Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Sweden West Coast slideshow pt 1

Mimi and Astrid on "Deer Rock" (Mimi saw a deer from there!)

view from the outside of our little summer house near Bovallstrand, a few kilometers inland from the coast

The Ybifjord near Nordens Ark nature park/zoo. Apparently not a proper Fjord...

Camilla's new facebook profile. "Ahhhhhhh...."

she looks Korean...

Julia, Astrid and Camilla in the farm house in Nordens Ark
the rocks outside Smoegen

the little country lane leading towards our house at dusk
bathing spot on Hallö, a barren island and nature reserve that you can get to by boat from Smögen
rocky hill on the walk to Bovallstrand

Sweden West Coast slideshow pt 2

These dark red fishermen's huts are everywhere...

again, the wild rocky scenery just outside Smoegen harbour

a lake with beautiful grass growing in it, deep in the woods...

back on the rocks near our house, where you can already see the coast in the distance

Mimi, Anton, Astrid, Julia and Camilla.

A bit of a reunion for a couple of days. Camilla and Astrid used to live with me in that famous "communal" and/or party house in Brighton Kemptown for a while in the 90s, both are now back in Sweden, Astrid has a family with two kids now and works as a gender consultant, Camilla is now a published author and translator. They came out for a couple of days while we were staying there, and we visited Nordens Ark nature park/zoo where you can see wolves, wolverines, tigers, reindeer and other animals in large enclosures, situated on a gorgeous woody hill overlooking a fjord (the kids loved it and so did we) and later Smoegen.

We had hired a little house in the sticks, built on the side of a huge flat elevated rock, on the Swedish west coast, somewhere between Bovallstrand and Hunnebostrand, near the famous old port town and island of Smögen, but a few kilometers inland from the coast. These rocky hills are everywhere around there, also deep woods, and by the coast some quite spectacular scenery. Fortunately there were buses and hiking trails, as we didn't have a car, notably the Söte Leden, a well-signposted (though quite challenging in places) long distance trail meandering in different branches around the area, mainly through the inland woods and hills, and passing our house close by.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Tonight at the Cross Kings

Reminder: This is happening tonight from 20.00 pm, Plus are on Stage at approx. 21.50!
There has been a lineup change: Rail unfortunately had to pull out and we now have Cementimental playing with us at 20.45 pm, they're a noise improv collective and will perform as a duo this evening. Check: www.myspace.com/cementimentalnoise
DJ Tricyclic Looper hopes to entertain you from the start and throughout.
Directions: Coming out of the main entrance of Kings Cross tube and rail station turn left, then left into York Lane, keep walking for about five minutes, cross the canal and the Cross Kings is on your right! We are on downstairs in the Jester Bar but it's possible to hang out and have good food in the main ground floor bar upstairs! See you there?
Plus - 10th anniversary show. Help us celebrate ten years of deranged guitar noise, experimental sci-fi poetry and improvised post punk! :-) www.myspace.com/mmmplus
Julian Storer - classical guitar
Cementimental - noise improv collective, here performing as a duo. www.myspace.com/cementimentalnoise

plus more surprise acts!
DJ: Tricyclic Looper
Tuesday 15.07. 20h
@ the Cross Kings (Jester Bar)
York Way, Kings X
3 pounds on the door

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

The Bishopsgate Goods Yard development: Have your say!

I went to Shoreditch Town Hall yesterday, where Hackney Council was inviting residents to find out what local people want for the development of the disused Bishopsgate Goods Yard, a piece of land bordered by Shoreditch High street, Sclater Street and Brick Lane, so this is not about the proposed demolition of The Light or the new high rise residential development on the top of Bethnal Green Road. There was an exhibition that you can view online (first link) and a questionnaire (second link) you can fill out and send them until later in the month, so pls have a look and fill out the questionnaire (even if you don't live in the area and only come to Brick Lane from time to time, this will affect you)
There is talk of some open green space to be developed but that would mean having a large tower at the Shoreditch High Street end apparently (to maximise the space). I think they have a chance to do something interesting that will integrate with the existing character of the area, you know, affordable spaces for small businesses like cafes, bars, clubs, live venues, art galleries, that sort of thing... as well as having an open space that could be used creatively like the Elys Yard in Truman's Brewery, an urban oasis where many interesting things are staged on a regular basis.

