Inner-city living builds for healthier, happier people, study determines

One week ago

Residents of higher-density areas are more active, more socially engaged and less obese than people who live in the sprawl of suburbia

Contrary to popular belief, busy city centres beat suburban living when it is necessary to human wellbeing, as socialising and walking make for happier, healthier people, according to a new report.

Downtown residents- packed together in tight row houses or apartment blocks- become active and socially engaged than people who live in the sprawl of suburbia, according to a report that aims to challenge popular beliefs about city life.

Its authors said their findings should encourage legislators to promote the benefits of built-up city living.

” If we can persuade policy makers that this is a public health possibility, we can construct well-designed communities, and in the long term you have made a big difference in the area of health outcomes ,” its co-author Chinmoy Sarkar told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

” With evidence, we can scheme multi-functional, attractive neighborhoods that promote physical activity, promote social interaction, and shield from negatives such as pollution and impression unsafe .”

The examine- by Oxford University and the University of Hong Kong( UHK)- showed that in 22 British cities people living in built-up residential area had lower levels of obesity and exercised more than residents in scattered, suburban homes.

” As cities get more and more compact, they become more walkable. In denser residential areas they are better designed and most attractive destinations. We are less dependent on our automobiles and use public transport more ,” he said.

Sarkar, assistant prof at UHK, said policies and planning needed to catch up with the data, rather than relying on urban myths about what attains cities work.

The study showed that areas of suburban sprawl with about 18 homes per hectare- such as poorly designed neighborhoods near motorways, where driving is the only option- had the greatest rates of obesity and lowest rates of exercise.

Suburban areas with few homes- often privileged communities with big gardens and open spaces- were healthier than this but lagged behind the most densely populated areas in inner cities.

Walking constructed the biggest change, said Sarkar, and social interaction and physical activity flourished best in compact communities.

The analyse compared more than 400,000 residents of cities- including London, Glasgow, and Cardiff- and procured the best health came in areas with more than 32 homes per hectare, the average density for new building in Britain.

This level, typical of developments of standalone semi-detached suburban homes, is less than a one-quarter of the density of Georgian terraces of London’s desirable Islington and Notting Hill neighbourhoods.

Sarkar called into question British policies- such as statutes to curtail suburban homes from dividing their plots and filling in more homes in gardens- which have sought to preserve suburbia’s open and emptier spaces.

In January the government announced it would construct 17 new towns and villages across the countryside in a bid to ease a chronic housing shortage. But Sarkar said policy makers should think again before building on green fields.

Despite spiralling home costs and government targets to build a million homes by 2020, Britain’s restrictive scheming system has prevented high-density, urban planning due to fears that it would lead to high-rise, low-quality blocks of flats, according to a government paper released in February.

London remains one of Europe’s most sparsely populated major cities, with less than half the density of Madrid, Barcelona and Paris, and below the level of Milan, Berlin and Rome.

The paper recommended local authorities to reverse their long-standing opposition to built-up residential areas by highlighting London’s mansion blocks and terraced streets, all of which promote a strong sense of neighbourhood.

On Wednesday the prime minister, Theresa May, said the government would give PS2bn( US $2.6 bn) to local government authorities to build 25,000 homes for rental in the social housing sector, which urgently requires new properties.

The the administration has invest a further PS10bn in a strategy that aims to boost home ownership by helping people buy a new-build home with only a small deposit.

Read more: www.theguardian.com

India court bans Islamic instant divorce in huge win for women’s rights

1 month, 4 days ago

Controversial practice of triple talaq, which permits humen to dissolve weddings instantly, declared unconstitutional

An Islamic practice permitting humen to instantly divorce their wives has been proclaimed unconstitutional by India’s supreme court after decades of campaigning by women’s groups and victims.

The” triple talaq” has allowed Muslim men to dissolve weddings by pronouncing the word “divorce” three times.

The supreme court in Delhi took up the issue last year in response to a petition from seven victims and women’s groups. A majority of the bench proclaimed on Wednesday that triple talaq was ” not integral to religious practice and violates constitutional morality “.

Campaigners hailed the supreme court’s 3-2 decision as a huge victory for India’s 90 million Muslim women.

” It’s a very happy day for us. It’s an historical day ,” said Zakia Soman, the co-founder of the Bharatiya Muslim Mahila Andolan( BMMA ), an activist group that was party to the legal battle.

” We, the Muslim women, are entitled to justice from the courts as well as the legislature .”

The Indian prime minister, Narendra Modi, also welcomed the verdict 😛 TAGEND

Narendra Modi (@ narendramodi)

Judgment of the Hon’ble SC on Triple Talaq is historic. It awards equality to Muslim women and is a powerful measure for women empowerment.

August 22, 2017

A national survey conducted in 2015 by the BMMA saw roughly 1 in 11 Muslim females were survivors of triple talaq, the vast majority receiving no alimony or compensation.

Clerics had also started recognising instant divorces where the word “talaq” had been texted or emailed.

Arshiya Ismail did not even hear her husband utter the words. She told the Guardian last year:” One day, suddenly, he told me he had given me talaq. He said:’ I gave it to you four days earlier .'”

She has spent the past six years trying to have the Islamic divorce overturned so that she can leave her husband under India’s more progressive secular statutes, which entitles her to one-third of his salary to subsistence herself and their child.

” It’s wonderful news, I’m so emotional about it ,” Ismail said on Tuesday.” Basically my wedding still stands as per the supreme court. I was hoping for it but I still had my doubts .”

Triple talaq has been criticised even among hardline Muslim schools and was already banned in Pakistan, Bangladesh and across much of the Islamic world.

It persisted in India because the country’s Muslim, Hindu and Christian communities are permitted to follow religion law in personal matters such as marriage, divorce, inheritance and adoption.

Progressive Muslim women’s groups say Islamic religious authorities- uniformly male- have been resistant to give up men’s power to instantly leave their wives.

India’s Muslim community is also generally poorer and less educated than others, which activists say has built it harder for women to mount legal and social campaigns against the practice.

Islamic leaders have also warned that meddling with Muslim personal statutes may watch them one day dismantled altogether, in favour of a uniform civil code they are afraid would be Hindu-inflected and ride roughshod over their beliefs.

Modi’s Hindu nationalist government, whose party have all along pushed for a uniform civil code, had backed the petitioners in the case.

Each of the five supreme court judges belonged to one of India’s main faiths- Hinduism, Christianity, Islam, Sikhism and Zoroastrianism. The majority opinion said it was ” manifestly arbitrary” to allow a spouse to” break down[ a] wedding whimsically and capriciously “.

The All India Muslim Personal Law Board, a peak body of Islamic organisations, had said it considered triple talaq but argued against the supreme court interfering in religious law.

Nonetheless, Kamal Faruqui, a member of the board, said he considered the decision as a victory.

” It upholds the rights of Muslims and other minorities to follow their own personal laws ,” he said.

” There are just a few voices in the country that wanted to bring in a uniform civil code for all religious faiths, but the supreme court magistrates said a few weeks ago that they would look only at triple talaq , not at other customs. So Muslim personal statute has been protected by the ruling .”

Noor Jehan, another member of the BMMA, said she had celebrated the verdict in her office with sweets and soft drinks, but would begin lobbying for a more progressive Islamic divorce law.

” It is a historic victory for Muslim women, something we have been working for for 10 years ,” she said.” It is going to give immense relief to females but we need to pass a law soon. Our organisation has already prepared a draft law which we will send to the government .”

Additional reporting by Amrit Dhillon

Read more: www.theguardian.com

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie: ‘Can people please stop telling me feminism is hot? ‘

1 month, 11 days ago

The novelist has been accused of making equality mainstream: isnt that the phase? Plus an excerpt from her new Feminist Manifesto In Fifteen Suggestions

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie was in Lagos last summer, teaching a writing workshop as part of an annual schedule that considers her period divided between Nigeria and the US. For much of the year, Adichie lives in a town 30 minutes west of Baltimore, where her Nigerian-American spouse runs as a medic and the 39 -year-old writes in the quiet of a suburban home. When Adichie is in Nigeria, where her parents and extended family still live, she has a house in the vast city she considers with the complicated love and condescension of the part-time expat.

Its an ambivalence with which many Nigerians regard her, too; last year, the workshop ended in a question-and-answer session, during which a young man rose to ask the famous novelist a question. I used to love you, she recalls him saying. Ive read all your volumes. But since you started this whole feminism thing, and since you started to talk about this gay thing, Im simply not sure about you any more. How do you intend to keep the love of people like me?

