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In its pomp, London is losing its swing

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In its pomp, London is losing its swing

Postby publicduende » Sun Oct 05, 2014 10:28 am

On the topic of large cities and their urban communities, here's a very interesting article I have just finished to read, on the FT.com. I am pasting it here as non-subscribers have limited access to contents. Spot on, especially when defining London.

--

In its pomp, London is losing its swing
By Edwin Heathcote

Counterintuitively, the city needs to pursue policies to restrain its success, says Edwin Heathcote

ll cities are susceptible to flattery but the raucous honking of London’s own horn by local boosters is beginning to jar. Britain’s biggest city thinks of itself as the world’s creative capital, a global city, welcoming to immigrants of all means (but especially those of unlimited means), a place where you can buy anything.
London’s supporters in this odd, artificial competition claim that Paris, the city of the 19th century, is a hollowed out bourgeois centre encased in a ring of working class immigrants in the disenfranchised banlieues. They say that New York, the city of the 20th century, has similarly priced out its bohemians, first to Brooklyn and now Queens, leaving in Manhattan a waxwork residue of that borough’s own past, populated by gawking tourists and overlooked by luxury condominiums. But then what of London? Is it not dooming itself to a similar future? I think it is. Each self-satisfied pronouncement hastens that fate.

Paris was the creative capital of the world when its medieval streets were being ploughed up to make way for the boulevards. Amid the upheaval, pockets of bohemia clung on in ratty garrets, in the cracks between history and the new bourgeois city. New York was at its creative apex as industry began to depart in the 1950s and again when the city teetered on the brink of bankruptcy two decades later.

Artists and architects appropriated huge lofts and workshops in the centre of the city, while nightclubs sprang up in leftover industrial spaces. Andy Warhol even called his studio The Factory. New wave, punk, disco, hip hop and graffiti as an art form emerged from the same scene of abandoned downtown dives, sweaty basements and derelict blocks. Manchester and Berlin would both in the 1990s become creative capitals and buzzing club scenes because, in their previous incarnations, they had become redundant cities. Manchester mills and factories left behind the space for raves and massive studios. Berlin’s sudden glut of former government offices left a legacy of seemingly endless, cheap space ripe for inventive appropriation.

And London had its east. Once Chelsea and Soho had become chichi, corporate and sexless, the energy moved first to the warehouses of Clerkenwell and then the garment workshops of Shoreditch and Hoxton, and the industrial spaces of Hackney. But London’s voracious appetite for gentrification and property as a vehicle for speculation has left these places too out of reach for young creative types. Even such places such as Peckham, New Cross and Clapton – once seemingly intractable – are whizzing beyond the reach of ordinary Londoners.

In the 1960s the US succumbed to the so-called doughnut effect, as white flight left the city centres to disenfranchised, largely black populations on welfare. Now it is the reverse. The poor and the displaced reside on the edges of cities while the centre is much more literally a hole, its wealthy residents barely visible, its communities disappeared. Kensington, Belgravia and Mayfair are the dormitory suburbs of the new century.

A vibrant city demands proximity between rich and poor, with all the friction that entails. It demands social divisions that are not set in stone, but permeable and gossamer thin.

Yet both main parties have proposed policies that will exacerbate the social problems of our biggest cities. The Tories’ plans to slash housing benefits will exile the poor of central London. Labour’s mansion tax would squeeze out the few remaining households of modest means from areas that have gentrified around them. Their properties would be lapped up by international investors, and the city would become yet more stratified.

If a creative capital is to be a place that lives and breathes – rather than a tradeable abstraction, a mere asset class – then it needs to pursue, counterintuitively, the kind of policies that will restrain its success. The key to a successful metropolis is, paradoxically, a degree of failure. That is what makes experimentation possible. The musicians and artists, the punks, the YBAs and the graphic designers who set the scene slept in cheap studios and lived off the dole. If those are gone where is creative life to happen?