Apparently this plot of land has been earmarked for major development for a while but I don't think the area needs more development, or at least it should be a more organic development that fits in with rather than completely redefines the area. Apart from the inevitable lengthy disruption while constructing these monstrous buildings (and there are already too many building sites around, and it's even worse in the City!), more big buildings will not add to the character of the area, and could probably help destroy the unique atmosphere around there. So far Shoreditch has resisted being completely co-opted into the encroaching city. The area around Brick Lane and Shoreditch is buzzing more or less nonstop right now, go on a weekend and it is clear that it is one of the areas people gravitate to from all over the place, it works, people are voting with their feet (go a little bit further into the old city and it is more or less dead apart from the odd tourists), new spaces are being found, the experiment that started almost ten years ago when there was virtually nothing in the area continues and is now almost mainstream, but still very potent. For instance, Redchurch Street running parallel to the bit of the Bethnal Green Road that borders the Bishopsgate Good Yard has recently become a hub for smallish new galleries, almost like Vyner Street, but more integrated into the flow of the nightlife, however you've got to wonder how this street will fare once all this new development will start appearing next door. Brick Lane itself, a street full of history and incredibly vibrant, again, it is vulnerable, and can't take much more, it's already bursting at the seams, the area is already super intense in its clashes of culture, art, tradition, history, etc.

So I think Hackney Council has a real chance to do something that will reflect on the area and also show off Hackney as a borough, as this will be its entry point when you come from the city. There's talk of a huge residential development but, again, I'm not convinced this is the right site for it, it's situated next to some major roads and rail lines and the air is pretty bad around there, so it will be noisy and polluted already. Plus there is nightlife and disruptive partying going on, especially on the weekend. I never understand how a lot of these developments are situated right next to such busy and noisy traffic routes, even with good insulation you still hear it and you must get sick of hearing the trains and traffic nonstop. So I'm not sure this is a good site to actually live.

However it would be a good site for a new biggish live venue, something Shoreditch doesn't really have yet but could definitely benefit from, there are many small to midsize venues around the area and it has become a major live music (and clubbing of course) destination, not as established as Camden, but full of quirky creative venues, something good (and often free) happens almost every day, but especially on the weekends. So while the Astoria and the Electric Ballroom in Camden are supposed to close at some point in the future, and the hub of clubs near Kings Cross already closed down, maybe this would be a good site to build something new for the clubbers, music lovers and artists who have defined the streetlife around there. Or integrate it into the railway arches that are apparently still around the site and could be used to build new clubs. There is already a lively infrastructure of venues in the area, that is being supported by a weekly influx of young people from all over the world, why not make it stronger and do something bold and amazing (rather than a boring aggressive residential high rise that most people don't want to see there and that will only make some people some money in the short term...) . The energy and the people are already there! All you need to do is give them more spaces to hang out! And the bankers go there too now! The Big Chill bar regularly hosts a very strange mix of after work city boys and scruffy local hipsters, and anyone else who wants to hang out, it's a very democratic, very intense urban mix and works!

I'm really fond of the area despite all its faults and faultlines, yes, it doesn't all add up, yes, it's too intense, yes, it's not entirely real and yes, it's getting too expensive for the people who started it all, but as i said, hang out there on a Sunday and you'll understand there is something special here, something a lot of other places can only dream of, and it's more than just gentrification. The days of the exclusive "Shoreditch Twat" are kinda over now, when there were just a few places, and the place was under developed, it's not so secret anymore, but still it's livelier than ever, and the once new venues now have an amazing history behind them already and have become real institutions that keep evolving. Don't make it stop, and you can't stop it anyway. Think about it, Hackney Council! It's your chance to do something amazing and thanks for listening!

p.s. Years ago residents in Berlin-Kreuzberg successfully campaigned to turn the former Goerlitzer railway station and depot area into a public park and this is what it looks like now...

p.p.s as i said pls fill out the questionnaire, it's very nice of them to ask ;-)