The West London Tube Station Conundrum

Turnham Green Church on one cold and creepy foggy January evening.

Greetings humanoids!

One of the things that has intrigued me for quite a while is this strange supernatural phenomenon that seems to have befallen West London decades ago but no one seems to care / give a ‘flying lizard humping a crab in the air’ about. Allow me to elaborate…

I have been inhabiting this part of Londinium for long enough now to know what airline is hovering above my head purely based on the time of the day and sound of the engine (and I pseudo-support a 3rd Heathrow runway). And this breadth of experience as a West Londoner, as handy as it is in day to day life, means that I do indeed spend most the time in the shower thinking of this particular conundrum.

Keep this map as a reference, you’ll need it as I ramble along (click on each place-mark for more info).

Let us start from the beginning and introduce several lemmas directly correlating to the map above.

Lemma 1: Turnham Green station was named after Tunham Green the park
Lemma 2: Chiswick Park station was named after Chiswick Common
Lemma 3: Chiswick Park the business park (a dystopian Orwellian-esque village like place), was name after Chiswick Park station
Lemma 4: Gunnersbury station was named after Gunnersbury Park

Now according to a Freedom of information request by some awesome individual back in 2008, Tfl responded with this extremely informative spreadsheet outlining the distance between every two outstanding stations on all ‘London Underground’ lines. Couple that with my out of this orbit spreadsheet data skills, I was able to calculate the average distance between any two stations on the same line, and it turned out to be 1.31km (0.81 miles).

District Line – West London

If we were to follow the natural sequence of stations on the two branches of the district lines (picture above), it would go like this:

Ealing Broadway branch (westbound w/ distance):

TURNHAM GREEN CHISWICK PARK 0.95
CHISWICK PARK ACTON TOWN 1.22
ACTON TOWN EALING COMMON 1.03
EALING COMMON EALING BROADWAY 1.50

Richmond Branch (westbound w/ distance):

TURNHAM GREEN GUNNERSBURY 1.59
GUNNERSBURY KEW GARDENS 1.71
KEW GARDENS RICHMOND 2.14

Taking into consideration the average distance mentioned above it would seem that the distance between Turnham Green and Chiswick Park is indeed rather strange, could it be that Chiswick Park was never meant to be there? Was it a fluke?

The station was opened in July 1879 whereas Turnham Green station came 10 years before that in 1869!

Confused? So am I. Let’s solve this b*tch:

It turns out that it was not ‘Turnham Green’ that is at fault for causing all this solid and extremely life changing confusion. It was actually ‘Chiswick Park’, which in it’s early days was actually named ‘Acton Green’, in reference to the adjacent park. Taking into consideration that Turnham Green was the only station serving the area 10 years earlier, it just made a whole lot of sense that it was named after what then was the closest church and park (because people have like little imagination sometimes).

Gunnersbury Manor

This brings us to our final piece of the puzzle, Gunnersbury. This was quite strange, because for quite a while it was evident to everyone living on the west side of Chiswick that Gunnersbury was really the park and the park took it’s name after the manor (later turned museum) on the site. So how can a park, roughly a mile away, closer to Acton Town and Kew Bridge give its name to Gunnersbury? The answer is we just don’t know, but what is now known is that the station actually opened as ‘Brentford Road station’, in a clear reference to what is now Chiswick High Street which on a straight path will probably take you straight to Brentford (or Sao Paolo, if you make it to Heathrow and sneak on a plane).

So there you go my minions, hours spent in the shower, flying my own rocket and even cleaning my own dishes pondering over this conundrum have finally yielded a result. Eureka!

Edit (February 2016): I have now moved away from West London to somewhere else (no longer sharing due to fear of Tim Cook giving my location data away). As such I am no longer an expert on all things West London and would not recommend you take the analysis above as conclusive. In 4 years, Chiswick has probably changed (right?) and so everything above makes no sense. Whatever.

