Captain Beefheart..


On Friday, we bade farewell to Don Van Vliet. As Captain Beefheart, he blazed a trail through ’60s and ’70s music to establish himself one of the era’s – in fact, any era’s – most adventurous artists. An originator and avant-garde hero, the 12 albums he released between 1967 and 1982 remain utterly unique. Here are 13 of his finest moments on screen. It was Saturday I learned of his death.. Let the dust settel and the bullshit flow, but he was a legend in the league of Sun Ra whom I miss, I just hope they have hooked up and making music..

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Critical Thoughts on going beyond The Student Struggle

So the Lib Dem conference coming to Sheffield City Hall from March 11-13 – the first time Sheffield has hosted a conference by a national political party.

Thugs meeting thugs… It’s time for me to duck out.

It’s interesting. I personally feel that non-violent civil resistance is one of the most effective forms of protest. Don’t get me wrong, by that I don’t mean well behaved civilians walking along the well planned routes decided by the police and being watched over by the still plotting and scheming state as they march past…(read my first critique here)

There has much been written on The Recent events from The Fight For Parliament (A Personal Recap of the 9th Dec)

How do we engage with this rage against the machine?

13 years of New Labour and not a mummer and when social privilege and status is under attack we see a new mass movement and the state using Kettle tactics that risk Hillsborough-style tragedy says a doctor we need to look at new ways foreword here are some further thoughts, if all that is on offer is the same old protest when the Lib Dem conference comes to Sheffield City Hall from March 11-13 then as was done under 13 years of New Labour the people being let down and yes fucked over by the lack of critical thinking/looking towards new forms of taking action then you will once more fail to engage with The Working Class.

So what has been taken from students to make them so angry?

Hope, that’s what. Hope, and the fragile bubble of social aspiration that sustained us through decades of mounting inequality; hope and the belief that if we worked hard and did as we were told and bought the right things, some of us at least would get the good jobs and safe places to live that we’d been promised. – Laurie Penny, New Statesman

A single image from a day of movement marks out competing visions of hope. A boot through a Millbank window fed the dreams of resistance that many in the Left have been craving since talk of austerity started. The same boot posed a question that plays out in the university occupations that preceded it and have since blossomed in its wake: what is it exactly that we are hoping for?

The question of how students have inspired people to act, engage and organize to combat the Government’s austerity plans is an important one.

It is one that also potentially contrasts with some of the views of students themselves. For let’s be clear – it is not necessarily (or even principally) the University or its defence that mobilizes people’s desires and dreams outside the student movement. Defending the ‘right to education’ may be what sparked student revolts, but those of us who are not students have been drawn in because we want, more than anything, to resist and fight.

And to resist and fight you need to know that resistance is possible, that you will not be alone, and that you can win. For the most part the resistance so far to the regime of austerity has been rote and uninspiring – a betrayed strike here, a sacked workforce there.
Minor victories and thousands of words spoken of an inevitable uprising, of an insurgency against the restructuring. The boot through the window took us beyond the rhetoric and yearnings. It showed rage and the will to fight.

It showed cops overwhelmed and underprepared, Tory offices ransacked and the beautiful excess of an insurrectionary moment. It inspired because it was truly magical, and people saw for themselves that battles could be waged, people would fight, and winning was possible. But beyond this what support is there for the ‘right to education’? For this was the starting point for the riot and the thread that binds the demonstrations, the walkouts and the occupations. Cutting the Education Maintenance Allowance, shedding whole university departments and countless staff, and raising fees.

The restructuring is an attack on ‘education’ as it exists in the University; a wholesale revision of who can access what.

It is perhaps taken for granted that ‘we’ all support the right to education, and that we are all united in our defence of the University. But what if we are not?

What if it is our rage and not our hopes that are united? What if we are together only for the fight, but not the victory?

