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29/1/2013 Lottery ticket by barbourians
29/1/2013 Lottery ticket, a photo by barbourians on Flickr.
Everytime I go to my local community garden, I buy a Lotto ticket at the WH Smith inside Stratford Shopping Centre. I have more chance of shagging David Beckham while Posh Spice looks on with a grin on her face but still I persist.

Our Garden Club leader is on holiday in the West Counties, so there was only weeding and watering to be done today. I learnt to "dead head" flowers and that people who use our garden during the week (it's open to the public) have no qualms about leaving behind their cigarette butts and energy drinks. Fuckers.

Rails have been set up across Mile End Road as you approach Grove Road. This is to stop drunk young ones from running into traffic when they stumble drunk/high out of Lovebox this weekend. Girls in hot pants, boys in black wife beaters. A lot of dodgy tattoos. Up on the double-decker bus I feel more than ever exiled from the land of youth.

Descale the shower head and get into lukewarm water. A cool breeze runs through the apartment. Plug my laptop, turn off the lights and watch trailers for upcoming films. Boyfriend returns home from his solitary studio.

iTunes on shuffle plays my brother's favourite song when he was a pre-teen, Simply Red's "Holding Back the Years". It's his birthday today.

These are not my lucky numbers.
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Walt Whitman by Marion Doss
Walt Whitman, a photo by Marion Doss on Flickr.
I bought a copy of Walt Whitman's poems before yesterday because I've been wanting to revisit Leaves of Grass after hearing him mentioned in My Dinner With Andre. I read Whitman in university and seem to remember my professor not liking him too much; I was a fan though.

I found his poetry collection in that second hand bookshop just by Waitrose in Bloomsbury (the one you go down steps and it's like a Borgean maze of dusty classics.) The book was on the floor, at the top of a poetry pile, waiting for me. £3.

My Dinner With Andre has also made me think/notice about people choosing to dress like what they think they are. I.e. terrorists look like terrorists, designers look like designers, hipsters look like hipsters, bankers look like bankers. We (unconsciously?) try to fit into the stereotype of what we think we should be or look like. Have you noticed? Just watch the news and you'll see confirmation of that.

Who am I? Whom do I look like? I see pictures of myself from 5, 6 years ago and realise how gray my hair has become.

I've also been this week to a launch party by a famous British rapper, and written a letter to a famous dancer (now retired) asking if she'd like me to teach her how to use emails and the internet.

Yesterday, I witnessed two women getting into a fight at the bus stop outside Westfield Stratford. One of them was wearing a hijab and looked Somalian; she was sitting down beside three white British women when she suddenly broke into a loud, angry rant. She accused them of making remarks about her hijab and called them some bad words. Everyone looked at her as if she was mentally ill. A few minutes later, she made a phone call and, during it, began to make offensive comments about the women again. One of them couldn't take it any longer and shouted back: how dare you be racist to me? Somalian lady replied that no British woman shouted at her, which only made the other one shout louder.

An elderly man (muslim as well) tried to calm things as well as the British woman's daughter, but in vain. I saw a policeman walking towards us and made gestures at the daughter that the police was coming. When she understood she tried to stop her mom, but by now there was no stopping that verbal war. More police arrived and the Somalian woman tried to leave. But the police were having none of it - they wanted an explanation as to what was going on. Now Somalian lady looked meek and perhaps aware she was in deep shit (witnesses were also not being allowed to leave - perhaps because it was a suspected racial incident?) I picked up my shopping bags and quickly made a getaway for the Tube.

Later, on my way to friends for a Twin Peaks Marathon, I saw police cars and firetrucks outside my building. People were looking up at the tower block next to ours... one of the flats was on fire.

This morning, I'm debuting a new pair of glasses I bought at Westfield Stratford. The world looks wonky and 3Dish. I can see all the lines on my pale face and I feel even more old.
commonpeople1: (Sea)
Parsons Green station by Ewan-M
Parsons Green station, a photo by Ewan-M on Flickr.
It's been years since anyone's thrown a homophobic remark at me. In fact, I can't remember the last time it happened. So I was really surprised last night when my boyfriend and I, as we'd come out of a corner shop with some wine, had a comment aimed at us by a group of guys.

