Featuring: James Carter

Today I’m featuring a jazz musician who isn’t that well known amongst many jazz lovers but to me this saxophone beast is as good as any of the famous players.
He has a very rebellious and sometimes humorous way of playing and is never boring. An effusive, dynamically gifted jazz saxophonist I can listen to for hours and hours, for days on end…

James Carter was born on January 3 1969 in Detroit , Michigan, and learned to play under the tutelage of Donald Washington, becoming a member of his youth jazz ensemble Bird-Trane-Sco-NOW!! As a young man, Carter attended Blue Lake Fine Arts Camp, becoming the youngest faculty member at the camp. He began playing at age 11 and studied early on with trumpeter Marcus Belgrave. A prodigy, he progressed quickly. He first toured Scandinavia with the International Jazz Band in 1985 at the age of 16. At age17 he joined Wynton Marsalis on tour.

On May 31, 1988, at the Detroit Institute of Arts (DIA), Carter was a last-minute addition for guest artist Lester Bowie, which turned into an invitation to play with his new quintet (forerunner of his New York Organ Ensemble) in New York City that following November at the now defunct Carlos 1 jazz club. This was pivotal in Carter’s career, putting him in musical contact with the world, and he moved to New York two years later. Carter issued no less than six recordings under his own name between 1993 and 2000, all of them with different focuses, from a set of standards, Conversin’ with the Elders in 1995, to an electric funk record, Layin’ in the Cut, to a simultaneously released set in tribute to Django Reinhardt, Chasin the Gypsy. Three years later, he honored the legendary Billie Holiday with Gardenias for Lady Day.

He has been prominent as a performer and recording artist on the jazz scene since the late 1980s, playing saxophones, flute, and clarinets. On his album Chasin’ the Gypsy (2000), he recorded with his cousin, the jazz violinist Regina Carter.

Carter has won DownBeat magazine’s Critics and Readers Choice award for baritone saxophone several years in a row. He has performed, toured and played on albums with Lester Bowie, Julius Hemphill, Frank Lowe & the Saxemble, Kathleen Battle, the World Saxophone Quartet, Cyrus Chestnut, Wynton Marsalis, Dee Dee Bridgewater and the Mingus Big Band.

Carter is an authority on vintage saxophones, and he owns an extensive collection of such instruments, including one formerly played by Don Byas.

“One of the most charismatic and powerful soloists in jazz,” per the New York Times, Carter harbors a command of his instruments that is astonishingly complete, though he only employs that technique in the service of canny ideas. Even when he appears on the verge of shattering his horn, overblowing rapid-fire lines to otherworldly effect, he’s evoking early jazz, jump blues, the avant-garde and other lessons residing inside his vast, scholarly knowledge of the music of the African-American experience.

Check him out (or not):

Sources: Wikipedia, YouTube, interweb, poetpas

Featuring: Telly Savalas


Today I’m featuring this great actor and wise man, known as Kojak, also a philanthropist, a singer and a great poker player. Noted for his bald head and deep, resonant voice, this lollipop man warmed the hearts of many viewers for many years with his one liners and catchy phrases. ‘Who loves you baby’ 🍭 

Aristotelis Savalas was born in Garden City, New York, on January 21, 1922, the second of five children born to ethnic Greek parents. Savalas and his brother, Gus, sold newspapers and polished shoes to help support the family. Savalas initially spoke only Greek when he entered grade school, but later learned English. He won a spelling bee there in 1934; due to an oversight, he did not receive his prize until 1991, when the school principal and Boston Herald awarded it to him.

Savalas graduated from Sewanhaka High School in Floral Park, New York in 1940.

A renowned swimmer, he worked as a beach lifeguard after graduation from high school. However, on one occasion, he was unsuccessful in saving a father from drowning; as he attempted resuscitation, the man’s two children stood nearby crying for their father to wake up. This affected Savalas so much that he spent the rest of his life constantly promoting water safety, and later made all six of his children take swimming lessons.

In 1941, Savalas was drafted into the United States Army. In 1943, he was discharged from the Army with the rank of corporal after being severely injured in a car accident. Savalas spent more than a year recuperating in hospital with a broken pelvis, sprained ankle and concussion. He then attended the Armed Forces Institute where he studied radio and television production.

He received a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Columbia’s School of General Studies in 1946 and started working on a master’s degree while preparing for medical school.

Savalas did not consider acting as a career until asked if he could recommend an actor who could do a European accent. He did but as the friend in question could not go, Savalas himself went to cover for his friend and ended up being cast on “And Bring Home a Baby”, an episode of Armstrong Circle Theatre in January 1958. He appeared on two more episodes of the series in 1959 and 1960, one, acting alongside a young Sydney Pollack. He was also in a version of The Iceman Cometh.

Savalas quickly became in much demand as a guest star on TV shows.

Savalas made his film debut in Mad Dog Coll (1961), playing a cop. His work had impressed fellow actor Burt Lancaster, who arranged for Savalas to be cast in the John Frankenheimer directed The Young Savages (also 1961 and again playing a cop). Pollack worked on the film as an acting coach.

In one of his most acclaimed performances, Savalas reunited with Lancaster and Frankenheimer for Birdman of Alcatraz (1962), where he was nominated for the Academy Award and Golden Globe for Best Supporting Actor. The same year, he appeared as a private detective in Cape Fear, and The Interns, reprising his role from the latter film in The New Interns (1964).

Savalas also guest starred in a number of TV series during the decade including The New Breed, The Detectives, Ben Casey, The Twilight Zone (the episode “Living Doll”), The Fugitive (1963 TV series) and Arrest and Trial among others.

He was part of an all-star cast in The Dirty Dozen (1967).

Savalas’ first leading role in film was in the British crime comedy Crooks and Coronets (1969). The same year he appeared in the James Bond movie On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, playing Ernst Stavro Blofeld. He continued to appear in films during the 1970s including Kelly’s Heroes (1970) (with Clint Eastwood).He reunited with Christopher Lee in the 1976 thriller Killer Force, and also appeared in Peter Hyams’ Capricorn One (1978).

“I had worked my way up to star billing”, he later said, “when the bottom dropped out of the movie business. I could have stayed in Europe and made Italian movies but I discovered the big difference between an Italian and American movie is that in the American movie you get paid.”

Savalas first played Lt. Theodopolus “Theo” Kojak in the TV movie The Marcus–Nelson Murders (CBS, 1973), which was based on the real-life Career Girls Murder case.

Kojak was a bald New York City detective with a fondness for lollipops and whose tagline was “Who loves ya, baby?” (He also liked to say, “Everybody should have a little Greek in them.”) Although the lollipop gimmick was added in order to indulge his sweet tooth, Savalas also smoked heavily onscreen—cigarettes, cigarillos and cigars—throughout the first season’s episodes. The lollipops had apparently given him three cavities, and were part of an (unsuccessful) effort by Kojak (and Savalas himself) to curb his smoking. The critic Clive James explained the lead actor’s appeal as Kojak: “Telly Savalas can make bad slang sound like good slang and good slang sound like lyric poetry. It isn’t what he is, so much as the way he talks, that gets you tuning in.”

David Shipman later wrote: “Kojak was sympathetic to outcasts and ruthless with social predators. The show maintained a high quality to the end, mixing tension with some laughs and always anxious to tackle civic issues, one of its raisons d’etre in the first place. It was required viewing in Britain every Saturday evening for eight years. To almost everyone everywhere Kojak means Savalas and vice versa, but to Savalas himself the series was merely an interval, albeit a long one, in a distinguished career.”

Kojak aired on CBS for five seasons from October 24, 1973, until March 18, 1978, with 118 episodes produced. The role won Savalas an Emmy and two Golden Globes for Best Actor in a Drama Series. Co-stars on the show included Savalas’ younger brother George as Detective Stavros – a sensitive, wild-haired, quiet, comedic foil to Kojak’s street-wise humor in an otherwise dark dramatic series – Kevin Dobson as Kojak’s trusted young partner, Det. Bobby Crocker, who’s on-screen chemistry with Savalas was a success story of 1970s television, and Dan Frazer as Captain Frank McNeil.

Due to a decline in ratings, the series was canceled by CBS in 1978. Savalas and Frazer were the only actors to appear in all 118 episodes. Savalas was unhappy about the show’s demise but got the chance to reprise the Kojak persona in several television movies, starting in 1985. The first film, subtitled The Belarus File and broadcast in February 1985, reunited Savalas with several of his co-stars from the series: younger brother George, Dan Frazer, Mark Russell (Det. Saperstein) and Vince Conti (Det. Rizzo); this marked those actors’ final appearances in the Kojak franchise. A further six Kojak TV movies were produced, titled The Price of Justice (1987), Ariana, Fatal Flaw (both 1989), Flowers for Matty, It’s Always Something – with Kevin Dobson reprising his role of Bobby Crocker, now an Assistant District Attorney – and None So Blind (all 1990).

In 1992, he appeared in three episodes of the TV series The Commish (his son-in-law was one of the producers). This was Savalas’ final television role. He would appear in two further feature films before his death, Mind Twister (1993) and the posthumous release Backfire! (1995).

As a singer, Savalas had some chart success. His spoken word version of Bread’s “If” produced by Snuff Garrett reached No. 1 in both the UK and Ireland in March 1975, but just No.88 in Canada, and his version of Don Williams’s “Some Broken Hearts Never Mend” topped the charts in Switzerland in February 1981. He worked with composer and producer John Cacavas on many albums, including Telly (1974) which peaked at number 49 in Australia and Who Loves Ya, Baby (1976).

He received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 1983. In 1999, TV Guide ranked him number 18 on its 50 Greatest TV Stars of All Time list.

Savalas was married three times. In 1948 after his father’s death from bladder cancer, Savalas married his college sweetheart, Katherine Nicolaides. Their daughter Christina, named after his mother, was born in 1950. In 1957 Katherine filed for divorce. She urged him to move back to his mother’s house during that same year. While Savalas was going broke, he founded the Garden City Theater Center in his native Garden City. While working there he met Marilyn Gardner, a theater teacher. They married in 1960. Marilyn gave birth to their daughter, Penelope, in 1961. A second daughter, Candace, was born in 1963. They divorced in 1974, after a long separation.

In January 1969, while working on the movie On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, Savalas met actress Sally Adams, an actress 25 years his junior whose daughter from a previous relationship is Nicollette Sheridan. Savalas later moved in with Sally, who gave birth to their son Nicholas Savalas on February 24, 1973. Although Savalas and Sally Adams never legally married, she went by the name Sally Savalas. They stopped living together in December 1978; she filed a palimony lawsuit against him in 1980, demanding support not only for herself and their son, but also for Nicollette.

In 1977, during the last season of Kojak, Savalas met Julie Hovland, a travel agent from Minnesota. The couple were married from 1984 until his death and had two children: Christian, an entrepreneur, singer and songwriter, and Ariana, an actress and singer/songwriter. Savalas was close friends with actor John Aniston, and was godfather to his daughter Jennifer, a successful TV and film actress.

Savalas held a degree in psychology and was a world-class poker player who finished 21st at the main event in the 1992 World Series of Poker. He was also a motorcycle racer and lifeguard. His other hobbies and interests included golfing, swimming, reading romantic books, watching football, traveling, collecting luxury cars, and gambling. He loved horse racing and bought a racehorse with movie director and producer Howard W. Koch. Naming the horse Telly’s Pop, it won several races in 1975 including the Norfolk Stakes and Del Mar Futurity.

In his capacity as producer for Kojak, he gave many stars their first break, as Burt Lancaster had done for him. He was considered by those who knew him to be a generous, graceful, compassionate man. He was also a strong contributor to his Greek Orthodox roots through the Saint Sophia and Saint Nicholas cathedrals in Los Angeles and was the sponsor of bringing electricity in the 1970s to his ancestral home, Ierakas, Greece.

As a philanthropist and philhellene, Savalas supported many Hellenic causes and made friends in major cities around the world.

In the 1980s, Savalas began to lose close relatives. His brother George Savalas, who played Stavros in the original series, died in 1985 of leukemia at age 60. His mother, Christina, who had always been his best friend, supporter and devoted parent, died in 1988. On November 22, 1989, Savalas was diagnosed with transitional cell cancer of the bladder.

Savalas died on January 22, 1994, one day after his 72nd birthday, of complications of prostate cancer at the Sheraton-Universal Hotel in Universal City, California. He had lived at the Sheraton in Universal City for 20 years, becoming such a fixture at the hotel bar that it was renamed Telly’s. Savalas was interred at the George Washington section of Forest Lawn – Hollywood Hills Cemetery in Los Angeles, California. The funeral, held in the Saint Sophia Greek Orthodox Church, was attended by his third wife, Julie, and his brother Gus. His first two wives, Katherine and Marilyn, also attended with their own children. The mourners included Angie Dickinson, Nicollette Sheridan, Jennifer Aniston (his goddaughter), Kevin Sorbo, Sally Adams, Frank Sinatra, Don Rickles, and several of Savalas’s Kojak co-stars – Kevin Dobson, Dan Frazer, and Vince Conti.

For the people who are old enough (lol), I still watch Kojak on video occasionally and I still enjoy his acting, the stories and the scenery of New York in the seventies. It takes you back to the free days of the Big Apple. I always found him to be a witty, funny, apt and strong individual.

Check him out (or not):

https://youtu.be/F0xG888KrTk

https://youtu.be/JIAVQ-0J-OA

https://youtu.be/L7qah1O6MGg

https://youtu.be/dPp5RHpka5E

https://youtu.be/-8hbUqhKM38

Sources: Wikipedia, YouTube, interweb, poetpas 















Featuring: Siomone de Beauvoir

Today I’m featuring Simone de Beauvoir, a very remarkable woman who is a most interesting figure in history, a French existentialist philosopher, writer, social theorist, and feminist activist. Though she did not consider herself a philosopher, and even though she was not considered one at the time of her death, she had a significant influence on both feminist existentialism and feminist theory.

Beauvoir wrote novels, essays, biographies, autobiographies, and monographs on philosophy, politics, and social issues. She was known for her 1949 treatise The Second Sex, a detailed analysis of women’s oppression and a foundational tract of contemporary feminism; and for her novels, including She Came to Stay (1943) and The Mandarins (1954). Her most enduring contribution to literature is her memoirs, notably the first volume, “Mémoires d’une jeune fille rangée” (1958), which has a warmth and descriptive power. She won the 1954 Prix Goncourt, the 1975 Jerusalem Prize, and the 1978 Austrian State Prize for European Literature. She was also known for her open, lifelong relationship with French philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre.

Beauvoir was born on 9 January 1908 into a bourgeois Parisian. Her parents were Georges Bertrand de Beauvoir, a lawyer, who once aspired to be an actor, and Françoise Beauvoir, a wealthy banker’s daughter and devout Catholic. Simone’s sister, Hélène, was born two years later on June 6, 1910. The family struggled to maintain their bourgeois status after losing much of their fortune shortly after World War I, and Françoise insisted the two daughters be sent to a prestigious convent school.

Beauvoir was intellectually precocious, fueled by her father’s encouragement; he reportedly would boast, “Simone thinks like a man!” Because of her family’s straitened circumstances, she could no longer rely on her dowry, and like other middle-class girls of her age, her marriage opportunities were put at risk. She took this opportunity to take steps towards earning a living for herself.

She first worked with Maurice Merleau-Ponty and Claude Lévi-Strauss, when all three completed their practice teaching requirements at the same secondary school. Although not officially enrolled, she sat in on courses at the École Normale Supérieure in preparation for the agrégation in philosophy, a highly competitive postgraduate examination that serves as a national ranking of students. It was while studying for it that she met students Jean-Paul Sartre, Paul Nizan, and René Maheu.

Writing of her youth in ‘Memoirs of a Dutiful Daughter’ she said: “My father’s individualism and pagan ethical standards were in complete contrast to the rigidly moral conventionalism of my mother’s teaching. This disequilibrium, which made my life a kind of endless disputation, is the main reason why I became an intellectual.”

Beauvoir pursued post-secondary education after completing her high school years at Lycée Fenelon. After passing baccalaureate exams in mathematics and philosophy in 1925, she studied mathematics at the Institut Catholique de Paris and literature/languages at the Institut Sainte-Marie. She then studied philosophy at the Sorbonne and after completing her degree in 1928, wrote her Diplôme d’Études Supérieures Spécialisées (roughly equivalent to an M.A. thesis) on Leibniz for Léon Brunschvicg Her studies of political philosophy through university influenced her to start thinking of societal concerns rather than her issues.

Beauvoir was raised in a strict Catholic household. In her youth, she was sent to convent schools. She was deeply religious as a child, at one point intending to become a nun. At age 14, Beauvoir questioned her faith as she saw many changes in the world after witnessing tragedies throughout her life. Consequently, she abandoned her faith in her early teens and remained an atheist for the rest of her life. To explain her atheist beliefs, Beauvoir stated, “Faith allows an evasion of those difficulties which the atheist confronts honestly. And to crown all, the believer derives a sense of great superiority from this very cowardice itself.”

