Friday, 23 September 2016

Dead Poets Society #10

Image result for william carlos williams

William Carlos Williams - The Hunter in the Snow

The over-all picture is winter
icy mountains
in the background the return
from the hunt it is toward evening
from the left
sturdy hunters lead in
their pack the inn-sign
hanging from a
broken hinge is a stag a crucifix
between his antlers the cold
inn yard is
deserted but for a huge bonfire
that flares wind-driven tended by
women who cluster
about it to the right beyond
the hill is a pattern of skaters
Brueghel the painter
concerned with it all has chosen
a winter-struck bush for his
foreground to
complete the picture


Thursday, 22 September 2016

Last night's set lists

At The Habit, York: -

Ron Elderly: -
Dead Flowers
Dedicated Follower Of Fashion


Da Elderly: -
You've Got A Friend
There Stands The Glass


The Elderly Brothers: -
No Reply
All My Loving
Things We Said Today
I'll Get You
We Can Work It Out
I Saw Her Standing There


The place was rammed, to use a currently popular phrase, from the start. The university students are back! Regulars and new players were listened to intently, despite all sorts of student reverie going on in the street outside. The Elderlys swapped Phil and Don for John and Paul in a first Beatles-only set, debuting the excellent No Reply.


P.S. there will be no Elderly Brothers set next week as The Toon have a home match.

Tuesday, 20 September 2016

Edward Albee RIP

Edward Albee, Trenchant Playwright for a Desperate Era, Dies at 88


Bruce Weber
New York Times
16 September 2016

Edward Albee, widely considered the foremost American playwright of his generation, whose psychologically astute and piercing dramas explored the contentiousness of intimacy, the gap between self-delusion and truth and the roiling desperation beneath the facade of contemporary life, died on Friday at his home in Montauk, N.Y. He was 88.

His personal assistant, Jakob Holder, confirmed the death. Mr. Holder said he had died after a short illness.

Mr. Albee’s career began after the death of Eugene O’Neill and after Arthur Miller and Tennessee Williams had produced most of their best-known plays. From them he inherited the torch of American drama, carrying it through the era of Tony Kushner and “Angels in America;” August Wilson and his Pittsburgh cycle; and into the 21st century.

He introduced himself suddenly and with a bang, in 1959, when his first produced play, “The Zoo Story,” opened in Berlin on a double bill with Samuel Beckett’s “Krapp’s Last Tape.” A two-handed one-act that unfolds in real time, “The Zoo Story” zeroed in on the existential terror at the heart of Eisenhower-era complacency, presenting the increasingly menacing intrusion of a probing, querying stranger on a man reading on a Central Park bench.

When the play came to the Provincetown Playhouse in Greenwich Village the next year, it helped propel the blossoming theater movement that became known as Off Broadway.

Mr. Albee’s Broadway debut, “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?” the famously scabrous portrait of a withered marriage, won a Tony Award in 1963 for best play, ran for more than a year and half and enthralled and shocked theatergoers with its depiction of stifling academia and of a couple whose relationship has been corroded by dashed hopes, wounding recriminations and drink.

The 1966 film adaptation, directed by Mike Nichols and starring Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor, turned the play into Mr. Albee’s most famous work; it had, he wrote three decades later, “hung about my neck like a shining medal of some sort — really nice but a trifle onerous.”

But it stands as representative, too, an early example of the heightened naturalism he often ventured into, an expression of the viewpoint that self-interest is a universal, urgent, irresistible and poisonous agent in modern life — “There’s nobody doesn’t want something,” as one of his characters said — that Mr. Albee would illustrate again and again with characteristically pointed eloquence.

A half-century later, Mr. Albee’s audacious drama about a love affair between man and beast, “The Goat, or Who Is Sylvia?” won another Tony, ran for nearly a year and staved off the critical despair, however briefly, that the commercial theater could no longer support serious drama.

In between, Mr. Albee (his name is pronounced AWL-bee,) turned out a parade of works, 30 or so in all, generally focused on exposing the darkest secrets of relatively well-to-do people, with lacerating portrayals of familial relations, social intercourse and individual soul-searching.

As Ben Brantley of The New York Times once wrote, “Mr. Albee has unsparingly considered subjects outside the average theatergoer’s comfort zone: the capacity for sadism and violence within American society; the fluidness of human identity; the dangerous irrationality of sexual attraction and, always, the irrefutable presence of death.”

His work could be difficult to absorb, not only tough-minded but elliptical or opaque, and his relationships with ticket-buyers, who only intermittently made his plays into hits, and critics, who were disdainful as often as they were laudatory, ran hot and cold.

In 1965, after “Tiny Alice,” his drama about Christian faith, money and the ethics of worship opened on Broadway, causing much consternation and even outrage among critics who had failed to discern meaning in its murky symbols and suggestions of mysticism, Mr. Albee attended anews conference ostensibly to discuss the play but ended up lecturing on the subject of criticism.

“It is not enough for a critic to tell his audience how well a play succeeds in its intention,” he said; “he must also judge that intention by the absolute standards of the theater as an art form.” He added that when critics perform only the first function, they leave the impression that less ambitious plays are better ones because they come closer to achieving their ambitions.

“Well, perhaps they are better plays to their audience,” he said, “but they are not better plays for their audience. And since the critic fashions the audience taste, whether he intends to or not, he succeeds each season in merely lowering it.”