Advertisements

Album in History: Shakatak – Night Birds

'Night Birds' - Sounds ahead of their time (from space?)

In the long, diverse and sometimes even seemingly pedantic world of Jazz history there have been certain artists that have gone on to be so instrumental in expanding and diversifying the genre that they have created sub-genres solely revolving around their sounds. And while obvious names like Herbie Hancock, George Duke, Frank Zappa and Bob James immediately spring to mind, other relatively low-key performers like Shakatak have been just as influential. It is that very notion which makes defining Shakatak’s sound such a difficult task, not that I believe in “defining” and “labelling” sounds anyways!

After the racially fuelled disco-demotion nights, which exposed deep social problems that characterized much of the late 70s / early 80s period in mainstream America, a sound which fused the four on the floor electronic time signatures with elements of jazz, funk and disco was born, we now refer to it as post-Disco! At the time it was just a natural reaction to a movement characterized by its rejection to the notion that cultural America was changing, and that racism and homophobia were on the decline! Counterculture was taking over the American youth, culminating in anti-globalization collectives which had already established itself in the 60s largely as a youth movement sprawling from the disenfranchised social fabric destroyed initially by Nixon and later the Raegen years, or as brother Gil Scott-Heron called him, Rae-gun!

Musically, this was perfect fertile grounds to develop Disco, which hate-riddled demolition nights aside, wasn’t really developing all that much as it was. That’s not to say that several offshoot genres hadn’t already taken a life of their own by then. Giorgio Moroder had already developed his own brand of Hi-NRG Disco (exemplified in his collaborations with Donna Summers), and kids in Detroit and Chicago were listening to Kraftwerk and already discovered that 808s and 303s are more than just pretty Japanese machines that make robot sounds. What the disco demolition nights did however, was exponentially speed up that process, and in a matter of years dance music witnessed arguably its greatest evolution to date.

In England, that change was profoundly felt, and while in the later years of the 80s it was manifested in the meteoric rise of Synthpop, especially in northern parts, Jazz-Funk was the genre of the moment in the early to mid-years of the decade. ‘Night Birds’ in many ways exemplified that era, yet somehow came at a time when Jazz-Funk was both quite unknown to the wider public and largely rejected from Jazz’s inner-circle. Smooth Jazz pioneer Bob James faced similar objections from the Jazz community when One, Two, Three and BJ4 were released, even though he never claimed them to be Jazz in the first place!

‘Night Birds’ as an album achieved limited commercial success initially despite it’s quite obvious pop connection (and one hell of an awesome cover art work!). But this was never about sales, what makes this album so special is the ineffably rich compositions and instrumental innovativeness spearheaded by the band’s pianist Bill Sharpe. George Anderson on the other hand provided that killer brass so evident in Streetwalkin’. A spectacularly well harmonized eclectic album with just the right amount vocal hooks covers everything from early day Bossa jazz to swanky jazz-funk, which it largely put on the map!


Shakatak – Streetwalkin’ – Kay’s ‘One Very Cold Yet Funky Morning’ Edit

Fiat: We are all fine with Sexual assault now!

Fiat: Mamma mia!!

Folks, I don’t know about you, but last I checked (which was last evening), we were not all fine with the idea of hoards of horny young men chasing women in their cars and physically removing them from the vehicle like a prey (and breaking into dance). Sounds grotesque? Tell that to Fiat, whose new commercial sees ‘Jenny from the block’ driving around in a Fiat 500 while being chased by hundreds of men, the ad then takes an interesting twist when she gets pulled out of the car, and breaks into dance?! I’m sorry my Italian friends, but in real life that could have very well taken a turn for the worse (Lara Logan anyone?), just sayin…

Maybe that’s just Jenny’s new idea of getting over her divorce, maybe it’s just her midlife crisis, maybe I left the oven on in the kitchen yesterday and it could even be that Zombies are real. In any case, here it is:

Track of the Month: Portico Quartet – City of Glass

Portico Quartet's third self-titled album

Let’s face it, it hasn’t been Jazz’s finest hour for quite a while. Apart from a few legends still doing their thing, the scene in the past couple of decades has been quite devoid from fresh talent and more so from fresh ideas. But that all changed in recent times when the likes of Jaga Jazzist, Floating Points, Flying Lotus and Henrik Schwarz found a spark that has long been missing from the versatile genre, electronic fusion.

