which would be Brain? I have no idea what you’re talking about. With those seemingly arbitrary but vital questions out of the way, what brings you to sunny Newcastle? My friend ‘handiedan’ (herself an artist from Amsterdam) put TLP in touch with the unit-44 lads. They invited us to do a mural and print release. We have always enjoyed our visits to Newcastle so it was settled quite quickly. We are also looking forward to employing the local custom of ‘not needing to wear a coat at night when you go out even if it’s fucking snowing!’
And rightly so, if your nipples aren’t clearly visible through your T-shirt and hard enough to hang a three-piece on, then you’re just not participating in the local culture. Go native for god’s sake! Next, what are you exhibiting at Unit-44? We have made two original Newcastle-centric canvasses and from those originals we are releasing some prints. Tell our readers where the term ‘lads images’ come from. Does it relate to ladishness in the Geordie, let’s drink fosters and gan oot shaggin’, vernacular? ‘Lads’ is the original term for the characters that I draw so ‘lads images’ would simply mean images/photos of the character. It has nothing to do with ‘ladishness’ even though I once saw Bob punch some 11 year old kids who were angry at his shoes. Ah, child abuse, a good old Geordie blokeish pastime, you guys are going to be welcomed into Raby bar with open arms and a pint of Stella. Are you aware of any of the big writers and crews in Newcastle? We have known the artist ‘hush’ for a long time and I like the work of Teresa Duck but I guess these aren’t really crews/writers. I’m sure, like everywhere, there are some amazing crews and writers who are all more than welcome to come out and help us drink tequila every night. We know dozens who will happily take you up on that offer – if you’re buying. Are you graffiti artists or street artists? What’s the difference, if any? And is it important to make a distinction? Hmmmm, the old graffiti/street artist question. Yes, we’re rife with hackneyed interview angles here at Novel, carry on. Everyone sees this different so it’s up to them to decide what we are. I guess there is a distinction but it’s objective to each person. We are ‘artists’, simply that. At the moment we work a lot on canvasses but other times we are more active in the street. You’re currently celebrating fourteen years of making art under the title of The London Police and a moment’s reflection seems
most apt….. There, that was nice. You boys must have seen some sights and clocked up some air mileage ay? It has always been an exhilarating adventure with over 80 shows in 36 countries. The best bits? As you can imagine in [fourteen years] time there have been many highlights The highlights would surely be the places we have been and the different people/characters we have met. Regale us with an anecdote, if you will? If I had to pick a couple of highlights one would be the Barcelona trip we had in 2003. My friend ‘galo’ and I started to organize a ‘meet’ in and around the ‘Raval’ area where there was already a buzzing street art/graffiti scene. In the end the number of artists had snowballed to around 35-40 from all over Europe. We would meet every day and paint the streets of Barcelona. It was a time when we all got to know each other and were hitting the streets just for the fun and adventure of it. At that time no-one was thinking about galleries or turning it into a career. It was a golden period; really pure. Everyone was on level terms. Within three days we had made a strong impact on the streets and added our various styles/logos/characters in amongst the multitude of Spanish and Catalan locals. For the next few years Barcelona became a hub of art in the streets. We were there several times a year. Nothing much got cleaned. New artists came through and added. For a while it was a paradise of bombing walls, drinking easy beers on the streets and smoking good quality Moroccan hash. I’m not saying we made all that happen but we were definitely a part of what it was and for that reason it sticks out as a special time in those early years. There’s a good Youtube clip with the title ‘Raval street art before and now’ which shows a lot of the walls and how it eventually all changed: http://www.youtube. com/watch?v=7Nr6rVQsEuQ Anything more recently? The more recent highlight would be our New York show in Opera Gallery last December where we
were showing 25 massive pieces. All hand drawn with marker pens. All blessed with toil and intensive care. The night of the show was immense. It was the best work we had ever done. We had family and good friends fly in from all over the world to mix in with our New York crowd. We had hired a stage and PA for the night and ‘The Dandy Warhols’ band dropped in from the other side of the U.S. to sing ‘the dog songs’ with us. After a massive show and afterparty the gallery took our 25-strong entourage for a huge meal where the food, wine and tequila kept flowing. We finally ended up at some chic, low-lit, cocaine-fuelled club at 5am where everyone was dancing, laughing or puking. There were crazy faces everywhere, couples rolling all over the furniture and people like Axl Rose were hanging out on our sofa wearing sunglasses whilst patiently listening to everyone talk nonsense to him. A few of us ended up in a diner at 8am, all bleary eyed and confused amongst a waking New York. I remember thinking that the intense build up to the show over so many months and then the success of the evening with all its twists and turns was one of the greatest times in my life. It’s hard to fully explain what it meant but, suffice to say, it was probably the highlight of The London Police so far. Decent craic. Nearly as big a night as the time I partied with the stars of Loose Women at the Copthorne on the Quayside. Your story was good, though. Finally, how can people follow your work and keep up to date with your latest activities? When Bob’s not dressed in his bisexual looking cycling gear and riding to Rotterdam and back he does a good job updating the website. I am lacking in all levels of computer skill to aid him. Other than that it’s about relying on all the usual blogs/sites that choose to showcase the street endeavours of different artists around the world. Oh, and there’s also a new streetart/graffiti book coming out every 4 days which we are sometimes in. Interview with by Chaz of The London Police, May 3rd 2012. Shout outs to: Danny Hughes, Steven Dunn and David Bilbrough of Unit 44 crew, Hush, Teresa duck, Anthony Chrisp, Giancarlo Petrucci, Opus and Demba Ba.
FOR THE LOVE OF OPULENCE Joe Turnbull visits the Tate Modern for Damien Hirst’s latest exhibition. Fans of Hirst should look away now.
Last month saw the opening of a new exhibition by Damien Hirst at Tate Modern. Given that Hirst’s infamous crystal skull, ‘For the Love of God’, used 15 million quid’s worth of diamonds and made Hirst a staggering £111 million at auction, it seemed only fitting that we take a look at HIrsts latest work for this issue’s theme of Decadence. Unlike Newcastle’s own Baltic, exhibitions at London’s Tate Modern are not all free – this one costs £14 – an
eye-watering amount for a lowly sub-editor like myself. Incidentally, this is also a full 40% more than the other two exhibitions that are currently on at Tate Modern, which somewhat set the tone for the whole experience. The first pieces to greet me are a collection of Hirst’s ‘Spot Paintings’ which are mesmeric white canvasses populated with brightly coloured dots each exactly the same size, uniformly spaced by the same size as the dots themselves. Apparently, it is actually Hirst’s assistants who paint these pieces. The mildly hypnotic effect is shattered by the visceral, A Thousand Years which consists of a glass cabinet containing a severed, rotting cow’s head. In the other half of the cabinet maggots hatch, then become flies which feed on the cow’s head before either being zapped by an ‘insect-ocutor’ or mating and continuing the cycle.
Equally surreal is the scene in the next room, where paying punters are herded like cattle through the middle of a bisected cow and it’s calf. Mortality is obviously a theme that Hirst addresses throughout, in his own crass, overstated way. This is art for the zeitgeist, no hiding behind subtle imagery or carefully considered motifs. Hirst’s work is a slap in the face, a Hollywood Blockbuster not an art-house cinema. This sense is embodied by one room in particular, with giant spinning wheels of saturated colours at either end, in the middle a huge beach-ball is suspended over a vent of hot air. It’s an assault on the senses, a flamboyant statement saying nothing much more than ‘look at me!’ Cabinets of over-sized pharmaceutical drugs, their packaging and surgical tools line several walls throughout the exhibition. They are too perfect, like the airbrushed images in glossy magazines and just like
such images it all feels a little hollow. Hirst’s work up to this point in the exhibition certainly reflects our shiny, disposable consumerist culture. As Hirst himself remarked about the ‘Spin’ paintings: “They’re bright and they’re zany – but there’s fuck all there at the end of the day”. Is this a clever comment though, or the ultimate embodiment of mass culture occupying the summit of high art? Then the decadence really starts to come to the fore with Hirst’s pieces that use real butterflies’ wings. Literally thousands of beautifully intricate and brightly coloured butterflies’ wings are arranged with a glossy finish to give the effect of stained glass, several meters tall. It’s certainly an incredibly indulgent effect, one that many butterflies paid the ultimate price to create. Following on from For the Love of God (the crystal skull) the opulence is taken to new dizzying heights with cabinets of gold filled with over 30,000 diamonds.
