What a riot!

The DLR is not being republican (us? never…) when it turns to the subject of last year’s riots on the day of Queenie’s Diamond Jubilee. We like the idea of the Jubilee; we never use that Tube line, exactly, but it’s a word with a nice onomatopoeic oomph to it, and that’s enough for us.

That being said, let’s return to the riots — it’s almost been a year now, and they feel both  so long ago (what has changed since?) and so recent (what has changed since?). But The Guardian – congrats to The Guardian here! – has recently won an award for its data reporting following the Summer Riots (see what we did there? We capitalised it. It’s now official, like the Diamond Jubilee), and, having a look through it, we have to say – chapeau bas, Guardian Data Reporting Blog (ok, we’ll stop), chapeau bas indeed.

Do you remember the rumours during the riots that London Fields was too dangerous to cross through? That people had broken into a McDonald’s and were cooking themselves dinner? That they’d burnt the Dolphin? (And then that funny guy got on Twitter and pretended to be the pub? Good times, good times.) That rioters attacked the London Zoo? If you were glued to Twitter, as we have to say we were, these might have cropped up in your Twitter feed — maybe you shouted them out to your housemates or partner and freaked out a bit, and then an hour or so later they were debunked within the same feed.

The origin of life? Or proof that the Dolphin did not burn down?

The Guardian Data Blog took these rumours and counter-rumours and made a movie-of-sorts of them, so that you can see the rumours emerge, and then, as if mapping cells in a Petri dish, the emergence of tweets countering these rumours — and then the whole issue subsides. It’s an amazing example of the spread of crowd-sourced information during the period in a crisis when peer-to-peer information outpaces what news organisations and other authorities are able to report. It’s also a striking reminder of the evanescence of that moment — the information that isn’t recorded about the riots but still happened during that time. The DLR, with its inimitable good timing, was also in New York for September 11th, and remembers a period of about two hours when everyone thought the Towers had fallen because of explosives placed in the buildings’ basements.

The Guardian also requested all the information on everyone who was detained — not just their names but where they came from, and how they were treated during when remanded, so they could determine their socio-economic statuses (newsflash: the riots were linked to poverty), with their level of treatment, reasons for rioting — even how far they travelled to riot. The Guardian has a rep for being liberal, and this is pretty activist reporting — but perhaps because it’s data, with its undeserved reputation for objectiveness, it flies under the radar.

There’s lots under ‘Reading the Riots’ and well worth a look — we found out, sadly, that the Dolphin Twitter man did not make the 200 most influential Twitter users (nor did @DalstonPeople or @DalstonDin, more surprisingly), but that there was a four-day gang truce during and immediately following the riots. Maybe that’s what we need for some, um, stability here! Rain and rioting. Happy Jubilee.

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Here comes the shank, dobedobe

Are you depressed about the turn in the weather? Do you yearn for the sunny days of yore (or last week), when you could laze in London Fields with your hipster mates and desecrate the grass with your barbecues? Well, being of a sunny disposition, the DLR is here to give you a little boost to show you why it’s not that bad a thing for the weather to turn.

We see you, grass decorators, in your hats and sunglasses. Think of the blades!

It all started last Tuesday, when the DLR’s intrepid reporters were scouring the streets of Hackney for stories (read: cycling to a friend’s house for dinner) and were witness to a highly unfortunate incident. Well, we say highly unfortunate, we mean violent. For they were witness to a stabbing. Actually, a double stabbing. Lucky, lucky them.

Obviously, they thought ourselves pretty special people to have a front-row seat to such a rare event, but as we discovered later, other Hackney-based friends had been in the vicinity of stabbings that day. As it turns out, there was a series of three attacks involving five stabbings in Hackney within 24 hours.

Two days later, the DLR’s intrepid cultural reporters were attending an opening at the Chisenhale (shoutz to Amalia Pica!) and in high, summery spirits as we went to the pub with the art riffraff (and with none other than Chloe Sevigny, apparently, in town for that transgender hitman series). Little were we to know that bicycles were being merrily stolen outside, with heavy-duty locks severed by some heavier-duty cutters. There’s obviously no chance of finding the culprits, although now we think about it, Sevigny disappeared from that afterparty at about the same time as the bikes. Curious.

