I’m blonde and blue-eyed. I’ve been called a gringo, farang, ghost, mzungu.
I’ve been called one, and I know that I am one.
There are things that you can tell by looking at me: I’m well-educated. I am (more or less) middle class, despite being momentarily broke – or, perhaps because I am broke, but I know that it is a momentary condition. Largely because I am white and more or less middle class. I can’t pay next month’s rent and I have college debt – but I am still, nonetheless, undeniably rich.
What you can’t see – and what I rarely bother to explain, is that I was raised by a single-mother and we lived on well-fare (benefits). I know what food-stamps won’t buy (toilet paper and toothpaste) and I’ve nursed illnesses that we couldn’t afford to see a doctor to treat. Money from the state helped us survived; it was money from family, loans time and again, that enabled us to do more than survive, as well-fare isn’t enough to keep the electricity from being shut off, or pay the phone bill.
None of this changes the fact that I am rich and racist. Continue reading
We tried – the few of us that remained seated – to restore some peace… (Photograph taken by Nicole Llyod. Borrowed because I’m in it.)
Quite a week to be on twitter, isn’t it?
Assembling these for an essay (twitter hashtag as piece of material culture, mediating personal experience, archiving the ephemeral) and thought they might be worth sharing. Tweet of a friend and myself during the second Stokes Croft Riot. There were many others tweeting, as well, although the main use of #StokesCroft has been post-riot, as we’ve been sharing updates, news, follow-up discussion and analysis
As we Tweeted it (most recent at top):
Everyone’s asking why there were protests in Stokes Croft, and how they turned violent.
I think we have the questions backwards.
We need to be asking how we protested – because what we’ve been doing obviously isn’t working – and we need to know why it was violent.
I was at the protest-turned-riot-to-chaos in Stokes Croft last night with two friends. We managed to be the last three sitting in the middle of the road, in our attempt to regain some semblance of a peaceful protest. (The two of them both happen to be wonderful writers.)
@Smasherkins has written a good, clear account of the evening at Thoughts Uncensored (which I’m hacking into excerpts: read her full story!) Continue reading
The people are rioting in the streets. And it’s not about the Royal Wedding.*
Yes, I did say “riot”, its not hyperbolic, and it’s in my backyard. (Technically, my front street.)
I got home at 5am this morning. After having sat in the middle of a street full of broken glass, surrounded by police dogs, riot vans, and mounted horseback police.
I watched the police charge a crowd, watched a man go down under a horse. I watched the police march in, watched the neighbourhood transform into a post-apocalyptic re-imagining of the Haight Ashbury. Continue reading
I was there when the Berlin Wall fell. I toured with the Rolling Stones. And I was in a stroller at the time.
I have a piece of the Berlin Wall to prove it.
My parents got it from the source – the wall itself. The wall had been built the year my mother was born; it fell the year I was. By the time we got there, there was still enough of it left that, as my mom tells it, half of Europe was there to party and hack off what they could. Continue reading
“No get-up stand-up for your rights, here in Zanzibar,” said a tall dreadlocked man who invited himself to join us three days running at a habor-side restaurant that seemed to be the closest thing to a Reggae bar in Stonetown, and one of the few places that locals and tourists interacted outside of the salesman/customer, hunter/prey relatonship. We never learned the name of the restaurant; the man was called Rashid and wandered through the days seeminly stoned and the nights slightly drunk.
The restaurant was hidden behind a typical souvenir and crafts shop – we’d only stopped because Brian had noticed some illegal shells in the display outside, near the shark jaws – through an area of pool tables, and consisted of a scattering of no nonsense plastic chairs… Continue reading
… which the anthropologist strains to read over the shoulders of those to whom they properly belong.” – Clifford Geertz
I ate dinner last to the Muslim call to prayer, heard in surround, from the roof of the Pyramid Hotel. The calls came from three different mosques. They started on a slight delay, one after another; out-of-sync, nearly harmonizing. Ascents and vibratto wrapped around each other. The crackling bull-horn speakers turned the male voices into horns – deep trombones and lilting saxophones playing minor, off-key, beautifully. They grew in strength and more seemed to join in – there may have been more than three to start with, it’s hard to say; there seems to be a small neighborhood mosque… Continue reading
What’s it like, being from Los Angeles? It isn’t. You’ve always wanted to go? Of course you have.
Los Angeles exists only as rivers of head-lights and veins of brake-lights. Not a proper city, no center at all, nothing but a sprawl of strip-mall liquor stores and beach-front property twisted around freeway interchanges, highway overpasses, and motorway numerals. LA is movement, jerky traffic. Los Angeles is inhabited by cars driven by an enternally late, under-caffeinated, “Nearly-out-of-gas, lost-the-phone-number, forgot-the-directions, can-I-call-you-back?” simulacrum of a being that has been consumed by his or her vehicle’s need to be in constant motion. Snail-paced motion.
Sure – they’ve designed a stretch of Sunset and put aside a bit of Hollywood, for the tourists’ sake. You can see the sign. Look at the closed gates of the back-lots… Continue reading
I spent a month living in Kathmandu working for Umbrella – it was an amazing experience and one that I can never forget: interacting with and learning from the people of Nepal, seeing them laugh, smile, and offer hospitality despite the hardships of their lives.
A decade of civil conflict in Nepal has left the country in pieces. More than 12,000 people were killed and an estimated 150,000 displaced.
Although the conflict affected every region and every segment of society, the children have suffered the most – and are still suffering.
As the nation is working to put itself back together (rebuilding all of the basic infrastructure and struggling to salvage the economy) there are countless thousands of… Continue reading