From 1929 through 1943, Beauvoir taught at the lycée level until she could support herself solely on the earnings of her writings.

Beauvoir and Jean-Paul Sartre met during her college years. Intrigued by her determination as an educator, he intended to make their relationship romantic. However, she had no interest in doing so. During October 1929, Jean-Paul Sartre and Beauvoir became a couple. After they were confronted by her father, Sartre asked her to marry him on a provisional basis: One day while they were sitting on a bench outside the Louvre, he said, “Let’s sign a two-year lease”. Though Beauvoir wrote, “Marriage was impossible. I had no dowry”, scholars point out that her ideal relationships described in The Second Sex and elsewhere bore little resemblances to the marriage standards of the day. Instead, she and Sartre entered into a lifelong “soul partnership”, which was sexual but not exclusive, nor did it involve living together.

Sartre and Beauvoir always read each other’s work. Debate continues about the extent to which they influenced each other in their existentialist works, such as Sartre’s Being and Nothingness and Beauvoir’s She Came to Stay and “Phenomenology and Intent”. However, recent studies of Beauvoir’s work focus on influences other than Sartre, including Hegel and Leibniz. The Neo-Hegelian revival led by Alexandre Kojève and Jean Hyppolite in the 1930s inspired a whole generation of French thinkers, including Sartre, to discover Hegel’s Phenomenology of Spirit. However, Beauvoir, reading Hegel in German during the war, produced an original critique of his dialectic of consciousness.

Beauvoir’s prominent open relationships at times overshadowed her substantial academic reputation. Beginning in 1929, Beauvoir and Sartre were partners and remained so for 51 years, until his death in 1980. She chose never to marry and never had children. This gave her the time to advance her education and engage in political causes, write and teach, and take lovers. She lived with Claude Lanzmann from 1952 to 1959.

Perhaps her most famous lover was American author Nelson Algren. She met him in Chicago in 1947, she wrote to him across the Atlantic as “my beloved husband.” Algren won the National Book Award for The Man with the Golden Arm in 1950, and in 1954, Beauvoir won France’s most prestigious literary prize for The Mandarins, in which Algren is the character Lewis Brogan. Algren vociferously objected to their intimacy becoming public. Years after they separated, she was buried wearing his gift of a silver ring.

Beauvoir was bisexual, and her relationships with young women were controversial. French author Bianca Lamblin wrote in her book Mémoires d’une Jeune Fille Dérangée (A Disgraceful Affair) that, while a student at Lycée Molière, she was sexually exploited by her teacher Beauvoir, who was in her 30s. Lamblin had affairs with both Jean-Paul Sartre and Beauvoir.In 1943, Beauvoir was suspended from her teaching position when she was accused of seducing her 17-year-old lycée pupil Natalie Sorokine in 1939. Sorokine’s parents laid formal charges against Beauvoir for debauching a minor (the age of consent in France at the time was 15, and Beauvoir’s license to teach in France was revoked, although it was subsequently reinstated).

In 1977, Beauvoir signed a petition seeking to completely remove the age of consent in France.

Beauvoir published her first novel She Came to Stay in 1943. It has been assumed that it is inspired by her and Sartre’s sexual relationship with Olga Kosakiewicz and Wanda Kosakiewicz. Olga was one of her students in the Rouen secondary school where Beauvoir taught during the early 1930s. She grew fond of Olga. Sartre tried to pursue Olga but she rejected him, so he began a relationship with her sister Wanda. Upon his death, Sartre was still supporting Wanda. He also supported Olga for years, until she met and married Jacques-Laurent Bost, a lover of Beauvoir. However, the main thrust of the novel is philosophical, a scene in which to situate Beauvoir’s abiding philosophical pre-occupation – the relationship between the self and the other.

In the novel, set just before the outbreak of World War II, Beauvoir creates one character from the complex relationships of Olga and Wanda. The fictionalised versions of Beauvoir and Sartre have a ménage à trois with the young woman. The novel also delves into Beauvoir and Sartre’s complex relationship and how it was affected by the ménage à trois.

She Came to Stay was followed by many others, including The Blood of Others, which explores the nature of individual responsibility, telling a love story between two young French students participating in the Resistance in World War II.

In 1944, Beauvoir wrote her first philosophical essay, Pyrrhus et Cinéas, a discussion on existentialist ethics. She continued her exploration of existentialism through her second essay The Ethics of Ambiguity (1947); it is perhaps the most accessible entry into French existentialism. In the essay, Beauvoir clears up some inconsistencies that many, Sartre included, have found in major existentialist works such as Being and Nothingness. In The Ethics of Ambiguity, Beauvoir confronts the existentialist dilemma of absolute freedom vs. the constraints of circumstance.

At the end of World War II, Beauvoir and Sartre edited Les Temps Modernes, a political journal which Sartre founded along with Maurice Merleau-Ponty and others. Beauvoir used Les Temps Modernes to promote her own work and explore her ideas on a small scale before fashioning essays and books. Beauvoir remained an editor until her death.

The Second Sex, first published in 1949 in French as Le Deuxième Sexe, turns the existentialist mantra that existence precedes essence into a feminist one: “One is not born but becomes a woman” (French: “On ne naît pas femme, on le devient”). With this famous phrase, Beauvoir first articulated what has come to be known as the sex-gender distinction, that is, the distinction between biological sex and the social and historical construction of gender and its attendant stereotypes. Beauvoir argues that “the fundamental source of women’s oppression is its historical and social construction as the quintessential” Other.

Beauvoir defines women as the “second sex” because women are defined as inferior to men. She pointed out that Aristotle argued women are “female by virtue of a certain lack of qualities”, while Thomas Aquinas referred to women as “imperfect men” and the “incidental” being. She quotes “In itself, homosexuality is as limiting as heterosexuality: the ideal should be to be capable of loving a woman or a man; either, a human being, without feeling fear, restraint, or obligation.”

Beauvoir asserted that women are as capable of choice as men, and thus can choose to elevate themselves, moving beyond the “immanence” to which they were previously resigned and reaching “transcendence”, a position in which one takes responsibility for oneself and the world, where one chooses one’s freedom.

Chapters of The Second Sex were originally published in Les Temps modernes, in June 1949. The second volume came a few months after the first in France. It was published soon after in America due to the quick translation by Howard Parshley, as prompted by Blanche Knopf, wife of publisher Alfred A. Knopf. Because Parshley had only a basic familiarity with the French language, and a minimal understanding of philosophy (he was a professor of biology at Smith College), much of Beauvoir’s book was mistranslated or inappropriately cut, distorting her intended message. For years, Knopf prevented the introduction of a more accurate retranslation of Beauvoir’s work, declining all proposals despite the efforts of existentialist scholars.

Only in 2009 was there a second translation, to mark the 60th anniversary of the original publication. Constance Borde and Sheila Malovany-Chevallier produced the first integral translation in 2010, reinstating a third of the original work.

In the chapter “Woman: Myth and Reality” of The Second Sex, Beauvoir argued that men had made women the “Other” in society by the application of a false aura of “mystery” around them. She argued that men used this as an excuse not to understand women or their problems and not to help them, and that this stereotyping was always done in societies by the group higher in the hierarchy to the group lower in the hierarchy. She wrote that a similar kind of oppression by hierarchy also happened in other categories of identity, such as race, class, and religion, but she claimed that it was nowhere more true than with gender in which men stereotyped women and used it as an excuse to organize society into a patriarchy.

Despite her contributions to the feminist movement, especially the French women’s liberation movement, and her beliefs in women’s economic independence and equal education, Beauvoir was initially reluctant to call herself a feminist. However, after observing the resurgence of the feminist movement in the late 1960s and early 1970s, Beauvoir stated she no longer believed a socialist revolution to be enough to bring about women’s liberation. She publicly declared herself a feminist in 1972.

In 2018 the manuscript pages of Le Deuxième Sexe were published. At the time her adopted daughter, Sylvie Le Bon-Beauvoir, a philosophy professor, described her mother’s writing process: Beauvoir wrote every page of her books longhand first and only after that would hire typists.

Published in 1954, The Mandarins won France’s highest literary prize, the Prix Goncourt. The book is set after the end of World War II and follows the personal lives of philosophers and friends among Sartre’s and Beauvoir’s intimate circle, including her relationship with American writer Nelson Algren, to whom the book was dedicated.

Algren was outraged by the frank way Beauvoir described their sexual experiences in both The Mandarins and her autobiographies. Algren vented his outrage when reviewing American translations of Beauvoir’s work. Much material bearing on this episode in Beauvoir’s life, including her love letters to Algren, entered the public domain only after her death.

Beauvoir’s early novel Les Inséparables, long suppressed, was published in French in 2020 and two different English translations in 2021. Written in 1954, the book describes her first love, a classmate named Elisabeth Lacoin (“Zaza”) who died before age 22, and had as a teenager a “passionate and tragic” relationship with Beauvoir and Merleau-Ponty, then teaching at the same school. Disapproved by Sartre, the novel was deemed “too intimate” to be published during Beauvoir’s lifetime.

Beauvoir wrote popular travel diaries about time spent in the United States and China and published essays and fiction rigorously, especially throughout the 1950s and 1960s. She published several volumes of short stories, including The Woman Destroyed, which, like some of her other later work, deals with aging.

1980 saw the publication of When Things of the Spirit Come First, a set of short stories centered around and based upon women important to her earlier years. Though written long before the novel She Came to Stay, Beauvoir did not at the time consider the stories worth publishing, allowing some forty years to pass before doing so.

Sartre and Merleau-Ponty had a longstanding feud, which led Merleau-Ponty to leave Les Temps Modernes. Beauvoir sided with Sartre and ceased to associate with Merleau-Ponty. In Beauvoir’s later years, she hosted the journal’s editorial meetings in her flat and contributed more than Sartre, whom she often had to force to offer his opinions.

Beauvoir also wrote a four-volume autobiography, consisting of Memoirs of a Dutiful Daughter, The Prime of Life, Force of Circumstance, and All Said and Done. In 1964 Beauvoir published a novella-length autobiography, A Very Easy Death, covering the time she spent visiting her aging mother, who was dying of cancer. The novella brings up questions of ethical concerns with truth-telling in doctor-patient relationships.

Her 1970 long essay La Vieillesse (The Coming of Age) is a rare instance of an intellectual meditation on the decline and solitude all humans experience if they do not die before about the age of 60.

In the 1970s Beauvoir became active in France’s women’s liberation movement. She wrote and signed the Manifesto of the 343 in 1971, a manifesto that included a list of famous women who claimed to have had an abortion, then illegal in France. Some argue most of the women had not had abortions, including Beauvoir. Signatories were diverse as Catherine Deneuve, Delphine Seyrig, and Beauvoir’s sister Poupette. In 1974, abortion was legalized in France.

In a 1975 interview with Betty Friedan Beauvoir said “No woman should be authorized to stay at home and raise her children. Society should be different. Women should not have that choice, precisely because if there is such a choice, too many women will make that one.”

After Sartre died in 1980, Beauvoir published his letters to her with edits to spare the feelings of people in their circle who were still living. After Beauvoir’s death, Sartre’s adopted daughter and literary heir Arlette Elkaïm would not let many of Sartre’s letters be published in unedited form. Most of Sartre’s letters available today have Beauvoir’s edits, which include a few omissions but mostly the use of pseudonyms. Beauvoir’s adopted daughter and literary heir Sylvie Le Bon, unlike Elkaïm, published Beauvoir’s unedited letters to both Sartre and Algren.

Simone de Beauvoir’s The Second Sex is considered a foundational work in the history of feminism. Beauvoir had denied being feminist multiple times but ultimately admitted that she was one after the influential Second Sex became crucial in the world of feminism. The work has had a profound influence, opening the way for second-wave feminism in the United States, Canada, Australia, and around the world. Although Beauvoir has been quoted as saying “There is a certain unreasonable demand that I find a little stupid because it would enclose me, immobilize me completely in a sort of feminist concrete block.” Her works on feminism have paved the way for all future feminists. The founders of the second-wave read The Second Sex in translation, including Kate Millett, Shulamith Firestone, Juliet Mitchell, Ann Oakley and Germaine Greer. All acknowledged their profound debt to Beauvoir, including visiting her in France, consulting with her at crucial moments, and dedicating works to her. Betty Friedan, whose 1963 book The Feminine Mystique is often regarded as the opening salvo of second-wave feminism in the United States, later said that reading The Second Sex in the early 1950s “led me to whatever original analysis of women’s existence I have been able to contribute to the Women’s movement and its unique politics. I looked to Simone de Beauvoir for philosophical and intellectual authority.”

At one point in the early seventies, Beauvoir also aligned herself with the League for Women’s rights as a means to campaign and fight against sexism in French society. Beauvoir’s influence goes beyond just her impact on second-wave founders, and extends to numerous aspects of feminism, including literary criticism, history, philosophy, theology, criticism of scientific discourse, and psychotherapy. When Beauvoir first became involved with the feminism movement, one of her first objectives was that of legalizing abortion. Donna Haraway wrote that, “despite important differences, all the modern feminist meanings of gender have roots in Simone de Beauvoir’s claim that ‘one is not born a woman (one becomes one) ”.This “most famous feminist sentence ever written” is echoed in the title of Monique Wittig’s 1981 essay One Is Not Born a Woman. Judith Butler took the concept a step further, arguing that Beauvoir’s choice of the verb to become suggests that gender is a process, constantly being renewed in an ongoing interaction between the surrounding culture and individual choice.

Beauvoir died of pneumonia on 14 April 1986 in Paris, aged 78. She is buried next to Sartre at the Montparnasse Cemetery in Paris. She was honored as a figure at the forefront of the struggle for women’s rights around the time of her passing.

In Paris, France Place Jean-Paul-Satre-et-Simone-de-Beauvoir is a square where Beauvoir’s legacy lives on. It was named after the French philosopher couple, Jean-Paul Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir, and is one of the few squares in Paris to be officially named after a couple. The pair lived close to the square at 42 rue Bonaparte.

Slightly controversial, I admire this intriguing woman for her strength and her thoughts on existentialism.

Check her out (or not):

Sources: Wikipedia, YouTube, interweb, poetpas

Featuring: Brian Setzer

Today I’m featuring a very talented, rebellious and sweet musician who goes by the name Brian Setzer. Somewhat underrated, this cat with enormous flair and musical soul is a great entertainer and live performer. He put rockabilly back on the map, reinvented it, and gave it world wide fame with his band the Stray Cats.

Setzer was born April 1959 in Massapequa, New York. He started on the euphonium and played in jazz bands when he was in school. He found a way to hear jazz at the Village Vanguard, though as he got older he became more interested in rock, punk, and rockabilly. He was a member of the Bloodless Pharaohs and the Tomcats, which he began with his brother, Gary. The Tomcats became the Stray Cats when double bassist Lee Rocker and drummer Slim Jim Phantom joined and Gary left the band. In 1980, thinking they might have more success in England than in America, they sold their instruments to pay for airplane tickets and flew to London.

After performing in London for a few months, they met Dave Edmunds, a guitarist and record producer who shared their love of rockabilly and 1950s’ rock and roll. Edmunds produced their debut album, Stray Cats (1981), which yielded two hit singles, “Stray Cat Strut” and “Rock This Town”. The second album, Gonna Ball (1982), was less successful. The band returned to America and released Built for Speed (1982), produced again by Dave Edmunds, with songs collected from their first two albums. Helped by their music videos on MTV, the Stray Cats became popular in America. Their next album, Rant n’ Rave with the Stray Cats produced the hit “(She’s) Sexy + 17”.

The Stray Cats disbanded in 1984, though they occasionally reunited, recorded, and toured. After recording three albums with different producers, they returned to Dave Edmunds for Choo Choo Hot Fish (1992).

After the Stray Cats disbanded in 1984, Setzer began a solo career that included working as a sideman for other acts, such as the Honeydrippers led by Robert Plant. On his first solo album, The Knife Feels Like Justice (1986), he turned away from rockabilly and moved toward rhythm and blues (R&B) and the heartland rock of John Mellencamp. The album was produced by Don Gehman and featured Kenny Aronoff on drums. Both men had worked on albums by Mellencamp. His second studio album Live Nude Guitars followed in 1988. While this album retained some heartland rock elements, it found Setzer moving in more of a straight-ahead blues rock direction, comparable to George Thorogood’s style; Setzer served as co-producer along with Larson Paine, Chris Thomas and David A. Stewart. He went on tour with Thorogood later that year.

Setzer returned to his love of music from the 1950s, this time the jump blues of Louis Prima. Whereas he had resurrected rockabilly in the 1980s, he resuscitated swing in the 1990s. He assembled the Brian Setzer Orchestra, a seventeen piece big band that got the public’s attention with a cover version of Prima’s “Jump, Jive an’ Wail” from the album The Dirty Boogie (1998). The song won the Grammy Award for Best Pop Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocals, while “Sleep Walk” from the same album won the Grammy for Best Pop Instrumental Performance.

