The largely one-way entertainment exchange between the UK and its slightly larger neighbour to the left has given rise to a common misapprehension that all US culture is automatically blown eastward, sucked up in some entertaino-vacuum and immediately spirited to the UK to be deposited at the British and Bodleian libraries.
But this is not in fact the case. Many gems stay stateside while lesser exemplars hop on the cultural Concorde. Among these unlikely homebodies is Saturday Night Live, a programme of such influence on every generation of Americans — an influence that persists even though the show hasn’t been any good since the 70s — that it is amazing to find Britons unaware of it.
In the spirit of art education — a post-postcolonial project of reclaiming precultural postproduction from the posthegemonic premargins — the DLR has received the last ever Arts Council grant to study Linda Richman, a character played by Mike Myers in the 1990s. Linda was an exuberant Jew from New York with a thing for Barbra Streisand who introduced a lot of Yiddish to a lot of Midwestern Americans. Mazel tov, Linda!
One of her most famous quips is about the Holy Roman Empire (neither holy, nor Roman, nor an empire), which gave rise to our little aperçu of a title. Here she is with Madonna (funny) and Roseanne Barr (less so, surprisingly):
Ah, but Linda, you meshuggina, Mike, you mensch, where are ye now? We thought about you when we heard about Dalston’s big news today. No one else could capture the quiet irony and, yes, chutzpah of Westfields, a place so ill-suited to East London they didn’t even bother to change the name. We miss you, Linda, for that and Dalston’s other retail scoop — the opening of Beyond Retro, formerly of Covent Garden and Spitalfields (yes that’s Kingsland Road in the same shopping league as Covent Garden). (And what, exactly, is beyond retro? Aren’t they just calling their shop ‘Old’?) These are steps forward in optimism we would honestly like to support, but unless the Olympics visitors have come over here to shop at Hobbs, we say: oy, gevalt! What is this retail mishigas.