I will confess that today I made my first proper visit to Brixton. Okay, I've driven in a car in Brixton but never got out and explored it on foot. I remember when I first moved to the UK and London, and Brixton was pretty much considered a rough "no go" area. But, that's been changing for the past few years as property prices have increased in London and the boundaries of nearby Clapham are spreading over to Brixton.
The area has a strong Caribbean and African influence, but the 'hipster' shops are also popping up now. Brixton has its own answer to Shoreditch's BoxPark (called Brixton Popup), and I saw several trendy-looking coffee shops, cafes, restaurants, and craft beer shops. However, the African and Caribbean influences are still prominent with restaurants and flavours, fruit and vegetables (some of which looked foreign to me), fish, and Halal meats were also on offer. The market is the prominent fixture with its independent shops.
Pop Brixton - Brixton's answer to BoxPark Shoreditch
Brixton also has its own street art, although I did not see much when I visited when the shops were all open and most of the street art is located on the shutters. Nealry one year ago, Brixton was in the news as the archways under the railways were under threat of closing by Network Rail. The independent shops are being forced out as this area becomes trendier. A street art jam took place to highlight the casue to save the archway. You can read more about that street art event here and see photographs of the artwork (as I never got around to seeing it): http://inspiringcity.com/2015/04/07/street-artists-combine-in-order-to-support-the-save-brixton-arches-campaign/
However, I was able to capture the below street art near the arches and on a couple of the shutters that were down.
Artista & Irony
Before exploring too many of the little narrow passages and markets, I found Franco Manca's pizzaria. This is where the chain started, and you may remember my glowing review when I went to their branch at Stratford (covered here)? Well, the service in the Brixton Franco Manca stinks, so don't bother. Not only were the staff rude, but my pizza had burnt-on black 'food' (or what was 'food') underneath. I had the simple cheese pizza and 'organic' lemonade. I was hoping to write a glowing review of the place, but I can't lie. The service was rude, so I shall not return. There's so many other great places (judging by the reviews) to eat at in Brixton, so give them a try instead. My regular readers know that I normally do not leave such bad reviews, but the place really let me down when I've read so many other reviews that were good and claim this is the best branch in the chain. However, something seems to have changed recently as I have noticed a spate of similar reviews and complaints to mine on other websites, so it's not just me or a one-off complaint about the rude staff and less-than-tasty food.
I then explored the markets and roads around Brixton and took in all the sights and smells. The area of Brixton has quite a good, long-lasting community here.
Last, but not least, my real reason for visiting was to see the tributes to David Bowie at the JimmyC (see my post about this artist here) mural opposite the underground station in Brixton. I've been past the mural very early in the morning and didn't have my camera, but I've never had too much of a desire to go to Brixton and look around. Today, that changed (as you know). David Bowie was from Brixton, and he passed away on January 10. There's so much support in the UK and worldwide for this artist, and he's seemed to have played an important role in many lives. The media were there interviewing people when I first arrived. They'd left by the time I was ready to get back onto the train out of Brixton.
I saw many people get emotional. I saw many leave notes, cards, and flowers. I think this man played such a big part of their lives and musical tastes. There's no doubt he was an icon, judging by all of the tributes and the emotions that I witnessed this afternoon.
I like a few of Bowie's songs, but I would not claim to be a big fan by any means. I never really 'followed' his work or got into it as much as I did the Beatles or the Kinks, for example. I appreciated his music and enjoyed it, though. "Major Tom" is my favourite of his songs. I remember first hearing his music. When I was in High School or early college days (in America), I loved 1960s and 1970s music. On most Sunday mornings/early afternoons, one of the local 'oldies' radio stations would play a syndicated 1970s radio 'show' with music and a little snippet of documentary about the artist or song. The show probably lasted around five hours. (They did the same on Saturday nights with 1960s, and it was "Dick Bartley's"). I cannot remember what that 1970s syndicated program was called now, but that was the first time I heard Bowie. The song was "Major Tom".
So, when did you first hear David Bowie and were you a big fan of his music?