Damien Hirst Sympathy in White Major Absolution II 2006 Butterflies and household gloss on canvas
The Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone Living 1991 Glass, painted steel, silicone, monofilament, shark and formaldehyde solution Sinner 1988 Glass, faced particleboard, ramin, plastic, aluminium, anatomical model, scalpels and pharmaceutical packaging
Hirst treats art like the U.S. treats military campaigns. Start by throwing a lot of money at it, then employ shock-and-awe tactics. It’s interesting that Hirst’s work took this hyper-decadent turn in 2007, the same year the recession started. Whilst the rest of us contemplate austerity, Hirst’s work has been basking in the lavish hedonism of a billionaire lifestyle. Again, rather than coming across as a somewhat blatant, ham-fisted critique of this grotesque juxtaposition, Hirst’s work feels like it revels in it. Indeed, Hirst’s most recent works seem like a quasi-religious worship of opulence and excess; perhaps of little surprise when the pieces themselves fetch millions at auction. All in all, I think Hirst treats his art like the U.S. treats military campaigns: start by throwing a load of money at it, then employ shock-and-awe tactics. Unfortunately for Hirst, money doesn’t buy you everything and this is perfectly summed up by the fact that there’s two free exhibitions currently on at BALTIC that wipe the floor with this extravagant circus.
© Damien Hirst and Science Ltd. All rights reserved. DACS 2012. Photographed by Prudence Cuming Associates
GIANT TALENT IN LILLIPUT With Evo Emerging taking over the Ouseburn Valley on June 1st, Stuart Heather chatted with Sunderland based band Lilliput, who are one of the many exciting young acts playing at the fringe festival. The video for Lilliput’s single ‘Until’ tells the desperate story of a mime who is confined to the behaviour of his profession, try as he might to escape it. The tragic hero of this strange tale is acted by the band’s drummer, Dan, and Sunderland city centre is the setting of his woe. After speaking to Lilliput at Independent in Sunderland recently, it occurred to me that the video’s story is slightly ironic in its context, as the band make a conscious effort in their musical process to avoid being confined by the kind of impersonation which anguishes the mime in ‘Until’; rather than going out on a limb to conform neatly to the invogue folk style, Lilliput only use the characteristics of that style as a point of departure, instead creating something more ambiguous yet also more honest. Every one of their songs, they tell me,
starts with an idea, whether complete or not, written for acoustic guitar. The rest of the parts are formed around that guitar part in an experimental, jam-led manner. This means that the structures and melodies of folk music are usually a starting point, but that each musician still has their own freedom and the collective output retains a feel which is improvised, dynamic and unpredictable. This approach perhaps explains their fascination with the experience of studio recording sessions. Jamie tells me: “We love getting into the studio because it’s so freeing. Something completely different can come from an idea at any time and when that’s captured I think it’s the best reflection of what our music is really about.” Despite being only a year old, they tell me they now feel confident enough to bring the same openness of their studio sessions to their live approach, and that they will be doing this throughout their busy May/June schedule. One highlight of their performing calendar for the next few months is Evo Emerging, which they regard as the biggest event of the year for rising North East talent. This platform is organised by one of the region’s leading music organisations, Generator, and
Lilliput believe that this effectively guarantees musical quality and engaged audiences. Another highlight for them is their participation in Liverpool Sound City, where they will join a convoy of North East acts including Lake Poets, Mammal Club, Mausi and Shieds. But Joe tells me: “In a way we won’t really be at Sound City as a North East band. We have a special connection with Liverpool because I went to Uni there and it’s where we recorded ‘Until’. It’s where we played our first gig as well. We’ve had nothing but good experiences down there and being there seems to bring out the best in us.” While the relationship with Liverpool is a happy, and fruitful, one, Lilliput assert that it is still very much Sunderland which is their heartland. They immediately mention the importance of Sunderland music centre The Bunker, which offers facilities and support to the numerous bands for whom it acts as a headquarters. Lilliput’s loyalty to Sunderland is inspired, they tell me, by the sequence of successful Wearside bands who use their recognition as a platform to serve the city’s musical interests. They identify Futureheads and Field Music as the best example of this, two bands
SONGS ON CIRCULATION AT THE NOVEL OFFICE
BIRDY - SHELTER (ESSAY’S TEARFUL EDIT) OBJEKT - CACTUS ESSAY - DISTANCE AND LIGHTS ACTRESS - CAVES OF PARADISE SCUBA - JULY
KINDNESS - HOUSE TORO Y MOI - WARM FRAMES PORTER RICKS - BIOKINETICS 1 WAX - 30303 (SHED O SAN REMIX) CLAPTONE - CREAM www.Lilliputband.com
who, by no coincidence, have members sitting on the Bunker’s board of trustees (Barry Hyde of the Futureheads and Peter Brewis of Field Music). For these reasons, Lilliput’s recent gig supporting Field Music in a fundraising gig for the Bunker was special for them in a number of different ways. Joe comments: “We’ve been using the Bunker with different bands since we were about 14. Every band from Sunderland uses it because Kenny [Sanger – the Bunker’s managing director] is just like a mate who does whatever he can to help you out. People like Field Music and the Futureheads went there before they became big and now they give a lot back.” The Bunker’s contribution to the local music scene is well represented in the line-up for Evo Emerging, which will feature numerous bands who have used the music centre’s facilities over the years. This is unsurprising, seeing as both the Bunker and Evo organisers Generator are founded on the bottom line of developing exciting musical talent in the region. Lilliput will be showcasing their talent at the Cumberland Arms event of Evo Emerging on June 1st .
NOVEL’S CHOICE MUSIC EVENTS MAY/JUNE
THE TEMPER TRAP
17 year old showcases her haunting acoustic material
Award winning Aussie band come to Northumbria Uni
BLACKBIRD BLACKBIRD + BASKIN’S WISH + WASKERLEY WAY Cluny 2
THE FUTUREHEADS Sunderland Minster
San Francisco headliner supported by two local bands
Wearside welcomes back its favourite band
O2 Acadamy Synth pioneer visits the Toon
THE ALAN HULL AWARD W/ CATTLE & CANE, AJIMAL + MORE Sage A night of tribute to Hull, the Lindisfarne songwriter
JUNE EVOLUTION EMERGING
Classic Jamaican band bring classic Jamaican music
Highlights include Beth Jeans Houghton at The V Cluny
Hyde and Beast, Vinyl Jacket, Shields and the Union Choir
The annual two day festival on the Quayside returns
MUMFORD & SONS
RED HOT CHILLI PEPPERS
Stadium of Light
One of the biggest bands in the world of the past two years
Rock legends come to Wearside. Support from Futureheads
TRANSGENDERS WITH FENDERS
Newcastle-based Women in Revolt are the UK’s only transgender punk band. They’ve been upsetting and entertaining audiences in equal measure for the past year, and singer Sheena Revolta and drummer Mitch Mitchellsson met Lee Fisher recently to discuss gender issues and the politics of trash. Fresh from MCing a Newcastle Roller Girls bout, it seems appropriate that Sheena Revolta should be removing her padding and makeup as she holds forth about Women in Revolt. Sheena: Sheena was a character that I developed because I needed a way to put the feminine side of me into some sort of context, which makes sense because I’m not a cross-dresser, I’m not someone who goes shopping in Fenwicks dressed as a woman. Aside from that particular rock star identity confusion, what do you think becoming Sheena enables you to say that you couldn’t say otherwise? S: I do it because I see it as a mark of solidarity with women and the things that they have to go through
every day. Obviously I don’t ever have to go through it myself, but as Sheena I can perhaps draw attention to it a bit and talk about it. And in a way I think by weakening myself, by putting myself in a skirt and subjecting myself to ridicule, you’re not becoming a woman but a very feminised man and that’s actually quite a dangerous thing as well. I didn’t realise Sheena had a history before Women in Revolt… S: Oh yeah, Sheena’s a character that’s been around under different names since the early 90s, I suppose, when I was at art school. I developed Sheena more for going out and for writing, about riot grrrl for instance. I was really into that whole riot grrrl thing. You’ve opened yourself up to abuse from men, but have you had similar resentment from women? S: Back in the day, I remember Jo from (riot grrrl band) Huggy Bear giving me a very hard time about it all, saying that I was adopting it as a pose, and that I would never experience true sexism … that I was actually a bloke so it was something I could put on and take off. Which was absolutely true, but that wasn’t the point. Tell me about the other members of the band – is it a benevolent dictatorship? S: No, but there is a core who have been there from the beginning Sugar Hill is the ‘proper’ musician and Sadie writes really good lyrics. She writes things that are like nothing else – even her texts are like poetry. The whole band has equal input in terms of music, but I guess I have the most input in terms of image and press and photography. While asking a band about influences can be pretty lazy, I think it’s entirely valid here. Tell me about the musical DNA of Women in Revolt. S: Musically, everything comes from 1970s New York for me; from the Velvets to the Voidoids. And I’m very influenced by that Billy Childish thing where the music is a very narrow palette.
