History shows that the only remedy is to fight back

If you’re as worried as  I am about the erosion of minority rights in the current political climate, I recommend checking this Owen Jones article out. Truth be told it’s a tough read, but jones outlines how the human rights of LGBTQ people are gradually being worn away and how homophobic and transphobic attacks are becoming more and more common. What vestiges of equality that had been achieved was hard fought for, but due to the resurgence of populism, the clock  is being pushed back.

As Jones puts it:  “Join the dots, look at the direction of travel: progress in LGBTQ rights has not simply ground to a halt, it is screeching into reverse. This is Pride month, but let us not have commercialised parades, pinkwashing dubious corporations, celebrating “progress”. Let’s have rage, courage and determination – because LGBTQ rights are under threat, and history shows that the only remedy is to fight back.”

Whether you’re LGBTQ or not, whether you’re a member of a minority or not, I think we should all be worried about the direction western culture is currently heading in.

Catch 22

Something tells me this will be well worth checking out when it airs on Channel 4 next week. A new adaptation of Catch 22, staring George Clooney, is on it’s way, and I must say it feels very timely indeed. What more fitting reaction could there be to an utterly absurd era than a story about the most absurd era of them all. In a way we are all currently in Yossarian’s predicament, trapped in an insane situation, unable to escape. Claim to be mad, and you must be sane. That’s certainly true: then as now, how  could any sane  person not recognise real madness when they see it?

The return of being othered

As depressing and bleak as it is, I’d be a negligent blogger if I didn’t flag this Guardian article up. In it, Francis Ryan argues  that  the rights disabled people fought so hard to gain, from accessible public transport to independent living, are now being  eroded under the guise of austerity and  helped by the distraction of Brexit. ” Longstanding cultural prejudice around disability, combined with the demonising rhetoric of austerity, has exacerbated a sense of difference in society; an othering that perpetuates the idea that disabled people aren’t quite normal, or don’t want a life, a family, a home or an education like everyone else.” Sadly, I fear she is right

City celebrations

What is a city? What differentiates a city from a town, or a town from a village? I used to think London was enormous until I visited Delhi; and I used to think Manchester was huge before I moved to London. What, then, defines a city? And what makes a city great? Could it be it’s population? It’s architecture? It’s culture? To be honest I find such questions fascinating; it’s part of the reason I love to travel. Every city across the world is unique; each has it’s own character. I daresay this may have been what the great Walter Benjamin was getting at, at least in part.

What, then, defines a city, and what makes a city great? What makes a city stand out to the world? Think Paris, London, New York. Everyone knows about such cities, even if they have never visited them. What is it about these places which makes them such world cultural centres? I have been thinking about this quite a lot recently, and I think we need to celebrate such things more. Every city is unique and astonishing; we need as a community to celebrate that. The olympics pull the world’s focus onto one specific city through sport every four years; perhaps something similar can be done through culture. Of course, a city can be great without ever hosting the Olympic games – New York being an obvious example – but why can’t we let the world explore itself, one city at a time? Each metropolis could show itself off to the world through an artistic and cultural festival, televised across the planet. Perhaps then we would all see how similar we are, as well as how wonderfully diverse.

Every city could put on shows and events; there could be opening and closing ceremonies. Such events could function as a type of joint world exploration, with audiences brought into each city and shown what it contributes to the world culturally. They could happen every four years or so (probably not the same year as the olympics, though). The olympics is fine, but whereas it focusses on running and jumping and stuff, I reckon we need to establish an artistic equivalent alongside it, just as big, but dedicated to a city’s creative side. After all, art holds just as much cultural value as sport, if not even more. Such an event would also have the advantage of requiring less custom-built infrastructure, as most cities, especially larger ones, will already have theatres and cinemas in place.

Yet such events shouldn’t be just confined to the big metropolises. Cities like London and Tokyo get to host the olympics because they’re rich. This cultural olympiad, or whatever it will be called, will probably be much cheaper to put on, meaning places which might not be quite as wealthy could participate. Imagine how fascinating it would be to celebrate the culture of a city like Delhi or Cairo or Havana.

Of course, this is just another of my crazy ideas: how such an event would work practically would be anyone’s guess. Would people watch it without the thrill of competition? Would cities want to participate?  If other countries are to send delegations, as they do in the Olympic games, what would they contribute? Yet surely the idea of bringing everyone together and drawing the world’s focus onto a city in order to explore and celebrate it’s culture is a cool one.

Taking drugs doesn’t make you cool

I don’t give a rat’s ass what drugs Gove or Johnson claim to have taken in their effort to look cool,  more human or whatever stunt they’re trying to pull.  The fact is they’re still trying to force the far more  serious crime of Brexit upon us; trying to strip us off our consumer rights and turn the uk into a neoliberal hell. No  matter how much they try to distract us, no matter how much they attempt to appear personable, approachable, ‘down with the kids’ or whatever, we must not forget what these arseholes are trying to force upon us.

From parks to housing estates

East London is beginning to feel more and more like Manhattan. I took myself up to the Olympic park today, just for my usual Saturday afternoon walk. I still like going up there, but what used to be a relatively green, open space is now a building sight. The plan is apparently to establish a new community there, complete with schools and shops, but I can’t help thinking that would make it just like any other part of London. The Olympic park should have remained a park; the area is now completely different to how it was  in 2012. The same goes for the area around North Greenwich. Of course a city is a city, and I must remember that such perpetual redevelopment is part of it’s nature. Yet it still seems a shame that an area which felt like a nice open park not long ago now feels like just another high-rise housing estate.