The mid-nineteen sixties and Icteric. Re-evaluation of a dissident European past. Russian nihilism. Recuperated artistic Dada and revolutionary Dada. The forgotten revolutionary aspects of Surrealism. Conflict with the Tyneside poets. Closing down an Art School. Meetings with Black Mask in New York. Heatwave and the English section of the Situationists in London.
The names of the individuals we rated were posted on the mountains and are as follows: Eisenstein, Griffith, Breton, Artaud, Charlie Parker, Mayakovsky, Arthur Craven, Aragon, Trotsky, Tzara,, Vache, roussel, Marinetti, Buckminster Fuller, Foregger, Arvatov, Rodchenko, Peret, Franz Jung, john Cage, melies, Woyrow, Sherman, Tatlin, Malevich, Satre, Picabia, Johannes Baader, meyerhold Eric Satie, Feks, Buffet, De Chirico, James Joyce, Khlebnikov, Jelly Roll Morton, Evreinov, Blue Blouse, Duchamp. (and such were our limitations and at the time we had little knowledge of the old ultra left, etc.)
A note on the inside cover: Period: 1900 to 1950 (from the original magazine) says the folowing...
Evreinov - for reconstruction of the audience/ de Chirico - for his diatribes against modern art/ Buffet (Bernard) - for his honesty / Aragon - for throwing Maurice Martin du Gard's typewriter out of his window /Peret: for spitting/ Morton (Jelly Roll) - for snooker / Eisenstein - for the early things/ Parker (Charlie) - for dying with laughter/ Sherman ' for eluding his followers/ Trotsky- for Literature and Revolution/ Griffith for Intolerance/ Khlebnikov - for his soup-lakes/ Duchamp (Marcel) - for being Villon's brother/ Feks - for factory for the eccentric actor/ Mayakovsky - for not 'rummaging through yesterday's petrified crap'/ The rest for HEROISM and Jonathan Swift for today.
(Note from 2004: Sherman never existed. We invented him as an amazing genius seeing people could be conned by anything.We also included Buffet because we regarded him as a creep)
King Mob was initially a coming together in London of the then constituted English section of the SI – beginning somewhat to fall apart - and an ex-group, together with some other like-minded individuals, around the often confusedly anti-art magazine, Icteric, from Newcastle-Upon-Tyne. (Icteric, let it be said, was spuriously anti-art but we weren't to know that with such clarity at the time). Let us first deal here with the Newcastle experience as it has never been documented before.
Icteric, founded in the mid-1960s was, more or less, a name chosen at random from a dictionary and therefore in that somewhat time-honoured tradition of modern art emanating from Dada. It meant jaundice and a cure for jaundice at the same time – which everybody felt at its very inauspicious inauguration was appropriate. Simply put, everybody present was pissed-off with art in an institution or gallery, wearied and jaundiced about it if you like, and looking for something rather more turbulent and effective. Icteric's central aim, and quite resonantly put at the time, was the coming together (fusion) of art and life and was mainly the brainchild of Ron Hunt1 who was the librarian at the Dept of Fine Art at Newcastle University. Ron Hunt had been appointed to the post at the instigation of pop artist Richard Hamilton who taught at the university and who, ironically, around the same time, acquainted Don N. Smith with the theoretical journals of the French Situationists. Hamilton though, for some time had abandoned all semblances of radical critique pretty much falling into a benign, left social democracy, coolly and uncritically encompassing consumerist icons. A cool take was to be the essential in overcoming all adversity! In fact, it was a variant of the same terrible English inability to grasp most essential breakthroughs in perception and form which so marked the 20th century and much of the latter half of the 19th century. Despite penetrating social critiques like that of William Morris and George Orwell everything else was always to be done in such a seamlessly nice way and ever so watered-down.
