How style swamps substance
24/12/2011 - "How style swamps substance" by Donal Carroll

How style trumps substance   - Rum Runner

Thank You All

At the end of the year, and welcoming a new one, for all our Critical Difference customers and supporters, here’s a poem I wrote some time back –with a new twist. Thank you again our customers and supporters.  

Now: What’s a poem for: an unsettler, think-nudger, to voice the unheard, a frolic in language…? All of these? First a few questions: What city was the club in -the poem’s named after it (not London)? When? What group were present, during that period, rising on the style mentioned in the poem?


Rum Runner   ‘dress up and drop out’  (Style Dick Hebdige)

Wind-skint, they gird up their macho, wooing

in traditional style: strut, jut, linger

and strategic disinterest that would pull

success… anywhere else but here

where the event pours its insides out in

to the alley each time the door opens

showering them with sound and rising salsa:

the doorman fouls their eyes, ignoring them.


Inside, spaced-in, the sound becomes a look:

in a petty-Borges atmosphere,

newage choirboys and matinee dreamboats

ignore teenage grannies who ignore twotones,

subalterns of style, ignoring the odd couple,

 Eric Flynn and Rita Haywhat, ignoring

Bog-Art, salivating gum, dressed in a conceptual mackintosh,

knocking back stacks of rockn’roll mouthwash

ignoring the spare Ted, well Lazurus’d.


Latin l’amours wear off the shoulder

highwaymen with Dick Turpentine cocktails;

pirates eye-shadow Regency dandies,

bockerknickered with brio and Brylcreem

and suffering from terminal flashback;

the ballet dressed talking bicep with the

authority of Sandra Dee’s underwear

quotes a crinoline: cubby-hole peacocks.


The dearth of cocktail kitsch cruelty wear

goes unnoticed; the military fatigues;

Bowie clones invade the space placed round them,

wiggle their toggle, skeletal small-boying,

with their affliction curtaining one eye,

a hair so conscious it speaks its own lines;

all electronicking about the floor,

they salon, with a chip in their shoulders,

micro-moving the process of dancing:

 even a fractured eyelash is action.


This is the world of protective clothing;

style whiles away the climate of doing,

of necessity, other than itself;

sobbing soubrettes sartorial stimulants –

the socially biodegradable;

suddenly ‘Tomorrow belongs to me’

appears, a brown-shirted moment –ignored

like the price of the drinks, in the hunt for

the glint round the necklace of Narcissus.


Visitors' Comments on this Post

06/03/2012 Comment posted by Chris T
More like this please; some passion and fire with artistry and your sharp wordplay. Dick Hebdige and Rum Runner references point to Birmingham in the late 70\'s or early 80s, apparently associated with Duran Duran but you also mentioned two-tone. However, the cycle of self-conscious self-labelling or self-distancing as a part of the (sub) cultural identity parade is ongoing, and I tend to agree with (my reading of) your reading - that change, the doing of good (or bad), and/or the sublimation of (the/my) \"self\" as a cult-in-itself in favour of anything real, gritty and problematic, is a superfluous, underdressed and unliked guest in this (and then already) post-modernist milieu.
28/12/2011 Comment posted by Claudia
Interesting take on style. It just shows our diversity in all its forms.

Make a Comment

name *
email *
comment *
security code *
  CAPTCHA Image Reload Image


24 Dec 2019 - Caught in the fact?: How to recognise Trump cardsFact attack, truth-decay and critical thinking Click here to read Donal Carroll 's latest blog post: Caught in the afacta™?: How to recognise Trump cards

23 May 2016 - Disrupting Business PlanningAnticipating and responding to 'failure' from the very startClick here to read Donal Carroll's latest blog post: Disrupting Business Planning



Critical Difference on Twitter  Critical Difference on Facebook    Critical Difference on YouTube Critical Difference podcasts on Podomatic

Critical Difference © Copyright 2010. All rights reserved.
Website designed by Webeo Pro Ltd.