We were on the same sidewalk as them so I stepped behind my boyfriend to give them way (there were three young guys followed by a couple - all in their early 20s). I got this strong feeling that they "spotted" us - their conversation stopped, they all looked at us. It happened very quickly - one of them said to me in a very effeminate way "oh hi honey, how are you" and made this move to touch me.

We just kept walking. My boyfriend didn't even hear very well what he said. As you can imagine, all sorts of scenarios started playing in my mind: that I said something back, that we got into an argument, that we got into a fight.

All in all, it was a tiny little incident. Nothing compared to what many people put up with everyday. I have a gay friend who is harassed all the time; even had someone punch him in the face once for no reason and then walk away (right in Piccadilly, with tons of people around.) And when I hear of what some guys have said to my girlfriends...

Living in the East End, you'd think I'd get this annoying stuff all the time, what with marauding Muslim gangs supposedly controlling my area, but it's never even crossed my mind. I was starting to forget I was gay! There are more and more gay people living in the East End, and this has made "us" feel more visible and part of a silent community - a group that doesn't need to feel so displaced and alone when in public (though I've also heard that homophobic attacks are on the rise here exactly because of this community's growth.)

We were in Parson's Green last night, a posh bit of West London. The home I would imagine of people with good education, who are past this sort of stuff. But I suppose young and dumb white males will always be themselves?! I felt after this encounter like everyone we walked past was a giant asshole. And very straight. The whole rah rah crowd thing.

I've been thinking since then what it must be like to get this sort of harassment fairly regularly. Either you grow a tough skin or… I don't know. What do you do with that rage and sense of unfairness inside of you?
commonpeople1: (Default)
After getting some new bespoke running shoes at Runner's Needs (thank you [ profile] sparklielizard for the tip!) I've become a regular jogger in Victoria Park. I like to go in the mornings, with my iShuffle plugged in (dangling from some very expensive, neon Adidas running earphones I also got at the shop). I do one full circuit of the park - the equivalent of 5K - then follow it up with two days at the gym doing weight training.

Yesterday morning I noticed a group of short, skinny people doing sprints in the park... Olympic athletes! They were from Rwanda, I learnt later. Apparently they didn't feel like practicing in the Olympic stadium and asked if there were any nearby parks they could use. Victoria Park was the suggestion. I hope they enjoyed it as much as I do.

This London Olympics, which felt very British when it was first announced, has become progressively more "American" as the years have gone by (and especially under the Tories.) Do we really need the biggest McDonalds in Europe built right inside the Olympic park? With a ban on nearby businesses from selling french fries because McDonals has the sole permission to sell it? It's the next best thing to having a giant American flag waving in everyone's face. And by "American" I mean in this context profit-over-commonsense - that neoliberal idiocy that businesses ultimately choose what's best for everyone.

Still, despite all the weird stories surrounding the Olympics (from slum conditions for cleaners living near the park to graffiti artists being arrested), I felt a thrill of excitement at suddenly being so near to Olympic athletes in Victoria Park. My dance company is also involved - we performed as part of the Olympic Torch relay through London and many of our dancers are part of the opening and closing ceremonies.

On McDonalds related news, HBO Documentaries has made available online its recent "Weight of the Nation" series. You can check it out on YouTube. It's in 4 parts and quite compelling viewing, especially if you also recently saw the BBC's "The Man Who Made Us Fat". The series is often mawkish but has some eye-popping figures and graphs. It's made me go off soda drinks for life.
commonpeople1: (Default)
My family bought its first VCR in 1985, when I was ten years old. Our building had an inhouse cable TV channel (very modern for the time) which showed two films at night (picked by the building manager); but we lived right by a large film rental shop and had wanted for a while the option to choose our own films. The weekend routine was for me to pick five films (this would allow us to keep them until Monday morning) - one comedy, one drama, one action/thriller and two horrors.

The first two films we rented were Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom and a B-movie horror from 1983 called The Lift. Indiana was my brother's choice while The Lift was mine. Afterwards, I invented a game with my friends in the building where everyone was trapped in a space (say, a part of the playground that was made up of three walls) while one person played the killer lift (arms for wires that snuck through the door, latched onto legs and dragged them out to their death.)

