London Student, 17 February 2014, American student Francesco Hounye had been in the United Kingdom for only three days when he was attacked on Brick Lane just past midnight on 17 June 2013. The CCTV footage was unsettling: Hounye was assaulted by five men, allegedly for not being ‘local.’ They smashed the bottle he was holding against his face and then pursued him across the street, kicking and punching him before fleeing. Hounye was rushed to Royal London Hospital in Whitechapel, and treated there for deep slash wounds to his head and right ear with more than two-dozen stitches. One arrest was later made, but Hounye, now with permanent facial scarring and too afraid to venture out in London alone, was left questioning his future in the UK. “I am a visitor… and was considering continuing my studies here but this incident has made me think twice,” he told the press in October. Read more at London Student.
Litro, 12 December 2013 Maybe it’s because the hanging is a month old and secured only by ball head pins, but the outsized prints of Joanna Piotrowska’s FROWST are curling at the edges like bedroom posters or snapshots tacked and forgotten on corkboard. They’re family photos made static and huge on a current of anxiety, fretting tableaux of overridden bodies and strained poses, and they’re already in meltdown. Someone in a velour tracksuit droops over an (almost) naked man in a lawn chair, headless except for the jut of a jaw, and two men recline in underwear on a rug: we’re intruding on an intimacy, or at least a physical proximity, if an unheimlich one. Piotrowska photographed family members, but the relationships are uneasily ambiguous, the tightness of the poses worrisome. A woman holds a grown man under the arms like a baby, but the possibility they aren’t mother and son nags. Even more disquieting is the private pose of VII, as a woman stiffly straddles a man crammed between tables and we stare over her shoulder. The prints are large, to linger on and knock us with the buzzing tensions in these poses, the strain of being so close. Read more at Litro.
Litro, November 22, 2013 Bourgeois self-congratulation—so en vogue in government and the City these days—rarely produces inventive or crowd-pleasing art, and especially not when it come with greased facial hair and a century’s coat of fustiness. Generations of English middle class portraits are safely lost in family attics, and some of the gilt-framed vainglory on display in the National Gallery’s new exhibition of Viennese portraiture should have been forgotten too. The most stuffily historical of them—Hans Makart’s sycophantic likenesses of richly-upholstered society women and Gyula Benczúr’s love-struck portrait of a young, smug Empress Sisi, decades after her middle age and a year after her assassination (and never as dewy as Romy Schneider)—are not so much “Facing the Modern” as staring stubbornly backward and plugging their ears to it. Read more at Litro.
London Student, November 18, 2013 Anderson House is slated to be razed: initial notices to tenants said by 1st April 2014, but these manufactured regenerations operate on erratic timetables. Ione, 27, moved here last October, months after the building’s fate was decided, and it’s come to feel like home. Her third-floor maisonette is a mid-century relic, a tidy allotment of middle class aspiration tucked into in a row with two dozen others. It’s slowly crumbling, and the kitchen is a cubbyhole – today’s upwardly mobile white goods look elephantine in there – but Ione has splashed bright paint around, tacked art to the walls, and had the leak in the roof fixed. Her neighbours provided screwdrivers and DIY guidance; they have a lively Google Group where they advertise local volunteering opportunities and coordinate cocktail crawls through the building. Read more at London Student or see PDF here.
The stigma and bureaucracy of ‘hidden’ health issues London Student, November 1, 2013 Few people can immediately tell that Sonia Hunter, a third year at SOAS, is ill, but chronic fatigue syndrome and fibromyalgia affect her “every moment of every day.” The only external signs of her disability are a slow gait and sometimes a walk like she’s twisted her ankle, but if she looks healthy and able-bodied to other people, her disability “is always visible and present” to her. CFS causes persistent exhaustion, unrelieved by sleep or rest, and difficulty with concentration and complex thinking, and the related fibromyalgia produces widespread pain and extreme sensitivity throughout the body. Read more at London Student.