Laurie Penny nails the motivation behind the riot – hope. Or rather, the restructuring of hope and its coming scarcity. A restructuring and scarcity because hope is not something eternal or ephemeral. Hope is a material thing, produced and distributed through social channels and institutions. Institutions like the University.

What do we mean by a socially produced hope? Different societies produce different kinds of hopes. In fact, every single society produces different kinds of hopes. Hope is a mobilizing and organizing force that structures the direction and possibilities of our lives.

As memory shapes our understanding of the past and how we understand what we are now, hope shapes our understanding of the future – what there will be, what there could be, who and how we will become something more than we are today.

Both hope and memory give form and purpose to our actions; they give our lives meaning.

There are competing versions of hope in a given society, but there is also a hegemonic form to hope. For us, living in a becoming-neoliberal world, that hegemonic form is aspiration. Not aspiration in the sense to aspire to greatness in some heroic Greek sense, or something romantic and colourful.

No, for us aspiration has a particular hue and tint – it means social mobility. It means a better job, more money, more things and a higher rung on the career ladder. Hope is individual in our world, never collective – the hope of entrepreneurs dreaming of making it big. Not just climbing the ladder but also winning out over all others. We hope for social mobility. Which is exactly how Penny frames it, as do most of the placards on the streets. Hope, the dominant form of hope, is to do better than your parents.

Hope is not evenly distributed – what hopes there are and who has access to them depend on where you are located (be you poor, or black, disabled, a women, young, living in the regions, etc). Neoliberal hope – aspiration – is increasingly restricted to an ever-smaller circle of people: those people doing well through the current crisis; those people above the buffer of the ‘squeezed middle’. For the rest, there’s the lottery.

(To be clear, there have been ‘no hopers’ for quite some time – an underclass living a kind of social death of meaningless, pointless lives, hidden away behind ASBOS on estates But this is to become the norm for many, many more people).

This in turn leads to a scarcity of hope and an increasing number of people subject to a social death – a life defined as without future and therefore without meaning. A life trapped with nowhere to go. This generates a crisis of hope that can manifest in a number of ways.

The most obvious is resentment against those seem to still have hope. It is also visible in the desperate attempts to salvage some hope – through the memories of privileges of nationality, race and gender (such as mobilized by the BNP).

The current crisis marks a turn from a mixed economy of hope – where neoliberal policies and subjectivities press up against older forms of entitlement and ideals of fairness and social mobility.

We are living through the birth pangs of a truly neoliberal age where meaning, hope and the future itself are scarce and out of reach for most of us.

It is here, at the juncture of a new social order and the collapse of the remaining entitlements of the welfare state, that the restructuring of hope comes to be generally seen as a crisis of hope. We are entering an age of scarcity of the future.

It’s clear that the students are revolting against the loss of this hope and future. Social mobility (as such actually exists) is under attack. The ‘squeezed middle’ and their children will become, like the existing underclass, a footnote to the bigger and brighter stories of the well-to-do professionals.

The student revolt speaks to us all as the first open revolt against the expansion of social death and the collapse of the more general circulation of aspiration.

So the loss of entitlement is real, and the revolt is too. But we should stop here and ask if that is the end of the tale told by the boot. Did that kid kicking in the window really just want to be better off than his parents? Did he really want to keep the University as it stands?
Let’s go back to the idea behind neoliberal aspiration – social mobility. Social mobility means getting ahead, doing better than your parents and your peers: it means that while you move other people have to stand still.

Social mobility requires both winners and losers. Hope – or aspiration – confirms the unequal world in which we live. And education – that formal process of differentiation, where some end up with degrees and contacts and others jobs without a future – is essential to the creation and maintenance of that inequity. It reinforces the role of the University in unequally distributing meaning, possibilities, wages and other forms of social wealth.

Put this way, the right to education means the freedom to be unequal. The right to education works to underpin the myth of meritocracy – the myth that it’s through hard work and ability and not connections, class and privilege, that people get to where they are.

