Tuesday, December 28, 2004

No Sleep Till Brooklyn

We had hoped that the Turning Leaf might have left us more well disposed towards our hosts - and by and large it has. Then there's the small matter of sparing us and cutesome companion sore knees. And finally there's the fact that they're so damn nice. So BA slid gently off our enemies list, before they'd even made it there. For that we can blame T-Mobile's wireless fiasco, which has cocked up the task that Hong Kong, Singapore, Toronto and even (just) San Diego managed to complete.

There we are in Heathrow Airport, two pints of Youngs to the better, waiting for the ladies and gentlemen of BA to call our gate. We had tried in vain to get wit cutesome companion in our cabin, and were pondering the London that we fled. It wasn't pretty, neither London, nor the thoughts.

It was mostly pretty bad - brief flashes of beauty buried beneath lightless and airless streets, a pavement that while preternaturally unkempt seems to hold a perverse fascination for a populace that refuses to look dead ahead.

And then there's the graphic design. Nothing wrong with making your shop tidy, nothing wrong with keeping the signage economical, nothing wrong with stripping out the accessories and flock wallpaper. But you need too have good stuff - good sandwiched rather than slightly out of focus pictures of them.. Top fresh meat rather than an entire wall saying "Eat".

Take yer new-style bar cum gastropub, all minimalist pine and arial fonts on the signs. Do you have the slightest idea whether it's any use at all, whether the beer is suitably live and fruity, and whether the landlord is an utter cock? By and large, you rarely do. And this is why we like anonymity in bars. No signs, word of mouth or, we admit, reviews, rather than splashy frontage and one pound a shot. We've seen the future, and it ran over Lincoln. Not pretty.

But we're tucked up now in World Traveller Slightly Less Thrombosis Risk Class, soothed by the lighting-on-ice sounds of Dark And Long Dark Train, which Underworld put on Dubnobasswithmyheadman to amuse train travellers. It's working mighty fine on this rather turbulence-ridden flight, although our typing is degenerating.

We were maybe a tad ungenerous up there, but we think there's something very unhealthy about a country where the right fonts and the right history is even slightly sufficient to compensate for an outlook that has withered, turned inward, stopped thinking ahead. Jeez, maybe Niall Ferguson is right, maybe we need an empire to stop boring ourselves to death. The weird thing is, we don't think that America, a country built on burnt bridges and eternal optimism, ever needed one. They grabbed it anyway.

Oh well, the Beastie Boys never understood, Brooklyn is best, the rest can take a bath - and here's our Brooklyn chauvinism in full flight. Don't let the Olympics cross the East River. And so we'll turn the Beasties down. No sleep till Brooklyn? Nyuh-huh.

No sleep, indeed, we'll find it soon..


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