Tag Archives: Tipping points

2011 ➤ Pay now — so We Can Be Heroes goes ahead!

1980: Clare Thom, Philip Sallon and George O’Dowd on a coach trip to Margate. Photograph by Graham Smith/grsmith@mac.com.jpg from his book We Can Be Heroes

must be funded by November 12 17 [update]

❚ NOBODY IS BETTER QUALIFIED to chronicle the whirlwind six years between punk and the death of the New Romantics than Graham Smith through his eye-witness photography, and the writer Chris Sullivan, one of the core movers-and-shapers of his generation. UK music and style evolved out of all recognition in a mighty resurgence of youth subcultures that directly triggered a rejuvenation of mainstream media for the rest of the decade. Shapersofthe80s was on hand as an observer. But these two wags were in the thick of the action — major players in a spontaneous youthful collaboration to regenerate the UK’s ailing music and style scenes as 1980 dawned. With contributions by a galaxy of stars, who include Gary Kemp and Boy George, this will become the definitive story of one of the great explosions of creativity in British youth culture.

The authors aim to get their large-format 320-page coffee-table photobook We Can Be Heroes to you in time for Christmas. Their “crowd-funding” venture requires them to raise the cash first by asking YOU to buy your copy in advance, before 6pm GMT on November 12 17. Your reward is to see your name printed as a Supporter in the limited first edition. The clock is ticking.

View Graham’s video today at Unbound Publishing, a new company under the patronage of Faber, the most prestigious publisher in Britain. Here you can purchase your book and enjoy other perks such as an invitation to the launch party. Join the clubbers at Facebook who are submitting their own photos and tales of merriment.

➢ Twitter directly with the publisher, Unbound



➢ Unbound aims for 40 books in year one … Supported by Faber, the platform was created by QI writers John Mitchinson and John Pollard, and Crap Towns author Dan Kieran — The Bookseller

➢ Funded by the people — Channel 4 News video on “crowdfunding”, the process that decides when and how Graham’s book gets published

➢ Why creative clubbing ended with the 80s — the credentials that equipped Smithy, Sullivan and Elms (and a few other crazies) to start changing the world

➢ Boy George says the 70s were the best time ever to be a teenager — and Tweets that “it’s a brilliant book about the New Romantics! Really!” He has also written a foreword in We Can Be Heroes. (So have Gary Kemp, Steve Strange and Robert Elms)

➢ A slideshow of Graham’s Blitz-era gems at Guardian online

➢ Thirty years of punk and post-punk photo imagery — by Disneyrollergirl, one of The Times’ 40 bloggers who count

➢ Huffington Post: All about 1980s club kids — former Blitz Kid and Times fashion editor Iain R Webb writes about Bowie’s impact on the Blitz scene

➢ A legacy that has inspired each decade since the 80s — Princesss Julia, international deejay and fabulous Blitz Club coat-check girl, writes for i-D about stripping away the posers’ facade

➢ Update Nov 6: priceless storytelling about 80s mayhem with Elms and Sullivan on video

➢ Promo video for Blue Jean (1984) starring David Bowie as Screamin’ Lord Byron before a London clubland audience … Below is the alternate version of Blue Jean for MTV, starring Bowie and the Aliens, shot live before an audience in Soho’s Wag club, which was hosted for 19 years by Chris Sullivan



2011 ➤ Oo-er, Metamodernists say: Go forth and oscillate

Annunciations,installations, Luke Turner, photography,Metamodernism,manifesto, fine art

Annunciations (installation view), 2011 © by Luke Turner: The Annunciations series revolves around the experience of art, the visual realm, and the ghosts of art history

❚ YOU READ IT HERE FIRST. As the V&A’s exhibition on Postmodernism lays bare the cultural malaise of recent decades, a bright new dawn is announced  “with emphatic optimism (and a pragmatic romanticism)” by the publication of “The Metamodernist manifesto”…

  1. We recognise oscillation to be the natural order of the world.
  2. We must liberate ourselves from the inertia resulting from a century of modernist ideological naivety and the cynical insincerity of its antonymous bastard child.
  3. Movement shall henceforth be enabled by way of an oscillation between positions, with diametrically opposed ideas operating like the pulsating polarities of some colossal electric machine, propelling the world into action…

➢ Continue reading The Metamodernist manifesto

➢ Luke Turner’s Annunciations 2011 reviewed by Siobhan Wall — “Each photograph in Annunciations is named after a famous Renaissance painting, and it’s apparent that these largely abstract images are a carefully considered distillation of what lies beyond the figurative and literal in the well-known masterpieces…”

➢ Notes on metamodernism is the webzine that documents current developments in politics and aesthetics that can no longer be explained in terms of the postmodern, proposing instead “a sensibility that oscillates between modern positions and postmodern strategies; between construction and deconstruction (indeed, reconstruction); a desire for sens and a doubt about the sense of it all; between sincerity and irony; hope and melancholy”.