Mitch: One new one sounds a bit Alice Cooper… S: Yeah, we’re definitely exploring a kind of Ballroom Blitz sound. In so much of what you do in Women in Revolt and elsewhere, the trash aesthetic plays a big part. Aside from being a lot of fun, what do you think it offers? S: I love John Waters, I love all those trashy film makers; the Kuchar Brothers, Herschell Gordon Lewis. Someone like Waters represents us outsiders, really - the larrikins, the ne’er-do-wells, the dope smokers, the anarchists, the lesbians, the queers, the musicians and the poets, all those sorts of people who don’t fit neatly into the world that everyone else wants. Is Newcastle a good place to be Women in Revolt? M: People have seen it all now, and the ones who haven’t are outnumbered. People who are different will have had to deal with some real shit over the years. I’ve lived here all my life, been through the mill, been in fights – just by being alternative, never mind when I realised I was gay. But you just move on. The music scene’s really supportive. S: The people who seem to like us the most are hardcore anarchist lesbians, the kind who go on demos and have read the books and do understand where we’re coming from, which is great. There are plans for a 7” single and a film (there are two film makers in the band) before Women in Revolt go into hiatus over the summer. The next gig is a Newcastle Roller Girl benefit at St Peters Social Club in Byker on April 13th. A benefit for Russian dissident punkers Pussy Riot follows on April 27th at The Star & Shadow www.womeninrevolt.co.uk
ACTRESS R.I.P. Darren Cunningham, better known as Actress, has stated that his recent album R.I.P. is a musical interpretation of Milton’s epic poem Paradise Lost. In this context, Cunningham perhaps should be thought of as taking on the role of the creator, synthesising new textural worlds and sonic universes with an omniscient mastery. One of Cunningham’s greatest achievements with this album is the way in which he references electronic music’s rich history but also moulds something unmistakeably unique. ‘Ascending’ and ‘IWAAD’ nod to Aphex Twin’s Selected Ambient Works; ‘Holy Water’ has the characteristic reduced percussion of the microhouse genre in the vein of artists like Akufen and Matthew Herbert; ‘Jardin’ and ‘Raven’ sound in parts like the sonic experiments of Oval; ‘The Lord’s Graffiti’ and ‘N.E.W.’ have a classic, driving house feel to them, while newer bass genres are unmistakeably present in the garagey organ chords of ‘Caves of Paradise’ and the grime-like pizzicato strings of ‘Serpent’. Cunningham relies on the standard techno technique of using small repeating cells of music, but melodies only vaguely cling to the beat (where there is one) and are phrased in such a way that champions atmosphere over structure. The result is an unsettling audio landscape that swells with tension, more like anxious memories of Detroit techno and IDM than straightforward representations of those genres. What R.I.P. doesn’t contain, unlike other concept albums, is the structured use of motifs to form any kind of narrative to parallel the concept, in this case the story of Adam and Eve’s fall from grace. Each piece, or chapter, is instead an atmospheric wall of subtly changing sound, more abstract and reflective of a mood than a story telling device. Track Highlight: Caves of Paradise. SH
PORTER RICKS BIOKINETICS There has been a tendency in much recent electronic music to move away from predictable kick ins and saturated build ups to a more subtle, groove-led flow of energy. A reduction of musical structure is hardly a brand new phenomenon of course; numerous genres have been born through a shift in focus from structure to atmosphere (Impressionism and Minimalism here come to mind). But that Berlin duo Porter Rick’s Biokinetics is actually a re-edition of a 1996 release and yet sits so well in the current musical climate says so much about the enduring influence of the ‘dub-techno’ genre which it belongs to. The pulsating, euphoric chords of the opener ‘Port Gentil’ fluctuate in timbre with such subtlety that it is almost imperceptible, and it is this kind of austerity which has made the music of Porter Ricks and label mates Basic Channel so seminal and timeless. While ‘Port Gentil’, and indeed the majority of the album, retain the fundamental skeleton of techno music – four to the floor bass drums, syncopated hi-hats – Biokinetics’ two title tracks venture into bolder, more experimental territory. ‘Biokinetics 1’works several short loops of squelched noise against a metallic synth which chimes out an ominous atonal melody, all constructed with meticulous sound design. The loop is basically unchanging, but with each repetition new plays of sound seem to reveal themselves before disappearing back into the blend of synths. While ‘Biokinetics 1’ introduces the entirety of its musical material almost immediately, ‘Biokinetics 2’ is a more drawn out, ambient affair; a distant percussion pattern is the only thing that stops this track from being a rhythmless wash of pads. The sheer restraint and delicacy of ‘Biokinetics 2’ says something about the peculiar appeal of the album as a whole: memories seems to fade and it is difficult to remember in any specific detail after you’ve heard it, yet it provides a fully immersing and blissful experience while you are listening. SH
THE UNCOUTH OF TODAY
Don’t know if you’ve ever been to a clothing label launch –we used to - but they’re usually a painfully sober affair, often marred by proud parents and fragile etiquettes. Before we bumped into a stranger in a club smoking area with a house party we thought we’d never go to another clothing launch again... Words by Lee Halpin. Images by Maisie Robinson.
Louis Adams is the bonny laddy of Geordie fashion retail. Louis started work in one of the city’s most prominent independent clothing stores, Union clothing, where he has been charming the bollocks off customers with his boyish good lucks for the last three years. An encounter with Louis in the smoking area at Cosmic Ballroom – lots of sweat and clenched jaws, standard – left us wanting to know more about this canny kid and his uncouth ideas. Louis invited us to a house party where we got to know his clothing brand, uncouth clothing. He’s no monkey, so we let him articulate his own feelings and thoughts about the brand and its launch: “For this collection I wanted to embody the 90s surf grunge era whilst tying in afro-punk vibes, keeping everything offhand. The face designs touch on a more acidy surreal idea and, hopefully, show that often the most visually exciting creations can be sketched or doodled. The first T-shirts will be released in June with another release every month until September.
For this collection I wanted to embody the 90s surf grunge era whilst tying in afro-punk vibes, keeping everything offhand I have also produced a line of caps and beanies, made in Brooklyn, NYC. 5 panels and leopard woven beanies seemed appropriate and they give the collection a point of difference. The designs will also be available to purchase on posters and stickers. By throwing parties like this I hope to showcase the brand in an appropriate context. Two upand-coming DJ’s in a graffitied house in Heaton was spot on and showed what the brand stands for. There’s so much bullshit surrounding fashion and many brands seem to be aiming to please the masses without producing something unique or thought provoking. “ Uncouth clothing can be purchased online in June when the website launches. Until then visit www.facebook.com/uncouthclothing Items will also be available at a discounted preview rate at the Novel Magazine Issue 8 Launch Party on Saturday May 19th.
FROM POP UP TO PERMANENT FIXTURE
Anthony Pilman, Dave McCadden, David Dunbar and Michael West are the brainchildren behind Independent Fashion Space, a new clothing store in Newcastle that started life as a post-grad pop up store. Words by Lee Halpin.
Independent Fashion Space is situated in Newcastle city centre on the prestigious Grey Street. Initially opened as a seasonal pop up shop to showcase the regions young fashion design talent, the IFS now looks set to become a permanent fixture as it has become one of the big success stories of recent independent Geordie fashion retail. Part of what has ensured their success is their focus on young, local and talented designers who are in tune with the dressing habits of 21-25 year old clubbers, young professionals, students and trend-setting metropolitans. Theyâ€™re currently stocking a very decent selection of local brands, including Machine Lad, Norf, Little & Large, Yeh, Ape Vs Fly, Redstar Clothing, Basic, Less and others. As the IFS continues to grow it has also opened the door for expansion and this summer Independent Fashion Space will be launching in San Antonio, Ibiza. This development is seen by the lads as an opportunity to bring those local brands to a wider audience and raise awareness of the brand with the right demographic. A bit about some of the brands and designers:
Little and Large... ... specialise in achieving the perfect fitting vest for the whole spectrum of body shapes by being produced in only 2 sizes: little & LARGE. “Once we had the perfect fit, we had to be able to make each vest unique to each individual. The only way to do this is to manufacture each vest once in both sizes. We do this by overseeing every detail of your individually designed vest. They are manufactured locally by hand, using one of Newcastle’s top seamstresses. We only use local suppliers to ensure the best quality at all times, as well as supporting the local community.”
