Posts Tagged ‘London’

Nick Hornby’s “High Fidelity”

Don’t worry. You don’t have to be a music junkie to appreciate this book or movie.

But that helps.

I decided to pick up the book after watching the movie, which I also highly recommend. Come on, you can’t help but fall in love with John Cusack in his glory days (“High Fidelity,” “Say Anything”). Nowadays…not so much.

Rob (John Cusack) is good with music: he owns a small record shop and has strong views on what’s decent and what isn’t. But he’s much less good with relationships. In fact, he’s not at all sure that he wants to commit himself to anyone, especially with someone who doesn’t share the same music taste as him. No one is surprised that his girlfriend decides that enough is enough.


Shakespeare is for Lovers

Posted: October 17, 2009 by meganhess in Uncategorized
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I never considered myself a real Shakespeare buff. I analyzed the odd Macbeth passage in tenth grade AP English, and ogled over Jude Law in the posters for Hamlet (which, unfortunately, stopped showing in London just prior to my arrival). And that was basically the extent of my relationship with good ol’ William (we’re on a first-name basis). So when one of my flatmates asked me to accompany to him to see As You Like It at Shakespeare’s Globe Theater, I hesitated. But as a great man once said, when in Rome, right? So, being cheap college students, we purchased 5-pound standing room tickets.

I'm on the left.

I'm on the left.

Okay, quick little history lesson: the original Globe Theater burned down in 1613 when a stage cannon set fire to the thatched roof. A second Globe was quickly rebuilt with a tiled roof, but was closed down by straight-edge Puritans who disapproved of theater performances. It wasn’t until the 1990s that the third Globe opened up. (more…)

‘Ello, mates!

It’s my one month anniversary tomorrow!

You know, between me and London. It didn’t take long for me to fall head over heels for Londontown – which is a pretty accurate nickname. Full of sneaky little passageways and parks that crap all over Central Park (or Thorndon, for that matter) London is both a city and a town in all its medieval, cobble stoned, overcast glory. For the next 2 and a half months, you’ll be reading about my travels, my disasters (they’re bound to be plentiful), and my account of this cheeky town. And for your first taste of cheekiness, lets talk about the Regent Street Festival.

Regent Street Festival

Regent Street Festival

I live on a cute little curved street called Stourcliff off of Edgeware road, the street of shawarma fame courtesy of fellow Jerk-blogger (and great friend) Megan Hess. I’m seconds from all Middle East culture, Hookah galore and the biggest shopping street in London – Oxford Street. Passed the Primark – where 3 pound flats and 8 pound cardigans are as good as gold – the awkward lingerie stores and the ever tempting waffle carts sits Regent Street, the Fifth Avenue of London. On a normal day, it’s bustling with the clicks of riding boots and the swiping of worn out credit cards. But not on Sunday, the 27th.

Riddle me this: what would you expect out of a street festival? If you’ve ever been to a “festival” in NYC, you’d expect cheap sunglasses, weird women in dreadlocks selling handmade jewelry, some poorly made chicken satay and a good chance you’ll be felt up.

Oh no, my fellow Jerk. Not in Londontown. If there’s one thing I’ve learned about the UK crowd, they know how to party. And when they say festival, they mean festival.

Regent St. Fashion show

Regent St. Fashion show

I’m talking a ferris wheel. A giant ferris wheel right in the middle of London’s Fifth Ave., only to be accompanied by a giant carousel that kicks the Carousel Mall’s ass. What else was on the menu? Oh you know, just some jugglers, balloons, face painting, a full runway show, a 10 foot long candy table, Lady Gaga wannabes, live piano, and two very tasty, greased up Calvin Klein models in all their boxer-brief glory.


Being the foodie that I am, I bean lined past the stuffed shorts right to the candy table. Under one glorious tent lived a table of sugary, sour, sweet, chocolate, cakey, cheap candy. After scooping up as many gummy coke bottles and macaroon balls as I could, I sampled some really great (see: cheap) Thai food while being accosted by street performers and drunk Brits. Because it’s not a broo-ha-ha without the brew in the UK.

All the while, this was for charity. London managed to eat, drink, and party their way to the tune of Cancer Research UK, who accepted donations from festival fiends and high end retail on the streets.

Who knows what cheeky discovery I’ll make next! Off to see Big Ben. You have to do the touristy stuff, too! Until next time, Cheers!

-Nina Elias

Employing a similar intimate, non-fussy approach that marked her first feature, Red Road, director Andrea Arnold elevates that approach to new emotional heights in Fish Tank, a film set amid the crumbling suburbs of Essex, England.

still photo from Fish Tank from

still photo from Fish Tank from

Newcomer Katie Jarvis plays Mia, a foul-mouthed 15 year-old with aspirations to become a hip-hop dancer despite her dire predicaments at home. Mia is the type to start fights with girls on the street, simply to amuse herself and let off her pent up aggression. When her mother brings home an attractive new boyfriend, Mia starts to exhibit sexual tendencies toward men, opening up a whole can of worms her mother is not fit and ready to cope with.


