“History doesn’t repeat itself, but it does rhyme.”
— Mark Twain

Talking of Suzhou – Back in 2002

Posted: June 22nd, 2018 | No Comments »

Talking of the calmness of Suzhou yesterday, but the rather sad loss of many gates and some longtang, I found these pictures taken in 2002 (sorry, due to moves, floods, and whatever I have very few pre-digital hard copy pictures to scan in)….

The almost total loss of the few longtang in Suzhou should of course make the preservation of those in Shanghai all the most urgent and precious…though that is not sadly the case; in fact quite the reverse – it seems total extinction of the architectural form is the only end result.

canals just pre-clean up – some of the waterside buildings were lost

An example of Suzhou longtang – slated for demolition in 2002 and so long gone now

entry gate to a Suzhou longtang – in the process of being demolished in 2002

(i actually tried to buy the carved stones over the arch – the demolition crew were ready to do a deal, but a local CCP cadre arrived with some cops and insisted I f**k off sharpish)

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Sleepy Suzhou After All These Years

Posted: June 21st, 2018 | No Comments »

Apropos of nothing I was in Suzhou recently. Of course I’ve always liked Suzhou and saw it go through the massive upheavals of the 1990s and 200os – SIP, New Area, subway going in etc. It looked then like old town might go – indeed much did go including some lovely parts of the city wall and gates as well as some of the only longtang housing outside of Shanghai. Still, with construction calmed down a bit and the old town area a little less hectic in terms of population and traffic I thought it had become decidedly pleasant. Now let’s hope they just leave it alone!!

It was a rather dank day when I visited recently – not good for photography, but did make the streets rather deserted…

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The Bulldozing of Old Shanghai – The End Huangpi Lu South

Posted: June 20th, 2018 | No Comments »

I made a point yesterday about the tragic destruction of the former Rue du Consulat (Jinping Lu), the last fully arcaded street in the former French Concession. Tragically that is not all the destruction that is occurring in the old Frenchtown – Huangpi Lu (Rue Bayle) and Hefei Lu (Rue du Pére Froc) are also being bulldozed. This is also incredibly sad – the buildings were all structurally sound, many had been refurbished on both sides of the Huangpi Lu and it was a genuine community. The eastern side of the street is coming down; the western side is plaqued as a “Model Quarter”, but it’s future cannot be assured now of course and plaques mean nothing in Shanghai. An especial tragedy is the loss of the corner structure on the junction of Huangpi and Hefei – these marvellous (and unique to Shanghai) corner buildings are now a seriously endangered species across the former concessions.

As I mentioned yesterday it is upsetting yet important to archive the philistine destruction of a once great city’s architecture. At some point I am convinced young Shanghainese will gaze around their architecturally bland and soulless city and wonder why it had to be trashed. There’s no going back of course, Shanghai is very close to finished architecturally now – a few stand out buildings and a Bund are not representative of anything if no ordinary houses, lanes, retail shops, fire stations, cop shops, schools etc exist. They’re like the dinosaur in London’s Natural History Museum, impressive but without any perspective.

It’s also important to challenge the still off-heard comment (at least a lot of people say it to me at events) that no further destruction will occur in Frenchtown, that the Party, the government and their developer cronies know the tourism and heritage value of the former French Concession. Sadly that is utterly untrue. The horrific faux heritage of Xintiandi shows that; the destruction of the Jian Ye Li shikumen cluster to create a luxury Capella hotel shows that; the bulldozing of Jinling Lu shows that and now the bulldozing of Huangpi Lu/Hefei Lu shows that.

The pictures below show the boarded up stretch of Huangpi Lu and the final picture shows the junction with Hefei Lu facing east indicating that the entire enormous block is slated to go….

 

 

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The Loss of Shanghai’s Rue du Consulat (Jinling Lu)

Posted: June 19th, 2018 | No Comments »

If I start to write about the Rue du Consulat in Shanghai’s former French Concession, it’s beautiful colonades, the wonderful shops and apartment buildings, how in Shanghai’s brutal summers that street was a sanctuary of shade and how now that street is being totally destroyed I’ll just cry. So here’s a link to Katya Knyazeva’s history of the street and a few pictures (because we must archive the philistine vandalism and destruction of a city’s heritage too as well as celebrate its past architectural glory) of the street as it comes to its final end….

Dreams of Boulevards des Arcadiens by Katya Knyazeva

And that dream now….(well late March when I was last there)

The shuttered shops of Jinling Lu

The side streets running south down towards Laoximen (also of course being flattened) also boarded up

the corner roads off Jinling Lu now blocked off as whole destruction of the rear of the apartment buildings over the street level shops continues apace

many of the rears of the buildings are already gone leaving only frontages now – the street can never now be restored

and here the total and utter eradication of Shanghai’s built heritage…

 

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AFONG, A Photographer in Hong Kong, Wattis Fine Art, Hong Kong – 21/6/18 – 21/7/18

Posted: June 18th, 2018 | No Comments »

AFONG, A Photographer in Hong Kong

a collection of original albumen prints of

Hong Kong, Canton and Macao

c.1860 – 1890

from Thursday 21st June 2018

Afong – Wellington Street, Hong Kong c.1879

The exhibition continues until Saturday 21st July 2018

Wattis Fine Art Gallery
20 Hollywood Road, 2/F, Central, Hong Kong
Tel. +852 2524 5302 E-mail. info@wattis.com.hk

www.wattis.com.hk
Gallery open: Monday – Saturday 11am – 6pm

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Rocket Man: Nuclear Madness and the Mind of Donald Trump

