The best Duke Ellington cover I’ve heard in a long time, courtesy of the wonderful transatlantic group Django à la Creole, led by clarinetist Evan Christopher, with David Blenkhorn and Dave Kelbie on guitar and Sebastien Girardot on bass. “The Mooche” is on the band’s new live album. And there are tour dates too. Not to be missed. Less is definitely more…
If so, it might be worth avoiding avoiding Chicago. “The video below is not a parody. It shows… a professional development session that will make you understand why teachers are going out of their minds.”
When an intelligent Japanese travels in Great Britain or an intelligent Briton in Japan, he is struck with no wonder at national differences. He is on the other hand rather startled to find how like his strange brother is to him in many things. Crime is persecuted, wickedness condoned, and goodness treated with indifference in both countries. Men care more for what they eat than anything else, and combine a closely defined idea of meum with a lax perception as to tuum. Barring a little difference of complexion and feature, the Englishman would make a good Japanese, or the Japanese a first-class Englishman. But when an American comes to us, or a Briton goes to the States, each speaking the same language, using the same cookery, governed by the same laws, and wearing the same costume, the differences which present themselves are so striking that neither can live six months in the country of the other without a holding up of the hands and a torrent of explanations… They meet as might a lad from Harrow and another from Mr Brumby’s successful mechanical cramming establishment. The Harrow boy cannot answer a question, but is sure that he is the proper thing, and is ready to face the world on that assurance. Mr Brumbry’s paragon is shocked at the other’s inaptitude for examination, but is at the same time tortured by envy of he knows not what.
Trollope, The American Senator.
Glad to see my 1984 suggestion made it into John Rentoul’s list of top ten first lines in fiction. (Translations weren’t allowed, hence no trace of Gregor Samsa awakening from uneasy dreams.) I bought a copy of the facsimile edition of Orwell’s novel many, many years ago. The coffee table book to end all coffee table books…
Unearthed by Pew Research demographer Conrad Hackett:
Cost for a year at:
Nursing home $84k
NYC jail $168k
Street art in Baden Baden, part of the multi-city Unframed project created by the mysterious figure known only as JR: ”He exhibits freely in the streets of the world, catching the attention of people who are not typical museum visitors.”
The assistant director is trying to set up the last of the medical exams for the insurance company (leading cast members are always insured). And I’m making believe I’m listening to everybody, a phony warm smile on my face, just waiting for the minute hand to reach straight up (the start of the hour) so we can begin the reason for all of this: We’re here to make a movie.
Finally, I can’t wait any longer. It’s still three minutes of, but I glance over to the AD. Nervous, but with a voice filled with authority, he says, “Ladies and gentlemen” – or “Folks” or “Hey, gang” — can we take our seats?” The tone the AD uses is important. If he sounds like Santa Claus chortling “Ho-ho-ho,” the actors know that he’s afraid of them, and he’ll have a rough time later. If he sounds pompous and officious , they’ll surely screw him somewhere along the line. The best are the British ADs. Out of years of English good manners, they go quietly from one actor to the other: “Mr Finney, we’re ready for you now.” “Miss Bergman, if you please.”
The actors gather round the table. I give my first direction to them. I tell them where to sit.
Sidney Lumet, “Making Movies”.
It’s exactly 50 years since the then Cassius Clay won the world heavyweight title. But spare a thought for Sonny Liston, the man he beat. Like Joe Frazier and George Foreman, Liston was ideal casting as the brutal, inarticulate villain. Unlike them, he never really redeemed himself in the eyes of the public. Liston had been forced to wait a long time to become champion, partly because boxing’s powers-that-be, alarmed by his criminal background, preferred to see the much more wholesome and media-friendly Floyd Patterson hold on to the crown. Civil rights leaders weren’t all that keen on him either. In the end, he didn’t get his chance to fight for the title until 1962. He won easily, but his best years were already behind him (no one seems to be sure exactly when he was born, but he was probably in his early thirties when he knocked out Patterson.) And then along came Ali. Liston lived another six years after his humiliation at the hands of the young pretender, but it sometimes feels as if he’s been written out of history all together. At least this video provides a glimpse of him at his best — in and out of the ring — with a little help from Andy Warhol and James Brown.
My Independent review of Sexplosion, Robert Hofler’s account of how the artists and impresarios of the Sixties and Seventies reinvented the cultural landscape:
It all seems a long, long time ago. To anyone under the age of, say, 45, this book may well feel like a dispatch – albeit a fiercely entertaining one – from another solar system. Time rolls on, values evolve. When Ken Russell died in 2011, news bulletins struggled to explain why a scene of two men wrestling in the nude in Women In Love had once seemed like the end of civilisation as we know it.
As befits a senior editor of Variety, Robert Hofler’s focus in Sexplosion: From Andy Warhol To A Clockwork Orange – How A Generation Of Pop Rebels Broke All The Taboos is very much on Hollywood and the smart end of Manhattan, but his chronicle of the cultural watershed of the late Sixties and early Seventies does acknowledge the contribution of the Brits. One of the supporting players is John Trevelyan, Secretary of what was then known as the British Board of Film Censors. A schoolmasterly character, he clearly revelled in his role as tastemaker-in-chief. (Here’s a question for the reader. Can you name his equivalent in today’s British Board of Film Classification? No, I thought not. How the mighty are fallen.) Continue reading