Several of his plays opened abroad before they did in the United States, and his work was often more enthusiastically welcomed in Europe than it was at home; even some of his most critically admired plays never found the wider audiences that only a Broadway imprimatur can attract.

“Maybe I’m a European playwright and I don’t know it,” he said in an interview with The Times in 1991, adding: “Just look at the playwrights who are not performed on Broadway now: Sophocles, Aristophanes, Shakespeare, Marlowe, Molière, Ibsen, Chekhov, Pirandello, Beckett, Genet. Not a one of them.”

Never a Critic’s Darling

A clever speaker in interviews with a vivid sense of mischief and the high-minded presumption of an artist, Mr. Albee was wont to confront slights rather than dismiss them, wielding his smooth, sardonic wit as a verbal fly-swatter. “If Attila the Hun were alive today, he’d be a drama critic,” he said in 1988.

Referring to the “hysterical, skirt-hiking appal-dom” of critics after his 1983 play “The Man Who Had Three Arms” opened (and quickly closed) on Broadway, he said: “You’d have thought it was women seeing mice climb up their legs.”

And yet he was among the most honored of American dramatists. Beyond his Tonys — including one for lifetime achievement — he won three Pulitzer Prizes.

His major works included “A Delicate Balance,” a Pulitzer-winning, darkly unsettling comedy about an affluent family whose members reveal their deep unhappiness in shrewd and stinging verbal combat; “All Over” (1971), directed on Broadway by John Gielgud and starring Colleen Dewhurst, about a family (and a mistress) awaiting the deathbed expiration of an unseen, wealthy man; “Seascape” (1975), another Pulitzer winner, a creepily comic, slightly ominous meditation on monogamy, evolution and mortality that develops from an oceanside discussion involving an elderly human couple and a pair of anthropomorphic lizards; and “Three Tall Women,” a strikingly personal work drawn from memories of his adoptive mother, scrutinizing, in its various stages, the life of a dying woman. The play had its 1991 premiere in Vienna but earned Mr. Albee a third Pulitzer after it appeared Off Broadway in 1994.

A subsequent work, “The Play About the Baby,” opened in London in 1998 and in Houston in 2000 before finding its way the next year to Off Broadway in New York. In it Mr. Albee revisited, in a more abstract form of harrowing comedy, notable rudiments of “Virginia Woolf,” namely an older couple initiating a younger couple into the grim realities of later life and a child whose existence becomes a matter of ardent and anguish-inspiring discourse.

“Albee is not a fan of mankind,” the critic John Lahr wrote in The New Yorker in 2012. “The friendships he stages are loose affiliations that serve mostly as a bulwark against meaninglessness.”

‘Plays Are Correctives’


Mr. Albee explained himself as a kind of herald, perhaps a modern Cassandra warning the theatergoer of inevitable personal calamity.

“All of my plays are about people missing the boat, closing down too young, coming to the end of their lives with regret at things not done, as opposed to things done,” he said in the 1991 Times interview. “I find most people spend too much time living as if they’re never going to die.”

He wrote, he said, with a sense of responsibility; “All plays, if they’re any good, are constructed as correctives,” he told The Guardian in 2004. “That’s the job of the writer. Holding that mirror up to people. We’re not merely decorative, pleasant and safe.”

Mr. Albee was born somewhere in Virginia on March 12, 1928. Little is known about his father. His mother’s name was Louise Harvey; she called him Edward. In the 1999 biography, “Edward Albee: A Singular Journey,”the author, Mel Gussow, a former reporter and critic for The Times, cited adoption papers — filed in Washington within days of his birth — that said the father “had deserted and abandoned both the mother and the child and had in no way contributed to the support of the child.”

Sent to an adoption nursery in Manhattan before he was three weeks old, baby Edward was placed with Reed Albee, an heir to the Keith-Albee chain of vaudeville theaters, and his wife, Frances, who lived in Larchmont, N.Y. The couple had no children and formally adopted Edward 10 months later, naming him Edward Franklin Albee III after two of his adoptive father’s ancestors.

Patrician and distant, the Albees were unsuited to dealing with a child of artistic temperament, and in later years Mr. Albee would often recall an un-nourishing childhood in which he felt like an interloper in their home. In a 2011 interview at the Arena Stage in Washington with the director Molly Smith, he said that his mother had thrown out his first play — he described it as “a three-act sex farce” — which he wrote at age 14.

“I think they wanted somebody who would be a corporate thug of some sort, or perhaps a doctor or lawyer or something respectable,” he told the television interviewer Charlie Rose. “They didn’t want a writer on their hands. Good God, no.”

In interviews he said he knew he was gay by the time he was 8, that he began writing poetry at 9, that he had his first homosexual experience at 12 and that he wrote a pair of novels in his teens — “the worst novels that could ever be written by an American teenager.”

His education was a hopscotch tour of the middle Atlantic: He attended Rye Country Day School in Westchester County, N.Y., the Lawrenceville School in New Jersey, the Valley Forge Military Academy in Pennsylvania and finally the Choate School (now Choate Rosemary Hall) in Connecticut, from which he graduated.

He attended Trinity College in Hartford but never finished, reportedly because he refused to go to chapel and was expelled. Then, in 1949, he moved to Greenwich Village, where his artistic life began in earnest. His circle, made up of painters, writers and musicians, included the playwright William Inge and the composers David Diamond, Aaron Copland and William Flanagan, who became his lover.

The Off Broadway theater was nascent, and he began attending plays in the Village — “You could go to the theater for a dollar!” he recalled — seeing the works of Beckett, Ionesco, Pirandello and Brecht and supporting himself with menial jobs.

