Tyler, The Creator - Pitboy - Episode 1
In the first episode PitBoy heads to Koko in Camden to see Tyler, the Creator and Earl Sweatshirt.
Ayn Rand Crosses Over to Britain
On Tuesday, I went to a talk held by the Ayn Rand Institute (ARI) titled “Ayn Rand: More Relevant Now than Ever” in London’s luxurious Goldsmiths’ Hall, a grand old building near St Paul’s Cathedral. The crowd was mostly white, male, and wearing sharp suits, as you’d expect at an event devoted to Rand—the novelist-philosopher who came up with “the morality of rational self-interest,” a worldview that says you should pretty much do whatever benefits you and if that results in someone else getting screwed over, well, fuck them anyway. It was the second annual Ayn Rand lecture hosted by the Adam Smith Institute, a libertarian think tank. I was in a temple of the free market.
The speaker was the CEO of Saxo Bank, Lars Seier Christensen. As the head of an investment bank based in socialist Denmark, Christensen is particularly enraged by high taxation, social welfare, and banking regulations, which made him a perfect source of Randian rage. “The world is on the wrong track,” he told us. “A malady that has long beset Europe is currently spreading to the US.” Apparently we are experiencing a “socialist revival” to which “Ayn Rand is the only answer.”
If you’ve never had a college roommate who got way too into her, Rand was an amphetamine-addicted writer of trashy potboilers who, despite being laughed at by many conservatives of her day gradually became one of the most influential philosophers of the right. Her 1957 novel Atlas Shrugged has been ranked the second most influential book after the Bible. The 1,000-page, dull-as-dishwater book describes a world crippled by a socialist government where a group of heroic tycoons and inventors abandon society, which promptly collapses without them. The plot is really besides the point though—mostly, Atlas Shrugged is a vehicle for Rand’s philosophy ofObjectivism, which advances “the concept of man as a heroic being, with his own happiness as the moral purpose of his life.” It also depicted rich people as superior beings and poor people as pathetic, hapless moochers. See why bank executives might be interested in something like that?
The Beautiful Dystopian Hell of a Post-Riot Britain
Jimmy Cauty has had quite the life. As one half of late 1980s stadium house duo the KLF, he and his partner Bill Drummond scored two number one records, wrote a book about doing so, toasted their success by unloading a machine gun filled with blanks over the heads of the assembled music industry at the 1992 Brit Awards, and ended up burning £1 million in cash—nearly all their earnings—on the remote Scottish island of Jura.
For all it’s been talked about in the years since, this stunt probably would have been worth ten times that fortune in publicity, but instead Cauty has kept a low profile, working on his own personal art projects. His latest work is The Aftermath Dislocation Principle Part One: A Small World Re-Enactment. It’s the hangover of a riot, built in 1:87 scale miniature (but still covering 448-square feet), depicting a bleak urban cityscape of rubble-strewn flyovers, burned-out cars, and razed fast food restaurants almost entirely devoid of life, save for a swarm of policemen in high-vis jackets who seem to be wondering where all the rioters have gone.
Before Aftermath, he worked on a series of smaller self-contained pieces called A Riot in a Jam Jar, built with actual jam jars and customized model railway figurines. Cauty explained that the inspiration for the series came while he was in a grocery store, watching a supine line of people lining up for automated checkouts. “I remember thinking, if I was 20 years younger, I’d be there grabbing stuff, smashing things up, and running out. But everyone was very passive,” he said. “People just want to go buy their instant meal, eat it, go to bed, go back to work. No one seemed interested in rioting.”
Scotland Loves Buckfast, the UK’s Version of Four Loko
At about 3 AM on a deserted suburban street in central Scotland, the guy in front of me chugs a bottle of Buckfast in one, then spews it back up into a sticky red puddle between his legs. “That’s fuck all, bullshit, just a wee bit of puke,” he mutters, looking disappointed at wasting the last of his beverage. In case you were wondering, why yes, Buckfast has become a symbol of the country’s rampant alcohol abuse problems. How did you guess?
Unless you’re from some quite specific parts of the UK or Ireland, you may not be familiar with Buckfast. The simplest way to describe it to Americans would be to call it the British version of Four Loko—it’s a fortified tonic wine, that, while not crazy strong at 15 percent, has more caffeine by volume than Red Bull and is loaded with tons of sugar and other tasty chemicals. Interestingly, it’s also made by a community of Benedictine monks living in Devon, England, which doesn’t seem very Christian or whatever but it does make the abbey some pretty big money.