This memory came back to me today as I was waiting for my tower block's elevator. There's a sign by it that says: "don't throw any garbage in the elevator. CCTV is in full operation." Pointless: you can find all sorts of things in the elevator, from chewed chicken legs to napkins and candy wrappers, and as far as I know nobody has ever been penalised for this. The elevators are new too, installed just last year at great expense to all property owners, but they are already keyed, scratched, spat and battered.

I toyed with this private fantasy as the elevator rose, of it coming to life as someone was defacing it, the walls slowly starting to close in on them as the light flickered and they desperately tried to get out (to no avail). Squish.

The version of The Lift I watched back in 1985 was dubbed in Portuguese - I somehow always thought it was an Italian film. Just discovered that it's actually Dutch and you can watch the whole thing on YouTube.

Here's the trailer with a Marc Almond lookalike for the hero:

commonpeople1: (Default)
Broken iPhone by michaelallenclark
Broken iPhone, a photo by michaelallenclark on Flickr.
I was leaving the office this evening - carrying two bags of groceries while trying to slide on my headphones - when my iPhone escaped my fingers and ran down the staircase.

"Oh fuck!" I shouted.

"Oops," said one of my co-workers, on his way to the kitchen.

The thing still works so I'm OK for now. I pay insurance to O2 - really hope they cover most of the cost of a new phone, if not the whole thing.

I woke up at 2.30am this morning and couldn't go back to sleep. Have felt knackered and irritated all day.


Jan. 10th, 2012 09:31 am
commonpeople1: (Default)
8.29am, Mile End tube station West-bound platform. The Central line arrives and the crowd surges towards its doors. A woman shouts at a man as she tries to get out of the train. He shouts something back at her. She grabs his coat and pulls him; he shoves her back. A minute later she's inside the District line, a carriage away from me, reading a newspaper. Not a hint of disturbance on her face.

9.05am, Albert Embankment. A car and two white vans face each other in the middle of the road, blocking traffic both ways. Men start to come out of the vehicles, screaming at each other. A woman in jeans, carrying a backpack, calls out for one of the van drivers to calm down. The hoard of commuters heading for the buildings lining the Thames stop for a minute to watch the scene.

White poodle spotted on District line by St James station. Black lap dog spotted on Victoria line, sitting on the lap of fairly glamorous middle aged woman.

Fucking A

Sep. 10th, 2011 12:55 pm
commonpeople1: (Default)
I wrote this long and thoughtful post about Big Brother and reality TV shows in general and then fucking LJ ate my post! Argh!

Maybe I shouldn't have been so nice to you LJ...
commonpeople1: (Default)
anti-slavery campaign by Herbi Ditl
anti-slavery campaign, a photo by Herbi Ditl on Flickr.
I rode the No.8 beside a sausage dog. I gave him my hand to sniff as I sat down; I wanted to pet him but his owner (young, bearded guy - is there any other sort in the EastEnd?!) didn't seem too keen to share the dog. It made me miss the ones living with my family in Brasil.

The bus went by the circus set up in Mile End Park. During the weekend, I saw families lining up to buy tickets and I was thoughtful of the chavy ones standing side by side with the muslim ones. It seemed like a good family activity to bring together all sorts of people from the community.

Today, though, there were protesters standing outside the circus with signs on animal cruelty. I thought all circuses now were like Cirque du Soleil!? They still use animals? Very sad...

Beijo Gay

May. 15th, 2011 09:04 pm
commonpeople1: (Default)

The first gay kiss on brasilian television finally happened! It was in a soap opera made by the second most popular channel, SBT. The most popular, Globo, is run by cunts who often use gay characters in their soaps but vehemently refuse to include even an innocent kiss.

Better late than never. I hope the first kiss between two men is not too far away.

Something is bothering me though: why the fuck do YouTube viewers have to prove they are 18 or older to see a gay kiss? Fuck you YouTube!


Mar. 31st, 2011 03:52 pm
commonpeople1: (Bookclub)
Remember when Livejournal used to be like this?

*nostalgic sigh*
commonpeople1: (Swim Kiss)
Can someone who is as thick as shit, badly-dressed, arrogant and an all-round dick head produce good art? I asked myself this question a few times on Thursday night during the launch party for an art project related to my job. The artist commissioned for the project delivered a great piece which will undoubtedly have an effect on the public space it was foisted on, but in person she's a nightmare to deal with: stupid, annoying, self-absorbed, unrealistic, smug and rude... I often run out of negative adjectives when I try to think of the best way to describe her.

