The Overture With a history spanning over 100 years Clare’s metamorphosis has been an illustrious one. Relaunched last year after a three-decade dormancy, Clare took inspiration from her many and varied previous carnations and developed a platform for current students to shine creatively as well as academically. In this the sixth issue of Clare’s new breath, complete maturity would be an unfounded boast, but she’s certainly come a long way. She has carved herself a fine but unfamiliar face in the landscape of student media. This issue, the last of this academic year, exhibits her niche – showcasing through words and graphics students’ own metamorphoses as variously inspired by a yard of mechanical ‘rubbish’, loss and longing, harsh dessert travel across borders, and our own esteemed institution. Also within these pages, Clare is delighted to present three of this year’s entries in the Bernard Levin Competition, named in honor of internationally regarded journalist and former Clare contributor. These particular essays reflect the influence of the LSE in the evolution of perspectives, ideas, and academics. Much like her contributors and the LSE, Clare’s metamorphosis is on-going. She is a sandcastle shaped by many diligent hands and as the palms change from year to year, so too does the nature of Clare, from foundations to flags. Forward glancing in her own personal Tardis, Clare now prepares to regenerate. With new star-gazers at her helm, here’s hoping the journey will be a gentle one. Long live Clare
Artwork by Chloe Evans
Volume CV, Issue 3 Editor-in-Chief: Sean Baker Editors: Rena Barch and Katie Rowland Production Editor: Eric King Creative Directors: Meredith Bailey and Lydia Sprenger Associate Designer: Elli Graham Copy Editors: Kwaku Awuku-Asabre, John deGraft-Johnson, Susannah Hamilton, Amelia Iuvino and Dave Randall Development Managers: Daniella Lock and Paul McQueen Web Editor: Alexandra Kane Special Projects Editor: Annalise Toberman
The Light and the Shadow By Ann Marie Eu
Waiting By Katie Rowland
he day after the accident, I open my eyes. You are still in that bed, those tubes running over your body like snakes, your chest pushing up against the constriction of your sheets. I promise myself that I will be there if you open your eyes again. I will bring you three cups of coffee every day, bathe you once, fall in love with you all over again every moment.
My lips feel like sandpaper from being in this hospital for too many hours, but I press them to your cheeks because you are still warm. They don’t know what is wrong with you, but you are still warm. When I feel my fingers start to tremble, I talk to you: They will find out what is wrong. Do not worry; I will never leave you. I will sit here and hold your sweet hand between my palms, praying until you open your eyes Days go by, days of me loving you while you lay motionless. I have a routine now when I come to see you. I always look first. My gaze scampers over you and rests on your eyelashes. Then I step closer, and I make sure that you are still warm. I cling to your warmth. I caress your skin. Your parents call once a week. They are glad that I am sitting here with you, glad that there is someone here with you, that the doctors in India are not as bad as they once were and that they speak English. Your parents cannot come, of
course. But they are glad that I am here. One night, I wake from my nightmare to feel the slap of fall against my naked breasts. In the dream, you had gone and I was happy. I was not happy because you were not suffering anymore, but because I was not suffering anymore, because I did not have to tell myself lies anymore. In the dream, I did not hate with every beep on your monitors; I did not hate you for being sick, your parents for not coming, the doctors for not knowing, or myself for hating you when it is not your fault. But it is day now, and the lies come without stopping – lies that I will be able to live like this. That I will wait for you forever. That I am still happy, sitting here, day after day, while your life slips mine away. The reality? Even outside the nightmares, the ‘for better or worse’ diamond is falling around my thinning finger and digging into my skin on the other side. I am tired. Lonely. Lustful.
My hands are always searching. My lips scatter kisses into the snowglobe outside and blow them through the windows. On summer nights when the sheets stick to my skin and wrinkle, I walk out on the balcony without reaching for clothes. Some nights, my eyes fill with water and pain before they close above the heart of a strange man who does not smell like you, who does not feel as soft as you, whom I do not love and who will never love me like you do. On one of those nights, the dark man who has loved me for three weeks asks me to marry him. You have been sick for nine months now. He tells me that this is not living, this waiting for you; he calls this waiting to die. I think to myself: Nine months and I have already found myself another man. He asks me to go to Chiapas with him to live with the Zapatistas and fight for justice. My fingers tremble: What if you wake up and I am gone? But the dream comes to me again, the one where I am free. Surely guilt and hatred will not follow me all the way to 12 Mexico. And what is here for me? Not even you – just the outline of the living that used to be, and the aching. So I kiss him and promise to leave the day after tomorrow. Tomorrow comes as always and I am back at your side, forever at your side. I allow my fingers to play in your hair and it slips like silk through them. I nuzzle my nose to your nose, pull your hands to my breasts, and try to remember the feeling of our bodies intertwining. I talk to myself now: This is no way to live. I cannot. You would not want me to. Somehow I will love you from across oceans. This lover – the one I will run away with tomorrow – he likes the way my hair curls around my chin. That night, I pack my bags and line up my shoes by the door. I take a slow bath, letting the water run cold by the end. I pack your things into two boxes and tape them shut. I sweep the floors, clean
out the cupboards and try to make the bed. But by now, my hands are shaking and my stomach is crawling up under my lungs and my bronchials burn with every breath I take down. I push myself off of the bed and throw my clothes on the floor. Ripping open one of the boxes with your things, I pull out a sweater that still smells like you used to before the hospital; I wrap myself up in it, climb into the bed, and wait for you to bring me tea like you used to. I am still waiting when the phone rings. It slips out of my hands when I grab it – I was crying, and my hands were wet – and I have to chase the phone across the wooden floor. ‘Hello?’ I breathe into the phone without knowing if it is my dark and strange lover, the one from last month, a wrong number, or you. ‘Ma’am? This is the hospital at Bihar. Your husband is awake.’ My body moves faster than my mind. I am running for the door, forgetting my keys, grabbing a scarf and coming for you. My mind takes snapshots: the blur of the line of shoes, the banging echo of the stairs, the sagging of my clothes from August’s monsoon rain and the moonlight. My heart remembers the rest: the guilt strangling me, the love paralysing me, the agony of what I might one day have to tell you twisting up inside of me. And then the doorway. I stand there, my lungs pounding against my ribcage, and stare at you. You loved me when you saw me then, loved me all over again. ‘I remember you kissing my forehead,’ you tell me, ‘and I remember you holding my hand.’ And then I am on the floor by your bedside, the tears flowing, the doctors saying that it is a miracle of love, and me believing that the biggest miracle is that you can still love me back.
