Out with the Kar-TRASH-ians

Early autumn we got the good news, after series twenty ‘The Kardashians’ will finally be going off air.

A show I have never watched and actively cringed when I hear a radio DJ mention the ‘K’ word on air. Flipped the page straight over after viewing the ‘Kard’ in a magazine headline. In terms of news print about the central character: Kim Kardashian, the only productive use I could find was as substitute toilet roll during the stockpiling shortages of the pandemic.

One question I would delight in Kim asking:

Does my mind look small in this show?

A TV show which bring the lives of the wealthy, but incredably trashy, family to the flat screen.

So, in ignorance of the show, I set myself the endurance task of watching the pilot episode released well over decade ago.

And what did I find?

First off, an extended collection of catty girls who refer to their ‘Asses’ frequently. Further talk of ‘Sagging Tits’ as they perform poised struts while terming each other ‘Whores’. Not to mention, pole dancing! The pole itself being a gift from Kim to her parents for their anniversary. Kim and Co, happy to applaud as the pre-teen youngest girls of the family perform overtly sexual moves on the ‘Gift’. Only stopping by their father, a former Olympian who goes to have a sex change. Should we be supporting the former him, now her from a transsexual rights point of view? Or is it just another overtly public Kardashian stunt?

However, he is not in fact Kim’ biological father, so where did her mindless genes surface from? Her real father was in fact: Robert Kardashian, the defence lawyer for OJ Simpson of the famed trial of the nineties. Could Kim have inherited an anti-feminist
genetic make-up?

Another question which appears to be continually broadcast:

What does Kim Kardashian actually do?

She was initially an assistant for Paris Hilton, then a stylist for Brandy Norwood, finishing of with a stint as Lindsay Lohan’ shopper.

And Now?

She has a high end Fashion Boutique which she considers a place to ‘Catch-up’ on gossip and comtemplate ‘Star signs’.

Not forgetting the sex tapes…The sex tapes she made with a long term boyfriend …..
simply for private use…. which then went public….

Simply, famous for being famous, collection of contrived ‘K’s’ that litter our TV viewing.

Do I have anything else to say?

‘Yes Kim, your mind does look small in this show!

Alison Little

Covid

Covid

2020 came in
A new year
So far away
China struggling
Culturally
Physically
Economically
An extended gap

10 thousand die of flu
Remember SARS
Didn’t materialise
Figures suggest 20 thousand deaths
Early Feb, quarantine measures
We were told
Must take it as part of the heard
Face masks: no use

March
It got real
Italy hit
Schools, universities, everywhere
Lock-down
Hospitals couldn’t cope
Elderly made comfortable as they die
Spain then followed
The USA: invaded
COVID

The UK next
Death tolls rising
Schools shut
Pubs, shops close
Extended queues at supermarkets
The Epidemic was real

Dirt lined mouth
Covid shell coating
Fever starts
Shaking, sweating
Side to side
Restless
Confusion
What day is it?
The time, light or dark?
Able to walk
So So tired
Confused
Got through fever
Cannot eat
Cannot sleep
Can only drink
Mouth, toxic taste
Gargling
Stomach rocketing
Green sick
Repeatedly
Bits of bile
Knife blades cut stomach
All food, straight through
Lack Focus
Half listen music
Isolate from news
Off Facebook
Face smashed: brick wall
Coming too
Mind first
Body second
toxic taste remains
Brush teeth
Wash
Scape off Covid layer
Wash hair
Shave legs
Go outside
Sun rays
Morning stomach crunches
Eat
Hunger
Enjoy meals
Crunches go
Toxic taste departs
Covid free
Live again

Every newsflash: a death count
UK the epicentre
Pandemic at height
Funerals attended
Numbers rise further
20 thousand deaths predicted passed
40 thousand deaths passed

Normality begins to return
Face mask rules introduced
Shops begin the re-open
Café’s serve outside
Pubs re-open
Long summer of rain
Distress
Nation is recovering

The schools return
All back to work
Furlough ends
Testing systems introduced

Then…
All again
Infections rise
Death toll increases
No tests available
Covid rages
Nation under threat
Covid takes us prisoner….

Alison Little

Listen to reading of Covid https://www.dropbox.com/s/v3l4d3ahljw8gps/covid.mp3?dl=0

Shrines through the Lens

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Graham Smillie: photographer, has worked on numerous creative endeavours throughout Liverpool and a leading figure within the creative community. We address how his photographic practice took him from capturing the cities musicians to the road side shrines which divide our communities.