Peter Doig, Figure in Mountain Landscape, New Romanticism,Death of Painting,

Peter Doig, Figure in Mountain Landscape, 1997-8

➢ The new New Romanticism — “the act of presenting the commonplace with significance, the ordinary with the mysterious, etc, and this undertaking’s inevitable and necessary failure… But why now? … To express a dissatisfaction about a present that is increasingly uninhabitable, and a desire for a future whose blueprint has yet to be drawn”.

➢ Peter Doig and the “Death of Painting”  — “His work explores a tension between the designs of humanity and the wild, natural world it has to reckon with… He seems to paint about painting, each canvas becomes an allegory of the strangely beautiful problems, inadequacies and imperfections of creative vision.”

❏ iPAD, TABLET & MOBILE USERS PLEASE NOTE — You may see only a tiny selection of items from this wide-ranging website about the 1980s, not chosen by the author. To access fuller background features and site index either click on “Standard view” or visit Shapersofthe80s.com on a desktop computer. ➢ Click here to visit a different random item every time you click


2011 ➤ England’s dotty Simpson who inspired the Pythons

playwright, N F Simpson, obituary, One Way Pendulum , Resounding Tinkle ,theatre,

Playwright N F Simpson: a very English absurdist. Photographed © by Luca Sage

❚ N F SIMPSON, THE DRAMATIST, died this week aged 92. The Observer critic Kenneth Tynan dubbed Simpson “the most gifted comic writer the English stage has discovered since the war” after seeing the double bill of A Resounding Tinkle and The Hole  in 1958. And after One Way Pendulum (1959), he suspected Simpson of possessing “the subtlest mind ever devoted by an Englishman to the writing of farce”…

➢ The Daily Telegraph obituary continues…

… His focus on the surreal was influenced by The Goon Show and in turn influenced Monty Python and Peter Cook… Simpson was one of the four principal writers to establish the English Stage Company’s influential regime at the Royal Court Theatre in the late 1950s. The others in that first batch were John Osborne, John Arden and Ann Jellicoe. But in a movement whose central work was Osborne’s Look Back In Anger, Simpson was spiritually an outsider.

➢ Michael Coveney says in today’s Guardian obituary:

The playwright NF Simpson, was generally identified with the Theatre of the Absurd movement alongside Eugène Ionesco, Arthur Adamov, Samuel Beckett and Harold Pinter. But Simpson was peculiarly and singularly English in his absurdism. He turned suburban characters into weird chatterboxes and language into highly imaginative chop logic, and mixed a comic brew that derived more recognisably from the worlds of Lewis Carroll, W S Gilbert and the Goons, without the puerile edge that came along with Monty Python…

➢ Michael Billington calls Simpson a blissfully funny and deeply English dramatist — in The Guardian today

The plays of N F ‘Wally’ Simpson, were hilariously subversive, yet masked a deeply philosophical mind … He was often compared with Eugène Ionesco. But I always thought he belonged to a deeply English tradition of word-spinning, logic-twisting absurdity. Simpson’s real ancestors were Lewis Carroll, Edward Lear and the Goons. His legatees were Peter Cook, the Monty Python gang and the Goodies…

One Way Pendulum ,N F Simpson , Woodfall Films, John Cleese ,Jonathan Miller ,Dick Lester,
➢ VIEW A CLIP from One Way Pendulum as Jonathan Miller conducts his choir of weighing machines

❏ This short clip from the 1964 Woodfall film of One Way Pendulum only hints at the Simpson universe. John Cleese saw the film in a cinema in Weston Supermare and called it a true classic of surrealist comedy. It is directed by Peter Yates with Jonathan Miller as the dotty Kirby, the son of a dotty father (Eric Sykes) in a dottily obsessive suburban household. Kirby retunes a choir of Speak-Your-Weight machines and trains them to sing the Hallelujah Chorus. All except one obey his bidding.

Simpson’s vision directly inspired a whole generation of comedy in the UK from Dick Lester’s Beatles movies (1964-5) to the Monty Python TV series (1969-74) and beyond. It was One Way Pendulum that took Simpson from the Royal Court theatre into the West End and in 1988 Jonathan Miller revived it at the Old Vic. Simpson’s final play, If So, Then Yes, was staged only last year.

➢ Reality is an Illusion Caused by Lack of N F Simpson was a documentary broadcast in April 2007 on Radio 4

If So Then Yes, N F Simpson,Jermyn Street theatre,David Quantick❏ David Quantick appraised playwright N F ‘Wally’ Simpson as one of the foremost absurdists of the 20th century. The documentary featured material recorded at a workshop for a new play, If So, Then Yes, his first full-length piece in 30 years. It charts a day in the life of octogenarian writer Geoffrey Wythenshaw, who sits down to dictate his autobiography from the comfort of a retirement home for the upper crust. After its Royal Court reading it then played at the Jermyn Street theatre during September 2010.