Machine Lad... ...was launched in early 2010 as the brainchild of a group of likeminded individuals who grew increasingly tired with what Newcastle had to offer in the fashion stakes. Bored with what they saw as a lack of imagination and individuality the friends quickly set to the task of changing that in their own vision. The concept of the brand was to keep it original and unique; only 5 items of each design are ever made. Machine lad’s sales continue to rise week by week and it can now count itself as one of the region’s most promising fashion brands, not only stocked in Newcastle but nationwide. Norf Clothing... ‘It’s all about the length’ ...the slogan says it all; Norf Clothing identified a growing trend for wearing oversized T-shirts. They founded their brand with the belief that there was a gap in the market for an oversized T-shirt with a difference. Thus Norf was born providing a quality, colourful, oversized tee that is unique to the brand and makes it 100% unmistakable. Norf sales have risen dramatically since the brand was launched in March of this year and Norf Clothing is already being stocked around the region and nationwide.
YEH Clothing... ... was initiated by Anu Ogunbiyi and Guy Tiacoh. The brand came about through a brainstorming session while studying a Business Enterprise module at Newcastle University. YEH-Clothing was one of the many groups from a range of universities in the North-east which participated in the Trade Fair hosted by Young Enterprise early in February 2012. All their hard work paid off as they were successfully rewarded with the ‘Most Creative’ company award. YEH specialises in the production and design of unique T-shirts that incorporate university humour and culture. Inspired by a wide-range of unusual student banter, the distinctive phrases; ‘UNAY NO BEDTIME,’ ‘UNAY NO PARENTS,’ and ‘UNAY’ are incorporated with individual designs for boys and girls. High profile individuals of the likes of Chieck Tiote and Leon Best have been caught wearing this latest brand around the city. @yehclothing – twitter www.facebook.com/Y.E.H
LET IT REIGN Stephen Dunn (Dunny, obviously), gallery curator, graphic designer, DJ ,club promoter and co-founder of Reign at theCut. Dunny has tons of experience hosting, promoting and DJing club nights and if you’re interested in Newcastle’s party scene and the promotion game then you want to read this interview.
What is it about theCut, as a venue, that made you think, aye, this is the spot like? Its got a Funktion one, what else can you ask for… Kna but seriously after speaking to Nigel (THE BOSS) about theCut we (ME AND DANNY) knew it was right for the brand. What’s class about Reign...Why should people pay in? Reign is to us everything the city is not at the minute. What I mean by that is that most new clubs and brands are rattled up with no thought and a Funky house and RNB DJ is put in and that’s about it… Not everyone of course as there are plenty good things going on behind the scenes in Newcastle if you look for it. Who goes to Reign? We’ve witnessed many a face at Reign, all walks and striates to be honest. It’s certainly not a place with a dress code. It’s simple: people come in, if they can walk and talk, then that’s cool for us. Even though we do get the odd scenester in from time to time the crowd is usually a fresh, sneaker wearing pointy cap, inked up chap or chap-et with an open minded music head… Why do you play the music you do at Reign? Musically Reign was always going to be challenging, with our genre hopping Djs Alex and Ollie plus weekly guests playing short sets. House, Techno, UK Garage, Bass, DUBSTEP, HIP HOP, and even Rock anthems and classics. Lots of young lads and lasses out there glamorise the image of the club promoter and night holder. How glamorous is it? Standing in the cold and rain isn’t glamorous but seeing a club rammed or even better rammed
with your friends is. Yeah some promoter lead events are money, shots, bitches, high fives but Reign is certainly not that kind of thing. There are two twenty-one year old lads and a nineteen year old lass, all in their second year at university in Newcastle and they want to put on their own club night. What would your first piece of advice be? Start small, find a good DJ, get a good brand designed and stick with it, find a club or venue that suits and meets your expectations, probably let loads of free’s in at the beginning and also be the last man standing at your parties. Last but not least never piss other promoters or people off. It’s not worth it. How has the growth and dominance of the Apartment Group and Collingwood Street impacted on night life in Newcastle, particularly surrounding venues like the Cut? The Apartment group has had a big say on the cities music and nightlife in the commercial scene, but nothing on the underground scene. But yeah Collingwood Street is mental busy now and it seems that everyone wants to be in here at the weekend. But musically the big and super busy venues just have to go with the flow now and can’t really be too challenging in the fear of people leaving to find that Chris Brown or Drake hit. But for the surrounding venues like Tokyo/TheCut etc it’s great to see they do challenge the clubber with a more underground selection of music and nights. On a scale of 1-13 how mint has this interview been? 13, obviously, but The Voice is on so am out of here…
NOVEL’S CHOICE NIGHTLIFE EVENTS MAY/JUNE
DIGITAL W/ JEREMY OLANDER, ALAN FITZPATRICK & MORE Digital
NOVEL LAUNCH PARTY
36 Lime St Studios
Swedish Olander and Drumcode man Fitzpatrick headline
Mojags play a set on the terrace with Dj Stu Heather on mezzanine
MOTION 2ND B-DAY PARTY W/ MIGUEL CAMPBELL + The Other Rooms
Forward thinking house music
LIVE A/V SHOW W/ DJ FORMAT
JUMPING HOT CLUB W/ DAVE ‘DOUBLE BARREL’ BARKER World Headquarters
The eclectic jockey comes to Novel’s neighbourhood
FUTUREBOX FESTIVAL W/ HOT SINCE 82, DARIUS SYROSSIAN + Ashbrook Cricket Club
Newcastle Uni Nigerian & Afro-Caribbean society host this party
Wearside’s first outdoor electronic music festival
INERTIA W/ THE BUG AND FLOWDAN World Headquarters
Tougher than tough dancehall and dub from two UK heavyweights
APE-X W/ DEETRON & JOY ORBISON
EVO EMERGING AFTERARTY W/ MJ FITZ & FRANCOPHILLIPE Star and Shadow Cinema Free party to round off Emerging festivities
Shindig w/ Dubfire & Carola Pisaturo
Ape-x bring one of the UK’s current hottest properties.
More quality bookings from Shindig (unsurprisingly)pgly)
LIVELY UP W/ GENERAL LEVY
VISION W/ MARGARET DYGAS
Dancehall stalwart Levy comes to toast at Worldies
The tireless Dygas takes control for the whole night
OFFICIAL DECADENT HEADQUARTERS
Situated in the heart of Newcastle’s creative hub, in the ouseburn valley, lies the new Novel Magazine studio and the doors are wide open. Words by Lee Halpin.
I walked in for the first time and they were all sat round the table, smug. “Wow” I said, “this is like a footballer’s pad, or something, man. Fuck”. I was feeling articulate. One of the team spun round on a revolving chair, “Well, we’ve just been talking and, err...” this faux casual pause is of course deliberate, “we’ve pretty much decided that it’s the best thing that’s ever happened to us!” This statement is followed by cheers and I’m bombarded with shoulder-slapping and hairruffling. Some unseen hand turns on the stereo and spins the dial, full volume. Novel has a new, decadent, studio. The new space is exciting. It’s somewhere we can have you round and say things like “this is where it happens” without pointing to a couch in my living room or a desk in Kerry’s spare bedroom. And have you round we will. The mission of Novel is to
create opportunities for aspiring writers and artists in the region so any new capital we acquire, such as a studio, will be used to help us achieve that goal. Our first thoughts for the studio are simply to get as many people working in here as possible. Do you want a work experience opportunity in a laid-back atmosphere with a unique, independent creative magazine? We want to give it to you. Whether you want to write content for the magazine or website, make films, blog for us, run the social-media aspect of the brand, do a photo shoot with us, negotiate sales on the phones, or simply beat Kerry at table tennis and remove him from his ping-pong ball shaped throne, then we want to hear from you. If you feel like you have valid experience and you can add real value to the Novel team then add Lee Novel Mag Halpin or
Kerry Kitchin to your facebook or email firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll take it from there. Another way of meeting Novel staff and enquiring about opportunities with the magazine would be to attend one of the Novel launch parties. We have a launch coming up on May 19th in our office at 36 Lime Street, Byker, just next to the Cluny (I have been informed there will be a launch party advert with a photo of a man covered in pasties elsewhere in this publication look out for that). There will be all the usual launch party ingredients plus some novelties. Expect a band, DJs, fashion stalls, art displays, transvestites and a chance to meet the editors and contributors. We really want to help you gain some experience and add to your CV so if you believe you have the talent, get in touch.