A CALL TO ACTION By Kathryn Boyd ‘The heart of Europe cries for freedom.’ – so Timothy Garton Ash described the revolutions of 1989. Two decades later, from the distance of the 21st century, we remember the fall of the Wall, the lifting of the Curtain and the reunification of a continent. At the LSE, it’s difficult to forget that we, the academics, politicians, financiers and activists of the decades to come, are carried on the crest of a wave of intellectual history that began with the Greeks. Equally, there is no forgetting that to be European is now to be of the world: Is there another continent more ‘multicultural’? That rings with more diverse voices? That is rooted in the history of so many different civilisations? In many senses, the world is now also of Europe. Having violently and not-soviolently interwoven European cultures over a millennium or two – via the Romans, the Catholic Church and the aristocratic
practice of the Grand Tour, to name but a few of our methods – we subsequently exported our way of life to almost every nook and cranny of the globe. Understandably, we have not always been thanked for our enthusiasm. Looking at where the staff and students come from, the School may seem, first and foremost, international. But look at the ideas and at the academic culture, and ask where those ideas and that culture are most resonant – the answer is Europe. Twenty years ago the ‘heart’ of our continent began the onerous journey home from an exile precipitated by the bloodiest conflict in history. For many of us, the excitement – the sheer incredibility – of 1989 has been felt anew, all these years later. Naturally, you might say. But in the capital city of a nation that seems to be turning away from a common European culture and history, and from the ties that bind us together so that conflict never again rips apart the
continent, it is more than ever important not to forget what the 20th century brought to Europe. As a student in the European Institute, I’m often reminded that Europe is more than just the Bible and the Greeks, and that Britain is more – a lot more – than the Industrial Revolution and an imperial past. Like Shakespeare, who shamelessly borrowed from Montaigne (French), Boccaccio (Italian) and Lucian (Greek), we in the UK have been exchanging ideas with the rest of Europe throughout our history. You might not think it, however, given the UK results for the last European Parliament elections, when 16.5% of the vote went to the UK Independence Party. Nor from the Conservative Party’s distrust of the European Union – a distrust strong enough to persuade them to withdraw from the most powerful party group in the Parliament. The British people seem to want to go it alone rather than engage in a project that has brought peace to a continent and helped many formerly communist countries ‘return to Europe’. Yet, despite our London location, on the Western edge of Europe, we don’t forget the impact on the whole continent when the Eastern half was overtaken by Communism. Questions constantly flow back and forth about what this teaches us about our own European identity. It seems ironic that so many of my fellow students have travelled to the UK in order to learn to look back across the Channel more clearly. Each day the story of Europe and European values – of individual rights, free markets, democracy, curiosity about how things work – unravels a little further. Twenty years since the Wall fell, and Bulgarians, Estonians and Hungarians gather in seminars with Germans, Italians and Swedes to predict the future of Europe. How European countries should work together is hotly disputed; that we should work together is not. Yet we are all too aware of the anachronistic counter-narrative of nationalism and Euroscepticism that calls into question
our common goals. But we learn from being challenged. Collectively our critical minds consider the unanswered questions thrown at us, and we ask how our answers can lead to change. For the worlds of economics and political science, the implications of the rise of India, China and Brazil are inescapable. And while we of course consider how the UK and other individual nations will respond, first and foremost we ask how Europe should approach a multi-polar world struggling with reengineering the financial system, managing a growing population, achieving international development goals and containing climate change. When listening to Lord Stern speak about carbon emissions or Amartya Sen discuss child under-nourishment, these challenges seem so weighty and beyond our control that I discover a sudden empathy with Lord Salisbury: ‘Whatever happens, it will be for the worse and so it is in our interest that as little happens as possible.’ But for all the purely intellectual reflection that goes on in the vicinity of Houghton Street, the LSE is not a place to encourage inaction. Overwhelmingly, what an education should give us is the ability to scrutinise the world, in all its confusion, and ask, ‘What can I do?’ When, twenty years ago, Eastern Europeans cried for freedom, Western Europe managed (eventually) to respond. We decided that we would help make freedom a reality, and the longer I spend with my fellow Europeans, the more I can understand how much that meant. In the Old Theatre and elsewhere, academic after politician after academic stands up to ask us, the students, what we are going to do faced with a world of problems each as grave as the Cold War itself. By understanding the transformation of Europe since 1945, I can believe that we will solve these problems – but only if we realise that concepts such as national ‘independence’ have no place in the century ahead.
The Man Who Walked a Thousand Paths By MaryAnn Thomas
Once there was a man who lived; often he walked across the dark path, for no fault of his. Yet it was he who chose â€“ where he tread and where he walked. There was once a time when his bold and courage drove him to the top of where the entire world he could see. He mastered himself, through offering and goodness, and swore against vice.
Still earlier, there was a boy who grew His laughter on the Court remained. He had comfort and love and joy and riches Sweet sparkling eyes, fixed in a frame. Like two halves of a whole, it twists and turns indefinitely. All of good is devoured by evil, but good rises up again. For the man who walks in darkness, will one day no more take that path again.
Opposite page: Artwork by Stephanie Kwak and Zomawia Salio
Yet, there he was, the man whom women sought For with him, their hearts and minds they buried. Still long ago driven by deception and pain, he looked to free his worthless soul which grew tainted by clouds of dark. He wept but the past could not be buried, which was when he had a spark.
