The NYT Magazine came to London for a special issue, which I think means that as a city we are officially at the tipping point between “hot right now” and “so over”.
The highlight is China Miéville’s fine state of the city essay, which covers a lot of ground including cuts, the Olympics, riots, strikes, parakeets, housing and racism. His best lines:
On Mayor Johnson: “a ninja of bumptiousness, a man with a genius for working rooms full of the easily pleased.”
On Canary Wharf: “every day a thuggish and hideous middle-finger-flipped glass-and-steel at the poor of the East End, every night a Moloch’s urinal dripping sallow light on the Isle of Dogs.”
On the economy: “People are fighting to stand still, whatever line of work they’re in.”
On parakeets’ shit: “Guano devastation. Limey spatters ruin the winter vegetation like the aftermath of some epochal paintball war.”
And his worst:
On the ArcelorMittal Orbit: “…A vast sculpture of knotting girders like a snarled Gaian hernia”.
A Gaian hernia. Come off it!
On loud music on public transport: “Tinny music raises disproportionate ire…Who cares? You’re getting off in five minutes, he’s 14 and trying it on a bit and boisterous to fill the city with music.”
Defending the indefensible
Elsewhere in the magazine there is a slideshow of pictures of children and drunks, an extraordinary slideshow of 1950s newlyweds kissing, some art I don’t really like made out of tourist postcards, and a piece arguing that London’s financial sector is better than New York’s because it’s so wonderfully unregulated.
The overall impression of London that educated America is going to get this Sunday when they flip open the magazine:
No sunlight. Good theatre. People a bit moany.
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Mike Pollitt is the editor of The Metropolis.