If London wants to maintain its position as a city hospitable to the industries its boosters say they support, it needs to make life less comfortable for the speculators and plutocrats they actually seem to woo. That means bringing the property market under control, easing the pace of gentrification and reversing the disastrous policy that allows commercial property to be converted into flats to create expensive housing on the cheap. London is a success story. But this kind of success is exactly what can kill a city.
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Postby S_Parc » Sun Oct 05, 2014 5:05 pm

The thing is that London, at least the one square mile, has historically been the world's money laundering capital. Now that the UK has limited industries, the greater London has also gotten into the money game. Thus, the amount of ppl parking cash there is the primary revenue base for the UK to sustain itself.

In contrast, there's no reason for NYC to be the BS city that it is today, as many banking back offices have moved to Delaware, and data centers to Texas or the Carolinas. Those so-called hipsters in Manhattan or Williamsburg Brooklyn are idiots (many of whom are living off trust funds), not creative juggernauts like Jack Kerouac of yesteryear. And yet, real estate speculation there is through the roof, while the city produces nothing of value. Even many of the hedge funds, dot the southern New England coastline, as managers prefer the leafy suburbs over the crowded downtown of Manhattan. Sure, investment banking headquarters are in Manhattan, alongside television networks but c'mon, those offices aren't exactly growing by leaps and bounds. Much of the detailed work has been in-shored to cheaper US locales, if/when not abroad. I've been getting calls from many Delaware-to-PA based banking offices for work, during the past few years. You'd almost think that Delaware was the new Manhattan but without skyscrapers and the Yankees baseball team.

And from my perspective ... at least in London, I can call an esc*rt, after having let's say a long day with the trading terminals or irate clients, and have a great party with the esc*rt afterwards. On the other hand, in NYC, one day ... that esc*rt would be an undercover NYPD agent and my career/reputation would be ruined. Instead, I'd have to setup a Sugar Baby arrangement with some NYU student bimbo, and keep her on some monthly expense, for it to be legal in America. Seriously, what a waste of time and money! Why would any non-native person want to live in NYC, if they had the resources to be elsewhere?
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Postby E Irizarry R&B Singer » Sun Oct 05, 2014 6:33 pm

S_Parc wrote:The thing is that London, at least the one square mile, has historically been the world's money laundering capital. Now that the UK has limited industries, the greater London has also gotten into the money game. Thus, the amount of ppl parking cash there is the primary revenue base for the UK to sustain itself.

In contrast, there's no reason for NYC to be the BS city that it is today, as many banking back offices have moved to Delaware, and data centers to Texas or the Carolinas. Those so-called hipsters in Manhattan or Williamsburg Brooklyn are idiots (many of whom are living off trust funds), not creative juggernauts like Jack Kerouac of yesteryear. And yet, real estate speculation there is through the roof, while the city produces nothing of value. Even many of the hedge funds, dot the southern New England coastline, as managers prefer the leafy suburbs over the crowded downtown of Manhattan. Sure, investment banking headquarters are in Manhattan, alongside television networks but c'mon, those offices aren't exactly growing by leaps and bounds. Much of the detailed work has been in-shored to cheaper US locales, if/when not abroad. I've been getting calls from many Delaware-to-PA based banking offices for work, during the past few years. You'd almost think that Delaware was the new Manhattan but without skyscrapers and the Yankees baseball team.

And from my perspective ... at least in London, I can call an esc*rt, after having let's say a long day with the trading terminals or irate clients, and have a great party with the esc*rt afterwards. On the other hand, in NYC, one day ... that esc*rt would be an undercover NYPD agent and my career/reputation would be ruined. Instead, I'd have to setup a Sugar Baby arrangement with some NYU student bimbo, and keep her on some monthly expense, for it to be legal in America. Seriously, what a waste of time and money! Why would any non-native person want to live in NYC, if they had the resources to be elsewhere?