18 Tuesday morning, early start. 188 towards
Russell Square, off at Aldwych, forward to Houghton Street. I take note as I stare up at an obstinate collage; pieces that serve, not so much individual objets d’architecture, but as fragments of a glass and stone whole. I step back and hear the alto, melodic undercurrents of daily conversation set to a techno beat coming from variegated tents. The inhale-exhale of a city as a panting breath of a breeze, an electricity, an ecstatic chill and the sudden question: Wait, is this it? There is an aura that surrounds the LSE when a student first arrives, the type that is created by a name and buttressed by reputation spread globally in text books and theories, one much bigger than the university itself. It is hard to not be impressed by the possibility of seeing a Nobel Prize winner in the queue for morning coffee, or having the option to pop in to a guest lecture from a world
1994 By Trevor H. Taniguchi
expert between lunch and an afternoon seminar. It is quickly all too evident that I’m within a collective of students that were the top of their respective classes, that are all the best and the brightest. A professor asks, ‘Can someone give me a true bi-conditional in German?’ Check. I overhear, ‘What’s your assessment of Stiglitz’s new book?’ Everyone has an opinion. ‘What’s the difference between Smith’s and Hume’s Sentimentalism?’ Well, how long have you got? I encounter the optimists in Development, the pessimists in International Relations, the reflective in Philosophy, and the masochists in Economics. This is the convergence of ideas and events. It’s the intersection of theory and experience. I take note. The flyers on the walls of the Old Building, the handouts on Houghton Street, the headlines in the papers: they are not merely abstract news articles. Being
New Academic Building is supposed to be. When new students come and new professors instruct them, it’s only more clear that the times change, and we change with them. So where does that leave us now? I’ve resolved to collecting mental images, jotting mental notes, and forgetting my fair share after a few too many at the George IV. We may well forget some obfuscated theory of causal explanation, or a formula in the upper-hundreds of numbered econometric textbook pages. But we’re drawing the storyboards now to tell our grandchildren in several decades about when we were young, shoulder-to-shoulder with the best minds of a generation, hearing from world experts, taking our place in a class of thousands bristling with the potential to do something... anything. Perhaps that explains the still buzzing ambition from the Hare Krishna cart to St. Clement’s The day ends, and I walk towards the bus stop; I pass the Garrick and startle a group of pigeons into the air. They turn and return. I’m not sure what the final memory of this experience will be. I’m not entirely sure that there will be one. It seems that this isn’t the end game. It’s a conditioning for an undetermined outcome. Time and time again I’ll turn and return to a lesson I learned here, at this school, in this city. I ride south, back across the Thames over the Waterloo Bridge. I grant myself a glance – left at St. Paul’s, right at the Houses of Parliament. I take note, and I continue.
Images by LSE Library on Flickr
here, they become our charges. But these are not merely burdens placed on our shoulders; it’s a hard-earned achievement to call these our responsibilities. But, let’s be honest: that initial honeymoon period between the student and the institution wears down into a perfunctory routine. Plunged into these intellectual waters, one struggles to some redemption only to find another essay due or another book to read. There is a well-worn truth that in a few years these days that seem so long, in the library, a seminar, a lecture, will seemed to have flown by. That’s simply the clichéd progression of time and experience. Tempora mutantur, nos et mutamur in illis – perhaps the closest thing we have to an iron law these days. Despite this, there is a sense of immutability across the LSE campus from The Old Curiosity Shop to Clement House, oddly incongruous with the multiplicity of paradigms that have run their course, and continue to do so, in these hallowed halls. But even now, a poster hangs in a foreign room; a postcard sits in a faraway mailbox serving as condensed caricatures of a city. It’s a rare feat, a certain achievement to be sure, for a city with a nebulous reputation to live up to its own standards. Somehow, when necessary, there seems to always be a subtle reminder of Samuel Johnson’s still apropos quote, ‘When one tires of London, one tires of life.’ But someone is being inspired by London, thousands of miles from Holborn. Someone opens a textbook by an LSE professor; someone is told about the prestige of the institution, and the next generation of students that will walk this same route and stare at these buildings is being drawn. But they will arrive at a slightly different institution. It is, after all, the students and the theorists, the professors and faculty that are the movers and shakers that make the LSE the LSE, not the obstinate buildings, or whatever the interior decorating scheme of the
Minor Transfiguration on a Putney park bench By N. F. Hampton
Â Beside blood, only one or two have helped and one of two was you, small time ago, when you sat and you let her read at you Your strange mind on a million matters, you could not become more than the body she had ignored, instead groping after Â Light as evoked by the better etchings, your murmured songs, alien mutterings. One night it came to you, that genius Genius has become marred in romance but the best romancers are feeble lovers; their own, precious to their own and little else.
How did ‘Just Us’ come about? ‘Just Us’ came about after much discussion of how we (Mark Grant, Simon Zinn and William Hibberd) could get something more from our university experience and expose ourselves alongside other creatives in the same way as big universities like UCL and Brighton. Whilst studying at Plymouth College of Art we saw the talents of previous years’ students go to waste due to small graduate shows and its location away from the big cities. We also saw a gap in communication between students at different institutions and decided to do something about it.
graphic designers and illustrators has made it difficult for individuals to shine through. The lack of jobs is also a big hurdle. Most of all, we believe to be successful you have to be confident in yourself, work hard, network and get known. How does ‘Just Us’ help its members’ work evolve?
for young graphic designers/illustrators to overcome on their way to become professionals?
There are different levels to answer this question: The first is the opportunity for members to showcase their work as part of a group, boosting recognition and allowing them to collaborate and network with other students. Last year we held an exhibition at London’s KK Outlet and had a whole month of desktop wallpapers with L.A.-based blog Kitsune Noir, which features in bloh such as It’s Nice That, Creative Review and Boooooom! The second is being able to see what students from other universities are doing and the standards set by different arts institutes across the UK. The third is about talking to other people about the collective and showing them what it’s all about; 40 members each telling 10 people means 400 more people get to see your work!
Firstly, the rise in the amount of graduate
From your own experience, in what way
Why (the name) ‘Just Us’? The name came up when we were first talking about the project; we kept saying, ‘It’s not just us in this situation’, and when we thought about it more, the name seemed ironic and plays on our feelings at the time.
