Archived entries for New York

edinburgh trams : who got the cash

“Politicians should accept that they generally lack the appropriate expertise to fully understand the technical, financial and legal aspects of major projects”
Sarah B

“The fault lies with us, with our lack of industrial capacity, shortage of commercial nous and the paucity of engineering skills that once marked out Scotland as a nation”
George Rosie

The chaotic construction history and ignominious failure of the Edinburgh Tram Plan has now been revealed, since last weeks’ politicised Unionist vote to bring it all to a very premature halt at Haymarket was won. Won by the very same south-of-the-border parties who championed the Airport-Newhaven lines in the first place, under dubious political motives (they knew it was unaffordable and wanted to saddle the replacement SNP government with a build-it-they-must-by-law infrastructure project that would hobble any social spending…)

But aside from the appallingly childish (Kleptocracy would be a more appropriate term, some might say) Unionist/Independence politiking at Holyrood and the naivety of the district council, there’s something even more humiliating for Scotland, if that were possible – the dreadful shameful fact we couldn’t build it ourselves.

you’d never believe the scots were once famed for engineering :
who banked edinburgh’s 1/5th-built £800m tram budget

please note I’m not criticising the expertise these companies embody – see last weeks’ post on Halcrow’s London Underground works, which had been specifically written previously, to contrast with the expected tram news

tramway designers : Parsons Brinckerhoff*, New York + Halcrow, England
steel rails : Voestalpine, Austria
operational systems : Siemens and Bilfinger Berger, Germany
tramcars : Construcciones y Auxiliar de Ferrocarriles, Spain
street + utilities preparation : Carillion, England

*PB now owned by UK’s Balfour Beatty

from George Rosie’s superb analysis of the debacle The Route To Nowhere

There is perhaps a silver lining to all this: the power cable towers – a visual abomination in a world heritage city, stupidly and thoughtlessly chosen because burying the power would have cost “zillions” despite contractors having to re-position every single cable beneath the road surface anyway – will now no longer pollute the view to the Castle from Princes Street. I was also going to add in a list of cities that have successfully managed to build a modern tram system, but I’m too numptied.

Fareweel to a’ our Scottish fame,
Fareweel our ancient glory!
Fareweel ev’n to the Scottish name.
Sae famed in martial story!
Now Sark rins over Salway sands,
An’ Tweed rins to the ocean,
To mark where England’s province stands -
Such a parcel of rogues in a nation!

Robert Burns

An article by respected longstanding trams blogger, Sarah B
Comparison – Access to the Region’s Core wiki entry

Finally, there is a purposely-hidden solution to all this tram nonsense – the blindingly-obvious Edinburgh Airport Rail Link to Waverley. Yes, it does exist, and it could have been instigated decades ago. But politics always comes before sensibility… like LRT Airport Shuttle fares, taxes on Hackneys and Parking Fines for those who rented a car in the face of being stuck out in the western showground sticks with no visible means of transport. Basically Tax Revenue for the council to spend on… ugly street furniture? £3,000 a day consultants to tell them chips are made from potatoes? Gold-plated pensions? (er, that last one’s a DEFINITE priority).

Bus graphic by Jamie Reid


Jeremy Balfour (Tory) : Lesley Hinds (Labour)
Jenny Dawe (LibDem) : Andrew Burns (Labour) : Steve Cardownie (SNP)

Oh – I nearly forgot – whereforeto The Right Honourable George Grubb, Lord Lieutenant and Lord Provost of the City of Edinburgh? What ails our esteemed city leader? Can we not look to him for leadership, just when we need it? Hmmm? Shurely he’s got something constructive to contribute, being leader an’ all that? Maybe a few words on the evils of kleptocracy, perhaps?

Update from Lord Provost of Edinburgh 6 september 2011

Continue reading…

new york new york

Nina Hagen, much underrated as a vocalist and performer, explains disco NY style.

soundwalk at kickstarter

Do pledge to soundwalk’s Ulysses at kickstarter – a sonic project of depth and integrity.

the difference between banksy and taggers…

…is that taggers are thick as mince. They have nothing to say. There is no point nor humour to their visual static. The thing that really bothered me about Berlin was the incessant mindless graffiti, basically everywhere. There is no revolution in mind – just the blank expression of some undefined and unarticulated discontent. Kilroy/Chad woz ‘ere is funnier.

Tox has no urbex etiquette. No awareness of the subtleties, possibly.

Masterclass – this is how it’s done (don’t do this).

UNDERCITY from Andrew Wonder on Vimeo.

vivian maier

I realise now the rest of the world knew about this discovery last year.

Excuse my ignorance. Vivian Maier is officially posthumously big in street photography. Diane Arbus big. Undiscovered in her 40-year Chicago lifetime.

To the young local historian who found her work, busy scanning tens of thousands of unseen rolleiflex frames – and other collectors – it’s the tip of the iceberg. Words fail me, she is brilliant. And somewhat tragic, sad to say: not suicide but ignomious in talented poverty and ignored isolated old age – frightening: as Morrissey says, “shyness is nice and shyness can stop you from doing all the things in life you’d like to” – in Maier’s case it was simply not showing her work to others (reasons now unknown – got a good guess though why she sidestepped the fame/gallery system – ironically this simply gives her even more kudos to those who will inevitably in the coming years be in ultimate control of the “assets”).

Gallery at New York Times’ LENS
John Maloof’s blog
Jeff Goldstein’s blog

from Z to A is a scotland-based psychogeography and urban topography magazine featuring creative, critical, playful urban journeys

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