These sons and daughters might not recognize the place now.
A Irish Republican Army bombing that injured more than people and leveled parts of the city center led not only to new, often Modern-style construction but also pushed Manchester — always an innovative place — toward a new kind of urbanism. They had created their own wealth, become economically self-sufficient It is here that I should confess that I am an reconstructed music freak. Every tough British city has its signature band, but the music culture here is fully formed and amazingly multidimensional.
Guidebooks in gift shops here can direct you past every signpost or local reference in Smiths songs. You can walk past the Manchester Free Trade Hall, where Bob Dylan put on a legendary electric concert in and where the Sex Pistols turned English music on its axis a decade later. In the funky Northern Quarter, Oldham Street is lined with independent record stores, stocked for vinyl diggers, obscurantists and obsessives.
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Piccadilly Records seems dedicated to nearly everything non-mainstream — freak folk, experimental electronic and more. The week I visited, the store was hosting a small photo show of an epic Joy Division gig. The Richard Goodall Gallery, around the corner on Thomas Street, is dedicated almost entirely to rock-show posters, many of which are works of art in their own right.
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I had just missed a show of posters for the Portland, Ore. Still, I could have lost a day to the place. It was good, though not quite Village Vanguard quality. The concert was very good, a crisper-than-usual take. Every shop or restaurant I entered was playing good music, whether local boys like New Order or American groups like Talking Heads. Surrounded by men in stretchy sweaters and women dressed like Lily Allen, in fringe haircuts and ironically dowdy dresses, I saw several bands, the best of which was the Bikinis, a London group with a spirit part mod, part garage band.
But my best musical experiences were at the cafe-bars that pack the Northern Quarter.
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I was in town for two Saturdays, and Amanda, Matt and I started both of those evenings at Common, an unforgettable cafe-bar. Its walls are repainted every few months. Here, I sipped bitters and heard DJs spin a melange of music, including L. We also hit the bars Odd and Trof, similar places where we caught more DJs, strange short films and a cryptic electronica duo, One Manned Mule.
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While we were catching up on the patio, we saw police officers chasing a young man, presumably fleeing a nearby department store, through an alley of centuries-old buildings. Still bleary-eyed from my flight and perhaps from the Samuel Smiths I was drinking, I felt as though I had walked into a scene right out of Dickens. Rarely has criminality proved so charming. No freeway chases, no handguns — just petty crime the way it used to be.
That day, we also visited a dramatic, glass-and-steel museum of urban life that looks to the future. In the park outside, pale-skinned goths from the 15th century conservatory — in whose library Marx and Engels often met to discuss the sins of capitalism — lounged. Often, this juxtaposition was in the very bones of the buildings. Old cotton trading signs still hang from the ceiling.
Throughout the trip, I saw this sort of adaptive reuse, where old exteriors had been saved and interiors had been hollowed out into airy, friendly spaces. Still, I wanted some of that Victorian mojo. The best place to find the old, industrial Manchester, with its iron bridges, railway viaducts, picturesque brick walls and cobblestones glistening in the rain, is Castlefield, a beautifully restored section just south of the city center, so evocative of the old city that you hear Smiths songs just looking at it.
The entrance to the area is a bright little deli-cafe called Love Saves the Day, with cappuccinos and baked goods, and co-owned by a former member of the band Simply Red. The tableau is especially welcome in a city short on green space.
Next to Castlefield is the Deansgate Locks, now home to trendy bars and clubs set into a railroad archway. The neighborhood is also the setting for the Museum of Science and Industry, an enormous, family-friendly compound in an s train station. Factory founder Tony Wilson, Mark E. Smith of the Fall, and members of New Order and Happy Mondays grew up just over the canal in Salford, which is next door to Manchester.
Call it the East L. Much of it has been revived recently, and although the docklands called the Quays are now so clean as to be soulless, the two main attractions — the Lowry arts complex and the Imperial War Museum North — make it more than worth the minute light-rail ride from central Manchester. When Scott and I watched the preview for this movie months ago, I had two remarks: 1. Bad Ass! Oscar Movie. After seeing the movie I can say that at least one of those remarks came true.
I enjoyed the movie much more than the book, which is highly unusual for me, but mostly it was just OK. The tone that should have come across stronger in the book—the dry wit and frankness of Mattie Ross—was much more evident in the movie. Mostly I was entertained but there were parts that dragged a bit and there may have even been a few parts where I struggled to keep my eyes open shhhh!
Scott, though, hated the movie. Have you read the book or watched the movie original or remake? Sorry you had a blah feeling after finishing the book—definitely annoying! Are you the only one who finishes the books? Thanks for sharing your honest thoughts though :. I loooved the movie, esp. I really liked the book, but probably mostly because I loved the movie.
It was the distinctly drawn characters and the dry humor that captured me—I was giggling and smiling nearly the entire time. Ah well, such is life. Onto the next book, yeah? Hope you like it. Thought the casting was great! And yes, I have to admit having high hopes for Coen Brothers movies! Hope you guys like it! Such a bummer. Think the book kind of went out of print until fairly recently? Glad you did, though!
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I think that might have worked better for me, too. Glad you liked both! Yay for No Country for Old Men! I read True Grit in grade school and remember nothing.
I could not stand Fargo. Sometimes movies are better than books, but should I feel bad for saying that? I was so surprised how disappointed I was. Have you ever read their poetry?
Hard to say, but I thought it was witty and much better than I expected.