8 Mile and rap


Now I’m a bit of a fan of eminem- and part of me says ‘nah, you’re an opera loving genderqueer queer… so … why?’ 

Well, I like the way he uses words and rhythms, I like some of what he writes- before I perform onstage I listen to “8 mile” in my head as it sums up that nervousness and worry before stepping onstage.

And “Cleaning out my closet’ really helped when I was battling with my mother- it really helps to sing along to something that expresses the same emotion- different places, different spaces, different lives, same emotion.

And I finally got to see 8 mile and found it fascinating..

I’m not the sort of fanboy who can read the Eminem comics, they are too violent and aimed at preteen boys. 

But 8 Mile was about a lot more than rap. It was about poverty, as it is lived in the US with it’s barely there social welfare safety net. The grind of trying to make enough to eat every day, the lack of options, the reduction of life to a grey sameness. The moment when ‘Rabbit’ is beaten by the obviously more wealthy crew was I think the defining point of the movie read this way. The fact of being so ground down by life that a physical beating could not make it worse is a telling moment in ‘Rabbits’ narrative arc. 

All of the characters stories are based around fighting a system that grinds them down with no way out. Their dreams of making it, and what they will do with their riches are naieve as they are dreams only- there is no way out. 

The destroyed infrastructure of the city, the fact that people can be homeless with many houses standing around derelict, these all play into that world view of no way out.

In a move that Sun Tzu would be pleased with, ‘Rabbit’ takes the bullets out of his opponents gun by admitting to all the faults, displaying his poverty, down troddenness, and highlights the class war inside the venue.

This was by far the most interesting part of the movie

(and I am way too tired to finish this tonight so will edit tomorrow)

Open letter to the 30 people who have ignored me in 3 days


Fuck you!

Seriously. Person gets on bus with cane and everyone of your pampered able bodied wankers blanks them (Oh and when the bus stops at the main stop you are ALL abled bodied and rushed to the exit) not even a ‘ahem’ will cause you to acknowledge them.

So you sit there for two stops in your ‘please give up for those less able to stand’ seats and ignore me. 

Being “too british” to do much more than glower at you all I do my best to stand for the two stops- around the roundabout I usually get concerned looks from those standing around me, as I have trouble keeping upright.

Yes I have a cane

Yes I look reasonably healthy and fit (I am, and I can swim a mile in quite a decent time)

But I need a bloody cane as I can’t fucken balance!

So- what I wish for you 30 lovely people- and anyone who blanks older or disabled people on busses.

May you look as you do now, but with a cane. May you not be able to walk 10 mins, even with the cane. May you find standing on a bus problematic, thus the cane. And may you be blanked by 10 wankers everytime you get on a crowded bus, and be forced to try and stand.

Then you will be walking in my shoes.

and..

Fuck you, fuck you very very much.

What can happen at Wotever?


You never know what you will see at Wotever

Every Tuesday night is different, it is an open mic, open stage, and open decks. Performers book in with Ingo up to months in advance to match their schedules or come along on short notice as complete surprises. The acts on stage amuse, excite, entertain, and sometimes in unexpected ways they move you.  It may be someone you’ve never seen before who reaches out. Or someone you’ve seen perform many times who steps outside of their usual style and surprises you.

I know Dusty Limits as a cabaret performer- a level of artifice and posture, with perfected routines- drop dead lines and snappy retorts delivered ‘just so’

To me, someone having their hair shaved sounds like a nothing normality, it’s a mundane thing, we see people every day who have taken clippers to their hair, and yet Dusty turned it into something a little bit more, his performance bringing the ghosts of collaborators, concentration camps, and prisoners  to surround us. Those who’d forcefully had to submit to a degradation. 

For me, there was a very particular ghost, my father, in all of this.

In being diagnosed with terminal brain tumours, he’d enrolled for radiotherapy. Two days before this was due to begin we’d had family portraits taken, where he looks hale and hearty, and it is only looking closely at how he holds his hands is there any hint of how ill he is, and how it will all end only 10 days later.

The next afternoon we all gathered around, my father, mother, brother and I, and we made a small ceremony of shaving Dad’s head. He was worried about loosing his hair with the x-rays and had decided in a last Fuck You to fate, to shave off his carefully managed quiff flick and side parting, before the radiation pulled it out strand by strand.

Dad sat on the kitchen chair, and for the first time he submitted to our collective care, over the next weeks that was the become our pattern of pride, respect and care. For now it was a new feeling for us all, as his hair came off we all tried to keep some dignity and our deeply dark sense of humour running.

Dusty singing Hallelujah, while Maria shaved his head woke that ghost of my father, and recalled him joking about his hair falling as his scars were revealed.