22 What do you think is the biggest obstacle
University is a good place to evolve as a designer, experiment and learn the basics you need to take with you when you step outside. However, it doesn’t prepare you for the experience you get from real clients in the outside world [...] That’s something that comes with time. When did you feel you had ‘grown up’ as an artist, or is that day still to come? That day is definitely still to come; we have only just graduated ourselves so are learning new things all the time. What’s the most valuable lesson you have learned from setting up and running the collective? The best lesson we have learnt is that networking is actually as important as people say it is. Was there a turning point for you when you realised that ‘Just Us’ had become what you envisioned? It is always good when you find another little bit of exposure whether on a design blog or from emails expressing people’s
interest in being involved. We aren’t sure if we are totally at the position that we envisioned but we’d like to think we are getting there. What does the future hold for ‘Just Us’? Now heading into our second year with more experience under our belt we plan to create more opportunities for the students we represent. Simon has left to pursue his own interests, leaving the two of us to continue with the project. We are just in the middle of releasing a new website with all new members and sections. We are also adding the ‘Just Us’ alumni which will act more as an agency and will be a place where our most proficient graduate members come to reside; seeking commissions for print, web, illustration, art direction, graphic design and anything in between. We will also be adding a shop section to the site and hopefully exhibiting again this year. There will be lots of projects for the new ‘Just Us’ members to contribute to. As far as the bigger picture goes we would love to run this as a full time 23 venture; we are just trying to figure out how we can get to that stage without compromising on what we do.
does such an education contribute to your development as an artist/designer?
â€˜Peanut headâ€™ is my older work that I produced at college. I started to pull things together other the next few years by just using colour to establish a figure, and took away outlines.
My work is generally produced by digital means; I create simple fun images using flat bright colours. I think my inspiration comes from being a prolific doodler. I really enjoy sitting out and about just drawing whatever comes to mind. I think this is where I start with most of my images. I also enjoy scouring antique shops, collecting cigerette cards, boys annuals and old photos which can often be a great starting point for me. I hope this will feed into my work more and more.
As a 17-year-old studying fine art at college, I was heavily influenced by graffiti writing and street culture. At that point my approach to my work was very fast paced and energetic with a lot of experimental mark making. Seven years on, in my final year of a BA (hons) in Illustration, I’m still influenced by street art and my urban environment. In hindsight back in college I didn’t necessarily have the skill and precision required to produce fully resolved work but I feel I have honed these skills and blended my influences into a style of working which best represents me.
A History of Flux
By Hannah Langworth I thought I knew the ebbs and flows of central London pretty well before I came to the LSE. I spent many hours as a child feeling carsick as my father drove slowly through the city to visit my grandparents in Wimbledon. At half term, my cousins and I would be escorted on the long tube journey to Russell Square to go to the British Museum, where we’d chase each other across squares with fountains and around the Elgin Marbles and the sarcophaguses. Sometimes we’d go to the theatre – I remember being terrified at the rocking chair moment in The
Woman in Black – or in later years to West End cinemas, where our family party of fourteen or fifteen would annoy everyone else by swapping seats and passing round popcorn and Opal Fruits. Afterward, we’d all go to Joe Allen for burgers, or to a particular pizza bar in Chinatown, the pavement outside of which was rumoured to bear the remnant of a bloodstain from a long-ago Triad shooting. After finishing my undergraduate degree, I came back to London to go to law school in Red Lion Square and spent evenings in the Victorian splendour of the Princess Alice
pub, or heading down Southampton Row to do the bar quiz at SOAS, or to have nachos and see a band at ULU. Later still, while working in the City, and always in a hurry, I’d sometimes rush through in a taxi what the estate agents call ‘Midtown’ to meet my friends further west. But despite Holborn being on the edge of much of my life in London, I’d always thought of it, especially the thoroughfare of High Holborn at its centre, as one of the most undistinguished parts of the city. Those tacky shops and pubs. The names of its crusty buildings – Africa
House, Sardinia Street, The Peacock Theatre – seemed like a bad joke, suggesting warmer locations or the colours of holiday snapshots. For me, this area had all the characteristics of the parts of London I didn’t like – it was dull, over-commercialised, old-fashioned and polluted. But as I listened to the LSE’s Director, Howard Davies, give his welcome address to the fresh crop of MSc students in which he championed the LSE’s location for the benefit of newcomers to the city, I found myself thinking that at least it was pretty easy
we’d go to a weird orange and brown café on the street called Onion, where I also once spent a Saturday morning trying to console a friend crying over a broken heart. I most recently walked through the colonnade on the way to an engagement party at a retro bowling bar hidden in the basement of stolid Victoria House, where we all drank milkshakes laced with bourbon, and I realised that I was at least rethinking my once firmlyheld opinion on alcoholic lacteal drinks. If I ever get lost on my travels in the LSE’s part of the world, I always find that looking up to the compass needle of the Centre Point building helps me get my bearings. Or does it? Ever notorious, London’s first skyscraper is perplexing to me. Built on the site of a gallows, it was long empty of tenants, yet filled with import, being alternatively imagined as a government nuclear bunker, a symbol of the greed and hubris of the property business and a battlefield in struggles over how Britain’s heritage should be defined. Now it’s topped by an exclusive club, and the junction on which it is situated, St Giles, a slum area for centuries and 33 then a poor relation to the swankier shopping areas further down Oxford Street, is being redeveloped, which for the moment is only making it even more chaotic. But, after all, a history of flux is the destination at the messy centre of this capital. Heraclitus famously once wrote that, ‘You cannot step twice into the same river’, and this maxim can be used in London, a city of palimpsest and watermarks like no other. And as I come and go around the LSE, waiting to get across the roads, I look at the traffic moving and like to think of everything else that is flowing here.
