1 Adrift in Notting Hill and A Blues for Shindig
2 Alex Trocchi’s Invisible Insurrection
3 Longhair Times: Hoppy and Miles
4 Rolling Stones on the Portobello Road
5 Michael X on the Black Beat in the Ghetto
6 Ladbroke Grove Roots

Ladbroke Grove Roots

The IT 10.5 emergency issue after the paper’s first bust, that doubled as the ‘Technicolour Dream’ programme, features a poem by Dave Tomlin calling for more flower power in the gardens of Notting Hill: ‘Pavement bursting grass, quickening the grove, greening out the grey this spring, seeds scattered on brown municipal mound in conduit lined holes, to find its way into the sun and spread a carpet for London child to dance, these grains carried in pockets ready to sow in subversive sweeps where heavy unseeing law can only flounder, and with the wirespring rooted grass mix sundry blobs of colour from Woolworth packaged blooms to invade this grove with smells that clog the diesel chugging pipes and waft the scent of sanity from Portobello’s Gate.’

Notting Hill Interzone International Times
As students took to the barricades in Paris in May 1968, John Hopkins came up with International Times 30, the Notting Hill ‘Interzone A’ map issue – inspired by a combination of William Blake and William Burroughs, Situationist psychogeography and local history. The ‘Interzone’ IT cover features a Ladbroke Grove Carnival procession cut-up collage by Miles, incorporating Coleridge King Mob graffiti and the mayor Malby Crofton. In 1970 the International Times/White Panthers stall in the basement of the Friends Market at 305 Portobello Road sold such head classics as Burroughs’ Speed, The Book of Grass, and Thomas de Quincey’s Confessions of an English Opium Eater.

2 Blenheim Crescent and Bill Hopkins
The Family Dog Shop at 2 Blenheim Crescent was the Portobello hippy ephemera ‘headshop’, named after the San Francisco ballroom commune of the acid guru Chet Helms. On the site of Minus Zero 60s and 70s punk specialist record shop, at the time ‘rings, skins and things, clothing from the East, incense, jewellery, pipes and other smokers needs’ were purveyed. The beatnik landlord Bill Hopkins let the upstairs office to the Word underground poster designers, who at Christmas ’68 sent season’s greetings ‘to all IT readers and heads everywhere, and new friends and old in or out of jail.’

Performance: I need a Bohemian atmosphere
During James Fox’s hippy makeover on Powis Square in Performance Anita Pallenberg considers calling “Doctor Burroughs.” As well as being an associate of Michael X, the beat writer William Burroughs, of Junkie and Naked Lunch notoriety, influenced the film on several levels from his cut-up technique of editing to his favourite themes of sexual experimentation, heroin and assassins. ‘The Hashishin’ track and Mick Jagger’s accompanying potted history of Hassan-I-Sabbah, the old man of the mountains and the assassins, has been dismissed as a hippy cliché by Michael Moorcock, but this aspect of the film has taken on heavier significance post 9/11.

Michael X’s hustling career wouldn’t miss a Bohemian beat. In 1967, as he reinvented himself as Britain’s Black Power/Flower Power messiah with an Afro, beard, satin shirt and paisley trousers, he appeared with Allen Ginsberg at the Legalise Pot rally in Hyde Park. In spite of the efforts of the International Committee to Save Michael X (which included William Burroughs, Alex Trocchi, John Michell, the Lennons and Leonard Cohen), in 1975, after three years on death row in Port of Spain, Trinidad, Michael was hanged for murder and buried in the prison Golden Grove graveyard. VS Naipaul concluded that the hippest hippies; Burroughs, Lennon and Trocchi; all fell for Michael’s performance and patronised him as ‘the militant who was only an entertainer.’

The Beat Bar and Bongos Square
The Mau Mau Bar at 265 Portobello Road (which was part of the 70s Motor City jeans store) started out as ‘the Motown Majic Company’s Original Soul Bar’ in the early 90s, featuring Motown record encrusted counters. After that 265 had an existential spell as the Beat Bar before its current hip-hop incarnation. In the 90s the Tavistock Road pedestrianised square was an impromptu venue of appearances by JC001, the local speed-beat-rapper, and rave tourist beat revival bongothons.

back to talking pictures




PFF report