Super Cities: London (1994)

The Great Gray Grinch gets its own infomercial

May 18, 2005 at 4:00 am
If you were illiterate, had to travel to London and only had 30 minutes before your flight, Super Cities: London, a half-hour infomercial for the fallen Empire's historic, massive capital city, is exactly what you'd want to watch.

Given that most of America's illiterates evidently work at Walgreens -- where the average entry-to-checkout time to pick up meth-cooking supplies or an eight-pack of bar soap is approximately an hour and thirty-six minutes -- they typically don't have the coin to swing a London vacation. Thus, it's hard to justify Super Cities: London; most world travelers would be far more apt to scoop up a detailed city guide and read it while sipping free mimosas in international airspace.

It's hard to imagine London ever swinging like it swung in the '60s and early '70s, back when the Great Gray Grinch last set the tone for the cultural vanguard. Europe's unified now, Paris is prettier, and tourists flock to smaller, trendier pearls like Barcelona, Lisbon, Prague and Amsterdam, where no ingles es no problemo.

As the great British import Elvis Costello once sang: "If it moves, then you fuck it/If it doesn't, then you stab it." London's increasingly immobile these days, just like Madonna -- which is probably why the aging Material Girl keeps her permanent residence there. If someone threw butcher knives at a Madonna concert poster affixed to a corkboard in a pub along the Thames, would the world cry foul? Not a chance.

Each week the author treks to the Schlafly branch of the St. Louis Public Library, where a staff member blindfolds him and escorts him to the movie shelves. After selecting a film at random, Seely checks it out and reviews it.