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When we heard there was a big new shop opening in town, we called Danny and asked ‘Are you free?’ He was. We can’t remember whether we sent him to a big clothes shop that used to be the Palisades, or a big clothes shop that used to be the Pavilions. Either way, we were sure he’d hate it. Stepped on a snake and slid back down to Birmingham. Tired, grumpy, and trapped in a city I escaped two years ago. The continuing adventures of a man lost in his own city. Hoping that the next leap, is the leap home. Two hours of sleep is the worst amount of sleep, worse than no sleep at all. It’s halfway through a sleep cycle and will leave the average people emotionally fragile, feeling like they’ve fallen up and then down a steel staircase. So I’ve had two hours …

Danny Smith: Primark and prejudice Read More »

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Christmas comes but once a year, apart from for Roy Wood, who must have a terrible time getting his bins collected. Like everyone else in Brum, are we right, we’re here all week. Try the rotting fish in the black bag on the street corner. Anyway, Christmas, web clicks, we asked Danny to riff… Stepped on a snake and slid back down to Birmingham. Tired, grumpy, and trapped in a city I escaped two years ago. The continuing adventures of a man lost in his own city. Hoping that the next leap, is the leap home. Birmingham changes over Christmas. The wolf of capitalism takes a long German shit right in the middle of its chest, and it’s filled with day drinkers, night shoppers, and a huge homeless population seemingly invisible to the other people. For a sensory seeking freakman like me it’s a wonderland of lights, …

Danny Smith: The seven wonders of Birmingham Christmas Read More »

Like a bad penny, licked and then pushed quickly into a chip shop slot machine, Danny Smith returns to Birmingham. Delighted to have him back, we wanted him to stay in Northfield, its streets his alma mater and tell us all about it. The first thing he did was get the bus out. Stepped on a snake and slid back down to Birmingham. Tired, grumpy, and trapped in a city I escaped two years ago. The continuing adventures of a man lost in his own city. I’m on a bus in Northfield, it’s Saturday: so it’s full, and only getting fuller. Only the people getting on seem to confused by the whole bus business and are approaching it with the time consuming trepidation of first-time flyers on a steampunk zeppelin. The bus is waiting for an usually long time. Luckily buses now have TV monitors and cameras so, …

Danny Smith: The A38 killed my dog Read More »

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You may not think a mayor of the West Midlands is a good thing. We’re getting one on Thursday anyway. The mayor might not yet have all the powers we need to take back that control from Westminster, the devolution deal might not be a real deal for the people of the region. But the mayor will have powers, they’ll have influence, they’ll represent you to the country and the world – and they’ll do that soon after the close of polls on 4th May. There will be choice on your ballot paper, and the choice will be between someone on the side of central government and someone who isn’t. Is central government policy working for Birmingham and the West Midlands? A glance around at the people sleeping on the streets, the closed libraries, the lengthening hospital waiting lists say it isn’t.

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You may have read in the Evening Mail an article about how our trains are going to be painted a different colour come the autumn – and if you’re a regular commuter on the Cross City line you may have read the article and thought ‘great, that means the end of London Midland and their appalling service’. If you did read that and think that, I’ve got bad news for you.

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By popular demand, here is our hot take on the Trump election. Sorry we kept you waiting, it’s a complicated business. Broadly speaking, this isn’t a Birmingham issue. We are not aware of anyone with a Birmingham connection called D. Trump who we can interview about their tangential relationship to the President-Elect. We do not know of anyone from a B post code who is a distant relation to Hilary either. We do not know how Birmingham can make America great again. We do know that Trump’s election is one of several markers of a shift to a less tolerant and less progressive world. The other markers include the rise of the right at home and abroad, the Brexit vote, the movement of Tory policy in the direction of their right and the hardening against the left by those who claim to be on that side of …

On Trump(ets) Read More »

Our pals over on Eye on Moseley have run a piece on the opening of Pizza Express and Prezzo in B13 and it’s a tasty slice of deep pan fun. There’s an obvious nimby trap laid out for the unsuspecting writer here—it’s tempting to moan about ‘chains’ and ‘independents’ and witter about bringing down the village—The Eye deftly avoids doing that and adding too much cheese (though many of their readers fall into the hole in some of the online chat that surrounds the article). There’s a point we want to pick up on though which is that the opening of these restaurants makes no business sense. The Eye says: “opening two almost identical restaurants within months of each other is just ridiculous. Opening two massive restaurants demonstrates little comprehension of how business works […] So one of these is going out of business, once they have bled their parent …

Don’t go topping yourself—chain pizza is in Moseley to stay Read More »

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Once, Birmingham had a scene. For a hot minute, somewhere between 2008 and 2009, it found something. And then we fucked it up. By way of example, remember when the Birmingham Bloggers were a thing? I know there’s technically still a Facebook group or whatever, but it’s not like it was in 2008-09. With that group of awkward nerds came the sharing of knowledge and the birth of creativity; the kind of ideas that start from pub chats, or from blog posts or even single tweets. The ‘wouldn’t it be cool if’ ideas, like building cocks in the snow, or running a 5k at midnight, or sitting on the #11 for a day. Or even coming to a pub to hear some interesting people speak. In that time we had barcamps and ‘cafés‘ – which are just meetups with a poncey name – and then towards the tail end of 2009 we lost …

Birmingham: you get the culture you deserve Read More »

Half of Birmingham voted to leave. Half of Birmingham wanted to stay. We wanted to stay. To the victors, no spoils. You’ve set off an earthquake. Just today, just right now, you’ve voted yourself poorer. And the man who got you here is already pulling things out from under you. We said Brexit would be bad for Birmingham. We hope we were wrong, we fear we were not. We don’t know what’s next, but we’re ready. Get ready too. Let’s be ready to build our Birmingham for ourselves. Let’s be ready to call bullshit on the things that will come our way. Let’s stop hate wherever we find it and stand up to the commercial interests that let it grow. Let’s be ready, there are some battles ahead. Together. Forward. And join a union, you’ll need one.

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Local satirical miscellanies, so the mainstream media says, are not doing enough to get out their core constituency for the Remain vote. We want to, we really want to. But a harder question than the one on the ballot is: is it possible to be funny about it? Sure it’s possible to do tiresome Python-referencing knock offs listing the shiny buildings we’ve built and placed plaques with european stars on them. But the rhetoric is dire, self-satirising, and so far removed from a rational debate that it’s hard to get purchase on. The EU isn’t perfect, but it does provide some safeguards against the worst excesses of neoliberal capitalism – especially regards workers and individual rights – and of course the Brexit line-up is full of the worst of all people.

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