Such a spate of crime struck us as unusual, whatever Hackney’s reputation might be, and the explanation of a friend, that the warm weather brought it on, got us researching. Can weather affect crime? Does summer bring more violent incidents?

As avid early Spike Lee fans, we were naturally reminded of Do the Right Thing, a story of racial tensions in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn on one of the hottest days of the year. As the mercury rises, so does the racial tension as Italian-American pizzeria owners come to blows with residents in the majority black area.

You can tell it’s New York from the buildings. And you can tell it’s the ’80s by the T-shirt of the potato wearing glasses.

So, the idea of weather affecting levels of violence already exists in the popular discourse. But is there evidence to support this old wives’ tale? It turns out that the answer is yes. Empirical research has suggested that as temperatures rise, so tempers fray. But it’s not just a physiological/psychological issue, as it’s also to do with opportunity. As people spend a lot more time outside in nice weather, making it a lot more likley that they’ll run into each other. Sometimes they just happen to be running with crude bladed weapons.

The research suggests that temperature rises increase the incidence of assault, domestic violence and rape. It shows a good correlation on burglary (presumably because houses are empty for longer), is less clear on homicide and temperature appears to have little effect on motor vehicle theft or robbery.

Interesting, no? But our speculative research goes further. For one of the DLR’s crack reporters (as in a good reporter, not a reporter addicted to crack), perhaps tiring of Hackney’s crime-heat wave, has decamped to Southeast Asia (more on that later). And so we thought: why is there not more crime in this part of the world, where crime rates in places such as Singapore are remarkably low? Because every time we come here we are reminded of two adjectives: hot and sticky. Maybe a third: relentless. Of course, it’s likely that the main reason is the soft authoritarian government, but could it also be that when it gets too hot people become more lethargic, and hence can’t be bothered to fight? This is suggested by some of the research on temperature and crime, where temperatures above 85 degrees fahrenheit (that’s about 30 in fancy European language) lead to a reversal in the trend towards heat-driven violence.

So, next time you’re complaining about the rain, just think about the dampening effect this might have on Hackney’s shanking rate. Always a silver lining, eh?

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Did the princess seize my buddy’s boat? Aye captain.

Well, congratulations, Mitt Romney. Republican America has finally shrugged their shoulders and endorsed you. It only took your billions.

On this momentous occasion we bring the best fake lip-reading meme since someone overlaid Bush & Blair on that funny love song. Enjoy:

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The DLR is often described as ‘pedantic’

On Sunday, while suntanning its legs, iPad-Googling for bathroom light fixtures and hand-writing a magnum novelistic opus (sort of), the DLR scanned the New York Times‘s predictable three-day weekend article, which was headlined ‘Let’s Be Less Productive‘. You don’t need to read the article to get the gist of the argument, which is fortunate, because then you can save your slot of non-productive reading time for the other ten million things you have to do. Because the fact of the matter is: no one has any time any more!

But that shouldn’t excuse lazy journalism. In fact, if the events of the last few months tell us anything, nothing excuses lazy journalism. But we’re not talking here about invading people’s privacy or making grieving relatives think you’re alive. This is just about the minor writing construction: ‘often described as’. For example, from this Gallerist article on Hauser & Wirth, the London/New York gallery, and one of its principals, Iwan Wirth:

At 41, Mr. Wirth is often described as “boyish.”  

That simply means that Iwan Wirth is boyish, the writer wants to say he is boyish, but he realises in all the Google-researching he has done everyone already calls him boyish, so he has to at least signal the fact that his description is not going to be original. This is borne out by the fact that the writer then immediately lists the way in which Iwan Wirth is boyish.

He has a round face, ruddy-cheeks, falling curls and a “Let’s all do this thing!” demeanor, a contrast to the blasé, “this thing barely requires you” attitude embraced by other top dealers. 

(Though we have to say we weren’t prepared for this following statement: In addition to art, he collects axes. That’s slightly frightening but good detail. Savile Row pedestrians, beware; the man’s office has glass walls.)

If we had to choose one word to describe this man, it would be: axist.