For years I’d know the story of Dad’s childhood, the tough one you don’t tell kids. He’d made parts of between wars Liverpool sound like Enid Blyton adventures, and not have that Orwellian or Dickensian edge. Until those afternoons we’d sat I’d made the childish assumption that the love he’d given me was the same he’d received as a child. 

Then he told me about the beatings, the older siblings cowering as the stuttering target of choice was again selected. His father had tried to beat his stutter out and his father dying when he was young was his salvation. 

I didn’t know no-one else had been told this side. So when the scars from those beatings some 65 years before, were revealed as his hair fell away, he had to finally tell everyone and break down those old images of him.

Maria leaned in to blow the hair from Dusty’s face as he continued to sing, a tenderness not usually given to those having their hair shaved, the condemned man never usually receives such care.

As part of the shaving process we’d all stroked Dad’s head, an unlikely gesture normally, but one of the main gestures in the last week. Right at the end, Dad’s barely grown, grey stubble was under my fingers as we said farewell.

Dusty stood up, shook himself free of the hair and some of the emotion, and stepped into ‘Changes’.

I just continued to photograph blindly as my eyes filled with visions of another room, my fingers felt stubble in warm late summer days, and my Dad and I gained another few minutes in each others company. I flatter myself that it is not possible to tell from the photos that for much of the last piece my mind was occupied with other things.

Afterwards, my friends, acquaintances, and Wotever family on hearing shortened snatches of this tale offered hugs and cares and their own tears.

This is what happens at any Wotever event, sometimes you are amused, bemused, entertained, delighted, and suddenly from unexpected sources, emotion runs through and touches you, alone or en masse, and recalls ghosts, opens doors, and makes you think.

Think about what can happen on a free night, on a Tuesday, in a cabaret pub in Vauxhall, South London, on a small stage with a slightly stained red curtain serving moderately priced drinks and food.

Open letter to all performers and Promoters I work with Re Flickr Issues


My apologies for a mass open posting but trying to get everyone.

Flickr has classified all of my photostream as “Restricted” which is used mostly for Hardcore photos on Flickr. I have contacted them to understand why as no full frontal nudity or fetish photos have ever been published on my Flickr.

This means that any links to my photos are currently “broken” as they require the user to login to a Flickr account and say they wish to view offensive material.

This obviously is not a desirable situation and I have appealed this with Flickr. Until they contact me with the reasons why this has happened I am at an impasse, I have over 18,000 photos on Flickr which now cannot be linked to.

I am hopeful and optimistic that this can be resolved with Flickr quickly. 

I really appreciate your support of my photography over the years. 

Dr J

AbsolutQueer Photography
photos@absolutqueer.com
http://photos.absolutqueer.com
phone 07724300113

TransGender day of visibility


Posted on my internal blog at my (corporate) work in a moment of bravado.

Today is the Transgendered day of visibility. So in the spirit of that, I am blogging to be part of this visibility. For what it is worth, my identity is GenderQueer not TransGendered*, but I’m not one to quibble over fine distinctions when people world wide are talking about visibility of a minority.

I know most people go ‘huh?’ at this, gender isn’t something that figures large in your life. You are “Whatever” and need think no further. Generally life splits into two camps, those who never talk or have to think about gender, and those who endlessly talk about the gender constructs and social dimensions. The first usually never get challenged when they walk into a toilet or changing room at the gym.

Transgendered (or Trans or GenderQueer) is not about sex, biological plumbing or the like. This is about identity- and how that identity impacts on your life. I’m lucky, I’ve chosen fields of work where the way I look and the way I dress isn’t challenged or inspected too closely, so for the most part the gender issues don’t come up. I’m also unusual amongst my anarchist GenderQueer peers, to have a (fairly) well paid full time job in a corporate environment is to stand out amongst people who can only get minimum wage jobs because they don’t look ‘right’, don’t act ‘right’, or had to leave education early due to bullying because of the way they looked.

How does my identity impact me, and you?

For myself, I don’t mind awfully which pronoun you use for me. I do use female pronouns however I’m used to being called ‘Sir’ in the UK. So if we’re in public and someone calls me ‘Sir’ don’t act surprised, shocked, or offended on my behalf- you possibly mentally tagged me as ‘Sir’ until I started speaking (as my voice is seriously femme at times). I’ll cope, and generally laugh about it.

If someone walks into the toilets or gym changing room, and you think they are in the wrong one, don’t make a big fuss or do a loud challenge, just say ‘Hi’, and if they have made a mistake they will blush and leave. Otherwise they will smile and continue on.

Don’t make assumptions about gender. You ‘read’** gender everyday. You look at someone and a part of your brain says ‘Boy’ or ‘Girl’ or ‘Not sure’ unconsciously. We tend not to think about these things until we have to. Look at people on the bus or train on the way home and listen to what your brain does. Then turn it around, what makes you one or the other (or neither, or both). Try not to stare too hard at people, or they will start edging away from you.