to get to some of the more interesting parts of town from here. And when he asked the British citizens present to raise their hands, I was intrigued to find that I was one of a small number – ‘You’re in an ethnic minority here’, someone later joked at Anthropology departmental drinks, ‘part of the indigenous population!’ – and so I hoped that the cosmopolitan nature of life at the LSE, along with the process of rethinking that doing a masters degree involves, would allow me to see something new in a part of the city I’d known all my life. And I found that I have discovered, and remembered, much about this inbetween part of London where the School is located. My first visit to the campus was like seeing a conjuring trick as, like Diagon Alley, it suddenly appeared, new to me, behind the drudgery of the main drag that I knew so well. Now I walk most weekdays toward it from the north, past the green of Lincoln’s Inn Fields, in sight of the quiet bulk of the Land Registry, which for a lawyer is somehow always reassuring. There’s always the possibility of lunch with a barrister friend who works nearby, during which I always realise I was right to give up my job to be a student again. We like the Fleet River Bakery; the LSE writers’ group to which I belong even held a meeting there in the autumn – who can resist a Hot Chocolate Festival? It’s just a shame that the flavour of the day was, ‘beer’ – not in my milky beverage, thanks. I now know that the River Fleet, after which the coffeehouse is named, is just one of London’s once overground but now subterranean rivers and that, including part of my daily journey on its route, it flows from Hampstead Heath through Camden and Holborn, passing just east of the LSE on its way to meet the Thames to the south. North and west of the LSE is gleaming Sicilian Avenue, an Edwardian marble corridor where I used to meet my sister when she was at art school nearby. Often
Artwork by Sasha Salmon
G REETINGS from N.J. Old Photos by Sarah Karu
Morro Castle burned on its shores. The Boss got his start in its music halls. 35 The states first gay matrimony was confirmed in its streets. Asbury Park has been a whirlwind of economic, political and cultural alterations. Once a popular seaside destination for the wealthy, Asbury underwent radical economic decline as transportation developments in the 1950s facilitated flight to the suburbs and emptied the city. Asbury became a microcosm of racial and class conflict divided in two by a Berlin Wall-esque highway. With abundant drugs and prostitutes dispensed on the landscape of rotting Victorian-style homes, Asbury Park was ready for the transformations of the new millennium ushered in by the surviving artist and gay communities, who began rebuilding downtown Asbury and its boardwalk. These photos, taken in 2007 and 2009, show the city in transition. Today, Asbury Park is still recapturing its former glory, with the old elements rearranged and showcased in a new, radical form.
Text and Photos by Alexandra Kane
11:50:23 A popular hangout for small time drug dealers and listless local teenages.
11:31:43 Empty hallways echo crumbling blocks and the intermittent sirens. Sleepy bedroom communities do not dare cross into Asbury.
11:36:38 Few tax dollars are spent repairing basics and utilities. Many people cut their losses and invested time elsewhere.
13:41:23 Having restored the rusted copper roof, the carousel house is a far more welcoming beacon to the boardwalk. Still empty a subtle shine hints at things to come.
14:06:32 Asbury Park Convention Center, Grand Arcade and Paramount Theatre regularly hold high-end musical, artisitc and cultural events. â€˜The Bossâ€™ proudly calls this home.
15:27:24 An unusually bright April day welcomes everyone.
By Alice Ollstein
‘I don’t understand,’ choked the voice on the telephone. ‘You left him? You left him in the desert?’ In Spanish, the phrase for ‘I’m sorry’ literally means, ‘I feel it.’ I clamped my trembling hands between my knees. Tried to steady my voice. The hot phone hummed, clamped between ear and hunched shoulder. ‘I feel it,’ I told her. ‘I feel it so much.’
Walter and I drove back in silence, first rumbling over rocky desert trails then slipping onto smooth, wide roads. I turned my face towards the window, folded my arms over my chest, swallowed. As we coasted off the highway I felt a hand on my knee. I looked at the pale, almost translucent, skin, the blue veins spider-webbing beneath. I saw the neatly trimmed nails, the dull gold band. The hand attempted another feeble pat. ‘Honey, in rehab they call this falling off the pink cloud.’ He took a long drag on his cigarette and, looking for cops, flicked it out the window. ‘We sure fell.’ It was my last day with the Samaritans – a humanitarian group based out of Tucson, Arizona that patrols the desert borderlands looking for, and aiding, migrants in distress. I had been working with them for three months as part of a term-long programme on Border Studies. One night a week, I convened with the others Samaritans in the natural wood and wrought iron sanctuary of the local Presbyterian Church. I was by far the youngest member. Most were grey-haired, 40 hybrid-driving, story-telling veteran activists. Instead of parking themselves in California or Florida to golf, eat and sun away their golden years, they had come to Arizona, moved by the ever-climbing border death rate, itching to act. At these meetings, each team reported on their patrols from the week: how many border crossers they encountered and where, what condition they were in, how many Border Patrol agents harassed either migrants or Samaritans. Then, an enormous desk calendar passed from lap to lap. I could only patrol on Wednesdays and Saturdays. So could Walter. When I timidly slid into a pew at my first Samaritans meeting and Walter turned and beamed at me, I wasn’t sure if he was an old man or an old woman. Large glasses sat lightly on his soft, wrinkled face. Snowy hair fell to his shoulders. A teal polo sagged over his chest and belly. It was his voice, his New England growl,
that clued me in. ‘Hello my dear,’ he said, then extended his hand. ‘Walter. Walter Collins.’ We always met in the church’s parking lot at 7 a.m., when the desert had not yet shaken off its nightly chills, to load the Samaritans’ 4-Runner with water bottles, electrolyte drinks, granola bars, socks, sweatshirts, first aid kits and a GPS. We would pick a route for the day, a section of the desert to traverse. Walter always drove first, so I could sip my coffee. My bleary, streaky vision finally solidified into wakefulness as we left Tucson’s concrete for the craggy mountains and arid valleys just south of the city limits. We sped west under the immense, cloudless sky, watching the car’s thermometer climb past 90, past 100. We pulled over to walk the migrant trails, quartz glittering between the rocks under our feet. My sweat stung as it rolled down my dry temples. Little brown roadrunners darted across our path. Scraggly bushes grabbed at our trouser legs.
