BELK: A Ballad of Reading in Gaol (full version of essay published in Scottish Review of Books)

A Ballad of Reading in Gaol

(Full version of Scottish Review of Books Essay.)

By Martin Belk

A young woman hangs back after my writing seminar at the new City of Glasgow College with a question: “What’s it like, ya’ know, in there?” For a second, I’m thrown, forgetting that in the preceding class I’d alluded several times to my prison writing workshops. Before I could respond, huge, heavy tears welled up and fell from her eyes, falling down to her denim jeans. She didn’t say anything more, she didn’t need to – she has a loved one on the ‘inside’. I didn’t quite know what to tell her: a ‘modern place of rehabilitation’, to reassure her, or, a ‘bona-fide prison’, to confirm and confront her worst fears? Neither is entirely true, there are problems in the narrative.

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ONE blogs – MARTIN BELK – review: NEVERMIND THE NAZIS, IT’S THE BBC, CHRISTOPHER, AND HIS KIND


 

The Sky is falling! No, It’s just the I.Q. of television content.

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ONE blogs – MARTIN BELK – BEING PRECOCIOUS WITH PAGLIA: LADY GAGA, A SYMPTOM OF A LARGER AILMENT

The President of the United States gave a major news conference yesterday. The same President who controls the fate of US and British forces in Afghanistan, as well as a large part of the world economy. The number of viewers online was just over 450.

The US spin-machines of infotainment chose to focus on the looney in Florida who wants to barbeque Korans, and kept their spew foaming about how Obama faces a ‘blowout’ in Novermber mid-term elections. The UK, even the publicly funded BBC, continued the farce called blow – reporting the earth-shattering Koran story.

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ONE blogs – MARTIN BELK – SCOTLAND BE WARNED: RUDOLF GIULIANI IS NOT YOUR FRIEND

Someone in the West Coast of Scotland is reading the wrong web sites. As if a visit by the Pope might not be divisive enough, somebody, with the best of intentions, has invited none other than Ex-New York City Mayor Rudolf Giuliani to address the Scottish Council for Development and Industry’s International Awards dinner on 19 November 2010. I’d like to remind the powers-that-invite something my grandmother taught me years ago: Good intentions pave the road to hell. And, if anyone thinks Rudy’s ideas will do anything positive for Scotland and/or Glasgow, get ready for a lot of division, fire, and brimstone. I’m an expat New Yorker, I was forced to endure King G’s iron fist.

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ONE blogs – MARTIN BELK – RUFUS WAINWRIGHT: GET TO GLASGOW a review

RW

 

I thought of Nora Jones tonight as I sat in the audience for Rufus Wainwright’s Glasgow show: a lot of people love her, flock to see her, but I’m not entirely sure why. That’s not to suggest the attention is not well-deserved, but to characterize — if Norah Jones were a whispering soothsayer, Rufus Wainwright is the shamanic voice of a cello. But I don’t entirely get either, yet.

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ONE blogs – MARTIN BELK – film review: ‘NINE’ — “I should have IDIOT tattooed across my forehead”

Yes, yes you should, along with all the filmmakers involved in this project. Along with me for paying to sit through this nonsense. Daniel Day Lewis as an Italian? Please. Somehow tieing this into Fellini? A travesty. With this, and the goose-choking release of ‘Avatar’, I have a lingering question: with all the money, pr machines and resources in the world, how come Hollywood can’t eek out a good fart, much less a film?

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ONE blogs – MARTIN BELK – CALL TO ACTION: SAVE BORDERS PREVENT BOREDOM — A CRUCIAL PART OF BUCHANAN STREET

This is not advertorial. This is a blatant CALL TO ACTION on behalf of Border’s Books, Buchanan Street, Glasgow. I was saddened by the news of administration, I was sickened to walk by and see bargain-basement ‘CLOSING DOWN’ signs just now.

If Border’s Buchanan Street is allowed to close, Glasgow loses, in a big way. If the government can bail out the banks, they need to step in here.

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ONE blogs – MARTIN BELK – snap – CATCH A FALLING MAN: THOMAS HAYWOOD ON THE SCENE

ONE Magazine photographer and editorial liaise Thomas Haywood gets caught while catching a falling man at the Union Gallery, in joint collaboration with The Edinburgh Filmhouse:

MLB

 

ONE blogs – MARTIN BELK – WE’RE FALLING APART: IT’S ALL YOUR FAULT

http://s3.amazonaws.com/estock/fspid6/252000/francisco-closed-store-252082-o.jpg

I, for one, am very fatigued to keep hearing about the sad state of Western economies, particularly in the US and UK. Frankly, ‘SHUT UP ALREADY’, is my current sentiment. Every single bit of this so-called financial crisis is your fault, our fault, and now it’s high time to take action or just lie down and take it.

