It's a ghost that sits on the skyline forever
August 21, 2016 1:02 AM   Subscribe

God. So much incidental misery sketched in around the margins of that one plaintive act. The 26 bridge jumpers; the abuse (drugs, children); the heartache, homelessness, scuppered life chances; the murder victim. And I was left wondering about the circumstances behind Jason's unspent conviction for harassment.
posted by Sonny Jim at 1:28 AM on August 21, 2016 [4 favorites]

Sheffield is an amazing city but a badly broken one. The Joseph Rowntree Foundation just published a report on the demographics of deprivation and the map of Sheffield is stark. A complete East-West divide.
posted by fallingbadgers at 1:50 AM on August 21, 2016

The fucking developers who are flogging off former council infrastructure omitted her name because they thought she was freeloading on the slogan?
I felt puzzled that they didn’t seem to know that real people were at the heart of the graffiti. It’s because it is real that it works.
They owe Jason a flat. And they owe flats to Clare's kids too.
posted by Autumn Leaf at 3:12 AM on August 21, 2016 [20 favorites]

They owe Jason a flat. And they owe flats to Clare's kids too.

Damn right
posted by james33 at 3:16 AM on August 21, 2016 [3 favorites]

Apropos of nothing, I was doing some woodworking earlier and was constantly reading "Sheffield England" on my chisels and thought "I know nothing of the place, other than it was a center of the British steel industry". If it's any consolation, Jason and Clare (and it's not), I'll now think of your story when making shavings.

I was kind of grumpy (and I guess still am) at the hipster business appropriation of the graffiti without even a cursory investigation of the story behind it (and even if they had done so, it's use is maddening as being both cynical and twee), but Jason is pleased with its use, so who am I to say.

The hope found in such hopelessness is both uplifting and depressing.
posted by maxwelton at 3:16 AM on August 21, 2016

> ...but Jason is pleased with its use, so who am I to say.

It reads like he feels the satisfaction somebody can get by anonymously inventing a meme that becomes popular and ends up in unexpected places.

Unlike innumerable copypasta and memes, though, this is something that was latched onto by the high fashion and design industries and a lot of money changed hands because of it. It's heartbreaking that Jason and Claire's kids can't see any proceeds of it.
posted by ardgedee at 3:21 AM on August 21, 2016 [2 favorites]

but Jason is pleased with its use, so who am I to say.

What the article actually says is "Delighted that people borrow his proposal to help make their own, standing under the bridge to pop the question or sticking wedding rings on to bottles of I Love You beer." - he's pleased that this personal statement of love is used by other people in their personal statements of love. It's not the hipsters who appropriated it who he's chuffed with, it's the people who take it back and use it in the way he used it - to tell another human being that they're really loved.
posted by Vortisaur at 3:27 AM on August 21, 2016 [7 favorites]

But also: I'm struggling to find the right words, but the neon version of the graffiti just makes me...mad. The most similar thing I can think of: a greenfield McMansion development named for the nature they squashed when they built it (ie, "The Estates at Trout Creek").

Neon graffiti screams $500 jeans, standing desks, dropped-vowel-corporate-names, gentrification. Bleah.
posted by maxwelton at 3:29 AM on August 21, 2016 [6 favorites]

Whereas 63 of the 260 flats in Phase 1 of Park Hill are social housing, it looks like there will be no government subsidy for any “affordable” rented housing when the flanks on the far side of the bridge are redeveloped. If this is true, the price of saving Park Hill will be that only people who can pay for it can live there. The alternative for the estate, says Latham, is decay.

And of course, Jason doesn't get a damn thing out of it.

That's capitalism - enclosure, expropriation, recontextualizing something real and complex into some cutsie-pie slogan to market things to rich people. Ugh, what a story. It's the inventiveness of capital - reapprorpriating even graffiti scrawled on the wall, reappropriating even something that comes from a place of immense deprivation and pain, and turning that into money for the wealthy classes - that gets one. It's like, there's nothing you can make, be or express that someone with some capital to invest can't yank away and turn into money. What a world.
posted by Frowner at 3:32 AM on August 21, 2016 [17 favorites]

It took nearly 40 years to plan and build. I only hope the listed building status on that sodden heap of spalling concrete was intended to say “We must never build something so fucking ugly again.”
posted by scruss at 3:37 AM on August 21, 2016 [1 favorite]

The whole saving of Park Hill was touristic. It's a savage building which should have been destroyed with glee. Both the graffiti and the building are appropriation of poor lives.
posted by Emma May Smith at 4:37 AM on August 21, 2016

I don't live there, have never visited, and likely never will. So I can't even try to disagree with the sentiments expressed by people much more familiar with the situation than I, but I will suggest that when you are poor and ignored, sometimes just being recognized and having your words meaning something to people beyond your immediate group can be heartening. It says, in a way, you mattered, something you might not find anywhere else given your standing. So in that sense I can understand Jason feeling some sense of pride or well being in the graffiti gaining wide notice even if he doesn't make a dime off it. Though there is no doubt he should get something in return.
posted by gusottertrout at 5:25 AM on August 21, 2016 [4 favorites]

I occasionally travel up to Sheffield for work and the number of homeless people and people begging is unbelievable, even when coming from London.

