Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for October, 2008

They have more money. A lot more money . . .And they come to England to go Partridge Hunting. 

Piece in the News Of The World – lending itself credibility as a newspaper for once – about AIG bigwigs spending £50,000 to go PARTRIDGE HUNTING!! Private jets, vintage wines, private manor – nothing’s too good for our betters in the financial district. At least Maureen Dowd at the Times had the temerity to call for a Wall of Shame for these guys.  But why does it take a columnist? Why indeed aren’t the guilty all over the front page of the Times? Why aren’t they in jail? 

To continue: From the Guardian: Wall Street banks in $70 billion staff payout. This is such a blatant looting of the economy, along the lines of the Soviet nomenklatura and KGB stealing the assets of the crumbling Soviet state before they set themselves up in business as mafiosi and other riff-raff. Wonder if the same thing will happen in the US. 

As Mark Steel in the Independent writes; If we stop their bonuses, bankers are hardly going to go on strike. And if they do, who will miss them? 

People seem to forget that class war existed for a reason. I mean, what do these guys do exactly? Besides hunting partridge and looting the economy? How do they benefit society?

 And, yes indeedy, why aren’t they in jail?

Advertisements

Read Full Post »

For things happening in Brixton and around. Photos, reviews, raves, drugs etc.

http://www.urban75.org

Read Full Post »

The Elephant guarding the Elephant Mall

The Elephant guarding the Elephant Mall

The Mall . . . Britain’s first ever indoor shopping mall. I still drop in. I feel almost affectionate for it now, this decaying hulk that has been so central to my London for going on twenty years – ever since I first moved here as an adult in the fall of 87, not a month before the stock market tanked just as it did last week.

The mall feels embattled, though I wonder how long this feeling will last if the credit crunch deepens. At what point will the plug be pulled on all those new towers going up north and west of the roundabout, at what point will the ‘revitalization’ of the Elephant be put on hold? In the late 1980’s, when I was living in Montreal, you could walk downtown and see empty lots everywhere. Empty hi-rises and luxury shopping malls as well, with vacancy rates of 50% and up. You’d go on the top floor of Cours Mont Royal and see mannequins stacked up in the empty storefronts . . .

The Heygate Estate is half sealed off. Talked to my old flatmate last week and he said he was being moved out in a couple of weeks. Yet somehow, the mall survives. The little Columbian cafe in the middle of the second floor is almost pleasant with the Columbian accordion music in the background. On Sunday, when I was down, sunlight poured through the open doors and the traffic was minimal so you were spared the usual traffic roar that makes anywhere in the Elephant feel like the edge of an expressway.

Stairway to the Bingo Palace

Stairway to the Bingo Palace

You can never get away from the basic airport terminal feel of the mall’s upper level, with the terrible muzak played a little too loud, the concrete ceilings with the water sprinkler plugs, the flourescent lights reflecting off those strange pink and orange pillars- more than an hour there has a curiously deadening effect, but all malls feel deadening to some extent. In the evenings it is mostly empty but for a few stragglers off the trains, and people in the cafe. yet the doors remain open, so you can continue off the tunnels, through the mall to New Kent Road – I guess the Bingo Palace must stay open late.

It’s never menacing like it seemed when I first came to the Elephant in the late 80’s. One evening I came in to find a bunch of kids breakdancing in front of all the funky, council-issue graffiti on the billboards covering the empty storefronts. The main floor has not one, but two, excellent second hand bookstores and Le Bodeguita, the Columbian restaurant with the big glass windows in the corner, has dancing and great food. The Bingo Palace has been refurbished and does a good business, and there is some sort of bar on top with tables out on the roof. The Polish deli by the entrance to the train station has good sausage and Polish deli stuff cheap. An artist has taken over one of the storefronts, displaying drawings in an exhibition called Elephant Hotel. By the main roundabout entrance is a Chinese Herbalist advertising remedies for ‘man problems.’

You may not want to hang out here, but for an hour on a rainy day, the Elephant Mall is a little more interesting than most shopping malls.

Flourescent Elephants

Flourescent Elephants

Read Full Post »

Black Friday . . .

Work getting so scarce, you have to chase it like a boll weevil through the underbrush. At the JobCentre – known as the dole office in less PC times – they’re hiring more staff to take on the rush. You get £60 a week on the dole now, up from the £28.80 a week you got in my day in the early 90’s. Back when a pint of beer could still be had for £1.50.

Life in Britain . . . called Brook Street, one of dozens of agencies I registered with this summer and fall, none of whom have found me a fucking thing. Woman answers, regional accent, shrewish voice. “We’re busy right now . . . if there was anything we would have called you.” – then she hung up. Last week when I called in, she hectored me for not calling in more often. Hard times brings out this very Teutonic bullying quality in a certain kind of British person – the taste of power.

On the way home, the train was packed. Absurdly – you could hardly breathe. Usual plethora of people nattering on their mobiles. A black girl waving her arms around, acting out everything she was describing, smacking the other passengers. A woman just down the aisle, YELLING: “I can’t believe the fucking shit they make me put up with, I won’t take their FUCKING SHIT!!!”
I mean man. Five minutes on that train exhausted me. Wait ’til the pain really hits.

You see it in the ads: ‘Competitive rates: £7 per hour for admin, or admin work at minimum wage, less than £200 a week. How do you live in London on less than £200 a week?
Meanwhile: Bonuses for City high-flyers will be hard to reign in.

Seems Britain’s high-flying and obviously very valuable City execs, traders or whoever the fuck these people are will simply go to Mumbai Dubai Shanghai if they don’t get the million plus bonuses they feel they deserve. 

Well, let ’em go I say. Enough to make you a goddam Bolshevik. 

How about you readers, are recent events turning you into a Bolshevik?

Read Full Post »

The papers were full of it Friday. We are ‘sliding into recession’. So we’re not actually IN a recession yet, but ‘sliding’ into one. Some figure on a ‘shallow but painful’ (whatever that means) slowdown over Christmas, and a ‘difficult’ first half over 2009. Some say we’re in for 1992. But no one is predicting the Apocalypse, at least not for the moment.

This after the headlines, and not just the redtops, but all papers, have been trumpeting the return of 1929 and the Great Depression. For the last two weeks. Since economic cycles are so much about perception and confidence, it’s hard to see how this helps. Why, perhaps, such scaremongering, isn’t illegal.

The real trouble is that all this scaremongering creates intense anxiety without giving a clear picture of what’s going on. Sure, the US gov’t is about to siphon 700 billion dollars into Wall Street – a move that most commentators, liberal or conservative, Stateside or over here, seem to feel is a necessary evil. But will the aftereffects have a greater impact on everyone’s life than, say, the tech crash, the Russians defaulting on their loans in 1997, or even the lull after 9-11? And since the last few years of the ‘boom’ – the post 9-11 years, as far as I can see, have mostly been propped up by debt (‘If you don’t shop, you let the terrorists win’) – then how, in real terms, will the next year or two be different for the average man than they were before?

Read Full Post »