The album Wolfgang’s Big Night Out (2007) featured Setzer’s interpretation of classical pieces, such as Beethoven’s “Symphony No. 5” and “Für Elise”. Wolfgang earned Setzer his eighth Grammy nomination, this time for Best Classical Crossover Album.

He executive produced the album Ready Steady Go! (2014) by Drake Bell and played guitar on two songs.

Setzer has sold 13 million records and received the Orville H. Gibson Lifetime Achievement Award throughout his career as founder/leader of the Stray Cats, the 19-piece Brian Setzer Orchestra, and a solo artist.

Setzer has been married three times, most recently in 2005 to Julie Reiten, a former singer with the Dustbunnies, and lives in Minneapolis.

Brian Setzer has a very large guitar collection which spans many decades and brands. He favours vintage equipment and hollow body guitars, and currently endorses Gretsch guitars. At one time Setzer stated: “Nothing feels right after a Gretsch”.

In 2019 Setzer had to cancel his Christmas tour as a result of severe tinnitus (noise/ringing in ears). He has always liked playing loud.

On June 25, 2021, Setzer announced a new solo album, his first in 7 years, titled Gotta Have the Rumble. The rumble is about his love for motorcycles and hot rods, which have been a part of Brian’s life since he was 15 years old. He loves the adrenaline rush he gets by going fast.

According to Brian, the “rumble” also refers to two other things, one musical and the other medical. Brian likes to stand quite close to his vintage Fender Bassman amps to get his trademark sound, which causes his guitar to “rumble.” Unfortunately, the loud sound exposure has caused what Brian calls a rumble in his ears because, as aforementioned, he has developed a hearing loss with tinnitus. Fortunately, Brian’s symptoms have improved with a decrease in noise level exposure.

This awesome vocalist and guitarist has always pulled my heartstrings with his sweet rocking’ chords, and humbleness has turned this man into a fine individual.

Check him out (or not):

Sources: Wikipedia, YouTube, interweb, poetpas©️

Little boxes 📦

Little boxes on the hillside
Little boxes made of ticky-tacky
Little boxes on the hillside
Little boxes all the same
There’s a green one and a pink one
And a blue one and a yellow one
And they’re all made out of ticky-tacky
And they all look just the same
And the people in the houses
All went to the university
Where they were put in boxes
And they came out all the same
And there’s doctors and lawyers
And business executives
And they’re all made out of ticky-tacky
And they all look just the same
And they all play on the golf course
And drink their martinis dry
And they all have pretty children
And the children go to school
And the children go to summer camp
And then to the university
Where they are put in boxes
And they come out all the same
And the boys go into business
And marry and raise a family
In boxes made of ticky-tacky
And they all look just the same
There’s a pink one and a green one
And a blue one and a yellow one
And they’re all made out of ticky-tacky
And they all look just the same

~Pete Seeger

Featuring: Harry Crews

Today I’m featuring a man, an American writer and philosopher, a very peculiar individual who always had a good story to tell. He often made use of violent, grotesque characters and set them in regions of the Deep South. I first spotted him in one of my favorite documentaries: Searching for the Wrong-eyed Jesus. Sometimes in life you come across people who alter your way of thinking or add freedom to it. This Bard of Bacon County is such a man.

Harry Crews was born June 7, 1935, during the Great Depression to two poor tenant farmers in Bacon County, Georgia. His father died while he was still a baby, and his mother soon remarried to his father’s brother. Crews was unaware that this man was not his biological father until years later.

As a child, he suffered two near-death experiences. When he was just five he contracted polio, causing his legs to fold up into the back of his thighs. He was originally told by doctors that he would not be able to walk again. After about a year of being immobile, except crawling with his hands, his legs straightened again and he was able to walk. Soon after this experience, he then fell into a vat of nearly boiling water, which was being used for soaking dead hogs before they were further prepared. His head did not go under the water, which saved his life, according to doctors. He suffered extreme burns on most of the rest of his body. He once again was unable to leave the bed when he was healing. Crews wrote in A Childhood: The Biography of a Place: “Nearly everybody I knew had something missing, a finger cut off, a toe split, an ear half-chewed away, an eye clouded with blindness from a glancing fence staple. And if they didn’t have something missing, they were carrying scars from barbed wire, or knives, or fishhooks.” These experiences later influenced the freakish characters he wrote about, although he did not like to use the term “freak” to describe them.

While Crews was still a child, his mother left his stepfather, and he and his brother went with her to live in the Springfield section of Jacksonville, Florida. Crews finished high school there as a below average student. After graduation, he joined the Marines during the Korean War. After his service, he attended the University of Florida on the G.I. Bill. Here, Crews became a student of Andrew Nelson Lytle, who had also taught Flannery O’Connor, and James Dickey. Crews and Lytle kept in contact for years afterwards, and Lytle provided criticism of Crews’s early work.

After an unplanned pregnancy, Crews married Sally Ellis, who gave birth to his first son, Patrick Scott. Sally soon wanted a divorce due to his infidelity and obsessiveness with writing. “I was obsessed to the point of desperation with becoming a writer,” he wrote, “and, further, I lived with the conviction that I had gotten a late start toward that difficult goal…Consequently, perhaps I was impatient, irritable, and inattentive toward Sally as a young woman and mother.” However, he soon convinced Sally to remarry, and they had a second son, Byron Jason.

Crews graduated from the University of Florida with a degree in English, and eventually received a graduate degree of education. Crews then began teaching English, which he continued to do for the rest of his career, along with his career as a writer. In 1963, he had his first story published: “The Unattached Smile”. In 1964, he published another short story, “A Long Wail”.

In 1964 his first son, Patrick, drowned in a neighbor’s pool. Crews tried to perform mouth-to-mouth resuscitation, but this proved ineffectual. After the death of his son, Crews continued writing his first novel, The Gospel Singer, which appeared in 1968. Just after this publication, another came for his second novel, Naked in Garden Hills. Both were well received by critics at the time. In 1972, Sally asked for a second and final divorce. Crews did not marry again.

After Crews’s first two novels, he wrote prolifically, including novels, screenplays and essays, for journals including Esquire. He often set precise due times to finish whatever he was working on, and so had quick turnaround between writings. Once he published The Gospel Singer, he began to write eight novels, publishing one almost every year. Much of Crews’s work is now out of print.

His works were known to feature “freaks”, and “outcasts”, usually from rural areas. In Car, a man consumes an entire car by slowly eating piece by piece. In The Knockout Artist, a poor, Georgia-born boxer with a glass jaw knocks himself out at parties for money. A Feast of Snakes, one of his best known, and most provocative novels, has been banned in South Africa.

Crews felt strongly that authors should write about experiences that they have actually had. In his personal life, he often moved from obsession to obsession, and became knowledgeable on many subjects. Crews and Sally learned karate together, which then influenced Karate Is a Thing of the Spirit. In addition, The Hawk is Dying features an amateur hawk trainer who deals with condescension from college professors, and features a son-figure who drowns. Crews himself had a fascination with hawks for a period of time, and even trapped and trained them so they would sit on his arm. Body is a story about a competitive female body builder, her trainer, and her lower-class family from Waycross, Georgia. Crews himself trained his girlfriend, Maggie Powell, who would become a Southeast bodybuilding champion.

During his time writing for Esquire, he wrote a column called “Grits” for fourteen months in the 1970s that covered such topics as cockfighting and dog fighting. Filled with rough experiences he had outside of urban life, “grits” became a term he used to describe the tough southern characters featured in his writing.

Crews continued writing and publishing his entire life. As his reputation grew, he became a favorite of Madonna, Sean Penn, Kim Gordon, and Thurston Moore. Madonna and Penn discussed making film adaptations of his novels, but these never came to fruition. Crews’s final novel, An American Family, featured a blurb on the cover from Moore, saying, “God bless Harry Crews, America’s best writer. He’ll break your heart but he’ll always bring you love.”

Harry Crews’s work has become synonymous with the genre Grit Lit. Crews is considered a major influence, alongside Flannery O’Connor, Cormac McCarthy, and Barry Hannah, along with later writers in the genre including Larry Brown, Dorothy Allison, and Donald Ray Pollock. Grit Lit is usually set in rural areas and often in what has been called the “Rough South”. Larry Brown, one of the most celebrated writers in the genre, objected to the term “Grit Lit”, but he dedicated his novel, Fay, to Crews, calling him “my uncle in all ways but blood.” He and Crews remained friends until Brown’s death in 2004.

Grit Lit: A Rough South Reader, defines the genre as “as typically blue collar or working class, mostly small town, sometimes rural, occasionally but not always violent, usually but not necessarily Southern.” The subjects of the stories often have to deal with extreme circumstances for survival. The characters usually use their roughness, depravity, and violence as a means of living. Crews’s work has become synonymous with the “Rough South,” though he did not like the label “Southern writer”. Grit Lit itself can become an “acquired taste”, for those not from the South.

Harry Crews’s experiences as a poor boy from Bacon County, Georgia, have made a major impact on his own stories. Many other Grit Lit writers are from working-class backgrounds as well, and use their experiences as a tool for writing their stories with accuracy. Crews has said, “A writer’s job is to get naked, to hide nothing, to look away from nothing, to look at it. To not blink, to not be embarrassed by it or ashamed of it. Strip it down and let’s get to where the blood is, where the bone is.”

Crews died on March 28, 2012, from complications of neuropathy. His sole surviving son, Byron J. Crews, is professor of English and Dramatic Writing at Wright State University in Dayton, Ohio. and is the personal representative and acting executor of the Harry Crews Literary Estate.

I love this man and his way of thinking, raw honesty!

Check him out (or not):

A brilliant thing he says about the process writing:

Sources: Wikipedia, YouTube, interweb, poetpas©️

Featuring: Ricky Gervais

Today I’m featuring a comedian who is funny, daft, sensitive and deadly honest. I love this man as he always searches for truths and can turn sadness into laughter. He is a realist and makes many of us aware of our human emotions, all in good spirit.

Ricky Dene Gervais (1961) is an English comedian, actor, director, and writer. He is best known for co-creating, co-writing, and acting in the British television mockumentary sitcom The Office (2001–2003). He has won seven BAFTA Awards, five British Comedy Awards, two Emmy Awards, three Golden Globe Awards, and the Rose d’Or twice (2006 and 2019), and has been nominated for a Screen Actors Guild Award. In 2007, he was placed at No. 11 on Channel 4’s 100 Greatest Stand-Ups, and at No. 3 in their 2010 list. In 2010, he was included in the Time 100 list of World’s Most Influential People.

Gervais initially worked in the music industry. He attempted a career as a pop star in the 1980s as the singer of the new-wave act Seona Dancing, and managed the then-unknown band Suede before turning to comedy. He appeared on The 11 O’Clock Show on Channel 4 between 1998 and 2000, garnering a reputation as an outspoken and sharp-witted social provocateur. In 2000, he was given a Channel 4 spoof talk show, Meet Ricky Gervais. He achieved greater mainstream fame the following year with his BBC television mock documentary series The Office, followed by Extras in 2005, both of which he co-wrote and co-directed with Stephen Merchant, and in which he played the lead roles of David Brent (The Office) and Andy Millman (Extras). He starred in the 2016 comedy film David Brent: Life on the Road, which he also wrote and directed.

Gervais began his stand-up career in the late 1990s. He has performed five multinational stand-up comedy tours, and he wrote the Flanimals book series. Gervais, Merchant, and Karl Pilkington created the podcast The Ricky Gervais Show, which has spawned various spin-offs starring Pilkington and produced by Gervais and Merchant. Gervais has also starred in the Hollywood films Ghost Town, the Night at the Museum trilogy, For Your Consideration, and Muppets Most Wanted. He wrote, directed, and starred in The Invention of Lying and the Netflix-released Special Correspondents. He hosted the Golden Globe Awards in 2010, 2011, 2012, 2016, and again in 2020. Gervais also appeared on the game show Child Support. He is also the creator, executive producer, director, and writer of the Netflix comedy series After Life, where he plays the lead role of Tony Johnson.

Gervais attended Whitley Park Infants and Junior Schools and received his secondary education at Ashmead Comprehensive School. After a gap year which he spent working as a gardener at the University of Reading, he attended University College London (UCL) in 1980. He intended to study biology but changed to philosophy after two weeks, and was awarded an upper second-class honours degree in the subject from University of London in 1983. During his time there, he met Jane Fallon, with whom he has been in a relationship since 1982.

In 1983, during his final year as a student at University College London, Gervais and his best friend Bill Macrae formed the new wave pop duo Seona Dancing. They were signed by London Records, which released two of their singles—”More to Lose” and “Bitter Heart”. The songs failed to make the UK Singles Chart. Despite not being successful in the UK, Seona Dancing did manage to score a hit in the Philippines with “More to Lose”. Gervais also worked as the manager for Suede before they became successful in the 1990s.

In 2013, Gervais performed a live tour as David Brent along with his band Foregone Conclusion, Brent’s fictional band in The Office. He and the band performed songs written under the Brent character, including “Equality Street” and “Free Love Freeway”. Gervais also produced a series of YouTube videos, ‘Learn Guitar with David Brent’, featuring acoustic guitar versions of nine songs.

In 2016, as part of the Life on the Road film promotion, Gervais published the David Brent Songbook of 15 songs, which he also recorded for the album Life on the Road as David Brent and Foregone Conclusion.

After the first series of The Office, Gervais and Merchant worked at Xfm in November 2001 for a Saturday radio show, where they began working with Karl Pilkington, who produced the shows and later collaborated with them on their series of podcasts. In October 2017, Gervais began hosting the weekly radio show Ricky Gervais Is Deadly Sirius on Sirius XM, which ran until 2019.

Ricky also did some podcasting featuring Gervais, Merchant, and Karl Pilkington. Throughout January and February 2006 the podcast was consistently ranked the number 1 podcast in the world. It appeared in the 2007 edition of the Guinness Book of World Records as the world’s most-downloaded podcast, with an average 261,670 downloads per episode during its first month. Two more series, each with six podcasts, were released between February and September 2006.

In late 2006, three more free podcasts were released. Together called “The Podfather Trilogy”, they debuted individually at Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas.These three were known by Gervais and Merchant as “The Fourth Season”. In October 2007 another free full-length podcast was released through iTunes, after being originally given out for free during a performance of Gervais’s Fame stand-up tour in London. On 25 November 2007 Gervais, Merchant and Pilkington released another free podcast of just over one hour.

In August 2008, Gervais, Merchant and Pilkington recorded their fifth series of audiobooks, totalling four chapters, which were released on 16 September 2008, and described as the ‘Guide To…’ series. As of May 2011, there are 12 ‘Guides’ to Medicine, Natural History, Arts, Philosophy, The English, Society, Law & Order, The Future, The Human Body, The Earth, The World Cup 2010, and Comic Relief. The conversations typically begin on topic and go out on tangents about other subjects.

In 2021, Gervais launched a paid-for audio series, Absolutely Mental, of his conversations with philosopher Sam Harris. Season 2 was also launched in 2021, followed by season 3 in March 2022.

Initially Gervais was most famous for the series The Office. The Office started when Stephen Merchant had to make his own short film while on a BBC production course. In August 1999 he made a docu-soap parody, set in an office, with help from Ash Atalla who was shown a 7-minute video called ‘The Seedy Boss’. Thus the character of David Brent was created. Merchant passed this tape on to the BBC’s Head of Entertainment Paul Jackson at the Edinburgh Fringe, who then passed it on to Head of Comedy Jon Plowman, who eventually commissioned a full-pilot script from Merchant and Gervais.

The first six-episode series of The Office aired in the UK in July and August 2001 to little fanfare or attention. Word-of-mouth, repeats, and DVDs helped spread the word, building up momentum and anticipation for the second series, also comprising six episodes. Following the success of The Office’s second series, Gervais was named the most powerful person in TV comedy by Radio Times.

In 2004, The Office won the Golden Globe Award for Best Television Series – Musical or Comedy as well as Best Actor – Television Series Musical or Comedy for Gervais, who said in a 2015 BBC interview that the award was the gateway to America for him.

The Office brand has since been remade for audiences in Sweden, France, Germany, Quebec, Brazil, Chile, The Czech Republic, Finland, India, Israel, Poland and the United States. Gervais and Merchant are producers of the American version, and they also co-wrote the episode “The Convict” for the show’s third season. Gervais has said that the episode “Training” is his favourite, where Brent plays his guitar and sings. In 2021, on the show’s 20th anniversary, he suggested the show would not have been produced in 2021 due to cancel culture: “I mean, now it would be cancelled. I’m looking forward to when they pick out one thing and try to cancel it. Someone said they might try to cancel it one day, and I say, ‘Good let them cancel it—I’ve been paid!’