Red Road was a slow burn of a movie with a corker of an ending. Fish Tank is similar in that  Arnold keeps the viewer engaged without revealing what she’s really getting at. But while Red Road established itself as a sexually charged mystery from the outset, Fish Tank’s seemingly random narrative causes the surprises to sneak up unexpected. The detours in Arnold’s tale are in no way manipulative but feel like a natural progression of Mia’s dangerous tendencies.

In Mia, Arnold and Jarvis have created a character that elicits compassion even what at her most self-destructive. She is vulnerable when it comes to first love but is too proud to show it. Arnold makes a clear case that her surroundings have made Mia who she is. But throughout the course of her journey, Mia grows and begins to see the bigger picture. Arnold conveys this in a remarkably unsentimental way that speaks volumes to her fierce command as a director. Fish Tank does not beg for tears through clichés, it elicits them through a frank observation at real life.

–Nigel Smith

What do you do when you want to go a pub-crawl, are exhausted from climbing up two mountains and have frequently been labelled a nerd? Well, you go on a literary pub-crawl, of course.

The Pear Tree, Robert Burns's former crib and a stop on the Literary Pub Crawl

The Pear Tree, Robert Burns's former crib and a stop on the Literary Pub Crawl

Five of my friends and I were in Edinburgh, Scotland on Saturday, February 21. A friend of a friend suggested we go on a literary pub-crawl, so we did.


I saw a striptease with my father last night. That was just one of many highlights of La Clique, a self-described “indescribable” show at London’s Hippodrome Theater. Since I’m studying across the pond for the spring, Dad decided to pay me a visit. He was eager to introduce me to London’s hoppin’ theater scene, and one of SU Abroad’s helpful orientation guides recommended the show.

In a nutshell, La Clique was a drunk circus show with a sprinkle of E on top. Clumsy contortionists, emo acrobats, and sword swallowers abounded. One sword swallower, aptly named “Miss Behave,” put the rest to shame. She proceeded to take a rubber glove, stretch it over her entire head, and strut like a chicken. (more…)

Lykke Li @ Café 1001 in Shoreditch, London

Posted: October 14, 2008 by jerkmag in Uncategorized
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     After 8 hours of sitting in front of a computer screen at work, I was ready for a veggie burger, Corona, and some live music.  Thankfully, I had two neon-orange tickets in my purse to see Lykke Li at Café 1001, and Brick Lane happens to be home to some killer BBQ.   A few weeks back I’d been devastated to learn that Lykke’s big London gig was sold out and thought I might have to venture as far as Manchester to see my favorite Swede (members of Ace of Base, excluded).  Luckily, Miss Li was added to the line-up of East London’s first Concrete and Glass festival, right in the heart of my favorite weekend hangout.

     I met up with one of my girlfriends amid the typical throngs of young folk hanging out off Brick Lane where the laid-back, end-of-summer atmosphere was contagious.  Oh, and the burger? Perfect, thanks for asking.  After an hour or so of trying to blend in among the British, we gradually made our way to a small room closed off from the comfy couches and mood lighting  of the second-floor lounge.  The Scandinavian affair kicked off with Finnish musician Kimmo Pohjonen playing a style I’d call farmhand-noise-rock (?).  Actually, Mr. Pohjonen has his own name for this artistic project, as he’d aptly dubbed his May U.K. tour of the same ilk Earth Machine Music.  Back then, he recorded, sampled, and performed on British farms with local farmers and farm implements.  He reprised this sonic style for the Concrete and Glass show, albeit in a much smaller space.  Throughout his performance, he threw his whole body into playing his accordion over blaring samples while neon stage lights put me into a daze.  

     He then essentially brought the farm to the city when he invited two farmers on stage who started placing potatoes on a conveyor belt (below).

     This was soon eclipsed by a guy who entered the stage wielding a chainsaw — a sight I unfortunately missed while visiting the loo.  Upon my return, there was a guy making a beat by hammering against an anvil.  The whole set was like nothing I’d seen before and made for a pretty fascinating spectacle. Not sure I’d sign up to hear another half-hour of it just yet, but I certainly respected the guy for the process behind his show.

     Next up was Wildbirds & Peacedrums, a Swedish male-female duo (kind of like a flip-flopped Mat and Kim set-up with more soul and less synth) who brought hair-rasing vocals and thundering drums. Singer Miriam Wallentin even used her towering high-heels as a percussive instrument.  Resourceful and effective, I’d say.  My only criticism was that I couldn’t make out any distinct lyrics within her crooning.  