Lovely post!! :-D Although I'm originally from NYC and don't live there anymore, I have to say that I could live there if I wanted to. I have a job which is virtual/remote, and I can work anywhere in the contingent 48 states and any of the southern Canadian provinces if I wanted to (or any of the northern Mexican ones).

With that being said, I can even return to my native NYC and live there, but I"m not making enough to live there. It would be foolish of me...just for the sake of being in NY?!? Meh & blah

S_Parc is right. NYPD is too hellbent on generating making quota and revenue for the City of New York hence petty violation charges like shrilly catching people urinating in the corner of the train station because it's so hard to find public toilets (by deliberate design, too), shrilly catching a man eating in a public park without accompanying a child that you legally know, or shrilly catching one getting swiped in just so one can get home because they cannot afford train fare.
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Postby S_Parc » Sun Oct 05, 2014 8:26 pm

E Irizarry R&B Singer wrote:I have a job which is virtual/remote, and I can work anywhere in the contingent 48 states and any of the southern Canadian provinces if I wanted to (or any of the northern Mexican ones).

With that being said, I can even return to my native NYC and live there, but I"m not making enough to live there. It would be foolish of me...just for the sake of being in NY?!? Meh & blah.


If it were about saving some dollars, then take a look at Windsor Ontario, directly across the river from Detroit MI. There are plenty of strippers/esc*rts there and apartments are relatively cheap, in comparison to Toronto or Montreal.
16 years ago, the Best Picture of 1999, "American Beauty", telegraphed the message of Happier Abroad to the world.

Beware of long term engagements with AWs, you may find yourself in a coffin.

AB discussion thread

BTW, despite settling down with an AW, myself, the warning is still in effect.
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Postby S_Parc » Sun Oct 05, 2014 8:41 pm

E Irizarry R&B Singer wrote:S_Parc is right. NYPD is too hellbent on generating making quota and revenue for the City of New York hence petty violation charges like shrilly catching people urinating in the corner of the train station because it's so hard to find public toilets (by deliberate design, too), shrilly catching a man eating in a public park without accompanying a child that you legally know, or shrilly catching one getting swiped in just so one can get home because they cannot afford train fare.


In this case, both Boston and NYC PDs have nothing to do but bust esc*rt operations, massage parlors (which give happy endings), and independents.

You would think that there was no crime, if the PDs had that much time to be spying on ppl's personal matters.

Seriously, in America, you have to pay for a relationship. Thus, if you want to bo*nk, even at an Indian casino, you need to pay someone to actually play blackjack with you at the tables, before going up to the room. That's where even an undercover PD will walk away, as the eyes-in-the-sky cameras are evidence that you'd engaged in an authentic *relationship*, i.e. gambling partner. Then, there's nothing illegal about going back to the room for a bo*nk, to celebrate your victory (or loss) at the tables.
16 years ago, the Best Picture of 1999, "American Beauty", telegraphed the message of Happier Abroad to the world.

Beware of long term engagements with AWs, you may find yourself in a coffin.

AB discussion thread

BTW, despite settling down with an AW, myself, the warning is still in effect.
S_Parc
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Postby publicduende » Sun Oct 05, 2014 9:07 pm

S_Parc wrote:The thing is that London, at least the one square mile, has historically been the world's money laundering capital. Now that the UK has limited industries, the greater London has also gotten into the money game. Thus, the amount of ppl parking cash there is the primary revenue base for the UK to sustain itself.

In contrast, there's no reason for NYC to be the BS city that it is today, as many banking back offices have moved to Delaware, and data centers to Texas or the Carolinas. Those so-called hipsters in Manhattan or Williamsburg Brooklyn are idiots (many of whom are living off trust funds), not creative juggernauts like Jack Kerouac of yesteryear. And yet, real estate speculation there is through the roof, while the city produces nothing of value. Even many of the hedge funds, dot the southern New England coastline, as managers prefer the leafy suburbs over the crowded downtown of Manhattan. Sure, investment banking headquarters are in Manhattan, alongside television networks but c'mon, those offices aren't exactly growing by leaps and bounds. Much of the detailed work has been in-shored to cheaper US locales, if/when not abroad. I've been getting calls from many Delaware-to-PA based banking offices for work, during the past few years. You'd almost think that Delaware was the new Manhattan but without skyscrapers and the Yankees baseball team.