She ruined the night for my colleague, shouting at her when the £300 open bar came to an end and she wasn't yet drunk. The irony is that she arrived too late to join her guests, who drank a lot, had a good time, and praised the work to no end; it was only her who got a meager free glass of wine and had to pay for the rest of the drinks. She shot herself in the foot by complaining out loud about us, right in our face - the people who gave her the grant and might be in control of her destiny the next time she faces a panel after a new commission. Stupid cow. I hope her art career is ruined for good.

I have no doubt that Hercules and Love Affair are unlike her - gods and goddesses of sweet beyond the beautiful music they create. Last night, they filled a small venue underneath London Bridge with people willing to get sweaty for a bit of their power 70s hypnotic disco. Donna Summer's "I Feel Love" with Vogue arms. Big phat beats (I can't believe I just used the word phat) that gave way to dance pop and a constant call for us to get our hands in the air (we did.)

Then a sound problem and most of the people who were there for the wrong reasons (art dealers from the Frieze fair only interested in networking; blokes who don't do much apart from stand around drinking pints) left, creating the space for the rest of us to spread out and really let loose when they returned for 4 stomping diva songs.

This video was recorded in Rome three days ago. Same gig vibe, same version of "Blind", same outfits. You'll get last night's feel:

commonpeople1: (Clarice)
It's been a real pleasure walking up and down Regent's Canal this past week, the path nearly all to myself. The usual cyclists that love speeding down it as if their jobs were a matter of life and death clearly don't have the guts for a bit of deadly black ice. Sadly, though, the canal is now attracting people fascinated by its spontaneous ice rink quality, and this means that anything heavy, and preferably metallic, is game. First went old bottles, discarded toys and dismantled bicycles that lined the path or the nearby streets. Now they've started ripping off the garbage bins placed by benches. It brings out the Daily Mail reader in me. I was thinking today if maybe Singapore's iron-gloved right-wing government got it right: spit chewing gum on the pavement, pay up a hefty fine; vandalise public property, get caned and left with a nice red scar across your ass cheeks.

What bothers me is that London's canals could be cleaner, home to more fishes and wild plants. But they are littered instead with traffic cones, tires and all sorts of other garbage I often see people chucking into the water. I'd love to have the power of placing a spell on the canal: anything thrown into the water reappears in the person's bedroom. That might be a nicer, bleeding liberal heart way of solving the problem.

Tonight, I'm spending the evening in bed watching brasilian soap operas and reading. I'm hungover from a night out in Walthamstow, where [ profile] neenaw, [ profile] king_prawn and I drank the night away while playing a pub quiz. We came second place and won a bottle of white wine called Oliver something-or-other. I naturally had to have it.
commonpeople1: (Default)

Apartment Flood
Originally uploaded by mbrand
Long time readers of this journal will remember how my apartment got flooded last year. This morning, I got a call from Kevin that it was happening all over again: water gushing down through our electrical fixtures in the bathroom, the walls wet and the wallpaper beginning to peel off. Luckily for us, Kevin had the day off so could easily place buckets in the worst areas and keep the water from reaching the carpet with towels. He called the housing association, Old Ford, while I tried the landlady from upstairs as well as Elery Crackhead (neither returned my calls - typical).

It turned out that the neighbour two floors above was flooded, affecting the upstairs flat as well as ourselves and the pensioner below us. Nearly everyone and their mother was called but when it came time for the housing association to speak to the guy, they told him he had the option to stay at work until 5 or return home to deal with the "leak". So he obviously stayed at work until 5pm, convinced it was just a minor problem. Boy, he must have sure been happy when he got home and realised the problem was a lot bigger than the housing association let on.

Kevin and I are becoming pros at dealing with disasters and calamities.
commonpeople1: (K)
I walk through Victoria Park every day. On my way home today, I got the shock of my life: a large white stripe had been painted by the border of the pond, from one edge to the other. And the following words were painted in large font by it, every 20 feet or so: Caution Water

I'm very glad Tower Hamlets Council decide to alert me of this otherwise it was very likely I'd walk straight into the pond.

