Hiding in plain sight

(image from a 1960s ad for Smirnoff Vodka- with added text)

CW- sexual abuse, sexual assault, harassment, misogyny, racism, silencing- nothing described in graphic terms, only in outlines

I’ve wanted to write about some happier things for the last few days, but my mind has been very much consumed with the Harvey Weinstein sexual assault scandal. I have never worked in the film industry or had much to do with powerful millionaires but the constant stream of new testimonies of abuse by Weinstein and other powerful media figures that are now coming out are a daily reminder that there are a hell of a lot of men out there in all kinds of settings who absolutely get off on humiliating you and feeling like they have power over you, no matter how small, safe in the knowledge that society always lets them off the hook in the end. It reminds you of the times these things happened to you. I’m not alone, it’s stirring a lot things up in a lot of people.

There’s a lot of pressure to keep silent about these things. As Stassa Edward’s  Don’t Make A Scene article states:

“‘Don’t embarrass me in the hotel,’ Harvey Weinstein commanded model Ambra Battilana Gutierrez … ‘You’re making a scene,’ is a phrase that nearly every woman is familiar with. It’s invoked to command a kind of moral authority over women’s behavior, quickly coding it as irrational and veering towards crazy. To ‘make a scene’ is a series of ever-changing images, flexible enough to be used to describe a range of behaviors.”

Rose McGowan was vocal for years about her abuse, and mostly was just dismissed as crazy and hysterical, a washed up star bitter she wasn’t more famous. Terry Crews, a man with a super-masculine public image, revealed this week that he was groped in public at an awards show by a Hollywood executive, but knew that if he reacted or caused a fuss he would probably be the one to get in trouble and labelled with the stereotype of the aggressive or hyper-sensitive black man.

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It’s so funny how we don’t talk any more

Vintage Russian image of a 60s computer with punch tape

I realised recently how much I miss getting comments and having conversations on this blog. I know that people read it and they seem to enjoy it, but I don’t get much feedback or reactions outside Facebook.

When I moved this blog from Blogspot over to WordPress for the superior design features, I stopped getting as many comments, because the default WordPress comment system isn’t that great. It doesn’t have any notifications or nesting or other basic features. So I’ve added a new comment plugin today to make replying a much nicer experience.

I also decided recently I should do more regular short posts on here, rather than saving it up/putting it off for ages and then doing a massive entry.

So leave me some comments! Don’t be shy! Let’s talk. (Keep it polite and respectful of others, I hope it barely needs saying that I’m not going to tolerate any bigotry or abuse here).

I’ve been having a lot of mixed feelings lately about social media. It seems we’re going through quite a dark Wild West sort of period with how the internet is affecting society. Everyone is on the internet now, your 60 year old uncle, all the people you didn’t like at school; but the unspoken social contracts about how to use it in a civilised manner just don’t seem to be there.

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Valentina Tereshkova stickers & Write More Letters patches

Photo of patches and stickers

While unpacking my art stuff, I found some long-lost screen-printed patches, and some packets of kraft paper sticker blanks I had no memory of buying. So I rejigged some old artwork to create some stickers.

The stickers are £1 for a pack of three, and the patches £1.50 each. Prices include UK postage. Find them here.

Metelkova

 

Street art in Ljubljana

Metelkova is an area in the centre of Ljubljana that was originally a military barracks, then was squatted in the early 90s when the Yugoslav army pulled out after Slovenia declared independence, and is now full of social centres, workshops and gig venues. (And a hostel where I stayed overnight before crossing the border to Klagenfurt for work).

The most famous area like this is Christiania in Copenhagen. I was very disappointed with Christiania when I visited last year. I liked some of the buildings there, but the central market area was sleazy and tacky and there was an aggressive atmosphere, and the place it most honestly reminded me of was the red light district in Amsterdam. Maybe its glory days were in the 60s and 70s when it was founded.

Metelkova is a different proposition. It had a friendly and relaxed attitude, and I never felt any qualms about wandering round by myself, an atmosphere probably helped by the fact that the city government takes a generally positive attitude to its existence. They still don’t pay any rent, but no-one seems to care. It was clean and pleasant- people seemed to respect the communal space.

