Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Another Song For Our Times

On the eve of the public sector strikes it falls to Captain Ska (he of Liar, Liar fame) to articulate the views of millions: .
The Captain is turning into a more effective opposition leader than Ed Miliband (though many would say that isn't so difficult).

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

A Point About That Pose

Recommended reading: David Hepworth's blog post last week on the passing of Clarence Clemons ( ).
What's all too easily forgotten is that in 1975 a photograph of a skinny, white American rocker leaning affectionately against an African-American saxophonist was a big deal in both positive & negative ways.

Looking To The Windy City

Belated thanks to Wayne for  emailing a link to a blogpost by Cllr Malcolm Kennedy which attempts to liken the city to Chicago ( ).
Well, why not? We've had Oldham Hall Street drawing parallels between Liverpool & New York on numerous occasions (something I could judge for myself when visiting Manhattan last December ( ), &, yes, Times Square did remind me of Church Street on a Saturday afternoon). Moreover, Grand Central Station compares favourably to our own wonderfully-revamped Lime Street.
Far more grittily & unfavourably, of course, mention has been made of cities like Detroit & Baltimore in connection with Liverpool, particularly when you venture just a short distance outside the bubble of the city centre.
Cllr Kennedy mentions the Liverpool Waterfront Architecture Festival, which ended the day before yesterday. He goes on to declare:
"The opening of the Festival took place on Mann Island in what is a quite marvellous space between the two controversial black granite facia-ed (yes, granite!) buildings developed by Neptune. Everybody will have their own opinion on the buildings and the impact they have on the views of the Three Graces but one body has already made its view plain by taking space in one of the buildings."
The body? The Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA). As Tom Lehrer observed when Henry Kissenger won the Nobel Peace Prize in the early 70s, satire has expired. No flowers by request.
Kennedy talks of palling around with the Regional Director of RIBA, Belinda Irlam-Mobray, adding the observational gem, "She wants to see architects and architectural enthusiasts engaging more with the public."
Don't we all. Perhaps then we would have been spared the grotesque additions to what UNESCO are still calling a World Heritage Site. Perhaps, too, NML would spare us their pathetic PR stunts ( ); bloggers welcome, are we? OK, Wayne & I will sign up for that slap-up brekkie at one of the Trashy Tarts on the waterfront (toast lightly grilled for me, thanks).
Intriguingly, Cllr Kennedy also a trip he undertook to the aforementioned Windy City: 
"Last November Belinda and her colleagues invited me to join them in a visit to Chicago to see how the Chicago Architecture Foundation operates in that city. As their website explains, The Chicago Achitecture Foundation (CAF) 'is a nonprofit organization dedicated to advancing public interest and education in architecture and design.' ( ). CAF organises tours, exhibitions, debates, lectures, educational programmes and other activities as it seeks to advance public awareness of Architecture and Design. It provides a good model on which to build a Liverpool Architectural Foundation."
A few points to address here. Firstly, I presume the cost of Cllr Kennedy's generous invitation to head west was met from his own pocket. Perish the thought that CAF could be seen to be facilitating a rather tawdry civic junket. Secondly, the chunk of that quote about CAF's work is lifted verbatim from CAF's own website. Thirdly, if there is to be a Liverpool Architectural Foundation, how fitting that its acronym will be LAF. You are having one, aren't you, Malcolm?
Cllr Kennedy declares that the debate over the waterfront needs to be "enhanced by a more interactive process between the architecture profession and the public."
Amen to that, but, hang on, there's something about the use of the word "enhanced" which suggests the debate has been hitherto akin to a pub argument. No, it hasn't, Malcolm, & you know that full well. Wayne has obviously rattled you & your cohorts with his position, as consistently set out on his blog.
By the way, Cllr Kennedy is a fairly prolific Tweeter ( ). Drop him a line & let him know your views. I'm sure he'll appreciate it. After all, he does want "a more interactive process between the architecture profession and the public." 

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Another Reason To Get Shirty With Oldham Hall Street

To paraphrase the old Yellow Pages TV ad, good old Oldham Hall Street. It's not just there to shamelessly publish PR releases for the council, Peel Holdings, etc. It will also do the same for Liverpool Football Club & its sponsors ( ).
The absence of a byline to the piece immediately gives the game away. As does the wanton use of that strange language which bears little similarity to English, Marketese.
The most striking feature of the new strip, billed as the club's third outfit for the 2011/12 season, is the presence of blue, or "cyan", as it's being sold to many bemused Liverpool fans. The puff-piece oozes:
"The inclusion of blue --'cyan' say kit makers adidas-- on the shirt will raise one or two eyebrows across Merseyside, but adidas have revealed that the colour scheme is in tribute to the first-ever strip worn by the club following its formation in 1892.
"That strip was a Blackburn Rover-esque, blue-and-white halved design, which Liverpool wore for four seasons before switching to their iconic red uniform in 1896."
So then, cast your eyes back up the page & compare the two shirts. First, we have the club's new third kit (hello, Steven, haven't seen you for a while). Secondly, we have the kit worn by the team at its inception. Yes, the original kit does bear a striking resemblance to that long worn by Blackburn Rovers. However, what's with the bollockese about the new shirt acting as a "tribute" to the team's 1892 colours?
Moreover, the design of the third kit owes everything to the corporate colour scheme of the club's current sponsors, Standard Chartered, & nothing to the club's past.
It would be nice if Oldham Hall Street occasionally rose from its default position, ideal for the act of corporate fellatio, & displayed some journalistic rigour, even if it happens to involve the relatively minor matter of a local club's shirt. Alas, we are again disappointed. 