Posted: June 11th, 2018 | No Comments »

This new collection of essays – Rocket Man: Nuclear Madness and the Mind of Donald Trump – was just published (rather good timing). The editors asked me to contribute an essay (most are psychologists and psychiatrists looking at President Trump’s relationship and rhetoric concerning the DPRK and his possible state of mind as regards nuclear weapons/attacks). So I did – The Relentless Victim: How Donald Trump Reinforces North Korea’s Narrative

 

Will President Trump destroy civilization or win the Nobel Peace Prize? Humankind’s survival feels like a jump ball that could go either way. We are perched on a precipice, and the reason we are looking into an abyss of nuclear annihilation is that the American president has unencumbered, unilateral control over the nuclear codes. One thing we know for sure is that the mind of Donald Trump is currently in control of our fate. Never before have the nuclear codes been in the hands of a man who many observers view as unstable and erratic. The twenty-four experts who contributed to this book analyze President Trump’s behavior hoping to provide insights into what may be the most urgent question of our time. What will Trump do with his “big button?”

Table of Contents:
Chapter 1: The Erratic President
-Harry Segal, PhD, Cornell University

Chapter 2: Nuclear Risk is Rising as Donald Trump Goes Downhill
-John Gartner, PhD, Founder, Duty To Warn

Chapter 3: If President Trump Were Airman Trump, I Would Not Certify Him Psychologically Fit to Handle Nuclear Weapons
-Steven Buser, MD, Psychiatrist, Former Major, USAF

Chapter 4: If Trump Were a Policeman I Would Have to Take Away His Gun
-David Reiss, MD

Chapter 5: If Trump Was Entering the Military, He Would Not Receive a Security Clearance
-William Enyart, Former U.S. Congressman & Retired General

Chapter 6: A Man with No Humanity Has the Power to Destroy Mankind
-Lance Dodes, MD

Chapter 7: Trump’s Sick Psyche and Nuclear Weapons: A Deadly Mixture
-Gordon Humphrey, former Republican Senator

Chapter 8: Facing the Truth: The Power of a Predatory Narcissist
-Jacqueline West, PhD

Chapter 9: Trump’s No Madman, He’s Following the Strongman Playbook
-Ruth Ben-Ghiat, Dept. of History, NYU

Chapter 10: The Gospel of War Presidency
-Richard Painter, Former Chief White House Ethics Lawyer
-& Leanne Watt, PhD

Chapter 11: The Greatest Danger to America is Her Commander in Chief
-Joe Cirincione, President, Ploughshares Fund

Chapter 12: Bluffing Us Into the Nuclear Abyss?
-James Blight and Janet Lang, Dept. of History, Univ. of Waterloo

Chapter 13: One Week in August: How a Self-Made Nuclear Crisis Exposed Donald Trump’s Psychopathology
-Seth Norrholm PhD

Chapter 14: The Bully-in-Chief
-Philip Zimbardo, PhD & Rosemary Sword

Chapter 15: American Carnage: The Wars of Donald Trump
-Melvin Goodman, Johns Hopkins

Chapter 16: Taking Trump’s Finger off the Nuclear Button
-Tom Z. Collina, Director of Policy, Ploughshares Fund

Chapter 17: Is Donald Trump a Fascist?
-Bård Larsen, Historian

Chapter 18: The Relentless Victim: How Donald Trump Reinforces North Korea’s Narrative
-Paul French, Freelance Writer

Chapter 19: Trump and North Korea: The Offer for Talks Was Impulsive, but Could it Work?
-Stephan Haggard, Director, Korea-Pacific Program

Chapter 20: The Art of the North Korea Deal
-Harry Kazianis, Director of Defense Studies, The Center for the National Interest

Chapter 21: Madman or Rational Actor? Kim Jong-un’s Nuclear Calculus
-Ken Gause, Director, International Affairs Group CNA Corporation

Chapter 22: How Presidential Actions Raise or Lower the Risk of War
-James E. Doyle, PhD Former Nuclear Nonproliferation Analyst, Los Alamos National Laboratory

Chapter 23: Extinction Anxiety and Donald Trump
-Thomas Singer, MD

Afterword: Visions of Apocalypse and Salvation
-Leonard Cruz, MD

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Navigating Semi-Colonialism: Shipping, Sovereignty, and Nation-Building in China, 1860–1937

Posted: June 6th, 2018 | No Comments »

Anne Reinhardt’s new book on ships, shipping and nation building in China looks very interesting….

China’s status in the world of expanding European empires of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries has long been under dispute. Its unequal relations with multiple powers, secured through a system of treaties rather than through colonization, has invited debate over the degree and significance of outside control and local sovereignty. Navigating Semi-Colonialism examines steam navigation—introduced by foreign powers to Chinese waters in the mid-nineteenth century—as a constitutive element of the treaty system to illuminate both conceptual and concrete aspects of this regime, arguing for the specificity of China’s experience, its continuities with colonialism in other contexts, and its links to global processes.

Focusing on the shipping network of open treaty ports, the book examines the expansion of steam navigation, the growth of shipping enterprise, and the social climate of the steamship in the late nineteenth century as arenas of contestation and collaboration that highlight the significance of partial Chinese sovereignty and the limitations imposed upon it. It further analyzes the transformation of this regime under the nationalism of the Republican period, and pursues a comparison of shipping regimes in China and India to provide a novel perspective on China under the treaty system.

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Remembering June 4 1989….

Posted: June 4th, 2018 | No Comments »

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