We The Decadent
IMAGES BY GINGER JOHNSON FT. CALLUM MCGLADE. PHOTOGRAPHY BY MARTIN KELLET AND FRANK CASEY.
Are you bored and disappointed with Westminster and its oily inhabitants? Are you disheartened by the idea of a “British Spring” led by George Galloway or Nigel Farage? We, the Decadent, believe that the profligacy of our political and governmental systems has left this nation in a quagmire so thick and viscous that only the short, sharp shock of a slash and burn reformation of society will suffice. These reforms are necessary lest the country continue to slip into political stagnation and eventual, general collapse. Words by Liam Stephenson.
SELL, SELL, SELL. Sell everything and we mean everything. Anything that is publicly owned we will sell and then divide the takings equally amongst the populace. I can't imagine we'll get much for the banks but their price alone will at least garner each Briton enough for a 56â€? HD TV and ten days all-inclusive in Kavos. Plus this way it's all gone, everyone's had the same lot and there'll be no more arguments about having paid your dues and expecting the rest of us to bail you out because some transnational outsourced your job to the Philippines.
BUY, BUY, BUY. To stimulate the economy and get Britain back to work we will introduce compulsory 24 hour trading across the board. Never again will anyone have to walk to a distant and ill-stocked shop as the one round the corner is inexplicably shut. All labour laws will be repealed to increase competitiveness, productivity and to further challenge and build the character of the average working man. To combat frugality we will also start reducing interest rates to minus numbers. This is not the time to be saving money.
INCITE WAR. War. What is it good for? Rebalancing the economy by creating demand to feed our flourishing arms industry. There are plenty of hot spots to choose from: Israel and Iran, the Korean Peninsula, or maybe Syria? Now there's a burgeoning civil war crying out for weapons. We can prop up Assad whilst selling arms to the rebels at a discount, we must seize every opportunity to expand our market. Plus, we get all the fun of the fair from a safe distance. The media will die for it.
BOYCOTT THE OLYMPICS.
LEAVE THE COUNTRY. People need to start getting off this island and to where the money is, immediately. Whilst freeing up more space and jobs for the rest of us back here, those abroad also need to do their part. We've always been pretty good at colonialism and pillaging in general. So, in the great tradition of our imperial past, go out and take what you can. And bring it back. We need things to sell.
Well it's been so overwhelmingly hyped and in such a monstrous fashion that it's already become boring, not even the synchronised diving event can save it this time. This whole, corrupt hot mess of a games has spiraled wildly out of control. In reality it's basically £24 billion worth of sports day, and the rest of the world will be watching. Let's not bother turning up. PAY THE POOR PROPERLY. We will triple the minimum wage and benefits as well as introducing a 4 day weekend. It’ll provide more jobs by lightening everyone’s load, sparing time for more pleasing tasks and improving the general mood of the country. Besides, let’s be honest, the spending habits of the poor keep them poor. But spend they do - let’s give them more to spend and more time to spend it (See point 2).
FRANCHISE THE ROYALS.
ABOLISH THE CHURCH. Churches will be converted into free recreational areas for general public cavorting. Guilt is the enemy of decadence, and who needs sin when you're trying to have a good time? The closing down sale will be immense. More tat than a Shields Road bring and buy. In addition, we will provide instant online oneclick marriages and divorces for all, irrespective of sexuality, species or age. Public recognition of your love can now be as fickle as you are! INTRODUCE ‘NO NO SMOKING’ ZONES.
Is your republic lacking the sparkle of a humourless, inbred parasite? Wouldn’t your banknotes look nicer with A Windsor™ on them? Well, good, because we’ve had quite enough. Everyone must go! We might as well keep old Lizzy until she’s dead, for the jubilee and the tourism if nothing else. The rest of them however can go and fiddle with other countries democracies for a bit, that’s if we can persuade anyone to take any of them. SAVE THE NHS. While of course we will be selling absolutely everything off, we might as well keep the NHS. If only to make other countries jealous. Also, what could possibly be more decadent than a free health service? God knows we’ll need it, with all the smoking and the war, we’re bound to get good use out of it. Obviously we’ll sell off the geriatrics and palliative side of it, no point wasting money on those halfway down the Styx already. Were only wasting our time and dragging theirs out, so let’s just leave them to it.
Cigarette smoke will be pumped into all public areas to promote a sociable atmosphere and encourage addiction. Duties on tobacco products will be halved and taxed and licensed masks for non-smokers will be made available. Such a selfish and dispiriting behaviour as abstinence should not go without it’s punishment. The zones finish where your house begins, but why stop there? Let tabs be your friends.
FOLLOW GINGER JOHNSON ON FACEBOOK AT www.facebook.com/ GinnieJohnson
The Emptiness of
IMAGES BY CHRIS OWEN. MODELS BETH DOOLEY & LAUREN MANSON. STYLED BY AMY PILKINGTON
COLLINGWOOD STREET IS DECADENT AND DEPRAVED Over the past five years Collingwood Street and its scarcely differentiable bars have emerged as the heart of Newcastle’s nightlife for fashion conscious 21-25 year olds. Novel sent a reporter on a night out in ‘the diamond quarter’ to listen closely to the heart of this recently emerged culture. ‘Do it now: pure gonzo journalism.’ Illustration by Ross Laing I got to Aspers in a TJ’s around midnight. The air was full of their cries. I could see their orange heads bouncing along the pavement like basketballs. Tanheads, lots of them. On the street they were all whooping and howling, everyone acting, loud, flailing and waving. “Oi-oi you little mug! Love you y’ know, love it. Let’s fuckin’ have it!” “Here! Here! Here maaan!” As soon as I was on the pavement one of their arms was round me, “Brian, mate, everyone calls me buzzer” and he was out to “Get on it! Fuckin’ rights on”. I drank from my hip flask – nephew’s overproof rum. I needed to kill time before meeting up with an illustrator who had emailed me that morning, a Glaswegian called Gad. “Me and you are gunna go sick on the tables in here mate” said Buzzer, mauling and invading me. I hit the hip flask again. Well, yes...here we go. Twenty minutes later and Buzzer and I were onto our third rum and coke. He regaled me with lies about his past winnings, hugging me and patting me all the way. I watched on as he spunked cash at the tables. Gambling is not an industry taking bullets in the economic downturn; an inelastic product nobly carried through the hard times by the decadent and the diseased. I watched more of the soul drain from Buzzer’s face as the house scooped arm full’s of his money down their greedy little hole. I pulled him away roughly. “Here, you’ve got massive arms you like. Bodybuilder like?” He kept touching me. I resisted the urge to headbutt him viciously on the bridge of the nose.
