What an interesting species; perpetually fighting, loving, destroying, rebuilding. So full of longing…
Monday, September 27 2004
In modern-day England, dedication to your locality, however creaking and crumbling that metropolis may now be, is more important than commitment to queen and country. Liverpool and Manchester, a mere 40 miles apart from one another, have always been, and most resolutely always will be, rabid rivals.
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.
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.
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.
In a city of millions where you are bound to rub elbows with those who rub you the wrong way, the availability of a healthy cathartic outlet is crucial. If, like Americans, Parisians could reach for a gun every time they stepped in some shit, which is as ubiquitous on the sidewalks as boulangeries, murder would reach pandemic levels. Thus, it is understandable why the government tolerates a certain level of transgression in exchange for a more sustainable peace.
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?