Back in the 70s, the likes of George Duke and Frank Zappa were experimenting with Jazz like there was no tomorrow. And the once fundamentally stringent multi-faceted idiomatic genre, became a playground for all kinds of imports from across the globe. All of a sudden, Jazz became a melting pot of everything from African tabla solos to ostinato time signatures (exemplified in Herbie Hancock‘s Mwandishi).The period saw one of Jazz’s biggest evolution to date, the abandoning of the swing beat in favor of the backbeat.

Live at Rough Trade East (31st Jan 2012)

Flash forward to 2012, and it seems like jazz is everywhere again. Youngsters are going to record stores and browsing hundreds of fusion movement vinyls, previously a rarity, now a common sight. And in that vein, it wasn’t surprising that a day after Portico Quartet released their third album, a 45 minute appearance at Rough Trade East on Brick Lane was a full house affair.

But to label any track on that album as jazz or jazz fusion would be nothing short of misleading. It is much more than that, but somehow simplified to sound much less. A quirky dubstep bassline meets an ineffably well structured 2 step beat, suddenly morphing into an ambient reverb-atious landscape with a cello propagating you through it all like a ripple that never fades.

When Corporate Drones … become Corporate Whores

I want to help you answer the tough questions in life

Let’s face it, if you’re reading this then you probably fall broadly into one of these categories:

1- Corporate Drone: You live to serve the machine. You’re entire conformist life is dedicated to making money for the big man who got you to believe that by doing so you’re going to become rich and famous one day. So you hopelessly live your dreadful routine existence on the hope that one day you will progress in life to become a big man yourself and enslave drones under you. Statistically you have less of a chance in doing that than winning the lottery, but still you will probably write essays and seminars on why no one should ever waste time playing the lottery because they will never win, not realising my fellow drone that you are in fact locked in this cosmic earthly lottery yourself with meager hope of winning.

2- Corporate Whore: You have transcended your miser drone level and took strides in proving that by sucking that goat of a boss’s (ehem) socceralls (did I say that right?), then you will achieve win you’re life. Your decision to live your days (including weekends and bank holidays) in the office generating work that would have otherwise gone unnoticed is perpetually injudicious to your sanity, yet you are not in that realm anymore, so you continue to feed the corporate monster fuel at unhumanly levels.

3- Free Soul who might (or not) know someone who fits in the above: exactly!

Assuming that you’re here and not there (what?!) then you are probably very interested in knowing the warning signs that you are shapeshifting from a drone to a whore. You’re in luck, behold, these are the signs.

Signs you are becoming a corporate whore:

Barack already made the decision!

1- You start participating passionately in corporate networking events. You’re diary has at least one upcoming corporate sponsored mixer in the next month and you can’t wait. You’ve already ordered that tailored suit from T.M-Lewin or some other drone clothes outlet, heck you might even have considered renting that special suit from MossBros. You’re already googling whose attending and browsing their corporate history, perhaps this is your chance to throw that killer one liner that will get you in the big game. You’ll most probably leave that event all the less wiser, but it’s not a problem, the next one is in 4 weeks, time to practice you’re one-liners again!

2- In the past week or two you have deliberately sent your boss an email after hours in the vein hope that they might notice you’re staying in the office late.

3- You’re filled with excitement on Monday mornings and can’t wait to find out what your boss and fellow drones did in their horrible weekends.

