Category Archives: Prose

Flava Fav’s Rice

Turning Piss into Lager Since 1997

Sometimes it’s hard to find time to sit down and write to people who really matter. That’s why each year, when the time comes around to write this message to you, I ask my ghost writer to try hard to put into it all the gratitude I am supposed to feel towards the publishers of Mainstream. The centre-right networked cultural oligarchy tells me that Friday 26th October 1997 is this year’s date that will be forever etched on our minds. Giotto’s famous frescos of St Francis and Jesus’ mother and Issue 1 of Mainstream, the greatest icons of history, were dead. Glaswegian culture vultures crop-top rhinoplasty-faced Alex Pollard and dark-haired long-shanked Iain Hetherington were on a research visit when the big one hit. They really like clothes; they get off on them. Shoes and gold chains are two of the only reasons they love researching work in Italy. They take an empty suitcase with them so they can pick up about ten pairs on shoes and forty gold chains. They love their shoes and chains, they’re so conformable and they’re usually way ahead of the fashion here. While in Italy they also go about awkwardly authentic practices to satisfy the home fan-base, masturbating over jilted bouquets and seeking the ultimate early Renaissance rice recipes. First of all, they went to Florence, y’know what I’m sayin – that’s where the long-grain types are grown. Then, after they gets to Florence and gets them a bag of that motherfuckin rice, y’know what I’m sayin, then they takes it all over to the Assisi cause they got all the vegetables to go with the bitchin rice! The motherfuckin pricks arrived at the train station at Santa Maria degli Angeli and hopped into a limo. They mixed your peas, your corn and all that stuff with the rice and made it nice! I’m tryin to tell ya right now! After washing down their pilau with Christal champagne, they headed off to distribute all known copies of Mainstream Issue 1 to the faithful of St Francis of Assisi. The pusillanimous duo had just turned their back on the Kirk when the rockin Almighty recklessly severed Giotto’s drawing of his daughter in law’s praying duke. They ran for cover as the broken basilica bit the bullet. By tragic twist of fate Mainstream Issue 1 seemed to discover its true identity in the last moments of its life, a jiffy before being tragically ripped into countless black and white confetti mixed in a vortex of pastel pigmented parts. As earthquakes ravaged central Italy, and the death toll of non-Britons rose, the zine never looked so venerable and divine. Although it will continue to feature in folklore, it was the beauty of the drawing and indomitable spirit of the handwriting that shone through.

Neil Mulholland

Wake Up and Smell the Ginger Frappe: Towards the aromatic, pungent, peppery bouquet of galangal as proof of a Congealed Radicalism’s unlimited parsimoniousness in discouraging cultural production as symbolic delegitimation of Late Capitalism.









Before I begin, I’d like to thank my latest Capitalist sponsors for the absolute restitution of my privileged access to Truth, hence my respectful reverence of Alex Pollard’s Bastardised stealth boomerang returned to ground after temporarily passing through ideological aerospace, the startlingly capable, enigmatically powerful plott-rocket that Pollard threw, or rather, that threw him, to the teeming megalopolis of Hampstead, that vast asphalt labyrinth of world-wide frivolity and cultural fraudulence, to which Pollard travelled through many a moribund agricultural hamlet from his point of departure, Preston Park, a rather prosaic subsidised ornamental park with a bafflingly amusing eemya, one of the most sought-after residential locations in Brighton, the very spot from where this stealth boomerang type device travelled back and forth at the most ungodly speeds to its fiery death, an area that astoundingly includes the 1980 Moscow Olympic 800-metre champion Steve Ovett – who was brought up in the carcinogenic air of Harrington Villas and attended Varndean Grammar School for Boys – among its residents. It’s no accident that the Pollard’s detailed psychoarchaeology of the mnemonic in long distance running should boomerang back to this spot. As a teenager, the seditious Pollard drank cider outside the iron school railings past which the future Olympic hero might have ran, had they not been prematurely torn down to make planes to kill Germans, a deeply bitter irony numbed only by the cider. It’s also no accident that the Pollard’s family have looked after Preston Park for centuries, ‘pollard’ meaning to cut back a tree to the trunk to promote the growth of a dense head of foliage. And dense this head of absolutely extraordinarily researched foliage is.

