Showing posts with label Kamikaze. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Kamikaze. Show all posts

23 Apr 2010

The Office

touch: Kamikaze

Kamikaze felt a firm affinity towards Barrie- they'd scaled the walls of the same dead end streets. This was their last chance to meet before Kamikaze set sail for the South Pacific.
  On the Saltmarket Kamikaze’s smile didn’t fail to mesmerise. Before reaching Barrie’s pitch we heard an almighty stichie coming from around the corner. It was Barrie hollering at his foe-pal Andy to get a “faaken’ moove aan.” 

touch: Andy

Barrie glided towards us like a speed-skater on quicksand. Kamikaze and I stood our ground – he’d have passed through us if I hadn’t put my hand out.

The two embraced like re-conjoined twins - estranged spirits reunited. We escorted Barrie to his pitch and took in some of the city’s salacious sights...

touch: Gordon

Gordon softly wraps his words in Welsh, his voice is a tonic for the guttural assault of Glaswegian. He is a street sage who stands incongruously outside a cosmetic surgeons – one hand swaddled like an amputee, the other clutching a copy of The Big Issue. Gordon is up to chapter 14 of his autobiography – he’s writing it in longhand. He is fond of the staff at the surgery; their respect for one another is reciprocated, they’d never move him on.
  As we parted our ways Gordon vowed he’d always remember Kamikaze’s “wonderful smile.”

The Office

Barrie retraced his steps to one of his off-street drinking dens.
 The suffocating stench of stale ale and piss chokes your senses when you enter ‘The Office.’ The city-centre siding is a convenience-refuge for sub-urban abusers. 

The Office, a shooting gallery where users steal a moment to refuel, is adorned with some of the most eclectic street art found his side of the Camp Nou. 

 Kamikaze concluded, after taking only a few hours to establish a life-long friendship, that Barrie had a “wonderful spirit. 
 We left Barrie to sober-up and set off in search of an unsuspecting all-you-can-eat buffet. Proprietors wince when they see Kamikaze’s metal masticators enter the restaurant. Kamikaze takes ‘All You Can Eat’ personally - he sees it as a challenge to his consitution. He’s barred from sushi bars in Austria for consuming his bodyweight in fish roe and Curry’s eletrical stores for grazing on the halogens. Tonights unsuspecting prey would be a regular curry house.

Constitution restituted and gorged to gouchin’ point, we set the GPS for Govan.
 On Paisley Road Toll the stifled strains of the Verve’s melancholic anthem The Drugs Don’t Work escaped the walls of a fortress bar. Inside the nae-go pub, a straw-bleached blonde with an inseparable grip on the mic was spilling her bleeding heart over a cranked-up karaoke. The sublime soundtrack was the perfect accompaniment to a dreich Govan nicht. This was her moment, and she made it her own.

 The Grand Ole Opry is a cultural haven in the heart of Orange County - all colours and faiths are welcome here. Inside its muralled walls we’re safe from harm - save the occasional burst eardrum, tongue lashing and scathing wit. We’d come to shoot stragglers I’d missed on previous outings. I bagged myself (from top): a showman, a Greek gunslinger, a German Cowgirl and a Duke of Hazard – something for the connoisseurs.

touch: Sandy

touch: Michael

touch: Eva

 touch: Alan
We left Glesga with our ears ringing to the sound of laughter, gunshot and the unsung chantreuse fae Govan echoing “I know I’ll see your face again...”

Gateway to the Pyramids of the M8 - and home.

24 Dec 2009


Wisdom from The Bard:
'Address to the Toothache'

My curse upon your venom'd stang.
That shoots my tortur'd gums alang,
An thro my lug gies monie a twang,
Wi gnawing vengeance,
Tearing my nerves wi bitter pang,
Like racking engines!

A' down my beard the slavers trickle,

I throw the wee stools o'er the mickle.
While round the fire the giglets keckle,
To see me loup.
An raving mad, I wish a heckle
Were i' their doup!

When fevers burn, or ague freezes, 

Rheumatics gnaw, or colic squeezes,
Our neebors sympathise to ease us,
Wi pitying moan;
But thee! - thou hell o a' diseases -
They mock our groan!


Of a' the numerous human dools -
Ill-hairsts, daft bargains, cutty-stools,
Or worthy frien's laid i' the mools, 

Sad sight to see!
The tricks o knaves, or fash o fools -
Thou bear'st the gree!


Whare'er that place be priests ca' Hell,
Whare a' the tones o misery yell,An ranked plagues their numbers tell,In dreadfu raw,
Thou, Toothache, surely bear'st the bell,
Amang them a'!

O thou grim, mischief-making chiel,
That gars the notes o discord squeel,
Till human kind aft dance a reel
In gore, a shoe-thick,Gie a' the faes o Scotland's weal
A towmond's toothache! 

My teeth grieve for these tombstones. Beauty, youth and esteem are cannibalised by the toothless gurn. These cankered pusses can only savour the memory of a steak or apple. Balanced meals are off the menu for those who can't chew. Life sucks.

Q: What's got fifty legs and two teeth? A: The queue for a 'script.'