The right to an education means that if you perform well in standardized tests (helped by being well off, going to the right school and having a stable family life) then you deserve to go to University and cement your place up near the top of the social hierarchy (as long as you make it into a relatively decent university, though how many ‘bad’ ones will remain after the cuts is an open question). The betrayal of the right to education – by either there not being enough jobs for graduates (as is the case for a third of existing graduates), or by the rising costs of ‘earning’ a degree, putting it out of reach for all but the very wealthy – is the betrayal of the right to not being working class.

Looking at it this way, through the broken glass.

We can see that the riot went beyond mere aspiration. Just as the university occupations have gone beyond the simple question of the ‘right to education’. The joy to be found in revolt overflows the boundaries of a pedestrian desire to get ahead.

But here both we (both we who are students and we who are not) find ourselves in a double bind.

We need to defend mobility in the world as it stands – its defence is the defence of actual existing lives and the real possibility to have a meaningful social existence. And we need to defend the funding of education as it stands. To resist paying more for education is to defend the social gains made by previous generations and to defend the social wage.

And defending it is exactly what many students (and many of their supporters) are doing. But in merely defending it we are in fact defending the most sacred of neoliberal freedoms – the freedom to be unequal. Defending this freedom means defending the University as a filtering device set up to segregate us into educated and not; those with access to a ‘professional career’ and those who do not. Those with meaningful lives and those without.

So we must go beyond mere defence.

The riot is as much about dreams that have yet to become possible as they are over the loss of existing entitlements. There are hopes that lie dormant or hidden that speak of different ways of being; of different kinds of dreams and futures. The crisis of hope and the coming scarcity of the future for many people is a betrayal that makes possible a different kind of hope – a hope against hope, violently against aspiration and cold conformity.

The student revolts then are the fracture in the facade.

Students sense that not only are their lives changing, but that the myth of mobility that has underpinned the University in recent years is coming undone.

These protests are the first protests in Britain to contest the changing meaning of hope, and the austerity of dreams that is the coming neoliberal future.

But to be honest and faithful to the riot and the promise of a different kind of hope, an act of betrayal is needed. A betrayal of the University and education as it stands. For here we come full circle.
For if the protests and occupations speak only of the importance of education, and the necessity to defend the University, people will quickly fall away.

People can see clearly what the University is now.

The window is broken. We can see clearly that the University is a machine that creates social death. Eventually the inspiration of the initial fight and victory will fade, and the content of the revolt will have to stand on its own. If the content of that struggle is only to restore that machine, to defend the freedom to be unequal, failure is all we can hope for.

But if the struggle calls into question the very existence of such a machine, and reopens the question of learning as opposed to education – to self-development, the exploration of interest and inclination, and to allow for the navigation of curiosity and desire; in short, learning as a way of creating new possibilities and meaning – then the window may stay broken for a long time to come.

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Thugs meeting thugs… It’s time for me to duck out.

It’s interesting. I personally feel that non-violent civil resistance is one of the most effective forms of protest. Don’t get me wrong, by that I don’t mean well behaved civilians walking along the well planned routes decided by the police and being watched over by the still plotting and scheming state as they march past…

For some years I have not gone to or attended demos in London, I’ve felt such frustration and anger when faced with a snarling, ignorant police officer, calling me names, swearing at me while I’ve stood, calmly and politely asking to leave the area before the violence kicks off. I’m not interested in fighting police. I’m not interested in getting pulverised when caught between them and the very brave, but very ignorant and reactionary, protesters who may want to fight. Thugs meeting thugs… It’s time for me to duck out.

When the G8 come to Sheffield I was in a very desperate circumstance, being a part of the dysfunctional attention seekers was, I thought, a means to an end and looking back at what happened it was just another play for today. We all had our set roles, aims and objectives from the protesters to the Police. When the Liberal Democrats come to Sheffield in April it will be much the same.