Back in 1980, Ovett, a punky social democrat sponsored by the Fair Trade movement, was young pretender to Tory New Romantic, Sebastian Coe, sponsored by Revlon, the infamous make-up manufacturers responsible for his Brideshead Revisited look at the time. As a small child, Pollard knew that Coe was destined for a glittering post-running career in Westminster and it’s probably clear where his sympathies lie. Combining the aesthetics of athletics with the athletics of aesthetics, Pollard now radically indexes these tales by sprinting from description to performance. These fissures clearly have something or other to do with Coe’s nationalistic ‘coherent training’ rationale, his belief in silky smooth speedy stride as the ultimate pre-requisite to success in addition to being indexed to Ovett’s love of Fair Trade. Seb thought he was self-sufficient but, as the structural paradoxes of Pollard’s paintings prove absolutely inconclusively, he wasn’t. Seb may have won the 1500-metre race, but only at the cost of equating fact with value and of remaining within a traditional definition and ideology of athletics by updating, developing, and differentiating the functions of his pernicious alibis.

In parallel disparity, life in Pollard’s ideologically drained Hampstead Achieved is a quiet collection of found gestures and scopic prostitutes. There are no iron railings, no athletes, no warplanes, no stores, no factories, no tramps or Garage MCs in this marginal space, his new hometown. Prognosis by crystalline morphology, the comfy living room has wallpaper and furniture, rather than being burnt to the ground or smeared in ‘dirty protest’, the street that is not visible through the window is neatly paved, rather than blown up or dug by dirty navvies, the garden is mowed rather than a horrid muddy bog, trees are carefully pollarded as opposed to being chopped up like spent matchsticks. Things have always been peaceful in here; it’s just the way life is. The correct prediction of all the relations one can measure, Pollard’s work insists on things being inclusively valid within the sphere of a pollarded experience that is at war with the war waged by normative rhizomeaddict networking.

A Loner in Triplicate: Old Paint

Sittin’ on down, Old Paint is a little teacherish for his years, but he’s solid without taking himself for his own statue. A Brooklyn guy with 6 pairs of eyes and a heart that won’t lie, a little nasty beauty with a mounting, barking rhythm, he discovered himself in West Humanity in the country of Self. Gaunt, tall, GI-jacketed, Old Paint twanged out rich imagistic guitar in the New York coffee shops. He could afford to be hard and ironic, learned his wounds well, and some of the world’s dishonesty, while in New Jersey stir for 6 years on an armed robbery count. Is subtle as well as lavish. Shy as a shadow also, with a fiendish jollity rising up within the prison walls of his hard-earned loneliness and individuality. You rarely see the cat’s gleaming eyes behind his mother-loving sunglasses. Spooky-real Old Paint! Old Paint is the real thing. Once wanted to be a theoretical physicist but gave into the muse and began his very inside, real, stylish, lethal ultra, honest, terse, hurting in that way that counts. Jail in Frisco, fighting and dodging Arabs in Israel, getting pickled in Harlem. His pants are always three inches to short for his shoes – he’s awkward blue, but, as he’d say, he’s got a good sound. Proper isn’t bright with the bitter glitter of missile-age precocity. Old Paint could be tender, nutty, lyrical, when the mood mooded him. Way down shack town, Old Paint ‘s stuff runs like drunken faucet. Urchin looking, street-bred, his playing gives his living-room style the lie. Full of unexpectedness and unclassifiableness, off beat imagination to burn. A glitter of contradictions, closetful of skills, a dead-end kid commonsense. He’s honest about wanting the dollar and bitter in his appreciation of its Lordship. A flinty, sardonic wiseguy complete with brain. A nice guy with a touch of nasty.


Refusing to talk about his Commy past, he flirts with preciousness and never yields, sure sign that intelligence has pinned artifice to the mat, sure sign that we are witnessing the real stunning thing with this unusual kid. Knock-your-eye-out, he could play his way out of a locked trunk at the bottom of the Hudson River. Minority snipers think that if he brought a little Dreiserian holy corniess to his hipness he’d have it made. An extremely hard-working and probably demonic cat under some mighty slick icing.  Best in short takes, he dazzles because of the unforced grotesqueness he shows in our hallucinatory beyond-Mars, cosy little modern world. His chords build like a storm. Skinny Girl Shoe Shine was cut with the cool eye of a rifleman; his second Skin Lowdown Buggy Ride Lover Gal never got the attention it should have; his last Poor Folk Gold Teeth almost didn’t because it was thought to be too dirty for even a dirty age. He stands in an odd relationship to the corner kids of his generation, more inner, older tireder. He has a gnarled maturity encased in a golden boy façade. He has the aware calculation of a deepsea diver; it could and might go deeper. Gentle, fidgety, huge-bearded, he still puts out a wild lick. Old Paint went back in jail for violating his parole – the poor sucker fell in love and got married, which is of course against Democracy’s penal laws. Preacher say his future is an X but his present is inspiringly real. He broke out in 92, and last heard was in Athens, jazzing, playing roulette, making a carnival out of this sweet mystery of life. In a modest way, Old Paint is a credit to the human race, a true lunar talent rising amongst the skyscrapers. His fever is that of thousands, but nobody of his age threw the sick room back at life as he did, and thus redeemed us as well as himself. Society’s fangs await his beautiful phantasmagorial songs, if only to insure their validity; but he who plays the atom age much have a price on his head. The stakes demand it. More power and joy to him.

