Sunday, January 27, 2008

They Made The Wrong Film

Recently I saw Grindhouse on DVD, and it has to be said that the best thing about it isn't Rodriguez's Planet Terror or Tarantino's Deathproof, but the spoof trailers that separate the two films. The pick of the bunch is "Machete", which is approximately one million times better than either director's main effort.

"Machete" (Probably Not Safe For Work)

Thursday, January 17, 2008

The One And Only Billy Shears

Liverpool 08 Launch

Ringo Starr and Dave Stewart playing on top of St. George's Hall. Honest.

Yes, I was there at the opening ceremony for Liverpool Capital of Culture 2008. I arrived a bit too late to get a really good view, but it was a bit cold to be standing around outside for an hour and a half or more.

As for the opening ceremony, it was...well it was all a bit opening ceremony. Lots of acrobats in hard hats representing the workers of Liverpool. Semaphore representing maritime trade. No mentions of slavery. You know the drill. Really I was only there to see Ringo. Perhaps fortunately, him and his mate Dave Stewart were too away to hear my comments about the less popular quarter of the Beatles and the less popular half of the Eurythmics. Their contribution was to close the ceremony by singing one of the songs from Ringo's new 2008 tie-in album (the world has, of course, been crying out for a new Ringo Starr album). This I was vaguely disappointed by: it would've been good if he'd done "With A Little Help From My Friends" as well, say. Still, it got a large crowd out, and I gather the whole thing looked good on TV, so job done.

I also realise that I haven't said much, if anything, about Liverpool 08 in this blog. Partly it all seemed a long way off for a long time, and, of course, I'm not exactly immersed in the cultural life of the city. There's also the fact that I'm a touch ambivalent about the whole thing.

Liverpool 08 is supposed to be a celebration of the city's culture, but I suspect that it's actually an attempt to create a new type of culture in the city. A friend of mine lived in Dublin when they were Capital of Culture in the early '90s, and he reports that what it did most effectively was kill off the pre-existing culture. Capital of Culture is an exercise in bringing to the city the kind of culture that businesses, and the young professionals that work for those businesses, will want to see - and that's not, in large part, the Liverpool culture that's already here.

You can see it written in the building work being conducted in the city. There's hardly an empty warehouse or a patch of land in the city centre that isn't being turned into "luxury apartments". I have a weird feeling that the city's going to be left with a large surplus of luxury apartments in a few years. In Toxteth (just next to the city centre, on the river front) they moved "problem" residents into Kensington to make room for apartments and business space. Less solving a problem, more moving it to where it'll be less visible.

At the same time, I'm compelled to be my own counterpoint. It's all very well for me to be sniffy from my ivory tower about the motivation and the means for the 08 project. After all, I'm not relying on a job for it. There's no denying that it has brought much-needed jobs and investment into a city which has some of the worst areas of deprivation in western Europe, and that's undoubtedly important.

So I suspect that Liverpool 08 is going to be a two-edged sword. Which edge has the most effect remains to be seen.

Sunday, January 06, 2008


Well, 2008 has finally arrived. In many ways it's likely to be the least fun year I can remember. On my list of things to do for the year are finishing the thesis, organising a conference, publishing the proceedings from another conference, writing a paper for WAC-6 in Dublin, and doing the viva.

Oh, and convincing someone to give me an academic job so that I don't have to go a-warehousing again come October.

Still, I'll not be bored.