The students and young people at these protests, I personally feel, have every right to fight if they so wish. The government does what it likes and the police tend to do as they like – it is deeply unjust to proclaim that these young people, who are having what they know of their futures torn up and trampled on, are wrong to resist that. However, even though it may be an animalistic and instinctive right of any human being to fight back and defend through violence, further study and thought about how to stand against the government may provide an alternative, and most probably optimal, outcome.

The state are all too ready for what Paul Scriven calls thugs, we could debate for an age who have been the real thugs on the student protests, a section 14 was imposed in Sheffield, The Police in their riot vans, batons at the ready, lined the route of the protesters. Much the same when the circus comes to town in April.

The protesters, or should that be dysfunctional attention seekers, will no doubt be protesting. Once more, as with the G8, the real impact of holding such a conference in Sheffield will be on the people of Sheffield and Paul Scriven says it is of benefit for the people of Sheffield. Need I remind him that people not involved in the G8 Protest were followed, stopped and searched, due to fact they knew people involved, or had alternative viewpoints but nothing to do with the protest itself. Once more the lives of working class people will bare the impact of such a conference coming to Sheffield.

The middle class and the Police will no doubt play their part in the play for today, then we will have the same old crass headlines, along with commendation As a long standing Anarchist, I need to make it very clear that I have no time for Middle Class protestors and the Police, both are a part of the state, the problem not the solution. Neither is a full scale riot a solution or meaningless protest where the dysfunctional attention seekers shout their slogans and sell papers to each other. The circus might be coming to Sheffield but I see nothing to get overjoyed about, we need to seek alternative ways of expressing our discontent at the injustice of Capitalism and all what it stands for, agreed.

There is nothing I hold in common with the protesters or the current government and you will find this be the fact for millions of working class people. Of course we either take now or stay the same, once more you will not even find myself involved with the dysfunctional attention seekers, the greatest key is to understand that they have a heart. Do not reinforce their self trickery; violence towards them reinforces that what they are doing is just and right! By smacking you when you are calm, it hurts them. If an entire crowd is calm but calculated and organised, the police aims will be revealed.

In the end it will eat itself from the inside out.

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Beans & Toast.

In the first year of 39 Elmore Road, I was still smoking and eating cannabis, I would awake at 5.30am have a bong, or perhaps two. Then around 6.30am in winter I would leave the flat to go to Rawmarsh, a friends house that I had used to to hide in from Sheffield at the time when Matilda came to an end..

I would get on the Train and watch the sun rise over the waste grounds that are the East End of Sheffield, still standing were the Cooling Towers of Tinsley.

It was during this time that a plan came to my mind. 5 years on, circumstance and weather has put play to the plan. I quite enjoyed  the commute and then getting stoned in Rawmarsh then coming back to Sheffield around 4pm I would set back off. I did this for around a year watching the sunrise and set in winter, as summer drew close it became just a commute.

In the winters days it was rather nice, on the train or bus, I have become to like December 25th, it is a good day for wandering, from the frozen waters of 1996 to walking through Neepsend in 1999. Then, being the only person in 2001 on Claywood, I was squatting and spent the day exploring every flat, all 800 of them.

Such walks and time out has saved me from the crass over consumption, the fucking insanity of it all, you can not beat being in a empty derelict Post Office on December 25th, or wakening in a woods and going for mass at Beauchief Abbey. If there is no rain and the weather is mild and dry then I’ll be off on a trespass. There will be no bus service to speak off, I have walked the Rivelin on December 25th, there is another thought but that might need two people so I’ll let that be to the 28th.

You can keep the over consumption, the fucking insanity of it all. Over the years I have grown to like December 25th as a time to go have a mooch, I do think about being caught, but you can not beat an empty Halifax Bank, then a walk over to me mothers, or a night in Rawmarsh and then walking back on December 25th to Sheffield, this time of year for people like myself is far too much of an opportunity for a bit of urban exploration.

So, as people wake, I shall be having me Weetabix, some Coffee, hoping the weather is not rain or snow, and off I shall go wondering. As the first disagreement begins, the opening of presents, the sound of Eastenders, kick into being, I hope to be somewhere I have been dreaming of for some years.