Barnyard Slut, October 2002

Nasal and Facial Hair Reactions to Various Heritage Disasters | Charisma

Nasal and Facial Hair Reactions to Various Heritage Disasters


Bureaucracy is specifically rational in the sense of being bound to intellectually analysable rules; while charisma is specifically irrational in the sense of being foreign to all rules. Within the sphere of its claims, charisma concurrently repudiates and rejuvenates the past, and is in this sense a specifically revolutionary force.


Kerry McKenzie and Nichola Farquhar


Horrified visitors watched helplessly at Transmission in Glasgow this July, as Charisma wilfully produced It May Be A Year Of Thirteen Moons But It’s Still The Year Of Culture. The temperature averaged 63F, but was set to fall below zero in January. Keith Farquhar and Lucy McKenzie’s confidently resketched Celtic font gallery sign, How Long Can We Keep This Up? (2000), was officially unveiled by local DJ ‘Tiger’ Tim-of-Stevens of Radio Clyde 261 and furtive painter Jack Vetriano, who arrived on a BMW Motor Scooter Called ‘Charisma.’ Curators Farquhar and McKenzie, holding no convictions concerning the ultimate futility of vision, fulfilled their quest for an art which exploits the illusory character of history based on conquest and the mysteries of a not so distant cultural past. Charismavergangenheitsbewaltigung.

Combining innovation and commitment, Charisma’s Procrustean bed revisits Patrick Geddes’ dream of a vernacular Scots Renascence at the turn of the nineteenth-century. In the foyer, McKenzie exploits her dubious technical facility; the diagrammatic renderings in her Mockintosh doors, Force the Hand of Chance 1900 (2000), painted guidance lash with Channel mascara and egg yolk, are redolent adornment, separate from the half glimpsed, the IKEA, the indiscreet face-lift. With an astonishing clairvoyance in divining the original meaning of the fragment, they suggest the proto-feminist symbolist roots of Charles Rennie Mackintosh’s aesthetic in the biological art of his wife Margaret, her sister Frances Macdonald and in the Scots Renascence fascination with the magical asceticism practised by magicians and heroes. McKenzie hollered: “Like Socialist Realism’s combination of avant-gardism and ‘anti-novelty’ formal means, such manifestations of charisma were expressions sketched by Charisma to radically frustrate the fans of these means of communication. They promote, at little expense, an atmosphere of uneasiness extremely favourably for the introduction of a few new notions of pleasure, visibility, mystery and enigma. In order to reach a conclusion such objections must be cast aside without explanation.”

Farquhar’s Polymorph Moderne: Sex in Scotland (2000) is adjacent, a stylish transformation of plastic multi-vitamin tubes into stalagmites. Accompanying them on the carpeted floor are a number of paper arrows and a feminist symbol, fashioned by carefully spilled red wine, a diagrammatic, disruptive sort of abstention buried deep in shagging pile. Inscrutable historical

exegesis takes us to Ken Currie’s painting Sex in Scotland, which hangs in the Glasgow Museum of Modern Art. As Farquhar, speaking for the first time since July, explains: “Hours are long, under these conditions, and constrain us to beguile them with proceedings which – how shall I say – may at first, and to the herd, seem unreasonable. For example, Peter Mandelson’s habitual modernisation of the Labour Party allows one’s precognition to hypothesise a queer negation of Scots-Irish patriarchy which, in time, is distilled into a concrete refusal to put up with out-of-fashion sex.” Farquhar, who has made a full recovery and is on holiday at Dougie Donnelly ‘s yacht The Sterling of Tillicoutry in Majorca, has a message of hope for cosmopolitan, nouveau riche Scotland. “Red wine is a catalyst for sexual and revolutionary consciousness. Moderne reason will stray in the night without end of the abyssal depths, until, like Bergerac after a successfully solved case, it sips cold, clear, alcohol-free champagne.”

Farquhar exhibits alongside Steven Campbell’s early New Glasgow Boy oil paintings Man with Spiral Tree (1983) and To the North with Good Luck (1983). Significantly, Campbell was showing at Transmission for the first time, and it’s no accident that Thirteen Moons resembles his maverick installation at the Third Eye Centre On Form and Fiction (1990). Tiger Tim’s bitter exchange with Campbell is very informative: “You look a wee bit like Van Helsing. Only because of the beard. Why do you give Van Helsing a goatee? He doesn’t have one in the book. He has to have some kind of charismatic authority. Is that what gives you your authority?  It is, aye. Without the beard, I’d go to pieces. What gives this man his authority? I was wondering. It’s my goatee. If that came off I’d suddenly look like a steel fitter again.” Campbell returned to Scotland from New York in 1986, disgusted at the “horribly engineered” qualities of American art. Given this outburst, unprecedented in modern times, it is unsurprising that his performance-based paintings were spurned by the Glasgow art world throughout the 1990s, his oeuvre systematically excluded from critical debate, forever typecast as ‘neo-expressionist’ opportunism.