Poetry as a Dead End

His own writing was less than successful — he tried short stories and gave them up — and though he published a handful of poems, he gave that up, too, when he was 26, because, as he put it to Ms. Smith, “I remember thinking, ‘Edward, you’re getting better as a poet, but the problem is you don’t really feel like a poet, do you? You feel like someone who is writing poetry.”

He added: “I knew I was a writer and had failed basically at all other branches of writing, but I was still a writer. So I did the only thing I had not done. I wrote a play. It was called ‘The Zoo Story.’ ”

It was a month before his 30th birthday, Mr. Gussow wrote in his biography, that Mr. Albee sat down at a typewriter borrowed from the Western Union office where he worked as a messenger, and completed “The Zoo Story” in two and a half weeks.

“I’ve been to the zoo,” the character Jerry says, in the opening line, approaching Peter, who is sitting on a bench reading. “I said I’ve been to the zoo. Mister, I’ve been to the zoo!”

Mr. Diamond helped arrange the Berlin production — in German translation (“Die Zoo-Geschichte”) — and it was well-received. But in New York the play was rejected several times before the Actors Studio agreed to stage a single performance; afterward, Norman Mailer, who was in the audience, declared it “the best one-act play I’ve ever seen.”

When “The Zoo Story” opened for a commercial run at the Provincetown Playhouse in January 1960, reviews were mixed. (The Times’s Brooks Atkinson called it “consistently interesting and illuminating — odd and pithy,” though he concluded that “nothing of enduring value is said.”)

Even so, the play made enough of a splash that Mr. Albee became known as an exemplar of a new, convention-defying strain of playwriting. In an article in The Times with the headline “Dramatists Deny Nihilistic Trend,” Mr. Albee espoused the view that would become his credo: that theatergoers should be challenged to confront situations and ideas that lie outside their comfort zones.

“I want the audience to run out of the theater — but to come back and see the play again,” he said.

‘A Sick Play’

His next three plays, also one-acts, were also successes Off Broadway: “The Sandbox” and “The American Dream” were portraits of family dynamics etched in acid, and “The Death of Bessie Smith,” which bordered on uncharacteristic agitprop, was about an incident (later revealed to be untrue) in which the great blues singer of the title, who died after an auto accident, had been turned away from a whites-only hospital.

Then came “Virginia Woolf.” Focusing on George and Martha, an embittered academic couple — he’s a history professor, she’s the college president’s daughter — it presents a boozy late-night encounter between them and two campus newcomers, Nick and Honey, a young biology teacher and his wife, which devolves into a series of horrifying, macabre psychological games, cruel challenges and spilled secrets.

The reactions were virulent and disparate. Some critics were appalled:

“A sick play for sick people,” The Daily Mirror declared.

“Three and a half hours long, four characters wide and a cesspool deep,” said The Daily News.

But others were mesmerized and dazzled. A jury awarded it the Pulitzer Prize, but the Pulitzer advisory board rejected the recommendation, choosing not to give an award for drama that year; the jurors resigned in protest.

In the years since, as the play has grown to become a classic of modern drama and been revived on Broadway three times, most recently in 2012 with Tracy Letts and Amy Morton as George and Martha, it has continued to incite controversy. Some critics and directors interpreted the play as being about four homosexual men, a suggestion that distressed Mr. Albee enough to seek legal remedies to shut down productions of the play with all-male casts.

As for the title, another item of speculation, Mr. Albee explained its origin in an interview in The Paris Review in 1966:

“There was a saloon — it’s changed its name now — on Tenth Street, between Greenwich Avenue and Waverly Place, that was called something at one time, now called something else, and they had a big mirror on the downstairs bar in this saloon where people used to scrawl graffiti. At one point back in about 1953 … 1954, I think it was — long before any of us started doing much of anything — I was in there having a beer one night, and I saw ‘Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?’ scrawled in soap, I suppose, on this mirror. When I started to write the play it cropped up in my mind again. And of course, who’s afraid of Virginia Woolf means who’s afraid of the big bad wolf, who’s … afraid of living life without false illusions. And it did strike me as being a rather typical university, intellectual joke.”

Mr. Albee’s other plays include adaptations of the Carson McCullers novella “The Ballad of the Sad Cafe”; of “Malcolm,” a novel by James Purdy, and of Vladimir Nabokov’s great novel of sexual obsession, “Lolita.”

He was also involved in one of the great flops in Broadway history, becoming a script doctor for the producer David Merrick’s 1966 staging of the musical adaptation of Truman Capote’s novel “Breakfast at Tiffany’s,” which starred Mary Tyler Moore and Richard Chamberlain and closed on Broadway before it opened, after its fourth preview.

Mr. Albee was especially productive through the 1960s and early ’70s, when he was working as a team with the producers Richard Barr and Clinton Wilder. But following his early successes, ending with “Seascape” in 1975, he went into a decline, partly owing to struggles with alcohol, and for nearly 20 years he did not write a commercially successful play.

Success Before Sunset

“The Lady from Dubuque” (1980), a drama concerned with the nature of identity and shadowed by the specter of death — it opens with a game of 20 questions, one of whose participants is terminally ill — was savaged by the critics and closed after 12 performances on Broadway. A similar fate befell “The Man Who Had Three Arms” (1983), a bilious discourse on the wages of evanescent celebrity.

