Frisk #178

Snakes alive, it’s Frisk #178! The 178th Street Tunnel in Manhattan was constructed in 1940, although by the 1950s it was overwhelmed by traffic – too narrow, too poorly ventilated – and was superseded by the Trans-Manhattan Expressway. Nowadays it’s boarded up either end and used by the Port Authority for storage. So it’s basically just a big secret hole in the ground full of old road signs and Armco. There you go, a pointless fact.

Rainbow Village
It’s interesting how smartphones are turning humans into magpies. It’s a weird evolutionary quirk that probably means we’ll all be living in nests in a couple of generations’ time. Today, though, it manifests itself as an unprecedented enthusiasm for bright colours and shiny things. We naturally gravitate toward jauntily-painted buildings, jazzy graffiti murals and unicorn lattes because, y’know, they make for great Instagram posts.
And if you can’t beat ’em, you may as well… exploit their fickleness and make some money out of ’em. Or so the saying goes. It’s for this reason that Kampung Pelangi, a small Indonesian suburb, has been entirely redecorated in eye-popping pastel shades, all funded by the town council. The so-called Rainbow Village was masterminded by a local headteacher, who figured that tourists would want to come and visit so they could share selfies with the #kampungpelangi hashtag. And by jingo, it worked…

Gen Z & YouTube
There’s a lot of crap on YouTube. A whole load of fame-hungry berks unable to distinguish between enthusiasm and talent.
…at least, that’s what Generation X thinks. Bloody kids, with their narcissistic ramblings. But how about Generation Z? Their online content radar is far more finely tuned in 2017. Astonishingly, six whole years have passed since Rebecca Black released Friday (potted history for the uninitiated: talent-free rich girl releases appalling single on YouTube, gets panned, but also becomes one of the site’s most-viewed-ever videos, thereby proving the colossal viral reach of these platforms across a range of audiences), and yet certain constants remain: young audiences just won’t stand for poor-quality content. OK, Friday is a different kettle of fish as it’s become a sort of cultural icon – the Glee cast covered it only semi-ironically, as did Justin Bieber, Katy Perry, Nick Jonas and numerous others – but take, instead, the example of German YouTube beauty vlogger Bianca Heinicke (aka BibisBeautyPalace). Here’s a Gen Z social media star with 4.5m subscribers, admired by fans as being the go-to girl for beauty tips. But she recently ‘did a Rebecca Black’, releasing a track entitled How It Is (Wap Bap) which, to be completely and objectively fair, is one of the worst things that’s ever happened. It’s had 37m views, but just look at the ratio of thumbs-up to thumbs-down – Bibi’s fans may love her beauty advice, but they won’t put up with this crap…

Death of the country pub
Sure, we’ve been hearing about the decline of British pub culture for years, but it hasn’t become any less bleak.
It’s rural areas that are really suffering. When a pub shuts in a city, it’s very sad for the regulars, but the likelihood is that a craft brewery or an ‘activity drinking venue’ (combining booze with crazy golf or bingo or retro arcades or fake wedding discos) will pop up in its place and at least make a similar contribution to the local economy. But in remote villages? With the post offices and local shops already closed thanks to sprawling out-of-town supermarkets, the pub is the social hub, the heart of the community. But if people aren’t actually going there as much – and the figures suggest they aren’t; in Yorkshire, for example, 1 in 5 pubs have closed in the last decade – because they either can’t afford it or they’d rather just be at home Snapchatting in front of Bake Off, then rural pubs have to adapt to survive.
…and that’s exactly what’s happening. As one example of many, look at the Stoke Canon Inn near Exeter: this is a pub run by local volunteers, which offers movie screening nights, a ukulele club, RSPB birdwatching courses, and has a shiny new children’s playground. In addition, Heineken have earmarked £10m to ensure that their rural pubs serve decent grub and proper coffee, along with having free wifi and live sports. ‘Adapt or die’ may be a savage phrase, but there’s something in it.

Daniel Bevis, Senior Knowledge Editor

24th May 2017