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Where are all the people?

Owen Hatherley: Jane Jacobs, 27 July 2017

Eyes on the Street: The Life of Jane Jacobs 
by Robert Kanigel.
Knopf, 512 pp., £34, September 2016, 978 0 307 96190 7
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Vital Little Plans: The Short Works of Jane Jacobs 
edited by Samuel Zipp and Nathan Storring.
Random House, 544 pp., £16.99, October 2016, 978 0 399 58960 7
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... from cranky freelancer to feted urban guru (‘the Mother Theresa of urbanism’, as Mike Davis, a rare dissenter from the church of St Jane, once put it) came about through her encounter with the slum, as a concept and, less and less over time, as a reality. It was the slum, in the eyes of the planners of Radiant Garden City Beautiful, that ...

Riot, Revolt, Revolution

Mike Jay: The Despards, 18 July 2019

Red Round Globe Hot Burning: A Tale at the Crossroads of Commons and Culture, of Love and Terror, of Race and Class and of Kate and Ned Despard 
by Peter Linebaugh.
California, 408 pp., £27, March 2019, 978 0 520 29946 7
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... Britain’s confident imperial narrative, it became a footnote: by the 1920s the historian H.W.C. Davis could refer in The Age of Grey and Peel to a ‘hare-brained and desperate plot’ that was ‘hardly possible to explain except on the supposition that [Despard’s] mind was disordered’. It was only restored to historical importance in the 1960s, in ...

Welcome Home

Sukhdev Sandhu: Memories of Michael X, 4 February 1999

Windrush: The Irresistible Rise of Multiracial Britain 
by Mike Phillips and Trevor Phillips.
HarperCollins, 422 pp., £16.99, May 1998, 0 00 255909 9
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... and failure, ecstasy and impasse’ constitute by far the most interesting section of Windrush, Mike and Trevor Phillips’s history of postwar black England. Early arrivals who had been weaned on Shakespeare, Wordsworth and Dickens imagined the metropolis as ancient and archival. They had peered at celluloid images of its citadels and monuments on the ...

Hanging Offence

David Sylvester, 21 October 1993

... Basquiats are dullish and Haring is redundant) and the works before us are those by Jeff Koons, Mike Kelley, Robert Gober, a series of Cindy Sherman photographs which include a black-suited blonde-wigged creature whose one visible eye is also a mouth and a nostril and a wound, and a stunningly handsome and inventive example of Jenny Holzer’s electronic ...

The Unpredictable Cactus

Emily Witt: Mescaline, 2 January 2020

Mescaline: A Global History of the First Psychedelic 
by Mike Jay.
Yale, 297 pp., £18.99, May 2019, 978 0 300 23107 6
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... substance has been described more thoroughly and from such a variety of perspectives,’ Mike Jay writes in his new history, Mescaline. Its use in the Americas dates back thousands of years. It was the first psychedelic analysed by Western scientists, and in the early decades of the 20th century the only substance of its kind available to ...


Michael Rogin, 5 September 1996

Imagineering Atlanta 
by Charles Rutheiser.
Verso, 324 pp., £44.95, July 1996, 1 85984 800 1
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... An anthropologist teaching in Atlanta, he writes in the tradition of urban studies established by Mike Davis’s pathbreaking City of Quartz. But there is more ethnographic texture in Davis’s Los Angeles: Rutheiser’s subject, which invokes a term invented by Disney, is ‘Imagineering’, the promotional synthesis ...

Manufacturing in Manhattan

Eric Foner, 1 June 2000

Working-Class New York: Life and Labour Since World War Two 
by Joshua Freeman.
New Press, 393 pp., $35, May 2000, 1 56584 575 7
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... presence in the city’s unions and electoral politics. The Communists Peter Caccione and Benjamin Davis got the second and fourth highest number of votes in the city council elections of 1945, and the Communist-influenced American Labor Party elected Vito Marcantonio, perhaps the most left-wing member of Congress, to the House of Representatives. Historical ...