Mr. Albee lived for several decades in a TriBeCa loft filled with African sculptures and contemporary paintings by the likes of Vuillard, Milton Avery and Kandinsky. His partner of 35 years, Jonathan Thomas, a sculptor, died in 2005. Mr. Albee leaves no immediate survivors.

It was “Three Tall Women” in the early 1990s that returned Mr. Albee to prominence, and for the next 20 years he continued to be productive, turning out provocative work, including “The Goat” and “The Play About the Baby,” and witnessing (or directing himself) revivals of earlier plays on Broadway and in regional theaters.

He was riding this sunset success — and continuing to write — when he spoke to Ms. Smith in front of an audience at the Arena Stage in Washington, which was then presenting a festival of his work that included readings and performances of more than 20 plays. He recalled the feeling he had at the very beginning of his career, after he had finished writing “The Zoo Story.”

“For the first time in my life when I wrote that play, I realized I had written something that wasn’t bad,” he said. “‘You know, Edward, this is pretty good. This is talented. Maybe you’re a playwright.’ So I thought, ‘Let’s find out what happens.’ ”

Monday, 19 September 2016

W. P. Kinsella RIP


Shoeless Joe author W.P. Kinsella has died

John Mackie and Tracy Sherlock
Vancouver Sun
16 September 2016

Writer W.P. Kinsella did things his way. In failing health, he chose to end his life early Friday afternoon.

“W.P. (Bill) Kinsella invoked the assisted dying provisions of Bill C-14, at Hope, B.C., and passed away at 12:05 p.m. … Friday, Sept. 16, 2016,” said a statement from his agent, Carolyn Swayze.

The statement provided no detail of how he died, but a post on his Facebook page said he died “surrounded by loved ones.”

Kinsella suffered a head injury when he was hit by a car in 1997, and didn’t release a new novel until 2011. His biographer Willie Steele said Kinsella had also been diagnosed with diabetes in the 1980s, and his health had deteriorated to the point where he’d spent the past couple of weeks in the Hope hospital.

“The last time I saw him was last May at his 80th birthday,” said Steele.

“He was complaining about feeling fatigued, not feeling right. We stayed in touch … he had been complaining about the diabetes and the blood sugar, everything, and that he was going to have to start dialysis. He was going to have a procedure done related to that, and had some complications.”

Kinsella was 81. He was the author of 27 novels, short story collections and books of poetry, including “Shoeless Joe,” a “magic realist” tale of an Iowa farmer who builds a baseball diamond in his cornfield where disgraced baseball great Shoeless Joe Jackson appears to play.

Released in 1982, it was made into the hit movie “Field of Dreams” in 1989.

William Patrick Kinsella was born in Edmonton on May 25, 1935. He moved to B.C. in 1967, and earned a B.A. from the University of Victoria.

After getting his master’s at the University of Iowa, he returned to Alberta to teach at the University of Calgary from 1978 to 1983. He moved back to B.C. in the mid-80s, living in White Rock, Chilliwack and finally Yale.

He released his first book of short stories, “Dance Me Outside”, in 1977. The stories were set in an Alberta First Nations reserve and narrated by a character named Silas Ermineskin.

The imagination and wit of his stories set in the reserve made them popular, and he won the Stephen Leacock Award for Humour in 1987. But there were detractors who chafed at him writing funny stories about reserve life.

His bigger fame came from his books about baseball, which led to him receiving the Jack Graney award in 2011 from the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame for his contributions to the game in Canada.

“He told me in Canada he’ll be known for being a storyteller, in the United States he’ll be known for being a baseball writer,” said Steele, who is an American.

“In Canada, he’ll be known as a humorist, is what it was. His Indian stories, the Silas Ermineskin stories are wildly popular up there, but he’s more known for baseball here.

“The thing I think he’ll be remembered for is it’s just such a relaxed style. You feel as if he’s sitting there telling you the story; I think that’s a really hard thing for a writer to do.”

Shoeless Joe started off as a short story, “Shoeless Joe Comes to Iowa.”

“It was a short story and it was published in an anthology,” Kinsella told Kevin Gillies of The Vancouver Sun in 2014.

“The anthology was reviewed in Publishers Weekly and an editor in Boston saw the review. (He) wrote to me and said if it was a novel he wanted to see it, and if it wasn’t it should be.”

Kinsella had a wry take on fame, and the way novels were turned into films.

“Bill was notorious for saying you make your money off the movie rights,” said Steele. “He was actually happy for awhile if the movie never got made, because every time the rights expire, he had to get another contract for the movie rights.”

Kinsella quit writing for five years after his 1997 accident.

“After the accident he just lost the creative impulse,” said Steele. “The things that were published after the accident were (largely) things that had already been completed.”

The prime example was “Butterfly Winter,” a novel he published in 2011. Kinsella told Tracy Sherlock of the Sun he’d worked on the book for 27 years before it was finally published.

His final work of fiction, “Russian Dolls,” is due to be published next year.

Kinsella was awarded the Order of Canada and the Order of British Columbia and in 2009 received the George Woodcock Lifetime Achievement Award.

He was married four times. His last wife, Barbara, passed away on Christmas Eve, 2012.

“He emotionally was kind of down after that,” said Steele.

His daughter Erin moved in with Kinsella after his wife’s death to take care of him. He leaves another daughter, Shannon, and stepchildren Scarlet and Aaron Gaffney, and Lyn Calendar.

At his request there will be no memorial service.