“I’m a writer” I said. “Well-aye. What do you write?” “I write for Nuts.” “NO WAY! Full of fanny, Nuts. I get loads of fanny me, man. Other week, took this bird back from Floritas, ragged’er all o’er in mine then come back into town, pulled another bird, went back to mine, ragged her all o’er, then went back out with the lads”. “Yeah? I did the same thing with a transvestite and his brother last week”. For a moment he looked like he was working out a sum he couldn’t calculate. “You’re a...I’m not...well-aye, man”. He stepped back, frightened and angry. “Yeah, I let them DP me” I said. “I don’t...I can’t” He went pale. “I’ll go and get us some drinks, eh, mate”. He went off through the crowd of gambling fiends, Chinese restaurant workers, strippers and tanheads. I finished my drink and looked up to one of the umpteen HD flatscreens hanging on the wall. Through long swigs of rum I tuned in and out of the commentary “The duty on alcohol has risen...prevent binge drinking... suicide bombers in Basra...two British dead...students protests continue...raids on shops Hackney...singer is reported to have been cheating on ...” There was plenty of depravity in Aspers but I still hadn’t spotted the face I wanted for the article. A text from Gad: Runnin l8 pal, where u? Buzzer had given me an idea. I text back: Meet me at Floritas. Orange skin everywhere; a frenzy of tanheads! Men in skin-tight t-shirts with v-necks cut down to their belly buttons, revealing bald, freshly shaved, feminine chests, jacked up on steroids, stimulants and horniness. Women dressed like they were about to audition as a background dancer in an R&B music video, or dressed like the Saturdays – one and all shamelessly meretricious! Queues were round the block and I was on a blacklist with most doormen in town. The more nephews I drank the more a violent entry became inevitable and I wanted to avoid a brawl if possible. I pocketed my hip flask and focussed on finding Gad. Phone out: Have you arrived? I’m wearing a black leather jacket. How will I recognise you? Reply: In Floras cum t door. I had some shades in my jacket pocket. I put them on and walked right past the queue and up to the doorman without speaking. I walked past them and put my hand on the door. Almost. “Hoo!” One of the doormen tugged on my arm. I clenched my fist – goons in this part of town were not the hardest. “Fuckin’ celebrity like eh?” He said. I pushed past roughly and walked through the door. Shit right in the fan! Radios crackled. People fell like skittles. The atmosphere grew frantic as six doormen surrounded me. Some of them knew my face and looked cautious but with these odds.... as they closed in I reached for my waist and started undoing my belt, the only weapon to hand. “Ayy, wha’s happenin’ big man?” The bassy voice sounded like it came from a set of Bang and Oulfsen speakers with a sub-woofer. From behind the doorman, towering over everybody at what must have been six foot ten or eleven, built like a brick shit-house, was my Glaswegian illustrator. We stood at the bar drinking our free drinks, people-watching through the flimsy club light. We were in the right place. Floritas bar was modelled on the tropical Miami bars of Florida, even served cocktails in hollowed-out pineapples. The proprietors had managed to set the tone for its punters by hanging pictures of near pornographic images of neo-punk party girls on the walls and using teenage girls called “hostesses” who dressed and acted like strippers and make other women feel insecure enough to walk around looking like strippers too. The men – tanheads and spicboys – modelled themselves on boybands and footballers, shaved their body hair to reveal vas-
cular, shiny, steroid pumped muscles in a skin full of melanotan injection. These orange and firm mannequins made you feel like you were on the set of a reality T.V show or a Hollywood movie. At any moment you felt a director might step out onto the set, shatter the illusion of this hyper real simulacrum that felt more like verisimilitude than real life and yell “cut”. People were too busy to have a good time because they were on their phones, on social-media sites telling the world what a good time they were having or desperately trying to capture some choreographed snapshot of their evening to post as a profile picture, faking their comfort in this uncomfortable atmosphere. The decadent revolution had truly been realised in recent years, had peaked, and here we were basking in the inevitable fallout of moral decline. Vanity, insecurity, effrontery, obnoxiousness,, meretriciousness; the great virtues of our age. Gad had begun some sketches but I knew we hadn’t seen a face worthy of a lead drawing yet. I decided we should mingle outside. In the smoking area the drunk and extroverted can hear their own voices and their voices can be heard so they tend to act even louder. It gave us a chance to see better, too. I gave Gad a few heads up. “If any of these lads talk to you, you have to expect them to be an obnoxious cunt” “Why’s that?” “It’s cool to be an obnoxious cunt – the women like it, they confuse it with confidence. If you want to pull tonight be rude to girls with the least clothes on, those girls have a low opinion of themselves and if you confirm it they’ll think you have rapport” “Righto” said Gad, eyeing up one of the teenage hostesses. We squeezed through the human sardine train that lead to the smoking area. Jacked-up spice boys leered and cursed as I bumped past them, then winced at the juggernaut that was
Gad and reclined. It was pissing down. People sheltered their tropical cocktails, trying in vain to block the rain falling into their pineapples. We got under one of the beach umbrellas next to a bunch of back up dancer type tanheads, glowing brighter than the heat lamps they stood under, wearing pastel coloured dresses and enough hair extensions to revamp Cousin Itt from the Adams Family. As I suspected they were posturing and shrieking so as to attract plenty of attention to themselves, lollypops in their mouths, iphones out, looking over their shoulders to make sure they were being watched. Gad scribbled away but I was beginning to lose hope. Maybe we could just visit the IAMVIP or dirtiz website and photoshop one of the freaks on there. “Wha’s tha smell?” asked Gad as a crowd of Ed Hardy Asian rude boys walked past. Sales and the use of cocaine have dropped dramatically in England in recent years due to a number of factors. The ever decreasing quality was a factor but not a big enough one – people will sniff product at five or ten percent as long as it keeps them awake and talking arse gravy. The drop in people’s level of disposable income in the recession has been another factor but still not the determining hand. Sometime in the early twenty-first century, certainly by 2005, a new legal high hit the online market. Websites like biglove.com sold a product described as plant fertiliser that had similar effects to ecstasy when ingested in capsule form. Over the next few years hundreds of these sites, selling ‘plant food’, popped up. Eventually you could buy large quantities of a crystal chemical (previously crushed up into powder and sold in capsules) from websites and the sort of shops that sell bongs and hemp woven t-shirts. Consumers began crushing the crystlal up themselves and bombing it and sniffing it. It became a mass craze, the new ecstascy/cocaine, easy to buy and relatively mild; ideal for first time drug users and newcomers. Inevitably the media got wind, a tragic overdose story was printed and these crystals became illegal shortly after. “That’s Methadrone!” “Ay?” “Mcatt”. We ran into the cubicle and crammed together. I crunched the crystals under a ten pound note on the back of my phone using Gad’s bankcard. “You were a bit rough wi’ those boys” “They had diamantes on their t-shirts.“ “We could have just paid them, ay?” “Here” I shoved a flute up his nostril and watched his eyeballs water – I’d stitched him with a ridiculous slug. I made myself an even bigger slug, and began yelling and crying once it hit the top. Into the madness. Carnage. A frenetic energy. Libidos overwhelmed. Lascivious beasts. Lecherous. A montage of debauchery. Naked flesh and total excess. We merged into it. I woke up on a floor in a Jesmond living room feeling sad. CD cases and DVD boxes lay covered in dust on a coffee table. Somewhere nearby a feminine groan. The wall was covered in posters advertising KOOSDAY. My memory faltered; a kaleidoscope. A door burst open and a shade filled the room. “Alright big man?” “Fuck” “Big night” “Off” He sat down sending vibrations to the nucleus of my headache. I felt empty. “You seen this?” I couldn’t believe my eyes. There it was. The face for the lead drawing. A twisted, psychotic wretch, drunk, high and full of ego. It was beautifully ugly. It was posted on someone’s facebbok page but Gad could use it. I snatched the laptop from Gad and pushed my bleary, bloodshot eyes into the screen...horror! Oh fuck, no, the horror! The face was my own. I searched my pockets but my hip flask was empty...
Michael Teasedale makes his return to the pages of Novel with an account of a piece of musical urban legend; a retelling of an old piece of Memphis folklore. Illustration by Shaun Lynch.
The year is 1976. It’s close to midnight on a Sunday evening and a cool, February breeze is blowing across Denver, Colorado. Among the quiet city suburbs, the owner of a little known restaurant is settling down to sleep when a phone call jolts him back to consciousness. The call comes not from his hometown of Glendale but from much further out across the American Mid-South. It is placed by a man who, at that moment, lounges on a black Kon Tiki throne situated within his own private jungle room. The distinctive Memphis drawl of the caller provides an unmistakeable accompaniment to the evocative background chatter of an artificial waterfall. Inside this palace of pleasure, the caller has been entertaining guests and the topic of conversation has now turned to one of his favourite subject matters. The restaurant owner talks only briefly to the caller; his hand trembling as he scratches down the order on a nearby pad of paper. When the call ends he is momentarily dazed; questioning whether the call was merely some peculiar, lucid dream. Eventually, he gets dressed, combs his hair, splashes some cold water on his face and begins the drive back to his restaurant, gathering together both his grumbling staff and his confused thoughts on the way. Within the hour, the kitchen, left for dormant earlier that evening, is crackling with a rekindled energy as grills are scrubbed clean and reinvigorated cooks begin their preparations. The owner is pleased; they will need this energy over the next two hours. Even for the staff of the Colorado Mine Company, who are used to preparing food that is a little out of the ordinary, this will be a unique challenge, fired by an appetite of extraordinary decadence.