wished them the best. Watching them continue their interminable march North, I felt a pang as we revved the engine and flipped on the air-conditioning. I forced my eyes from their retreating backs and busied myself noting the incident in the official log, ticking the right boxes and circling the location on a map. On nearly every trip we stopped at the same tiny coffee shop off the highway, a desert institution with wooden benches, hand-painted signs and half hippy – half cowboy clientele. Walter always insisted on paying for my coffee, always shook his head, exasperated, when I protested. He would meticulously unpack the lunch his wife had prepared for him: a tuna sandwich and a Tupperware of sliced pears. Always the offer of a pear wedge with an affected French accent: ‘D’Anjou, cherie?’ Once, while leaving water bottles on a migrant trail, our ears started to hum. The faint whirring grew louder. Walter shielded his eyes and scanned the clouds. ‘They’re buzzing us.’ My hair whipped my face as the helicopter circled above. Walter raised his fist skyward, extended his gaunt middle finger. He grinned when they roared away. ‘We aren’t breaking a single law,’ he muttered. Then, looking at me, he recited the Samaritans motto: ‘Humanitarian aid is never a crime.’ The long, quiet, uneventful stretches of road gave us ample time to share our life stories, and though Walter had nearly four times more life to recount he indulgently asked about my studies and my plans. Steering with one hand, I neatly lined up the dominos of my future. A successful senior year, graduation, travel, work for a newspaper. My time with the Samaritans, my ‘understanding’ of immigration, would surely give me an edge in the hiring process. The notes and photos I’d been amassing could easily morph into a gripping series. All this hands-on experience would look wonderful on my resume. I enjoyed the way ‘border reporter’ rolled off my tongue. Things had never made more sense than they did
On most trips, Walter and I saw no one – only one saguaro cactus after another standing to attention. We also saw ghosts: torn and faded sweatshirts and backpacks abandoned at known pick-up points, brittle plastic bottles that shattered at our touch, footprints. When we encountered a border crosser, everything unfolded as I had been told it would. We spotted people walking on the side of the road – usually men, in a pair or alone, weighed down by a backpack and clutching an empty water jug. We pulled over the car. A wall of heat hit us as we stepped out to meet them, thick, heavy and unforgiving. Warily eying the Los Samaritanos sign on the car door, they approached. Using the phrases I’d committed to memory, I asked them how many days they’d been walking, where they hailed from, if they hurt and where. We offered them the contents of the trunk. They looked into our eyes and thanked us. We shook hands, warned them to stay off the main roads and
flying south on Sasabe Road. Many weeks passed, and soon it came time to climb into the 4-Runner with Walter for a final desert patrol. We had barely left dim, still-sleeping Tucson when we saw a Border Patrol vehicle parked by the side of the road and pulled over to investigate. Two boys sat in the dust, their faces streaked with grime. The agents stood many yards away, not facing them, chatting and laughing. They boys were uncuffed, not restrained in any way. We asked the agents for permission to speak with their apprehended quarry. They shrugged. ‘Sure, sure.’ I approached and knelt beside them to hear their story. The taller, darker one did all the talking. They were both sixteen years old, both from Veracruz, Mexico. They had become separated from their group in the night, when a Border Patrol helicopter caused the group to panic and scatter. The smaller boy had bloody scratches all over his arms. From groping his way among saguaro, ocotillo and prickly pear cactus in the moonless night, his friend 42 explained. I dug in the first aid kit for the disinfectant spray. He silently held out his arms, wincing as the medicated mist coated his skin. The taller boy downed the electrolyte drink we offered in a few seconds, the neon red liquid running down his chin, but politely refused another one. For the first time, the smaller boy spoke. The voice that came from between his cracked lips sounded rusty, little-used. ‘Where will they take us, when they take us?’ A year ago I would have been able to say that he’d be bussed back to the border that same afternoon. Now, Arizona’s ‘Operation Streamline’ puts a portion of the day’s apprehended migrants on trial, jails them for a period, and then deports them. If they’re caught re-entering, they already have a criminal record, and can sit in tax payer-funded prison for several years. Some migrants get ‘streamlined,’ some simply deported as before. I couldn’t
say for sure which fate would meet these boys. Walter stood behind me, shifting his weight in the gravel, eyes on me, on the agents, on our car. I felt a light tap on my shoulder. ‘Tell them they’re our brothers,’ he said. Dijo que ustedes son nuestros hermanos. The boys looked at their feet. The first prodded his sanitized scars with mud-encrusted fingers. ‘Tell them… tell them…’ we didn’t know what to tell them. I drove the next leg. The road stretched ahead of us, endless, squirming in the noon heat. We counted the Border Patrol vehicles aloud as they sailed by. ‘They’re thick as thieves today,’ said Walter, clamping a cigarette between two long fingers and patting his shirt pocket for a lighter. I managed a smile. We were setting out gallon jugs of water on a trail, nesting them between the dusty rocks of a dry riverbed, when a man burst out of the foliage and cheerfully strode up to us. ‘Hi, good morning,’ he said in perfect, accent-less English. He was sweating through his black shirt, and eagerly shed his pack. He grinned at Walter and me as we blinked and stared. We shook hands, exchanged names. Walter. Alice. Ramón. We refilled his nearempty jug. Between sips, he explained that he had been living in Phoenix with his wife, a U.S. citizen, for 22 years. One day, leaving work, he was asked for papers, arrested and immediately deported. His wife was hysterical when he finally called her, days later, from Mexico. Now he was making his way back to her, facing the desert’s cruelty alone because he couldn’t afford a guide. We gave him water, food, fresh socks for his raw and blistered feet, several tablets of ibuprofen. Walter knew of an unofficial safehouse in a small town just nine miles north, a trailer owned by a sympathetic rancher where migrants could spend the night before facing the next phase of their journey. He pointed it out to the man on a map, told him