Considering this was taking place in England (and in a relative back-water at that) covering an avalanche of omissions, repressions and outright hostility, Ron Hunt bravely at the time, delved into the history of modern art and began to put the record straight beginning to place all the long lost and forgotten (on purpose) radical experiments into the beginning of some coherent trajectory whose outcome at the time we were all rather fuzzy about but which was slowly but surely becoming clearer each day. Icteric became, more or less, the fulcrum of this unfolding - enlightening primarily ourselves - before any concern for anybody else. Basically, it was motivated by getting hold of anything that wasn't stultifyingly "English" in the conformist sense we found so unappealing. We went back and re-evaluated the Russian nihilists of the mid-19th century like Dobrolyubov and Pisarev whose The Destruction of Aesthetics hit a chord. We liked the hardness of their comments: "Shakespeare or a pair of boots"etc. Pisarev had said of himself he "would rather be a Russian shoemaker than a Russian Raphael". In a sense though it was their rebellion we liked even though it brought prison and calumny upon themselves. Pisarev's: "Denial is a hard, tedious and deadly task" meant something as we eagerly read Lampert's Sons Against Fathers in preparation – unbeknown to ourselves at the time – of our own revolt of sons (and now daughters!) against fathers! Could we go along with it to the letter? Hardly, but it was another of the necessary ingredients which later was truly to go somewhere. Finally though and perhaps inevitably, we found the concepts of the Russian nihilists too severely utilitarian for our liking. True, it was utilitarianism bordering on the apocalyptic but that didn't really fit in with our growing rejection, or rather, that suppression and realisation of art we were searching for despite being none too clear about this at the time. It wasn't just an either/or question. It wasn't just a question of the hungry and dispossessed for whom culture was a luxury they could ill afford. In fact, concern for the poor didn't even come in to it. We were arriving at the simple, though very dialectical, recognition that culture within its own frame of reference no longer possessed the slightest quality and the subsequent emptiness beckoned towards the creation of something entirely different. The conclusion that this meant inescapably the destruction of the commodity economy, social revolution and the creation of an entirely new world we didn't immediately perceive, but it did mean that a blow by blow repeat of Russian nihilism was irrelevant and quite beside the point. After all, during the lifetime of the Russian nihilists, great art particularly in the form of the Russian novel was at its height. However, Tolstoy's final rejection of the role of novelist was more in tune with Pisarev's essentially moral rejection – and incidentally illustrating the powerful impact of the nihilists on Russian society – than in the prepatory self-destruct of the novel's form as undertaken by the much younger Marcel Proust around the same time. A destruction which was to be continued and carried on to the final rampage of liberated words in Joyce's, Finnegan's Wake. Slowly but surely we were getting some sense of this, though always and perhaps inevitably, in a pretty chaotic way.
We mustn't though be too simplistic here about Pisarev's views. He wanted to see the emergence of a "non-cultural" scientific culture neither invented nor abstracted which could only be represented, "in actual living phenomena". As Lampert was to put it: "It was to be a culture which reflected man's changing and unimpeded vision of the universe, free especially from all the burdens of the past, and with none of the hot air of exalted places. It's "temples" would be "the workshops of human thought." It would eschew the artist as a sacred monomaniac, misunderstood and misinterpreted and ensure his status as simply a human being, endowed with a special gift of articulation and free from somnolence and escapism. His business would be roughly, to articulate on behalf of the inarticulate, to express for those who are unable to express themselves what is conducive to their growth as human persons and "thinking proletarians". He would be a spokesman for others and the despair of aesthetes yearning for elegant elaboration". Whilst the language of some of the above is too loose and imprecise for our times, a little later, around 1966, we couldn't help but make something of a connection between this and Dziga Vertov when first viewing his 1920's film Man with a Movie Camera and reading about the concepts behind Kino-Eye and the factograph, though more about that later....