Saturday, 17 September 2016

Friday, 16 September 2016

Dead Poets Society #9

Image result for seamus heaney


Follower by Seamus Heaney

My father worked with a horse-plough,
His shoulders globed like a full sail strung
Between the shafts and the furrow.
The horse strained at his clicking tongue.

An expert. He would set the wing
And fit the bright steel-pointed sock.
The sod rolled over without breaking.
At the headrig, with a single pluck

Of reins, the sweating team turned round
And back into the land. His eye
Narrowed and angled at the ground,
Mapping the furrow exactly.

I stumbled in his hob-nailed wake,
Fell sometimes on the polished sod;
Sometimes he rode me on his back
Dipping and rising to his plod.

I wanted to grow up and plough,
To close one eye, stiffen my arm.
All I ever did was follow
In his broad shadow round the farm.

I was a nuisance, tripping, falling,
Yapping always. But today
It is my father who keeps stumbling
Behind me, and will not go away.


Thursday, 15 September 2016

Last night's set lists

At The Habit, York: -

Da Elderly: -
Out On The Weekend
Heart Of Gold


Ron Elderly: -
You Better Move On
Streets Of London


The Elderly Brothers: -
Dreamin'
Bus Stop
It Doesn't Matter Any More
Somebody Help Me
Bye Bye Love


Just when you think that The Habit open mic has nothing new to offer, it throws up an extraordinary night of music. Although never quite full all evening, those who stayed, if only for a while, were entertained with a wonderful range of music and musical styles. We had two acappella tenors, one being the return, after a long absence, of our nonagenarian crooner, who brought the house down with a spirited rendition of Mona Lisa. The young lass with the bluesy voice, also absent for a while, returned to deliver a knockout set - Little Walter's My Babe and Jimmy Hendrix' Red House. A young lad played an excellent set with a delivery like Phil Lynott but somehow more bluesy; if Moby had been around he would surely have sampled his voice. A guy from Leeds sang Beatles songs including a great version of Eleanor Rigby and a picker with an eye-patch surprised us with Randy Newman's God's Song (That's Why I Love Mankind). What a show!

The Elderlys debuted two 'new' songs: The Hollies' Bus Stop and Buddy Holly's It Doesn't Matter Any More, and finished off with Bye Bye Love which we haven't played in quite a while.

Wednesday, 14 September 2016

Burt Bacharach - Hasbrook Heights

For some reason, my Bacharach song of the moment - and in this case, it has to be Burt on vocals; sorry, Dionne...

Tuesday, 13 September 2016

The International Print Biennale 2016

The print that set a Guinness World Record

Tiny Bewick woodcuts and the world's longest print will feature in the region's festival of print

The fourth International Print Biennale will feature the work of artists from across the world and a packed events programme

David Whetstone
The Evening Chronicle
04 September 2016

Every two years the focus for everybody interested in the art of print falls on the North East, home of the International Print Biennale.

It is the only major UK event celebrating contemporary printmaking and this year more than 130,000 visitors are expected to attend dozens of different exhibitions and events at 25 venues across the region.

For printmakers the Biennale offers competitions to enter and awards to be won.

There are many reasons why the North East should host such an event.

Looking to history, there’s Thomas Bewick, late 18th and early 19th master of the woodblock print and astute observer of the natural world.

Often cited as the region’s greatest artist – although this could be the subject of a great debate – his intricate tail-piece engravings will form the backdrop to readings of new poems by Joanne Clement who has been inspired by them.
From the Marsh by Annette Kierulf (woodcut)

This event, one among many, is on October 15 at Great North Museum: Hancock which is also hosting a Bewick-inspired workshop on October 21 and 22.

But in the here and now, the prime mover behind the Biennale is Newcastle-based Northern Print and its director, Anna Wilkinson.

“It’s clear to us already that this year’s Biennale will be a striking showcase of the wealth of printmaking currently being created across the world,” she says.

“For centuries artists have been drawn to print and its allure is not lost on today’s contemporary artists.
Anna Wilkinson, Director of Northern Print in Newcastle

“The work that will be on display from the artists shortlisted for the awards alone shows the diversity of approaches of an enduring artform.

“We have received more entries this year than ever before which tells me that the medium remains relevant internationally.

“In particular I’m looking forward to seeing the work from Birgit Skiöld who established the first UK open print studio in 1956.

“Birgit was instrumental in the creation of the British International Print Biennale in Bradford in 1962, the original inspiration for founding the International Print Biennale.”

The 2016 Print Awards are an integral part of the Biennale and this year 31 artists have been shortlisted by a specialist panel from among 785 entries from 16 countries.

On this year’s panel were Sune Nordgren, founding director of Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art, artist Christiane Baumgartner and David Cleaton-Roberts, director of the Alan Cristea Gallery.
Crystal by Adam Saks, (photogravure and drypoint)

Each of these was asked to invite an additional artist to be represented in the exhibition. They chose Marina Bindella, from Italy, distinguished Royal Academician Cornelia Parker, from Britain, and Dane Adam Saks, all of whose work will add lustre to an already impressive event.

As well as these established artists the Biennale will feature emerging talent.

A highlight of this year’s Biennale will be the first public showing – at Newcastle City Library – of the world’s longest lino cut print which was initiated by Northern Print. Measuring 33.5 metres in length, it was made last year to mark the Rugby World Cup.

Also at the library you will be able to see a body of new work by Ellen Heck, who has twice won Biennale Print Awards, celebrating Alice in Wonderland.