     After one of the longest sound-checks I’ve ever endured, Lykke Li finally hit the stage.  Dressed in all black with knee-high boots and her signature scarf wrapped around a high bun, this girl was ready to “Dance, Dance, Dance.”  And dance she did.  Perhaps it was her captivating stage presence that really solidified why I like her so much.  You see, it’s been a while since I’ve connected this much with a female artist.  Not to knock my Cat Powers and Feists, but Lykke Li has an energy I haven’t experienced yet with another “indie” female soloist.  Certainly a far cry from the generic lyricism of Colbie Caillat or Sara Bareilles or the sexpot sensationalism of Katy Perry, she’s somewhere in between the hip-hop singer you’d expect to shake it under the spotlight and the folkie singer-songwriter who strums her way through an intimate acoustic set.  With Lykke Li, you get witty and relatable lyrics from a young female perspective, a blend of organic and electronic beats from a commanding band, a little dose of foreign charm, and of course — those killer moves.

       During her set, she hit up most of the big ones from her debut, Youth Novels, giving tracks like “Little Bit” and “I’m Good, I’m Gone” the four-star treatment they deserve.  About three-quarters through the set, her guitarist kept audience members on their toes when he started playing one of this year’s most memorable riffs, that of “Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa.”  Lykke dove into about half of the Vampire Weekend hit with ease, and my mind began to wander at the thought of an amazing collaboration (Ezra Koenig, take note.  Peter Gabriel, too.)  Now, if I had been manning the set list, I would have selected the raw intensity of “Tonight” any day over the boring drone of “Complaint Department,” but I’ll let that one slide.  To end the show, Lykke brought out her badass cover of A Tribe Called Quest’s “Can I Kick It?”  

If I you’re asking me, I say….yes you can.


~Julia Askenase

P.S. Check out this video of Lykke Li and Bon Iver singing “Dance, Dance, Dance” in L.A.  Jerk editor-in-chief Katie Allyn may very well faint.

Celebrity Sighting

Posted: April 6, 2008 by jerkmag in VAULT -- archives
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I saw a celebrity yesterday. You might have heard of him.

[Editors Note: Zac took the video of the encounter.]

~ Zac Cummings

Zac does abroad, pt. 2

Posted: March 1, 2008 by jerkmag in VAULT -- archives
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Editor’s note: In Zac’s last entry, he saw the anti-Christ in McDonald’s deli sandwiches. Such is London. Here is part 2 of 2 of Zac’s intro to the foggy city.

The Brits are incredibly polite, almost to a fault. They drop the word “Cheers” like Chancy Nancy drops the word “diversity.” But they’re not afraid to get very personal very quickly. I once had a complete stranger come up to me in a bar and tell me that, from a distance, I looked like a wanker in my British cap. Wanker is a British term for masturbator.

The best part of London is the drinking age, 18 years old. The drinking culture here is well-established. A pub stands on nearly every street corner, and clubs require attendees to dress nicely. I’m talking heels and blouses for the girls, dark jeans or slacks and button down shirts for guys. Hats are absolutely NOT allowed.

But the key to living in London is not getting tied down to the drinking scene or to the American fast food chains. You can get that stuff back in the States. The trick is experiencing the uniquely British or European aspects of the city. Between the museums, the tiny shops and cafes, and the ethnic neighborhoods, there’s something exciting to do everyday. I’ll tell you more about these places and other stuff in future posts.

~Zac Cummings

For more of Zac’s thoughts on London, you can visit his blog at

Zac does abroad, pt. 1

Posted: February 28, 2008 by jerkmag in VAULT -- archives
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Hello, Jerks! Greetings from London! This is the first installment of what we hope will be a long-running tradition here at Jerk: the Jerk Does Abroad London blog. OK, the title needs some help, but we’ve got people working on that. Meanwhile, I’ll be banging out a weekly rant about my travels in the hopes someone out there gives a shit. Metaphorically, of course.

Um…I’m not sure where to begin. Should I tell you about the famous London Tube, or the infamous CCTV cameras mounted on every street corner? Do I tell you about the street performers in Covent Garden, or the free music concerts at the National Theatre? Or should I try to explain this picture:

zac london 2-28

Maybe another time. For now I’ll limit this rant to London’s atmosphere. London is like nothing else I’ve ever seen. People who have been to New York City say it’s a lot like London, but I don’t believe them. Unlike the City, London is short on skyscrapers. Little shops and open-air markets are scattered throughout. You can walk down the same street half a dozen times and find something new every time. But be careful crossing those streets – London’s black cabs and red double-decker buses brake for no one.

London feels like a giant neighborhood most of the time, but that feeling vanishes when you get to the busy streets. Pedestrians crowd sidewalks during every hour of the day, causing one to ask, “Don’t these people have jobs?” Most people explore the innumerable clothing stores for the latest fashions…as with any big city, fashion is top priority.

If they’re not ransacking the clothes racks, then they’re probably eating in one of many American fast food restaurants: Pizza Hut, Subway, Starbucks and, of course, McDonald’s. Most of these American creations are strangely upscale…McDonald’s recently created a menu of healthy deli sandwiches. I can only interpret this as a sign that the Anti-Christ is coming. Soon.

~Zac Cummings

Look for part 2 of Zac’s adventures later this weekend!