The first Icteric magazine contained a translation by Anne Ryder of some of Jacques Vache's Lettres de Guerre (War Letters) and the first such translations to have appeared in English. The rest of the letters were to appear in the next edition of Icteric. The War Letters were a reflection on Vache's profound nihilistic experience of the First World War; an experience which also seems to have been the active fillip in mapping out a new subversive terrain whereby roles were played with and the spectator violently eliminates the performer. In a way, Vache's letters set the tone for what was to follow within our own hearts and minds which we interpreted as down with gallery art so, from now on, we were to take a serious look at those historical figures that attempted to negate art in the far-off days of Dada, Surrealism and Russian Constructivism. The painters and poets of these movements were quickly pushed aside and downgraded for their orthodox, though for their time, radical avant-garde representations. Eventually, we were only interested in these people if their activities, pointed clearly towards the hoped for real transcendence of art, that moment where everyday life would be splendidly renewed on a vast communal level. Finally, we preferred the real negation, so for us, the future lay in the lifestyle and comments of Arthur Craven, the boxer - the supposed nephew of Oscar Wilde - and the vitriolic producer of the Parisian based, Maintenant magazine, Vache (again) and Rimbaud at the moment he quit poetry. (Little did we know at the time that Breton criticised him for this evaluating his subsequent activities, like gunrunning, as dubious). Simply put, it was their negation of art that meant everything to us. We really responded with an ever-growing deep sympathy for the best of Cravan's comments like, "You must absolutely get through your head that art is for the bourgeois, and by bourgeois I mean: a monsieur without imagination"... and... "Soon you won't see anyone but artists in the street and the only thing you'll find no end of trouble in finding is a man" (Remembering this great comment by 1972, a comment was placed in a diary: "It's taken this long for "soon" to become reality". Thirty years after 1972, it was to have an even more astounding truth). We also really liked some of the early Surrealist experiments like the meeting at the relatively unknown church of St Julien de la Pauvre on the left bank of the Seine in Paris, followed by the early kind of practical psychic-automatism like drifts inherent in the Surrealist walks proceeding from a point based on where a pin had randomly been stuck into a map. We weren't so foolish, naive or headstrong as to not consider that some of these random drifts nearly pushed some of these protagonists into suicide. Then there were those supposedly brutal Surrealist slogans like; "leave your children in the woods set off on the roads" etc which we really got off on, even though we didn't take this exhortation at face value! We also admired some of the imaginative environmental projects of the Russian Constructivists around 1920, particularly Klebnikov's soup lakes and the proposed slow flying white on white squares schemes proposed by Malevich etc. Indeed, Icteric made a replica of Malevich's coffin that was exhibited in some exhibition some years later, which Jappe was to praise for its "excellent iconography" in the bibliography of his theoretical biography on Debord in 1993. We were interested in the concept of the factograph and bearing El Lissitsky in mind, it seemed like the starting point of an anti-literary presentation. Cinema wasn't spared either as we dismissed the entertainment industry, preferring – as previously stated - Dziga Vertov's films of the early 1920s and the first collaborations between Luis Bunuel and Salvador Dali, particularly Le Chien Andalou and L'Age D'Or produced during the 1930s.We blindly accepted that cinema as provocation had come to an end at this point when rioting greeted the latter's first screening, although truth to tell, it was a riot instigated by enraged Catholics, and certainly wasn't a riot against the passive audience / performer relationship which was what we were aiming for. Nonetheless we were impressed and had anything like this happened since? We wanted to do likewise simply unaware of more recent and precise statements of the Lettrist anti-film particularly Howlings in Favour of De Sade which had provoked public outrage but we were only to learn about these events some three years later.
However, all this growing lucidity was jumbled up within Icteric together with a hotchpotch of modern art repeats, which Duchamp was to characterise around the same time as the "double-barrel effect", a point we noted at the time though we reacted with dismay when we heard Duchamp was making multiple editions of his old ready-mades for sale, no doubt aping Andy Warhol's activities living just down the street from him in lower Manhattan. We felt it was a sellout, which of course, it was. Though for all of us painting, sculpture, novels and poetry were dead, over and out, nonetheless some environmental constructions were deemed OK, those perhaps that were somewhat akin to artefacts that would have been more or less at home in those international Surrealist exhibitions of the 1930s and 40s. Not necessarily the most spectacularly weird artefacts but nutty things like the full coal sack hung from the ceiling of some art gallery. We particularly liked the fact that the sack accidentally bust open and all its mucky contents were scattered over the floor. Maybe our special liking for the latter had something to do with the Icteric collective living in Newcastle and the presence of the northeast miners - who's to say? More importantly, within a year or two we were also to realise the futility of this notion of 'new' objet d'art praxis, the more we developed a critique of the commodity per se.