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ONE blogs – MARTIN BELK – THIS IS IT: POP AND CIRCUMSTANCE — on Michael Jackson

Michael Jackson from official site


I’m going to break with my normal postings here for a film review of Michael Jackson’s THIS IS IT.

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ONE blogs – MARTIN BELK – THE ARROGANCE APPARENT: CARNIVAL IS THE NEW FESTIVAL

I had high hopes for this recession. The clearing of yuppies and trust-fund brats from Manhattan, the bust of mediocre record companies, film houses and television studios which, for the past 13 or so years have kept us swimming in beige. The clearing of yuppies and trust-fund brats from the rest of the world who now watch cable television and pretend they are in Manhattan. No such luck.

Last Monday, I sat with John Calder at a talk with MP Vince Cable, author of The Storm, and not unlike our own Mike Holmes of ONE Magazine, the only writers with the balls to write a preemptive newsflash about the current economic meltdown. The subject of the talk: The Root of All Evil? Morality and Money.

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ONE blog – MARTIN BELK – ‘For your consideration: MISS GRACE JONES’

You don’t ‘go see’ Grace Jones. You lounge with Grace Jones. Glasgow. 22 January 09

 

Somehow, although spending much of my young adulthood in New York City (well before HBO and Giuliani), 10 years of it as a club producer (before we had titles like ‘producer’) I missed Grace Jones…at Palladium (gone); At Mudd Club (gone); Or Roseland (gone or is now a senior center) — but as music, style and well, style goes: I didn’t miss her music or her influence.

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ONE blogs – MARTIN BELK – ‘For your consideration: MISS GRACE JONES’

You don’t ‘go see’ Grace Jones. You lounge with Grace Jones. Glasgow. 22 January 09

Somehow, although spending much of my young adulthood in New York City (well before HBO and Giuliani), 10 years of it as a club producer (before we had titles like ‘producer’) I missed Grace Jones…at Palladium (gone); At Mudd Club (gone); Or Roseland (gone or is now a senior center) — but as music, style and well, style goes: I didn’t miss her music or her influence.

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ONE blogs – MARTIN BELK – CATCHER IN COURT: A BATTING WIN FOR ART

Judge Deborah A Batts, of Manhattan may be the first in a revival of a once-popular trend: reading. In short, she sent Swedish writer Fredrik Colting packing. While I haven’t read Mr Colting’s book (and don’t plan to), I am elated that a judge took the time and effort to evaluate, from a literary craftsmanship standpoint, the work in question.

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ONE blogs – MARTIN BELK – WHITE PAPERS and NET PIRACY: PACK OF WHITE LIES…

Tomorrow, the UK government is set to release a ‘white paper’ on piracy over the internet. The assertion is that internet piracy is costing thousands of jobs, and threatening the film, radio and TV industries, as well as life in the free West as we know it today. BULL.

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ONE blogs – MARTIN BELK – BECKETT SUCCESS: ‘FILM’ and the art of conversation

Yesterday ONE Magazine hosted a successful West End Festival event. John Calder, Samuel Beckett’s publisher and friend joined a standing-room only crowd at the Grosvenor Theatre, Glassgow for a screening of FILM – Beckett’s one and only ventures into celluloid – starring the late Buster Keaton. read more —>

ONE blogs – MARTIN BELK – PRAISE THE LORD? TRANNIES AND GRANNIES IN CHURCH

Just yesterday, I was attending a meeting at the local burgh hall. Very rainy, steamy, humid Saturday afternoon with a weak cup of coffee kind of affair.

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ONE blogs – MARTIN BELK – CHANNEL 4: HELPERS AND WHORES

Two lettres in one day. It’s a thin line, between love and hate.

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ONE blogs – MARTIN BELK – THE FIGHT WE’VE ALL BEEN WAITING FOR

Once, when I was younger, back around 1979, I was sitting in Mrs Bland’s classroom beside my friend at the time Jay Hull. Jay and I’d been spending our morning lying about all the girls we’d done and were gonna do and had been told we could do (there was time for some of that, back then).

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ONE blogs – MARTIN BELK – HIGHWAY TO HELL WITH HSBC

No one is learning much of anything in the retail and banking sectors in this economy. Shops are still chock-full of overpriced goods produced by Third-World fingerless children, Afghanistani Heroin floods the streets at a hometown near you; and then there’s the altars of capitalism…
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