Adichie and I are in a coffee shop near her home in the Baltimore suburbs. We have met before, a few years ago, when her third novel Americanah was published, a book that examines what it is to be a Nigerian woman living in the US, and that went on to win a National Book Critics Circle award. A plenty has happened since then. Half Of A Yellow Sun, Adichies second and most well known novel, about the Biafran war, has been built into a film starring Chiwetel Ejiofor and Thandie Newton. Her essay, We Should All Be Feminists, accommodated from her 2013 TEDx talk, has remained on the bestseller listings, particularly in Sweden, where in 2015 it was distributed to every 16 -year-old high-school student in the land. The talk was sampled by Beyonc in her ballad Flawless. Adichie has become the face of Boots No7 makeup. And she has had a baby, a daughter , now 15 months old.

Adichie is still somewhat in the blast zone , not entirely caught up on sleep, but has published a short book, Dear Ijeawele, Or A Feminist Manifesto In Fifteen Suggestions, an extended version of a letter to a friend who, after having her own baby girl, asked Adichies advice on how to raise her to be feminist. I have had twin girls myself since our last meeting, so I am curious about her approach , not least because one of my two-year-olds currently identifies as Bob the Builder and the other as Penelope Pitstop. I would like to equip them to be themselves, while defying whatever projections might be foisted upon them. We depict each other baby photos and smile. Welcome to the world of anxiety, Adichie says.

The success of We Should All Be Feminists has attained Adichie as prominent for her feminism as for her novels, to the extent that now I get invited to every damned feminist thing in countries around the world. She has always been an agony aunt of sorts, the unpaid therapist for my family and friends, but having the feminist label attached has changed things, and not only among her intimates. I was opened to a certain level of enmity that I hadnt experienced before as a novelist and public figure.

This is partly why she has written the new volume, to reclaim the word feminism from its abusers and misusers, a category within which she would include certain other progressives, and to lay down in plain, elegant English her beliefs about child-raising.

Dear Ijeawele is, in some way, a very basic situated of appeals; to be careful with speech( never say because you are a girl ), avoid gendered dolls, foster read, dont treat marriage as an accomplishment, reject likability. Her chore is not to induce herself likable, her job must therefore be her full self, she writes in reference to her friends daughter, a selection Adichie has come to elevate almost above any other.

That day in Lagos last summertime, her friends were furious at the cheek of the young mans topic, but she instead liked his courage and franknes in asking it. She replied in the same spirit. Keep your love, Adichie said. Because, sadly, while I love to be loved, I will not accept your love if it comes with these conditions.

Having a newborn has built Adichie believe differently about her own parents, especially her mother. Grace Adichie, who had six “childrens and” worked her way up from being a university administrator to the registrar, taught her daughter to love manner as well as volumes, and was a very cool mum whom she idolised as small children. Nonetheless, and in the manner of most snotty young adults, young Chimamanda went through a phase of being very superior to her mom. Now, the novelist looks at her daughter and gulps.

Adichie recently came across her own kindergarten reports. My father keeps them all. You know what the educator wrote? She is brilliant, but she refuses to do any run when shes rile. I was five years old. She laughs. I couldnt believe it. My husband couldnt believe it. I must have been an riling child.

Its not as if she comes from a family of revolutionaries. My mothers are not like that. Theyre conventional, reasonable, responsible, good, kind people. Im the crazy. But their love and subsistence made that crazy thrive.

Unlike Adichie, who was raised exclusively in Nigeria, her daughter will be raised in two cultures and subject to somewhat diverging social expectations. Already, Adichie says with a laugh, friends and relatives from home are concerned that her mothering is insufficiently stern.

A friend was just visiting and she said to me, Your parenting is not very Nigerian. In Nigeria and, I suppose, in many cultures you control children. And I feel like, my daughter is 15 months, she doesnt have a sense of consequences. And I enjoy watching her. So she tears a page of a volume? Whatever. She hurls my shoes down. So? Its fun. I love that shes quite strong-willed. The joke between Adichie and her husband whom, to her intense aggravation, their daughter looks much more like is that her character cleaves to the maternal side. He says to me, Well, at least we know where she got her personality from. Shes quite fierce.

In the new book, Adichies advice is not just to provide children with alternatives to empower boys and girls to understand there is no single style to be but also to understand that the only universal in this world is difference. In terms of the evolution of feminism, these are not new lessons, but that is rather Adichies phase. She is not writing for other feminist writers, and demonstrates some annoyance at what she sees as the solipsism of much feminist debate.

That morning, on the way to see her, I had read a review of a new volume by Jessa Crispin, entitled Why I Am Not A Feminist: A Feminist Manifesto, a criticism of everything that is wrong with feminism today. If one can get over the eye-rolling aspect of volumes by feminists decrying the feminism of other feminists for degrading the word feminist by being insufficiently feminist, the book does raise questions about where 1 should be focusing ones efforts.

Chiara
Fashion blogger Chiara Ferragni wears Adichies Dior T-shirt during Paris fashion week, January 2017. Photograph: Edward Berthelot/ Getty Images

The proposition is that feminism has become so mainstream as to be an empty marketing tool, a mere motto on a container or a T-shirt. Without being named, Adichie is implicated in this critique, given that last year she collaborated with Christian Dior on a T-shirt bearing the line We Should All Be Feminists; depending on ones view, this is either a perfect example of pointless sloganeering or a brilliant piece of preaching to the unconverted.

Im already irritated, Adichie says. This idea of feminism as a party to which merely a select few people get to come: this is why so many girls, particularly women of colour, feel alienated from mainstream western academic feminism. Because, dont we want it to be mainstream? For me, feminism is a movement for which the end goal is to make itself no longer needed. I suppose academic feminism is interesting in that it can give a language to things, but Im not terribly interested in debating words. I want people marriages to change for the better. I want females to walk into job interviews and be treated the same way as somebody who has a penis.

Still, one can see a theoretical obscenity about the Dior collaboration: the words of a movement that should be concerned with helping low-income females, used to promote and make money for a wealthy company. On the other hand: what is the damage?

Yes: whats the damage? Adichie says. I would even argue about the theoretically obscene. Theres a kind of self-righteousness to the ultra-left that is hard for me to stomach. Its approach to poverty can sometimes border on condescension. I often think that people who write a lot about poverty need to go and spend more time with poor people. I think about Nigerian women who can hardly afford anything but who love fashion. They have no fund, but they work it.

Adichie mentions a TV soap opera that used to run in Nigeria called The Rich Also Cry, a terrible drama series, she says, that was very popular. But sometimes I think about that title. So, the creative director of Christian Dior is patently a woman of some privilege. But does it then mean that she doesnt have gender-based problems in their own lives? Because she does. Does it mean she doesnt have this magnificent rage about gender injustice? Because she does. Wanting to utilize that slogan was it going to make the world a better place? No. But I think theres a level of consciousness-raising and a level of subversion that I like.

She doesnt believe it was a cynical marketing ploy? No. Sorry. Feminism is not that hot. I can tell you I would sell more volumes in Nigeria if I stopped and said Im no longer a feminist. I would have a stronger following, I would make more money. So when people say, Oh, feminisms a marketing gambit, it makes me laugh.

The bigger issue here is one of scope. Adichies irritation with aspects of what she supposes of as professional feminism is that it runs counter to her ideas as a novelist: that people contain multitudes. She is a brilliant novelist and a serious thinker, and she is also someone who constructs no apology for her own trivial interests. Life doesnt always follow ideology, she says. You might believe in certain things and life gets in and things just become messy. You know? I think thats the space that fiction, and having a bit more of an imaginative approach, builds. And that the feminist speaking circuit doesnt really make room for.

There is much in the new volume about doubled standards, including those governing the images of motherhood and fatherhood. I think we need to stop giving men cookies for doing what they should do, she says, and goes on to explain that her husband, who needs less sleep than her, tends to get up in the night to tend to the baby. On the one hand, I realise that my husband is unusual; on the other, I feel resentful when hes overpraised by my family and friends. Hes like Jesus.

He probably senses shes about to go off the deep end, I indicate, and Adichie smiles to acknowledge how impossible she is. I did all the physical work to produce her! Theres something basically wrong with the way weve constructed what it means to be female in the world.