Meanwhile Rachel Ramirez, a member of the international Nature Print Society, will demonstrate Gyotaku, a Japanese method of printing from fish, in a programme of workshops, demonstrations and participatory activities to mark the annual migration of salmon along the Tyne.
Silver Bullet Teapot, from Thirty Pieces of Silver (Exposed) by Cornelia Parker
Northern Print itself will be the focus of an exhibition in the gallery at Gateshead Library celebrating its 21st anniversary and two decades of printmaking in the region.

This really is just scratching the surface of a massive visual arts extravaganza taking place from September 16 to October 30. For full details, go towww.internationalprintbiennale.org.uk

Printmakers colonise church

A reminder that printmaking is alive and well in the North East comes with twin exhibitions featuring the work of people who pay to use the well-equipped studios at Northern Print, based in Newcastle’s Ouseburn Valley.

They include Margaret Adams, Allan Barnfather and Barbara Kennard.

As part of the International Print Biennale, the studio users are holding an exhibition at St Dominic’s Church, Shields Road, Byker.

You can see it on September 30 (6 to 8pm), October 1 (10am to 4pm, when there will be have-a-go activities) and October 2 (12.30 to 4pm).

A second exhibition, Engaging with Print, will take place at Gallery 45, Felton, Northumberland, from October 8-23.

It will be open Tuesday to Saturday (10am to 5pm) and Sunday (11am to 4pm).

There will also be printmaking workshops on October 16 and 22 (1 to 4pm).

Ring the gallery on 01670 783424 to book.

Monday, 12 September 2016

Greta Zimmer Friedman RIP

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Greta Zimmer Friedman, Nurse From WWII 'Kiss' Photo, Dies At 92

The Associated Press
The Huffington Post
09 September 2016

The woman who was kissed by an ecstatic sailor in Times Square celebrating the end of World War II has died at the age of 92.

Greta Zimmer Friedman's son says his mother died Thursday at a hospital in Richmond, Virginia. She died from complications of old age, he said.

Friedman was a 21-year-old dental assistant in a nurse's uniform on Aug. 14, 1945, known as V-J Day, the day the Japanese surrendered. People spilled out into the streets from restaurants, bars and movie theatres in New York City when they heard the news. That's when George Mendonsa spotted Friedman, spun her around and planted a kiss on her. The two had never met.

In fact, Mendonsa was on a date with an actual nurse, Rita Petry, who would later become his wife.

The photo by Alfred Eisenstaedt is called "V-J Day in Times Square'' but is known to most the world over as simply, "The Kiss.'' Mendonsa says that in some photos of the scene, Petry could be seen smiling in the background.

The photo was first published in Life, buried deep within the magazine's pages. Over the years, the photo gained recognition, and several people claimed to be the kissing couple. In an August 1980 issue of Life, 11 men and three women said they were the subjects. It was years until Mendonsa and Friedman were confirmed to be the couple.

Joshua Friedman says his mother recalled it all happening in an instant.

"It wasn't that much of a kiss,'' Friedman said in an interview with the Veterans History Project in 2005. "It was just somebody celebrating. It wasn't a romantic event.''

The photograph has become one of the most famous photographs of the 20th century.

Both of Friedman's parents died in the Holocaust, according to Lawrence Verria, co-author of "The Kissing Sailor: The Mystery Behind the Photo that Ended World War II.'' Friedman, who had escaped Austria, got to the U.S. when she was 15.

Friedman will be buried in Arlington National Cemetery, next to her late husband, Dr. Misha Friedman.

http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2016/09/10/greta-zimmer-friedman-death_n_11955898.html

Friday, 9 September 2016

Dead Poets Society #8

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Park Bench  by Langston Hughes

I live on a park bench.
You, Park Avenue.
Hell of a distance
Between us two.

I beg a dime for dinner-
You got a butler and maid.
But I'm wakin' up!
Say, ain't you afraid

That I might, just maybe,
In a year or two,
Move on over
To Park Avenue?

Thursday, 8 September 2016

Last night's set lists

At The Habit, York: -

Da Elderly: -
Teach Your Children
Flying On The Ground Is Wrong
I Don't Want To Talk About It


Ron Elderly: -
Wild Horses
The River
Wagon Wheel


The Elderly Brothers: -
Love Hurts
Yes I Will
Then I Kissed Her
Let It Be Me
I Saw Her Standing There
He'll Have To Go


Our regular host returned to an initially quiet evening in The Habit, but as the night progressed both punters and players helped fill the venue for the last hour or so. There was the usual mix of original songs and covers. One chap insisted on playing unplugged and sang a couple of lively, if somewhat offensive tunes. After some good-natured banter during The Elderly Brothers' set, it was time for revenge as our host sang Billy Joel's She's Always A Woman: some Les Dawson-style non-harmonies during the 'oooh's being particularly pleasing!!

Tuesday, 6 September 2016

The Annotated Marx Brothers by Matthew Coniam - review

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Marxist Archaeology
Matthew Coniam – The Annotated Marx Brothers: A Filmgoer’s Guide to In-Jokes, Obscure References and Sly Details (McFarland and Company, Inc., Publishers, Jefferson, North Carolina, 2015)

I love this book. I hate this book.

I love it because you can dip into it to look up some detail that you thought was really central to your understanding of the film but I hate it because it’s so easy to get distracted and wind up looking for some other reference and forgetting what you were after in the first place. It’s that good! In fact, it’s better than that, because ultimately it sends the reader back to the films and that can’t be bad, can it?

