Monday, September 27 2004
Among the most economically depressed cities in the EU, Glasgow is trying to get its citizens back on their feet, again, with a pep-talking campaign. But is this feel-good campaign just 'spit 'n shine' style over substance in a city that is firmly rooted in the manufacturing of substance?
When you live in the target zone of terrorists, the "distant future" is simply the present plus five minutes. One lesson of 9/11 was that, ultimately, real power comes with the ability to terrify. In that context, the concept of powerlessness felt by this disenfranchised population takes on fresh meaning. Staying here is one step toward manifesting the kind of strength that, as a DC resident, we aren’t normally allowed to have: a sliver of dignity in a humbled place.
Shanghai's entry into the global market is an ambivalent mixture of imitation and excess. Strolling the parks, a few old men still wear blue Maoist worker's uniforms, but they are anachronisms among scores of trendy young hipsters sporting their own sassy blend of Japanese, American, and European fashion. Shanghai is on its way up, but even in its own eyes, it hasn't quite arrived. The older housing, and the era it represents feel endangered, about to be swept away in a typhoon of construction.
In Madrid the spirit of La Movida, a liberating time comparable to Swinging London, lives on: well after the death of Franco; through the terrorist activities of the Basque separatists; and it will continue, in spite of 11 March 2004, when Al Qaeda killed civilians -- Spaniards, Moroccans, Ecuadorians, people from the Dominican Republic, Cuba and China -- during their morning commute.
Monday, September 20 2004
Since heritage tourism is Charleston's lifeblood, and the city's main attraction for heritage tourists is its status as capital of the preserved antebellum lifestyle, it might be said that Charleston still profits from slavery. Almost as soon as slavery ended, Charleston's plantations fell into disrepair. It was only in the 20th century that these dubious monuments were restored to financial viability as tourist attractions. Charleston may sell a cotton candy version of its history, but Yankees consume it as enthusiastically as southerners.
Post-apartheid South Africa is now 10 years into its new democracy. Hope and progress are evident in places like bustling Johannesburg, where daily commerce at all levels of the economic spectrum are evident from one's very doorstep. But a country so deeply torn by political and racial violence is still healing and redefining itself. While Johannesburg is not an easy place to live, one feels quite 'alive' being here.
The Real World shot a segment in Philadelphia, thereby christening this city 'cool' to those who partake of such artificial takes on 'reality', but that show can't even come close to what is really cool about this city. Leaving no stone unturned, Reynolds explores every aspect of this place deemed the 'Cradle of Liberty' -- its history, its music, its politics and people -- but it was the death of one little boy that showed him the real spirit of Philadelphia.
In Cairo nothing seems to work that well, and yet everything seems to work out. The city is rotting as much as it is growing. The dead and the living commingle. Seeming always on the verge of collapse under its own weight, Cairo is perpetually reborn.
This tiny sliver of Ecuador rocks: with the waves of the surrounding ocean; to the beats at the Saturday night discoteca; and under the teetering mass of the world its weight unrelenting as the pull of gravity and industry. This essay is presented in four parts.
Bristol's racial history is as complex as that of any other city, but in England, this city is a site of struggle over how exactly the nation's complex racial history will be managed in the future. Bristol may be picturesque, with its old stone buildings and plentiful parks, but its contemporary street names, such as 'White Lady' and 'Black Boy', proffer constant reminders of Bristol's relationship to its racial and imperial past.
December 2005 will mark the 100th anniversary of one of the fundamental principals of French republican ideology: the separation of Church and State. By way of preamble, and in conjunction with celebrations for the 60th anniversary of its liberation, Paris declared 2004 its "Year of Secularism". But one of France's paradoxes amongst its bourgeoisie seems to be that it is publicly a secular republic, but privately a Catholic state; simply professing the secularism of the Nation-State in no way guarantees religious tolerance. These are ideologically worrying times in France.
Tuesday, July 6 2004
mulatto. An ugly word. Give me a basketful of racist, sexist, homophobic epithets over this word any day. Many such mean-spirited words have fallen out of use, and others have been 'reappropriated,' as they say.
Monday, June 21 2004
To be a baseball fan, you are asked to attend games, buy products that signify your team, watch games on TV, and always 'root, root, root for the home team' -- in short, to spend money.
Monday, June 14 2004
With outsourced private security forces, i.e., corporate mercenaries, conducting interrogations and protecting business interests in Iraq and Afghanistan, the Prada installation in Soho, NY, looking much like a community-based paramilitary organization, can be read as playing on our fears of terrorist activities and our longing for protection from them.
Monday, May 10 2004
Camouflage chic is 'in' again, but not as some form of protest, this time. Rather, it's like the American civilian landscape has been carpet bombed with the imagery and rhetoric of war -- and we're buying it.
Friday, May 7 2004
Distilling the actions of Godzilla to their most basic, one finds only an overgrown playground bully. What drives our love for this thuggish brute that annihilates our cities?
Godzilla . . . is a mutable symbol, changing to suit the needs of the moment. He has become all things to all people.
Mystery Science Theater 3000 is in full farcical bloom to drown the entire Godzilla mythos in necessary lizard libel.
An aging, embittered Godzilla begrudgingly grants a rare interview. His rival, Gamera (and other monsters who have peopled his past), tell all.
Whereas the original Gojira warned against militarism, this movie, Godzilla, Mothra, and King Ghidorah: Daikaiju Sogougeki, goes out of its way to celebrate it.