the name of the woman to ask for when he arrived in the town. Ramón nodded, frowned, started to speak then bit his lip. We waited. Finally: ‘Could you drop me there?’ Walter sighed, put a hand on Ramón’s shoulder. The creases in his face seemed to deepen. ‘We can’t. We can give you everything but a ride.’ I pulled Walter aside. ‘It’s just nine miles,’ I hissed. ‘Honey, if we were caught… ’ he took off his glasses and rubbed them with the hem of his shirt. ‘You and I would go straight to jail, to begin with.’ ‘I don’t care!’ My skin burned. Each muscle in my face tensed and strained. ‘Well, the Samaritans would be shut down. Do you care about that? We’d be called human smugglers. Discredited. Then we couldn’t help anyone.’ We looked over at Ramón. He sat on a rock, round face tilted skywards, eyes closed. Walter took one of my hands in both of his and lowered his voice to a whisper. ‘He’ll make it. I know he will. He’s healthy. He has plenty of water. His English is wonderful. He’s just nine miles from the safehouse.’ The desert swam around me. I could feel its heat rising through my sneakers, crawling up my legs, pumping through my blood. Walter watched my contorted face. I breathed slowly several times, then nodded. I approached the man. Sat beside him. Tried to explain. He nodded, expressionless, then asked me to call his wife – to tell her that I saw him, that he was okay, that he’d call as soon as he made it to a city. He recited her number. I scribbled it down and promised I would call. In Spanish, I wished him good luck. We stopped in the tiny desert town of Arivaca. Walter ran in to use the toilet and I took the slip of paper out of my pocket, ran a finger over the ten tiny digits. I took a deep breath, letting the hot air rush through my lips and swell my abdomen. I dialled. The ringing bleated in my ear. ‘Aló?’ Tripping over my words, I
explained who I was, my encounter with her husband. Concentrating on making my adjectives and nouns agree, I relayed his message to her. I lamely listed all we had given him: water, food, medicine, advice. My bumbling monologue met staticcharged silence. Then, evenly, she asked where we lived. When I told her the Samaritans work out of Tucson her voice became lower and more metallic. ‘And you couldn’t have driven him there? You left him? You left him in the desert?’ I began reciting all the reasons Walter had just given me, but now they sounded not only flimsy but insulting and cold. I trailed off, unable to explain to this woman I’d never meet why we had made the conscious decision to abandon her husband to the violent whims of the Sonoran desert. ‘I feel it so much,’ I pleaded. Another long silence. Her voice returned, dull and hollow, to thank me for my time. I took a long shower that night, letting the hot water pelt my tender, sunburned skin. I leaned my forehead against the slick tiles and shook with sobs. I clawed at myself with words. Coward. Murderer. I had left the house that morning proud to be a law-abiding citizen and an objective reporter, and returned ashamed to be either. All the clear demarcations of my life – legal and illegal acts, right and wrong, balanced and biased – had become blurred in the desert heat. For weeks after, it took effort to smile, to bear up my end of a conversation. I spent a lot of time alone. I pushed food around my plate. In perfectly average, pleasant situations, I struggled not to cry. But I couldn’t sustain my mourning forever. My program ended, and I left Tucson soon after. The physical distance helped me put the desert behind me and move forward in other activist work. I didn’t confront that day until almost exactly a year later, and now, as I attempt to make sense of it, I realise what I’ve lost: the names of the young boys, exactly what Walter said to console me, the
precise crossroads and highways and natural landmarks that mapped out our trip. The details have slipped through my fingers. The hot desert winds have blown them away. What I haven’t lost is the outrage, the grief, the paralysing helplessness combined with a fire to do something, anything. I’ll never know if that man made it out of the desert and into his wife’s anxious embrace. A lot can happen in nine miles. The desert didn’t leave me any tougher. In fact, I cry more easily now. Long after I thought I was ‘over’ what happened that day, I was asked to speak about my time on the border to a university immigration class. Halfway through recounting my last Samaritans trip, my voice broke, my face crumpled, and I had to excuse myself from the room. I called Walter in tears, closed my eyes as his voice – with its comforting, beard-like rasp – told me how important it is for people far from the border to see my pain, as it brings immediacy to the issue. I felt his smile through the phone. ‘Keep doing what you are doing, my dear, and let the tears flow.’ I did. I joined the Samaritans to be able to write with more nuance on immigration, not knowing I would be pulled, against my will, into the narrative. That day, everything shifted from neat blackand-white to murky and grey. My studies and reportage had not prepared me for Ramón’s face as we flipped on the air conditioning and pulled away, for his wife’s steely voice in my ear. As painful as it is to return to that time and place, I continue to think about Ramón – about all the Ramóns in the Sonoran desert. I still communicate with Walter, though I haven’t seen him since that day. He talks about moving on, letting go, but I can’t let go of the moment that – more than any other – motivates me to strive for a world where the work of the Samaritans isn’t necessary, where no one has to cross a deadly desert in order to eat, work, live or love.
Artwork by Elli Graham
By Zoe Fiander
The mould has soft and furry pads which creep, extraterrestrial, with cautious grace along the length of my coffee cup, which remains half-empty. Five days have passed. The colours change, from blue, chameleon-like, to greenish-grey and then back to a bluish, cheesy grey. If you were here, you’d have rushed it away. Now I know that the mould is unsightly: a blight on the bright white of my coffee cup. And I know that the cup is unsightly, stacked in a congregation on the dresser, where more will pile up–
but I’m glued to the bed with consternation. Without you here, who is going to do the washing up?