Something of an extension to Greg Mitchell’s The Marx Brothers Companion (and get the original version of this if you can, not the later one on the cheaper paper), Matthew Coniam’s book is concordance covering all the films in which they appeared as the Marx Brothers and their TV comedy special, The Incredible Jewel Robbery (1959), explaining allusions in jokes and plotlines that may have been current at the time but might now confuse even the most dedicated Marxian scholar. Who were “those five kids up in Canada”? Who or what was “Minnie the Moocher?” And just when did Don Ameche invent the telephone?

For example, in Horse Feathers (1932), what does being “on the pan” mean? No, not what you think. It means you’re being told off. Fortunately, Coniam, author of the weblog, The Marx Brothers Council of Britain (http://marxcouncil.blogspot.co.uk/) , never loses sight of the joke and doesn’t rake over the humour to the extent where it stops being funny. If anything, it’s more an exercise in enlightenment of the finest kind.

Other references are more complicated. In Monkey Business (1931), when Groucho says, “Come Kapellmeister, let the violas throb. My regiment leaves at dawn,” the audiences of the time would understand that he is mocking the conventions of operettas like The Merry Widow, but this is used as a starting point to riff on the sparky relationship between Groucho and writer S J Pereleman, who contributed the line, although the precise level of his involvement in the rest of the film is still debated, as is his true relationship with Groucho.

One of the few things that defeats the author and his colleague David Cory, who provides a separate concordance for the Harold Arlen-Yip Harburg number Lydia the Tattooed Lady (At the Circus (1939)), is the name, Mendel Picasso. You think: ah, Picasso, but where does Mendel come from? Cory mentions various attempts to explain away this curious name, but is clearly not convinced.

All the other allusions in the song are dealt with, including the one of her sitting on Hitler - and why it was excised from the film, though not from Groucho’s later performances of it; another, Treasure Island, is found not to be the obvious, but an artificial island in San Francisco Bay built for the contemporary Golden Gate Exposition of 1939 - 1940.

Of course, the book is more than just a guide: the author explores the evolution of the films and is eager to offer his opinion of each. You may feel the urge to disagree here and there. For example, he’s less keen on Duck Soup (1935) than I am, feeling that Leo McCarey had his own ideas about comedy and the Marxes had to fit in with them, whereas it should, of course, have been the other way around. God only knows what would have happened had the mooted Billy Wilder film, A Day at the United Nations, with them gone ahead in 1960…

Contrary to Marxian orthodoxy, he provides a spirited defence of Room Service (1938), a film, like so many of their later efforts, starting out with grand ambitions that were almost all eroded by the time it went into production. It is often ignored or dismissed because it was an existing play and not written for the brothers. And yet… I have to admit on viewing it again, there is much to like about it, though it might have been considerably better had not some of Morrie Ryskind’s script (lines not in the original play) been dropped. If nothing else, we are presented with a vintage Harpo, one who behaves impulsively, not like the Harpo in A Night at the Opera (1936), where producer Irving Thalberg felt there was a need to make audiences sympathise with him by having the villain beat him up, a trope which became increasingly more irritating in the post-Paramount films.

I’d agree that the weakest of the MGM films is Go West (1940) but I’d be less hard on At the Circus, which has some great moments but a few admittedly awful ones too, not least the songs, Stand Up and Take a Bow and Two Blind Loves. One would be bad enough.

A brave man, Coniam also stands up for Love Happy (1949), a film with a most troubled genesis that was intended initially as a Harpo solo work and turned out to be such a bad experience for him that he left out any recollection of it from his autobiography, Harpo Speaks. Defending this film is almost suicidal in Marxist circles and yet, inspired by his comments, I watched it again and found a lot to like – which will be pleasing to my old student, Andrew Smith, who Coniam credits as an influence on own his thoughts about the film.

Now, let me state straight away, my appreciation for the film is relative. It is a weak film and it is their worst; it frequently comes across as a grade Z crime drama, particularly when we see Raymond Burr dressed in some silly, silky, kinky torturer’s outfit trying, at length, to get information out of Harpo (victimised once again); some terrible musical numbers, especially the first dance scene and the truly jaw-dropping Marion Hutton song, Who Stole That Jam?; the unfortunately glib betrayal of Harpo’s romantic concerns; the bizarre, brief waste of that great comic actor Eric Blore as Groucho’s otherwise absent assistant; the fact that the three brothers never appear together and that Groucho, who all the other films rely on heavily, is barely in it and almost completely wasted – and doesn’t even wear his greasepaint moustache! The brief appearance of the young Marilyn Monroe does not make up for all that.

There are, however, some good comedic bits with Harpo, particularly near the beginning when he’s pilfering food, and during the rooftop pursuit, where he escapes past neon adverts that were famously placed in the film as a way of raising money! It also has to be said that whatever you may think of Chico’s musical numbers, this one is worked nicely into the story and is based on a routine he used in his nightclub act.

Now, when I wake up in a cold sweat in the middle of the night wondering who Gregory Ratoff was, whether or not a male stand in was used for Margaret Dumont during Mrs Upjohn’s examination in A Day At The Races (1937), or why it’s clearly not the brothers playing their roles when the lights go out during the storm in Animal Crackers (1930), I only have to move aside the ipecac (q.v. Room Service) on my bedside table and reach for Coniam’s wonderful book.

FRANK BLACK

Monday, 5 September 2016

Out and about with Prefab Sprout - Paddy McAloon in HMV


Probably not buying Andy Stewart Sings the Sex Pistols, although I have been wrong before.