In the coming weeks, I expect the following to appear:

Near trees - Caution Branches and Leaves Above
On the paths - Caution Fast Cyclists Runners Baby Carriers Dogs Drunks Litter
By the benches - Caution Don't Stand on Bench When Wet and also Caution Back May Hurt if Slept On
Hanging off the necks of all geese - Caution May Stare at You in Threatening Manner

Or the Council could just employ all the people struggling to find a job at the moment to meet people like myself as soon as we step outdoors and then follow us around issuing warnings for all aspects of life.
commonpeople1: (James)
Last night, after a few hours spent with friends at Vagabonds (London's premier monthly night dedicated to 80s trad goth/alternative classics), Kevin and I hop on the No.8 bus, heading home. As the bus stops near Brick Lane, a hoard of drunk revellers push into the bus through the exit doors. Kevin and I move towards the back. The doors' alarms beep incessantly because there's not enough space to close them; I look at Kevin and predict we'll go nowhere (my experience in the past has been with drivers refusing to depart unless people pay their fare or leave the bus.)

The bus is crammed, except in the corridor where Kevin and I are standing. Suddenly, someone starts slamming the windows with their hand. I look and it's a guy outside calling my attention. He orders me to move back so he can get in. I ignore him (I'm drunk and, in any case, what difference does it make where I move if the people elsewhere in the bus aren't budging?) He continues to slam the windows and, after a minute, I look at him again. This time he looks at me as if he could rip my head off - he wants to get in the bus and apparently it's my fault he's not succeeding. He calls me a wanker by gesturing at me with his hand; I tell him to go to the driver and pay up. He hurries to the front of the bus.

Now, in the back of my drunken mind, I imagine the guy climbing on board and pushing his way to the back, where he'll confront me - perhaps even attack me (how dare I talk back at him?) The people near the exit finally force the doors shut, allowing the bus to continue its journey.

As the bus pulls away, I see the guy standing by the bus stop with other people that didn't make it inside. He's got that look of a petulant child that didn't get the toy he wanted. We make eye contact. I lift both my hands at him, shove two fingers up in the air repeatedly (that's two fingers on each hand, doing that ever so British V-sign), watch him scream with outrage and try to chase the bus, then feel a rush of excitement and satisfaction as we leave him behind (to hopefully remember the incident to the end of his life.)

Divine justice, Kevin called it.

And Then It Snowed in London Today... )
commonpeople1: (Ronin)
Brasil's government has offered to intercede with Israel and try to stop the escalating atrocities in Palestine. It came to me suddenly last night that one way my country could help, at least in the short term, would be to offer asylum to those that are trapped in Israel or Palestine and wish to escape. They could offer to Israelis and Palestinians the following: "any one of you that is tired of this pointless war, of fighting for this bit of dirt, is welcome to move with your family to Brasil. A house will be provided as well as enough land to grow your own food or livestock; lessons in Portuguese will be provided for yourself and your children; and if you are already qualified in a profession, a programme will be created to help your transition into the country's equivalent field."

I can imagine many brasilians would be angry at first; with so many people living in shanty towns, below the poverty line, why is the government helping people who are not from here? (That argument so well known by Western Europeans.) The pay off for Brasil would be financial support in erecting houses and setting up programmes from countries belonging to the U.N. that wish to help the sane amongst the Palestinians and Israelis. I'm sure many people wouldn't want to leave because of their attachment to the land, but I also imagine that many would jump at the opportunity. And once here in Brasil - a country that doesn't know anything about the virulent hatred and war mentality that exists in the Middle East - they'd have a chance to lead some form of normal life.

