Showing posts from December, 2018


[N.B. This article appears at both Leigh Spence is Dancing with the Gatekeepers and His & Hers Movie Reviews.] After five and a half years, this is my one hundred and seventy-fourth and final article for His & Hers Movie Reviews . Thank you to Richee & Layla for inviting me to write for them back in 2013, for all their support since, and for never wanting a single word or subject in advance. I also thank you all for being along for the ride, as even I often didn’t know what I’d be writing about next. I will continue to publish new articles, on a variety of subjects, every Sunday at the home of “nostalgia culture crisis since 2016,” Leigh Spence is Dancing with the Gatekeepers , where updated versions will also appear of articles from “The Leigh Spence Moment,” and “L.J. Spence’s Starting Points.” There comes a time when you want to put theory into practice. For me, that was when you can treat writing an essay like it’s a creative writing exercise, and when


It has only been a few months since my visit to the Elephant & Castle Shopping Centre in London [ link ], but things have moved on a bit in that time. In fact, they have become terminal: in October 2018, Historic England announced they had rejected the application to list the centre as a protected structure, and the final approval to demolish the centre was given by the Greater London Authority on Monday 10 th December. So, that appears to be the end of that then. Historic England made it pretty clear: "although the shopping centre originally had architectural interest due to the quality of its design, this has been eroded by a series of incremental changes over the years so that it does not resemble its original appearance... the shopping centre was one of the first two, and is now the earliest surviving building of this type in England, but it has been greatly changed from its original layout and appearance". I am not sure what to make of this – you could p


So many ways have been used to get music, TV and films into the home over the years, but there is a reason I am going to talk about Sony’s U-Matic here, apart from it being the world’s first video cassette: it is the nexus point of all that has been, and all that remains, in the last fifty years of audio-visual formats, and that isn’t hyperbole either. U-Matic, named after how the tape was threaded around a large chrome cylinder that contained the record and playback heads, was first shown off as a prototype in October 1969, and went on sale to the public in 1971, beating Philips’ VCR (Video Cassette Recording, also known as N1500) and Avco’s Cartrivision by a year. Home video recorders were already on sale for nearly ten years by then, but these were open-reel devices, not unlike reel-to-reel audio recorders – U-Matic simply encased the tape in an anti-static cassette, making it easier to handle. Like the EIAJ standard agreed among open-reel machine manufacturers, Sony also per


[1978] Seeing pictures, taken in the 1970s, of the Hollywood sign in a state of dereliction and disrepair, are confusing and disconcerting. Seeing pictures of the building of Tower Bridge, or the Eiffel Tower, bring up similar feelings: haven’t they always been there, and why was there a time when they didn’t exist? All three structures define, influence and symbolise the ideals of the areas around them, which brings me back to the Hollywood sign: what is it about Hollywood that left it to fall apart? Pretty much everyone knows the sign was originally built in 1923 to read as “Hollywoodland,” to advertise the new (whites-only) neighbourhood built further down Mount Lee, in the Hollywood Hills area: the houses imitate the design of Mediterranean villas, particularly from France, Spain and Italy. The builders of the estate, among which included the founder of West Hollywood, and the owner of the “Los Angeles Times,” owned the land on which the sign stood, but signed it and the


Words, don’t fail me now. My intention here is to confirm that poststructuralism doesn’t mean you can say what you like. That is an easy thing to type. To say I have spent hours trying to work out how to describe “poststructuralism” really does not describe how exasperating the whole experience has been. It really should be so easy, but trying to condense an entire school of thought into a small space risks missing the point of it entirely. Expect only bullet points here, but enough to suggest further reading. The easiest analogy that has come to mind is “fake news.” This phrase feeds into the so-called “postmodern” landscape of truth and facts not counting for anything anymore, or at least that is how I have seen “postmodern” used in this loose way: are talking about everything that reacted to modernism, good or bad, from philosophy to art, or is it just the bits that relate to your hatred of a particular term? From there, is “fake news” meant to mean, “news that is de