Similarly, in the Guardian this past weekend, the Harvard political philosopher Michael Sandel is “often described as a rock star professor” — a point corroborated by the BBC, just over a month ago, as well as by the Daily Beast, the Times of India and Thomas Friedman in the New York Times (maybe he was just being unproductive). Decca Aitkenhead, Radio 4, Tina Brown, Indian Maoists and Tom “friend of the postcolonial youth of the world” Friedman, we tar you all with our bloggish brush!

The quivering air guitar, the bloodshot eyes, the packed auditorium. Yes, there’s no doubt this man is a rock star.

“Often described is”, of course, another way to put something out there you’re not sure about and then disavow any responsibility if someone challenges you. Thomas Friedman, for example, is often described as relying too heavily on personal anecdotes to open his columns — “as I was saying to my friend Mahmoud as we were smoking shisha in Aleppo” — that kind of thing. But ha! Thomas Friedman is not often described as anything of the kind. That’s just our opinion. But if you quote us on it, we’ll pass the buck. A technique we learned, and this is not true in any technical sense of the term, from Rupert Murdoch, suggesting once again that one of the truest techniques of lazy journalism is that if you don’t have a new point to end on — bring your argument full circle.

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Is everything old new again?

Further to our last post, we received word that Mark Hix is opening up a restaurant called Tramshed in a former tram electricity station on Rivington Street in Shoreditch, just opposite Rivington Grill.

Hix himself set up Rivington Grill ages ago — back in the era of the yBas, if ye can cast your minds that far back — while he was the head chef of Caprice holdings, the restaurant group that owns the Ivy, J. Sheekey’s and other big ticket items. He left Caprice a few years ago to open up Hix in Soho and other Hix-titled franchises, and now Tramshed. If we were a real news organisation, we’d hack his phone to find out do a proper interview to ask him why he’s returning to the scene of his first crime (this is just a metaphor — we quite like the Rivington). Rivington Grill was very much associated with the yBas, which you can see in the Tracey Emin neons and Gillian Wearing prints that still festoon the restaurant (as they do his other holdings). Hix’s intimacy with the group ran beyond just buying their work — his was a hang-out for that set; there was a board in the restaurant showing what exhibitions were on; and he catered dinners for and contributed to young galleries in the area, which capitalised on the hype of the art scene to become the cool(ish?) district it is today. Funny then, wethinks, to see someone return to a place whose own glamour he helped create. There’s a little old-man-ship about this, like a craggy, minted Mick Jagger singing about youth and rebellion. Though to be fair Mark Hix is only singing about garden mint; the Tramshed website is called ‘chickenandsteak.co.uk’ – just the kind of return to plain English ingredients Rivington Street initiated all those years ago.

Old Hix meets new Hix. Truly Hixstatic.

Of course, attentive readers of this page by this point will surmise that what the DLR is really after is a Mark Hix takeover of Jaguar Shoes (www.chickenandsteakandjaguars.co.uk), serving free-range corn-fed jaguar while demanding patrons wear cat-print shoes and speak solely in impartial headlines like ‘THIS SEARED JAGUAR IS SO F*CKING TASTY I AM GOING TO INGEST IT THROUGH MY EYEBALLS AND THEN SINGLE-HANDEDLY TAKE IT OFF THE ENDANGERED SPECIES LIST SO THAT I CAN BUY THE WORLD’S POPULATION AND MAKE THEM INTO SHOES SO THE NAME “JAGUAR SHOES” FINALLY, AT LONG, BREATH-ABATED LAST MAKES SOME SORT OF SENSE’. Mark Hix, if this too is your dream project, do get in touch. If not, well, we are curious to see what you do at Ye Olde Shed of the Tram.

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Updated eating news

Well, hullo there, world. We are back off the wagon like Whitney to a crack pipe (too soon?). This week we bring you various news in the exciting world of eateries.

First up is East End stalwart Bistrotheque‘s move to the new King’s Cross area, an industrial wasteland recently been transformed by the pretty incredible new Central Saint Martins building. What does, you might ask, happen when you transplant 5,000 art and fashion students to a new derelict area of the city? Answer: like a tranny responding to a conch call, Bistrotheque comes to answer their too-cool-for-cocktails needs.