Graham established his photographic practice in embracing his passion for the music industry through capturing bands, his lens a staple at the famed Threshold Festival. Navigating towards the end of the last decade, BC (Before Covid), his creativity has led him towards social documentation and social engagement practices. Representing musicians became time capsule shots of deceased animals as a result of traffic accidents. Revolutionary new work evolved into what is currently the visual documentation of roadside shrines. Graham contemplates the process of forming memorials and their social impact through the digital lens.

The social impact of shrine creation through their visual capitulation. Their impact on where they are cited within the community in parallel to their digital presence in the rapidly expanding realms of the virtual world. The social and political context of photography and activism through creative practice.

His work also explores of the memorials he has photographed: attachments to trees, professional and traditional florist arrangements. Waterproofing methodologies, the use of imitation flowers and real foliage which often wilts rapidly. How self-built monuments develop and grow, seasonal and Birthday expansions. Variations between more rural roads and the city environment: high rise residential buildings and pedestrian barrier systems.

A photographer who delves into the impact of makeshift memorials. How they can divide communities, objected to by local residents and frequently removed. The health impact of marking the scene of a fatality, overcoming loss and disbelief.

Images:

Main: Bluebells

Above Left: Ben

Above Right: Tree

All rights reserved Graham Smillie

 

Grahamsmilliephotography

Graham Smillie

Masks: Why now?

 

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Today marked the mandatory rule for face coverings to be worn in all retailers or the possibility of a £100 fine in the UK. Yet, why now, we must question, at the height of the pandemic we were free to shop without the insistence of masks?

At the start of lock down, we were clearly informed that face and mouth coverings were non-essential. Calls of ‘No use’ dominated the news waves and how the virus could be easily caught through the eyes, repeatedly, put forward. Information for the World Health Organisation (WHO) was misleading, the Ministry of Health providing ‘Miss Information’. The Government is accountable for mixed messaged which resulted in only 35% of us wearing face masks before today’s current legislation was introduced.

From this day, 24th July, they are deemed compulsory in shops and enclosed indoor spaces. They are to be worn to order take-out, but not the eat-in in cafes. Pubs, barbers and hairdressers are also exempt from mandatory mask-wearing. The reasoning behind this: the government now state that face coverings are effective in halting the spread of the virus. Infection rates for retail workers have been significantly higher than average. The reasoning behind the change in direction: claims of a better understanding of the virus.

Mandatory or Madness.
Masks mounted on our mouths.
Maybe: mandatory in March!

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Mask embroidery Alison Little

Modeled by herself

I May Destroy You

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I May Destroy You

A staggering 6 weeks ago, when lock down restrictions were beginning to ease, our TV screens and minds were illuminated by: ‘I May Destroy you’. I, myself, who fared badly from the pandemic, was starting to recover from a long tail case of Covid-19. This drama series was the primary broadcast I was desperate to watch. Its impact is set to last far beyond the 6 hours of air time which the BBC allotted. 

The main narrative centres around the rape of the Arabella; the feisty, strong-willed, leading lady. Michaela Coel who wrote starred and co-produced the series plays Arabella. The realistic screenplay leads us through flashbacks of her being raped. In reporting the matter to the Police they were able to establish that she had been subject to date-rape drugging. Perhaps not so realistic: the Police are shown to be professional, compassionate and supportive. Inevitably the case had to be shelved until a DNA match presents itself to the investigation. However, what is ground-breaking is we see Arabella: a hard-partying recreational drug user, convincingly being able to differentiate clearly between being secretly drugged, then subject to intercourse and simply, narcotic indulgence followed by consensual sex. At no point is the viewer directed to blame Arabella due to volatile lifestyle choices or to consider her to be unreliable as a consequence.

Arabella’ response to the violation could be considered from varied viewpoints. Promiscuity as a result of a sex attack liberated sex-positive behaviour or further examples of not fully consensual sex as a result of drug and alcohol usage. This leaves her vulnerable to a further sexual assault, interestingly in the form of stealthing: removal of a condom without the consent of the sexual partner. I and many viewers, male and female, were unaware that this was a criminal matter, the show was surprisingly informative.

We are offered some reasoning as to why Arabella’ sexual conduct presents us with a large variety of partners, many of whom are little more than acquaintances. The series takes us back to her infancy, parents who reside separately, but are still in a relationship. A father who indulges in a ‘Fancy Woman’ and to a degree, neglects his parental duties.