And from my perspective ... at least in London, I can call an esc*rt, after having let's say a long day with the trading terminals or irate clients, and have a great party with the esc*rt afterwards. On the other hand, in NYC, one day ... that esc*rt would be an undercover NYPD agent and my career/reputation would be ruined. Instead, I'd have to setup a Sugar Baby arrangement with some NYU student bimbo, and keep her on some monthly expense, for it to be legal in America. Seriously, what a waste of time and money! Why would any non-native person want to live in NYC, if they had the resources to be elsewhere?


Excellent analysis Sergeant. I agree on the entire line.

I don't know what the human fauna that works and play in the NYC square mile is up to nowadays. I assume those who still make serious money in Wall Street are fewer and fewer and make money playing ridiculously easy games, nothing compared with the risk taking and alpha chasing that was the rule in the semi-functioning markets of the pre-QE/ZIRP/whateverneededtosavetheEuro era. And of course many of them are the smart money's sons, awash with legacy and family cash.

For everybody else, NYC is probably all about utterly unexciting and increasingly precarious employment at 1.5 hours commuting distance to anonymous New Jersey or Connecticut suburbia.

As for NYC/London as cultural echelons and trend-setting places, since you're drawing a comparison, you may be right that NYC stopped being buzzing with vitality and diversity long ago, but so did London. Every bit of independent, counter-stream, antagonistic cultural and artistic expression becomes quickly institutionalised, distilled of its original message and transformed into yet another vehicle driven by speculators.

Shoreditch was piss-poor, creative and bohemian when I was living there in 2001, now it's completely gentrified and the kind of experimental art that was made there now encrusts the Saatchis, the Rothschilds and the hedge fund manager with yet more billions in paper value. And by the way, most of those crappy council estates have never had more than an extra hand of paint and now go for 3/4 times their value back then. This is like London is eating her middle class alive and becoming an orgy of offices, coffee/sandwich franchises and expensive pads for multibillionaires, with a few heritage sites and museum thrown in for good measure.

The real problem, which the article above defines quite well, is that the disruptive and destructive yet ultimately creative (in the thanatos/eros sense) dissent typical of young, working class (or unemployed) generations grown in industrial shitholes past and present, is no longer there. We don't need a post-industrial aesthetics, we are post-everything. People prefer expressing their discomfort with society and its troubles in front of a few pints on a Thursday night, rather then embracing an electric guitar, a sampler or colouring boring walls with graffiti. We have to thank the terminal capitalist model imported from the US for this: why repress dissent when consent can be mass-manufactured shoved down our throats like the ultimate comfort food?

You're right, Connecticut is full of hedge funds, financial institutions and large tech companies (think Tripadvisor in Newton). Still, my impression is that it's a place of large houses either side of large, leafy streets, with not much more to do than the local mall and church and the thrill of a monthly night down in NYC. About 3 years ago I was proposed to relocate to Newport CT by my then employer, a large hedge fund, and while briefly entertaining the idea I looked for a house to rent and couldn't find anything with less than 4 bedroom and $2500 a month rent.

About the escort situation, yes London and the UK are more lenient towards sex freelancers. Running a brothel - ie making money off other people's sexual services - is still technically illegal, but the easy peasy workaround is let escorts pay visits or receive in their own flats, which they allegedly share with "students" or long-stay "tourists". Don't be fooled though - sugar daddying happens a lot here too; in fact makes more economic sense to pay a girl a monthly allowance and know that she will only have you and perhaps another couple of FB's, than pay for spot action with a woman who will have had the same number of punters between breakfast and midday.
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Postby S_Parc » Sun Oct 05, 2014 9:54 pm

publicduende wrote:for NYC/London as cultural echelons and trend-setting places, since you're drawing a comparison, you may be right that NYC stopped being buzzing with vitality and diversity long ago, but so did London. Every bit of independent, counter-stream, antagonistic cultural and artistic expression becomes quickly institutionalised, distilled of its original message and transformed into yet another vehicle driven by speculators.

