Visual
The Paper State

The Paper State

Fucked Up and Photocopied. It was an appropriate title for a book documenting the first generation of American punk flyers. Published in 2000, just as print ‘zines were giving way to online gig listings and, eventually, blogs, the coffee-table sized collection could not have been more timely. It was as though it were a concluding chapter to an era, which had not fully given way to something else yet – the Internet. More»

Is Green the New Brown?

Is Green the New Brown?

I do a lot of driving, most of it highly tedious. Two miles to the grocery store. Six miles to the mall. Twelve miles to work. The sort where every minute seems to count because the whole trip is so wearisome. In that context, it doesn’t take much to piss me off. I start stereotyping. Big pick-up trucks are driven by reckless assholes; European sedans by condescending elitists. More»

Urban Cleansing

Urban Cleansing

‘Gentrification’ is a relatively new word to the left. Increasingly invoked to describe the transformation of inner city neighborhoods in Europe and the United States by wealth, the term has become especially pejorative of late, given the persistence of the economic crisis. How could cities, once abandoned by the affluent for the suburbs, all of the sudden be booming again? More»

Birth of a Prison

Birth of a Prison

You don’t have to have an eye for street art, to notice. Wherever you turn, in Belgium’s capital, there are stickers, and in the poorer neighborhoods, posters, denouncing the construction of a new prison. Located in Haren, in north Brussels, the prison-to-be is the stuff of post-modern fantasy. More»

Waiting for the Anarchists

Waiting for the Anarchists

Whenever foreign leftists think about Italy, one of the first things that comes to mind are violent demonstrations, in big cities, like Rome, and Milan. Rarely do they imagine politics taking place outside of the major tourist hubs. It’s not surprising. One plays host to the federal government. The other, the business sector. More»

How Not to Defend Spoilers

How Not to Defend Spoilers

A seemingly endless pattern has developed. Somebody on my Facebook feed gives away a development from a television program, and another person complains. Then, the discussion starts about spoilers. It’s always the same arguments that prevent any meaningful exploration from taking place. More»

Facing Multicultural Europe

Facing Multicultural Europe

When you see them all lined up in a row, staring out at you with faces of cheer and goodwill, the pressure to identify with them is strong. To identify with them as Europeans. To identify with Europe. And that’s surely the point behind this ad campaign, because the bureaucrats in Brussels and Strasbourg who signed off on it need to cultivate a sense of continental belonging. More»

Sustain This

Sustain This

Despite what the longbeards growing arugula on their rooftops in Brooklyn — or Berlin — would have you believe, there may be nothing less sexy than sustainability. That’s no dis. We are programmed, whether biologically or culturally, to seek out the sort of bliss that is, by definition, gone right after it comes. And that’s a problem for any politics that wishes to depose the prevailing social order. More»

Trafalgar Square in Pakistan

Trafalgar Square in Pakistan

Bahria Town in Lahore is the tackiest place I’ve been to in Pakistan, with the possible exception of the resort town in Murree. It wasn’t necessarily bad for it, especially since the infrastructure clearly made Bahria Town a great place to live. However, it was irritating, as the child of formerly working-class parents, to see the absurd machinations of people with no idea how to spend their money.  More»

It's a Small, Strange World

It’s a Small, Strange World

Wes Anderson’s latest picture Grand Budapest Hotel has been widely praised by critics for exposing more of the melancholy that has lined all of his ventures. With its allusions to the rise of fascism in the 1930s, and the fate of Eastern Europe’s smaller nations after both World Wars, the film definitely comes closer to delivering the sort of message many found lacking in his previous work. More»

Burning Down the House

Burning Down the House

In a world where the reality principle has largely been conflated with the totalizing logic of capital, the most powerful messages may be those that repudiate common sense. Consider this provocative sticker from Brussels, one of a series popping up around the city: “If you are really cold, set fire to your house.” Like the Zen koans it resembles, this counter-intuitive advice has the potential to turn one’s thinking inside out. More»

Labour Tourism

Labour Tourism

“We can’t fire them.” For anyone who has ever worked in Italy, the complaint is a familiar one. Often proffered to British and American employees, who are used to working with at-will type contracts, where staff can be let go on a whim, there’s an air of “Why can’t we be more like you?” to the declaration, as though a lack of job security is a more natural, albeit desirable state of affairs. More»