Chimamanda
Photograph: Stephen Voss for the Guardian

This is something she writes about in a lovely passage of the new book about hair. As a child, Adichie and her sisters and every other girl she knew were routinely tortured with a metal comb to subdue their hair, something her brethren were spared. Im glad I wrote that, Adichie says. We had just come back from Lagos and my sister, God blesses her, had already had a talk with me about my daughters hair. She said, You need to do anything about it. With my family, theres an eye-roll and a here-we-go-again with her, and she said to me, Do you want me to send you a decide of combs? And I was like, No, thank you. And I know its going to keep pas. But , no, Im not going to conform in that style. Im not going to have my child go across pain because society expects a certain neatness. It happened to me, its not going to happen to her. And Im ready to have all the battles I need to have.

The original letter on which Dear Ijeawele is based has been shared on Facebook, and while Adichie was in Lagos, a woman whod read it approached her in a store and said, Heres my daughter, look at her hair. She had very loose cornrows that were not neat according to Nigerians. And she said, You inspired that. My daughter is happier, Im happier. And do you know, it was the highlighting of my month.

This is not just a question of image. It is also about time. Women have less day than men, in almost every arena, because their responsibilities to look or act a certain style are more onerous.

It is one of Adichies bugbears that as someone who loves style, she is by default not taken seriously. When Boots approached her to be the face of its No7 makeup range, she said yes, because she thought it might be fun; in the end, she says, it became vaguely alarming. I have no sadness, but you wake up one day and think, what the hell have I done? There were too many of these scenes everywhere. Her phase, however, is that its not that Im a feminist and made a strategic choice to speak about makeup and manner. Its that I was raised by Grace Adichie in a culture in which you care about how you look. Its a part of me I once concealed, because I felt that I had to to be serious. Now, Im only being who I am.

Recently, Adichies identity has been tested under new ways. I wonder if she is less has an impact on President Trump than an American, on the basis that she is less invested in the American story. Quite the contrary, she says. Because theres a part of me that needs a country I can think of as being one that largely works. Which is not a luxury that Nigeria can have. She laughs.

Someone said to me, Now that this is happening in the US, do “youre thinking about” moving back to Nigeria? And I believed , no, because its not any better there. I admire America. I dont think of myself as American Im not. So its not mine. But I admire it, and so theres a sense that this thing I built in my head, its been destroyed.

There is also, she says, something familiar about it all. American republic has never been tested. You might have disagreed ideologically with George W Bush, but he still kind of followed the rules. Here, it feels like Nigeria. It genuinely does. Its that feeling of political uncertainty that Im very familiar with, but not a impression I like. Its ugly. But even worse, because America is so powerful, and so much at the centre of the world, these things have consequences for everyone. Nigeria doesnt have that kind of reaching, so our problems remain our problems.

In January, Adichie and her husband joined the Womens March in DC. It was fleeting, and symbolic, she says, but it “ve given me” the smallest slice of hope. There are all of these people who seem to realise that America has changed by electing an unhinged person. On the other hand, theres a part of me thats very sceptical of too much sentimentality. I hope it translates into people organising and going out to vote.

Long before talking here penetrating the filter bubble, Adichie instinctively subscribed to rightwing blogs and newsletters. She was an early watcher of Fox News, until it became too unhinged and ridiculous. But she has carried on, because Im interested in ideological concerns and how people differ, and how we should build a society. Whats a welfare country? People who have less, are we responsible for them? I think we are. And I think I can make a selfish occurrence, which is apparently what appeals to people on the right. People on the left say we should do it because we should be kind. And people on the right think, Excuse me? But if you say to them, If these people dont get healthcare, they will go to the ER and your tax dollars will pay for it, suddenly they sit up.

Chimamanda
Adichie with her husband, Ivara Esege. Photo: DDAA/ ZOB/ Daniel Deme/ WENN

As a result of her reading, rightwing ideology is not something I think is evil, she says. Some. A bit. But, in general, I dont. I have friends who are good, kind people who are on the right. But Donald Trump is an exception. Its not an objection to a conservative, because I dont even think hes a conservative. My objection is an objection to chaos. Each time I turn on the news, Im holding my breath.

Trumps erosion of speech is one of the most frightening things about him, but even progressives, Adichie says, can be sloppy on this front. In response to her new book, a reporter emailed her the question: Why not humanism?( instead of feminism ). To which, she says, I thought, what part of the fucking volume did this person not read?

Its like the people who go around saying All Lives Matter, I say, in response to the Black Lives Matter movement. Right, which I find deeply offensive and very dishonest. Because we have to name something in order to fix it, which is why I insist on the word feminist or feminism.

This, she says, in spite of the fact that many of her friends, particularly black females, resist that word, because the history of feminism has been very white and has assumed girls meant white girls. Political debate in this country still does that. Theyll say, Women voted for … and then, Black people voted for … And I guess: Im black and a woman, so where do I fit in here?

As a result, Many of my friends who are not white will say, Im an intersectional feminist, or Im a womanist. And I have trouble with that word, because it has undertones of femininity as this mystical goddess-mother thing, which stimulates me uncomfortable. So we need a word. And my hope is we use feminism often enough that it starts to lose all the stigma and becomes this inclusive, diverse thing.

This is her goal and her defense, although she still doesnt find why she requires one. Her understanding of feminism is intertwined with her understanding that we all want to be more than one thing. And anyway, she repeats, Can people please stop telling me that feminism is hot? Because its not. Adichie looks excellently vexed. Honestly.

Beware feminism lite: an excerpt from Chimamanda Ngozi Adichies letter-turned-book, Dear Ijeawele

Be a full person. Motherhood is a glorious gift, but do not define yourself solely by it. You dont even have to love your job; you can simply love the confidence and self-fulfilment that come with doing and earning. Please reject the idea that motherhood and work are mutually exclusive. Our mothers worked full-time while we were growing up, and we turned out well at least you did; the jury is still out on me.

In these coming weeks of early motherhood, be kind to yourself. Ask for help. Expect to be helped. There is no such thing as a Superwoman. Parenting is about practise and love.

Give yourself room to fail. A new mom does not necessarily know how to pacify a crying newborn. Read volumes, seem things up on the internet, ask older parents, or just use trial and error. But, above all, take time for yourself. Nurture your own needs.

I have no interest in the debate about females doing it all, because it is a debate that assumes that caregiving and domestic work are singularly female domains, an idea that I strongly reject. Domestic run and caregiving should be gender-neutral, and we should be asking not whether a woman can do it all, but how best to support parents in their dual responsibilities at work and at home.

Chimamanda
Photograph: Stephen Voss for the Guardian

Beware the danger of what I call Feminism Lite; the idea of conditional female equality. Being a feminist is like being pregnant. You either are or you are not. You either believe in the full equality of men and women, or you do not.

Teach your daughter to question speech. A friend of mine says she will never call her daughter princess. The word is loaded with hypothesis, of a girls delicacy, of the prince who will come to save her. This friend favor angel and superstar. So decide the things you will not told me to your child. You know that Igbo joke, are applied to pester girls who are being childish What are you doing? Dont you know you are old enough to find a spouse? I used to say that often. But now I choose not to. I say, You are old enough to find a job. Because I do not believe that marriage is something we should teach young girls to aspire to.

Try not to use words like misogyny and patriarchy. We feminists can sometimes be too jargony. Teach her that if you criticise X in women but do not criticise X in humen, you do not have a problem with X, “youve got a problem” with women. For X please insert words like fury, ambition, loudness, stubbornness, coldness, ruthlessness.

Do you remember how we laughed and laughed at an abysmally written piece about me some years ago? The novelist had accused me of being angry, as though being angry were something to be ashamed of. Of course I am angry. I am angry about racism. I am angry about sexism. But I lately came to the realisation that I am angrier about sexism than I am about racism. Because in my rage about sexism, I often feel lonely. Because I love, and live among, many people who easily recognise race injustice but not gender injustice.

Teach your daughter to topic men who can have empathy for women only if they consider them as relational rather than as individual equal humen. Men who, when discussing rape, will say something like, If it were my daughter or wife or sister. Yet such humen do not need to imagine a male victim of crime as two brothers or son in order to feel empathy.

Teach her, too, to question the idea of women as a special species. I once heard an American politician, in his bid to show his support for women, speak of how women should be adored and championed a sentiment that is all too common. Tell her that girls dont need to be championed and venerated; they just need to be treated as equal human beings.