PART DETECTIVE STORY, PART MECHANICAL HISTORY
Still Operational Text and Photos by Elli Graham
At first glance, my grandfather’s garden in Cyprus appears to be filled with nothing but useless rubbish. This was my impression from the upward-tilted view of shorter days. Out of my grandparents’ turbulent marriage, my grandfather had gained custody of the part of the garden down near the orchard. It seemed like every bit of machine or electrical fitting produced before 1980 had been collected there. Piles of spanners and wrenches, cardboard boxes and straw furniture, unidentifiable shapes of wood and metal, and hundreds of tobacco tins filled with screws were all exhibited on tables or in the shed. I was 48 afraid to investigate anything too much
(nervous that the two-pronged plugs hanging by their leads might suddenly fall on me). But whenever I moved anything, he always knew. This indicated that every single perplexing, misshapen artefact had a particular use and that he knew exactly what it was. Since then, my grandfather has inherited my grandmother’s parts of the house. He has moved into her rooms and subcontracted his fields to workers who come, pick lemons, and leave. In an effort to get him out of the house and back into the garden, we plead ignorance to the whereabouts of the old barbeque. It’s Easter, and in Cyprus you cook lamb over
charcoal. It takes five people combing the shed and surrounding locality, and the pieces turn up one by one; the tray, the legs, the spits, the electric rotator, after some trouble with the batteries and speculation that the whole thing may have been lent to a cousin. My grandfather is standing underneath it when my nosey brother decides to ask about a particular artefact. A coral red-painted wheel with flaking wooden spokes is posted on top of a pole supporting an elderly grape vine. ‘What is that?’ (We are seventeen and twenty-one, but our Greek is still primary school-level.) He explains about the wheel, but I can’t understand it all. My grandfather speaks in a Cypriot village dialect that was derided and summarily corrected at my west London Greek school, and it’s Good Friday, so the bells in the imposing church next door are clanging obnoxiously. I ask my dad about it. ‘He says it’s an old Nash car wheel, but I’m sure he once told me it was
Lancaster.’ ‘Are they the same manufacturer?’ ‘No, one was American and the other was British.’ Later, in the stainless and wireless enabled modernity of my aunt’s kitchen, we scrutinise black and white photographs on the historical archive website of the Nash Car Club of America,
trying to match the shape of the grainy images to the wheel we saw in the garden. ‘Did it have eight spokes or twelve?’ ‘Those are metal; I think the wood came in later.’ ‘It might be that one, but you can’t see the axel.’ We save some photographic evidence to present at lunch on Easter Sunday. Anything that facilitates a conversation with my generally stoic grandfather is worth pursuing. Avoiding the keyboard, he puts on his glasses and peers at the screen of my laptop. ‘Yes, this one.’ It’s irrefutable. ‘Exactly like that.’ The image displays something that’s not really a car, but more of an automobile, one of those that has the shape and air of a horse-drawn carriage. It has black quilted cushions like on old trams, wheels with wooden spokes, tires made out of solid rubber, and no steering wheel, only a long joystick like in airplane cockpits. Pointing to the wheel on the screen, 50 he explains how one just like it came to be in the garden. He says he remembers this exact wheel shape because his uncle (born 1894) sold his horse-drawn wagon to buy a Nash truck. In summer, the air would get so hot and dry that the wooden spokes in the wheels would shrink, and they had to carry around a bucket of water to throw on them and make them swell up again. In the 1950s, when my grandfather began working for the Cypriot forestry department, he recognised one of these wheels on a wheelbarrow that was used to move young plants and trees around in the nursery. Maybe someone in the department before him had owned a Nash model from before 1906 (when they started using metal spokes and inflatable tires). Wherever they had come from, someone had stripped the wheels and used them for the wheelbarrow. When my grandfather found it, it was abandoned
in the forest. But he had always been mechanically-minded, someone who can build things and understand their secret sequences. He recognised that the wheels were American models and knew that they were old and well made. So he used an oxyacetylene cutting torch to cut the axel and pilfered one to take back to his garden. Now it’s posted on top of a metal pole like a wind chime or a dream-catcher. He used to put up a ladder so that his nephews could reach up and turn it. Something inside the metal centre has rusted off so that when spun, it makes a rattling sound. It’s been a long time since he’s spoken so much. Over coffee, we ask questions and pronounce it all to be ‘very interesting.’ ‘Well,’ he shrugs, ‘only interesting for people who are interested by machines.’ I suppose that’s true. I must have looked at the red wheel hundreds of times and never given it a second thought. But it’s older even than my grandfather, and during its life, it has had at least three jobs, as part of an automobile, probably initially a status-giving rarity, then on a wheelbarrow taking young trees to replant burnt forests, and now as a very particular historical curiosity and occasional child amusement. It’s an achievement, to have had all those responsibilities and still lasted this long. The ball bearings must still work, because it still turns smoothly and has never been oiled.
will soon graduate Oberlin College with a major in Latin American Studies. Last spring, she spent a semester on the U.S./Mexico border researching the media’s treatment of immigration. She has published many pieces about border issues in Spanish and English newspapers.
hopes both to emerge this autumn older, wiser and relatively unscathed from her Masters in Law and Anthropology and also maybe even to grow up one day.
looks too young and feels too old. She faces backwards watching chances gone by and can’t see them coming. Maybe she’ll turn around soon but for now she’s too much of a coward.
doesn’t know what he’ s doing in life. After studying no less than six diff erent course combin ations at undergraduate level, he finally completed a degree in Literature last year. He now attends the LSE but for how long is anyone’s guess…
is final year photography student at the Fashio n Institute of Technology in NYC. A majority of her work is based in and around the Jersey Shore where she grew up.
is a freelance illustrator based in South West England. Jack leads a very interesting life and works from a small studio on a farm. Once he saw a rabbit. (www.jackteagle.co.uk)
is a graduate of Richmond, the American International University in London and currently studying Philosophy of the Social Sciences in the Department of Philosophy, Logic and Scientific Method at the London School of Economics. He lives in New Jersey with his dog, Jenny.
LSE doing Law and Anthropology. is a London girl who somehow ended up in ing. doodl scatty, wears silly clothes and loves
is a former Goog le employee fro m India who is using whatever studying Media artistic abilities at the LSE. She to make sense writing about pe is keen on of the world an ople, culture, ph d herself in it. Sh ilosophy, spiritu these. e enjoys ality and travel and interactions between
is a Scotland-based illustrator and street artist currently stud ying a BA (hons) in Illustration work is mainly inspired by his at DOJ College of Art. His surroundings, drawing inspirati on from found objects, people, noises, and memories.
is a young illustrator currently living in the West Midlands. He is a self confessed doodler who loves creating simple fun illustratio ns inspired by his eclectic interests and colle ctions.
is a sporadic student, artist and procrastinato r. persistent pessimist pretty flowers on trees. and introvert. dislikes always irrational. studyi pacha. likes ng the problem of sca and rational behaviour rcity and resources at . LSE. oh,
is a third year Social Anthropology stude nt at the LSE. She has an interest in the fine arts, design and photography.
hails from th e Jersey Shor e. Her two ye have taught ars at the LSE her that it’s al l relative. She Web Editor at is the curren Clare. t
prefers words to numbers, even when the number facilitates the word. Nonetheless, she often finds herself counting: tube stops, adjectives, the number of words in ‘about me’ write-ups.
fighting the ated from LSE in 2008 having spent three years currently works in legal publishing and gradu y. poetr to e anyon drive to h law (the law won). She reckons that’s enoug
titute, having t at the LSE’s European Ins is a postgraduate studen e. uat Literature as an undergrad
Published on May 7, 2010