If your brain says one thing, and the person’s name says another, run with the name. The feeling is called “Cognitive dissonance” and the right thing to do is use the pronouns etc from the person’s name.*** Don’t get too flustered if you get it wrong once, just get it right next time. If you have problems getting it right, apologise, it’s like mispronouncing people’s names, apologise and make an effort to get it right.

And remember, gender can be an awful lot of fun! Playing with something so integral to core identity can be a real laugh.

So welcome to the annual day of TransGendered visibility.

(It is traditional that any conversation on gender have foot notes)
* Transgendered can be used as an umbrella term; Transsexual is someone who is changing their gender using surgery and hormone treatment, Transgender is used sometimes for people who identify as one gender but may not have surgery or take hormones to change their appearance, GenderQueer tends to be used by people who don’t go for this whole binary gender thing. This is only a summary and a google search will open the whole ‘What label’ can of worms. There is a difference in UK Law, Transsexuals are protected under the current Equalities bill, Transgendered and GenderQueer are not.
** Reading gender is a queer theorist way of saying look and label with a gender
*** I understand Finnish has no ‘He/She’ which makes this a thoughtful process when speaking English.

There's Cleo and Me-o and a bit of memory..


Just before my 30th Birthday I fell and cracked a bathtub with my skull. The resulting scrambling of my neurons gave me a memory issue…well I might remember things but I have a bad ‘meta-memory’- knowing what I know, or accessing memories is still very difficult.

Until I came to London (and had to start laying down a whole lot of new memories) my life prior to my 30th Birthday was known only from the cliff notes- I knew bits and worked out others. I kept emotional reactions to people (could always point out the kids who bullied me at school). 

The UK forced my brain to work on recall, but it also gave me flashbacks (still does but that is another story) which took some time to get under control. Getting back into my memories is now possible, but I need a clue to step back.

Dickie Valentine – Cleo And Me-O  is one of those clues. I was 7 or 8 and from Gran we got a RadioGram (for those not old enough it is an AM radio and record player in a cabinet about the size of a small bar) and a huge pile of records. A mixed bunch of music from 50’s and 60’s suddenly given in the late 70’s to two small children. This was one of my favourites, it was a 78 and I last heard it when I was 10 or so. 

As soon as I heard this song (recalled from Cleo and Me-o on the allegatey river) I could smell the 78 coming out of the paper sleeve, feel the warmth of the room (which allowed me to date the memory as we didn’t build the extension until I was 7 or 8) and remember sitting with my brother playing “radio DJ” with this crazy mixture of music. I have started hunting down more of the music- all camp and crazy mixes really.

So- hunting for:

Ruby Red- Kingston Trio (B side of Tom Dooley)

George the Wild(er) NZ Boy - Howard Morrison Quartet (Hoki Hoki is the other side)

Love letters in the Sand - Pat Boone (But I also want the B Side…which I don’t recall) of this single Pat Boone – Love Letters In The Sand - Single Version

Itzy Bitzy Teeny Weeny Yellow Polka Dot Bikini

And the Muppet Show Cast Album- with the Mississippi Mud and “In love with a Big Blue Frog”

Although knowing me and my memory and attention span in a week or so I’ll have wandered off to another shiny thing.

But there is nothing quite like suddenly being able to step back to sunny golden days with music and playing with my brother with these old records. 

Yes I was the weird kid at school- everyone else was into Disco!

I think I write bad poetry -Thames v3


The low tide Thames lays bare

the ground I am chained to

the grey gold red in the summer twighlight

flows past like always

And I am asked to repent

as they must have

chained here

feeling the tide rise

but I say no

there is nothing to be forgiven for

honour in action and inaction

if not quite of orchid poise and style

always with

the strain of honour

And the river rushes past

brown green with sea and sand and land and loam

up now to my legs

pulling and pushing me

against the chains

and still I refuse

to repent

that moment of moving from the state of sinner

to redeemed

Denied because

I do not see what I did was wrong

and the stone walls slick

and barnacled in turn

pen me against the river

as it rises against me

and it reaches my waist

and I feel the cold silt surround me

and it says repent

repent and this will end

I reply

there is nothing

to repent

regret perhaps

but not the back turn of repent

How could a single word

take me from this state to redeemed

free, but still chained here

the idea

of moving state

from valid to null

one zero

charge gained lost

potential

possibilities

As the silt reaches my mouth

ready to close my throat

One last chance

and I deny it

Because I only ever was

possibilities

nothing certain

nothing concrete

possibility

of me and you

maybe

for a short instant eternity

moment

always a suggestion

not taken for granted

you loved me at all

not chasing

mirroring

what you want

or hate

But possibility valid

stuffed now with silt

to a probable zero

and in those final moments

thrashing against chains

until the blood and silt surround me

blind

I don’t repent

a

single

moment

A letter sent to the RVT re Queer Question Time


Hi team,
You know me, and you know how much I love the RVT and the work you have done to make the Wotever people so welcome in the space. It was great last week not only to perform, but to see films giving a dignified voice to sex workers across the European Union, at Bar Wotever.

