Sunday, October 24, 2004

Under construction?

The end looks almost in sight! Another week and then it's back to this blog and an end to the Sao Paulo blogwatch (which is where you should be if you're coming here). Really. There's nothing to see here for the moment - at least not till after the close of polls next Sunday and the short pieces of analysis I will probably have to scribble up as well.

Tuesday, October 05, 2004

Fading idols

Was at the Carling Academy in Islington on Sunday to see a long time interest of mine: Transglobal Underground.

Frustratingly, they didn’t get on stage until past 11pm and only played an hour set. Managed to miss the tube home, which meant bus journeys through the capital.

As if that wasn’t bad enough, it was a rather disappointing gig. A bit fat and complacent – or at least the performers seemed to be. All on the cusp of middle age, with comfortable, expanded waistlines. Still, Natasha Atlas’s voice was some compensation. It was just a shame that they didn’t play more of their old stuff – Boss Tabla, Lookee Here and Psychic Karaoke would have been great. As it was they started off with Ali Mullah, which is a good track, but then it all went downhill. Still, top marks for Atlas and her rendition of Ma Vie en Rose.

Perhaps it was the lateness of the hour which skewed my feelings about the performance. Still, they’re on again next week. Maybe I’ll give them another chance.

I reckon it also had something to do with the band who came on before. I hadn’t seem Oojami before, but they were great. Whereas TGU were a little threadbare (whoever thought they should be headliners, I don’t know), Ooojami oozed enthusiasm. And the sound was a little more accessible, being jazzier and less focused on percussion as TGU’s was.

Maybe it’s a generation thing. Or the whirling dervish on stage. Or the belly dancers. I can’t decide. But I may try and catch them again next week when they’re at Cargo’s. Closer to home! But I must remember my NUS card this time…

Saturday, October 02, 2004

Trying my hand at something different

Well here it is: the first installment in the likely-never-to-be-published travel epic which I wrote at the end of last year. Not sure how many will finally make their way onto Hackwriters (which is what I am). I'm not sure how long the editor Sam North will put up with my pieces before he tires of me, but at least I'm getting a hand in at a genre I've always fanciede.

And let's face it: I want the freebies, so anything to build up the travel lit portfolio!
You'll find me elsewhere...

Given my new status as a student and my journeys through the University’s various libraries, I haven’t been able to post as regularly – either here or at the Sao Paulo election blog I’m running with Andrew Stevens of Guacamoleville. However, now Hartlepool is done and dusted, I’m sure Andrew will be able to concentrate more on the Brazil material and I’ll try and fill in where possible. So for more about that – and more regular posts than here – go and check it out.
Where I've been

Just finished my first week at the new Institute for the Study of the Americas (ISA). It’s a merger of the old US Studies Institute and ILAS, which focuses on Latin American politics. Little surprise to those who have grasped what this blog is about that I should be doing the latter.

It’s mainly been a case of introduction sessions in the classes, organising presentations for the coming term and finding out how to use the library. At the moment it looks like I’m going to be in classes on Comparative Politics, International Politics and a choice between Society and Development or Trans National Corporations. The attraction with the latter is that it’s the first time it’s being run; but unlike the former is more limited in scope.

So no useful insights to present from these preparatory classes at present. However, we have had lectures on Mexico – is regionalism a new focus in the study of its politics? No, actually, it never went away – and a government confidence index being conducted in Argentina. Must confess to being a bit of an anorak and finding the methodology attached to the use of the questionnaire most interesting even if colleagues didn’t.

Other questions to ponder and consider this week (and not emanating from the readings I’ve so far – and far from exhaustively – done): is overt American militarism in the region no longer feasible? Are there alternative models of development, given that all advocates will have to work within the context of market economies? And will Mexican President Fox’s legacy only be his victory three years ago, thereby ending PRI rule?

I haven’t a clue. But one thing’s for sure: it’s been seven years since I did a course on Latin American politics. And most of what I learned then is now out of date.