Buckfast is syrup-thick, tastes like a palatable mixture of berry flavored cola and cough medicine, and gets you pretty uniquely trashed. (Full disclosure: I actually like it.) It’s wildly popular with certain of my countrymen—usually, the ones the rest of the country doesn’t want much to do with because they spend most of their time hanging around on street corners getting into fights and breaking things. “Neds,” they’re called in the local vernacular (some say it stands for “non-educated delinquents,” if you were curious). Accordingly, it has earned Buckfast nicknames like “wreck the hoose juice” as well as the catchy unofficial slogan, “Buckfast: gets you fucked fast.”
Remnants of the British Black Panther Party’s Lost Legacy
After the Black Panther Party filled the vacuum left by the death of prominent human rights activists like Martin Luther King and Malcolm X, the movement’s successes inspired others to create their own chapter. In the UK, The British Black Panthers, rather than being politically driven like its US counterpart, aimed for social change within its communities. But due to its brief four-year tenure as London’s resident countercultural grassroots movement, the movement was largely undocumented.
Luckily, Neil Kenlock, one of the group’s core members, took it upon himself to become their photographer, capturing images of their meetings, campaigns, marches, and presence in local communities.
I had a chat with Neil about the British Black Panther movement, and the importance of documenting its legacy.
VICE: How did you become involved with the British Black Panther movement?
Neil Kenlock: Well, I encountered racism when I was quite young—maybe 16 or 17. I went to a club in Streatham, and when I arrived I was told it was full and that I should come back next week. When I returned I was denied again because they didn’t want “my type” in there. I protested that I didn’t see why I shouldn’t be let in. There were, of course, no discrimination laws in those days, so there was no one to tell about this.
And you were never let in?
My friend and I pointed out that we were well dressed, weren’t there to make trouble, and just wanted to enjoy ourselves like other people, so what was the problem? We were told to leave or the police would be called. We wouldn’t go, so they called the police, who then told us that we weren’t wanted in the club and that we should go home. I pointed out we weren’t breaking any laws and the police told us they would arrest us if we didn’t leave. I really didn’t want my parents to have to come to Streatham police station and bail me out, so I left. But, on my way home, I decided that I was going to fight against unfairness and discrimination in this country.
How did you come across the Panthers, then?
Well, some weeks later, I saw a Panther in Brixton giving out leaflets about police brutality and discrimination. I joined them then.
Reasons London Is the Worst Place Ever
Dictionary dude Samuel Johnson famously said that when a man tires of London, he’s tired of life. You might have heard a British cabbie who now lives in the suburbs relay that snippet to you. What the pocket-wisdom smartasses who quote that to you every time you complain about airborne death particles and ATMs that charge you three dollars to access your own money don’t realize, is that while Johnson was a clever guy, he spent his life afflicted with Tourette’s Syndrome. Which means your man probably spent as much time spouting involuntary bullshit as he did snappy witticisms.
The thing is, most people in London are tired of life. You’ve only got to witness the queues in the Westfield multi-storey or the reaction to a crying baby on the tube to realize that this is a city that exists permanently at the end of its rope. People can live in London and be simultaneously tired of it, because—unlike in Mr Johnson’s time—London is no longer a few cobbled streets and a big old prison. It’s the last metropolis in a sinking country on a starving continent, an island within an island oozing out into the Home Counties like an unstoppable concrete oil spill.
I grew up in this city, as did my parents and my grandparents. It can be a great place to live, and, to be honest, I’m probably completely incapable of living anywhere else. There are plenty of reasons why one in ten people decide to make one of its 32 boroughs their home, but there are also plenty of reasons why people give up on life and move away to the middle-class hole that is Brighton.
Reasons like these.
Somewhere along the line, London’s publicans decided that they weren’t happy with their lot. They decided they weren’t just there to provide sanctuary to people whose home lives were so grim they’d rather pay more money to drink less alcohol in a dank room full of deranged cirrhosis sufferers. The landlords decided they wanted to educate their clientele. They wanted them to learn about artisan bar snacks and cask ales, to fill their nostrils with the smell of food they couldn’t afford and to watch them play children’s board games as they sipped their $7.50 Czech rainwater pints.