Saturday, August 11, 2007


I was reading this article in the Scotsman newspaper, about Larkhall hooligans vandalizing the green lens of local traffic signals. Larkhall is a town in Scotland infamous for its Protestant (orange) biased religious sectarianism, its powerfully popular Orange Order and Masonic Lodge, and its per capita vast majority of Glasgow Rangers Football Club fans (the big rival being the Roman Catholic (green) biased Glasgow Celtic Football Club.) The Rangers home strip (uniform) is colored red, blue, and white; while Celtic play in green and white hoops. The article chose to parallel this town’s inherent generational sectarianism as possible chief factor in this senseless, shameful, and dangerous vandalism. Of course, it could be coincidental that the green light is lowest to the ground, thus easiest to reach. Whichever and whatever is not the focus of this blog, instead I’d like to mull over how something as simple, innocent, and a natural phenomenon, as color is, invokes hate-fueled division and destruction; and is it particular to Scotland? (Ireland too, of course.)

My life in Southern California at large is blessedly sectarian free, which fits my makeup to a tee – I couldn’t give a stuff about anyone’s religious beliefs and which football (soccer) team they support, on a core level I never have. So long as they’re essentially a good person, they could fanatically believe in everything I don’t, and I really couldn’t care less. However, I cannot deny my background, my raising, and my native country’s biases, beliefs, and fanaticisms. Born, raised, schooled a Protestant in the Kirk of Scotland tradition, there was no escaping that non-chosen by I religion’s heritage and peculiar local culture. Favored graffiti scrawling of my childhood days reflected fervent Protestant and bitter Orange of the neighborhoods. The two predominant tags were “1690” (representing the Battle Of The Boyne – an attempt by King James VII of Scotland, and his cohort William III of England, to enthrone William, AKA King Billy) and “FTP” (F**k The Pope). Almost an anthem in many parts of Scotland was The Sash, AKA The Sash My Father Wore, a sectarian song commerating the Protestant victory over the Catholics at the Battle Of The Boyne...a ride in my school bus was regularly accompanied by the older kids bellowing out their passionate rendition.

It was all lost to me. I just didn't get it. History bored me terribly, maybe that played its part in my switch-off over things that happened eons ago. Organized religion never really touched my soul, so perhaps that also came into play. Anyhow, I played the spectator role, never a participant in this affliction of the Scottish gene.

Division Multiplies

So, there I am one day in my Spiritual haven of sumptuous Malibu Colony Plaza – geographically 6000 miles from the divisiveness, chronologically 10 years removed, and culturally light years beyond the Scottish sectarian crap – I order up a cup of coffee only to have the American guy behind the counter grin and ask, “So, you orange or green?”

A Kodak moment, indeed. In an instant, my Californian sun-tanned face morphed to Scottish peely-wally complected childhood days. Got me thinking, well it would, wouldn’t it?

Not so far from this heavenly retreat of Malibu, where I worked for the local media excepting cultural and economic variances, of course lie areas such as South Central, Compton, Watts, and their ilk, where colors – as per Scotland – are viewed as denoting affiliations and associations that can, and do, determine whether one is going to survive unhurt, or not, this day. Crips in blue; Bloods in red. A belief held in Scotland, as a bandanna worn in Los Angeles, can either make or break your day!

Fortunately, for me that day in Malibu, I was born on the ‘right side of the track’, and had DJ-ed at the famous Glasgow Rangers Social Club, so got to enjoy a friendly cup o’ Joe. But, I’m puzzled – Why aren’t the Crips vandalizing red stop lights? Can it be that the red lens is farthest from the ground!

© 2007 Nigel Hamilton-Allan

Thursday, August 9, 2007


It’s Thursday in Southern California, sun streaming through the window on the mid-morning following the 12:48 A.M. 4.6 magnitude earthquake – the violent jolt then roller kind – centered but a few miles from where I am in San Fernando Valley.

Thursdays have morphed considerably from those of my childhood Scottish ones spent collecting my Granny’s pension with my Mum and the prerequisite Lucky Bag containing sweeties (candies) and a cheap toy for my troubles trudging under gray skies and rain swept streets. Simple days in simpler times. Cause and effect in a lucid synchronicity. Go and fetch and be rewarded….

Instant karma!

Today, looking out on my world of change – geographical, financial,
cultural, and climatic – that constant Law of the Universe, Causality: cause and effect, has apparently forsaken its roots planted in simpler soil for a more complex sophisticated tangle of twisted routes. High gain seems no longer exponential with hard work. Personal and professional pains are evidently not always related to self-inflicted wounding ways. Even show business celebrity and riches are ever increasingly sharing a clear disconnect from talent and ability.

Open a current copy of Billboard, turn on the television, go to the cinema, listen to a politician – where is the craft anymore? Sure, the money’s there (even more so now than it ever has been) the awards are presented (again, more numerous are the statuettes, the discs, the glassware than before) the fans and voters are supportive (yet again, in greater numbers and more vociferous than ever.) Graffiti on the wall is screaming: Fame and fortune out of sync with faculty….

Big effect for little cause?

A swift glance at the machinations of what goes on and what gives today behind-the-scenes reveals a karmic Universe at work still. A vast spill of blood, sweat, and tears is, as ever, going into hauling earthbound dim lights zenith high, making them big stars and galactically bigger bucks. Only it’s the marketing gurus, the spin-doctors, the PR people that are investing their energies and capabilities into launching and maintaining its clientèle, rather than the raw talent itself being ground and honed on the whetstone of its craft.

However, a noticeable and marked subsequent effect of the Marketing Departments’ successful cause is their own rocketing rise through the layers of executive power and decision-making. Instant karma and apparent logic dictates marketers know who and what is marketable, thus spin-doctors practice green-lighting people and projects more and more. They flood the market with dim lights skillfully prepackaged as big stars, thereby effecting the market’s supply perversely. The public’s – the audience and the voters – demand for some form of entertainment and government is unchanging, so are malleable under the conditioning forces of this enormous and ever-growing “forced market” the marketers have created/caused under the auspices of their equally effective behemoth departments of position, power and influence. All this madness of apparent undeserved, unearned, universe out-of-whack prominence and prosperity merely represents the shift of perspective going down. One man’s meat being another’s poison, and all that good stuff.

Life’s a Lucky Bag.

As a species, we crave/demand to be entertained and governed, albeit within unspecified limits. And as such, a ravenous demand makes the supply a veritable lottery, bringing all kinds of clowns, jesters and jokers to play at our table, and make feast from our hard-earned dollars. However, limits are limits regardless of their specificity, or otherwise.

A day is rapidly nearing when the entertained and the governed will effect a ground-shaking change in the marketplace. Like brats spoiling for improvement, they will stomp up a tectonic tantrum till they get a new Lucky Bag containing sweeter candy and a superior toy. Best dive under your lacquered mahogany desks now, marketers, nigh is near
for an almighty earth shattering experience that will make this morning’s 4.5 seem child’s play.

© 2007 Nigel Hamilton-Allan