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“Glasgow is a magnificent city,” said McAlpin. “Why do we hardly ever notice that?” “Because nobody imagines living here,” said Thaw. McAlpin lit a cigarette and said “If you want to explain that I’ll certainly listen.” “Then think of Florence, Paris, London, New York. Nobody visiting them for the first time is a stranger because he’s already visited them in paintings, novels, history books and films. But if a city hasn’t been used by an artist, not even the inhabitants live there imaginatively. What is Glasgow to most of us?  A house, the place we work, a football park or golf course, some pubs and connecting streets. That’s all. No, I’m wrong, there’s also the cinema and library. And when our imagination needs exercise we use these to visit London, Paris, Rome under the Caesars, the American west at the turn of the century, anywhere but here and now. Imaginatively Glasgow exists as a music-hall song and a few bad novels. That’s all we’ve given to the world outside. It’s all we’ve given to ourselves.”

From Lanark, by Alasdair Gray

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I will come back to the above via somewhere else. For now I want to tell you a story I intuitively liked the first time I heard it. It was told by Stephen Fry on BBC.

He said that the workers in one of the Disney establishments (I think it was Eurodisney or whatever they call it now) were referring to the place in their emails as ‘Mouseschwitz’ in reference to some of the draconian staff policies. They were told to stop it or else (which sort of proves the point) and within minutes were referring to it as ‘Duckhau’.

There MAY be something in the connection. The allegation that Walt Disney had fascist ‘leanings’ has been around for some time. He certainly took strong measures against striking workers and at one time was a guest of Mussolini. He also appeared as a friendly witness during all the McCarthyite business. An animator who worked for him had this to say…

In the immediate years before we entered the War there was a small, but fiercely loyal, I suppose legal, following of the Nazi party . . . There were open meetings, anybody could attend and I wanted to see what was going on myself. On more than one occasion I observed Walt Disney and [Disney’s lawyer] Gunther Lessing there, along with a lot of prominent Nazi-afflicted Hollywood personalities. Disney was going to meetings all the time.

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Disney also screened Leni Riefenstahls films after Kristallnacht when hardly any other hollywood people would touch her.  

So I knew this stuff and also know that Disneycorp is hardly a fluffy toy of a company and today I find that…

A Disney cartoon character has been honoured as one of Glasgow’s most famous residents.

The city council has included Scrooge McDuck alongside Charles Rennie Mackintosh and Sir Alex Ferguson on a list of Glasgow’s great and good.

The list itself has many many notable exclusions and should not be taken as a guide of anything at all. Neither Alasdair Gray nor James Kelman are on it and too many others to mention.

Aside from the frankly embarassing crassness of such an act you struggle to understand why people who are intent on changing the image of the city for the better would do this. You would hope they would have thought a bit more about what this represents.

Well what it does represent is the corporatisation of this city that is going on apace, encouraged by local and national government. This is what is supposedly changing the city for the better. It is all part of the Grand Design™ approved by both local and national government to turn Glasgow into a facsimile of every other city in the bloody world if not turn it into a theme park of its former self like so many other places have become.  In other words, the lack of imagination mentioned in the quote above.

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Instead of using our own ‘bad novels’ we now seem to have sunk to someone else’s (a possible fascist).

The character in question is a miserly old bastard who had his eyes sparkled by the ‘American Dream’ who then went off to America and became a rich miserly old bastard.

This kind of hanging on to the coat tails of the Hollywood (they also mention Groundskeeper Willy as a Glaswegian) does nothing at all to help the city. Not in the eyes of those who live elsewhere, and more importantly, not in the eyes of the people who live here. Glasgow has its problems like anywhere else, some of them quite severe, but this kind of ‘bit of fun’ adds embarrassment to the list of things to deal with.

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Scotland's Michael Greenwell has worked, at various times, as a university tutor, a barman, a DJ ("not a very good one," he clarifies), an office lackey, supermarket worker, president of a small charity, a researcher, a librarian, a volunteer worker in Nepal during the civil war there, and "some other things that were too tedious to mention." Nowadays, he explains, "I am always in (more...)
 

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