This blog is defunct! Check out my new music blog at Sonicrampage.org.
Obviously, this blog is inactive. A year of fairly feverish posting was about enough for me. Still, though, I do think that I did some pretty decent work during my blogging period, so this post is here to collect together links to the posts that I think are the most interesting.
Bellos, Alex Futebol: The Brazilian Way Of Life
Bergner, Daniel God of the Rodeo: The Quest for Redemption in Louisiana's Angola Prison
Brooks, David Bobos in Paradise: The New Upper-Class and How They Got There
Burke, Jason Al-Qaeda: The True Story of Radical Islam
Coates, James Armed and Dangerous: The Rise of the Survivalist Right
Frank, Thomas What's the Matter with Kansas?: How Conservatives Won the Heart of America
Glenny, Misha The Balkans: Nationalism, War & the Great Powers, 1804-1999
Hiassen, Carl Kick Ass
Hiaassen, Carl Team Rodent: How Disney Devours The World
Jones, LeAlan and Lloyd Newman Our America: Life and Death on the South Side of Chicago
Powell, Robert Andrew We Own This Game: A Season In The Adult World Of Youth Football
Queenan, Joe If You're Talking to Me, Your Career Must Be In Trouble
Schlosser, Eric Reefer Madness: Sex, Drugs, and Cheap Labor in the American Black Market
Shakur, Sanyika Monster: The Autobiography of an LA Gang Member
Wrong, Michaela In the Footsteps of Mr. Kurtz: Living on the Brink of Disaster in Mobutu's Congo
More Brooklyn Demographic Stuff
Photoblog: A Long Walk On An Ugly Day
Photoblog: The Bowery
Racial Segregation in Brooklyn
The Bowery and the Changing Face Of New York
Religious Practice and Change in 19th Century Catholic Europe
The Failure of Socialism in Ghana
The Irish in Canada
The Puritan Failure To Reform Public Morals Under Cromwell (Part Two)
What Impact Did The American Civil War Have On Canada?
Why Did France Lose It's Empire in Indo-China? (Part Two)
Sometimes you just hit the buffers, and that's how I've been recently. So, here's some links:
"Young Patriotic Fervour" - On the rise of ethnic nationalism (ivoirité) in the southern sections of the Ivory Coast. Via Randy. (An aside: the Ivory Coast, like much else of West Africa, has a lot of problems between its mostly-Muslim north and its mostly-Christian south...why in God's name can't anyone with any power admit that the continuation of the utterly irrational national boundaries first drawn up by European hands plays a huge role in the region's problems?)
"Rape triggers a night of violence — but did it really happen?" - There was some rioting between black and Pakistani youths this weekend in Birmingham, ostensibly stemming from an alleged rape of a teenage black girl by a group of Asian merchants. It's not clear whether or not the rape actually took place, but what is clear is that a 24-year old black guy was stabbed to death by a group of Asian men in the mayhem (a totally unconnected 5ft 4in computer analyst - why go after the nerds you bastards?)
"Troubled season for Gaza's greenhouses" - On the Gaza greenhouses that the Israeli settlers left behind - a microcosm of the economic difficulties of post-settlement Gaza.
"Project Migration" - An interesting article on a fascinating-sounding exhibit currently showing in Cologne, tracing all sorts of different themes on the subject of migration.
"Dossier: Jeff Fort" - Lengthy profile of the long-time leader of Chicago's infamous Black P. Stone Nation street gang.
"Kazakhstan - Horsemeat and Two Veg" - On travel and eating horses in Kazakhstan.
"Upstate And Downstate – Differing Demographics, Continuing Conflicts" - New York City is a totally different world from the rest of the state.
Yesterday the Guardian had a very sad article looking back at the great Armenian earthquake of 1988:
A generation of children unborn when the earthquake happened are growing up unaware of what their parents went through. Even among the adult survivors there are fissures between those with memories of the disaster and those with none. "My husband was a conscript in the Soviet army and away in Georgia when it struck. When I start talking about it, I can see from his eyes that he doesn't understand," says Ribsime Bichakhchyan, a local paediatrician. "I was 16 at the time and I still remember the screaming when our school shook and fell around us. I begin to cry when I think about it. You can never forget."
