Little Annie’s diary, part 6: Living on the farm, as opposed to buying it

In which our guest blogger, Little Annie, regales us with tales from her unpublished biography.  In this chapter, the little lady from New York travels far far away across the ocean to take up residence with a gang of British anarchist hippie punks called Crass.  They call her “Annie Anxiety”.

Me. Then.

TEETERING DOWN the single file country ‘road’ that snaked its way to Crass’ Epping Forest home in my faux Frederick’s of Hollywood stilettos and dragging my equally glitzy chi-chi drag behind me, I may not have been the quintessential ugly American, but I was definitely the quintessential inappropriately dressed one. As the country lane turned into a path through a mud-slicked cow yard, I couldn’t help but wonder where this incredibly hip-and-happening second English Explosion Jammy Wonderland that all the knuckleheads back in New York were always yapping about was. Just as I was figuring that I was the butt of a very expensive and complicated episode of Candid Camera, the smoky-eyed, Jean Seberg-cropped Crass vocalist, Eve Libertine, drove up and rescued my quintessential daft ass. As we pulled up to the sixteenth-century former labourer’s cottage in Eve’s old blue Mini, its soft beauty knocked me out. Some members of Crass had found this once uninhabitable wreck many years ago, seen its potential and rented it from the farmer, who thought they were crazy, hence the ridiculously affordable rent. Hard work had turned this crumbling structure into a House and Garden – worthy Zen dream, and one that was more or less obscured by beautiful lush vegetation. Inside was equally impressive, immaculately clean and lovingly handcrafted. It was paradise, except for one little thing – it was in the country.

I had believed from the conversations with Steve (Ignorant) I had back in New York that they all lived in some sort of English version of the projects. In one of his letters, he had spoken of everyone sitting around in the garden. I just assumed he had meant a vacant lot or basketball court. I mean this was rural with a capital W, and I’m just not down with the country groove. It scares the hell outta me. Country life is all about the natural order: the cyclical process of growth and decay, sowing and harvest, waxing and waning. Children raised in rural areas grow with a firm comprehension of birth and death. City children have no such acceptance. We beat death by aspiring toward immortality by becoming drug addicts, boxers and movie stars. Continue reading

Vice: the Crassest of them all?

Penny Rimbaud in Vice Do's and Don'ts

from Vice magazine online

If you’re not familiar with Vice magazine… well, get yourself on over to Wikipedia. Like Marmite, Vice is an instant room divider.  A crowd will gravitate to one corner, decrying their approach as shallow, fashion-fixated, culturally regressive and just plain offensive.  A louder, possibly drunk contingent will hold ground in the middle of the room bellowing at everyone to shutthefuckup because itsjustafuckinglaugh.  Still more will sulk about on the settee, mumbling about cutting-edge journalism. And a few will linger by the door, logging on to Twitter to find out what they’re meant to think about it.

Probably the most widely derided, and of course therefore, most popular feature in Vice is their Do’s And Don’ts column.  The concept is of course as old as criticism itself – take random photographs and use them to illustrate the various triumphant victories and fumbling faux pas of … well, anything … but most entertainingly, fashion.  Vice took this concept and made it as acerbic and acrimonious as possible, while striving hard to maintain the judgemental values of a white suburban teenage boy.  The fact that being a classed as Do is seemingly no more redemptive than being branded a Don’t is a clue to the column’s real intentions.  It’s cruel, vulgar, and hysterical.  Unless of course you take yourself too seriously.

This week Vice published the above entry in their Do’s and Don’ts.  When reposted on the Facebook page for Crass fans, it immediately garnered that predictable room-dividing effect.  Unfortunately, not many of the posters got the joke.  The Winnie The Pooh-faced punter is indeed Penny Rimbaud, founder (along with Steve Ignorant) of Crass.  Christ only knows where he got the jacket, it’s certainly not his, but he clearly participated in the prank.  In fact Penny has collaborated several times in the past with Vice, in particular its UK editor Andy Capper, for whom he is known to have great admiration.  The interviews he did with Ian Svenonius for Vice’s VBS online television series are particularly worth watching.

As was said on Facebook… it’s Monday.  Have a giggle.

Penny Rimbaud gigs in Derry, Dublin and Belfast

Penny Rimbaud is a poet, drummer, writer, former member of the performance art group EXIT and co-founder of the anarchist punk band Crass, with Steve Ignorant in 1977. He also set up the anarchist/pacifist Dial House community in 1967 with Gee Vaucher and Phil Russell and helped to instigate the free festival movement.

An ardent, articulate and still angry polemicist, his works include Reality Asylum, Rocky Eyed and Oh America. Says Rimbaud of his own legacy: “our response to things wasn’t a musician or a lyrical response, it was a political response.”

Louise Elliott is an Australian tenor saxophonist and has performed with a wealth of international musicians. Originally known for her appearances with cult rock outfits Laughing Clowns, The Saints, Ed Kuepper and Paul Kelly, Louise has a fiery commitment to inspiring and energetic live performance which has been referred to in the media as “her profoundly diverse smorgasbord of funk, blues and rock” and “an African inspired jazz explosion”. She has played with Penny Rimbaud for nine years.

Accompanied by Louise’ haunting sax, Penny Rimbaud will read a selection of his work. Join us for an unforgettable evening with a truly righteous, independent spirit.

May 6th - Derry: Sandinos Cafe Bar 10pm

May 7th – Dublin: Seomra Spraoi 8pm (performance will be followed by a Q & A and DJs)

May 8th – Belfast: McHughs Basement 3pm performance (Cathedral Quarter Arts Festival)

The Belfast gig will be followed by a round table discussion on the future and relevance of anarchism held at the Warzone Centre, Clarence St, Belfast. This event will feature a panel including Penny and will be filmed.