Icteric produced anti-sociological questionnaires, some of which were Surrealist repeats. "Why not commit suicide" was one of them and people were invited to fill these questionnaires in. The responses were arid and, perhaps not surprisingly, even worse than a disappointed Breton had hoped for decades earlier. We had no budding Artaud around replying to the original questionnaire like: "I am unhappy like a man who has lost the best part of himself.....who has committed suicide already". But did we want a budding Artaud when we knew of individuals – even in this relatively optimistic period – who'd had enough of the total shit and slashed their wrists in the bath anyway? We shuddered and with no answers giving any signs of a eureka moment we concentrated on producing stickers again tending to be repetitious of the past such as "Surrealism Is The Communism of Genius" but seeing this was Newcastle in the mid 1960s and not Paris in the 1930s it really wasn't going to make much headway.
Happenings, or rather at least some of them, were embraced although that didn't stop us taking the piss out of the hip American's Merce Cunningham's performance art and his supposed "free expression" dancers in some London venue (much to the annoyance of some of the audience particularly when hearing Yorkshire accents – confirming perhaps the loutishness - of the provocateurs?) and then a little while later, putting on a nonsensical piano rendition performed by Trevor Winkfield mocking John Cage and taking delight in the fact that some idiots took it seriously. In fact we were mocking ourselves too as we had taken Cage and Cornelius Cardew seriously just a year previously and had even interviewed Cage for Icteric! Silence and the transcendence of music did really impact upon us, even though we still left wondering about the process of its overcoming – and still are for that matter. Little did we realise how all half-negation can be capitalized – turned into its opposite - and how avant-garde sounds a la John Cage morphed into the music of Ennio Morricone as backdrop to the Spaghetti Westerns, that last gasp necessary ingredient that helped give the zing to the last consequent Westerns. We read with interest about the auto-destructive activities of Metzger and Latham's book burnings disliking the fact that the latter were turned into objet d'arte to be hung on walls. We also pointed out – initially to everybody's disbelief- that these acts of auto-destruction influenced The Who (the performance ritual of guitar smashing) smashing up your instruments as a substitute for a real smashing up. Being clued in, we also quoted Tzara's dictum from a half century ago "musicians smash your instruments, let blind men take the stage". As if to give a point to this we rather pointlessly repeated Tzara's ROAR which just meant inviting everybody you could to turn up in a Newcastle city car park and ROAR your head off. Maybe a couple of 100 or so did just that. Jean Jacques Lebel, the French happener, around the same time wrote a long article for Icteric which though tending to extol his happening nonsense at the time was somewhat lucid about Artaud and very anti-police. Unbeknown to us, about the same time Don Smith and Rene Vienet, after a night's drinking, went round to his apartment and thoroughly slagged him off for his confusions about art and general lack of coherent critique. Jean Jacques just stood there – more or less apologetically. Although years later Don felt rather bad about this, it obviously had a good effect on Jean Jacques, as he rapidly then developed a much more lucid and subversive take on society and of course was one of the French contingent who were to tear down the fences at the Isle of Wight pop festival in 1971. It would seem therefore that a bald attack could certainly be good at times in pulling people across who are hovering on the brink in any case. A final comment upon Icteric's contents reveals a complete though for the time, well-intentioned muddle. A quasi-scientific document on butterfly oddities and recollections of rapturous displays of these delightful insects was also published and in terms of the detritus of modernism, was one of the better things in the magazines. The same might be said of a text on the amazing activities of slugs, which fell between a kind of factograph and natural science. The fact is though if Icteric had appeared 20 years later it would have been instantly capitalised by the right wing Saatchi Brothers end of culture emporium; however we were much more authentic heading completely in the opposite direction.
We were also coming from jazz, the other corner-stone of our end of culture orientation, particularly a passion for be-bop and its aftermath. However, even on this front we were becoming perplexed. Something was happening to jazz – it was beginning to fall apart and as much as we really desired to go along with John Coltrane's final atonal-like developments we were flummoxed albeit, trying to pretend we weren't. We were in fact beginning to relate the trajectory of jazz to the crises besetting the totality of modern art.