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Looks Familiar

Those of us who have long criticised the Daily Ghost & Oldham Echo, owned by Trinity Mirror, for publishing little more than press releases from the likes of Peel & the city council are tempted to recognise the parallels with the case of the Fulham and Hammersmith Chronicle in West London, as reported by Roy Greenslade on his blog last week ( ).
The publisher of the Fulham and Hammersmith Chronicle? Trinity Mirror.

The Big Society Wavers In Wavertree

As "Professor" Phil Redmond mumbles uncomprehendingly about being "had" by Cameron when he agreed to be the ConDems' representative on Merseyside last year ( ), it's becoming evident that the chasm between Cameron's honeyed words on that sunny July day & the reality just a mile or so from the site of his speech is growing exponentially.
John Harris visited Wavertree last week for the Guardian's Comment is Free site ( ) & spoke to members of an evangelical church in the area who offer practical & material assistance to prostitutes & drug addicts in their locality (in truth, prostitution & substance abuse are synonymous).
Whilst Harris rightly lauded the congregation for their actions, he was clearly (& rightly) unnerved by the notion that it should be left to such groups to provide any help at the same time as the State withdraws from such functions. Some of the comments by those involved also revealed the limitations of "faith-based" initiatives. Although there was none of the moralising & proselytising approach normally found with the US religious Right, the absence of views on issues such as a living wage jarred.
Be in no doubt that the cuts will intensify, affecting many more across Merseyside. Government will continue to abdicate its responsibility, leaving groups like those in Wavertree to apply band aids on gaping wounds.

Decision Time For UNESCO & Port Of Liverpool

Decision time has arrived for Liverpool's waterfront status. To continue with the pretence that it remains a World Heritage Site, or to finally recognise that the game's up & the city's f***ed it up. That is the question ( ).
Wayne has already described the belated recognition by some on Oldham Hall Street of the reality after a long period of denial ( ).
Marc Waddington's piece comes as close as possible to breaking the Pravdaesque line hitherto maintained on Oldham Hall Street:
"Some local heritage campaigners have criticised recent developments on the waterfront, including at Mann Island, where Neptune's three glazed black wedges have split opinion."
Split opinion? The reality is that most people in the city are united in their opinion about the despoiling of the waterfront.
Joe "Tea & Sympathy" Anderson pops up in Waddington's piece to bang the drum, come what may. Only problem is Joe's stint on the drum is akin to that of a tone-deaf person playing percussion with the Phil, as he declares that he doesn't think "a certificate on the wall enhances the beauty of the Three Graces. They speak for themselves."
Joe goes on to try & square what has become a bloody big circle, claiming that there is no contradiction between World Heritage status & Peel's Liverpool Waters behemoth. He even maintains that the two "offer unique opportunities".
Joe, lie down in a darkened room for a while. Trust me, it'll wear off. Then perhaps, just perhaps, you can develop some cojones & start standing up to the ConDem cuts of £100m in the city.
Typically opportunistic, the Fib Dems nose into the frame with a third-rate snipe from group leader Paula Keaveney. Cllr Keaveney should remember the disastrous legacy of Warren "War Zones" Bradley before wading in.  

From The Mersey To Milan: A Cautionary Tale

Mention of Gary Hodgson reminds me of his grandiose musings in a Guardian article last week ( ).
Helen Carter's piece, which features a photograph of the waterfront prior to the grotesque additions (or the arrival of the "trashy tarts", as Wayne memorably described them), uses the term "masterplan", though it isn't entirely clear if Hodgson is being directly quoted on this in Carter' piece.
So this mooted rail link linking the Mersey to Milan, Anfield to San Siro, the Empire Theatre to Teatro alla Scalla, where does it come from? Well, Gary's rhapsodies seem to have got the better of him; it's the sort of idea that belongs to what remain of the dock road pubs: "A rail link to the heart of Europe. Why not?"
Why not, indeed, Gary. Mine's a pint of lager, by the way.
Some commenters on the Guardian piece included a couple of trolls , one of whom admitted to being a Peel employee. Guess what he thought of the proposal. Carter herself took me to task for suggesting she'd been taken in by Peel's spin. It's true, as Carter stated, that she's been "robust" in her previous reporting on Peel. However, I stand by my view that the Guardian article was the sort of thing normally found in the Daily Ghost & Oldham Echo.
Further proof of Hodgson's tenuous grasp of political reality can be found in this extract:
"He [Hogson] is urging the government to invest in the north west and says unless they develop 'everything is going to be crammed down in the south east.' "
That the ConDem cutters would even countenance government investment in the north west requires a suspension of critical faculties normally arrived at after a session in the Baltic Fleet.  

Parish Notice (Sort Of)

Not working today? Time to kill this afternoon? Thinking of going into town? If the answer is yes to all three questions, you could do worse than visit the Crowne Plaza Hotel at Princes Dock between 3.30 & 7.30. Peel are holding one of their PR stunts there ( ).
Alex Turner's terse puff-piece for Peel quotes Gary Hodgson, the managing director of Peel Ports Mersey, who delivers this gem: "These local events are very important.
"All written views given will be carefully considered and will help to shape the final version of the master plan."
Yes, he really did say "master plan".
So why not pay a visit to the Crowne Plaza today & let Gary, or one of his minions, know what you think of the "master plan" as well as the impact Peel has already made on what is still laughably referred to as a World Heritage Site.
After all, your views will be "carefully considered". Won't they?