He directs traffic as huge, impossible mountains of bacon parade through the kitchen to be grilled in a seemingly never ending procession. He directs traffic as huge, impossible mountains of bacon parade through the kitchen to be grilled in a seemingly never ending procession. At the same time a succession of large, Italian loaves are baked, smeared in golden butter and browned to a finely honed crisp in the kitchen’s bursting ovens. On a nearby workspace, jars of thick, creamy condiments are pried delicately open as a dozen palette knives sink down into their contents; ready to do the sort of work normally only attempted by a brick layers trowel. The loaves are removed from the oven, halved and hollowed of excess bread. Into the lower cavity goes a jar of the creamiest peanut butter. Into the top half, the sweetest, stickiest of grape jelly. The two halves assembled, their sugary, thickly spooned stuffing applied, it is time for the filling to be added and the world’s most calorific
sandwich to stand complete. The fried mass of bacon is reverentially divided, squared, measured and weighed. One pound of bacon is inserted as the filling to each and every loaf. The owner watches nervously as the fat, mixes with the red stain of the jelly, browning the golden peanut butter. Eventually twenty-two such loaves will stand, side by side on the workspace. Hot and steaming, thick and dripping, the ‘Fool’s Gold’ sandwiches will be ready; Fifty pounds of food, one hundred and twenty one thousand, six hundred and sixty calories, a double heart bypass on a plate. A banquet fit for a King.
Fifty pounds of food, one hundred and twenty one thousand, six hundred and sixty calories, a double heart bypass on a plate. Meanwhile, across the quiet runways and hangers that make up Stapleton International Airport, the serenity of the early morning has just been broken by the landing of a distinctive, private jet. The plane’s white exterior emboldened with a red and blue stripe bears the enamel embroidery of a young girl’s name. The Lisa Marie, taxies, largely unnoticed, into a private hanger and waits for the arrival of a small white truck, as, from the inside, the sound of music and laughter spills out into the morning air. Thirty minutes later the truck pulls into the private hanger where the plane now rests. The restaurant owner emerges, carrying the first of several silver covered trays, the freshly baked contents steaming beneath. Carefully, he boards the ramp and heads up and through the waiting plane door and into the aircraft itself. Inside the plane a party is taking place. His eyes glance nervously about as he delivers the silver trays one by one to the waiting table. For a moment he doesn’t see the big man, until he hears that distinctive voice rumble from the back of the cabin as the host of the banquet turns to greet him over a pair of dark rimmed sunglasses. Larger than he appears on screen, supersized but unmistakeable all the same; the sequined, high collar shirt, the luxurious black mane of hair, the distinctive thick sideburns and the unique halfway kind of grin that somehow make you look past the double chin that has become a new and unwanted trademark. The famous man moves towards him in a blur, pumps his hand and offers him a place at the table. He politely declines. He knows better than to join the men at their feasting. The ‘Fool’s Gold’ loaves are named for a reason; one removed entirely from their exorbitant purchase price. Instead, he leaves the party-goers to their banquet with a curious mix of emotion occupying his thoughts. They will return to him, some thirteen months down the line, when American’s of all ages come together to mourn the passing of a cultural icon and question, perhaps for the first time, the legacy of a life of such unrestrained excess. For now though he shrugs it off, listening to the radio as he drives home; thinking only of that incorrigible, halfway smile grinning back at him from behind the sunglasses. “Thank you,” says the face, “thank you very much.”
Elvis Aaron Presley died in August 1977, weighing 260 pounds. The Fool’s Gold loaf remained his favourite “snack”. The Colorado Mine Company, Denver continues to serve the loaf to diners with a taste for the decadent…Although at $49.99 each, they recommend sharing with friends.
The combination of just waking up and dealing with the effects of a heavy night’s drinking made the journey from the hotel bedroom to the door seem unconquerable, but Charlie managed it - just - only to be greeted by his agent, Russ, reciting the morning newspaper, with no consideration for Charlie’s hangover from hell. “Charlie Walker the winner of the latest reality show ‘Worldwide’,” Russ boomed out with pride, “where contestants visit a new country every week and live as locals.” Charlie was struggling to concentrate on what was being said. “Charlie survived the weekly votes and went onto win the controversial prize of fame.” “So what does fame mean?” The girl approached Charlie in Sox, the latest in a long line of London hot spots where Charlie was making an appearance. “As a prize.” The mystery woman clarified. “Basically a biography and a film called ‘The Winners Story’.” Charlie shouted above the repetitive thud of the music. “Cool. Bet you get this all the time but could I share a fish bowl with you?” Charlie knew why she asked for this. He brought it on himself. In every country he visited with Worldwide he would party with the locals. And the party always started the same way; with a fish bowl. On many occasions this was greeted by a blank expression, until Charlie stepped behind the bar and poured every spirit he could find into a container, usually a bucket, and proudly said “That’s a fish bowl.”
A piece of flash fiction from Thomas Smith gives this issue an enjoyable point of difference. Thomas hones in on the culture of quick, short fame and reality TV. him, in his unique style. “As long you get the pot of gold who cares if you caught a bus to the end of the rainbow?” This only served to provide Charlie with some confusing imagery. “Charlie, we’ve known each other for a long time.” Russ paused as if he was about to say something life changing, “Stop being a little girl, take this chance and run with it.” “Eat your heart out Oscar Wilde.” Charlie scoffed. “I’m serious. Do I think you’ve earned this lifestyle?” Russ gestured towards the magnificence of the hotel room “No. But you did win a popularity contest and that can open doors.” “Do you think I was a good enough actor to make it without the show?” “In six months you’ll be forgotten. A nobody. A ‘didn’t you used be..?’” Charlie was hoping a point was imminent “And then people will be more willing to offer you an acting job.” “I have to be famous and forgotten to get what I want?” “In a nutshell.” Russ cupped Charlies face “Who knows in two maybe three years you could be on Eastenders.”
“Earth to Charlie.” Charlie was brought back from the previous evening “I’m saying Cleo’s sold her story.” Cleo? Charlie tried to place the name. “The girl from last night?” Charlie asked, panicked by the prospect
“Really?!” It took a moment for Russ to realise Charlie was being sarcastic. “Most actors dream of working with De Niro, Pacino. Not me I want the fella who plays Phil Mitchell!”
“I can’t believe I’m having a drink with Charlie.” He offered a nod in response, but had no idea what she had said. She spoke again and once more the music carried it away from Charlie. She stood up and began walking away, expecting Charlie to follow, but instead he took his chance to slip out of the fire exit and return to the hotel room he had barely seen since he got back a week ago.
“You want to be an actor? Play this part. Play it for as long as they want you to play it. And don’t forget why you’re doing it.” Charlie’s face sunk with sadness, not because of the situation but because he knew Russ was right. “You have two personal appearances tonight both are running a contest with you as the prize.” “You didn’t answer me before when I asked if you thought I was good enough without the show.”
“The disabled toilets. You dirty boy!” Russ laughed “That didn’t happen!” Charlie pondered a while, before asking “What’s this going to do for my image?” “Laminate it.” “What if this isn’t what I want to be?” Confusion creased Russ’ forehead. “On the show I played a wild, partying fun guy because I knew people could relate to that. But it’s not what I am.” Charlie reminded Russ why he went on the show. He wanted to be an actor. He knew the odds were against him, but Charlie didn’t care. He could see wonder in the eyes of people who called him a dreamer. The look of people who gave up on their dreams. Charlie would not wonder, he would know one way or the other if it was destined to be a dream or become his reality. But after years of trying he saw a crack in the back door in the shape of a reality show and squeezed through it. Russ could see Charlie was upset and tried to comfort
Russ sighed before answering “Honestly? I think your slap bang in the middle of mediocrity. You won’t be out of place as an actor, but you won’t stand out either.” Russ gave Charlie an apologetic slap on the arm. “But with this chance you’ll get what you want.” Russ turned to leave, but froze by the door as Charlie had the last word. “You’re right. I need this. But you’re also dead wrong. Once they throw me that ball I will run with it and I will stand out.” Pausing momentarily from her fishbowl prize, the latest contest winner checked Google on her phone. “Steve McFadden is the actor who plays Phil Mitchell, why?” “Just trying to remember.” Charlie surveyed the nightclub and saw many people he thought had left their dreams at home and got lost in hedonism. And at that moment he swore he would not go native. Charlie smiled and reverted back to the character she wanted to see. “Let’s get wasted!”
