Erenlai - Items filtered by date: Friday, 31 August 2012
Friday, 31 August 2012 21:54

詩歌,美好的一家!

──吳晟、吳志寧父子談《甜蜜的負荷》

歌賦予詩新靈魂,詩在歌裡重長成;

詩歌原本不易分,同是時代的回聲。

在2012.08.05「風和日麗連連看」音樂會的午後,我們與吳晟老師聊詩與歌...

Friday, 31 August 2012 15:17

Bang Bang! They shut my café down!

“Zhizou” (Go Straight) café opened in September 2009, but closed at the end of April 2012 due to the landlord being unwilling to re-sign a contract. The idea for the store was to provide a place for disorganised activists to assemble. For the most part members were young artists and students dissatisfied with certain aspects of society that hadn’t found any other group that suited their needs. The members then got involved in various causes, for example participating in the “No Nuke” group’s protests against nuclear energy; taking part in international “Occupy movement” protests and protesting the forced demolition of the Wang family house in Shilin by the Taipei government. They even took part in activities abroad, such as working with Japanese activist Matsumoto Hajime and doing promotion for his second hand and “Zhizou” sister store “Amateur Riot”.

”Zhizou” was located in an alley in a quiet residential area, and the neighbours eventually ran out of patience towards these strange, overactive young people, and slowly started to complain. After that, police officers often patrolled the area when customers talked our smoked outside late at night.

With the landlord receiving a lot of pressure from the neighbours, he contacted the owners of “Zhizou” just before their lease was to expire, and openly told them that the neighbours had grown more and more resentful towards the customers coming and going from the café, and therefore he wouldn’t be renewing their contract.

cafe03Even though in the last month before closing the owners took action, making the effort of going house to house to attempt to connect with the neighbours, the landlord maintained his position and decided to no longer extend their contract. In this way, “Zhizou”, less than three years since its conception, stopped doing business.

After the “Zhizou” farewell party, the cafe received an unexpected letter from the neighbours in its mailbox. They originally thought it was another complaint letter, and never thought that the contents of the letter would be of encouragement, expressing that they appreciated the owners’ efforts and good intentions. Even though it wasn’t signed, getting a response like this was very touching for “Zhizou”, so they would like us to help them say thanks to this sweet neighbour.

“Zhizou” will of course keep moving forward. Although there aren’t any immediate plans to reopen, “Zhizou” is always looking for possibilities to continue their activism in a new location, and keep providing young dissatisfied people in Taipei with a platform for expressing themselves.

Original article by Jiahe Lin and Zijie Yang. Translated by Daniel Pagan Murphy. Photos courtesy of  Zhizou cafe


 

Watch an interview with members of the NoNuke movement at Zhizou cafe

 


Published in Focus: Living Together
Friday, 31 August 2012 12:39

Taipei’s Civility Engineering Project

Riding Taipei’s subway home from the recent Radiohead gig, I was struck by what should be a peculiar sight.

It was close to 11pm and the carriage had many more passengers than there were seats, yet no one was availing themselves of the dark blue Priority Seats reserved for elderly, frail and pregnant passengers, or those travelling with children. By the time I alighted the MRT eight stops later, not one passenger had taken a Priority Seat even though many remained standing.

The seats appeared to be saved for people who were not likely to board the train. Not many obasans ride in to Taipei Main Station at that late hour. Those passengers who were not elderly, frail or pregnant appeared unwilling to offend those that might sit in those seats, even though no such person was there. Perhaps though, the intended or possible presence of an obasan was enough to shape such cautionary behaviour. Such is the civil code of the MRT.

Officially labelled the Mass Rapid Transit, the MRT is an essential feature of daily life for those Taipei citizens without private transport. Only 15 years old and with new lines appearing every couple of years, the network is slowly diffusing throughout the bowels of the city. On an average June 2012 day, 1,588,700 people took advantage of the MRT’s punctual, clean and orderly service to travel around the system’s 101 stations .

More than just an ongoing civil engineering project, Taipei’s MRT is a civility engineering project.

It could be chaotic but it is not. Somehow the authorities have managed to instil a sense of cooperation into the riding public. Platform queues are orderly. Seats are yielded to those in need. Food and beverages are not consumed. Phone conversations are generally kept to a minimum.

For foreign visitors to Taipei, especially those unfamiliar with the Chinese language, the MRT is the easiest way to traverse the city. Were one to stay underground in the MRT system, one would think Taipei to be clean and cool; regimented and reliable. Such conceptions would be obliterated upon stepping up from the MRT station and into the frazzling pedestrian traffic and frying heat of the street. In that sense the train system underground serves as a panacea to the often frantic life above ground.

One part of the government’s project to train MRT passengers is an extensive set of posters hung in both trains and stations. These posters encourage proper behaviour both IN and OUT of the MRT.

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Passengers are exposed to a range of advertisements that seek to influence their behaviour. Having control over the walls of the stations and trains gives the government the opportunity to monopolise the advertising medium. Of course much space is given over to commercial advertising, whose valuable remittances help keep the MRT system afloat. But the endless entreaties to behave better are what really created an impression on me. The captive audience of the MRT is ideal for the government to impress upon its ideals of how to create a better city.

Do people live together in the MRT? Yes, they do. An unspoken code of behaviour exists. This is not without contradictions. Someone could bring on a box of freshly fried stinky tofu, and while the odor might be a bit much for some, as long as the offending passenger does not eat any then this is OK. However, if someone is feeling in need of a drink, which is common in the summertime heat island of downtown Taipei, then he would be advised not to sip from his water bottle, lest he incur a sharp look of disapproval from the nearest righteous passenger.

Such a stringent code of behaviour is not without failing though. The Priority Seats can be contentious, especially if you are sitting in one and do not look old or injured, or are not wearing the appropriate sticker. Of course, many injuries or illnesses are not perceptible from the outside. If you are sick or sore but do not look it, then your fellow passengers might take umbrage at your bold occupation of a Priority Seat. I once saw a lady vehemently defend her right to sit in the Priority Seat, even though there was an older (and at least visibly, more frail passenger) standing nearby. Confrontations of this sort are uncomfortable for those nearby but, at least to my knowledge, rare.

In a city where almost every available inch of space is utilised and contested, the MRT exists as a zone of relative harmony and compromise. It is not only citizens who take the MRT, but the city of Taipei also rides it on the way to a more civilised society.

 

 

Published in Focus: Living Together
Friday, 31 August 2012 12:17

Living with Noise and Smell

Living in a crowded city likeTaipei, often in close proximity to others, it is frequently inevitable to intrude on other people's privacy. In this video we interviewed a group of different people, talking about problems they may have had with neighbours due to noise or smell, and how they have attempted to resolve these conflicts.

 

 

 

Readers in China, please click here.

 

Published in Focus: Living Together

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