On the subject of London, yes, the smog last week was unpleasant, but what really scares me is the long-term viability of the Thames Barrier. And there is, of course, no joined up thinking evident about the possible impact of flooding on the capital and what effect this might have on planning. The Greenwich peninsula, for instance, has been earmarked for intensive development over the next decade. There are multi-storey apartment blocks going up everywhere along the Thames Path. This on an area of marshland that wasn't even permanently settled until the nineteenth century because it flooded all the time. Meanwhile, here's a cheerful picture of how much of the capital would be under water if the Thames Barrier ever failed. Fun times ahead!
A pretty good year for music? I'd say so. I haven't gone to as many gigs this year as I'd like to have (curse you, Deerhunter, for cancelling your European tour!), but I managed Esben and the Witch and Thought Forms:
Plus Veronica Falls and the Kristin Hersh/Throwing Muses album launch:
Here's a Spotify playlist I ended up making of new music that moved me in 2013, compiled kinda in response to the Guardian's predictably popist top 40 (which, natch, excluded pretty much all of it).
London is one of the world's most intensified cities, yet the same problems of housing cost and housing supply are playing out here. Again, simply put: there is a shortage of "affordable" rental accommodation (<£1200 pcm) in the City and a disproportionate amount of new developments being built cater for the global super rich. As in Auckland, I suspect, these properties are marketed off-plan and are bought by investment consortia. In other words, they're not built to live in; they're built primarily to be financial assets. Many sit empty year round: there are whole apartment blocks, hell, whole streets in places like Chelsea, where there isn't a light on after dark.
This is "market failure" like that plaguing Auckland writ large. And it indicates what the problem actually is: especially since 2008, urban planning and politics are being conducted for the benefit of the global elite rather than local populations. This is what "foreign investment" in the housing market looks like: retail prices out of the reach of anybody living and earning locally and new properties essentially designed to sit vacant all year round, while the local political elite increasingly sees the global rich as their constituency, not local electors.
The idea that neoliberal policies like MUD are going to fix this is beyond laughable. This is the end-game of neoliberalism: this is the world they wanted. Those of us who have to live full-time in the cities now being run like theme parks for the global rich are not, how shall we say, the target market for mainstream political parties anymore.
Our very own Matthew Bannister has some interesting things to say about the influence of the Velvets (and the influence of Warhol on them) in his White Boys, White Noise. He wrote a really good piece in Popular Music a few years as well, which touched on the question of how such an ephemeral and hard-to-access cultural artefact as the Velvet’s first album was able to circulate and become influential in ’70s New Zealand, but I can’t find a free version online. Curse you, Cambridge University Press!
Having spent some time this week arguing on Twitter with the author of the blog post that declared Lorde’s ‘Royals’ is “deeply racist” (I’m not giving them any more inbound links, soz) because it observes that the ostentation of major label hip hop and other Top 40 pop isn’t terribly relevant to suburban teens in New Zealand, I can report that she and her friends aren’t really worth arguing with.
What a two-handed head clutcher. I wonder if anti-racism often comes to resemble normal racism because it starts out by accepting the assumptions and categories of racism itself?
... And I just found these entries by chance in a POW's 1918 diary in the Liddle Collection in Leeds:
Sunday 16 June 1918
I have seen more men reading their bibles than ever before.
Monday 17 June 1918
Work on roadway, heavy rain.
Dinner not fit to eat ...
And here's Private Sidney Hamblin, 7th Battalion, Duke of Cornwall's Light Infantry, writing home from the trenches:
10 January 1918 The trenches are awful, I didn’t sing many carols, old Fritz’s shells don’t form a very good base … The chaps read their bibles and pray, they look at that verse in Rev which says the war will last 42 months & of course they think it refers to this war, they don’t understand … Well my best hope is a slight wound that will take me home.
There's this long history of books (and even the Bible!) coming in quite handy in combat zones and behind the lines. Losing oneself in a book momentarily was a tried and true coping mechanism for combat stress, not to mention a way of doing something in the long hours of waiting that military life generally consists of ...
But as far as comfort goes, I would be cursing and swearing for allowing myself to be in such a position where a book (!) is alleged to be of some use.
So you're not down with this kind of thing?
The camp library is yours - Read to win the war
You will find popular books for fighting men in the recreational buildings and at other points in this camp. Free. No red tape. Open every day. Good reading will help you advance. Library War Service, American Library Association .
LOL. No, Danielle, it wasn't you! Actually, this would have been around 2000, early 2001 at the latest, so you might not have been around at that point. And in any case it was a Department (That Shall Not Be Named) that you were fortunate enough never to work in ...
So there you go: a cast iron alibi! :)
The relationship between a credulous approach to psychometric testing and plain old managerial incompetence seems a valid one to me, at least anecdotally.
I remember in a certain job I had at the turn of the millennium, our manager had us all do a Myers Briggs test and put our results up on a big whiteboard in her office, where they remained for many months. This was at the exact same time as said manager was embarking on a truly catastrophic set of hiring decisions, which saw us take on, in short order, a non-functional alcoholic who was master of the unexplained two-hour “tea break,” a guy who would eventually run off with the social club funds, and another who openly surfed for pr0n on the reference desk in full view of both customers and staff, and honestly didn’t see the problem. All of these guys had to be fired or forced out, at considerable expense to the organization. (Although from memory the alcoholic pre-empted his firing by forging himself a university degree – using a workmate’s diploma and the departmental photocopier – and applying to teach English in China.)
So, yeah. Ever since then the link between MBTI and terrible management has been clear in my head, at least …
On another note entirely, however (and I know this contradicts pretty much my entire comment above), look! Siltbreeze just released a Victor Dimisich Band retrospective. Download those "Native Waiter" MP3s today!