Last time, I stopped on my way from the railway station to our Sheffield offices and chatted to a young man looking for money for a hostel bed. He said he was ex-forces and told me he was struggling with depression and a serious drink and drugs problem.

He seemed genuinely shocked that I stopped and gave him a couple of quid and a coffee.

Sheffield is capitalising on its cool credentials and is, in many ways, a really fun city, but there are so many people getting left behind. (Same goes for London, of course, but it felt different in Sheffield for some reason.)
posted by knapah at 5:53 AM on August 21, 2016

This article repurposes a fantastic, sad radio documentary, which I liked because you can hear the voices of Clare's family, Jason and the other people in Sheffield whose story it really is. It's here:
The I Love You Bridge
posted by finisterre at 5:55 AM on August 21, 2016 [14 favorites]

> It's like, there's nothing you can make, be or express that someone with some capital to invest can't yank away and turn into money. What a world.

I was a cynical kid, and now I'm a cynical adult and one day I will be a cynical old coot, but I will still never cease to be amazed by what people can look at and think "You know what? We can make a buck off of this."
posted by The Card Cheat at 6:08 AM on August 21, 2016 [15 favorites]

Ten or fifteen years ago, before the crash that left a giant abandoned building site in the middle of Canal St, Urban Splash were busy converting every former mill left standing in Manchester into luxury flats. On the one hand, it's good that these remnants of the city's industrial past, the city built on the backs of the working class, were preserved rather than knocked down to build the glass and concrete things that are popping up all over London. On the other, you're holding your dinner party on the spot where little girls lost fingers crawling under the machines to put food on their families' table.
posted by mippy at 6:26 AM on August 21, 2016 [9 favorites]

My takeaway from this: It's okay to repurpose something, it's not okay to do in a blithe and ambivalent way towards the past occupants of the things you're using to make your statement. Your statement should include them.
posted by Annika Cicada at 6:32 AM on August 21, 2016 [2 favorites]

Cue song by one of Sheffield's finest, Jarvis Cocker: Running the World (lyrics definitely NSFW)
posted by Mister Bijou at 6:34 AM on August 21, 2016 [2 favorites]

As a mere visitor I found it a lively, charming city that looked like it was growing vigorously out of its historic problems, but crap.
posted by Segundus at 6:45 AM on August 21, 2016

And sometimes, if they want to get a listed building demolished because it's "economically unviable", Urban Splash rip the roof off it so there's inevitably water damage and wait for it to fall down.
posted by threetwentytwo at 7:06 AM on August 21, 2016 [1 favorite]

My husband usually says he's from Sheffield cause that's the largest town people might have heard of. We took a visit to the town and after about the fifth stark abandoned building I asked "so ..what happened here?"

"The mines closed and everyone drank themselves to death"

Later we saw an actual bum fight in a parking garage.
posted by The Whelk at 7:34 AM on August 21, 2016

"Tim, now single, keeps a very clean house on a red-brick estate and his front garden is full of blooming white pot plants."

In American English, this sentence is odd because we don't think of marijuana plants as floral or noted for blossoms. Presumably the author is not actually describing what I first took him to be.
posted by mwhybark at 8:05 AM on August 21, 2016 [1 favorite]

Pot plants = plants in pots.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 8:19 AM on August 21, 2016 [4 favorites]

there are so many people getting left behind.

Which sort of begs for an answer. Why is it that we have legions of smart people sweating over fixing the latest computer security leaks ... ways to automate this and that ... and virtually noone inventing ways that allow people to feed and house themselves?

"Are there no prisons? Are there no workhouses?"

The impoverishment of our compassion is a terror.
posted by Twang at 2:27 PM on August 21, 2016 [1 favorite]

They're literally called Urban Splash? Christopher Guest is loose in the first gears of reality.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 3:13 PM on August 21, 2016

This makes me so sad.
posted by evilDoug at 3:24 PM on August 21, 2016

Came here to share "Running the World," glad to have been beaten to the punch. I'm down with outrage fatigue, post-everything-recently, and all it's left me with is the capacity to hurt for Clare, and Jason. And all the Clares, and all the Jasons.

This is one of the best pieces on cities I've ever seen in the Graun, and I've written a couple-few. Thanks for sharing it.
posted by adamgreenfield at 5:25 PM on August 21, 2016 [3 favorites]

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