London under Boris – racism solved. Apparently.

The Rise music festival is today. But since there’s no racism in London anymore, it’s no longer an ‘anti-racism festival’. Who knew that electing Boris Johnson as Mayor would have such an immediate effect? Racism is gone. Thanks Boris! If only he was Mayor of Everything, racism would be a thing of the past. Wouldn’t it?
The Guardian, Mayor drops festival’s anti-racism message:

Rise has been held in London since 1996 and has become the biggest anti-racist music festival in Europe. It was supported by the previous mayor, Ken Livingstone, as well as by trade unions and the National Assembly Against Racism (NAAR).
But yesterday a spokeswoman for Johnson said this year’s event, on July 13, would no longer carry an anti-racist message: “Boris has made a commitment to go ahead with the Rise festival this year but wants to emphasise its cultural and community dimensions.” During his election campaign Johnson was forced to apologise for describing Africans as having “watermelon smiles” and writing of “piccaninnies”. He said his comments were taken out of context and he was committed to fighting racism.
But last night a spokesman for the NAAR called that claim into question. “The sincerity of Boris Johnson’s claimed commitment to opposing racism in his election campaign is shown to be false by the fact that one of his first decisions is to abandon Europe’s biggest anti-racist festival,” he said.

‘Paying to be discriminated against’

in the Guardian: Paying to be discriminated against

Religious people already have a huge concession in that civil partnerships can’t be performed in churches. It is unjust and unfair then that religious people now seek to colonise civil and secular spaces like council offices or magistrates courts demanding religious exemptions. The point of state-run facilities are that any citizen can make use of them and expect equal treatment and service. These are all taxpayer funded services – so, in effect, non-believers and gay people are paying to be discriminated against. If religious officiants who are willing to perform ceremonies for gay and lesbian couples are not allowed by law to opt in, in why should secular registrars be allowed to opt out?
People are rightly protected from being discriminated against because of their religion, but the spirit of this law should not be perverted to allow religious people license to discriminate against others on the basis of their religious belief. Equality legislation is already undermined by numerous exemptions, practically all of them concessions to the religious.

We should be aware that the people behind this push to religionise our society are not the regular church-goers who generally wouldn’t dream of behaving in this bigoted way. It is a small group of determined zealots who will not stop until we’re all subject to their version of “religious freedom” (which seems to mean freedom for them, and restrictions for others). Often behind these apparently vulnerable individuals there stands a highly organised and well-funded pressure group.

More background at the BBC.

An interesting view of the changes in Hackney

In Airportising the city: Images of flying yuppies and total spatial control.
(The reason I googled ‘Gillette Square’ is because I could hear lots of music – steel drums? coming from there).
But check out what’s on next weekend: “Delicious Dalston will be a one-day music and food affair, with a programme of music organised by the Vortex Jazz Club and a range of stalls selling sustainable produce. Growing Communities’ ‘Maisie the milk float’ will visit Gillett Square with a range of organic vegetables and fruit with Hackney-grown produce plus stalls selling diverse African and Caribbean fresh foods and juices.”
Meanwhile, rumours say they’re trying to close down Ridley Road market… are they replacing the grubby authentic with an ‘artisanal authentic’?

Boris arts spin – or does Boris have the ability to go back in time?

I was so annoyed and bemused by something I read in today’s Urban Junkies London newsletter that I wrote to them.

I am really curious about today’s mailout, which says “Boris has temporarily come to the rescue. His launch of “Lates “” – but UJ have been promoting Lates at various venues for months, so you must know that the Lates initiative was already up and running when Ken was mayor.
I’m really disappointed – I know spin is everything and the truth means little in politics these days but I didn’t expect to see it in Urban Junkies.

It’s hugely ironic because Boris is probably going to have a huge negative impact on the arts in London. How dare his office try to claim an existing and well-established program started by the previous mayor as “Boris’ Lates”?
I’ll take everything I read in Urban Junkies with a pinch of salt now. I already did, to an extent, because their editorial direction was so clearly influenced by their advertisers, but at least it was obvious – when there was a huge ad banner followed by a big push in the text, you knew how to read between the lines. And Urban Junkies ran Lates ad campaigns before Boris was mayor, so I don’t see how they could claim ignorance of the prior existence of the Lates program.

Zoe Williams on Boris, the blond buffoon

I guess at least I don’t have Howard in Australia and Boris in London – that would be too much to deal with. But look what we have now as the Mayor of London. Zoe Williams writes in the Guardian:

Two mistakes we make about Boris: the first is that, because he says “unacceptable” things, then he must be honest; he must be outside the airless bubble of PC. This is bilge. He is no more honest than any other philanderer before him. He has lied flagrantly, flamboyantly, to save his marriage, and given how little else he’s prepared to do for it, one must conclude that he doesn’t put a very great premium on telling the truth. So if he gives out these apparently harsh truths about gay people or Liverpudlians or the people of Congo, it is not because the fire of truth burns so brightly within him that he can’t snuff it out. It is because he genuinely despises these people. He despises gays and he despises provincials (you are all right with Boris if you come from Liverpool but don’t sound like a Liverpudlian. Once you’ve been to public school, then you are from postcode POSH), and he despises Africans. He despises them, and he despises those of us who would hold
such judgments to be bigoted and inhuman.

It ought to beggar belief, oughtn’t it? Not that this self-satisfied creature of privilege should hold such views, but that he should be able to spout them and then have us all instantly forget about it. What are we, idiots?

Sadly enough people in London are idiots. I guess (John Howard’s own) Lynton Crosby’s dog whistle worked on the poor neglected fools in the outer suburbs of London.

Montreal and London

Montreal was really quite cool. Lots of restaurants, cafes, bars… good museums, live music. I met some ace people, and had too many late nights. The nicest (i.e. shabbiest) cafes are the ones with free wifi, and I basically spent my first two days there soaking up the sun. Later the weather turned cold but that sun was worth it.
I’ve come back to lots of grey London skies that are barely distinguishable from the grey buildings, and news of the mole man. At different times that place has been on my route home, and I always hate walking past that house. Not because I think the footpath is going to cave in, but there’s something about the intensity of his life that hurries my steps.
Walking home one night this week, I saw three homeless men on a bench. The one at the edge was cradling a man sitting on the ground like a pieta with added Red Stripe.

Fictional cities

I randomly came across ‘Fictional Cities‘ while looking for something else.

We all have our favourite places and favourite stories about them. Our idea of these places is usually a mix of experience and imagination, and fiction is usually no small contributor to our mental maps.
I love London, Venice and Florence, so I made this site, with lists and reviews of all sorts of fiction set in these three cities.

London Olympics a £440m ‘drain on culture’

According to a report on the BBC

The 2012 Olympic Games will drain away up to £440m from London’s sport and arts groups, a report shows.
“Both the Cultural Olympiad – a four-year programme of events aimed at increasing participation in cultural activity – and the Government’s Olympic sports participation target – to increase the number of people who are physically active by two million by 2012 – were identified as being heavily dependent on smaller grassroots organisations.
But the report, by the assembly’s economic development, culture, sport and tourism committee, said it was these very organisations that would be hardest hit by the funding diversion”
“…our investigation shows that the on-the-ground opportunities Londoners were promised are at risk because the funding diversion effectively ham-strings the organisations needed to deliver them.”

I’d love to say “London Olympics in ‘bad for arts’ shocker” but of course no-one with any sense is surprised.