Moving to the Ed Ruscha-like former petrol station that has sat empty for years on the side of Goods Way, Bistrotheque is opening a Latin-themed bar, the somewhat less than inimitably called ‘Shrimpy’s‘. It promises ‘patrons a collection of dishes harvested from trips to the Americas, especially the Latin parts’. Lest you think the ‘Latin parts’ sounds slightly euphemistic, let us put your mind at ease: the owner’s boyfriend is Mexican, so yes, it is.

Shrimpy’s opens Thursday.

The pineapple was a symbol of hospitality in Europe following its discovery by explorers in the 15th century. This is why Gracie Mansion, the official mayor’s residence in New York (even if Bloomberg has too much money to stay there), has a pineapple motif in much of its cornicing and trims. FACT! Although it may or may not be why the peculiarly named Shrimpy’s is illustrated by a pineapple. NON-FACT!

Back in the Dalston woods things are not looking so cheery, as another early East End stalwart — Jaguar Shoes — has finally made it to the big time. Their previously local fame crossed the desk of the Jaguar car company – and Jaguar has promptly moved to quash it, bringing proceedings against the bar and music venue’s use of the name. In response Jaguar Shoes sent out an email press release to their email list of 20-something hipsters and booze hounds, calmly proclaiming that ‘CORPORATE GIANT APPLY PRESSURE TO INDEPENDENT LONDON ARTS COLLECTIVE’. We’ll see how this one goes. To be fair to Jaguar Shoes — a name we could never get our heads around in the first place — it doesn’t seem likely that someone searching for a Jaguar automobile will be mightily confused.

dreambagsjaguarshoes. Note: not dreamjagsjaguarcars.

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Remiss, remorse and remonstration

Well, the DLR has been remiss lately. And thinking of the DLR has led to panic stations on high alert, particularly when the DLR’s Facebook page has been adding fans at a far higher rate than it did when the DLR was actually publishing material. What does this tell us? People will eventually get around to liking everything — anything! — on Facebook? That 80% of life really is just showing up? That less is quite radically more?

Many things have happened in our e-absence. Frieze pitched their tent in New York and to all accounts it was a great success. Sales were mixed: rocky for some smaller galleries, stellar for the larger ones. Capitalism, eh? The rich get richer. A canvassing of word on the ground from the non-art crowd brought us this gem: ‘I didn’t see as much innovative art as I thought there would be. But I don’t like that innovative art anyway.’ Thus proving New Yorkers and Londoners are not only united by a common language (whatever they say), but use that same language to take the piss out of contemporary art.

Whatever this is, we’ve seen it before.

Tate has been chucking out cultural highlights like it’s no one’s business — an excellent Cara Tolmie performance during Electra’s latest instalment of the Her Noise project; Alighiero e Boetti; the Damian Hirst exhibition (ha! kidding). Annoyingly correlating again with the ridiculous proposition that recessions are good for the arts, the basely funded Tate curatorial team has produced a fantastic roster – Albo Tambellini, Yvonne Rainer, Rabih Mroué, Anthea Hamilton – for their Oil Tanks programme, a subterrenean celebration of performance. It also partly reflects Tate’s feeling that they had been ignoring performance — difficult to show in traditional exhibition spaces — and hands the Daily Mail a gem in rectifying this problem by putting performance in the basement.

Jeremy Deller has been tapped for Venice, but you knew that. But did you know he thinks Hogarth is the best British artist of all time? Well, if you listened to Radio 4 this lunchtime, you did. The rest of you can thank us now; incidentally the DLR finds itself obsessed with Deller’s new public sculpture — the giant Stonehenge bouncy castle — as it says everything about the Tories’ relation to history and culture: culture — one enormous fun park! Englandhood — great! Bring the kiddies! Engage! The elevation of dumbing down into an electable art! Deller, chapeau bas.

We defy you to say this is stupid.

Finally, something big, wild and woolly is happening at the ICA next weekend, coorganised with Lux. We are still wading through programme notes but will report back on what to see. To stave off remorse, you see, in a little bout of self-remonstration. Don’t, um, watch this page though, because more seems to happen when we don’t write about it.

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