Ricky also starred in a series called Extras. Extras had its debut on the BBC on 21 July 2005 and was directed by Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant. The sitcom ran for twelve episodes and starred Gervais as Andy Millman, a background artist. Millman is more self-aware and intentionally humorous than Gervais’s The Office character David Brent. Guest stars on the first series of Extras include Ross Kemp, Les Dennis, Patrick Stewart, Vinnie Jones, Samuel L. Jackson, Ben Stiller, Kate Winslet and Francesca Martinez. A second series began on 14 September 2006 in the UK and featured appearances by Daniel Radcliffe, Dame Diana Rigg, Orlando Bloom, Sir Ian McKellen, Chris Martin, Keith Chegwin, Robert Lindsay, Warwick Davis, Ronnie Corbett, Stephen Fry, Richard Briers, Patricia Potter, Sophia Myles, Moira Stuart, David Bowie, Robert De Niro and Jonathan Ross.

A Rolling Stone article remarks that in making Extras, Gervais was influenced by Larry David’s Curb Your Enthusiasm, particularly in the format of celebrities making fools of themselves or subverting their public personas. I might like to add that Gervais don’t shy away from a good old ‘roast’, something that some comedians do, like Don Rickles, when they take the piss out of another celebrity just for fun.

In 2007, Gervais won the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series for his portrayal of Andy Millman in the second series of Extras. As Gervais was not present at the awards ceremony, the trophy was accepted on his behalf by Steve Carell, the actor who starred as regional manager Michael Scott—the counterpart to Gervais’s David Brent—on the American adaptation of The Office.

The Ricky Gervais Show is an animated TV show that debuted on US cable network HBO on 19 February 2010. In the UK, the first series began airing on 23 April 2010 on Channel 4. The show was developed using original podcast recordings from The Ricky Gervais Show starring Gervais, Stephen Merchant, and Karl Pilkington. After receiving an enthusiastic following in the US, HBO recommissioned the show for a second series, which aired in 2011, and a third series which started airing in April 2012.

Life’s Too Short began airing on BBC Two on 10 November 2011.Gervais and Stephen Merchant wrote this sitcom from an idea by Warwick Davis. It is described by Gervais as being about “the life of a showbiz dwarf” and as “a cross between Extras and The Office”. The show stars actor Davis playing a fictionalised version of himself, as well as Gervais and Merchant. Premium cable channel HBO, which co-produced the series with the BBC, had the US rights and began airing the series on 19 February 2012.

Another of creations was a show called An Idiot Abroad, a travel documentary where a reluctant Karl Pilkington travels around the world, with his reactions to people and places recorded. Occasionally, Gervais and Merchant call to surprise him with a new place to visit or task to do. Pilkington reports back mostly complaining about the situation. Gervais says there is no planning; a camera crew follows his friend around filming for many hours, which Gervais edits down to an hour each episode.

Two series and a Christmas special have aired; series one involves Pilkington visiting the Seven Wonders of the World. In the second show he chooses to complete tasks from a bucket list provided by Gervais and in the special Warwick Davis joins Pilkington on a journey following Marco Polo’s route from Italy to China.

In November 2011, Gervais filmed in London a 35-minute pilot episode for a potential comedy-drama series called Derek, which aired on Channel 4 on 12 April 2012.The pilot is solely written and directed by Gervais and features him in the title role of Derek Noakes, a 49-year-old retirement home worker, who “loves animals, Rolf Harris, Jesus, Deal or No Deal, Million Pound Drop, and Britain’s Got Talent.” The character first appeared in a 2001 Edinburgh Festival Fringe sketch as an aspiring comedian who loves animals and still lives with his mother. Gervais’s co-host Karl Pilkington makes his acting debut as Derek’s friend and facilities-caretaker Dougie who also works in the retirement home. British comedian Kerry Godliman plays Derek’s best friend Hannah and David Earl plays Kev.

Gervais said that the series is about “kindness [being] more important than anything else”. He added “It’s about the forgotten—everyone’s forgotten. It’s all these arbitrary people who didn’t know each other, and they’re in there now because they’re in the last years of their life. And it’s about the people who help them, who themselves are losers and have their own problems. It’s about a bunch of people with nothing, but making the most of it, and they’re together.” He chose to set the sitcom in a retirement home after he watched Secret Millionaire—”It was always these people with huge problems who were helping other people. I thought about having Derek help old people because no one cares about old people in this country … I think it’s perfect for now.”

On 9 May 2018, it was announced that Netflix had given a production order for the first season of the comedy drama After Life. It was created and directed by Gervais, who also starred in it and executive-produced it with Duncan Hayes, with Charlie Hanson as producer; the series premiered on 8 March 2019.On 3 April 2019, Netflix renewed the series for a second season, which launched on 24 April 2020.In May 2020 it was announced that Gervais had signed a new deal with Netflix, including a third season of After Life. Before the announcement Gervais said, “For the first time ever, I would do a series three, because the world’s so rich. I love the characters, I love all the actors in it, I love my character, I love the town, I love the themes… I love the dog!”

Gervais began his stand-up career in the late 1990s. His first successful show was at the Cafe Royal as part of the 2001 Edinburgh Festival Fringe. Titled Rubbernecker, it also featured Jimmy Carr, Robin Ince and Stephen Merchant.

Gervais toured the UK in 2003 with his stand-up show Animals. The Politics tour followed a year later. Both shows were recorded for release on DVD and television broadcast. The third part of the themed live trilogy, Fame, took place in 2007. It started in Glasgow in January and ended in Sheffield in April. Blackpool reported selling out of tickets within 45 minutes of them going on sale.

Ricky Gervais also does stand-up comedy, animation, he writes children’s books and is often a guest on talk shows and sometimes hosts the Golden Globe Awards, etc.

Gervais’s film career has included small roles as the voice of a pigeon, Bugsy, in 2005’s Valiant, as a studio executive in 2006’s For Your Consideration,as museum director Dr. McPhee in 2006’s Night at the Museum and its sequels Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian and Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb, and as “Ferdy the Fence” in the 2007 film Stardust.

Gervais starred in Ghost Town (2008) as a dentist who sees spirits, and was in Lowell, Massachusetts during May 2008 filming his next project, The Invention of Lying (2009), in which he starred alongside Jennifer Garner, Rob Lowe and Louis C.K.. The social comedy was co-written and co-directed by Gervais and Matt Robinson.

Gervais directed and starred in, Special Correspondents, which began filming in May 2015. The comedy stars Eric Bana as a journalist and Gervais as his assistant. They pretend to report news from a war torn country but in actuality they are safe in New York. The film was released on Netflix. Gervais directed and starred in the 2016 film David Brent: Life on the Road, a mockumentary following David Brent, a character first seen in The Office series, as he lives his dream of being a rockstar. On 5 November 2015 Gervais signed up to play Ika Chu, a villainous cat, in an animated film Paws of Fury: The Legend of Hank, originally known as Blazing Samurai. The movie is about a dog (Hank) played by Michael Cera, who wants to be a warrior and fights with Ika Chu for the town of Kakamucho.

Gervais has homes in Hampstead, London, and Marlow, Buckinghamshire. He also has an apartment in the Barbizon 63 building in New York City. He has been in a relationship with producer and author Jane Fallon since 1982, and says they chose not to marry because “there’s no point in us having an actual ceremony before the eyes of God because there is no God” or have children because they “didn’t fancy dedicating 16 years of [their] lives … and there are too many children, of course”.

He is a vegan, an atheist and a humanist, and states that he abandoned religion at the age of eight. In December 2010, he wrote an op-ed for The Wall Street Journal defending his atheism. He is an honorary associate of the UK’s National Secular Society and a patron of Humanists UK, a British charity that promotes the humanist worldview and campaigns for a secular state and on human rights issues. On 3 September 2019, he received the 2019 Richard Dawkins Award, which recognises people who proclaim “the values of secularism and rationalism, upholding scientific truths wherever it may lead.” Gervais received the award during a Centre for Inquiry-sponsored ceremony at London’s Troxy Theatre. Dawkins praised Gervais as a “witty hero of atheism and reason.”

Gervais is a fan of the UFC and Reading F.C. He is a music fan and has stated that his hero is David Bowie, with his favourite song being “Letter to Hermione”. He has also stated that his first experience of a live music gig was watching Iggy Pop. In 2013, he wrote that Lou Reed was “one of the greatest artists of our time” following Reed’s death.

Gervais is a fervent supporter of gay rights and has praised the introduction of same-sex marriage in England and Wales as “a victory for all of us”, saying “anything that promotes equality, promotes progress … You can’t take equality ‘too far’.”

Gervais joined Twitter in December 2009 when he first hosted the 66th Golden Globes. After a two-year hiatus, he returned to the platform in September 2011.In 2012, Gervais won a Shorty Award for Lifetime Achievement for his popular presence on social media. As of April 2022 he was followed by 14.7 million fans whom he calls ‘Twonks’.

Gervais uses social media to promote his work to his fans. After ten years he brought back his character Brent on his YouTube channel in a web series Learn Guitar with David Brent. He uses many ways to promote his new series, for example for Derek, he posts contests or questions for his fans.

Gervais uses social media to raise awareness of animal welfare. He tweets links to petitions to rescue animals from captivity, he highlights the plight of animals being used for testing, and he encourages people to adopt dogs instead of buying them from breeders. He won the Genesis Award from the Humane Society in March 2015 for his contribution to raising awareness for animal welfare on social media. In 2014, he was named most influential London Twitter user.

Gervais has cited Laurel & Hardy, Groucho Marx, Peter Cook, and Christopher Guest as significant influences.

Gervais is a supporter of animal rights and has stated that he will leave his fortune to animal charities. Gervais named an Asian black bear, also known as a moonbear, Derek after the protagonist from his series Derek. In December 2013, Gervais bought a $1000 cake shaped like a moonbear to raise funds for Animal Asia. Gervais is active in the prevention of illegal wildlife trade; he supported the handing over of ivory trinkets to the Metropolitan police in London.

In 2015, Gervais donated a signed acoustic guitar to help raise funds for Story Book Farm Primate Sanctuary in Ontario, Canada, with a special call-out to Pockets Warhol. The guitar which was signed by Gervais was purchased by Danny Young from the United Kingdom who has since had the guitar signed by several celebrities in order to raise further funds for the Story Book Farm Primate Sanctuary. Celebrities who signed the guitar include: Brian May, Will Ferrell, Bryan Cranston, Dhani Harrison, Peter Frampton, Ricky Warwick, and Steve Cutts.

In 2017, Gervais was awarded the Lord Houghton Award for Service to Animal Welfare from Animal Defenders International Gervais was also awarded the Humane Society International Cecil Award in 2018 for his frequent social media efforts to end trophy hunting.

Check him out (or not):

Sources: Wikipedia, YouTube, interweb, poetpas

Bowie

shining starman
galactic eyes
this lyrical labyrinth
his myth in disguise

fallen to earth
blessed with dark voice
his majestic apparel
and intellectual poise

shy oddity
golden hair
humble chameleon
with androgynous flair

magical star lit
in a theatrical maze
graciously styled
a visual daze

talented genius
majored in Tom
gracious Jones
my musical bomb

Dear Amy

precious jazzy jewel
diamond in the rough
colourful and bright
tender and yet tough

raw voice
with innocent delight
left with struggle
lost her daily fight

afraid of fame
a broken frame
died lonely
with some to blame

a devotee she’ll find in me
dear Amy,
wine in my house
please sing for Me

Featuring: Tom Waits

Today I’m featuring this man, this musician (and actor) whom I love for his style and gravelly dark voice, his intelligence and dark humor. Not known to everybody, this extraordinary individual brings with his own distinct, off-kilter brand of weirdness to his music and acts the boozy troubadours and raspy-voiced noir loners who populate his songs. Using his distinct voice, Tom Waits conjures up boozy ballads designed to be played low at 3 a.m. and melodies that might echo off the broken-down rides of an abandoned, haunted carnival. His is an eclectic style, combining blues, jazz, cabaret, Spooky Sounds of Halloween sound effects tapes, and more. This distinct, unmistakable style goes beyond Waits’ musical accomplishments, finding its way into his acting in the two dozen or so film appearances the singer has made.

Thomas Alan Waits (born December 7, 1949) is an American singer, songwriter, musician, composer, and actor. His lyrics often focus on the underbelly of society and are delivered in his trademark deep, gravelly voice. He worked primarily in jazz during the 1970s, but his music since the 1980s has reflected greater influence from blues, rock, vaudeville, and experimental genres.

Waits was born and raised in a middle-class family in Pomona, California. Inspired by the work of Bob Dylan and the Beat Generation, he began singing on the San Diego áfolk music circuit as a teenager. He relocated to Los Angeles in 1972, where he worked as a songwriter before signing a recording contract with Asylum Records. His first albums were the jazz-oriented Closing Time (1973) and The Heart of Saturday Night (1974), which reflected his lyrical interest in nightlife, poverty, and criminality. He repeatedly toured the United States, Europe, and Japan, and attracted greater critical recognition and commercial success with Small Change (1976), Blue Valentine (1978), and Heartattack and Vine (1980). He produced the soundtrack for Francis Ford Coppola’s film One from the Heart (1981), and subsequently made cameo appearances in several Coppola films.

In 1980, Waits married Kathleen Brennan, split from his manager and record label, and moved to New York City. With Brennan’s encouragement and frequent collaboration, he pursued a more experimental and eclectic musical aesthetic influenced by the work of Harry Partch and Captain Beefheart. This was reflected in a series of albums released by Island Records, including Swordfishtrombones (1983), Rain Dogs (1985), and Franks Wild Years (1987). He continued appearing in films, notably starring in Jim Jarmusch’s Down by Law (1986), and also made theatrical appearances. With theatre director Robert Wilson, he produced the musicals The Black Rider and Alice, first performed in Hamburg. Having returned to California in the 1990s, his albums Bone Machine (1992), The Black Rider (1993), and Mule Variations (1999) earned him increasing critical acclaim and multiple Grammy Awards. In the late 1990s, he switched to the record label ANTI-, which released Blood Money (2002), Alice (2002), Real Gone (2004), and Bad as Me (2011).
Despite a lack of mainstream commercial success, Waits has influenced many musicians and gained an international cult following, and several biographies have been written about him. In 2015, he was ranked at No. 55 on Rolling Stone’s “100 Greatest Songwriters of All Time”. He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2011.

There is a lot more information to be found on Wikipedia which is too much to mention here and I don’t want to bore readers with endless details. I do suggest you check him out, his music and his acting: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tom_Waits

Sources: Wikipedia, YouTube, interweb, poetpas

Featuring: David Lynch

Today I am featuring my all time favorite director of film and series. This man needs no introduction to those who are fans of his works or art yet some may not know yet of this extravagant artist who shows us that it’s ok to get lost in dreamscapes. Anyone who has watched any of his series Twin Peaks or films like Lost Highway will know what I’m talking about. David Lynch is also a very positive person and patient with his staff and film crew, allowing them to get the best out of themselves.

David Keith Lynch (born January 20, 1946) is an American filmmaker, painter, musician, writer and actor. His films led to him being labeled “the first popular surrealist” by film critic Pauline Kael. A recipient of an Academy Honorary Award in 2019, Lynch has received three Academy Award nominations for Best Director, and the César Award for Best Foreign Film twice, as well as the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival and a Golden Lion award for lifetime achievement at the Venice Film Festival. In 2007, a panel of critics convened by The Guardian announced that ‘after all the discussion, no one could fault the conclusion that David Lynch is the most important film-maker of the current era’, while AllMovie called him “the Renaissance man of modern American filmmaking”.

Lynch initially studied painting before he began making short films in the late 1960s. His first feature-length film, the surrealist horror Eraserhead (1977), became a success on the midnight movie circuit, and he followed that by directing The Elephant Man (1980), Dune (1984), and Blue Velvet (1986). Lynch next created his own television series with Mark Frost, the popular murder mystery Twin Peaks (1990–91), which ran for two seasons. He also created the film prequel Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me (1992), the road film Wild at Heart (1990), and the family film The Straight Story (1999) in the same period. Turning further towards surrealist filmmaking, three of his subsequent films operated on dream logic non-linear narrative structures: Lost Highway (1997), Mulholland Drive (2001), and Inland Empire (2006). Lynch and Frost reunited in 2017 for a third season of Twin Peaks, which aired on Showtime. Lynch co-wrote and directed every episode, and reprised his onscreen role as Gordon Cole.

Lynch’s other artistic endeavors include his work as a musician, encompassing the studio albums BlueBOB (2001), Crazy Clown Time (2011), and The Big Dream (2013), as well as music and sound design for a variety of his films (sometimes alongside collaborators Alan Splet, Dean Hurley, and/or Angelo Badalament; painting and photography; writing the books Images (1994), Catching the Big Fish (2006), Room to Dream (2018), and numerous other literary works; and directing several music videos (such as the video for “Shot in the Back of the Head” by Moby, who, in turn, directed a video for Lynch’s “The Big Dream”) as well as advertisements, including the Dior promotional film Lady Blue Shanghai (2006). An avid practitioner of Transcendental Meditation (TM), in 2005 he founded the David Lynch Foundation, which seeks to fund the teaching of TM in schools and has since widened its scope to other at-risk populations, including the homeless, veterans and refugees.