Illustration by Jen McHugh
â€œThe strawberies taste like strawberries... the snozzberries taste like snozzberriesâ€? -WILLY WONKA
THE DECADENCE OF DESPOTS AND DICTATORS Joanna Allan uses the theme of decadence interestingly to condemn dictatorships of the past and presence. Illustration by Matt Ferguson Decadence for me is a unique, finely crafted necklace that I discovered in a jeweller’s workshop. It’s comprised of a simple metal chain and a small tapestry of three instantly recognizable heads: Stalin; Hitler; and Saddam Hussein. The likeness of the portraits to the dead men represented is remarkable; the needlework skillful and the colours used beautiful. Though I am too shy to wear it for fear of offending, for me, the necklace is ironically humorous and makes a sharp political comment. In my view, the moral, social and physical decline as well as the vulgar opulence juxtaposed with poverty that terrorwielding despots represent is the example par excellence of what “decadence” is. Yet decadence by proxy is just as dangerous, and is something of which our government and its media machine are too often guilty. With the blooming of the Arab Spring, the Western media has facilitated a platform (albeit a hard-fought-for and relatively small one) to those that speak out, fight oppression and sacrifice all to challenge the decadence of their leaders. Over the last year or so, we, the Western public, have watched from the comfort of our living rooms how the Egyptians, Tunisians and Libyans, sick of the corruption, abuse of power, theft of public funds and bloody violence practiced by their leaders, have risen up and revolted. Now, we follow the struggle of the Syrian people. Our governments, although reluctant to back up their words with actions, are full of rhetoric in support of those that seek to liberate Syria from its tyrannical leader. I am grateful that our mass media has allowed the voices of these
revolutionaries to reach us, and that our governments have (debatably) supported them. Yet, our own government and mainstream media often act decadently themselves when they are apathetic towards, and oftentimes knowingly complicit with, abusive, despotic Warlords. When our government sees it in its interests to do so, it has no qualms with working alongside despots. As lawyers calling for an enquiry into Britain’s historical support of Gaddafi have noted, from as early as 2005 the UK government was complicit in suppressing dissent against Gaddafi. Only when he became less useful to Britain was he outcast by our government and ridiculed in our mainstream media. The same can be said for the late Saddam Hussein, who was armed in the eighties by the UK and supported by Western powers during his invasion of Iran. Currently, Western leaders are hand-in-glove with another decadent despot, whilst our mainstream media largely
denies his key opponents a voice: King Mohamed VI of Morocco. Two French journalists, Catherine Graciet and Eric Laurent, published their book The Predator King in Paris last month, which offers an extraordinary insight into the lavish lifestyle of King Mohamed VI of Morocco. Examples of the King’s decadent spending habits include £1 million per year on pet food, double this on his wardrobe, whilst £1 million is spent daily on maintaining his 12 palaces. Whilst more than 5 million of his subjects must get by on less than £1 per day, according to the book His Majesty receives £26 million a year of public funding to use as “pocket money.” This is on top of his £2 billion fortune accrued through taking over all the key sectors of his country’s economy. Indeed, his critics dub him “Chief Executive of Morocco Inc.” The people that have historically challenged Mohamed VI’s hegemony with most rigor are
the Saharawis. These are the native people of Western Sahara, a resource-rich country sandwiched between Morocco and Mauritania. Upon its decolonization by Spain in 1975, Western Sahara was invaded by its northern and southern neighbours who bombed the terrified Saharawis with napalm and white phosphorus. The Marxist-Leninist POLISARIO, the independence movement of the Saharawis born under Spanish rule, fought off the Mauritanians yet could not defeat the French and Saudibacked Moroccan army. Today, half of Western Sahara’s territory remains occupied by the brutal Moroccan regime whilst the liberated part (separated by the longest operational military wall in the world, funded by the French government) is littered with Moroccan landmines. 180,000 Saharawis live under a discriminative, brutal Moroccan occupation (see Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch reports on the territory)
whilst a similar number, whom had escaped on foot during the 1975 invasion, live in refugee camps in a dry corner of the Algerian Sahara desert. Open conflict between POLISARIO and Morocco seized in 1991, following a UN-brokered ceasefire built on the promise of a self-determination referendum for the Saharawi people. Nevertheless, this referendum has yet to be implemented as it is continuously blocked by Morocco. Whilst Western governments sing the praises of Mohammed VI’s political “reforms”, the European Union enters into lucrative but illegal deals with the Moroccan palace (the EU pays Morocco to exploit the natural resources of Western Sahara, which, since the latter is an occupied country, is illegal according to the Fourth Geneva Convention), and Kate and Wills invite the Moroccan royals to their wedding, thousands face torture, forced disappearance, rape and discrimination by Mohamed’s VI henchmen.
Where is David Cameron’s moral interventionism now? Why do Saharawis and their revolts have no platform in our mainstream media? After all, as many leading political thinkers such as Noam Chomsky have stated, it was the Saharawi Gdeim Iziik manifestation, a protest camp of over 20,000 tents brutally destroyed by Moroccan security forces, which sparked the Arab Spring in the first place. As a voting citizen in a (supposedly) democratic regime, the British government is our representative, and the Western media is our voice and ears. Are we prepared to let these two institutions support decadence in its truest format –the Despot – and effectively silence his opponents’ voices by denying them a media platform in the West? If we fail to challenge our government and its media machine, we run the risk of decadence by proxy, of wearing – with no hint of irony or shame - a necklace in homage to bloody tyrants.
Novel’s Games Editor Michael Finnigan discusses the PS3 exclusive Journey and the long awaited Black Mesa. He’s always on the lookout for new followers - that’s the only payment we promised him - so please help us out and follow him on Twitter: @Finniruse
Journey is a superb adventure game that puts you in the shoes of an unnamed traveller lost in a mysterious and barren desert. The only thing to drive you forward is an enormous mountain in the distance and the tantalising question: What exactly is at the top? To tell you that would ruin the game so let’s stick to the facts. Journey is the third game developed by thatgamecompany for the PS3. The first two in the trilogy, flOw and Flower, were both incredibly successful critically and financially. They were unique because they strived to do something different. Flower, for example, put you in control of the wind blowing a handful of flower petals across the world and flOw put
you in control of a microscopic organism gobbling up other beasties. Journey takes these types of innovations and cements them into a new and unusual experience. Let me give you an example. As I was wandering through one of the various locales in this colourful world I was surprised to come across another player. My first thought was he was just a computer controlled character included to make my experience a little less lonely, but from their purposeful movement and attempts to communicate (via hops, skips and running ) I was amazed that the game had automatically paired me up with someone who happened to be at the same stage of
Every year or so I’m reminded of a little Half-Life remake called Black Mesa. ‘Why?’ I hear you ask. Because everything on the internet mysteriously seems to point to it. Really, I’m not kidding, it’s a like a conspiracy or something. Seriously though, it’s because I’ve been hotly anticipating the game for over eight years now. You see, back in ‘09 fans of Black Mesa had become sick of waiting
for a release date. The game had been in development for over five years at the time and the internet had suffered long enough. Like some belligerent, drunken young man, fans of the game badgered the talented young developers until they gave them a tentative release date which ended up being October 2009. The plan seemed sound at first but when the release date came and
their journey. It felt intrusive and alien, yet totally welcome. We travelled together for a while, taking great enjoyment from each other’s company until an enormous sandstorm appeared from nowhere and swallowed my companion in a hail of sand and dirt. I searched frantically for my friend, quickly losing sense of my position, then after a while slunk back in my chair and lamented the loss of my companion hoping he too would make it to the top of the mountain. And so I carried on my journey alone. One thing I must now mention is that none of this emotional investment would be possible if it weren’t for the incredibly realistic world thatgamecompany have created. From the very get go impressive environmental effects immerse you in the world. One such moment was emerging from a particularly dark location to searing sunlight which caused my screen to haze over as my characters virtual eyes adjusted to the light and all I could hear was the rushing water I later found out was emanating from the waterfalls around me. All in all, Journey is an unmissable experience. Some people may feel it is a tad expensive at £9.99 and only two hours long with little replay value, but the way I see it, if you are willing to pay £7 for a cinema experience then Journey is absolutely worth your money and it is a game you will remember for years.
went the fans went into an uproar. With little other option the developers closed their gates, retreated inside their studio and like Willie Wonka in his Chocolate Factory continued producing their game in secret. Since then, the factory has been silent and no one knows if work is still going on. The young man that was once so eager has been pining away, contemplating his mistake. But if various internet rumblings are to be believed then 2012 might be the year the pretty young girl might be ready to come out and play – I’m aware this line of metaphor is starting to make me sound like a perv so I’ll stop. My biggest concern in writing this article is that, if the last eight years are anything to go by, fans are probably going to be bitterly disappointed when the game isn’t released this year. The other worry is if Black Mesa has somehow managed to slip under your radar - firstly I won’t believe you because there is definitely a conspiracy going on – that I might draw you into the frustrating development cycle that has plagued me for the last eight years.
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