This is a condensed and edited extract from Dear Ijeawele, Or A Feminist Manifesto In Fifteen Suggestions, by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, published on Tuesday by Fourth estate at 10. To order a copy for 8.50, go to bookshop.theguardian.com

This article was amended on 4 March 2017. It originally referred to Lagos as Nigerias capital. This has now been corrected .

Read more: www.theguardian.com

I’m American and devastated. Why did we vote for Trump? | Mariella Frostrup

1 month, 15 days ago

One woman, frightened by her countrys results of the election, insures no chink of sunlight. Remember the millions, like you, trying to construct the world a better place, says Mariella Frostrup

The dilemma I am American; born, created and still living in New York City and I am, without exaggeration, devastated. I feel my country, in electing Donald Trump, has just been resulted down the road to extermination and mayhem. My disgrace, embarrassment, fear, rage, and sadness are unrelenting. I witnessed 9/11 from my school window as a adolescent, so I will never think of the US as a place of unending harmony or prosperity, but I cannot believe that so many people would allow this to happen.

I knocked on doorways, encouraged people to vote and donated money, but had I known the reality, I would have done much more. I know people in other countries are equally shocked, but do you have any wisdom to share? I would also like to tell those abroad that many of us here find this tragic and deep embarrassing( no one I know feels differently to me although I realise that is part of their own problems ).

Mariella replies My heart goes out to you. Many of us remain mortified by our nations recent political choices. We both live in countries that have experienced political shocks of a seismic nature in the past year and you are certainly not alone in your hopelessnes and embarrassment. That said, you cant take responsibility for the choices a nation makes any more than you can for a partner.

The best we can hope for is to try to understand why such selections were made and let that inform future dialogue. On the summer day we voted to leave the EU, plenty of us in the UK were as devastated as you are now, but period has encouraged a degree of sagacity. Pulling up the drawbridge to the UK has provided a salutary lesson to those on both sides, and neither seemed to be in step with voters. Believing youre the one in the right is no alternative to appreciating the concerns of others , no matter how alien their beliefs might feel.

Its a lesson as true in politics as it is in our personal lives. Being so convinced of the righteousness of your beliefs that you block your ears to opposing ideas is certainly not constructive. Never has the liberal left looked more out of step with the populist tune and I speak as a paid-up member of that fraternity. My belief and hope is that the referendum and election outcomes in both the UK and US respectively will animate us all out of our apathetic stupor. Weve been treading water for too long. Like partners in an unhappy marriage we needed things to hit rock bottom to force us out of our hapless ways.

The world as we know it has to change. It feels as though the divide between rich and poor hasnt been so pronounced since the Middle Ages. Along with our determination to claim whatever meagre bit of clay we consider our birthright, were becoming increasingly useless at the life skills essential to survival. My shameful Tv secret is that Im an Im a Celebrity viewer, a programme that are typically confirms my hypothesi that evolution is in retreat. Your future chairperson would have made a perfect contestant. I suspect you know how to light a fire, clean your socks and whip up a meal from basic ingredients, but that basic skill set is gradually attaining you part of a minority in the developed world.

Its a dangerous state of affairs. No wonder the proponents of dread are taking over. As a species we are scared witless and feel increasingly helpless about where we are heading. But instead of fuelling us to care better for our planet and its dwellers weve been wringing our hands and staring out the window.

Again, as in a relationship, its all too easy to identify where things are wrong and harder, but more constructive to identify where were getting it right. Our tally in attaining the world a better place is something we dont often add up. Instead our daily diet of failing is delivered through every media outlet, our excesses and brutalities writ big to capture the popular imagination. So its hard not to despair.

Read more: www.theguardian.com

How to talk to strangers: a guidebook to bridging what divides us

2 months, 8 days ago

The more we do to interact with people who arent like us, the better off well be in the face of hatred that has become so visible thanks to Donald Trump

We seem to have lost the capacity to live with our differences in peace. The complex lines that divide us are now exposed, and they run deeper than we believed from what we see as the most pressing issues facing the country, to our values, to our understanding of race, gender and liberty. In her concession speech, Hillary Clinton herself find: We are a far more divided society than we realized.

In the Seattle Times, Nicholas Confessore and Nick Corasanti described the electorate as unprecedentedly segregated socially and geographically: About half of Americans now live near people more politically like them than not, whether in conservative rural townships or sprawling liberal cities. Few Trump advocates report having close friends voting for Mrs Clinton. Many Clinton advocates are more likely to see Trump voters on television than in person.

Republicans and Democrats have always been on opposite sides of political and social fencings. Whats new, what might feel insurmountable, is the degree of difference. The gap has widened very quickly over the past two decades. Weve arrived at perhaps the most difficult moment in recent history: approximately half the electorate have voted into the presidency of the United States an openly bigoted, racist, xenophobic, sexist, sexual predator. Divisiveness exemplified in an authoritarian leader.

In the face of pervasive, violent hatred that has become so visible and so normalized, people are struggling with “what were doing”, how to take action.

Republicans
Republican and Democrat have always been on opposite sides of political and social fencings. Whats new is the degree of change. Photo: Julia Rothman

I want to suggest that many actions we can take is likely to be local: talking to the strangers we intersect routes with on the streets and sidewalks, in cafes and parks, stores and eateries. And the more we do this in places that require us to interact with people who arent like us, the very best.

People who arent like you and who you dont know exist for you only as categories. Abstractions. People who are different than you who you meet in physical space and talk with not at are individuals. The more we can have contact with people who arent like us, the more “weve been” challenged, invited, required to see them as humen, as specific people with a context. Hate breeds on seeing people as categories and abstractions.

When I say contact, I mean contact in person. Researchers at MIT found that our interactions in physical space with peers have a much more significant effect on our beliefs and sentiments than any other relationships, and more than our online lives. Physical interactions, researcher Alex Pentland wrote in Nautilus, are much better at changing sentiments than digital media and offer a greater opportunity of reaching consensus.

Researchers
Our interactions in physical space with peers have a much more significant effect on our beliefs and opinions than any other relationships. Photograph: Julia Rothman

Sociologists, policymakers and urban planners have long analyse and supported an idea called the contact hypothesis, which, at its most fundamental, says that increased positive contact with people who arent like you decreases racism. Researchers recently turned their attention to the negative interactions catalogued in contact hypothesis analyses and found that a significant factor had been overlooked. A negative interaction carries far more emotional weight than a positive one and tends to increase racism. It takes so much goodness between people to overcome negative experiences.

Nothing about what is going on right now supports the idea that anyone should devote anyone else the benefit of the doubt, and I dont advocate empathizing with tormentors and racists. But every time I nod or say hello to a stranger in the past few days and they return it, I know some human decency remains.

In our smallest positive interactions with strangers in passing, we experience something called fleeting intimacy. Thats a brief encounter that devotes us a momentary feeling of connectedness, of belonging. I think we need to start using our interactions with strangers to make what Ill call fleeting alliances . We need to do the things that make for mutual acknowledgement of our fundamental humanity the smiles and hellos and brief dialogues in which we recognize a stranger as a person. We also need to recognize a new dimension to these moments. We can show each other we are not filled with hate. We can show we are allies and we will protect each other.

Kio Stark is the author of When Strangers Meet .

Read more: www.theguardian.com

My midnight saunter with Ozzy Osbourne | Paul Rees

2 months, 18 days ago

When writer Paul Rees was invited to Christmas dinner chez the Osbournes, he didnt expect to end up outside with Ozzy and a pair of night-vision goggles

In 1994, I was invited to Christmas dinner at Ozzy Osbournes home. Stone enduring wild man was emerging from self-imposed retirement and his return to action had been marked by the launch of his official website. Ozzys wife and manager, Sharon, had arranged for the first 20 fans to visit it to gratify their hero at the couples rambling estate in Berkshire.

The formidable Sharon hired a fleet of caterers to serve turkey and trimmings in a candlelit dining room adorned with a towering Christmas tree. I was dispatched by Kerrang !~ ATAGEND magazine to document the festive tidings and arrived to find Ozzy in a mutinous mood. Within minutes he had convinced himself I was a waiter and aloud demanded that I be put to work. Ignore him, Sharon soothed, adding: Hes a daft old sod.