4- In the past year you have started a blog related to your line of work filled with re-published material from already established blogs and boast you are so magnificent for finding it. You die to share your blog with your co-drones, at times you have considered adding it to your email signature.

5- Your email signature tells your life story. It’s not enough to tell people your name and number, you have to provide at least 3-5 links to your LinkedIn, twitter and some obscure niche social network that shows you are “different”.

Corporate whores think they are winning too

6- You spend hours every day optimizing your LinkedIn account, fill it with corporate jargon and shameless self-promotion. This is your shrine so you might as well make it as holy as possible so your visitors feel your technological evangelism flowing from your cheesy avatar.

7- The most exciting part of your day is getting CCed in an email in a subject of your expertise. You will then spend the next hour devising the perfect email, only to be told later that no one read it and be heart-broken.

8- Your boss leaves at 5 and expects you to leave at 8 but you love it, how else can you expect a glowing reference when you move up the drone levels. You then spend the extra three hours figuring out how to show your boss that these were the most productive 3 hours of your week. So you (do number 2).

9- Lunch breaks? say what? You haven’t had one in years. You rely on one of your other co-drones to grab you a Turkey sub from the store, you can’t waste precious corporate minutes eating, so you leave it on your desk and eat it at 6 when you realize the office is now empty and you are the only one there.

10- You’ve never been in a rush hour, you’re always in the office earlier than the sunshine and leave just when the building is about to close (you’ve already gotten locked in the building before).

11- You spend your free time thinking of ways and strategies to get a promotion. Your top ten bookmarks all have the words (geek, tech and career) in them.

12- You check your work email 8 times a minute during office hours, and at least 5 times an hour when you are back home.

13- New year resolutions? Getting scrum certified, everyone knows thats where the market is heading, might as well capitalize on the agile revolution.

This man is an exception to the rule

14- You fully use your company’s annual corporate book allowance and buy books relating to your field. You might not read them, but you proudly display them on your desk for all to see.

15- Biggest news this year? You got a new 22 inch monitor for your awesome desk. You are winning.

And so my brethren, if you feel you relate to at least 5 of the points I mentioned above then my commiserations, you have become a corporate whore and sold your soul to the devil. All of that said, there are exceptions to the rules, and if you lead you’re life asking the following question then all of the above becomes moot:

What Would Don Draper Do?

Enjoy the toon and drink to your miserable existence, we are all in this together!

In Lebanon, they use trucks for advertising…

A green solution to our creative problems - Beirut leads the way again

Greetings mumble jumblers and aspiring creative Gods, I have just come back from a mind and body nourishing trip to the land of the Cedars filled with bionic encounters and alien chases, but I’ll come back to that later.

Moments after exiting Beirut‘s esteemed airport I was struck by this extremely innovative, environmentally friendly, green private initiative from Beirut advertising moguls (pilocks) Skyline advertising. What an absolutely marvelous solution to Lebanon’s unlife-like cluster banging traffic infested roads I said to myself, who needs to worry about Lebanon’s increasingly deteriorating environmental status, everyone knows those statistics are for Philistines anyways…

Dayum, these guys do politics too!

So these trucks roam around Beirut’s highways at all times (isn’t there laws against trucks going on roads during the day anyways?) and spew their corporate bullshit onto the otherwise ambivalent Lebanese commuters stuck in the eternal quantum loop that is Beirut congestion.

Meanwhile, as I marvel at this illuminating discovery I caught a glimpse of the continuum transfunctioner doppelgänger in the corner of my eye as it was carried around at near the speed of light by the mysterious femaliens that I encountered on the Belftort in Brugge. “Stop, give me back my phone” I bemoaned as they looked at me with disdain and vanished into the ether while I was left behind distraught. Maybe it’s about time I hired one of those trucks and pled my case, it’s just a phone mean femaliens!!

Days later, District Funk’s end of year mixtape went online (dedicated to Mr Gil Scott-Heron who we lost in 2011), and my faith in humanity (and aliens) was restored!