➤ Does chart-topper Adele really need to be on the Mercury shortlist?

Mercury Music Prize 2011, shortlist,

Mercury Music Prize 2011 shortlist: 12 contenders for album of the year

Bring Me The Horizon, Mercury Prize, shortlist 2011, Guardian poll,music❚ BRING ME THE HORIZON (pictured), a British metalcore band from Sheffield, topped a Guardian reader poll (now closed) to predict contenders for this year’s Mercury Prize 2011 shortlist for albums of the year. Announced today, girls include Adele, Katy B and P J Harvey, with Elbow and Tinie Tempah among the boys, but not many bands. Amazingly the Guardianistas’ favourite metal band does not get a mention. Two months to wait for the awards themselves.

➢ View Guardian video verdicts on the
Mercury Music Prize nominees

Is the Mercury Prize there to reward commercial success? Guardian music supremo Caspar Llewellyn Smith says the shortlist calls into question what the prize is for: “If Adele’s on the Mercury shortlist, why don’t you have Take That as well?” — Caroline Sullivan, Tim Jonze and Smith review the runners for 2011.

➢ In the Telegraph, chief rock critic Neil McCormick believes this shortlist is the start of a new sound in pop

It is an interesting Mercury Prize list this year, that suggests to me a nation of adventurous musical talent, stirring a bubbling cauldron of musical possibilities, and starting to forge something new. This is the sound of pop at a crossroads, looking out towards new horizons. It’s interesting how well all these albums actually sit together, from the mainstream pop successes of Adele, Katy B and Tinie Tempah to the dreamy underground experimentation of James Blake and Ghostpoet; the intelligent, emotional songcraft of Elbow, PJ Harvey, Anna Calvi and King Creosote & Jon Hopkins to the multifarious genre adventures of Everything Everything and Metronomy…

❏ FOOTNOTE Tell the Guardian how good or otherwise you thought their seven-day survey A History of Modern Music — in the course of which there isn’t one, NOT ONE direct reference to J-a-a-a-a-ames Brown, the father of funk.


1981 ➤ “Rare Cancer Seen in 41 Homosexuals” — the world is alerted to the Aids epidemic

❚ 30 YEARS AGO TODAY, a report in The New York Times brought first confirmation to the public of the sudden and puzzling appearance of a fatal form of cancer which one year later would be termed AIDS (for acquired immune deficiency syndrome).

In May 1981, two Los Angeles doctors submitted a brief account of five of their patients to the US Centers for Disease Control’s newsletter, the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. Dated June 4, this was the first clinical description of the disorder. The Los Angeles Times reported under the headline, Outbreaks of Pneumonia Among Gay Males Studied: “Researchers are investigating mysterious outbreaks of pneumonia that have occurred among male homosexuals in Los Angeles and several other cities.”

A month later, the CDC ran another bulletin [linked below]. Doctors from New York and California were seeing another rare disease in gay men. “During the past 30 months, Kaposi’s Sarcoma (KS), an uncommonly reported malignancy in the United States, has been diagnosed in 26 homosexual men.”

The New York Times received an advance copy of the report and ran its first article on the syndrome on July 3. It mixed together deaths from Pneumocystis pneumonia and KS and was headlined: Rare Cancer Seen in 41 Homosexuals…

New York Times, Aids, first report

By Lawrence K. Altman
Published: July 3, 1981

Doctors in New York and California have diagnosed among homosexual men 41 cases of a rare and often rapidly fatal form of cancer. Eight of the victims died less than 24 months after the diagnosis was made.

The cause of the outbreak is unknown, and there is as yet no evidence of contagion. But the doctors who have made the diagnoses, mostly in New York City and the San Francisco Bay area, are alerting other physicians who treat large numbers of homosexual men to the problem in an effort to help identify more cases and to reduce the delay in offering chemotherapy treatment.

Alvin E. Friedman-Kien,New York University, Medical Center

Friedman-Kien: “rather devastating”

The sudden appearance of the cancer, called Kaposi’s Sarcoma, has prompted a medical investigation that experts say could have as much scientific as public health importance because of what it may teach about determining the causes of more common types of cancer.

In a letter alerting other physicians to the problem, Dr Alvin E. Friedman-Kien of New York University Medical Center, one of the investigators, described the appearance of the outbreak as ‘rather devastating’.

➢ Read the full “Rare Cancer” report in The New York Times, July 3, 1981

➢ Pneumocystis Pneumonia — Los Angeles: MMWR 1981, June 5; 30 (21); 1-3
➢ Kaposi’s sarcoma and Pneumocystis pneumonia among homosexual men — New York City and California: Friedman-Kien A; Laubenstein L; Marmor M; et al. MMWR 1981, July 4; 30: 305 (#J0005787)
➢ Aids timeline at AVERT, an international HIV and AIDS charity, based in the UK: “In the United Kingdom it is estimated that 1 in 4 people who are living with HIV do not know they are infected as they have not been diagnosed”