Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Johnny Rotten Reads London (2009)

John Lydon does a fiery reading of modern central London in a dérive from the upper deck of a red bus. He screams at glass and steel buildings, city workers and police. His vision of urban space is an open, shared environment where the new is built in symbiosis with the old, rather than one replacing the other. He borders on the conservative in places, a nostalgia always threatening to take over the anger he uses like a brand. However instead of quoting Keats as he does at one point, he would have been better referring to Ivan Chtcheglov’s Formulary of a New Urbanism:
We are bored in the city, there is no longer any Temple of the Sun. Between the legs of the women walking by, the dadaists imagined a monkey wrench and the surrealists a crystal cup. That's lost. We know how to read every promise in faces--the latest stage of morphology. The poetry of the billboards lasted twenty years. We are bored in the city, we really have to strain to still discover mysteries on the sidewalk billboards, the latest state of humor and poetry.
In the last scene of Johnny Rotten's Tour of London he takes us to a rooftop to watch a sunset. Here should be the temple Chtcheglov dreamed of. The rituals of the city must be reinvented if we are to stop the annual summer riots that ring Europe like a rash. As the decay sets in the mice will come out to play.

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