Breathtaking to see greater diversity on our screens, the main characters all being from ethnic minorities (Within the UK, not Globally). I found Arabella immediately appealing, the funky jacket and the wilds of pink hair. Terry, the loyal friend that every girl need to have, both are: fun, alluring, party goers. In opposition to this, the only more than minor white female: Theo, is overweight, unattractive and morally warped. A wondrous mid-series episode takes us back to secondary school, only done successfully in Romy and Michele’s High School Union during the late nineties. The retro-fun element of camera phones being new, hilarious in comparison to the multi-faceted smartphones of today. We see the only significant white, female character, falsely accuse a black man of rape. Equally to this, it becomes clear that Arabella’ rapist was white, herself being of colour. Is this a lesson for white supremacy, are matters being transformed in terms of traditional villain, victim roles in terms of race?

As a white female, I found some of the script a little isolating, the dialogue of:

‘I don’t like white people.’

stated by Terry. The scene in which Arabella takes extreme offence from being referred to as being from an ‘Afro-Caribbean background’ as opposed to simply of ‘African background’. This combined with making the medical professional linger while they shoot a podcast. This did not appear to be an act of standing up to racism, more the conduct of adolescents that belonged in a classroom seated next to Catherine Tate’s Vicky Pollard.

The range of taboo subjects brought to the drama was radical, in the extreme. The casual use of sanitary towels, menstruation no longer to be hidden and ignored. However, I found the scene in which she brings home a Man which she has just met in a night club off-putting. They endeavour to have intercourse while she is on her period. This combined with them both playing with her heavy, ‘Squishy’ discharge bordering on vulgar.

We are introduced to group sex on several occasions and internet dating, which pre-Millennial’s didn’t indulge. Significantly, the concept of social media addiction is raised, something we are all beginning to ponder over as a result of lock down and periods of isolation. Primarily, we are embraced by the subject of male rape, a major taboo, the public only being widely aware that this happened since the turn of the Millennium. Although the male rape scene was convincing, I was deterred by the response of the character. Devastation, regret and self-blame were not conveyed convincingly.

Although there were some downsides, this is a monumental step forward in challenging the many failings within our society; primarily rape culture. The ambiguity of the concluding episode adds to the mental turmoil over violation and redemption. The series instigated discussions and debate, a drama which will get us talking about rape.

Set to take the short trip over the pond, let’s hope Arabella & Co, can do the same for the Americans!

Watch the Series

Stealthing

Missed: Mrs America?

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Wednesday night saw the TV series Mrs America hit our screen in the UK. The series dramatises, more than documents the path of second-wave feminism in the United States.

The initial episode centres around Phyllis Schlafly, played by the Hollywood great: Cate Blanchette. Schlafly, a staunch anti-feminist who lead the fight against the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA). Many hold Schlafly accountable for the bill never being passed and eventually abandoned in the early eighties.

Schlafly, the women who Betty Friedan, mother of seventies women’s movement, insisted should be burned at the stake. The Republican who led a league of housewives, home-makers and churchgoers against the progressive feminists of the day.

Growing up during the great depression, Schlafly had a modest upbringing, her father of long term unemployment. Motherly support of her education steered her towards a scholarship place at the now named Maryland University. In tangent to her studies she worked as a model, but she also ‘Test fired machine guns’ for the largest munitions factory in the US, World War Two raging across the Globe. Eventually studying post-grad at Harvard, then becoming a researcher for the Republican Party.

Marrying a wealthy lawyer, fifteen years her senior, resulting in six children. Author of many publications the most notable: ‘A choice, not an ego,’ selling over 3.5 million copies, highlighting matters in opposition to National defence strategies.

After another unsuccessful run for Congress in the early seventies, she turned her attention to women’s politics and battled successfully against the ERA. The main policies were in favour of women remaining exempt from the Draft, Vietnam was at war and American troops were being sent East. Other motions looked to protect social security benefits for dependent wives. Although her eldest son was openly gay she stood by conservative policies against single-sex marriage and anti-immigration.

The dramatisation brings the seventies to our post lock-down TV screens. Brown patterned floral prints, chunky jewelry, twin sets and hand knitting. Hairnets and curlers creating the bouffant of the day. Although an anti-feminist, Cate Blanchette portrays a strong, capable woman, more than a little opposed to being assigned the role of note-taking. We see a true beauty parading the national stars and stripes in the form of a bikini.

In opposition, we encounter bad sex aesthetics not spoken about during the decade. When exhausted she submits to undesired intercourse with her demanding husband. Lying back motionless as he ploughs internally with no regard for her pleasure, indulging in merely his gratification.

What next for the series?

Although slaughtered by Gloria Steinem in person, her character was introduced and takes the limelight in the next episode.

A drama to be indulged, not a doco to be scrutinized!