Picture source: DavidHall_Newcastle_streetjazz on Instagram_ “The Music Man... This man is a genius and I saw him today. A few might recognise him most probably won't . Which is a shame. A Newcastle minute...”.html

Sunday, 4 September 2016

Donald Fagen interview 2016

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Donald Fagen on Right-Wing Paranoia, Steely Dan's Future
Singer-keyboardist also talks sci-fi, mental health and growing up as "a real jazz snob"

David Browne
Rolling Stone
13 June 2016

Whether it's with Steely Dan or on his own, Donald Fagen has long been renowned for alluring melodies; crisp, sophisticated arrangements; and, of course, a dark, deadpan sense of humor. In other words, he's a natural for one of Rolling Stone's wide-ranging "Last Word" interviews. On June 6th, Fagen and longtime cohort Walter Becker launched their summer "The Dan Who Knew Too Much" tour, with opening act Steve Winwood, which runs through July 17th. Before hitting the road, Fagen took the time to chat about everything from his inspirations to the future of Steely Dan.

You're from Passaic, New Jersey. What is the most Jersey thing about you?
None of your fuggin' business, buddy. No, seriously, Jersey's great. Our family used to go to Rutt's Hut in Clifton on Sunday. They had these hot dogs called "rippers." They still do.

Your mother sang until she was 15 and took you to Broadway musicals. What lessons about music or performing did she impart on you?
It was more about the birds and bees. As a 10-year-old, it was a revelation to see Julie Newmar as "Stupefyin' Jones" in L'il Abner.

Where did you inherit your sense of humor?
My Uncle Dave was a real card. He used to do TV commercials for his restaurant in an oversized Stetson and pink woolly chaps.

You switched from rock to jazz when you were about 11. So who were your musical heroes growing up?
I was a real jazz snob. I shunned Blue Note records because Alfred Lion encouraged the players to load their tunes with funky blues clichés. My guys were Miles, Coltrane, Rollins, Mingus and Monk. I had great taste. Now I have shit taste like everybody else.

What music still moves you the most?
Bird, Rollins, Ellington, Stravinsky.
What's the last album you bought or downloaded, and why?
The Vintage Recordings of Cliff Edwards, because he's so awesome. Cliff Edwards, a.k.a. Ukulele Ike, was a terrific jazz singer. Though he was a big star in the Twenties and Thirties, he's probably more familiar as the voice of Jiminy Cricket in Disney's Pinocchio from 1940. That's him singing "When You Wish Upon a Star." He also had this cool way of scatting that he called "eefing." He got rich early on, but spent all his money on cars, dope and chorus girls.

How did reading sci-fi books as a kid inform you and your world view? Was there one particular favorite book in that genre?
A lot of old-school sci-fi satirized the present by imagining the future. I loved Alfred Bester, Fredric Brown, Cyril Kornbluth, William Tenn, all funny guys. I address this subject in detail in my book Eminent Hipsters.

What books are you reading now?
Alien Souls by De Maupassant. It's pretty sexy. And The Violet Hour by Katie Roiphe. That's not so sexy.

Will you be playing classic albums straight through? If not, is that trend winding down in the concert world?
Search me. The main trends I've noticed are general downward trends in civility.
What is your favorite book of all time?
Nabokov's Lolita, or maybe Ada.

Can you elaborate on Lolita?
Not here. It's too complicated. About all I can say now is that I love the way Nabokov mixes lyricism with humor, offsets one with the other. He's the ultimate tragicomedian.

What was the most indulgent purchase you've ever made?
In the Nineties, I was prescribed a medication that had the side effect of producing mild mania with a touch of grandiosity. I bought a ton of useless equipment.
What's the best part of success?
Mild mania with a touch of grandiosity.

You've said "Mary Shut the Garden Door" from Morph the Cat was about what happens when "a thuggish cult gains control of the government." Did you predict Donald Trump?
Not specifically, but, as proved by a British study, all those right-wingers suffer from an enlargement of the amygdala in the lower brain. It makes them paranoid and aggressive. Hopefully, there will be a corrective surgery for this in the near-future (if we make it to a near-future).

What is your favorite thing to do in New York?
One place I like is the Fragonard Room at the Frick Museum, with those big paintings of rococo sweeties frolicking in gardens.

What do you wish someone had told you about the business you're in?
As a kid, I figured that maybe 20 percent of the population were lying, predatory snakes. It turns out it's upwards of 90 percent.
What was the first song you and Walter wrote together that made you think you'd be a good writing team?
I think it was a tune in that downtown decadent style (the first Velvet Underground album had just come out) called "Take It Out on Me."

How have you and Walter managed to be a team for so long (despite the break in the Eighties and very early Nineties)?
This question reminds me of an old Burns and Allen episode where Gracie threatens to leave George. He considers going back to what he was doing before he met Gracie and then realizes that "nobody buys hand-painted socks anymore."

How often do people still ask you what "Steely Dan" means?
Pretty often. That's what happens when the record company asked you to come up with a name by the end of the workday.

What are the most important rules you live by?
Never buy a hat through the mail.
It's been 13 years since the last Steely Dan studio album. Can we expect to hear another?
It's hard to say. Now that reality is indistinguishable from, say, a wacky Kurt Vonnegut novel, it'd be a challenge to overcome the paradigm shift. Maybe some sad chorales?
What's your biggest regret?
Je ne regrette rien.