There’s more to life than music. In the latest instalment of our Show & Tell series, British house icon Justin Robertson selects a series of videos to talk us through some of his interests outside music, from skateboarding to the occult.
This is a bit of nostalgia for me, I guess? I used to like all those future dystopia movies. I loved the Ray Bradbury book, The Martian Chronicles, and the mini series version is a perfect nylon enthusiast’s vision of a possible future on Mars. With one heck of a far-out space boogie soundtrack, and a bemused looking Rock Hudson, this was a real touchstone for me as a kid, though the sets make it look more like the kitchen department at Ikea rather than 21st-century Mars.
Old Biker Films
I enjoy old biker films from time to time – everyone having a groovy time, and generally sticking it to the man. Of course, unruly behaviour invariably leads to a sticky end, especially when you cross the heat – it’s a hard lesson for wannabe road warriors. I used to hang out with a few biker cats when i was younger, and my ex-girlfriend went out with an outlaw biker gang’s president. He was very polite, and always took his leather off so as not to mark the furniture.
Rodney Mullen – Skateboard Wizard
I used to love skateboarding. I was rubbish, but it was a great way to switch off and have fun. I was obsessed with the Bones Brigade, and particularly Rodney Mullen; watching him is like watching a magician, it’s hard to comprehend. He’s also very articulate – really quite eccentric, but he is a great ambassador for skateboarding. He’s done a bunch of fascinating talks for TED, the Smithsonian, etc. Proper wizard stuff.
I love a bit of psychogeography, me. When I’m off at various acid house venues around the globe, I enjoy a random wonder around – it’s the best way to experience a place, plus it’s a great way to find a bit of peace. It strikes me we spend a lot of time, heads bent looking at Google Maps, rushing about trying to follow follow that infernal arrow. Instead, why not try looking about? Take an arbitrary route into the unknown – you never know what you might find. Having a dog, I sometimes take his lead, though more often than not that means a charge through a muddy bog. It’s hard not to talk about this without sounding massively pretentious, but basically it’s just bowling about for laughs and liberation.
Hornets – digging for frocks
I love rummaging about vintage clothing shops. I love clothes. I really love them too much. My wife is a stylist, and we are exploding out of our house with fancy frocks. I’m not really interested in fashion, but I do dig style, and not in a fancy dress sort of way, but taking bits and pieces from here and there and making something of your own out of it – it’s really therapeutic. Hornets is quite near me – I often pop in for a gander and an entertaining chat. It’s top for shoes and tailored bargains. I love Portobello on a Friday too. I got a splendid military blouson jacket last week, and a steady stream of eBay parcels.
Gary Lachman – From CBGB’S to Esoteric Philosophy
Gary is a fantastic writer on matters that one could call occult, though it’s better characterised as esoteric history of consciousness. He was in Blondie during the 70s and played with Iggy Pop for a bit too. Now he writes very digestible books about mysterious matters and important, often unseen, aspects of history, psychology, philosophy, etc. His book Turn Off Your Mind is a fabulous take on the dark side of the 1960s, and his book Caretakers Of The Cosmos I found fascinating. He has a lot in common with the writer Colin Wilson in characterising being ‘human’ as a lot more fun and important than perhaps much modern thinking has presented it. It seems to me that any positive spin on our place in the universe is most welcome. Though I’m not 100% sold on all aspects of mystical thinking, I do think they contain some deep truths about our nature; we seem to have a ‘spiritual’ or at least not entirely physical aspect to our being. Plus, I think seeing human beings as nothing more than a destructive virus is just too depressing to entertain. Gary Lachman rebalances that view somewhat.
Michael Moorcock – Far out Dude
Michael Moorcock is a writer that I used to love as a child. I think when I was a teenager I would read the books in a pure escapist fashion – I was an only child, and would often create these bizarre stories in my head! Michael Moorcock created a very psychedelic world which I could get lost in. In recent years, I’ve found myself returning to his books with a… if not wiser, then at least more experienced head on, and have been really enjoying them again. Some of the quantum physics ideas that bubble away in the background of some of his books are pretty far out, in a good way – it’s a pretty saucy universe of madness he conjures up. My next art show has an accompanying book, which I’m expanding into a novel that owes great debt to Michael Moorcock – especially his Jerry Cornelius stories. I also remember him reading poems out at a Hawkwind gig, so my inner hippie is still in there somewhere!
Mary Midgley – Science, Myth and Selfish Genes
I studied philosophy in my university days, back in the middle ages, and I have maintained a keen interest on the subject. I’m particularly fascinated by modern myths and science. Science is a vital part of life: the irresistible urge to discover and gain wisdom has been a very fine trait in human beings since we were sitting in caves banging mammoths on the head, but science should never be beyond criticism, and we must guard against misreadings or misuse of scientific ideas by oppressive ideologies, or as a way for us to simply give up trying to evolve in a positive way. Mary Midgley is brilliant. She is in her 90s, but is still combative and compelling – she points out quite effectively how science, far from being a neutral empirical subject, is often shot through with misleading myths and ideological bias. This chat is about selective interpretations of Darwin, the problems of individualism and the contemporary idea of the selfish gene. Gene theory is particularly problematic, as it often leads to a very depressing view of people as ‘fleshy cyborgs’. I certainly don’t want to be one of those – being human is much more fun than that. Chris Bateman is also good on the subject, and really readable; The Mythology Of Evolution is fantastic. I’m doing an art show/chat happening in June, and Chris is one of the speakers.