As if to underline this in an Ornette Coleman/Don Cherry concert in Newcastle's then prestigious City Hall in 1966 we clambered on the stage and put up ICTERIC in big letters behind the performers. Interestingly, nobody objected and the jazzmen showed no interest whatsoever. Truth to tell, by then, we felt our statement (our advertisement perhaps?) was better than the free form jazz itself simply because we knew we'd become engaged on a free form quest ourselves perhaps far more searching than the end of free form jazz itself which we also dimly recognized was kind of heading in the same direction though without the same clarity. (Later, we equated the ghetto uprisings in the United States as its real creative outcome having surpassed the musical form).
Moreover only three years previously a bunch of us in Newcastle had sat in awe in front of John Coltrane, Eric Dolphy, McCoy Tyner and Elvin Jones, opened mouth at its transcendental brilliance knowing full well we were listening to something fantastic though even then – with a kind of premonition and a sad feeling in the gut – knowing somehow it wasn't going to be repeated because real history was beginning to say something far more pertinent and which the last days of jazz was also straining to discover. (How one can have sense of such things in the offing perhaps we'll never know). There was though a very enjoyable conclusion to this earlier moment. We and our friends – as per usual – sat through Coltrane's rendition of God Save the Queen which was then an obligatory formality all entertainment paid lip service to. One of us, David Young, loudly proclaimed to the stage and audience alike: "that it was the best God Save the Queen" he'd ever sat through.
The times were a'changing fast and the activities around Icteric were more and more moving towards total subversion. In no way could the group hold together and tensions within became palpable the more that risks were taken. In any case the group even when playing with the art/anti-art dichotomy had provoked outright hostility from the cultural establishment in Newcastle who were so conservatively brain-dead they couldn't even see where their own cultural future lay. Instead of intelligently patronizing or co-opting or even simply realising there was nothing overtly anti the system here (it was too confused for that) they came down upon it forcibly and stupidly - none so much when an article was published in a rag called The Northerner in 1966. It's perhaps worth quoting a few extracts from it......
"It was becoming increasingly obvious to a few people that there was no longer any valid reason to make sculpture or paintings. Looking at the current art magazines revealed a uniform dullness: nothing seemed to shine anywhere. The real was so much more interesting than the simulated and offered so many more possibilities" which was how it kicked off. The brash article was meant to be intentionally provocative, encompassing a kind of put-on blatant philistinism The opening sentence was followed by an attack on all art from Rembrandt, through Degas to Rodin in the spirit of Dada – a movement which was praised - along with the most subversive anti-art aspects of Surrealism and Russian Constructivism using ample quotes which ironically belied the 'philistinism': "Painting is a pharmaceutical product for idiots" (Francis Picabia) "art is nonsense" (Jacques Vache) and "the high images have fallen"(Andre Breton) etc.
"......... what we did as a group (Icteric) was merely to recognise this and to notice that in the last 25 years there has been a shabby attempt at restoration. After the rejection of aesthetics by Constructivism and Surrealism, Cubism (which Picabia called a "cathedral of shit") was reaffirmed with Abstract Expressionism......................................"
"What artists do now is merely capitalise on a stage in development and not carry it off one quarter as well. For instance, Neo-Dada which is supposed to relate to Dada when it's patently obvious that, say, a painter like Roy Lichtenstein relates more to Matisse than say, Duchamp. There is the same saleable gallery product, the same lovely "well applied paint", and the same viewing distance from the "canvas" – even using a canvas! Incredibly conservative. Is Lichtenstein a salon painter – the 1960s Bougereau ? (a French academician in the late 19th century). Is he even as good?"
"Are not Rheinhardt's and Stella's paintings about the death of painting? Painting about Malevich's "deserts of vast eternity"? As Nietzsche said: "The desert grows woe to him that bears the desert unto himself". Malevich rejected the love of the desert and ended by making Suprematist designs for his coffin. Will Stella do likewise? It is distressing to see pictures that were done in an iconoclastic spirit now interpreted as how to make pictures."
