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CITTA VIOLENTA

oliver craner

Thursday, October 21, 2004



The research on the devils, daemons, their princes, Satan himself and the Kingdom of Darkness constantly amazed me. The copious descriptions of Paradise with details about its internal lay-out ended on a melancholy note: "Exact directions about the location of Paradise are not available"; and at dinner and tea and during my walks I kept repeating this sentence: as to the geographical location of Paradise precise directions are lacking.
Leon Trotsky

Onto the DLR at Bow Church for a short ride over roads and tunnels and waterways to the interior of Canary Wharf. Conditioned air and a tinny tannoy spitting Top 10 hits temper normal physical settings: blood temperature cools, the pulse slows, reflexes reverse. Nerve endings wilt like weeds. Workers stream through tunnels. Reflections run along steel sheets and bullet-proof glass; shadows across concrete and marble blocks. The commercial and subterranean atmosphere grips every corporeal part and everything works in a new way. You get desire back, with little alterations. PLATEAU for foods and home goods. Sultry teens pout out of Top Shop windows. Unreal aroma of crushed coffee beans and cold pastry. Delightful Dorothy Perkins lurex twirls and tight Ted Baker skirts. Watches in a cabinet like cats eyes. Signs evoke, reveal: Oasis; Pure Beauty; Vision Express; Real Health; Chariot; Crussh. Health and high efficiency and hunger go together: serve and save tender relations between bodies, eyes, words, actions. Sensitive people, with otherwise ferocious feelings, crowd escalating floors. Routines have the appeal of independence and solitude and overcome fear every single day. In the court of KINGS, prowling floors and devouring hours whole, it's a cruel contest.

On the escalator ascent from Canary Wharf tube station, out of grey shadows and bare bulbs, into air and sky and clouds, crushed and cut up by hard but benign skyscrapers. Dock water rippled, dappled; striated by walkways and railways. Along the DLR's dirty underbelly, metal mesh-work coils around strips of back-lit colour. Trains drag along rusty lines.

At Island Gardens, I escape, skip around a boathouse, climb up an iron staircase for cigarettes and new views. The tide laps up knotted bark like antlers; blocks of foam and bits of bone; a headless eel whose head, mysteriously, lies on the bank, as if bitten off and spat out. Monkey trees and vines grow out of a house. Pleasure boats surf the Thames tidal surge. Starlings swarm above semi-derelict East Greenwich factories. Walk past wharf flats owned by young execs and other success stories enjoying riverside seclusion with wide plasma TV screens and IKEA components. Come along. Come on in

to residential (ice) cubes, light-boxes for living in. Fresh turf in landscaped bumps and hillocks. New Providence Wharf is the Coliseum of Docklands re-development: an epic curve that traps you beneath balconies and windows. A capsule in exchange for 90 hours p/week somewhere inside One Canada Square. (Maybe that's a good deal: life can be fast and full that way, after all.) The plaza is landscaped to the point of optical irruption. You could slide across the lozenge-shaped lawn on rubber soles. The moss is manicured. Tactile tension tips toward chaos. Out! Out! Now! (I'm going)

to the wine warehouse at East India Dock Basin next to the A1261 overpass, where junctions and tunnels and apartment blocks replace old traces of tea and spice. A smile from a Singapore Airlines model on an enormous billboard comforts. Near Billingsgate market a Drive Thru McDonald's flickers like a mirage among traffic streams. Sporadic patches of dereliction acquire new dignity. So head back to the epicenter: the capitol of corporate zen.

O steel garden!

I like to sit between the three towers at dusk. Watch them light up; eavesdrop on mutual infatuation. Around the precinct: enormous glass walls or diagonal shards the size of ships and gardens planted 200 ft high. London City Airport planes, the Finance Air Force, embark on European missions. Couples take intimate strolls around this garden, steel-triffid lamps light lingering steps. Trees around the quad look as if they have terms of employment to abide by. Cigarette ends in piles reveal nerves and spite and adrenaline otherwise denied by this unblemished exterior: clues for fluent trackers. It's impossible to leave a signature or imprints on stainless steel. As a display of power it's placid ("who wants to be in love again?"). People pack into Smollensky's to flirt and boast over white wine and bottled beer as the City lights up on the horizon. We thrive on envy here, because it's everything. 
Everything.


posted by oc  # 11:42 AM

citta vecchio

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