Early November last year Renisha McBride, a 19-year-old African American woman, was shot outside the home of a 54-year-old white man in Dearborn Heights, Michigan. Several hours earlier, she had crashed her car into a parked vehicle. She couldn’t find her cellphone. She was drunk, high and possibly concussed. She was a young black woman looking for help in a society that routinely asserts black bodies are volatile, more likely to perpetuate violence than seek assistance. The Internet barely yawned at the news. The case was similar to Jonathan Ferrell’s yet its dissimilar treatment in the media seemed one more disappointing example of how America values the lives of African-American women in the year 2013.
If Inside Llewyn Davis comes up short of the Coen brothers’ best films in any way, it may be due to a lack of “objects” in a second sense of the word—objectives, desires, points toward which the narrative inevitably strives.
I loved the trappings of the holiday as perhaps only a child growing up in the tropics can love them: the snowy landscapes of greeting cards; the fireplaces and twinkly yellow lights glowing in the December dark of favourite books and films; the carols on my family’s Bing Crosby and Jim Reeves records; the Christmas pudding and fruit cake my Aunty Edith made; the whole comforting Englishness of it, at once familiar and exotic, reliable and exciting.
An exhibition I saw very quickly at the end of this year, reminded me of another exhibition I viewed quickly earlier in 2013. Kaye Donachie and Gary Hume have a knack for getting us to look longer. And the economy of means they achieve this with is remarkable.
I thought I was preparing to sit down to write a blog post about writing, but first I had to meet a friend in the Media Markt to drop off the key to the apartment where I’ve been cat sitting between Christmas feasts. This Media Markt is located in a shopping center in Berlin-Neukoelln, the neighborhood that might offer the most insight into what gentrification looks like in 2013 in Germany. My friend, surrounded by glittering cases of DVDs and CDs, had apparently chosen her destination wisely. The desperate post-Christmas sales were on, and the sidewalk in front of the Arkaden was swarmed. I stepped into the crowd of Neukoellners. So did a man who looked homeless. The man who looked homeless was pulled aside by two policemen who told him this wasn’t the place for him. He started yelling. One of his interlocutors looked unmoved and professional. One laughed. The man kept protesting, but he would not be coming inside. I was swept in with the families and teenagers and young singles who looked to be probable customers.