Litro, 17 October 2013 Weimar Berlin is perhaps the most seductive of the twentieth century’s hindsight illusions, a glittering shard of pop history sexiness wedged between two warmongering and wicked regimes. This is a smashingly broken metropolis of cabarets, sexologists, brazen sadomasochism and other cubbyhole perversions. It’s a decadent in a tidy, parabolic way: a decline and fall story about a defeated people poisoning themselves with erotica and eugenics and having a gaudily good time doing it. Depending on your politics and tolerance for nightlife, Weimar culture is either a grease slick on the slippery slope from Wilhelmine aggression to fascist perdition or it’s a broad-minded cultural flourishing sadly betrayed. Read more at Litro
Truthout, 14 October, 2013 In the brutal auditioning rounds of new fall television, Michael J. Fox is the sentimental favorite – the underdog with a stacked deck and a 30-year NBC pedigree. Fox’s new eponymous half-hour sitcom has a plum Thursday night slot, a cast poached from the best dramas of the decade (The Wire’s Wendell Pierce and Breaking Bad’s Betsy Brandt), and a shotgun season commitment from the network. The show is a fitting welcome back party for a beloved sitcom veteran, and a feel-good show could go a long way to stripping the stigma from Fox’s disease. Read more at Truthout
London Student, 7 October 2013 “I saw him again a few weeks ago at a club. I was very uncomfortable, and Stephen acted like everything was normal. Clearly he doesn’t know that what he did was wrong. That’s how normalised it is. He thought it was harmless flirting.” For Melissa (names have been changed), her last encounter with Stephen, on New Year’s Eve, was anything but harmless. Stephen, a fellow student at King’s and friend of her friends, singled her out after she became visibly drunk at a house party in Camden. His advances started casually – “he’s touchy-feely with a lot of people,” Melissa’s friend said – but they made Melissa uncomfortable and escalated as she became drunker. He slipped his arm around her shoulder, stroked her arm, and told her repeatedly how good-looking she was. At first Melissa protested, telling him she had a boyfriend and at one point hiding in the bathroom to avoid him, but Stephen was persistent. “You should be used to this, a pretty girl like you,” he said. Later he trailed her to the couch and pushed her head into his lap. He didn’t unzip his trousers, but it was still “overtly sexual” and […]
London Student, September 18, 2013 Overseas postgrads are our educational system’s golden geese: pumped for high tuition fees and then sacrificed for xenophobic grandstanding. Who will fill seats – and coffers – when they leave? At home in California, Amanda Matthews is putting the finishing touches to a master’s dissertation, the capstone of an intensive year of medical and Enlightenment history and British Isles travel at King’s College. History is “just a hobby,” she says, and her master’s garnish for her CV, but she’s certain it will be a springboard to a stable career in a shrunken U.S. economy. She saved for two years, travelled 4,000 miles, spent £15,000 on fees, and logged hundreds of hours at the British Library on that bet. Read more at London Student.
The AV Club, October 16, 2011 (lost in site overhaul) Hulk Hogan, reality TV’s steroid-pumped Ward Cleaver, can still swing a carefully-orchestrated punch in the pay-per-view ring. All the canned pasta, Christmas movies, and judicious parenting in the world couldn’t dilute Terry Bollea’s fake-baked prowess and he runs wild on Philly tonight to prove it. The Hulk leads a Viking charge of Impact Wrestling champions to Temple’s Liacouras Center: strapping spandexed superheroes who seem to take their costuming cues from leather bar patrons and Juggalos. Their sparring may be staged but the fan enthusiasm certainly won’t be. Current TNA Heavyweight Champion Sting may look like a pumped-up Alice Cooper and Rob van Dam may have a mullet the likes of which haven’t been seen since “Achy Breaky Heart,” but together they can garner as many cheers as the show’s scantily-clad Knockouts. It’s red-blooded male entertainment—with a generous heap of camp and shiny spandex.