Stinking Rich

Jenny Diski: Richard Branson, 16 November 2000

by Tom Bower.
Fourth Estate, 384 pp., £17.99, September 2000, 1 84115 386 9
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... now laddish millionaire. He is, of course, a millionaire. The unexpectedly colossal sales of Mike Oldfield’s dreary Tubular Bells saw to that in 1973. The money was salted away in offshore family trusts which have ensured Branson’s own wealth no matter how dire the difficulty his companies might be in. Even at the time only the very gullible imagined ...

So Ordinary, So Glamorous

Thomas Jones: Eternal Bowie, 5 April 2012

Starman: David Bowie, the Definitive Biography 
by Paul Trynka.
Sphere, 440 pp., £9.99, March 2012, 978 0 7515 4293 6
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The Man Who Sold the World: David Bowie and the 1970s 
by Peter Doggett.
Bodley Head, 424 pp., £20, September 2011, 978 1 84792 144 4
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... sequel to Ziggy Stardust by a shake-up in personnel; above all, in the recruitment of Mike Garson on piano: I played a blues solo and David said: ‘No, that’s not what I’m looking for.’ Then I played a little Latin solo. ‘No, that’s not what I’m looking for’ … Then he said to me: ‘Well you told me about playing on the ...

While Statues Sleep

Thomas Laqueur, 18 June 2020

Learning from the Germans: Confronting Race and the Memory of Evil 
by Susan Neiman.
Allen Lane, 415 pp., £20, August 2019, 978 0 241 26286 3
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... in the antebellum South, where Walter Scott’s novels were in every literate household. Jefferson Davis, the wartime president of the Confederate states, made a pilgrimage to Culloden four years after their defeat. Such thinking blossomed in the next decades, when in the imagination of its elites the South became like the Scotland of the Jacobites, who fought ...

Afloat with Static

Jenny Turner: Hey, Blondie!, 19 December 2019

Face It 
by Debbie Harry.
HarperCollins, 352 pp., £20, October 2019, 978 0 00 822942 9
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... went platinum everywhere. I found a great BBC film on YouTube that explained how Mike Chapman, the Australian pop supremo behind Mud, the Sweet and other top acts of the glitter era of the mid-1970s, had basically taken the band’s cheerfully ragged, two-guitars-and-a-cheapo-organ garage-punk sound and dismantled it into dozens of ...

That Wild Mercury Sound

Charles Nicholl: Dylan’s Decade, 1 December 2016

The Bootleg Series, Vol. 12: The Cutting Edge 1965-66 
by Bob Dylan.
Columbia, £60, November 2015
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... John Hammond recalled: ‘Bobby popped every p, hissed every s, and habitually wandered off mike.’ But in another sense he knew just what he was doing. The album was made in just six hours of studio time – two three-hour sessions – at a cost of around $400. Five of its thirteen songs were cut in single takes. Most of the record consists of folk ...

What I heard about Iraq in 2005

Eliot Weinberger: Iraq, 5 January 2006

... American people are getting to a point here: how much more can we take?’ I heard Congressman Mike Pence, Republican from Indiana, explain why he is opposed to a timetable for withdrawal: ‘I never tell my kids when my patience is going to run out, because they’ll usually try it.’ I heard Condoleezza Rice speak about a ‘generational ...

The Satoshi Affair

Andrew O’Hagan, 30 June 2016

... with Satoshi Nakamoto, I got an email from a Los Angeles lawyer called Jimmy Nguyen, from the firm Davis Wright Tremaine (self-described as ‘a one-stop shop for companies in entertainment, technology, advertising, sports and other industries’). Nguyen told me that they were looking to contract me to write the life of Satoshi Nakamoto. ‘My client has ...

The Tower

Andrew O’Hagan, 7 June 2018

... immediately or that provision grew over the days. None of that mattered, it seems.Inspector Mike Rumble, an affable, by-the-book policeman with white hair and a beard, is part of the Parks Police Team. He was woken up at 2.45 that morning. The call came from David Kerry, the borough emergency planning officer. ‘There’s a major fire at Grenfell ...

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