Shoreditch was piss-poor, creative and bohemian when I was living there in 2001, now it's completely gentrified and the kind of experimental art that was made there now encrusts the Saatchis, the Rothschilds and the hedge fund manager with yet more billions in paper value. And by the way, most of those crappy council estates have never had more than an extra hand of paint and now go for 3/4 times their value back then. This is like London is eating her middle class alive and becoming an orgy of offices, coffee/sandwich franchises and expensive pads for multibillionaires, with a few heritage sites and museum thrown in for good measure.

The real problem, which the article above defines quite well, is that the disruptive and destructive yet ultimately creative (in the thanatos/eros sense) dissent typical of young, working class (or unemployed) generations grown in industrial shitholes past and present, is no longer there. We don't need a post-industrial aesthetics, we are post-everything. People prefer expressing their discomfort with society and its troubles in front of a few pints on a Thursday night, rather then embracing an electric guitar, a sampler or colouring boring walls with graffiti. We have to thank the terminal capitalist model imported from the US for this: why repress dissent when consent can be mass-manufactured shoved down our throats like the ultimate comfort food?


IMO, the UK is becoming more like the USA, however, in terms of NYC vs London, London still has a bit of what I call an internationalized *Boston Massachusetts* world. What that means is that where in Boston, a lot of its diversity is not the olde Irish-American mainstays but the ppls around the various university populations and certain communities, like the Brazilian ex-pats. There are still enough Bostonians, who're well read, traveled, and know something; London has something like that, along with its pub venues and constant streaming of ppls from around the world.

In NYC, however, it's a joke, as the city is occupied by Trust fund hipsters, Wall Streeters, and wannabes *from musicians, to street performers, to dancers, to writers, to prop traders*. Too many ppl walk around NYC with ungrounded dreams of being the next Warhol, next Al Pacino, next Madonna, next George Soros, you-name-it and many of these ppl can't even find meaningful work. It's not at all a diverse city, once you factor out the ethnic differences.


publicduende wrote:You're right, Connecticut is full of hedge funds, financial institutions and large tech companies (think Tripadvisor in Newton). Still, my impression is that it's a place of large houses either side of large, leafy streets, with not much more to do than the local mall and church and the thrill of a monthly night down in NYC. About 3 years ago I was proposed to relocate to Newport CT by my then employer, a large hedge fund, and while briefly entertaining the idea I looked for a house to rent and couldn't find anything with less than 4 bedroom and $2500 a month rent.


You've summed up southern CT rather well. And if the area isn't a gentrified suburb, it's a rough & tumble city, like Bridgeport.


publicduende wrote:About the escort situation, yes London and the UK are more lenient towards sex freelancers. Running a brothel - ie making money off other people's sexual services - is still technically illegal, but the easy peasy workaround is let escorts pay visits or receive in their own flats, which they allegedly share with "students" or long-stay "tourists". Don't be fooled though - sugar daddying happens a lot here too; in fact makes more economic sense to pay a girl a monthly allowance and know that she will only have you and perhaps another couple of FB's, than pay for spot action with a woman who will have had the same number of punters between breakfast and midday.


If bawdy houses are the only issue with the cops, then there's no comparison between the UK and the USA. Here, there are constant sting operations and crackdowns. Not too far from where I live, a massage parlor was busted for offering hand jobs. And independents, esp the Craigslist kind, are targeted by cops, pretending to be clients or vice versa, a cop posting an ad, even an agency ad, to entrap clients.