A series of comic episodes ensued as soon as the over-enthusiastic American guests pitched up. Gaggles of them roamed the house in search of keepsakes, with Ozzy stomping after them. Sharon! the Brummie boomed from a far-flung wing, Someones nicked the bog roll.

After dinner, I joined Ozzy in the library for our interview. Skittish at the best of periods, he set off at once on a ramble and wholly libellous discourse meant to out a score of his fellow stone starrings as homosexual. I asked him instead what he did for a hobby. His eyes widened and he leapt up. Ive a fan who is a colonel in the US Marine, he enthused, hurling open a cupboard, and he gave me these. He showed me two pairs of infra-red, night-vision goggles.

And so it came to pass that on a frigid Decembers night, Ozzy and I embarked upon a stroll around the woodland encircling his home. In the inky blackness we viewed one another in a luminous green light. Rain had turned the ground into a thick, viscous bog and I indicated we might incurs Sharons wrath by trailing mud across her carpets.

Bollocks to that, Ozzy trumpeted. He had a mission in intellect. He entailed for us to seek out his herd of fallow deer, which remained altogether elusive for the hour that we fumbled about. Ultimately, at 2am, as we stumbled around in a bog, Ozzy shrugged and concluded in a baleful voice: Fuck em, lets go home. That was the real Ozzy: funny and bonkers.

When We Were Lions ( 18.99, Aurum) by Paul Rees is out now. To order a transcript for 15.57 go to bookshop.theguardian.com

Read more: www.theguardian.com

What are humen to do in the age of Trump?

2 months, 19 days ago

Donald Trump represents far more than a setback for women. He also represents the failure of men to deal with their own questions of gender

Men: Period to Listen. So read a sign on the National Mall in Washington during the Womens March protesting against Donald Trump the day after his inauguration.

Now that the womens movement has become the spearhead of resistance to the Trump administration, a pressing question has emerged for half the population: what role, if any, are men to play in the crisis of gender politics that is inevitable over the course of the next four years?

The situation has, in one sense, simplified tremendously. The elaborate labyrinths of identity politics have disintegrated and left with basic questions of fundamental human decency. Trumps actions as chairwoman, more than his demeaning behaviour on the campaign trail, are intentionally maintaining females from power and attacking programs that promote their health, both in the US and globally. Feminism as humanism the very basic idea that females are people is now under threat. Any man who claims to possess a shared sense of humanity with women must stand with them.

The evidence has become too glaringly obvious. Who could exemplify more perfectly rape culture than a man who was elected president of the United States while boasting about sex predation? What more proof do you need that females face structural disadvantages in the performance of their duties lives than Hillary Clinton winning the popular referendum by virtually 3 million elections and still losing?

But Trump represents far more than a setback for women. He also represents the failure of men to deal with their own questions of gender.

Trump is new. He is not like the straight white males who came before him in the office of the presidency. He is a charade, a simulacrum of masculinity conjured by self-loathing and self-aggrandizement, a reflection of the tormented, contradictory state of contemporary men, the Red Pill constructed flesh.

Trump represents not masculinity in victory, but masculinity in decadence.

Two contradictory procedures are at work. One is the rise of women to predominance of the middle class; the other is the intractable continuation of male power at the top. Since 2000, girls have increased their workplace participation in most countries in the world. Across the OECD, the pay gap significantly decreased between 2000 and 2011. In the United States, the number of households led by women has been increasing since the 60 s and currently stands at around 40%.

At the same hour, girls are kept from the top postures. There are any number of ways to register this fact, from a comparing of the compensation for male and female movie stars, to the number of women who are full professors, to the scandalously few women who are equity partners in law firms.

These two contradictory tendencies create a world in which the relationship between gender and power is increasingly nonsensical. Masculinity remains emblematic of potency while it becomes, in daily experience, a condition of failure. In an essay for the Atlantic magazine two years ago, I described this turbulent contradiction as the hollow patriarchy. I can think of no purer icon of hollow patriarchy than Donald Trump.

The hollowing out of the patriarchy is set to increase. Trump has the most male cabinet since Reagan, and the decline of men in the middle class is going to continue no matter what that cabinet says or does. Two weeks after the election, Otto, the self-driving truck service lately purchased by Uber, successfully delivered 50,000 cans of Budweiser. Three and a half million truck driver are currently employed in the US, an overwhelmingly male cohort. A few weeks after that momentous journey, women became, for the first time, the majority of students enrolled in American statute schools. They now predominate post-secondary education. Men are not willing to take jobs that are not traditionally masculine. Women continue to enter humen fields.

Trump has emerged as a parody of masculinity and feminism is set back at the moment when the traditional male role of provider is about to vanish. This contradictory process is far from unprecedented. During the Reagan-Bush years, the pay gap shut from 64 cents to 77 pennies, a time in gender politics that Susan Faludi famously described as a backlash.

Feminism as we have known it since the second world war is insufficient to fight Trump because Trump does not simply represent the traditional patriarchy, against which females can oppose their own collective interests. His misogyny is not of that kind. The Republicans were offered more or less a complete array of traditionally patriarchal figures during the primaries. Jeb was old papa. Rubio was young papa. The Republican rejected them all for a human who possesses not a single traditional masculine virtue, a human who cannot even tie a tie-in without videotapeing it together at the back.

We have reached the point where the old conflicts, both intellectual and political, simply will not do any more. The incompleteness of the way we talk about gender is original and terminal. It is the inevitable result of thinking through gender by beginning and ending with the position of women.

Saying we need mens liberation is of course absurd look at Trumps cabinet. But men are literally preferring not to be providers rather than to take over womens work. This is disastrous for them, for women and for the wider economy. We cannot shape men until we have some kind of critical understanding of the mechanisms of masculinity. And simply put, we do not have that appreciation. The first alumnu program devoted to masculinity surveys in the US began in 2015.

There have been calls for men to join in the feminist movement from its beginning, with two main difficulties: the first is that feminism is inherently about girls. And so feminisms message to men has traditionally been pretty simple: behave better to girls. Gender analyses about masculinity are more or less totally subsumed in the question of mens relationships to females, rather than to themselves or one another. The humen at the womens march were defined by their relationships to females, too. They were there as parents, husbands, sons. Thats not enough.

The other problem is that humen do not talk explicitly about their own gender. Or instead they do talking here gender, but almost entirely under the encompas of talking about athletics and clothes. Traditional masculinity has been silent of the subject of itself because it presumed its dominance as an inalienable fact. Patriarchal masculinity believed itself to be an authentic norm; femininity was variable performance.

Trump induces such an attitude no longer feasible. He enacts his masculinity as a game of signs. His manliness is flamboyant and histrionic. Every human will be inundated for at the least four years with masculinity as a performance. There will be no conceal from the artificiality.

In that style, Trump represents an opportunity as well as a catastrophe. The single most shocking fact of the outcome of the 2016 election was just how little gender mattered to voters: 53% of white females voted for Trump and 63% of white humen. Trump took 33% of the male Latino vote and 26% of the female Latino vote.

Those facts, in themselves, reveal how far the way we talk about gender has deviated from its reality in American life. During a campaign stop for Hillary Clinton early in 2016, Madeleine Albright declared: Theres a special place in hell for women who dont assistance each other! a line that has appeared on Starbucks cups. Forty-two percent of American girls felt otherwise, as did 62% of non-college trained girls.

The sign I ensure at the Womens March Men: Hour to Listen was held up, somewhat inevitably, by a human. We need to listen. We need to listen to women. We need to listen to ourselves as well. I couldnt help thinking that there should have been a Mens March against Trump; he represents our failure after all. But who would organize it?

Gloria Steinem famously declared that womens liberation is likely to be mens freeing, too. Trump has clarified that the opposite women bondage, mens bondage is also applicable. It is men who need to say this is not us. But then we would have to think about who we are.

Stephen Marche is the author of the forthcoming The Unmade Bed: The Messy Truth about Men and Women in the Twentieth Century.

Read more: www.theguardian.com

The return of Memphis: how the 80 s design staple detected a new audience

3 months, 7 days ago

Once derided, the design style that specialized in squiggles and DayGlo colorings is the subject of a new series of exhibitions shedding light on a loved, loathed and often misunderstood movement

The Memphis Groups design style is unmistakable. The output of the short-lived, divisive design collective, which debuted at the Milan furniture fair in 1981 and shut shop six years later, personified the garish appeal of the decade that style forgot. Their furniture was colorful, kitschy and overstated. They stacked slanted rows of cheap plastic laminates and called it a bookshelf. The group led by founder Ettore Sottsass decided that geometric shapes attained great table legs, and that black-and-white stripes altogether worked with lemon-yellow circles.

