Dead Man Winnipeg

People who’ve never seen ice hockey before ask how you can tell when a goal has been scored, it all happens so fast. Ask someone who knows and they’ll tell you: never watch the puck, watch the net. Watch for the impact, for the brief expansion of whiteness, like the net is taking a quick breath. That’s how you can scream with the fans and not after them.

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The Problem of ‘Defence’ in the Israel-Palestine Conflict

In the ongoing conflict between Israel and Hamas, the rhetoric of defence permeates every aspect of Israeli discourse. But so long as people are violently denied their basic human dignity, the emergence of violent grass-roots organisations like Hamas is inevitable. Israel, like all colonial powers, is engaged in continual, tacit violence, violence which is often hidden by its omnipresence. Peace demands reciprocity. Flattening Gaza for the sake of killing a few Hamas militants is not an expression of peace or of real defence. If this war is to end, it is the violence of the Israeli state that needs mitigating, not that of Hamas.

Wherefore Art Thy Comedian?

Montreal, Canada, 1991. The Centaur Theatre. The set is all black. Only a microphone and a stand are on stage. A man walks on, also all in black; black jacket, black polo neck, black trousers, black shoes and long, almost-mullety black hair. He stands on stage and talks for an hour about moths, religion, advertising, the Kennedy assassination, auto-fellatio and mass-marketed popular music. The man is Bill Hicks. The event is the annual Just for Laughs Comedy Festival, now the largest comedy festival in the world. That hour of his Relentless show proves to be one of the most iconic, passionate and engaging hours of stand-up comedy ever performed. It’s the comedic equivalent of Jimi Hendrix at Woodstock. It was the pinnacle for a career tragically cut short by pancreatic cancer. But does anyone remember it? Would anyone consider that gig a milestone in cultural history? Almost certainly not. Why? Because it’s just comedy. Comedy can’t be serious or important. It’s just one fucking joke after another.

A Not-So-Brief History of Twerking

From Miley Cyrus twerking with a large black woman on an LA stage to Lily Allen’s provocative sexualisation of nameless and faceless black dancers, the status of black women as an artistic symbol has been brought back to the fore, exposing cracks in the fragile latticework of race and gender. Even in Russia, there was a vociferous reaction against a portrait of Roman Ambramovich’s girlfriend in Buro 24/7. Black, it seems, is back in the papers. And yet this is not new, and those feminists who clamour for Miley’s head on a stick, seeing her as a cause not a symptom, are both historically and contextually blinded. This process of imaging the black female body is not to be confined to a modern day marketing stunt – its roots are deeper, more obscure and more sinister than we care to admit.

Named and Shamed: Why We Hate Paedophiles

On 8 December 2008 the convicted paedophile Andrew Cunningham “was hacked to death and had his genitals mutilated by a vigilante mob after young girls were seen in his caravan”. On 16 July 2014 “more than 600 suspected paedophiles, including doctors and teachers, were arrested across Britain after a six-month investigation led by the National Crime Agency”. From October 2013 to June 2014, Rebekah Brooks made it clear throughout her phone-hacking trial that fighting paedophilia had been her raison d’être as an editor, often mentioning The News of the World’s campaigns in favour of Sarah’s Law. It’s clear that we all hate paedophiles; abusing an adult is terrible enough, but there is nothing more evil than abusing a child.

Why we should be worried about Water Cannon: Tactics, Symbols and Nonsense

In 2011, David Cameron first mentioned the possibility of getting water cannon. The response to the riots, which had started because the police shot and killed someone, was going to be further militarisation. Not long after this, Wandsworth Council served an eviction notice to the mother of Daniel Sartain-Clarke, arguing that her son’s participation in the riots meant neither she nor him deserved council housing, and we had something else to get angry about. We forgot about the water cannon, assuming it was just part of post-riot cacophony. Last week when I read that Boris Johnson had gone ahead with the plans, without consulting Londoners (or even the Home Office), the anger returned.

“Survival Is The Issue Now”

This story has many beginnings. It begins on the morning of September 11, 2001 when two planes hit the Twin Towers. It begins sometime that afternoon, when Larry Silverstein – the leaseholder of what would become ‘ground zero’, and a man who understood that grief and profit are mutually exclusive – realised he would have to rebuild. It begins before that, when the C.I.A. funnelled arms to Osama bin Laden and Islamic militia groups in Soviet-occupied Afghanistan. Those are just the obvious starting points. But this story has only one protagonist: that which came after the Twin Towers, that which stands in their footprint: One World Trade Center (1 WTC), once known as the “Freedom Tower”.

By Isaac Kaplan

Parking the bus: What’s wrong with defensive football?

Football today is plagued by the dogmatic belief that the only acceptable type of football is attacking football. Playing on the front foot and persistently attacking is seen as both aesthetically and morally superior. In its most absurd form you even hear people say that it’s better to play attacking football and lose, than to win any other way.

Bir Mayis, Istanbul

Here in İstanbul the tension around May Day had been building all week. Each morning there was fresh graffiti calling for ‘Devrim’ (Revolution) or urging people to take Taksim Square. Posters from various political groups and parties were up everywhere. The warnings from everyone always began, ‘keep away from Taksim’, ‘stay off the streets’, ‘I hope you’re not going out tomorrow…’.

A Little Bit False and a Little Bit True: Aby Warburg and his Mnemosyne Atlas

There is no such thing as the finality of the past. It cannot be boxed up, put on a shelf, and studied by curious historians who somehow operate outside of it. I don’t think Aby Warburg understood this when he began to study Hopi Native Americans, an endeavour he would later credit with providing him invaluable knowledge about the European Renaissance and Ancient Greece. I think that before his interactions with the Hopi, Warburg was a man, sickly and made bored by Civilisation, travelling at the turn of the 19th century through the American West to territory that had yet to be terraformed by telegraph wires. I think he still believed that the academic tools provided to him by ‘progress’ would afford him the ability to discover history, the way one discovers a fossil or a missing set of keys. He was young.