There is a lot of land available in Brasil; the problem is that it's not well distributed, or it sits unused in the hands of a few (and I don't even mean the Amazon forest, but the vast farmlands in the South, for example.) A lot of Israelis already come here for holidays when they complete their military years because they enjoy the relaxed life and the warm weather; some even own businesses here; some stay behind and lead illegal lives as hippies, selling trinkets to tourists in Bahia's beaches. It would be easy to take families from Palestine and Israel and distribute them across coastal towns, farming communities, from North to South, mostly because brasilians are so welcoming and even ignorant of the details behind the history of the Israeli/Palestinian conflict.
commonpeople1: (Haru)
From [ profile] icymorning

Hit the Bush

I hope the game makers at Nintendo have seen this.
commonpeople1: (Rockasilly)
A creepy basement

I saw two plays this week at the Royal Court. The first one was The Ugly One, a short comedy on the tragedy behind our obsession with beauty and plastic surgeries. The irony of this play being shown smack in the middle of Sloane Square, possibly one of the most shallow and vulgar neighbourhoods in London, wasn't lost on me. There was no set design, no costumes - as if the director wanted to say that anything like that would be just as superficial as the play's subject matter. But what started out slightly intriguing lost my interest, and its way, halfway through.

All Around Sloane Square )

Relocated, which we watched today, is a very eerie and macabre piece of theatre. Both Kevin and I walked out of the theatre unsettled, disturbed. I keep thinking how brilliant it was, but sick too - how they managed to insert the "marvelously creepy" (as one of the characters said) into our minds. Think of the most horrifying and unsettling crime stories from the past ten years. Mix them with David Lynch. Thrown them into a dark and damp basement. Voila, you've got Relocated. Go see it.

On the way home, my travel card failed to register as I was going through the barriers. A sloane ranger, too close to me, had hers accepted so the barriers opened for me. In that slip second of doubt in her head, the barriers closed on her and the alarm went off. She turned bright red and turned to one of the Underground staff with her card. I looked apologetically at her; asked if she was on pay-as-you-go (concerned she might be overcharged for the mistake). She ignored me. I then gave the Underground staff my card and he said my card was the faulty one. No big deal.

Apparently, the girl called me "a cheeky fucker" to her two friends as she walked past Kevin. Not being in the best state of mind after seeing Relocated, I decided to go after her and have a Big Brother style brawl on the platform. Kevin, the ever sensible one, stopped me and said it wasn't worth it. I still gave her the evils though, even when she boarded the train before ours. A total WTF moment, which I suppose fits well with the day's theme.
commonpeople1: (Log Lady)
Evangelical Christians have their eyes on Camp Crystal Lake

Documentaries like Jesus Camp [trailer] make me feel like never visiting America again. Scary people. Scary Jesus Land. Scary plans they have for their country, for the whole planet. The documentary did, however, give me good ideas for two horror films.

The first film is a new version of Friday 13th. The film starts with Camp Crystal Lake being purchased by an evangelical mega church for the purposes of using it to brainwash children and convert homos into good little Christians (the makers of the film could even get evangelical leader Ted Haggard to play the head of the church - I can't imagine he has much work since he got busted doing drugs with a male escort.) A group of teenagers arrive at the camp a few days before all the guests in order to bless and pray over each cottage. There's even a christian heavy metal group amidst them, who want to do a bit of soundchecking and rehearsing before the camp kicks off. It is thanks to the band's sonorous racket that Jason is brought back to life.

At first, the teenagers don't think much of the corpses they find because they think Jesus is striking dead the councellors that were indulging in sin (we can even include a bit of gay sex between two horny closeted christians that gets interruped by Jason.) Slowly, though, the horror dawns on them that Jason is not Jesus. He's the devil himself! They pray, they throw holy water at him, they hold crucifixes, they speak in tongues, but nothing can stop his killing spree. Finally, a councillor who was forced to work at the camp by her devout parents, and who is going through a crisis of faith, ends up being the solve survivor. She battles it out with Jason in Camp Crystal Lake's brand new church and manages to kill him (but not before blowing up the church to smithereens.)

The second horror film I had in mind is a sequel to the Japanese horror series Battle Royale. In this new film, two groups of people - evangelical christians and fundamentalist muslims - find themselves on a strange island in the middle of nowhere with an assortment of weapons (mostly of the medieval kind) at their disposal. A mysterious voice (who calls himself The Atheist) tells them that only one person will be allowed off the island, that they must fight each other to the end. After much bloodshed, one person stumbles alive to the island's escape pod, which from the start of the film both groups know only fits one person - and here I'm tempted to make one of the fundamentalist muslims be the survivor - only to find himself/herself ejected into outer space! The final scene shows The Atheist enjoying a glass of bubbly while staring at a peaceful sea.

I just know, deep in my soul, that I'd break all box office records.

April 2017



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