Over the course of the 80 s, the signature clash of busy patterns and synthetic materials imbued every aspect of popular culture. From a young Karl Lagerfelds chic Monaco apartment to pale imitations in the form of screen-printed Esprit sweatshirts and MTV graphics Memphis was unavoidable. Back to the Future IIs vision of the millennium development goals was directly influenced by the group and their designs served as the inspiration for the Max diner from Saved By the Bell.

The Met Breuers new exhibition Ettore Sottsass: Design Radical cuts through the glare of 80 s DayGlo to focus on Memphis, the philosophy. It charts the movements origins through its founders 60 -year career, presenting Memphis not as a passing fad, but the culmination of one mans decades-long mission of creating a more spiritual approach to design. The Memphis Groups main goal was to create objects that appealed to you on an emotional level, says the Met Breuer curator Christian Larsen.

The
The cast of Saved by the Bell at the Max diner. Photograph: NBC/ NBC via Getty Images

Sottsass came of age in Italy during its postwar reconstruction, a period fertile for culture reinvention and rethinking of the human condition. In 1956, he worked briefly in New York under George Nelson, the poster child for modernisms slick rejection of decorative traditions in favor of rational, industrialized design. While in America, Sottsass was impressed by the technology of scale of mass production and its ability to provide for the entire population but he was also appalled by the sameness of suburbia. He was blown away by mass production, says Larsen. It was very democratic in a sense, but he found this culture of cookie-cutter suburban houses a bit too homogenous, and in the end, alienating.

In 1961, he traveled to India and got his worldview realigned( two years before his friend Allen Ginsberg and seven before the Beatles ). Theres a clear line to be drawn between Memphis pattern and the architecture of southern India, but it was the peoples wholly different posture towards material possessions that constructed the greatest impact on his work. People lived with objects not because of inherent monetary value or advanced technology, but because they represented something spiritual and ritualized, says Larsen. He starts to shift the conversation from production to the consumer, and what an object can bring to your life.

It wasnt until the 80 s that Sottsasss postmodern vision finally penetrated popular culture. In 1981, having recently parted styles with another radical Italian design group, Studio Alchimia, which was founded by his friend and rival Alessandro Mendini, Sottsass brought together a group of young designers whose international roster included future hotshots, among them Michele de Lucchi, Shiro Kuramata, Hans Hollein, and Michael Graves.( According to legend, he named the collective Memphis after a Bob Dylan song that had been skipping on the record player .)

Karl
Karl Lagerfeld with his Memphis designs Photograph: Jacques Schumacher

His new troupe had a rockstar sensibility about it, and shocked the design world when Memphis premiered its first collecting of clocks, lamps, tables and TVs at Milans annual furniture fair, Salone del Mobile. An effervescent, seductive and undeniably sympathetic group, it appalled some and amused others but set everyone attending the fair in a state of high excitement, the New York Times reported. Approaching the crowds that assembled outside the fair and queued to see the collectives work, Sottsass reportedly thought that a bomb had gone off.

For a freshly prosperous society primed to embrace high and low esthetics, garishness, synthetics and the melodrama of Miami Vice, Sottsass had finally detected the right audience. People were hungry for colouring again, says Marc Benda of Friedman Benda, a Manhattan gallery thats proven Sottsasss work since 2003. The party was short-lived. While Memphis triumphed culturally, its high prices and impractical forms failed commercially. Compared to the event itself, Memphis marketings were negligible, decorator Marco Zanini recalled in 1989. The simplest thing was to walk out and close it down. Sottsass left the group in 1985, and it officially disbanded in 1988. Karl Lagerfeld sold his collection at Sothebys in 1991, but despite some high profile fans such as Sofia Coppola, by the late 90 s Memphiss afterglow had faded.

Sottsass, however, had continued success. Before his death in 2007, his design consultancy, Sottsass Associati, completed a number of colorfully postmodernist architectural projects. He detested the idea of being recollected for Memphis. Memphis is a phenomenon that arose out of cultural and political necessities that are no longer, he said. There are moments when something happens, and then its over. Basta. But the groups impact is still felt today.

Peter
Peter Shire: Naked Is the Best Disguise at MOCA Pacific Design Center earlier this year Photograph: Zak Kelley/ MoCA

For the generations afterward, Sottsass attained it possible for young decorators to understand what emotional approach makes iconic design, according to Job Smeets, founder of the irreverent Antwerp-based Studio Job, whose work is included in the Met Breuer show as an illustration of Sottsasss legacy.

Memphis has regained its footing as a culture force in the last ten years, resurfacing as the apparent inspiration for a 2011 Christian Dior runway collection and a apparently endless supply of hip throw pillows, crop tops, and uncomfortable-looking chairs. In 2014, the former Memphis member Nathalie Du Pasquier was tapped to design an American Apparel collecting and this year her work inspired a furniture collecting for the US manufacturer West Elm. Alessandro Mendini, who contributed to the first Memphis show, designed a set of skateboards for the streetwear brand Supreme in 2016. Last November, Sothebys three-day auction of David Bowies Memphis collection built 1.3 m ($ 1.68 m ), and BMW made a series of cars celebrating the group.

Dedicated Instagram accounts have inhaled new life into Memphis for the committed fans and the curious, while exhibitions, including the Met Breuers and Peter Shires recent present at MoCA, mean Memphis is part of the contemporary conversation once again. I guessed Memphis may have died, says Larsen. It comes back into fashion every so often because it has that spirit of uprising and liberty. Its “ve been meaning to” shriek at you. It celebrates diversity and the unorthodox. But Sottsass said it himself: its just like candy. Too much can build you sick.

Ettore Sottsass: Design Radical is at the Met Breuer, New York, from 21 July to 8 October

Read more: www.theguardian.com

Moby:’ There were bags of drugs, I was having sexuality with a stranger’

3 months, 10 days ago

He was the sober, Christian dance music innovator but then Moby discovered success … Now hes coming clean

Before I picked up Mobys new memoir, Porcelain, I thought of him as a small, bald, cheeky chappy who made tuneful dance music. I knew he had a few unconventional beliefs( wasnt he vegan? Hardcore Christian? Perhaps teetotal ?), but filed him as essentially harmless. After reading Porcelain, well Lets just say his volume is packed with incident. Lots of dodgy sex, oceans of alcohol, antics a-gogo. Plus: cockroaches, raves, demise, celebrities( from Madonna to Robert Downey Jr, but not in starry situations) and good old Top Of The Pops. Its a cavort of a book. Such outrageous fun, in fact, that Moby tells me hes “ve noticed that” people have regarded him differently after reading it.

They have a look, he says. Its odd being on the receiving objective of that appear. Its a seem of knowing, but its also a seem of fear. Like, Is everything OK?

The fact is, his volume constructs me like Moby more. For a start, he writes brilliantly, with none of the self-indulgence of most pop memoirs: I wanted each chapter to be like an anecdote youd tell in a bar, to have a punchline, he says. And also, theres something touching about who he was back then. At one point, he writes this, about some club children They were all doing obscene quantities of drugs and having sex with strangers, but they still seemed innocent and thats exactly how he comes across. Its quasi-Dickensian, he says. Naive boy from the country moves to the big city and things go wrong.

We are drinking herbal tea and eating( very tasty) vegetables in Mobys freshly opened vegan restaurant in blue-skied Los Angeles. Its a nice place and I am relaxed, but endearingly, Moby isnt. He picks up a fallen cushion and plumps it before putting it back on the bench; he asks me if Im too cold and alters the air con; he goes through the menu with me.

Moby has lived on the west coast for six years, but had no problem transporting himself back to his past for the book. Sometimes he would be used to describe being blind drunk in New York, contained within filth and squalor, and look up from his laptop and be shocked to see his swimming pool, bathed in sunshine. The writing felt true and current realities felt like fiction. It was like hour travel.