"...If all there is in front of us is a future of style, style, style, we must still attempt to recreate this (fundamental fury) that motivated Surrealism, Dada and Constructivism – and that re-creation must not be a style neither. Perhaps we can start by burying Surrealism, Dada and Constructivism, by recognising that they were in turn second class revolutionary movements".
In a way this was all very pointed stuff for the ignorant times of the mid-1960s and, moreover, in a very backward country in comparison to France and though working in the dark without knowledge of the International Lettrists or Situationists, nonetheless we were on the right path towards liberation, preparing the ground, readying us as it were to hear and inwardly digest the more lucid grasp which had been taking place elsewhere, even though the same message was also not at all well known in its place of birth. In saying this though, this short text on Icteric was finally confused and inconsistent and these passages quoted above were the best parts.
Nevertheless, as previously mentioned, this brief piece of propaganda created a furore among Newcastle's cultural establishment. Some even called for legal sanctions particularly as it had come on the heels of a declamation proclaiming support for the floods in the Italian city of Florence in 1966, when the river Arno burst its banks and had devastated (or for us had "transformed") the art treasures of that Renaissance city. No one came to our support and there was a loud silence from those - to be oh so famous - Tyneside Poets emanating from the somewhat avant-gardism of Basil Bunting's writings – around Tom Picard and the Morden Tower Collective who'd proudly brought Allen Ginsberg to the cold Newcastle nights. They also really didn't like that assault on poetry. How dare we when surrounded by philistinism and straights in any case! In return we thought they were bollocks without a critique! Looking back perhaps one could say that such things were a kind of crude, even vulgar, though necessary provocation of traditional artistic values. Nowadays though, when we survive in a situation where the nihilism of post modernism in its bland reinterpretation cum ultra-commodification mania encompassing memories, wilfully trashing these self same Renaissance objets d'art and where "higher values" are seamlessly flattened out in the pure value of money to be made from anything and everything, our support for anti-aesthetic Arno floods simply wouldn't have the same meaningful impact where today everything becomes an equivalent and Damien Hirst is the aesthetic equal of Michelangelo, etc.
We were cutting through crap as well as floundering. We were real and very authentic at the same time as the media – in a general sense – was beginning to take us. Maybe here it's best to quote from a diary jotting of 1972 as it also recounts something of which we were feeling at the time. "The overt recuperation of the Happening though was already well underway as it headed towards the mainstream as portrayed in - HELP - the first film by the Beatles. They also laughed at Neo-Dada art objects - wire sculptures etc. New media techniques of montage and quick splicing were developed as a form of hip youth cum-class-aggression against an ossified English ruling elite – but all set firmly within the on-going capitalist order." At the same time, around 1966, re-reading Harold Rosenberg's, The Tradition of the New - a book mainly about American Abstract Expressionism - suddenly the best of his comments came into focus as we noted an undertow which Rosenberg didn't dare clearly express. This implied that The Tradition of the New was better than the art commodities described – in particular beginning to note that Neo-Dadaist products were, "the relics of subversion" nothing more than "a ritualised vanguardism". This was just what we wanted to hear though by then we had acquired the wit to distance ourselves from his ultimately laudatory appraisal of Abstract Expressionism. A little later, in the same diary – looking at it again after all these years (!) - there follows something else and which still doesn't make complete sense – though getting somewhere: " The gestural, post abstract expressionist activity, wasn't enough without a better comprehension of the breakdown of everyday life. Taken as one-dimensional, post artistic, it also couldn't immediately comprehend the sheer totality of present day nihilism which does demand a greater comprehension of the vacuity at the heart of work, sex, personal relationships and the family, as well as the mirage of all important consumer identifications".
