Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Soho, Camden and Some Thoughts

Camden. I remembered it more fondly than I found it! Maybe because two crucial things were missing. This time I was not going to a Lenny Kravitz gig, and I did not have my beautiful little sister with me. It might also have been that Soho, Westminster and Piccadilly Circus made such a nice impression yesterday that Camden seemed rather shabby in comparison.

But Camden Markeds were fun! The feeling of walking through these amazing dungeons with all sorts of individual distinctness around you. The food stalls reminded me about Asia. Indeed, some of the food was the same as home in Singapore. I didn't buy anything, but it was refreshing just walking around there.

It's a mad place. A rough underworld of modern witches, punks, various emos and goths; some disillusioned old-timers that may have seen the first hippie-movement; shops with side-by-side displays of crosses hanging both upside down and the right way; loud, shallow and predictable discussions of religion and spiritualism on the street for every by-passer to listen to; the sensation that the smell of that dude's cigarette was "funny," and just general madness! Still it maintains a creative sphere, because you're different if you're not different.

I guess what bugs me is to see things that are run down and poorly maintained. It's a style they say. It's supposed to have its own charm. The sad thing is that people loose sight of the value of building things up from scratch. Anti-establishment is at the complete and utter mercy of establishment for even the faintest hope of its own existence. Money is needed to expansively and passionately create the houses and structures that a sentimental goth, witch or emo prides itself of possessing the ruins of.

Which brings us to the next topic. All these old houses I notice around the whole city. Mostly the 19th century ones, some older, some newer. The money, initiative, engineering, work and purposes they were built with has all gone to the grave ages ago. A modern firm or café finds itself in a place built with a vision. We have no idea if we still keep the vision going or have created a new one along the way. There's nothing wrong or right about it, but it almost gives me a sense of intruding into someone else's territory! Except that those someones are well dead.

We should take pride in national histories for this reason. In line with the teaching of one of my pastors, Paul Scanlon, I believe that society at large grows when people plant trees they won't have the time to enjoy the shade under. If the coming generations won't cherish that shade, the potential it renders sadly remains unused. The emo, goth or anti-establishment hippie priding himself of ruins, rough edges and poor maintenance has more in common with Hitler's architectural theory of "reduced value" than he wishes to understand. It's not worth going there though. If the future is not positive, the past becomes the most glorious and ruins becomes our sentimental escape. Sociologically, children suffer neglect for the same reason. If we only lived in the days of... (insert as apropriate, e.g. Nelson, Churchill, Richard the 3rd) No, we live in greater days! Future generations must be nurtured more than we cherish the dead and the ruins of the past. Taking pride in past victories inspires for the future. Setting them as ultimate and timeless benchmarks holds back the expectancy of development.

(I'm sorry if you think I am throwing out too many topics in a ranting fashion and too swift progression. I had to read Theodore Adorno in Uni and this is my payback on reality!)

Camden was fun and I found the way back to my old favorite restaurant there. Turkish. I paid 5 Pounds for a full (I mean it in a Norwegian quantity) meal with a drink! I was happy! Let alone, the main ingredient was a whole, slow cooked lamb-shank. I think the place is called 'Just Eat.' You should visit!

But guess what? I went back to Soho afterwards. I think I have fallen in love. I like Soho a lot. I walked into a kiosk the other night to buy a pen, and they had sketching pencils of all regular grades! If your 24/7 kiosk expects people at all times of the day to just bump in to get their Daler-Rowney sketching pencils, it's gotta be a good place! And it's less run down and sentimental, and better maintained than Camden.

There's a new high-raised business complex in Soho, not far from one of my favorite bookshops and an Indonesian restaurant. It would make a great place for a studio...

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