David Keith Lynch was born in Missoula, Montana on January 20, 1946. His father, was a research scientist working for the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), and his mother, Edwina “Sunny” Lynch was an English language tutor. Two of Lynch’s maternal great-grandparents were Finnish-Swedish immigrants who arrived in the U.S. during the 19th century. He was raised a Presbyterian. The Lynches often moved around according to where the USDA assigned Donald. Because of this, Lynch, moved with his parents to Sandpoint, Idaho, when he was two months old; two years later, after his brother John was born, the family moved to Spokane, Washington. Lynch’s sister Martha was born there. The family then moved to Durham, North Carolina, Boise, Idaho, and Alexandria, Virginia. Lynch adjusted to this transitory early life with relative ease, noting that he usually had no issue making new friends whenever he started attending a new school. Of his early life, he remarked: “I found the world completely and totally fantastic as a child. Of course, I had the usual fears, like going to school … for me, back then, school was a crime against young people. It destroyed the seeds of liberty. The teachers didn’t encourage knowledge or a positive attitude”.

Alongside his schooling, Lynch joined the Boy Scouts, although he later said he only “became a scout so I could quit and put it behind me”. He rose to the highest rank of Eagle Scout. As an Eagle Scout, he was present with other Boy Scouts outside the White House at the inauguration of President John F. Kennedy, which took place on Lynch’s 15th birthday. Lynch was also interested in painting and drawing from an early age, and became intrigued by the idea of pursuing it as a career path when living in Virginia, where his friend’s father was a professional painter.
At Francis C. Hammond High School in Alexandria, Lynch did not excel academically, having little interest in schoolwork, but he was popular with other students, and after leaving he decided that he wanted to study painting at college. He began his studies at the Corcoran School of the Arts and Design in Washington, D.C., before transferring in 1964 to the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, where he was roommates with musician Peter Wolf. He left after only a year, saying, “I was not inspired AT ALL in that place.” He instead decided that he wanted to travel around Europe for three years with his friend Jack Fisk, who was similarly unhappy with his studies at Cooper Union. They had some hopes that they could train in Europe with Austrian expressionist painter Oskar Kokoschka at his school. Upon reaching Salzburg, however, they found that Kokoschka was not available; disillusioned, they returned to the United States after spending only two weeks in Europe.

Back in the United States, Lynch returned to Virginia, but since his parents had moved to Walnut Creek, California, he stayed with his friend Toby Keeler for a while. He decided to move to Philadelphia and enroll at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, after advice from Fisk, who was already enrolled there. He preferred this college to his previous school in Boston, saying, “In Philadelphia there were great and serious painters, and everybody was inspiring one another and it was a beautiful time there.” It was here that he began a relationship with a fellow student, Peggy Reavey, whom he married in 1967. The following year, Peggy gave birth to their daughter Jennifer. Peggy later said, ” Lynch definitely was a reluctant father, but a very loving one. Hey, I was pregnant when we got married. We were both reluctant.” As a family, they moved to Philadelphia’s Fairmount neighborhood, where they bought a 12-room house for the relatively low price of $3,500 due to the area’s high crime and poverty rates. Lynch later said: We lived cheap, but the city was full of fear. A kid was shot to death down the street … We were robbed twice, had windows shot out and a car stolen. The house was first broken into only three days after we moved in … The feeling was so close to extreme danger, and the fear was so intense. There was violence and hate and filth. But the biggest influence in my whole life was that city.

Meanwhile, to help support his family, he took a job printing engravings. At the Pennsylvania Academy, Lynch made his first short film, Six Men Getting Sick (Six Times) (1967). He had first come up with the idea when he developed a wish to see his paintings move, and he began discussing doing animation with an artist named Bruce Samuelson. When this project never came about, Lynch decided to work on a film alone, and purchased the cheapest 16mm camera that he could find. Taking one of the Academy’s abandoned upper rooms as a workspace, he spent $150, which at the time he felt to be a lot of money, to produce Six Men Getting Sick. Calling the film “57 seconds of growth and fire, and three seconds of vomit”, Lynch played it on a loop at the Academy’s annual end-of-year exhibit, where it shared joint first prize with a painting by Noel Mahaffey. This led to a commission from one of his fellow students, the wealthy H. Barton Wasserman, who offered him $1,000 to create a film installation in his home. Spending $478 of that on the second-hand Bolex camera “of [his] dreams”, Lynch produced a new animated short, but upon getting the film developed, realized that the result was a blurred, frameless print. He later said, “So I called up [Wasserman] and said, ‘Bart, the film is a disaster. The camera was broken and what I’ve done hasn’t turned out.’ And he said, ‘Don’t worry, David, take the rest of the money and make something else for me. Just give me a print.’ End of story.”

With his leftover money, Lynch decided to experiment with a mix of animation and live action, producing the four-minute short The Alphabet (1968). The film starred Lynch’s wife Peggy as a character known as The Girl, who chants the alphabet to a series of images of horses before dying at the end by hemorrhaging blood all over her bed sheets. Adding a sound effect, Lynch used a broken Uher tape recorder to record the sound of Jennifer crying, creating a distorted sound that Lynch found particularly effective. Later describing what had inspired him, Lynch said, “Peggy’s niece was having a bad dream one night and was saying the alphabet in her sleep in a tormented way. So that’s sort of what started The Alphabet going. The rest of it was just subconscious
Learning about the newly founded American Film Institute, which gave grants to filmmakers who could support their application with a prior work and a script for a new project, Lynch decided to send them a copy of The Alphabet along with a script he had written for a new short film that would be almost entirely live action, The Grandmother. The institute agreed to help finance the work, initially offering him $5,000 out of his requested budget of $7,200, but later granting him the additional $2,200. Starring people he knew from both work and college and filmed in his own house, The Grandmother featured a neglected boy who “grows” a grandmother from a seed to care for him. The film critics Michelle Le Blanc and Colin Odell wrote, “this film is a true oddity but contains many of the themes and ideas that would filter into his later work, and shows a remarkable grasp of the medium”.

In 1971, Lynch moved with his wife and daughter to Los Angeles, where he began studying filmmaking at the AFI Conservatory, a place he later called “completely chaotic and disorganized, which was great … you quickly learned that if you were going to get something done, you would have to do it yourself. They wanted to let people do their thing.” He began writing a script for a proposed work, Gardenback, that had “unfolded from this painting I’d done”. In this venture he was supported by a number of figures at the Conservatory, who encouraged him to lengthen the script and add more dialogue, which he reluctantly agreed to do. All the interference on his Gardenback project made him fed up with the Conservatory and led him to quit after returning to start his second year and being put in first-year classes. AFI dean Frank Daniel asked Lynch to reconsider, believing that he was one of the school’s best students. Lynch agreed on the condition that he could create a project that would not be interfered with. Feeling that Gardenback was “wrecked”, he set out on a new film, Eraserhead.

Eraserhead was planned to be about 42 minutes long (it ended up being 89 minutes), its script was only 21 pages, and Lynch was able to create the film without interference. Filming began on May 29, 1972, at night in some abandoned stables, allowing the production team, which was largely Lynch and some of his friends, including Sissy Spacek, Jack Fisk, cinematographer Frederick Elmes and sound designer Alan Splet, to set up a camera room, green room, editing room, sets as well as a food room and a bathroom. The AFI gave Lynch a $10,000 grant, but it was not enough to complete the film, and under pressure from studios after the success of the relatively cheap feature film Easy Rider, it was unable to give him more. Lynch was then supported by a loan from his father and money that he earned from a paper route that he took up, delivering The Wall Street Journal. Not long into Eraserhead’s production, Lynch and Peggy amicably separated and divorced, and he began living full-time on set. In 1977, Lynch married Mary Fisk, sister of Jack Fisk.
Lynch has said that not a single reviewer of the film understood it in the way he intended. Filmed in black and white, Eraserhead tells the story of Henry (Jack Nance), a quiet young man living in a dystopian industrial wasteland, whose girlfriend gives birth to a deformed baby whom she leaves in his care. It was heavily influenced by the fearful mood of Philadelphia, and Lynch has called it “my Philadelphia Story”.
Due to financial problems the filming of Eraserhead was haphazard, regularly stopping and starting again.
Eraserhead was finally finished in 1976. Lynch tried to get it entered into the Cannes Film Festival, but while some reviewers liked it, others felt it was awful, and it was not selected for screening. Reviewers from the New York Film Festival also rejected it, but it was screened at the Los Angeles Film Festival, where Ben Barenholtz, the distributor of the Elgin Theater, heard about it. He was very supportive of the movie, helping to distribute it around the United States in 1977, and Eraserhead subsequently became popular on the midnight movie underground circuit, and was later called one of the most important midnight movies of the 1970s, along with El Topo, Pink Flamingos, The Rocky Horror Picture Show, The Harder They Come and Night of the Living Dead. Stanley Kubrick said it was one of his all-time favorite films.

After Eraserhead’s success on the underground circuit, Stuart Cornfeld, an executive producer for Mel Brooks, saw it and later said, “I was just 100 percent blown away … I thought it was the greatest thing I’d ever seen. It was such a cleansing experience.” He agreed to help Lynch with his next film, Ronnie Rocket, for which Lynch had already written a script. But Lynch soon realized that Ronnie Rocket, a film that he has said is about “electricity and a three-foot guy with red hair”, was not going to be picked up by any financiers, and so he asked Cornfeld to find him a script by someone else that he could direct. Cornfeld found four. On hearing the title of the first, The Elephant Man, Lynch chose it.

The Elephant Man’s script, written by Chris de Vore and Eric Bergren, was based on a true story, that of Joseph Merrick, a severely deformed man in Victorian London, who was held in a sideshow but later taken under the care of a London surgeon, Frederick Treves. Lynch wanted to make some alterations that would alter the story from true events but in his view make a better plot, but he needed Mel Brooks’s permission, as Brooks’s company, Brooksfilms, was responsible for production. Brooks viewed Eraserhead, and after coming out of the screening theatre, embraced Lynch, declaring, “You’re a madman! I love you! You’re in.”
The Elephant Man starred John Hurt as John Merrick (the name changed from Joseph) and Anthony Hopkins as Treves. Filming took place in London. Though surrealistic and in black and white, it has been called “one of the most conventional” of Lynch’s films. The Elephant Man was a huge critical and commercial success, earning eight Academy Award nominations, including Best Director and Best Adapted Screenplay

After The Elephant Man’s success, George Lucas, a fan of Eraserhead, offered Lynch the opportunity to direct the third film in his Star Wars trilogy, Return of the Jedi. Lynch refused, arguing that Lucas should direct the film himself as the movie should reflect his own vision, not Lynch’s. Soon, the opportunity to direct another big-budget science fiction epic arose when Dino de Laurentiis of the De Laurentiis Entertainment Group asked Lynch to create a film adaptation of Frank Herbert’s science fiction novel Dune (1965). Lynch agreed, and in doing so was also contractually obliged to produce two other works for the company. He set about writing a script based upon the novel, initially with both Chris de Vore and Eric Bergren, and then alone when De Laurentiis was unhappy with their ideas. Lynch also helped build some of the sets, attempting to create “a certain look”, and particularly enjoyed building the set for the oil planet Giedi Prime, for which he used “steel, bolts, and porcelain”.

Dune is set in the far future, when humans live in an interstellar empire under a feudal system. The main character, Paul Atreides (Kyle MacLachlan), is the son of a noble who takes control of the desert planet Arrakis, which grows the rare spice melange, the empire’s most highly prized commodity. Lynch was unhappy with the work, later saying, “Dune was a kind of studio film. I didn’t have final cut. And, little by little, I was subconsciously making compromises” (to his own vision). Much of his footage was eventually removed from the final theatrical cut, dramatically condensing the plot. Although De Laurentiis hoped it would be as successful as Star Wars, Dune (1984) was a critical and commercial dud; it had cost $45 million to make, and grossed $27.4 million domestically.

Lynch was contractually still obliged to produce two other projects for De Laurentiis, the first a planned sequel to Dune, which due to the film’s failure never went beyond the script stage. The other was a more personal work, based on a script Lynch had been working on for some time. Developing from ideas that Lynch had had since 1973, the film, Blue Velvet, was set in the real town of Lumberton, North Carolina, and revolves around a college student, Jeffrey Beaumont (MacLachlan), who finds a severed ear in a field. Investigating further with the help of friend Sandy (Laura Dern), he discovers that it is related to a criminal gang led by psychopath Frank Booth (Dennis Hopper), who has kidnapped the husband and child of singer Dorothy Vallens (Isabella Rossellini) and repeatedly rapes her. Lynch has called the story “a dream of strange desires wrapped inside a mystery story”.

Lynch included pop songs from the 1960s in the film, including Roy Orbison’s “In Dreams” and Bobby Vinton’s “Blue Velvet”, the latter of which largely inspired the film. Lynch has said, “It was the song that sparked the movie … There was something mysterious about it. It made me think about things. And the first things I thought about were lawns—lawns and the neighborhood.” Other music for the film was composed by Angelo Badalamenti, who wrote the music for most of Lynch’s subsequent work. De Laurentiis loved the film, and it received support at some of the early specialist screenings, but the preview screenings to mainstream audiences were very negatively received, with most of the viewers hating the film. Lynch had found success with The Elephant Man, but Blue Velvet’s controversy with audiences and critics introduced him into the mainstream, and it became a huge critical and moderate commercial success. The film earned Lynch his second Academy Award nomination for Best Director. Woody Allen, whose Hannah and Her Sisters was nominated for Best Picture, said Blue Velvet was his favorite film of the year.

Around this time, he met the television producer Mark Frost, who had worked on such projects as Hill Street Blues, and while talking in a coffee shop, Lynch and Frost had the idea of a corpse washing up on a lakeshore, and went to work on their third project, initially called Northwest Passage but eventually Twin Peaks (1990–91).
A drama series set in a small Washington town where popular high school student Laura Palmer has been murdered, Twin Peaks featured FBI Special Agent Dale Cooper (MacLachlan) as the investigator trying to identify the killer, and discovering not only the murder’s supernatural aspects but also many of the townsfolk’s secrets; Lynch said, “The project was to mix a police investigation with the ordinary lives of the characters.” He later said, “Mark Frost and I worked together, especially in the initial stages. Later on we started working more apart.” They pitched the series to ABC, which agreed to finance the pilot and eventually commissioned a season comprising seven episodes.
During season one Lynch directed two of the seven episodes, devoting more time to his film Wild at Heart, but carefully chose the other episodes’ directors. He also appeared in several episodes as FBI agent Gordon Cole. The series was a success, with high ratings in the United States and many other countries, and soon spawned a cult following. Soon a second season of 22 episodes went into production, but ABC executives believed that public interest in the show was decreasing. The network insisted that Lynch and Frost reveal Laura Palmer’s killer’s identity prematurely, which Lynch grudgingly agreed to do, in what Lynch has called one of his biggest professional regrets. After identifying the murderer and moving from Thursday to Saturday night, Twin Peaks continued for several more episodes, but was canceled after a ratings drop. Lynch, who disliked the direction that writers and directors took in the later episodes, directed the final episode. He ended it with a cliffhanger (like season one had), later saying, “that’s not the ending. That’s the ending that people were stuck with.”
Also while Twin Peaks was in production, the Brooklyn Academy of Music asked Lynch and Badalamenti, who wrote the music for Twin Peaks, to create a theatrical piece to be performed twice in 1989 as a part of the New Music America Festival. The result was Industrial Symphony No. 1: The Dream of the Broken Hearted, which starred frequent Lynch collaborators such as Laura Dern, Nicolas Cage and Michael J. Anderson, and contained five songs sung by Julee Cruise. Lynch produced a 50-minute video of the performance in 1990. Meanwhile, he was also involved in creating various commercials for companies including Yves Saint Laurent, Calvin Klein, Giorgio Armani and the Japanese coffee company Namoi, which featured a Japanese man searching Twin Peaks for his missing wife.

While Lynch was working on the first few episodes of Twin Peaks, his friend Monty Montgomery “gave me a book that he wanted to direct as a movie. He asked if I would maybe be executive producer or something, and I said ‘That’s great, Monty, but what if I read it and fall in love with it and want to do it myself?’ And he said, ‘In that case, you can do it yourself’.” The book was Barry Gifford’s novel Wild at Heart: The Story of Sailor and Lula, about two lovers on a road trip. Lynch felt that it was “just exactly the right thing at the right time. The book and the violence in America merged in my mind and many different things happened.” With Gifford’s support, Lynch adapted the novel into Wild at Heart, a crime and road movie starring Nicolas Cage as Sailor and Laura Dern as Lula. Describing its plot as a “strange blend” of “a road picture, a love story, a psychological drama and a violent comedy”, Lynch altered much of the original novel, changing the ending and incorporating numerous references to The Wizard of Oz. Despite a muted response from American critics and viewers, Wild at Heart won the Palme d’Or at the 1990 Cannes Film Festival.

