Monday, January 15, 2007

New Cross Haight Ashbury??

A breathless article in Time Out last week, Rocklands: New Cross Creatives, proclaims the wonders of 'the new New Cross underground, a melting pot of ideas that takes in music, film, theatre, comedy, visual art, performance art and art for art’s sake. The loose adopted term for this movement, centred on New Cross and the surrounding boroughs of Brockley, Lewisham and Deptford, is Rocklands. Rocklands was recently hailed by Vogue Italia, which likened the area to the more ostentatiously fabulous Montmartre district of Paris (though British Vogue has been conspicuously slow to pick up on the story). Of course, comparing New Cross to the home of the Sacre Coeur is just a facetious journalistic exercise, not to mention totally inaccurate. No, New Cross these days is much more like Haight-Ashbury, circa 1966'. Bands including The Veez, Rank Deluxe, Seeing Scarlet, The Alps and Lost Penguin all get name-checked.

The article provoked a couple of quite snotty letters in this week's magazine, one seeking to put up a wall between New Cross and some of the snootier serious visual artists in Deptford ('it's SE14 not SE8'), and another dismissing the scene as a bunch of well-heeled yuppie types. This is not my experience I must say, it feels like the same precariat of students, casual workers and jobless who have been the driving force behind music round here for years.

3 comments:

John Hutnyk said...

But Rocklands was always wearing the crazy shades of Allen Ginsberg when he wrote: "I am with you in Rockland, where you scream in a straightjacket that you're losing the game of actual pingpong of the abyss... I'm with you in Rockland, where there are twentyfive thousand mad comrades all together singing the final stanzas of the internationale" and other bits from tribute to Carl Solomon at the end of Howl.

Trinketization

bob said...

The article really pissed me off, mainly because of the ignorance of the journalist, Eddy Lawrence (whose music reviews I normally like in Time Out). For example, this statement: Artful Festival (3 years old) "has now been joined by the Deptford X Festival, which is pretty much the same sort of thing but with the emphasis on film rather than music." That's pretty sloppy journalism.

I don't mind that SE14 gets bled into SE4 and SE8 (although saying the Firkin in Ladywell is part of the NX scene is slightly stretching it), but a Time Out journalist ought to know Brockley is not a borough (even if lots of people think Deptford is) - reminded me of when Robert Elms wrote an article in Time Out a couple of years back about how racist Brockley is (in an article that placed Brockley in the same borough as where Steven Lawrence got killed...)

--b0b

Anonymous said...

Agreed it was a sloppy article, actually there was no real story as stuff just keeps ticking over locally and every so often somebody comes along and proclaims it as a scene. However it was good to see some recognition for some people who are making an effort to keep it interesting round here without being shameless careerists. Neil