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So I moved back to Kent…

So I moved back to Kent last week. (I’m knackered after travelling round Germany for three weeks and then moving house back-to-back). To Margate in particular. I grew up in Medway, a little way to the west, but left when I was eighteen to go to university, as it didn’t feel like there were any opportunities for me. Nearly fifteen years later, here I am. A lot has changed in that time. London is not a desirable place for young people to live any more. Not because of crime (going down all the time), or pollution, but because it’s so impossibly expensive and offers such a poor quality of life.

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Margate Zine Club

I moved house last week back to back with coming back from Germany, and am exhausted, but here I am organising events. A little zine meet up in a lovely local cafe/record shop/yoga studio- plenty of vegan and gluten-free options. Free entry, and step-free, but sadly no disabled toilet (the toilets are upstairs).

Find out more info here.

Three new zines

I’ve got three new zines out . Each one is £2 (roughly 2.50 in USD or Euro) and available here.

Fanzine Ynfytyn 21
30 page 1/4 sized perzine on green paper

Going to Paris when you are broke, and managing to do it while the Charlie Hebdo shootings are going on.

  • Free Eurostar tickets
  • Walking miles and miles
  • French music magazines
  • €30 a night central Paris hotels, whose colour scheme can only be described as “depressed Willy Wonka”
  • Père Lachaise, Montmartre, Canal St Martin, St-Germain, Quartier Latin, Île St Louis, Jardin Luxembourg and a convenient view of the Eiffel Tower
  • Accidentally getting caught in a march of 1 million people
  • Zazie dans le Métro and other French film recommendations

Fanzine Ynfytyn 29
24 page 1/4 sized perzine on yellow paper

About Northern Italy. Travelling for work, and a last-minute trip to Lake Garda. You can see my photos of Lake Garda here.

  • Italy in the 90s
  • Getting sent to the wrong side of Italy by my job
  • Legnago, the most boring place in Italy
  • The joys of Italian electrics
  • Lake Garda then and now
  • The Name of the Rose
  • Catullus and an impromptu Latin lesson
  • Shadows of Fascism on Lake Garda
  • Invisible Cities

Film Photography 101
24 page 1/4 sized zine on green paper teaching you all the basics of film photography in a friendly jargon-free way.

  • Vintage camera types
  • How to fix common issues with second-hand cameras
  • How to clean vintage cameras
  • Lenses explained
  • Film types and sizes
  • Cross-processing
  • Uses of filters
  • Aperture explained
  • Shutter speed explained
  • The Sunny 16 rule
  • Exposure and EV rating
  • Tips for portraits
  • Tips for landscapes
  • The Rule of Thirds

 

The District Without Qualities?

So I’m back in the UK. For good now. Most of this week has been taken up with house-hunting, arranging vans etc. More on that soon. I don’t like to count my chickens before they’re hatched.

However, I was tidying up the folders on my computer this week, and found these miscellaneous photos of Vienna from February. I have been visiting Austria often for work since 2010, and know Vienna pretty well by now. These are all little details from back streets of Landstrasse- District III, an area of Vienna next to the Danube. It’s not so far out from the centre, but it’s more of a normal residential area than a tourist one. I was teaching as a guest teacher in a school there, and on sunny days preferred to wander back rather than go directly to the U-Bahn station opposite the school.

These looming WWII-era flak towers in Arenbergpark are now used as storehouses for the art museums. When they were built, they essentially functioned as a modern version of a castle keep- housing a radar station and air raid shelters.

I wasn’t buying a great deal of ice cream in February.

This street in the Weißgerber neighbourhood of Landstraße had a blue plaque showing it was where the writer Robert Musil lived until he was forced into exile by the Nazis. (A few months later I also happened to go to his birthplace in Klagenfurt via work). The stress of having to flee caused him to have a stroke and die at the age of 61. I don’t think he’s as well known in English-speaking countries as some of his compatriots despite being nominated for a Nobel Prize, but I can well recommend The Man Without Qualities, a long novel exploring life at all levels of society in Vienna on the eve of the First World War. A good companion to his contemporary Stefan Zweig‘s The World of Yesterday.

So Bin Ich

I return to the UK for good next week (?!?) after a year spent mostly abroad. It will be back to service as normal round here, and I’ve got a whole load of photos of different places that I have yet to post.

I’ve got a fair few new readers lately (mostly from my photos of Japan), and the bio on here isn’t very forthcoming about myself. A lot of the time my approach to blogging is Look Here Is A Thing, but I think a lot of people prefer something more personal to keep reading. So here’s one of those 50 Things About Me things, (with one for luck).
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