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Posts Tagged ‘Popular Culture’

What do we do with lives and dreams after shopping?

Gerry Hassan

The Scotsman, January 19th 2012

Another tottering titan fell this week with HMV going into administration. It is the latest in a long line of retail closures: Jessops, Blockbusters, Comet, JJB Sports.

This is part of a powerful challenge to the high street, to Britain’s sense of itself and its town centres, and in the case of HMV, the music industry, coming after the closure of Virgin, Zavvi and Tower Records.

These stories are usually imbued with a golden sense of nostalgia, people fondly remembering their youth and some key Woolworths purchase, and thinking the country is going to the dogs! Rarely are more complex feelings allowed to emerge, about what we do with town centres, the nature of retail, and the power of consumerism in our lifestyles and in how we make sense of our lives and pasts. Read the rest of this entry »

A Short List of Things I Love About Living in Modern Scotland

Gerry Hassan

August 26th 2010

Years ago – inspired by the ending of ‘Manhattan’ the film – I wrote a list of over twenty things that made feel glad to be alive. Woody at the end of the film – feeling down in the dumps – cites a load of things that make life worth living; I cant remember if like me he cited Frank’s voice, but I feel he did in spirit, and can still recall him mentioning Louis Armstrong and other jazz references.

That list got a great positive reaction – and I was humbled to know it even served its uses around the world – with a friend in Australia coaching a friend through a painful break up – using my list to aid them making up their own about life!

This is a shorter and less grandiose list. I love modern Scotland in lots of ways, and love living here. Of course, as in any relationship it drives me mad, and I know that we are imperfect as a nation and society in all sorts of ways. I constantly write about those sort of things, but here for a change of tone … is a short list of things I love about living in modern Scotland. Read the rest of this entry »

It’s More than a Ball Game: Scottish Football and Culture

Gerry Hassan

February 14th 2010

The state and importance of Scottish football both fascinates and repels large parts of Scotland – but there can be little doubt that the condition of the game and how we see it throws light on Scottish culture and society.

In the last week, I have watched Motherwell v Rangers and Aberdeen v Celtic live on TV, and went to the St. Johnstone v Dundee United cup tie. Taking all three of these together gives a number of pointers about the health of the game.

First, the quality of football in the first two matches was of a high standard. Motherwell and Aberdeen played intricate, intense, intelligent football which reflected well on the state of the SPL. These two teams are middle ranking in the league, Aberdeen in particular, struggling to find any consistency, and yet they both showed ability and finesse. Read the rest of this entry »

Against all the Odds: The World of the Small Scottish Football Team

Gerry Hassan

February 11th 2010

It is week three and sadly the final week of Jonathan Meades strange, fascinating and somewhat magical series on Scotland, ‘Off Kilter’ http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b00mwqvq/Jonathan_Meades_Off_Kilter_Episode_3/ This week his theme is the inviting subject of ‘The Football Pool Towns’, addressing small towns, hopes and Scotland through the world of football.

This short series has illustrated how it is possible to tell stories of Scotland, and address supposedly familiar subjects in new, imaginative ways. In so doing it has exposed the chasm of aspiration at the heart of much of the mainstream media in Scotland, where budgets seem to be in inverse proportion to originality and boldness. There are so many parts of Scottish life and society crying out for exploration left unexamined at a point when our nation and democracy is at a huge crossroads in how it sees itself.

Anyway back to this episode which begins with Meades reminiscing about the days of the Mini and Hillman Imp, before citing Jackie Stewart, supposed Scottish icon, ‘ambassador’ for the Royal Bank of Scotland and resident of Switzerland, who once said the immortal words, ‘A car is like a woman and cornering is like bringing a woman to climax’. Oh, er, missus, what a lad that Jackie! Read the rest of this entry »

It’s Good to have Gil Back!

Gerry Hassan

February 8th 2010

I come from a broken home
She had more then the five senses
She knew more then books could teach
And raised everyone she touched just a little bit higher
And all around her there was a natural sense

Gil Scott-Heron, ‘On Coming From a Broken Home (Part One)’

Today sees the release of Gil Scott Heron’s new album, ‘I’m New Here’, his first release in sixteen years, and only his second collection in twenty-eight years (1). And boy does it feel that Gil is back, with the album picking up reviews all over the place, and Gil, being interviewed at length in the papers, including a thoughtful piece in ‘The Observer’ by Sean O’Hagan (2).

‘I’m New Here’ is on one level a radical departure in sound and composition for Gil, invoking a contemporary sound which takes from trip-hop and dance loops and mixes them within a soundscape which has a bluesy-Tom Waits feel. And yet, it feels very like Gil, the sort of Gil that would have slowly evolved if he had not departed from the stage for so long haunted by his troubles. Read the rest of this entry »

The People’s Flag and the Union Jack: An Alternative History of Britain and the Labour Party
Gerry Hassan is a writer, commentator and thinker about Scotland, the UK, politics and ideas. more >
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