Friday, 24 September 2010

Psychorama - Helsinki 2010

Psychobilly guy

Skinheads fighting

Missy Macabre

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The Helsinki tram museum houses old trams that haven’t been in use for over 100 years, but this weekend, Finland’s psychobillies and skinheads clamber around them, knocking back vodka and Karjala beers in irresponsible quantities.

Spirits are high and so are the haircuts of the rowdy youths of Northern Europe. Blood splattered and debaucherous burlesque dancers accompany furious slap bass and old fashioned guitar solos. The shockwaves from the psychobilly bomb that went off in 1980’s England continue to reverberate around the globe. Here in Helsinki its alive and kicking, albeit with a few gory wounds.

Highlights include London’s The Polecats, featuring Boz Boorer of Morrisey’s band, shaming amateurs with his unmatchable six string skill. Singer, Tim, leaps about the stage like an excitable child and makes you forget that its been over 25 years since these rockers were chart topping pop stars.

Sweden’s The Coffin Shakers are another favourite but in contrast to the Polecats, they hardly move, preferring instead to pose, statuesque in black clothes and dark glasses, looking like four Roy Orbison clones and sounding like Johnny Cash enduring the most morbid of come downs.

It would be a comfort to know that on the outskirts of Europe, the forgotten subcultures of Britain are still celebrated, but the existence of these booze loving psychos can hardly be described in such terms.

Published: I-D Online, September, 2010

Monday, 13 September 2010

Top 5 Venezuelan Adventures

My top 5 locations to visit in revolutionary Venezuela.

Venezuela is an old Spanish colony in South America. Founded on slavery, its main source of revenue is now oil. The country has been in the grip of socialist revolution for over a decade. The vast under class is benefiting from the oil money for the first time but many of the middle class feel betrayed and viciously oppose the socialist President Hugo Chavez.

The capital, Caracas, is the most dangerous city in the world. It is surrounded by vast mountains covered in shanty towns knows as Barrios. At night the streets echo with the thunderous assault of gunfire, an endless gang war, in which the fallen gangsters become deities in a cult of crime.

Toni Martin is the Steve Irwin of South America. A creole who grew up in the swampy anaconda infested plains of Los Llanos. Toni arranged for a jeep to take us to the swamp and informed me that he would catch an anaconda. This seemed unlikely because his hand was swollen from an infected anaconda bite he had received a week ago. A tooth had broken off in his hand which he hadn’t removed. Nevertheless an anaconda was caught. It took 4 men to control the thrashing serpent.

In the North are nearly 1800 miles of Caribbean coastline and over 70 islands all strewn with palm trees and Latina beauties. This photo was taken in Henri Pittier National Park, a designated nature reserve of idyllic ivory coasts skirting lush green rain forest. The park is popular with young people from Caracas as a location for surfing and all night free parties on the beach.

The South is dominated by the impenetrable jungles of Amazonas state and Canaima National Park. Deep in the rain forest you can witness the breathtaking Angel Falls, the world’s largest waterfall and the setting for Disney/Pixar’s ‘Up’. Native American tribes have preserved their ancient ways of life in this region. These two children of the Pemón tribe live in the jungle, surviving without electricity or running water.

the city of Maracaibo, near the Colombian border, is the second largest in the country. All its sewage is pumped, untreated, into Lake Maracaibo, the largest lake in South America and one of the oldest in the world. The city boasts one of the largest oil refineries in the country and is situated on top of huge oil reserves. Many of the locals live in houses, suspended above the lake on wooden stilts. These traditional native structures are known as palafitos.

Published: I-D Online, September, 2010