Monthly Archives: May 2012

Getting cross at crossings

There are pedestrian crossings all over the place in São Paulo, but in all their various formats, the car remains king. Even when the crossing has traffic lights and a little green man sign to show that you are allowed the cross, there will often be a car or bus on the crossing making it difficult to get to the other side.

Until recently everyone just accepted this as the normal way things are. Then the State changed the rules and introduced penalties for:

  1. Motorists who park on or block crossings with their vehicle when in traffic.
  2. Motorists who don’t give priority to pedestrians at a crossing – basically you have to let people cross, they have the priority over cars now!

But the rules changed only recently so they are mostly ignored. Of course the most dangerous crossings are the ‘zebra’ ones where there are no lights, just black and white lines painted in the road. It annoys me when I go to one of these crossings and stand there watching car after car zoom past me ignoring the fact that I am supposed to have priority over them.

Recently a taxi nearly hit me when I stepped into a crossing expecting him to stop. The driver swore at me and fortunately I was carrying a large open carton of fresh mixed fruit juice. I chucked it at him and though I failed to get it through his window, it went all over the side of his car. He drove off.

And yesterday as I waited to cross, a pedestrian next to me was annoyed that the cars were not stopping, so he chucked a plastic bottle full of mineral water at a big SUV that was sailing past us. The car stopped and the driver didn’t know what to do – probably fearing some violent attack. He drove off.

I’m not advocating that pedestrians should be going armed, ready to launch juice at cars who don’t stop, but the frustration is getting unbearable. Who is actually getting fined for ignoring the rules because I’ve not heard about a single case yet – though I have heard about fatalities at pedestrian crossings, because people are now expecting the cars to stop.

Pedestrians are going to start taking the law into their own hands if motorists continue to ignore the new rules.

Road Crossing

New Order @ Brixton : May 2, 2012

Sometimes when I go to see a band that has been together for ages it can be a great event. The memories of gigs and songs from long ago come back and you end up reliving that time just for a couple of hours.

When I saw The Damned a couple of weeks ago it was a bit like that. These guys started out in 1976 and even after 35 years they bounced all over the stage and put on a real sing-a-long show full of their classics.

With New Order at the Brixton Academy last night it was a different story.

I really like New Order, they are an institution and legends of the Factory label in Manchester – in fact they bankrolled Factory and allowed many other bands from the area to get a start in life. They also avoided the heritage circuit – not that there is anything wrong in performing all your old songs for the fans, but there is a finality to that – acknowledging that your best days are in the past.

At the gig last night they felt old and tired. Gillian and Bernard have never really been all that animated, but it didn’t look like they were having fun. I think they really needed Hooky there to interact with the audience – the live experience is about more than just churning out the songs, a band needs to interact with the crowd for the concert to become a real experience.

They took ages to get going. ‘Regret’ was an early crowd-pleaser, but that was it. Their choice of songs didn’t seem to encourage the crowd to start enjoying the gig early on. By the time it got better we were one or two songs from the encore. And the encore was ‘Transmission’ and ‘Love will tear us apart’ by Joy Division. Great stuff, but why not include a New Order classic there too?

The sound was also pretty bad – mixed poorly so the vocals were hardly audible – singing and speaking. When Bernard did say something it was just a mumbled noise and when he was singing the guitars drowned him out completely, until the keyboards were used and then they drowned everything out.

So I left a bit disappointed. It was one of those shows where you expect a legendary band to behave like legends, but they just do a pretty average pub rock gig in a large venue. A shame really.

Brixton Academy