After Wild at Heart’s success, Lynch returned to the world of the canceled Twin Peaks, this time without Frost, to create a film that was primarily a prequel but also in part a sequel. Lynch said, “I liked the idea of the story going back and forth in time.” The result, Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me (1992), primarily revolved around the last few days in the life of Laura Palmer, and was much “darker” in tone than the TV series, with much of the humor removed, and dealing with such topics as incest and murder. Lynch has said the film is about “the loneliness, shame, guilt, confusion and devastation of the victim of incest”. The company CIBY-2000 financed Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me, and most of the TV series’ cast reprised their roles, though some refused and many were unenthusiastic about the project. The film was a commercial and critical failure in the United States but a hit in Japan, and some critics, such as Mark Kermode, have called it Lynch’s “masterpiece”.

After his unsuccessful TV ventures, Lynch returned to film. In 1997 he released the non-linear, noiresque Lost Highway, which was co-written by Barry Gifford and starred Bill Pullman and Patricia Arquette. The film failed commercially and received a mixed response from critics.

Lynch then began work on a film from a script by Mary Sweeney and John E. Roach, The Straight Story, based on a true story: that of Alvin Straight (Richard Farnsworth), an elderly man from Laurens, Iowa, who goes on a 300-mile journey to visit his sick brother (Harry Dean Stanton) in Mount Zion, Wisconsin, by riding lawnmower. Asked why he chose this script, Lynch said, “that’s what I fell in love with next”, and expressed his admiration of Straight, describing him as “like James Dean, except he’s old”.[98] Badalamenti wrote the music for the film, saying it was “very different from the kind of score he’s done for [Lynch] in the past”.
Among the many differences from Lynch’s other films, The Straight Story contains no profanity, sexuality or violence, and is rated “G” by the Motion Picture Association of America, which came as “shocking news” to many in the film industry, who were surprised that it “did not disturb, offend or mystify”. Le Blanc and Odell write that the plot made it “seem as far removed from Lynch’s earlier works as could be imagined, but in fact right from the very opening, this is entirely his film—a surreal road movie”.

The same year, Lynch approached ABC again with ideas for a television drama. The network gave Lynch the go-ahead to shoot a two-hour pilot for the series Mulholland Drive, but disputes over content and running time led to the project being shelved indefinitely. But with $7 million from the French production company StudioCanal, Lynch completed the pilot as a film, Mulholland Drive. The film, a non-linear narrative surrealist tale of Hollywood’s dark side, stars Naomi Watts, Laura Harring and Justin Theroux. It performed relatively well at the box office worldwide and was a critical success, earning Lynch Best Director at the 2001 Cannes Film Festival (shared with Joel Coen for The Man Who Wasn’t There) and Best Director from the New York Film Critics Association. He also received his third Academy Award nomination for Best Director. In 2016, the film was named the best film of the 21st century in a BBC poll of 177 film critics from 36 countries.

With the rising popularity of the Internet, Lynch decided to use it as a distribution channel, releasing several new series he had created exclusively on his website, davidlynch.com, which went online on December 10, 2001. In 2002, he created a series of online shorts, DumbLand. Intentionally crude in content and execution, the eight-episode series was later released on DVD. The same year, Lynch released a surreal sitcom, Rabbits, about a family of humanoid rabbits. Later, he made his experiments with Digital Video available in the form of the Japanese-style horror short Darkened Room. In 2006, Lynch’s feature film Inland Empire was released. At three hours, it is the longest of his films. Like Mulholland Drive and Lost Highway, it does not follow a traditional narrative structure. It stars Lynch regulars Laura Dern, Harry Dean Stanton and Justin Theroux, with cameos by Naomi Watts and Laura Harring as the voices of Suzie and Jane Rabbit, and a performance by Jeremy Irons. Lynch has called Inland Empire “a mystery about a woman in trouble”. In an effort to promote it, he made appearances with a cow and a placard bearing the slogan “Without cheese there would be no Inland Empire”.

On October 6, 2014, Lynch confirmed via Twitter that he and Frost would start shooting a new, nine-episode season of Twin Peaks in 2015, with the episodes expected to air in 2016 on Showtime. Lynch and Frost wrote all the episodes. Since the last episode of The Return aired, there has been speculation about a fourth season. Lynch did not deny the possibility of another season, but said that if it were to happen, it would not air before 2021.

Lynch is reportedly working on a new project for Netflix under the working titles Wisteria and Unrecorded Night. He is set to write and direct 13 episodes with an $85 million budget; production will begin in May 2021 in Los Angeles.

“I look at the world and I see absurdity all around me. People do strange things constantly, to the point that, for the most part, we manage not to see it. That’s why I love coffee shops and public places—I mean, they’re all out there”.
—David Lynch

Lynch has said his work is more similar in many respects to that of European filmmakers than American ones, and that most films that “get down and thrill your soul” are by European directors. He has expressed his admiration for such filmmakers as Federico Fellini, Werner Herzog, Alfred Hitchcock, Roman Polanski, and Jacques Tati, along with Stanley Kubrick and Billy Wilder. He has said that Wilder’s Sunset Boulevard is one of his favorite pictures, as are Kubrick’s Lolita, Tati’s Monsieur Hulot’s Holiday, Hitchcock’s Rear Window, and Herzog’s Stroszek. He has also cited Herk Harvey’s Carnival of Souls and Jerzy Skolimowski’s Deep End as influences on his work.

Several themes recur in Lynch’s work. Le Blanc and Odell write, “his films are so packed with motifs, recurrent characters, images, compositions and techniques that you could view his entire output as one large jigsaw puzzle of ideas”. One of the key themes they note is the usage of dreams and dreamlike imagery and structure, something they relate to the “surrealist ethos” of relying “on the subconscious to provide visual drive”. This can be seen in Merrick’s dream of his mother in The Elephant Man, Cooper’s dreams of the red room in Twin Peaks and the “dreamlike logic” of the narratives of Eraserhead, Mulholland Drive and Inland Empire.Of his attitude to dreams, Lynch has said, “Waking dreams are the ones that are important, the ones that come when I’m quietly sitting in a chair, letting my mind wander. When you sleep, you don’t control your dream. I like to dive into a dream world that I’ve made or discovered; a world I choose … You can’t really get others to experience it, but right there is the power of cinema.” His films are known for their use of magic realism. The motif of dreams is closely linked to his recurring use of drones, real-world sounds and musical styles.

Another of Lynch’s prominent themes is industry, with repeated imagery of “the clunk of machinery, the power of pistons, shadows of oil drills pumping, screaming wood mills and smoke billowing factories”, as seen in the industrial wasteland in Eraserhead, the factories in The Elephant Man, the sawmill in Twin Peaks and the lawnmower in The Straight Story. Of his interest in such things, Lynch has said, “It makes me feel good to see giant machinery, you know, working: dealing with molten metal. And I like fire and smoke. And the sounds are so powerful. It’s just big stuff. It means that things are being made, and I really like that.”

Yet another theme is the dark underbelly of violent criminal activity in a society, such as Frank Booth’s gang in Blue Velvet and the cocaine smugglers in Twin Peaks. The idea of deformity is also found in several of Lynch’s films, from The Elephant Man to the deformed baby in Eraserhead, as well as death from head wounds, found in most of Lynch’s films. Other imagery common in Lynch’s works includes flickering electricity or lights, fire, and stages upon which a singer performs, often surrounded by drapery.

Except The Elephant Man and Dune, which are set in Victorian London and a fictitious galaxy respectively, all of Lynch’s films are set in the United States, and he has said, “I like certain things about America and it gives me ideas. When I go around and I see things, it sparks little stories, or little characters pop out, so it just feels right to me to, you know, make American films.” A number of his works, including Blue Velvet, Twin Peaks and Lost Highway, are intentionally reminiscent of 1950s American culture despite being set in later decades of the 20th century. Lynch has said, “It was a fantastic decade in a lot of ways … there was something in the air that is not there any more at all. It was such a great feeling, and not just because I was a kid. It was a really hopeful time, and things were going up instead of going down. You got the feeling you could do anything. The future was bright. Little did we know we were laying the groundwork for a disastrous future.”

Lynch also tends to feature his leading female actors in “split” roles, so that many of his female characters have multiple, fractured identities. This practice began with his casting Sheryl Lee as both Laura Palmer and her cousin Maddy Ferguson in Twin Peaks and continued in his later works. In Lost Highway, Patricia Arquette plays the dual role of Renee Madison/Alice Wakefield; in Mulholland Drive Naomi Watts plays Diane Selwyn/Betty Elms and Laura Harring plays Camilla Rhodes/Rita; in Inland Empire Laura Dern plays Nikki Grace/Susan Blue. The numerous alternative versions of lead characters and fragmented timelines may echo and/or reference the many worlds interpretation of quantum physics and perhaps Lynch’s broader interest in quantum mechanics. Some have suggested that Lynch’s love for Hitchcock’s Vertigo, which employs a split lead character (the Judy Barton and Madeleine Elster characters, both portrayed by Kim Novak) may have influenced this aspect of his work.
His films frequently feature characters with supernatural or omnipotent qualities. They can be seen as physical manifestations of various concepts, such as hatred or fear. Examples include The Man Inside the Planet in Eraserhead, BOB in Twin Peaks, The Mystery Man in Lost Highway, The Bum in Mulholland Drive, and The Phantom in Inland Empire. Lynch approaches his characters and plots in a way that steeps them in a dream state rather than reality.

Lynch is also widely noted for his collaborations with various production artists and composers on his films and other productions. He frequently works with Angelo Badalamenti to compose music for his productions, former wife Mary Sweeney as a film editor, casting director Johanna Ray, and cast members Harry Dean Stanton, Jack Nance, Kyle MacLachlan, Naomi Watts, Isabella Rossellini, Grace Zabriskie, and Laura Dern.

David Lynch has recently given a Masterclass on directing which is a very interesting watch. A person could learn a thing or two if one would be interested in pursuing a career in the field of dreamscapes.

Some perceive his work to be somewhat weird or odd. I like weird and odd as it unlimits my way of creative thinking. It’s because of people like him I’ve learned to think and write “outside the box”. David Lynch, a one-of-a-kind unique persona, a great director, you gotta love the man…

Check him out(or not):

Sources: Wikipedia, YouTube, interweb, poetpas

Featuring: God

Today I will be featuring God. This is not meant to be a religious, atheist or agnostic post but a general and neutral reflection of his possible existence, presence or absence…

When you look on the internet for research or information it doesn’t say where he came from or when. When you do try to find out it links you to when Jesus was born.
On some sites it becomes a religious debate. Some think he’s always been there and some think he doesn’t exist. Most people think God is male though rather than female. Both could be true or both could not be true. Even if he doesn’t exist I do believe he has the largest fanbase in the world. And a lot of great and famous musicians wrote songs about him.

When one wonders about the existence of God one could himself ask many questions. Where is God? Does he live in heaven? Does he monitor more planets? Does he rule the universe? Can he see everything? Why doesn’t he talk? How old is he? How big is he? Is he still alive? How can he let bad things happen even if one asks for forgiveness? Is he friends with the Greek or Viking gods or does he rule them? Can God be objective? Does he have a black sense of humor? Does he have more kids besides Jesus? When will he come back? Does he send unidentified flying objects to check up on us? Is the devil his twin brother who took the wrong turn?

According to Wikipedia, God, in monotheistic thought, is conceived of as the supreme being, creator, and principal object of faith. God is usually conceived of as being omnipotent (all-powerful), omniscient (all-knowing), omnipresent (all-present) and omnibenevolent (all-good) as well as having an eternal and necessary existence. God is most often held to be incorporeal (immaterial). God’s incorporeality or corporeality is related to conceptions of God’s transcendence (being outside nature) or immanence (being in nature); Chinese theology exhibits a synthesis of both notions.

Some religions describe God without reference to gender, while others use terminology that is gender-specific and gender-biased. God has been conceived as either personal or impersonal. In theism, God is the creator and sustainer of the universe, while in deism, God is the creator, but not the sustainer, of the universe. In pantheism, God is the universe itself. Atheism is an absence of belief in God, while agnosticism deems the existence of God unknown or unknowable. God has also been conceived as the source of all moral obligation, and the “greatest conceivable existent”. Many notable philosophers have developed arguments for and against the existence of God.

Monotheistic religions refer to their god using various names, some referring to cultural ideas about their god’s identity and attributes. In ancient Egyptian Atenism, possibly the earliest recorded monotheistic religion, this deity was called Aten and proclaimed to be the one “true” Supreme Being and creator of the universe. In the Hebrew Bible and Judaism, the names of God include Elohim, Adonai, YHWH (Hebrew: יהוה‎) and others. Yahweh and Jehovah, possible vocalizations of YHWH, are used in Christianity. In the Christian doctrine of the Trinity, one God coexists in three “persons” called the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. In Islam, the name Allah is used, while Muslims also use a multitude of titles for God. In Hinduism, Brahman is often considered a monistic concept of God. In Chinese religion, Shangdi is conceived as the progenitor (first ancestor) of the universe, intrinsic to it and constantly bringing order to it. Other names for God include Baha in the Baháʼí Faith,Waheguru in Sikhism, Ahura Mazda in Zoroastrianism, and Sang Hyang Widhi Wasa in Balinese Hinduism.

It is fair to say that God had and has a great impact on many and society as a whole. Belief gave people hope and took them away from fear. Others were brought up with strict doctrine and God fearing in the literal sense of the word. Some people have led good lives through it and others started wars in the name of God. Where is he now and what will be the significance of God in the future? God only knows https://youtu.be/AifqxMaURFI

Disclaimer: Please note that this is meant to be a lighthearted post and although comments are open this is not discussion forum about God. The questions in this post are rhetorical. I respect all religions and it’s believers!

You may (not) want to check this out:

Sources: Wikipedia, interweb, YouTube, poetpas

Featuring: Jello Biafra

During my punk days in the good old eighties I stumbled across many bands that influenced my rebellious character and thinking. Amongst them were the Sex Pistols, The Exploited, The Clash, Seven Seconds, GBH, Black Flag and the Dead Kennedys. The latter always left an impression on me, not only for the music but for the critical ethos of frontman Jello Biafra. After a few decades of listening to other music I came across him once again, but now more as a (political) critic rather than a musician. He is perhaps not known to many so I shall feature him in this post.

Eric Reed Boucher (born 1958), better known by his professional name Jello Biafra, is an American singer, musician, and spoken word artist. He is the former lead singer and songwriter for the San Francisco punk rock band Dead Kennedys.
Initially active from 1979 to 1986, Dead Kennedys were known for rapid-fire music topped with Biafra’s sardonic lyrics and biting social commentary, delivered in his “unique quiver of a voice.” When the band broke up in 1986, he took over the influential independent record label Alternative Tentacles, which he had founded in 1979 with Dead Kennedys bandmate East Bay Ray. In a 2000 lawsuit, upheld on appeal in 2003 by the California Supreme Court, Biafra was found liable for breach of contract, fraud and malice in withholding a decade’s worth of royalties from his former bandmates and ordered to pay over $200,000 in compensation and punitive damages; the band subsequently reformed without Biafra. Although now focused primarily on spoken word performances, Biafra has continued as a musician in numerous collaborations. He has also occasionally appeared in cameo roles in films.
Politically, Biafra is a member of the Green Party of the United States and supports various political causes. He ran for the party’s presidential nomination in the 2000 presidential election, finishing a distant second to Ralph Nader. In 1979 he ran for mayor of San Francisco, California. He is a staunch believer in a free society, and utilizes shock value and advocates direct action and pranksterism in the name of political causes. Biafra is known to use absurdist media tactics, in the leftist tradition of the Yippies, to highlight issues of civil rights and social justice.

Born in Boulder, Colorado, Boucher developed an interest in international politics that was encouraged by his parents. An avid news watcher, one of his earliest memories was of the John F. Kennedy assassination. Biafra says he has been a fan of rock music since first hearing it in 1965, when his parents accidentally tuned in to a rock radio station. Boucher ignored his high school guidance counselor’s advice that he spend his adolescence preparing to become a dental hygienist.
He began his career in music in January 1977 as a roadie for the punk rock band The Ravers (who later changed their name to The Nails), soon joining his friend John Greenway in a band called The Healers. The Healers became well known locally for their mainly improvised lyrics and avant garde music. In the autumn of that year, he began attending the University of California, Santa Cruz.