Watch on BBC iPlayer

Fine Art Cocktails

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Too many ‘Sex on the Beach’ for Tracey Emin, the ‘Shaggy’ years, Margate’ solution to an easy ride throughout the difficulties of her adolescence.

Sarah Locus stirred a ‘Cosmopolitan’ to remind her of the metropolis, the capital now she has moved to rural Norfolk.

The man who screen printed the stars from his down-town New York Studio; Andy Warhol, poured a ‘Manhattan’ over ice.

David Hockey throws back an ‘Americano’ he’s been in LA so long her can’t recall Yorkshire and his routes.

A ‘Russian Mule’ for Kandinsky, transporting all to the awe of his abstracts.

Judy Chicago passed a ‘Bloody Mary’ the first female artist to utilize menstrual blood within her work.

A few to many ‘Ginger and Cinzano’ for Frida Kahlo, hitting the bottle, backwash over her divorce from Diego Rivera.

‘Long Island Iced Tea’ in access, like everything else, including women for Jackson Pollock. Hopefully, no automobile accidents on the peninsular as he makes his way home.

Note: a fiction works, many of the artists featured were lost to the World many decades ago, only their great works remain.

 

Recycled Tampons + er, do I have to?

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So you’ve moved with the green revolution: recycling, re-using carrier bags and you endeavour to sort waste for compost. Due to lock-down you’ve reduced use of the vehicle and invested more time to walking and cycling. The next step: they want us girls to use re-cycled tampons, your first thought?

Someone else’s discharge! ew…ew…ew.

Your initial intention: to reduce your carbon footprint by all other means keep sanitary produce; new, pure and cleanly raped.

It’s time to re-think the matter of eco sanitary products, they are not what you imagine!

1.5 billion sanitary products are flushed down the lav every year in Britain. An average woman will use 11,000 sanitary items over her lifetime. It’s time to consider greener alternatives.

Okay, I understand recycled tampons are actually made from used tampons, but aren’t they less pure?

Wrong – many are actually made from organic cotton and often, unlike regular varieties, free from chlorine bleach. They frequently exclude rayon and chemically produced fragrance. If polymers are used, medical-grade is usually stated. Further claim to be hypo-allergenic, highlighting their superiority to standard produce.

Are there genuine environmental benefits?

So, so, many: regular tampons are around 90% plastic and ultimately not biodegradable, taking up space in landfill and the oceans of the planet. Green alternatives use cardboard applicators, paper wrappers and compostable film. Some utilise re-usable applicators which are purchased separately.

Any other plus factors?

There are animal cruelty-free and vegan alternatives, some donate to charities that act against period poverty and FGM.

Then there’s straightforward vanity: the packaging looks amazing. A luxury supplied in a 5-star hotel or first class lounge at the airport.

So are you with me?

Yeah, I’m with you, recycled tampons are for me and forever!

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The Man Who

Dave laughing

Dave, my partner died from covid-19 during the pandemics deadliest week in Britain. This poem was written for him and read at his funeral. Due to the circumstances only 10 could attend the service and we were seated 2 metres apart. Now, as we progress towards some kind of pre-coronavirus normality, only without Dave and so many others, it feels right to reflect on those lost to the pandemic.

 

The Man Who

Dave; lost 3 weeks ago
Covid-19 took from our throw
Laughing, joking till the end
Paramedics struggled, too late to mend

Never shy
Tears, to cry
To show emotion
Animated in notion

A time of lock-down
Leaving house necessity bound
Bars void of serving beer
Brass’ brandishing running gear

Shutters shut on Breck Road
Supermarket queues overload
City traffic ghost-ridden
Parks crammed, exercise-driven

Countries closed down globally
Coronavirus expands robotically
Fatality toll gets bigger
Home death’ omitted figures

An engineer well-travelled
Shores and jobs marvelled
World wide memories collected
To all, much respected

Nigeria
Nicaragua
New York
New Orleans
New Mexico

Dry docks of Cammell Laird
Oceans of the Med
Sights few make comparison
Might of Hurricane Alison

Should Athletico have come
3000 fans, epicentre were from
Post pandemic, answer we will get
Till then we can only threat

He could do the Twist
Dancing moves blitz
Sofa based arm bopping
Laughter, joke swapping

Boris got Better
Death count fewer
Fate, the decider
Dave smiles wider

Up there in heaven
Still a lover of women
A flirt and a tease
Eager to please

To remember:
the jokes
the laughs
the banter
the frolics
a man never afraid to say that’s bollocks

The Man Who was Davy Jones

Alison Little