Around this time, Ron Hunt arranged an exhibition in Newcastle called Descent into the Street which despite the contradiction between the title and the situation – street and art gallery - and which we were aware of, clarified things further for us as it was a compilation of past acts in the first 40 or so years of the 20th century where art was pushed historically behind us, preparing the way for a greater general, communal creativity. It contained pointers towards the negation and supercession of art, although we were still fuzzy about where the path of supercession lay. In a sense the exhibition was the explanation of that history, if a little confused at times like bringing in examples of Maoist calisthenics etc. A little later Ron heard about the activities (from some marginal art magazine) of Black Mask in New York who'd made an intervention at some cultural meeting in a plush art gallery shouting "burn the museums baby", "art is dead", "Museum closed" etc. Exhilarated, he told us and none too soon, as we were all in trouble! One of us (Johnny Myers) had just padlocked and chained up the entrance to the university art school preventing any student or teacher from entering and on which was placed a notice in big black letters: "Art School Closed Forever". Moreover, just before that, he'd sprinkled gunpowder in a long trail down the interior steps and through the corridors of the sculpture school and was going to light it before getting stopped by horrified students who grassed him up. Soon letters were sent out to New York and we got replies immediately: "brothers/sisters come and join us"! So two of us (Dave Wise and Anne Ryder) went from Newcastle To New York and in the summer of 1967 engaged in some of the activities of Black Mask2 (one which resulted in being held up by the police at an H. Rap Brown meeting) and / or simply enjoying their company and writing one or two things, particularly a completely OTT bloodthirsty manifesto on which was placed the names of some of those who'd gathered around the now defunct Icteric. Having by then heard of the Situationists in New York, Ben Morea gave us the personal addresses and telephone numbers of those individuals who resided in London whom we duly contacted on our return to England.
First though let's turn to another part of the missing link.
Any discussion of the guys around the magazine Heatwave3 produced in London and those other individuals who initially formed the English section of the SI is another story and one that still has not been clearly documented. Hopefully this may yet happen. As mentioned before, because we were understandably absorbed with the amazing possibilities of the present and obsessed with how essentially to change an impossible society together, we never talked too much about our respective personal pasts. We were overcome with a compelling urgency and at all costs we had to act, NOW! However, for the moment a few comments on Heatwave may be useful. For its time, and considering this is England, the magazine was quite astounding. It was certainly better than what had taken place in Newcastle though without the trouble and fisticuffs which had erupted in a somewhat boondocks of a town, in comparison to London. Heatwave was however the first magazine of all to put the new revolt of youth into some kind of perspective with specific reference to Mods and Rockers, Beats and the like, affirming their vandalistic acts of destruction as something which could have real future consequences. No doubt they were bouncing off the magazine Rebel Worker in America but it was to the good. Ben Covington and Charlie Radcliffe were the two people who initiated Heatwave. Chris Gray, soon attracted to the publication, provided critiques of Dada and Surrealism that were really to the point. Inevitably, and with a past hindsight which is all too easy, Rebel Worker in America was full of great intention and though excellent for its time was also packed with confusion. On the Poverty of Student Life in France pointed this out (though only criticising Rebel Worker's affirmation of Mao's Cultural Revolution) without commenting upon its up-beat assessment of youth music from The Beatles to Bob Dylan.These spectacular foci of the youth rebellion required, it seems at the time, no further comment, though obviously the mood was there as the intentionally altered English production of a French Situationist poster two years later specifically attacked pop music with one of the cartoon characters mouthing off about somebody being, "just another bloody Beatle". However, what was also needed was something crisper in terms of theory and the momentum of history to bring that aggro out. Luckily that was clearly hoving into view. At the time though, musical identifications in youth rebellion seemed to merit no further and deeper comments. Moreover, theory in Rebel Worker was confused, categorising people who use their brains as just corny old-timers without insisting on thought as necessary as long as it's not part and parcel of the specialist role which usually goes with the paid-up intellectual which mostly indicates the absence of real thought. Again though, we must understand all this in relationship to the time. The best of Heatwave and Rebel Worker were the first "primitive" theoretical awakenings of that visceral need to live manifested in many aspects of a cushioned welfare-pinned youth rebellion and which rapidly found its cutting edge in 1968 – though not without sharply criticising the shortcomings of its very recent past.
And from these two disparate connections King Mob took off ........