Lets zoom back in time with him, then. Porcelain contains general information with Mobys life between 1989 and 1999, from where reference is moved to New York to just before the release of Play, his fifth album, and the one that changed everything. Play was packed full of sample-heavy, catchy dance tunes, which interred themselves into everyday life. Even if you havent actively listened to the album, youll know the anthems: Honey, with its driving piano riff and Bessie Jones sample get my honey come back, sometimes; Natural Blues, featuring another blues sample( oh lordy, difficulty so hard ), this time from Vera Hall.( Moby sourced these samples, and others, from Alan Lomaxs folk music field recordings .) Why Does My Heart Feel So Bad ? has featured on the GSCE syllabus for music since 2008. Anyway, the big thing about Play was that every single one of its ways was subsequently licensed for ad or films. This was a huge bargain at the time, and a huge bargain for Moby. It moved him from the electronica shadows into the big league, changed him from a musician who scrabbled for a few thousand dollars to a fully fledged, in-the-spotlight, pop starring overlord. For a while, Moby was dance musics Adele: everyone liked his stuff.

Moby DJing in New York in 1989. Photo: Mobys personal collection

None of this is hinted at in his memoir, however, because none of it was foreshadowed in real life. In real life, before Play, Moby was bumping around New York, getting DJ gigs in now legendary clubs like Mars and Nasa, as well as nasty swingers nights( he says he would play anywhere ). His career, as careers do, took day. In 1992, he had success with one way, Go( particularly in the UK, where we have always been more open to his music than the US) and made a few well-received albums.

Then, in 1995, simply at the moment dance music actually crossed over, he blew whatever small chance he had by bringing out a thrash punk LP.

He is funny about this and his musical work is all present and correct in Porcelain, but it takes second place to the more fascinating everyday happens in their own lives. Hes a dominatrixs sidekick( he calls himself Master Bobby and hollers at a businessman wearing fuchsia lingerie ). He get Lyme cancer, he dates indie girls and strippers; he lives in disused warehouses and crappy flats with weirded-out flatmates who want to set him on fire and buy the petrol to do so.

What is strange is how he chose to compartmentalise their own lives. He ricochetted between out-there clubbers and the suburban devout, between hanging out in debaucheries and having a largely unconsummated relationship with his Christian girlfriend( they would hand out vegan sandwiches to homeless people for thrills ). He was monastic in his home habits, then would go out and socialise madly. He was a vegan, sober , nonsexual God-botherer partying in the blood-soaked Meatpacking District with the sex-and-druggers. In 1995, after being teetotal for eight years, he took up drinking again. Theres a sort of relief in it. He had so many different personae to try to unite.

Moby Reading Festival, 1996. Photograph: Scott Frassetto

Is he still like that?

Hmm. I still recognise that person, stumbling through life without much agency. Theres exuberance and a good work ethic, but ultimately complete cluelessness, being baffled by everything. Its like being a snowball rolling down a mountain. The snowball might have started various kinds of pure, but by the end, its filled with dead squirrels and sticks and boulders and wellies and garbage. Youve got this snowball at the end, but to what magnitude does it relate to or resemble that original snowball?

Moby, as you see, does a good line in therapy talk( Well, were in southern California, the land of veganism and therapy, he says ), but hes also very funny. Salman Rushdie has given a glowing quote for the encompas of Porcelain that references Mobys supposed ancestor Herman Melville( hence Moby, after Melvilles Moby-Dick; his real name is Richard Melville Hall ). He has started writing the next instalment, covering the 10 years post-Play. He says his publishers, so far, dont approve. They suppose his excesses construct him too unsympathetic. Such as? Oh, notoriety, money, degeneracy, debauchery, bottoming out, says Moby. Whats not to like? I know! Thats what I want to read in a book!

Because it focuses on their own lives from 23 to 33 years old, Porcelain doesnt take on Mobys childhood. Still, tellingly, it opens with a scene concerning him and his mother. She is working in a laundromat, unhappy, furious, and he is sitting in the car, waiting for her to finish her shift. He is 10. He tells me he could have written a lot more about his young life there are maybe five memoirs in there and he clearly had a tough time. His father died in a drink-driving accident when Moby was just two. His mothers household was wealthy( Mobys grandfather operated a successful Wall Street company ), but she rejected her background and set off to build her own narrative. Sometimes we would be living in a squat-ish home with three or four other drug-addicted hippies, with bands playing in the basement, he says. Which voices fun, but when youre in fourth grade trying to do homework and there are people smoking pot in the kitchen, or fighting Every so often, they would stay with his grandparents in wealthy Darien, Connecticut, which was nice, but built him feel poor and ashamed.

Moby With his mother, wearing her chemotherapy wig, in New York, 1997. Photograph: Mobys personal collecting

In the second half of the book, his mum dies of cancer, and theres an nasty almost unbelievable incident that happens around her funeral. I remember it so clearly, Moby says. Person had left a digital alarm clock at my house, and it was the most reliable thing in the world, and the alarm was as clear and simple to utilize as a digital clock can be. And so, the night before my mommies funeral, I set the alarm. But this completely dependable clock at some phase was set forward 21 hours, which meant that if it were 3am it somehow get set presented to midnight. The only thing that could have happened is that, at some point during the night, I woke up in a fugue nation and set the clock forward 21 hours, so I would miss her funeral I must have defined it forward 21 hours, because something in my subconscious said that was the only legitimate and expedient route to miss the funeral.

I ask him how he feels about that now, and his eyes mist up a tiny bit. He is sad: not for himself, but for his family. She was my mom, but more importantly in some ways she was my aunts sister. And my grandmothers daughter. I feel guilty. But for myself, I dont know.

Not knowing how you feel about things is a protective instinct. Moby is a lovely companion, in real life and on the page, but he can seem detached from his feelings. When his mum told him she had cancer, she also told him that he has a half-brother. I ask him about this, assuming he would have got in touch. But no.

If it were a full friend, then that would be interesting, but its a half-brother, he says.( It !). In terms of my genetic sequence, I have almost as much in common with you and most of the people in this eatery as I would with a half-brother. And thats that.

What Porcelain suggests is that Mobys greatest love back then wasnt his family, or a person, or even music, but a city. At heart, Porcelain is a love letter to old New York: that grubby, crumbling, dangerous place. Lately, Moby was describing him to some young friends, and they couldnt believe what he was describing; honouring the city of that time was a major motivating in his writing. New York totally changed in those 10 years. In 1989, it was old New York cheap, murder-y, dysfunctional, flames and by the end of the 90 s, it was Jay Z and bottle service and condos.

Moby In his first promo shoot in 1988. Photo: Joseph Kugielsky

It took Moby a long time to fall out of love with New York, but he did. He gave up drinking and his love objective. I was walking up Orchard Street, and “its one” of those shitty days, 36 degrees Fahrenheit, sleeting, grey snowfall, and I realised there is sometimes an elective quality to suffering. New York suited his drinking; he classifies himself as an old-timey alcoholic, I mean, theres just no doubt, you know? He would try going out for got a couple of drinks and find himself at 8am, with strangers in my house, bags of drugs, Id had about 15 drinkings, having sex with a complete stranger. Which is great, but that was my best attempt to drink in moderation. Also, I supposed I was going on these great escapades, and the truth is I was going from one bar to another on Ludlow Street.

So he got sober and moved to LA. For a while, he lived in Marlon Brandos old home, the fabulous Wolfs Lair, an actual castle, but it soon felt too big. Now hes in a three-bedroom place: his musical equipment is in one bedroom, his exercising stuff in another, and he sleeps in the third. Scarcely Jay Z, but he seems happy.

In the past few years, Moby has reassessed their own lives. He wants to carry on making music he has an album came to see you this year but he doesnt want to tour. Hes happy for people to pay for his music, but he doesnt mind dedicating it away and, to this end, has set up a website so that student filmmakers can use his albums as soundtracks for free. Hes stopped caring what other people think of him( not much social media, simply occasionally posting on Instagram, largely cute animals or nature scenes ). And hes decided that animal rights are his lifes work.

Thats my day undertaking animal rights, he says. Inducing music and writing volumes and doing other things is what I love, and its fun, but I dont see it as work. You know, a lot of activism is single-issue activism. Like say, someone campaigns about turning land into a park. Theres the land, you turn it into a park, it benefits the community thats good. But its limited. But the thing with animal agriculture, everything is covered by it. Theres the animal side of it: most people who are not sociopaths can agree that animal suffering is not a good thing. But then theres the climate change facet, the rainforest deforestation, famine the reason theres famine is because food that could be fed to humans is fed to animals instead then heart disease, diabetes, cancer, erectile dysfunction Animal activism is my lifes purpose. If someone came to me and said if I could die, and my demise would somehow serve the purpose of saving animals, Id do it in a heartbeat.

