Corrugated City

Thursday, 28 August 2008

Who's Worse? London or Valparaiso

A few weeks ago, I posted about some good and bad things that the council has done recently.

One of the bad things was wasting money (around us$20k) on a terrible logo for Valparaiso. The logo was accepted by the council and recently, before coming into use, it was dropped after extremely widespread criticism. I actually think this is a very positive step: Councils don't usually admit mistakes so it's good that Valpo's has had the guts to admit it was wrong on this one.

Here it is:

Anyway, Valparaiso doesn't have a monopoly on crap, overpriced logos. London's 2012 Olympic logo apparently cost in the region of £400,000 (that's a little under us$800k). It's been massively criticised and, during a promotional video for the games, a cartoon version caused epileptic seizures.At first I couldn't work out what the hell it was. Then I realised that it's obviously a reference to the new sport that's being introduced for London 2012: Olympic Fellatio.

Now I'm not sure how this sport will be judged. Will it be like the 100m where speed is the most important thing? Or will it be like gymnastics and judged on technique and artistic ability?

And will it be a mixed or same sex sport?

Tuesday, 26 August 2008

Paris II: Rubbish

As I mentioned before, I've been to Paris so many times that I generally don't do touristy things when I'm there. However, my brother recommended an exhibition at Le Palais de Tokio. So I went.

To say that the main exhibit is extraordinary would be an understatement. As you walk in, you're confronted by a huge mound of rubbish-magazines, bottles, assorted crap. In the middle of the mound is a corrugated tube. You crawl through this tube, where you're met by a professional fireman and're in a kind of massive house. The house is full of all kinds of old rubbish, all salvaged and scavenged and 'ordered' into different rooms depending on its use. It's basically a huge slum dwelling where families would recycle and salvage everything that people throw away. There's a school, a sewing room, a tobacco area, a garage, a chapel and more. The creepiest part is the massive collective dining hall, the only room you can properly stand up in and stinking of roast chicken. Because of the smell, it feels like there were people there recently and the emptiness is really weird. It kind of feels like everyone just disappeared suddenly and without warning... muy escalofriante.

Needle Exchange

The Chapel

For some reason, the telly was repeating the last 3 minutes of the European Cup Final from 1999 when Man Utd beat Bayern Munich with 2 goals in the final moments of the game (hence the '2-1' drawn in the dust on the screen)

Tobacco Collection

Living Room



Creepy Dining Hall

It's all created by a fantastically warped artist, Christoph Buchel, from Switzerland. None of it is 'real'. My description and the photos simply do not give an hint as to the madness and scale of the exhibit. It is truly incredible and a very powerful reminder of how much we waste that can be and is re-used by people less well off than most of us. It's a reminder of the squalor in which many people are forced to live and the way in which they eek out some kind of living.

The name of the exhibit?

Le Dump.

A couple of other cool exhibits were:

The gas-powered beer bottle killer that propelled bottles at 400mph into a wall at random intervals, creating a deafening roar and crash that terrified visitors all over the exhibition halls.

The life sized paper mache elephant standing on its trunk.

Paris I

I took a quick trip to Paris to visit my brother. As I've been to Paris countless times, I generally can't be bothered to do much touristy stuff. I just tend to do a bit of flaneur-ing.

Parc Buttes-Chaumont is just up the road from my brother's flat in the 19th and is a beautiful place for a walk. It was a rubbish dump 'til Napoleon III ordered it to be converted into a park in the 1860s. It's a huge place and the centre-piece is this cliff-top look out which affords pretty spectacular views over the city and particularly of the Sacre-Coeur in Montmatre.

After that I wandered along the canal to La Villete. And then I went to bed for the afternoon.

England: Football

Me at the Emirates

As a West Bromwich Albion fan, I was obviously very excited to see us win promotion to the Premier League last season. And I was even more excited to see that we were playing Arsenal on the first day of the season in London just as I'd be back in England. Thanks to my brother I was hooked up with a ticket. Unfortunately, it was sitting with the Arsenal supporters but beggars cannot be choosers when it comes to watching the Baggies so I gratefully accepted the freebie.

