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weblog archives
eXTReMe Tracker
Wednesday, January 25, 2006
A brief history of the London Squatting Scene in the 1970s by Nick Cohen (via The Rat and Mouse), focusing in particular on the Villa Road squats in Brixton. Although the scene's political motives were ultimately confused, the squatter's main legacy in Lambeth, where the council has a truly miserable track record when it comes to dealing with squatters, was to prevent further redevlopment of the besieged Victorian fabric. Cohen looks at the curious, cranky optimism of the period and ties it in to Martin Amis's reminiscences in The War Against Cliche, where he remembers how cheap is used to be to live in the heart of a big city like London. Cohen continues, 'Since 1974, the real prices of British houses had increased at a little over twice the rate of the European average,' and suggests, in his usual iconoclastic style, that it's land ownership that fractures the market, and society with it. Building on the countryside is the only answer: '...it is time to let the bulldozers roll.' A whole host of squatting-related information can be found in the resources section of Squatters.org.uk, including this this pdf.

In an age of rapid change, it's little wonder that something has emerged that might be called, somewhat oxymoronically, 'urban bucolic'. Urban bucolic transposes the emotions generated by romantic and classic landscape imagery to the urban setting, generating fond memories of what the city once was. Check these old photos of Glasgow, or this grand collection of old Birmingham images by Keith Berry (especially like this, and the scenes from under Spaghetti Junction: back to Concrete Island). Even the much-linked city photography of Olivo Barbieri (via me-fi, which pinched it from BLDGBLG, The City as an Avatar of Itself') has a mournful, nostalgic quality about it.

Some other things. Radio Free Polygon, music and more / reviews of new food, a McSweeneys special / buy a house, get a free Ferrari. Online publicity stunts (see Crush My 307 as well) are very much a symbol of the age / another recent and recommended post, 'Camping in an abandoned mine' / the rest of Keith Berry's photographs are well worth browsing through / the Cloud Appreciation Society snare one of Yahoo's finds of the year awards / many, many old magazine covers (via tmn). See, for example, The American Rifleman.

A big fridge means a land of plenty (google video) / all about ambergris, the beachcomber's lucky find. It's also the name of an imaginary city / David Adjaye says that British public buildings 'just don't work. Related, buy one of his private ones / Streamliners, America's Lost Trains', of which the Super Chief is perhaps the most fondly remembered, "The Train of the Stars". The iconic name was recently revived by Ford, who slapped it on a vast pick-up truck at the 2006 Detroit Show: the F250 Super Chief Concept boasts 'bold, American design, first-class comfort and exceptional traveling range were inspired by the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway’s Super Chief locomotive.'

A good collection of links on Soviet Art / if the thought of one of the world's hottest country's manufacturing 30 tons of fresh snow every single day doesn't give you chills, then you are ready to ski in Dubai / Mapping Hacks / play Turbo Tanks / scrapyards in flickr / the Washington Banana Museum, which has copious images of early twentieth century banana-eating parties / Historic Cities, a collection of medieval maps. The London page is extensive, for example, 'A Plan of the City and Liberties of London after the Dreadful Conflagration in the Year 1666' and the 'Map of London Water Works' from 1856. The latter clearly sets out the city's long-hidden contours, including Nunhead Hill and Telegraph Hill.

Staying with maps and collections: Marcel Zumstein collects old maps and bottle caps, amongst other things / what are the most expensive first editions? / giant digital images, via kottke, via cheesedip / advice to the old / amazing series of photos of China / who knew that Frederick Gibberd's Pullman Court had its own website? / Binary Moon, a weblog.