Charisma, had looked for guidance from Ronnie Heeps who perceived Campbell’s neo-expressionist bedfellow to be Markus Selg. But the Deutsch Britische Freundschaft in Selg’s case was beautiful urban-pastoral serendipity. Selg’s contribution also proposes ways to invest existing, cobwebbed ideas and concepts with youthful vigour. His computer Inkjet print Untitled (2000) has the same pose and personal metaphor as Campbell, but his figures are workers at the ‘WeltAustellung’ and relate more to Currie’s large-scale groupings. Constructivism and all-over avant-garde are put to the test. LEF magazine, with Rodchenko at its head, had attempted to continue the psyche-revolutionising Russian experiment, only to consistently revert to pictorialism and figuration within the magazine’s photo editorials and graphic designs. This conflict is internalised within Selg’s prints. However, it must be pointed out that Charisma’s relationship to the ‘worker’ is in almost binary opposition to Currie’s, and the proletariat is seen for what it is; that which is to be BLASTED, along with the middle classes, the aristocracy and the intelligentsia.

Via the Neue-Sachlichkeit, Campbell’s work finds strong parallels with that of Albert Oehlen, who exhibits Untitled (1981), a painting of a dinosaur. Oehlen judgements are inherently charismatic, newly created from case to case and regarded as revelations: “Consecrate the furrier who is our neighbour in the Street Robertson. Consecrate Go-Kart Mozart in his high rise mud hut. Consecrate the Obliterati. Farbe mit Ihren Brüsten. (Paint with your tits.)” Unlike Campbell, however, Oehlen and his fellow German Jungen im Band, (‘Boys in the Band’) received serious critical applause, scooping a top spot in a poll of feuding critics exercising their conjugal rights. Charisma explain that “this is partly due to his participation in an artistic group, based around himself and his brother Markus, Martin Kippenberger and Werner Butner. The myth and story attached to this group today serves as a model for all whose art world is based around camaraderie, genuine subversion or personal affinities, rather than the conventional, linear system of galleries, dealers and magazines.” Jungen im Band, then, was a charismatic community based on an emotional form of communal relationship while the New Glasgow Boys were curatorial fabrication, opening them to attack from rational authorities. As ever, money was a factor nevertheless, and like Campbell, these artists capitalised on eccentricity. As Oehlen put it: “Money is the essence, alien to man, of his labour and existence, my dear. And this strange creature dominates him and makes him pay. And the people that nowadays let it and its dirty little devils loaf around are just as dirty themselves and are heading in the same direction. If you want to find many of these flies: churches and their shit are full of them. But this creature always likes to send his dirty little flying devils to your centre, always, if you let it, so you have to learn how to scare them off and get rid of them, and not let the bloody little beasts laze about and hatch the devil’s excrement, all right?”

One time assistant of Kippenberger and Oehlen, Merlin Carpenter only agreed to leave behind the London sunshine after visiting Glasgow and falling in love with Berlin. Carpenter’s cars and girls painting Controller (1999-2000) combines the luxury of X and the plastic vigour of Y with the ferocious single-mindedness of the possessed. In an act of charismatic authority, Carpenter appropriates Martin Boyce’s metal Charles Eames Chair (Noir) (1999), displaying it as an expendable luxury analogous with the reified ciphers found in his paintings. Placed within the well-manicured organogram of Thirteen Moons, Carpenter’s Chair (Noir) (2000) becomes part of the exhibition’s metonymy, synecdoche, and homonomy; their combination increasing its entire ambiguities. Carpenter deems mediation inescapable. Trying to produce an earnestly meaningful image is an endeavour riddled with holes; clichés can be utilised to make an image meaningless: “Paintings are also mediated and overdetermined images. They are as stupid and as mediated as car advertisements. An abstract painting is the same type of cliché. I have an interest in 80’s approaches to art; in making big objects, filling them with empty signification and seeing what happens. But at this point in time it’s a quote about the 80s, it’s not the 80’s themselves.” As Campbell put it “Falling and tripping up was an art, you know, not moving gracefully.” Fearing such supernatural powers, Vetriano burned down the Celtic Charisma banner shortly after the exhibition opened. He said: “It’s a wonderful gesture from people who were obviously close. I were delighted to help. I will be forever united with their supreme quintessence.”