As for Sugar Daddy/Sugar Babies, that's a global phenomena and everyone has distinct arrangements. I'd seen that stuff everywhere from Montreal, London, Singapore, Rio, Sydney, Japan, you-name-it.

In the US, however, it's enforced, as it's the only viable legal option, kinda like my example of creating a blackjack companion, for a stay at a casino but using the shortened esc*rt model of a single evening out.
16 years ago, the Best Picture of 1999, "American Beauty", telegraphed the message of Happier Abroad to the world.

Beware of long term engagements with AWs, you may find yourself in a coffin.

AB discussion thread

BTW, despite settling down with an AW, myself, the warning is still in effect.
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Postby S_Parc » Mon Oct 06, 2014 1:45 am

FYI, if you check the classic rock archives, you'll find that being disillusioned with London was echoed in prior times.

Here's Gerry Rafferty's "Baker Street", now almost 35 years ago ...

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZsXjCp_f1h4[/youtube]

Now that's an amazing Sax solo :) !

Mel and I like to bo*nk hoes with that solo on re-play :lol:
16 years ago, the Best Picture of 1999, "American Beauty", telegraphed the message of Happier Abroad to the world.

Beware of long term engagements with AWs, you may find yourself in a coffin.

AB discussion thread

BTW, despite settling down with an AW, myself, the warning is still in effect.
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Postby E Irizarry R&B Singer » Tue Oct 07, 2014 5:15 am

S_Parc wrote:FYI, if you check the classic rock archives, you'll find that being disillusioned with London was echoed in prior times.

Here's Gerry Rafferty's "Baker Street", now almost 35 years ago ...

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZsXjCp_f1h4[/youtube]

Now that's an amazing Sax solo :) !

Mel and I like to bo*nk hoes with that solo on re-play :lol:


I forgot that you are the king of pop. No MJ pun intended.
Hmm I think I will revert to playing Freddie Mercury's 1985 unreleased demo......
It's time to expatriate to evade your fate; it's time to expatriate before the barn door permanently closes on "US" sheep.
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Postby S_Parc » Tue Oct 07, 2014 3:39 pm

E Irizarry R&B Singer wrote:I forgot that you are the king of pop. No MJ pun intended.
Hmm I think I will revert to playing Freddie Mercury's 1985 unreleased demo......


Rafferty's rock-to-jazz classic was from around the time period when I was born, so I look at it as a gateway towards disillusionment, which came quickly afterwards, growing up in a dysfunctional household.

Now, it's just a great track, no more negative connotations, only the positives, which is that it's a great solo for a boink :)
16 years ago, the Best Picture of 1999, "American Beauty", telegraphed the message of Happier Abroad to the world.

Beware of long term engagements with AWs, you may find yourself in a coffin.

AB discussion thread

BTW, despite settling down with an AW, myself, the warning is still in effect.
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Postby S_Parc » Fri Oct 10, 2014 2:08 am

Ok, since we're on the topic of classic rock, here's The Clash's iconic tune of London's demise, many decades ago, "London Calling" ...

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EfK-WX2pa8c[/youtube]
16 years ago, the Best Picture of 1999, "American Beauty", telegraphed the message of Happier Abroad to the world.

Beware of long term engagements with AWs, you may find yourself in a coffin.

AB discussion thread

BTW, despite settling down with an AW, myself, the warning is still in effect.
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Postby Repatriate » Fri Oct 10, 2014 2:39 am

When you're look at cities like London and NY you can't discount the effect of foreign investment. There are loads of rich foreigners from Russia, China, and various gulf arab states pouring money into real estate there. The reason why is because it's thought of as a low risk blue chip investment by the elites of those countries. There's also social cachet with owning a multi million dollar penthouse right next door to some celebrity power couple.

Your average American is priced out of those cities but those cities stopped being places for regular Americans quite a long time ago anyways. The illusion is that your regular prole can just pick up and make a career there but in reality unless you're involved in entertainment or banking those cities are some of the worst places to live.
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