Now I always find it funny when foreigners bang on about English hooligans and how dangerous it must be to watch live football in England. England is now almost certainly the safest country in which to watch top-class football. There are no fences around the pitch (and no one but the players ever set foot on it), policing is generally low key and fans are free to mingle outside of the stadium (with the exception of derby games when things are a bit stricter). No trouble whatsoever. Matches in Italy are terrifying from what I've heard from people with experience and Spain and France aren't much better.

I am lucky enough to support a club with renowned friendly fans. We don't have a reputation for anything other than being just good supporters. In around 25 years of going to games, I've never seen any trouble and that includes quite a bit of time in the '80s when hooliganism was a problem. Some clubs, such as Wolves, Cardiff, West Ham and Millwall have justifiably poor reputations for nasty supporters but even that lot are a bunch of pussycats in general.

Fans from both clubs outside the Arse stadium.

So back to the games...we lost both, The first against Arsenal away and the second at home to Everton. Both games we could and should have at least drawn and possibly won but such is the life of an Albion fan.

One benefit of supporting a club like West Brom is that you learn how to handle disappointment exceptionally well.

The difference between Arsenal and West Brom in terms of wealth is immense and can be seen in their respective stadiums. Arsenal recently moved to the brand new, state of the art 68,000 capacity Emirates Stadium. It is an incredible place, beautifully designed with comfy, cushioned seats, decent toilets and great acoustics. It's a fantastic modern football stadium. It's a shame it's full of boring, silent Arsenal fans, without doubt the worst home supporters I've ever heard. Their old stadium, Highbury, was nicknamed Highbury Library and it was not uncommon to see students at matches studying for exams as it was the quietest place in London during home matches :)

Where I really wanted to be...with the Albion fans.

West Brom's The Hawthorns, on the other hand, is an old school football stadium. We've played at The Shrine for 100 odd years and, although it's been recently redeveloped, it will never be a modern stadium unless the whole thing is razed and rebuilt. I wouldn't want that to happen. The noise the 28,000 crowd generates is awesome. The only other place I've heard such good home fans is at Fratton Park, home to The Skates.

The Hawthorns

Baggie Bird

Hopefully we'll start winning games soon.

Friday, 15 August 2008

England: Places

So I'm back in Chile after a pretty fantastic break in England. The flight was ok (thanks to legal drugs again) and I was greeted on my arrival by the first perfect blue sky I'd seen since...well...leaving Chile. The weather in England was truly rubbish. I spent a couple of days in Paris and, after a promising first morning, it was rubbish over there as well. I can't wait for summer here.

Anyway, it's good to be home. After a couple more trip posts, I'll be back to Valparaiso blogging in a short while.

A few photos of the places in England I've been to over the past 3 weeks:

Bathampton, just outside of Bath, Avon

Headstones for goal posts in Hammersmith Cemetery, London

Random, typical street in Fulham, London

Self-Service Check-Outs in Highbury, London

The Gherkin, The City, London

The Tate, London

Balham Tube Station, London

The back garden, Sherborne, Dorset

Just behind the back garden

East Chinnock, Somerset

Burton Bradstock, Dorset

Britain's longest sequence of canal locks (there were a fair few), near Warwick

Cows in a field, near Warwick

Thursday, 14 August 2008

England: Characters

Sometimes, after being away from England for a long time, I start to wonder if I'll still like my friends and vice-versa when we see each other again. I usually get to see everyone at least once a year but this time it's been over 19 months for most of them...and up to 5 years (!) for some others. I'm happy to report that we still all get on...I've had such a good time catching up with everyone... These people are the reason that, no matter how long I live abroad, England will always be home.

Some of the stars of the ever-exciting 'The Matt Show':

The brother, the mother, the sister in law

The Me, the brother, the mother.

Nick (you don't want to know what he's trying not to look at on his computer...)

Nick, Ollie, Prune

Bertie, Prune


Former porteño, Jay



Andrea and Jen (happy)

Andrea and Jen (bored of my incessant photo taking)

The father, the father's wife


Percy, Leo