The punchline (25 people queuing for a methadone pre'script'ion) hits below the belt- it's the sugar that makes the acidic medicine and the gumline go down. 
 Dereliction of dental care is the catalyst for a spectrum of remediable and chronic illnesses. The symptoms of neglect are rooted in poverty, diet and phobia - in parts of Glasgow men are condemned to a life expectancy of just 54 years. Teeth are a crude litmus test; when the paper turns red society is at risk.
 So many of The Big Issue vendors I meet endure the torment of wracked mouths, gum gouging and bodged extractions. Vendors in Glasgow universally complain that access to free care is fraught with pit-falls - there's always a loop-hole ready to ensnare them.


  The counter-point to this rueful passage came when a vendor told me of a clinic providing free dental care buried somewhere in the catacombs of Edinburgh's Cowgate. Working from a surgery at the back of a converted chapel were a pair of Santos Dentistas. Dental surgeons Adam and Ania man the post at the Edinburgh Access Practice two days a week and provide free dental care to anyone unfortunate enough to qualify for their services. Both apportion their days between victims of the poverty trap and patients with blood-born viruses. Ania also works one day at a psychiatric hospital carrying the torch for Mary Seacole. Against implausible odds they are heroically plugging a septic health service. "If you're on benefits then you're entitled to free dental care" they conceded. And there was the rub; to qualify for benefits you need an address - a home!

 Neither break the rules, they'll treat anyone who needs their care out of hours.


You'll find Santa on Christmas Day working at the emergency dental clinic- ask for Ania.

Kamikaze has had another visitation from the "tattoo spirit". A sacred patch of virginal terrain on his ink-etched torso had been consecrated by another of my images. His chromium skirl, framed by the motto 'C'est la Fuckin' Vie', roars out from the encroaching crevice like a chrome Leo the MGM lion.

31 Oct 2009

Grand Ole Opry

This gallery of in-and-outlaws was shot in '87.

I'd rustled together 20 rounds of 664 (Polaroid) and a beaten-up Mamiya Universal. At the time I thought nothing of the shots and laid them to rest. Like a case of Jack they've matured. These photographs weren't taken in a bar in Tennessee or an outpost of the Wild Frontier. They were captured in the Grand Ole Opry - the wild West -

West of Scotland!

  At the time the talk going around in the salons of Edinburgh was of gunslinging Weegies high on Heavy, ready to lynch the first Sassenach who dared put a foot over the boundary line. It sounded too good to be true. "Govan Gavin?!" was the baffled response to my invitation, apparently to a suicide ball. No one would come for the ride so I went on my lonesome.

I was welcomed with open-arms and over the winter of '87 I kept returning for a reality check-up.
Laredo gunslinger

  A stratified cloud of gun-powder and cigarette smoke hung over-head. Gunslingers danced as they slapped the burning embers on their thighs (in the race to beat their opponent they would often prematurely shoot-off before withdrawing from the holster). These urban cowboys were dedicated to detail - the get-up was got right. Who was going to argue with how they chose to escape? They had conviction, and six-shooters.

The Wanted posters had questions that needed answers. Where were the old-timers? What became of 'Jo Horner', 'Country Joe', 'Curly Bill', 'Bounty Hunter' and 'Cimarron'? Would I find ghosts where once stood a funeral parlour or would the image of bonhomie still play on in the former Picture House?

Kid Kamikaze and Cowboy Alec.

I deputised Kid Kamikaze who rode shotgun. The Kid was gonna cover me, armed with his pink compact and sharp eye. The fist-full of Polaroids was my passport to a magnanimous home coming.

Times have inevitably changed; there are too few cowboys and too many plucking hen parties. There's still a live band, bingo, line-dancing and gun-slinging (all for a fiver). Gone is the nicotine soused velvet curtain that hung like human fly-paper. The vista has been transformed by a prairie-panorama courtesy of STV's lawman - Taggart. Pretzels and cans of Red 'Sitting' Bull are a sobering change from the days of heavy and hard liquor. The memory of the old days still lingers in the air - the gunslinger's sulphur and salt peter making a last stand against the tobacco ban on the senses.

Outlaw (left) and Big Hoss (deceased).

Everyone gasped as I turned the shots. 'Deceased' was the word most used to describe the subjects.

John 'Kid Curry' McGhee (deceased).

John 'Cheyenne' Johnson (deceased) had attained legendary status before taking his life and with him the glory days.

Gambler (above) was run out of town after running-up bad debts.

John 'BJ' Duff (left) and John 'Doc Holliday' McCafferty (deceased). Blind DJ BJ has moved over, the new kid-on-the-decks is mos deaf DJ Rowdy Yates below.

DJ Rowdy Yates

Ian and Michelle (above) were on a roll. Michelle hit the bingo jackpot- a hundred pounds. Her and fiancé Ian (left) couldn't contain their joy- or their love for one another. Now they didn't have to worry about the taxi bill home - priceless moments.

The last of the die-hards was Archie 'Joe Horner' Buxton (above). It was unanimously agreed that Archie confounded convention, proving that looks could improve with age and tooth-loss! 

There are no pretensions here, just an honest celebration of culture and kinship. The spirit the of the Grand Ole Opry lives on...

 Thanks to all the kind folk of Glasgow's Grand Ole Opry, especially: JK, Big Bad John, Joe Horner, Cowboy Alec, Line Dancer, Bounty Hunter, Characo, Rowdy Yates, Peggy Sue, Nick Wray, Durango, Davey, Tony, Fiona, Night Rider, Donnegal Kid, Big D, Jake, Michelle and Ian, Duane, Bella and Cathie.