Then of course, theres the restaurant, which he determines a constant trial. Everything has to be perfect. Im an emotional perfectionist I simply want things to feel as good as they maybe can for the people who are experiencing them.

He did have another vegan restaurant, in New York, called TeaNY, which he opened in 2002, with his then girlfriend. This was a disaster, as they split up soon after, and, though theyre still on good terms, he doesnt seem to know if TeaNY is still going. Relationships dont appear to be Mobys forte: he hooks up with a couple of women in the book who seem great, but he cant make it last. Was he simply a sexuality puppy? I dont think I was driven by sexuality. The style I dated was motived by the desire to be validated in people eyes. And clearly the desire to have sex as well, but it was like trying validation without attachment or obligation.

Moby Moby calls himself a developmentally disabled space foreigner or robot. Photograph: Chris Buck for the Guardian

He also thinks his difficulties with his mum had an effect. If youre constantly ashamed when youre growing up, when you become an adult youre constantly ashamed. And when you get close to people you presume they will only like you as long as they see you in your best sun. There is the profound desire for closeness and the profound anxiety of the other person. You start getting close to someone, they do something that might not be perfect, and it triggers a terror answer and you run away By you, I mean me, of course.

Anyway, hes been in a relationship for eight months now, his first in 10 years. It seems to be going OK, though he cant genuinely tell. He calls himself a developmentally disabled space foreigner or robot and he keeps having to ask his girlfriend things: Like, is it OK if I go to bed after you do? Hes also pretty set on not having children. He says, if the person or persons Im dating got pregnant, sure Id blithely be involved and help out as much as I possibly can, but its not something I long to do, which is about as detached as you can get without running away. Hes going to adopt a couple of dogs after he comes back from his book tour, he thinks. He seems able to feel great feeling for human beings and animals in general, but detects it harder one-on-one.

We talk a little bit about his Christianity; towards the end of the book, he starts questioning it, and he says now that he still understands the desire for spirituality, simply not institutionalised belief systems or ideological rigidity.

I dont think that God cares what jersey you wear, he says. Its not like Man United and Leeds is that the right UK sports reference?

Leeds arent in the Premiership any more.

OK, Arsenal? Man United and Arsenal: that tribal rivalry is really fun in athletic, but I dont think it should be part of divinity.

We are having a laugh now; I feel as though Im talking to a friend. Moby is quite the most low-key multimillionaire I have ever met. He is modest. He looks the way he always did: unflashy with his shirt over a T-shirt, creative casual, unrich. He hasnt even had his teeth done, which is almost prosecutable in LA. We talk a bit about fund and he says he thinks materialism doesnt run, meaning it doesnt actually make anyone properly happy. He should know, of course.

Moby On stage at Le Znith in Paris in 2015. Photograph: Getty Images

Moby seems to be enjoying his life , now hes not spending a big part of it drunk. I love reading and travelling to interesting parts of the world, and having time to think and write and construct music and do activism. Life is short, and we have a limited amount of day and energy, and its just so much easier trying to be your honest self.

I take the opportunity to ask him about a long-standing gossip. Supposedly, years ago, Moby and his friends would play a prank at parties. One of them would unzip his flies and hang his willy out of his trousers, then the others would challenge him to go up to someone famous and knob touch them. I ask him if this ever happened, or if it was made up.

Its both, he says, and intermissions. Hmm, theres a funny side to this story. I might change it because I dont know if I want it to follow me around. I had some friends from college who would do that. They would get very drunk, pull their willy out and merely brush it up against people. Because it was funny. So what I will say is that a friend of mine once did that to Donald Trump. I chuckle. It was a eatery on Park Avenue around 20 th Street, some fundraising event, when Trump was just a New York real-estate developer.

You seem to remember it well. Did that person get extra kudos for Trump?

You can extrapolate as to who that person might be, and thats as much as I can say, says Moby, a man who cant resist a funny anecdote, whos happy to tell the truth, who has lived a full and full-on life but who is old enough now to know that he doesnt want all the consequences that come wrapped in the adventures. Fair enough. As long as he maintains writing all those narratives down, were good.

Porcelain by Moby is published by Faber& Faber at 14.99. To order a transcript for 11.99, going to see bookshop.theguardian.com or call 0330 333 6846.

Nipple pasties in New York: the return of Helmut Lang

3 months, 28 days ago

Shayne Oliver, of Hood by Air, kicks off a series of guest takes on the designer whose looking has never gone away

It is 12 years since the designer left the Manhattan fashion scene in favour of life as a sculptor in upstate New York, but the Helmut Lang looking never went away.

Lang devoted the modern urban creative class its uniform: snake-hipped, flat-fronted black trousers with a tissue-thin white cotton T-shirt; a slip-up dress with biker boots; a bomber coat with paint-spattered jeans- all of these are classic Lang appears. They never went out of way, they just had a different name on the label.

Alexander Wang, Raf Simons, Vetements, Kanye West’s Yeezy: many of the most influential names of the past decades borrow something of their aesthetic and philosophy from Lang.

Hence the strategy behind the relaunch of Helmut Lang on its return to New York fashion week: let the hipster decorators who already pay homage to Lang on their own catwalks do so in-house, putting the Helmut Lang label back into the clothes and the cash back into the brand’s coffers.

Isabella Burley, the 26 -year-old British manner editor who is now leading the brand, will invite guest designers in-house for a season or two each. On Monday night, the first in the hot seat, ex-Hood by Air designer Shayne Oliver, presented his take over Helmut Lang.

The challenge here is that no revamp of Helmut Lang could ever perhaps be as cool as the original Helmut Lang. Lang is the modern cool designer’s all-time favourite cool designer, the David Bowie of the manner world.

The Helmut Lang aesthetic diaspora means you can buy the look- a skinny Crombie coat, a filmy parachute silk dress, a black tank with a few fetishy straps here and there- anywhere. Helmut Lang the brand will succeed or fail on whether it makes a new generation want the Helmut Lang label and logo, as well as the looking. And that depends on building the name cool again.

The
The Helmut Lang show in New York, Monday night. Photo: Kathy Willens/ AP

Which is where Monday night’s catwalk show came in. Outside, security guards struggled to impose order on mob jostling the Soho pavement. The 9pm start time came and ran. Wooden benches lining the cavernous space filled up with noisy show-goers and, with them, an unmistakable smell of weed.

Rapper Lil Yachty, wearing a vintage Morrissey T-shirt and a beaded Bart Simpson pendant, sat on the front row. In the buildup, the benches began to vibrate to a shuddering soundtrack which subsequently, during the finale, morphed into Whitney Houston’s ballad I’ve Got Nothing, to whoops from the audience. You don’t get that at Oscar de la Renta.

Shane Oliver’s” love letter to Helmut Lang”, as Burley called it, was unmistakably aimed at the nude-selfie generation. Oliver, who memorably sent models with hair slicked with “love juice” down the runway for his Hood by Air label, amplified the fetishistic elements that were always a part of Lang’s style.

Sophia
Sophia Lamar models a Shayne Oliver creation for Helmut Lang. Photo: JP Yim/ Getty Images For TRESemme Helmut Lang

A deconstructed bra-top was the starting point for most outfits. Bondage straps hung teasingly from leather trousers, parachute silks were brazenly transparent. There were nipple pasties.

Backstage after the depict, amid a din that had the designer leaning in to cup editors’ ears to construct his thoughts heard for those of us gathered with notebooks, Oliver talked about” relevance to real lives, fetish ideas, school uniform gestures, but most of all sensuality “.( In a recent New York Times interview he was less bashful, calling his take on the Lang aesthetic “horny” .)

With debates raging over diversity and model health, casting is a touchpaper issue at every fashion prove, and therefore a statement. Models who starred in Helmut Lang’s original depicts, including Kristen Owen and Missy Rayder, appeared here alongside gap-toothed alt-model Slick Woods and( in the nipple pasties) Manhattan nightlife queen Sophia Lamar.

” That stance, that walk … you can’t teach that ,” said Oliver of the distinctive scowling, shoulder-rolling swagger of Kristen Owen’s generation of edgy 90 s models.” It was great to have the new version of that, mixed in with the old version. To prove where it came from .”

Read more: www.theguardian.com