In June 1978, he responded to an advertisement placed in a store by guitarist East Bay Ray, stating; “guitarist wants to form punk band,” and together they formed the Dead Kennedys. He began performing with the band under the stage name Occupant, but soon began to use his current stage name, a combination of the brand name Jell-O and the short-lived African state Biafra. The band’s lyrics were written by Biafra. The lyrics were mostly political in nature and displayed a sardonic, sometimes absurdist, sense of humor despite their serious subject matter. In the tradition of UK anarcho-punk bands like Crass and the Subhumans, the Dead Kennedys were one of the first US punk bands to write politically themed songs. The lyrics Biafra wrote helped popularize the use of humorous lyrics in punk and other types of hard-core music. Biafra cites Joey Ramone as the inspiration for his use of humor in his songs (as well as being the musician who made him interested in punk rock), noting in particular songs by the Ramones such as “Beat on the Brat” and “Now I Wanna Sniff Some Glue”.

Biafra initially attempted to compose music on guitar, but his lack of experience on the instrument and his own admission of being “a fumbler with my hands” led Dead Kennedys bassist Klaus Flouride to suggest that Biafra simply sing the parts he envisioned to the band. Biafra sang his riffs and melodies into a tape recorder, which he brought to the band’s rehearsal and/or recording sessions. This later became a problem when the other members of the Dead Kennedys sued Biafra over royalties and publishing rights. By all accounts, including his own, Biafra is not a conventionally skilled musician, though he and his collaborators (Joey Shithead of D.O.A. in particular) attest that he is a skilled composer and his work, particularly with the Dead Kennedys, is highly respected by punk-oriented critics and fans.

Biafra’s first popular song was the first single by the Dead Kennedys, “California Über Alles.” The song, which spoofed California governor Jerry Brown, was the first of many political songs by the group and Biafra. Not long after, the Dead Kennedys had a second and bigger hit with “Holiday in Cambodia” from their debut album Fresh Fruit for Rotting Vegetables. AllMusic cites this song as “possibly the most successful single of the American hardcore scene” and Biafra counts it as his personal favorite Dead Kennedy’s song. Minor hits from the album included “Kill the Poor” (about potential abuse of the then-new neutron bomb) and a satirical cover of Elvis Presley’s “Viva Las Vegas.” The Dead Kennedys received some controversy in the spring of 1981 over the single “Too Drunk to Fuck.” The song became a hit in Britain, and the BBC feared that it would manage to be a big enough hit to appear among the top 30 songs on the national charts, requiring a mention on Top of the Pops. However, the single peaked at number 31 in the charts.

Later albums also contained memorable songs, but with less popularity than the earlier ones. The EP In God We Trust, Inc. contained the song “Nazi Punks Fuck Off!” as well as “We’ve Got A Bigger Problem Now,” a rewritten version of “California Über Alles” about Ronald Reagan. Punk musician and scholar Vic Bondi considers the latter song to be the song that “defined the lyrical agenda of much of hardcore music, and represented its break with punk”. The band’s most controversial album, Frankenchrist, brought with it the song “MTV Get Off the Air,” which accused MTV of promoting poor quality music and sedating the public. The album also contained a controversial poster by Swiss surrealist artist H. R. Giger entitled Penis Landscape.
The Dead Kennedys toured widely during their career, starting in the late 1970s. They began playing at San Francisco’s Mabuhay Gardens (their home base) and other Bay Area venues, later branching out to shows in southern Californian clubs (most notably the Whisky a Go Go), but eventually they moved to major clubs across the country, including CBGB in New York. Later, they played to larger audiences such as at the 1980 Bay Area Music Award, and headlined the 1983 Rock Against Reagan festival.

On May 7, 1994, punk rock fans who believed Biafra was a “sell out” attacked him at the 924 Gilman Street club in Berkeley, California. Biafra claims that he was attacked by a man nicknamed Cretin, who crashed into him while moshing. The crash injured Biafra’s leg, causing an argument between the two men. During the argument, Cretin pushed Biafra to the floor and five or six friends of Cretin assaulted Biafra while he was down, yelling “Sellout rock star, kick him,” and attempting to pull out his hair. Biafra was later hospitalized with serious injuries. The attack derailed Biafra’s plans for both a Canadian spoken-word tour and an accompanying album, and the production of Pure Chewing Satisfaction was halted. However, Biafra returned to the Gilman club a few months after the incident to perform a spoken-word performance as an act of reconciliation with the club.

Biafra has been a prominent figure of the Californian punk scene and was one of the third generation members of the San Francisco punk community. Many later hardcore bands have cited the Dead Kennedys as a major influence. Hardcore punk author Steven Blush describes Biafra as hardcore’s “biggest star” who was a “powerful presence whose political insurgence and rabid fandom made him the father figure of a burgeoning subculture and a inspirational force who could also be a real prick … Biafra was a visionary, incendiary performer”.

After the Dead Kennedys disbanded, Biafra’s new songs were recorded with other bands, and he released only spoken word albums as solo projects. These collaborations had less popularity than Biafra’s earlier work. However, his song “That’s Progress”, originally recorded with D.O.A. for the album Last Scream of the Missing Neighbors, received considerable exposure when it appeared on the album Rock Against Bush, Vol. 1.

In 1998, three former members of the Dead Kennedys sued Biafra for nonpayment of royalties. The other members of Dead Kennedys alleged that Biafra, in his capacity as the head of Alternative Tentacles records, discovered an accounting error amounting to some $75,000 in unpaid royalties over almost a decade. Rather than informing his bandmates of this mistake, the suit alleged, Biafra knowingly concealed the information until a whistleblower employee at the record label notified the band. According to Biafra, the suit resulted from his refusal to allow one of the band’s most well-known singles, “Holiday in Cambodia”, to be used in a commercial for Levi’s Dockers; Biafra opposes Levi’s because of his belief that they use unfair business practices and sweatshop labor. Biafra maintained that he had never denied them royalties, and that he himself had not even received royalties for re-releases of their albums or “posthumous” live albums which had been licensed to other labels by the Decay Music partnership. Decay Music denied this charge and have posted what they say are his cashed royalty checks, written to his legal name of Eric Boucher. Biafra also complained about the songwriting credits in new reissues and archival live albums of songs, alleging that he was the sole composer of songs that were wrongly credited to the entire band.
In May 2000, a jury found Biafra and Alternative Tentacles liable by not promptly informing his former bandmates of the accounting error and instead withholding the information during subsequent discussions and contractual negotiations. Biafra was ordered to pay $200,000, including $20,000 in punitive damages. After an appeal by Biafra’s lawyers, in June 2003, the California Court of Appeal unanimously upheld all the conditions of the 2000 verdict against Biafra and Alternative Tentacles. Furthermore, the plaintiffs were awarded the rights to most of Dead Kennedys recorded works—which accounted for about half the sales for Alternative Tentacles. Now in control of the Dead Kennedys name, Biafra’s former bandmates went on tour with a new lead vocalist.

As of late 2005, Biafra was performing with the band The Melvins under the name “Jello Biafra and the Melvins”, though fans sometimes refer to them as “The Jelvins.” Together they have released two albums, and worked on material for a third collaborative release, much of which was premiered live at two concerts at the Great American Music Hall in San Francisco during an event called Biafra Five-O, commemorating Biafra’s 50th birthday, the 30th anniversary of the founding of the Dead Kennedys, and the beginning of legalized same-sex marriage in California. Biafra was also working with a band known as Jello Biafra and the Guantanamo School of Medicine.

In June 1979, Biafra co-founded the record label Alternative Tentacles, with which the Dead Kennedys released their first single, “California Über Alles”. The label was created to allow the band to release albums without having to deal with pressure from major labels to change their music, although the major labels were not willing to sign the band due to their songs being deemed too controversial. After dealing with Cherry Red in the UK and IRS Records in the US for their first album Fresh Fruit for Rotting Vegetables, the band released all later albums, and later pressings of Fresh Fruit on Alternative Tentacles. The exception being live albums released after the band’s break-up, which the other band members compiled from recordings in the band partnership’s vaults without Biafra’s input or endorsement. Biafra has been the owner of the company since its founding, though he does not receive a salary for his position; Biafra has referred to his position in the company as “absentee thoughtlord”.

Biafra is an ardent collector of unusual vinyl records of all kinds, from 1950s and 1960s ethno-pop recordings by the likes of Les Baxter and Esquivel to vanity pressings that have circulated regionally, to German crooner Heino (for whom he would later participate in the documentary Heino: Made In Germany); he cites his always growing collection as one of his biggest musical influences.

Biafra became a spoken word artist in January 1986 with a performance at University of California, Los Angeles. In his performance he combined humor with his political beliefs, much in the same way that he did with the lyrics to his songs. Despite his continued spoken word performances, he did not begin recording spoken word albums until after the disbanding of the Dead Kennedys.
His ninth spoken word album, In the Grip of Official Treason, was released in October 2006. Biafra was also featured in the British band Pitchshifter’s song As Seen on TV reciting the words of dystopian futuristic radio advertisements.

Biafra was an anarchist in the 1980s, but has shifted away from his former anti-government views. In a 2012 interview, Biafra said “I’m very pro-tax as long as it goes for the right things. I don’t mind paying more money as long as it’s going to provide shelter for people sleeping in the street or getting the schools fixed back up, getting the infrastructure up to the standards of other countries, including a high speed rail system. I’m totally down with that.”

In 2000, the New York State Green Party drafted Biafra as a candidate for the Green Party presidential nomination, and a few supporters were elected to the party’s nominating convention in Denver, Colorado. Biafra chose death row inmate Mumia Abu-Jamal as his running mate. The party overwhelmingly chose Ralph Nader as the presidential candidate with 295 of the 319 delegate votes. Biafra received 10 votes.
Biafra, along with a camera crew (dubbed by Biafra as “The Camcorder Truth Jihad”), later reported for the Independent Media Center at the Republican and Democratic conventions.

After losing the 2000 nomination, Jello became highly active in Ralph Nader’s presidential campaign, as well as in 2004 and 2008. During the 2008 campaign Jello played at rallies and answered questions for journalists in support of Ralph Nader. When gay rights activists accused Nader of costing Al Gore the 2000 election, Biafra reminded them that Tipper Gore’s Parents Music Resource Center wanted warning stickers on albums with homosexual content.
After Barack Obama won the general election, Jello wrote an open letter making suggestions on how to run his term as president. Biafra criticized Obama during his term, stating that “Obama even won the award for best advertising campaign of 2008.” Biafra dubbed Obama “Barackstar O’Bummer”. Biafra refused to support Obama in 2012. Biafra has stated that he feels that Obama continued many of George W. Bush’s policies, summarizing Obama’s policies as containing “worse and worse laws against human rights and more and more illegal unconstitutional spying.”

On September 18, 2015, it was announced that Jello would be supporting Bernie Sanders in his campaign for the 2016 presidential election. He has strongly criticised the political position of Donald Trump, saying “how can people be so fucking stupid” on hearing the election result, and later adding “The last person we want with their finger on the nuclear button is somebody connected to this extreme Christianist doomsday cult.”

On February 28, 2020, Jello announced that he would be supporting both Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders in the 2020 presidential election. “I personally like Warren slightly better than Bernie because: 1) She’s done her homework. Bernie too, but not to quite the same depth or degree. 2) Think about it — who really has a better chance of actually beating Trump, and helping flip Congress and state legislatures? It’s Elizabeth Warren, hands down.” He went on to say that he considered Joe Biden and Mike Bloomberg “almost as bad as Trump.”
On April 12, 2020, Jello expressed disappointment that Bernie Sanders had suspended his campaign for the 2020 Democratic Nomination.

For me a thinker, a watcher, a critic, debater – people we need on the other side that create political awareness and rebel against the (failed) system…

Check him out(or not):

Sources: Wikipedia, YouTube, interweb, poetpas

Featuring: Rik Mayall

To continue my Featuring series I will be featuring nobody less than Rik Mayall.
This comedian had a huge impact on British comedy and did as well on me. Often working with Ade Edmondson he is mostly known for the series The Young Ones and Bottom which I would like to describe as anarchistic slapstick. Rik Mayall’s briljant sense of black humor is right up my street. Sadly, like many others great ones he left our mortal coil too soon…

Richard Michael Mayall (7 March 1958 – 9 June 2014) was an English stand-up comedian, actor and writer. Mayall formed a close partnership with Ade Edmondson while they were students at Manchester University and was a pioneer of alternative comedy in the 1980s.
Mayall starred in numerous cult classic sitcoms throughout his career, including The Young Ones, The Comic Strip Presents…, Blackadder, Filthy Rich & Catflap, The New Statesman, Bottom and Believe Nothing. Mayall also starred in the comedy films Drop Dead Fred and Guest House Paradiso, and won a Primetime Emmy Award for his voice-over work in The Willows in Winter. His comedic style was described as energetic “post-punk”.

Rik Mayall was born on 7 March 1958 at 98 Pittmans Field in Harlow.
He had an older brother, Anthony, and two younger sisters, Libby and Kate. When Mayall was three years old, he and his parents—who taught drama—moved to Droitwich Spa, Worcestershire, where he spent the rest of his childhood and performed in his parents’ plays.
He attended King’s School, Worcester, where he obtained a free scholarship and failed most of his O-levels and scraped through A-levels. In 1975, Mayall went to the University of Manchester to study drama. He has claimed that he failed his degree, or that he did not even turn up to his finals but in reality he graduated with lower second-class honours in 1978. It was there that he met his future comedy partner Ade Edmondson, Ben Elton, a fellow student, and Lise Mayer, with whom he later co-wrote The Young Ones.

Edmondson and Mayall gained their reputation at The Comedy Store, from 1980. Apart from performing in their double act, 20th Century Coyote, Mayall developed solo routines, using characters such as Kevin Turvey and a pompous anarchist poet named Rick. This led to Edmondson and Mayall, along with Comedy Store compere Alexei Sayle and other upcoming comedians, including Nigel Planer, Peter Richardson, French and Saunders, Arnold Brown and Pete Richens, setting up their own comedy club called “The Comic Strip” in the Raymond Revuebar, a strip club in Soho. Mayall’s Kevin Turvey character gained a regular slot in A Kick Up the Eighties, first broadcast in 1981. He appeared as “Rest Home” Ricky in Richard O’Brien’s Shock Treatment, a sequel to The Rocky Horror Picture Show. He played Dentonvale’s resident attendant as the love interest to Nell Campbell’s Nurse Ansalong.

Mayall’s television appearances as Kevin Turvey led to a mockumentary based on the character titled Kevin Turvey – The Man Behind The Green Door, broadcast in 1982. The previous year, he appeared in a bit role in An American Werewolf in London. His stage partnership with Edmondson continued, with them often appearing together as “The Dangerous Brothers”, hapless daredevils whose hyper-violent antics foreshadowed their characters in Bottom. Channel 4 offered the Comic Strip group six short films, which became The Comic Strip Presents…, debuting on 2 November 1982. The series, which continued sporadically for many years, saw Mayall play a wide variety of roles. It was known for anti-establishment humour and for parodies such as Bad News on Tour, a spoof “rockumentary” starring Mayall, Richardson, Edmondson and Planer as a heavy metal band.
At the time The Comic Strip Presents… was negotiated, the BBC took an interest in The Young Ones, a sitcom written by Mayall and his then-girlfriend Lise Mayer, in the same anarchic vein as Comic Strip. Ben Elton joined the writers. The series was commissioned and first broadcast in 1982, shortly before Comic Strip. Mayall played Rick, a pompous sociology student and Cliff Richard devotee. Mayall maintained his double-act with Edmondson, who starred as violent punk Vyvyan. Nigel Planer (as hippie Neil) and Christopher Ryan also starred, with additional material written and performed by Alexei Sayle.
The first series was successful and a second was screened in 1984. The show owed a comic debt to Spike Milligan, but Milligan disapproved of Mayall’s style of performance. Milligan once wrote: “Rik Mayall is putrid – absolutely vile. He thinks nose-picking is funny and farting and all that. He is the arsehole of British comedy.”
In 1986, Mayall played the private detective in the video of “Peter Gunn” by Art of Noise featuring Duane Eddy.

Mayall continued to work on The Comic Strip films. He returned to stand-up comedy, performing on Saturday Live—a British version of the American Saturday Night Live—first broadcast in 1985. He and Edmondson had a regular section as “The Dangerous Brothers”, their earlier stage act. In 1985, Mayall debuted another comic creation. He had appeared in the final episode of the first series of Blackadder as “Mad Gerald”. He returned to play Lord Flashheart in the Blackadder II episode titled “Bells”. A descendant of this character, Squadron Commander Flashheart, was in the Blackadder Goes Forth episode “Private Plane”. In the same episode, he was reunited with Edmondson, who played German flying ace Baron von Richthofen the “Red Baron”, in a scene where he comes to rescue Captain Blackadder from the Germans. A decade later, Mayall also appeared in Blackadder: Back & Forth as Robin Hood.