As the night draws in and the cat/dog are hiding, Dad is sleeping, Children playing with the empty box and Mother saying only another 364 days to next one.

I will be in the office/studio editing and uploading images from my December 25th. Just another day, the only thing that changes is the opportunity, this is why I have come to love this date.

I quite honestly dislike the over consumption and mass hype, one of the better moments was three years back, we had been wondering and walked down Spital Hill, shops open and live just going on, it is just another day, where trespass is made a little more of ease.

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The road….

…… Is not a line between places, it is place between places of its own. In a time past we walked the bucolic waste grounds of Sheffield, we trespassed outdoors and indoors to capture society in decay/dereliction. To escape the present, a walk into the past. It has become known as urban exploration. This is what I get me kicks out of..

Sunday I walked past what would have been my 20th urban exploration, an old house on Oxford St, Sheffield, demolished 1987. We then moved onto the derelict Sheffield Infirmary (where Tesco now stands) some of it still stands and the rest demolished, it was born from the former Sheffield Workhouse. In its past derelict state it was used for Threads, a film made in Sheffield..

Monday I caught a bus to town (as I looked over Sheffield ,in my minds eye a mushroom cloud), sorted out some shit and then had coffee at Broomhill. Back to West St (Rare n Racy) and at home I watched this..

More politics: If you have time read this.. Fuck, it is the end of the year, hence our Top Ten Urban Explorations each in their own a good time. It being Tuesday an overcast, rain sodden winters day, I would wander and capture the mood change in images. For now I shall enjoy Ornette Coleman, some coffee as the Incense burns and the candles flicker, I feel like a bath and some afternoon reading. Will get back to image taking ,thoughts are cooking…

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29 years ago and The Brixton Riots in Images.

Just over 29 years ago, shopping in Brixton, I stepped out of a card shop and two hundred yards up the road a car exploded as the 1981 Brixton riots, against a background of poverty, tension between police and the black population and a Thatcher government, ignited.

The riots, sparked in the belief that a youth suffering stab wounds was being refused medical attention by the police, were unexpected and unprecedented. In 1981, before the almost instantaneous communication of Twitter and Facebook it took several hours for the media to work out what was going on and for the first two or three hours I was almost certainly the only photographer at probably the worst peacetime riots in England in living memory; riots that preceded a wave of civil unrest, initially across London and then across the entire country.

A good article on the riots, their causes and the aftermath can be found on Wikepedia. More pictures from this series can be seen in a gallery on this site here.

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Our top 10 Urban Explorations of 2010.

This is our top 10 for the year 2010, yes it is that time of year some are out shopping, others are planning the urban explorations for 25/12/2010 and the year that follows. This is when our year begins regards urban exploration.

1: William Brothers I just love it. Though a lot got demolished during 2010

2: Stanley Tools. It took some years to get in here and then some time to get this place but I have fallen in love with her.

3:  Redmires Water Works. We was board of the same old same old, here was on the list. It was The Monkey who gave the world this place.

4: Mollett Catering Supplies in Bradford on Thornton Road. Just a classic Urban Exploration thanks to The Man SS.

5: George Barnsley and Sons Ltd. This place got done to death was stolen from by people who should know better, was smashed up etc etc, It was nice to see her once more.

6: Botanic Garden Tapton Experimental Gardens This would have been the place The Triffids come from, it was that creepy.

7: Laycocks Silversmiths This likewise has been giving us the slip, we had word access was easy (yer right) and once inside it had some charm but our mood just was not there we had missed something round the corner.

8: Clarkson/Osbourne Building, Another Sheffield Classic and we had to do it when live, now demolished.

9: Beehive Works Parts of here are still very much live, it took an age to work a way into the derelict parts.

10: Woollen Signs and much where the year began, there was The Old Post Office, however this comes in at no 10.


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