Whether they were on the spot on the fateful day or not, everyone in Giumri lost at least one relative. Stories of bereavement are never far from the surface. "My sister was at school and my father was at work in a factory. It took nine days to find their bodies," says Fatima Vartanyan, who attends a clinic four times a week to relieve the stress she still suffers.
Ashot Simonyan, the taxi driver who took us to the hillside where thousands of Giumri residents are buried, many in unmarked graves because their bodies were too broken to be identified, suddenly announced: "That's my brother and his family." We followed his finger to a headstone on which were etched the faces of a handsome dark-haired man, his wife, and a little girl.
"Officially, 20,000 people in Giumri died, but the real figure was probably closer to 30,000," says David Sarkisyan, the local chief prosecutor, as he drove us round the town. Almost as an aside, he added: "My sister was buried on what was meant to be her wedding day. The restaurant and everything had been ordered."
At the time of the earthquake, Sarkisyan was a young police detective. "Many people didn't report the deaths of relatives. Compensation was 500 roubles for loss of a life and 1,500 for each surviving family member who lost their home. Can you blame them?"
Newcomers to Giumri will see a town largely rebuilt. But adult residents know the invisible sites of mass death. Pointing to the new courthouse, built from pink tufa, the local stone, Sarkisyan says two three-storey schools once shared this corner of the town's main square. Eight hundred children died.
Yeah, after months of slacking on my secondary music blog (ok, well not writing anything at all) I'm back with a monster of a post, including a new downloadable jungle mix. Check it out.
Here's an excerpt from Simon Kuper's superb Football Against the Enemy, describing the football stadium's role as the one refuge for dissent in the Soviet Union, in this case specifically in Armenia:
Kuper, Simon. Football Against the Enemy
Armenian women did not go to the stadium, so it was a place for male rituals. 'When you go to the stadium,' said Levon, 'you can do some free things.' For instance, only in the stadium was it acceptable to curse. There, it was even considered an art to invent terrible curses. Levon told me of the fan who shouted, 'Referee, fuck your wife in front of the Lenin Mausoleum!' The point here was that to the provinces of the USSR, Lenin's Mausoleum seemed the centre of the world, a place which all could see. The crowd would laugh: they appreciated good curses. 'But there was a debate,' Levon said, 'between those who wanted to invent new curses and those who preferred traditional curses. Once, a man shouted, "Referee, I piss on you!" Another man turned round and asked, "Why 'piss'?" For this was not a traditional curse. But the other man replied, "Why not? It's what I feel like doing."'
The cursing stopped when a bigger ground was built. Now the fans were spread out and their curses could not be heard, and, as Levon told me, 'people need to be heard, not only to cry. In the old stadium you could make a policeman look up shocked at a particularly awful curse.'
In the stadium you were free, to curse, to chant, to be with your own. The normal psychological state of a Soviet citizen was one of frustration. 'Now', Levon said, 'Spartak fans can go anywhere to express themselves: to a political meeting, to a church, to a rock concert. OK, they don't go to political meetings, but you know that they can. Once you know you are free to express yourself as you like, you don't need actually to do it.' So attendances dropped. (p.47)
These pictures were taken when I was about 17/18. Moody. Click on the pics to be taken to larger versions.
Looking out over the crowd at Highbury. Not long after we moved to London in 1991 I decided to start supporting Arsenal. Why? Well, one of the first kids my age that I met when we moved over was a big-time Spurs supporter, and he hated Arsenal. He was also a total dick, so I decided to go for Arsenal. I started to learn about the history, get my dad to take me to matches, and we both fell deep into it. My dad and I have now been season ticket-holders at Highbury for twelve seasons, and it's pretty astonishing how much has changed (ok this season is not so good so far) since we took up our seats in the appalling 1994-1995 season.
Paddington Green Estate, Edgware Road. For those outside Britain, these buildings are pretty typical examples of a council estate (aka housing project) - cheap, working-class housing rented out by local councils (although now a lot of the stock has been sold off or is privately managed).