Monday, 21 April 2008

Lyrics & their meanings Part 10 - Helter Skelter

This continuing story of song lyrics and there meaning in some of the worlds best loved songs.
Are they really as important as you make them out to be?

Helter Skelter (1968) – The Beatles

Rollicking’ number that most people on first listen must of thought it was a John Lennon composition. But Paul McCartney took
a break from writing “about boring people doing boring things” as Lennon liked to call them, to write a gritty piece of music full of menace and kicked harder than anything The Who could do. But the words were exactly as Lennon had described earlier. They are about going down a large slide at a Carnival.
Makes you think Charles Manson picked the wrong song to base his racial cleansing and murder sprees

© 2004 Shidot Prod.

Monday, 7 April 2008

Whatever happened to the Skinheads?

Historical accuracy warning
Disclaimer note:
Not everybody remembers things the same and I was a bit young when Skinheads first ruled, so please forgive any glaring omissions.

Whatever happened to the Skinheads?

When I was growing up in Melbourne in the 1970s three things seem to have become intrinsically linked to my memory of the period.
1.The summers were always hotter.
2. There were heaps more kids and
3. Everyone over 12 with a few exceptions was a Skin(head) or a Sharpie.
It is now a historical fact that this was a cultural trend complete with fashion, attitude and even dancing that was unique to Australia.
The short back and sides with the rat tails down the back, the conte cardigans with the little buttoned flap on the middle back area, the chiselled toed shoes with the Cuban heel the tight Levi’s or Lee jeans and the flared Staggers or pinstriped trousers with or without platform shoes for going out.

The whole sharpie thing was very close to the English Mods it was about being “Sharp”
As a group the Sharpies (as I recall) the guys as well as the girls always looked good.
When I was young my brother-in-law a good ten years older than me said that growing up in the early 60’s he was a member of the Jordy Boys, named after our suburb Jordanville, and also the local all boys Technical school. They wore their hair short and wore Cuban heels and naff cardigans with slacks and jeans. These guys moved on and then the long hairs eventually took over then about 1972 the local teenagers were getting their haircut and wearing platform shoes, a fad had started and it was called a skin head, it was said to be heavily influenced by the movie “ Clockwork Orange” the film adaptation of Anthony Burgess’ book, starring Malcolm McDowell. The braces and boots didn’t catch on in
Melbourne, originally the haircut was the fashion, usually the youth of the day wore runners, jeans and miller shirts. As the movement evolved gangs started to assemble. In my area it was the Holmesglen Skins and they began to dress in the now traditional dress as mentioned earlier. With the gangs came the gang mentality and the peer group pressure that manifested into a violent attitude and the territorial protection of their turf. It spawned infamous gangs such as the Melbourne Skins, A&A Sharps and the Northside Sharps.
The movement peaked in the mid 70’s with huge summer concerts and bands like The Coloured Balls and Buster Brown capitalising on the fashion. As the next generation moved up, many in awe of their bigger brothers or sisters the Skin had now become the Sharpie and movement was fading. Music styles were changing, many didn’t want to be part of such a violent culture and many were just growing up and moving on. The last wave of Sharpies (now Sharps) were in the late 70’s the local gang were once again called the Jordy Boys again and consisted mainly of school kids trading on others reputation, with the odd older member from an earlier incarnation who just couldn’t let go as a leader or figure head, by the early 80, most sharps were mistaken for Punks.
But for something that had an impact on so many young people of the time it is very hard to find any photos, reference or historical data referencing it.
It’s like those involved don’t want to remember it.
I have my own theory about this, maybe due to violent tag that Sharpies eventually were lumbered with or the direct connection of their haircuts and dress (mullet and tight jeans) with that inner city swear word: BOGAN.
There are some small snippets like the Greg Macainsh of Skyhooks fame mini Documentary of 1974 Sharpies. There is also the photograph collection held at the Victoria Library of Larry Jenkins of his time with the South Blackie (Blackburn) Sharps.
History hasn’t been kind, with Skinheads these days portrayed as the English equivalent (Romper Stomper), a more solitary, excessively violent and political character, something the Melbourne movement wasn’t, or as simple minded skinny ruffians with rat tails down to their backside who had bad teeth and looked like they didn’t wash.(Dogs In Space)
Eventually some true history of Skinheads will emerge and maybe a decent period movie will be made, though I doubt it.

Since this article was posted I've been contacted by Chris O'Halloran of the Skins and Sharps website. A brilliant historical site documenting many an ex sharpie story with lots of great old photos.

This article originally appeared in the Boronia and Basin Community Newspaper June 2010