I am sad to say that I am boycotting the Queer Question Time at the RVT. The presence of a panelist who has made,and published, multiple transphobic remarks, without any representative from the ‘queer’ community, and who has a record of horrible vile remarks about sex workers, again without a balancing voice on the panel, makes this Queer Question Time not something I can attend. Having fliers for this event handed out at Bar Wotever to people from the trans, queer and sex worker community without any recognition of the reactions these groups would have, was hopefully done in ignorance by the QQT organisers, and not as a publicity stunt.

I would normally have made my usual offer to yourselves and the organisers, for professional photographs of the event for entry only.  Sadly, because of such an unbalanced panel, biased against people I hold dear, this offer will not be forthcoming.

I will continue to support the RVT and your efforts to give spaces for visibility and performance for many groups. It has become a safe space for queer and trans people, and it is wonderful to see the queer and gay/bearish communities starting to mix at the RVT, and I earnestly hope that evenings with biased transphoic panels such as this Queer Question Time will become known as a momentary lapse of reason, and eventually lie forgotten in the dust of history.


Thanks

J

AbsolutQueer Photography

Additional Remark: I have nothing against the organisers of Queer Question Time and creating a forum where voices outside the mainstream can be heard is admirable. In this current situation I am commenting on the balance of views on the panel.

Why I hate you all!


I don’t care if you are an international student, I don’t care about where you are from, I can see that some of you might be coming from somewhere other than the pub, but here, if someone with a cane walks on a bus in the cold, ONE of you overly pampered self important fucks should get up and offer a seat. But no- even the Eye Contact of DOOM is lost on you all.

And to those pushing me while I try to get off the bus. See Cane! See Not walking well! See you mad arses who have to be on the bus in the first microsecond of it stopping.

NB I have been reading a bit of Transmetropolitan recently- I seem to be channeling a little Spider Jerusalem.

Why I hate you!


When you are walking 4 abreast on the footpath, it is icy, and there is someone walking with a cane coming towards you. Do you:

A) move aside to let that person past on the gritted clear area B) ignore them, bowl past pushing them into the ice.

If you chose B) you are the people I met walking to the pub and you, my self absorbed, self important dears can all suck this cripples cock!

Back of the pub tonight


A bit of GBH went down

back of the pub tonight

along the park path and bench

kicks to the head, body, a knife slid in

We came out for a fag and goodbye

full of song, voice and life

to the sirens

lights of the ambo

Above the noise of the intersection

a few yells

Our friends arrive breathless

They’ve stood duty over the way

relying on numbers, witnesses to stop

anything more

adrenalined up for the fight nonetheless

until the security guard arrived

police in tow

So we turn, so not to be ghouls

and wish each other farewell, goodbye

safe journey

Meanwhile they lie with four or five

working on them

One breaks in a run

and returns with cases flapping

We standing outside quick check for mates

and text to check those walking

or cruising

Were they laying there one of us

or one of them

But if they do this to one of them

then one of them is one of us

So farewell, good luck, best wishes

safe journey

Here’s hoping its not

Murder gone down

Stop walking into me!


Backstory: mid size mid height cane weilder without the ability to duck and weave (hence cane) so…

Stop.Walking.Into.Me

I don’t care if you have an umbrella, a case or if you are a lost tourist! You walked into my very clear walking space, jostling me around, and…you don’t even think you should say sorry or acknowledge you nearly took out my eye!

You can in all seriousness FOAD!

No love for my fellow pedestrians who seem intent on pushing me around.

The grumpy misanthropic cane wielder

“Then there is that frightful place the Elephant and Castle, where a man may go round and round until he has exhausted his petrol ration before he can discover the way he wants to go.”

From a 1948 speach in British Parliment about Road Signage..The Hansard Record

I must say while improved, finding a street name from a car is impossible..

Conversation post show


  • P - Promoter
  • M- Me...
  • A - Act we were talking to..
  • A- So P, who do you use to document your shows
  • P- Oh, M as always...
  • A- So M, do you do video?
  • M- No I'm a photographer
  • A turns from me, looking in disgust
  • A- No P, who do you use?
  • ...
  • And I was invisible for the rest of the conversation...
  • Somehow I doubt I will be photographing any of A's shows

More communications with Mother


Tired more communications with mother- this time a “newsy” email about a non-controversial topic

"A trip to the Zoo with my lover"

Complete with pictures

Then added in more touchy subjects in passing

"Wotever are fun and we do good community work"

Will post an update when I get a reply…