In 1986, Mayall joined Planer, Edmondson and Elton to star as Richie Rich in Filthy Rich & Catflap, which was billed as a follow-up to The Young Ones. The idea of Filthy Rich and Catflap was a reaction to comments made by Jimmy Tarbuck about The Young Ones. The series’ primary focus was to highlight the “has been” status of light entertainment. While Mayall received positive critical reviews, viewing figures were poor and the series was never repeated on the BBC. In later years, release on video, DVD and repeats on UK TV found a following. Mayall suggested that the series did not last because he was uncomfortable acting in an Elton project, when they had been co-writers on The Young Ones. In the same year, Mayall had a No. 1 hit in the UK Singles Chart, when he and his co-stars from The Young Ones teamed with Cliff Richard to record “Living Doll” for the inaugural Comic Relief campaign. Mayall played Rick one last time in the Comic Relief stage-show and supported the Comic Relief cause for the rest of his life. 1987 saw Mayall co-star with Edmondson in one episode of the ITV sitcom Hardwicke House, although adverse reaction from press and viewers saw ITV withdraw the series after two episodes, leaving their appearance unbroadcast. He appeared on the children’s television series Jackanory. His crazed portrayal of Roald Dahl’s George’s Marvellous Medicine proved memorable. However, the BBC received complaints “with viewers claiming both story and presentation to be both dangerous and offensive”.

In 1987, Mayall played fictional Conservative MP Alan Beresford B’Stard in the sitcom The New Statesman written by Laurence Marks and Maurice Gran. The character was a satirical portrait of Tory MPs in the United Kingdom in the 1980s and early 1990s. The programme ran for four series—incorporating two BBC specials—between 1987 and ’94 and was successful critically and in the ratings. In a similar vein to his appearance on Jackanory, in 1989 Mayall starred in a series of bit shows for ITV called Grim Tales, in which he narrated Grimm Brothers fairy tales while puppets acted the stories. In the early 1990s, Mayall starred in humorous adverts for Nintendo games and consoles. With money from the ads, he bought his house in London which he called “Nintendo Towers”.

In 1991, Edmondson and Mayall co-starred in the West End production of Beckett’s Waiting for Godot at the Queen’s Theatre, with Mayall playing Vladimir, Edmondson as Estragon and Christopher Ryan as Lucky. Here they came up with the idea for Bottom, which they said was a cruder cousin to Waiting for Godot. Bottom was commissioned by the BBC and three series were shown between 1991 and 1995. Mayall appeared in Bottom as Richard ‘Richie’ Richard alongside Edmondson’s Eddie Elizabeth Hitler. The series featured slapstick violence taken to new extremes, and gained a strong cult following.
In 1993, following the second series, Mayall and Edmondson decided to take a stage-show version of the series on a national tour, Bottom: Live. It was a commercial success, filling large venues. Four additional stage shows were embarked upon in 1995, 1997, 2001 and 2003, each meeting with great success. The violent nature of these shows saw both Edmondson and Mayall ending up in hospital at various points. A film version, Guest House Paradiso, was released in 1999. A fourth TV series was also written, but not commissioned by the BBC.
Mayall starred alongside Phoebe Cates in Drop Dead Fred (1991) as the eponymous character, a troublesome imaginary friend who reappears from a woman’s childhood. He also appeared in Carry On Columbus (1992) with other alternative comedians. Mayall also provided the voice of the character Froglip, the prince of the goblins, in the 1992 animated film adaption of the 1872 children’s tale The Princess and the Goblin by George MacDonald. In 1993, he appeared in Rik Mayall Presents, six individual comedy dramas (Micky Love / Briefest Encounter / Dancing Queen / The Big One / Dirty Old Town / Clair de Lune). Mayall’s performances won him a Best Comedy Performer award at that year’s British Comedy Awards, and a second series of three was broadcast in early 1995. He provided the voice for Little Sod in Simon Brett’s How to Be a Little Sod, written in 1991 and adapted as ten consecutive episodes broadcast by the BBC in 1995. In the early 1990s, he auditioned for the roles of Banzai, Zazu and Timon in The Lion King (1994); he was asked to audition by lyricist Tim Rice, but the role of Zazu finally went to Rowan Atkinson.

In 1995, Mayall featured in a production of the play Cell Mates alongside Stephen Fry. Not long into the run, Fry had a nervous breakdown and fled to Belgium, where he remained for several days, and the play closed early. In 2007, Mayall said of the incident: “You don’t leave the trenches … selfishness is one thing, being a cunt is another. I mustn’t start that war again.” Edmondson poked fun at the event during their stage tours. In Bottom Live: The Big Number Two Tour, after Mayall gave mocking gestures to the audience and insulted their town in a silly voice, Edmondson said, “Have you finished yet? It’s just I’m beginning to understand why Stephen Fry fucked off.” In Bottom Live 2003: Weapons Grade Y-Fronts Tour, after Richie accidentally fondles Eddie, he replies, “I see why Stephen Fry left that play.” Towards the end of the Cell Mates run, Mayall revealed a replica gun—a prop from the play—to a passer-by in the street. Mayall was cautioned over the incident and later conceded that this was “incredibly stupid, even by my standards”. From 1999, Mayall was the voice of the black-headed seagull Kehaar, in the first and second series of the animated television programme, Watership Down. In the late 1990s Mayall was featured in a number of adverts for Virgin Trains.
In 1998, Mayall was involved in a serious quad bike accident. The pair wrote the first draft of their feature film Guest House Paradiso while Mayall was still hospitalised. They planned to co-direct, but Edmondson took on the duties himself. Mayall returned to work doing voice-overs. His first post-accident acting job was in the 1998 Jonathan Creek Christmas special, as DI Gideon Pryke, a role he later reprised in 2013.

In 2000, Mayall voiced all characters for the PlayStation and Windows PC video game Hogs of War. Also that year, Mayall appeared in the video production of Jesus Christ Superstar as King Herod. He joked in the “making of” documentary, which was included on the DVD release, that “the real reason why millions of people want to come and see this is because I’m in it! Me and Jesus!” In 2001 Mayall acted as Lt Daniel Blaney in the episode “The White Knight Stratagem” from the series “Murder Rooms: The Mysteries of the Real Sherlock Holmes.” In 2002, Mayall teamed up with Marks and Gran once more when he starred as Professor Adonis Cnut in the ITV sitcom, Believe Nothing. However, the sitcom failed to repeat the success of The New Statesman and lasted for only one series.
Persistent speculation amongst critics and fans of the American cartoon comedy television sitcom Family Guy consider that the character Stewie Griffin was closely modelled on Mayall’s performance in the character of ‘Richard Richard’ in Bottom.
Following 2003’s Bottom: Live tour, Bottom 5: Weapons Grade Y-Fronts, Mayall stated that he and Edmondson would return with another tour.
In 2004 Mayall had a starring cameo role playing the record boss in the video short “ABBA: Our Last Video Ever”.
Mayall voiced Edwin in the BBC show Shoebox Zoo. In September 2005, he released an ‘in-character’ semi-fictionalised autobiography titled Bigger than Hitler, Better than Christ. At the same time, he starred in a new series for ITV, All About George. In 2006, Mayall reprised the role of Alan B’Stard in the play The New Statesman 2006: Blair B’stard Project, written by Marks and Gran. By this time B’Stard had left the floundering Conservatives and become a Labour MP. In 2007, following a successful two-month run in London’s West End at the Trafalgar Studios, a heavily re-written version toured theatres nationwide, with Marks and Gran constantly updating the script to keep it topical. However, Mayall succumbed to chronic fatigue and flu in May 2007 and withdrew from the show. Alan B’Stard was played by his understudy, Mike Sherman during his hiatus.
Mayall was cast as the poltergeist Peeves in Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone (2001), the first of the Harry Potter films, although all of his scenes were cut from the film. He had not been made aware that his scenes had been cut until the full film was officially unveiled at the premiere. During filming the children in the cast were unable to suppress their giggles when he was filming and would corpse. Since Mayall’s death there has been an outcry for the release of this footage from his fans. He told the story of this hiring/firing on his second website blog for his film, Evil Calls: The Raven (2008). For Evil Calls, Mayall’s role as Winston the Butler was shot in 2002, when the film was titled Alone in the Dark. The film was not completed until 2008, and was released under its new Evil Calls title, to distance it from the Alone in the Dark computer game film.
Mayall provided the voice of the Andrex puppy in the TV commercials for Andrex toilet paper, and also had a voice part in the Domestos cleaning product adverts. He performed the voice of King Arthur in the children’s television cartoon series, King Arthur’s Disasters, alongside Matt Lucas who plays Merlin. Mayall also had a recurring role in the Channel Five remake of the lighthearted drama series, Minder. He also provided the voice of Cufflingk in the 2005 animated film Valiant.
In September 2009, Mayall played a supporting role in the television programme Midsomer Murders—shown on ITV1 and made by Meridian Broadcasting—as David Roper, a recovering party animal and tenuous friend of the families in and around Chettham Park House.

In April 2010, Motivation Records released Mayall’s England Football anthem “Noble England” for the 2010 FIFA World Cup which he recorded with producer Dave Loughran at Brick Lane Studios in London.The release, on 26 April, was designed to coincide with St George’s Day and the baptism of Shakespeare. On the track, Mayall performs an adapted speech from Shakespeare’s Henry V. In June 2010, the official BBC Match of the Day compilation CD (2010 Edition) was released by Sony/Universal featuring Noble England. After Mayall’s death in 2014, a campaign led by Jon Morter began to get “Noble England” to No. 1 during the 2014 FIFA World Cup. It rapidly climbed the official charts in the United Kingdom and reached no. 7.
In September 2010, an audio book, narrated by Mayall, Cutey and the Sofaguard was released by Digital Download. The book was written by Chris Wade and released by Wisdom Twins Books. In this same month, Mayall played the voice of Roy’s Dad and recorded five episodes of animation. In November, Mayall provided narrative for five different characters for CDs accompanying children’s books published by Clickety Books. The books aid speech and language development by bombarding the child with troublesome sound targets. He recorded introductions and narratives for the titles.

On 5 March 2011, Mayall appeared on Let’s Dance for Comic Relief in which he came on stage and attacked Ade Edmondson with a frying pan during his performance of The Dying Swan ballet. Edmondson mentioned backstage that it was the first time in eight years they had done something like that together and claimed Mayall had left his head with a small bump. It would be the last time the duo performed together in public.
In April 2011, Mayall again revived the character of Alan B’Stard to make an appearance in a satirical television advertisement for the No2AV campaign prior to the 2011 voting reform referendum in the UK. The character is shown being elected under the alternative vote system, then using his newly gained position of power to renege on his campaign promises. In his personal life, Rik Mayall did not support the alternative vote. In May, Mayall became the eponymous ‘Bombardier’ in a TV advertising campaign for Bombardier Bitter in the UK. The adverts landed broadcaster UKTV Dave in trouble with Ofcom when they were found to breach the Ofcom code for linking alcohol with sexual attractiveness or success.
On 23 August 2012, the BBC announced that Edmondson and Mayall’s characters of Richie and Eddie would be returning in 2013 in Hooligan’s Island, a television adaptation of their 1997 tour of the same name. However, on 15 October 2012, Edmondson announced during an interview with BBC radio presenter Mark Powlett that the project was cancelled prior to production as he wished to pursue other interests.

In September 2012, Mayall starred in The Last Hurrah, a six-episode, full-cast audio series that he also co-wrote with Craig Green and Dominic Vince.
In November 2012, Mayall narrated several children’s books on the Me Books app, such as The Getaway and Banana! by children’s illustrator and author Ed Vere.
In October 2013 he appeared in Channel 4 sitcom Man Down, playing the father of the protagonist, Greg Davies—despite being only ten years older.
On 7 May 2014, Mayall made one of his last recorded performances in the form of poetry and voice-overs read on English rock band Magic Eight Ball’s second album ‘Last Of The Old Romantics’ (released on 10 November 2014).
Mayall’s final TV appearance was in the first episode of the second series of Crackanory, which was broadcast posthumously on 24 September 2014 on Dave.

Mayall married Scottish make-up artist Barbara Robbin in 1985, and the couple had three children. The couple met in 1981 while filming A Kick Up the Eighties and embarked on a secret affair. At the time, Mayall was in a long-term relationship with Lise Mayer. Upon discovering that Robbin was pregnant, Mayall left Mayer (who was also pregnant with his child at the time) while on a shopping trip with her and Ben Elton, and eloped with Robbin to Barbados. Mayer would later suffer a miscarriage. In a 2002 newspaper article, Mayall said that Mayer had since forgiven him.

Mayall twice publicly involved himself in political campaigns. In 2002 he dressed up as Adolf Hitler for a cinema advertisement opposing the United Kingdom abolishing its national currency the Pound sterling in favour of the Euro, as a part of its membership of the European Union. In the United Kingdom Alternative Vote Referendum of 2011 he appeared in a television broadcast for the ‘No’ campaign in character as Alan B’Stard to oppose the adoption of an alternative non-proportional electoral system for Westminster Parliamentary elections.

On 9 April 1998, Mayall was injured after crashing a quad bike near his home in Devon. Mayall’s daughter Bonnie and her cousin had asked him to take them for a ride on the bike—a Christmas gift from his wife—but he refused because of bad weather approaching, and he went on out alone. Mayall remembered nothing about the accident. His wife Barbara looked out of the window and saw him lying on the ground trapped beneath the quad, which had turned over on top of him. Mayall later joked that his wife believed he was fooling around and initially left him for a few minutes. He was airlifted to Plymouth’s Derriford Hospital, with two haematomas and a fractured skull. During the following 96 hours, he was kept sedated to prevent movement which could cause pressure on his brain. His family was warned that he could die or have brain damage. He was in a coma for several days. After five days doctors felt it safe to bring him back to consciousness. In a BBC Radio 2 interview in 2000, Mayall said that when filming Guest House Paradiso, Edmondson would make sure he had afternoons free to rest from filming following the accident.
During Mayall’s hospitalisation, The Comic Strip special, Four Men in a Car, was broadcast for the first time. The film involves Mayall’s character being hit by a car. Mayall and Edmondson joked about the event in stage versions of Bottom, Edmondson quipping “If only I’d fixed those brakes properly,” Mayall referring to “quad bike flashbacks”, and Mayall referring to himself: “You must know him, that tosser who fell off the quad bike.” In his 2005 spoof autobiography, Mayall claims that he rose from the dead.

On 9 June 2014, Mayall died at his home in Barnes, Richmond-upon-Thames, London, from a sudden heart attack after jogging. His funeral took place on 19 June 2014 in St. George’s Church in Dittisham, Devon. Among those who attended were Dawn French, Jennifer Saunders, Peter Richardson, Alan Rickman and Mayall’s Young Ones co-stars Adrian Edmondson, Nigel Planer, Alexei Sayle, and Young Ones co-writer Ben Elton. Edmondson also served as a pallbearer.
Mayall was buried on his family estate, Pasture Farm, near Totnes in Devon.

BBC Television director Danny Cohen praised him as a “truly brilliant” comedian with a unique stage presence, whose “fireball creativity” and approach to sitcom had inspired a generation of comedy stars.
“He’s died for real. Without me. Selfish bastard,” AdeEdmondson stated after his passing.

He and his humor is missed by many, including me…

Check him out (or not):

Sources: Wikipedia, YouTube, interweb, poetpas

Featuring: Karl Pilkington

Today I’m featuring Karl Pilkinton, a sidekick of Ricky Gervais (whom I will feature on another occasion) for some time. This man always makes me laugh with his dry sense of humor and his sober look on things. He says what he thinks and in a deadpan kind of way. The good thing is he’s actually just being himself.

Karl Pilkington is an English television presenter, author, comedian, radio producer, actor and voice actor.
Pilkington gained prominence as the producer of Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant’s radio programme on XFM. He appeared on The Ricky Gervais Show, presented the Sky travel comedy series An Idiot Abroad, and made his full acting debut (following a cameo appearance in the final episode of Extras) on Gervais’s 2012 comedy–drama series Derek. Pilkington is a co-founder, along with Gervais and Merchant, of RiSK Productions, a television production company. Pilkington also starred in the Sky 1 travel documentary comedy series The Moaning of Life (2013–2015). In 2018, Pilkington starred in a new scripted comedy series, Sick of It.

Pilkington was born in 1972 in Manchester. He grew up on the Racecourse Estate in Sale, Greater Manchester along with his siblings, and attended Ashton on Mersey Secondary School on Cecil Avenue, Sale. Pilkington moved to London from Manchester to work with XFM as a producer, where he was later promoted to head of production. While there, he unintentionally caused Gail Porter to leave the station in tears after only one show; he criticised her performance, which Pilkington defended as an attempt to encourage improvement. After several years he began work on The Ricky Gervais Show. Initially, Pilkington was solely the programme’s producer. As Gervais and Merchant began to frequently invite him to make a cameo appearance, Pilkington’s quirky persona came to light and his popularity increased. Pilkington was eventually included as a main presenter of the broadcasts, with large amounts of airtime devoted to his unusual thoughts on various subjects, or various childhood stories. He also increased in popularity due to the many features he created for the XFM shows, including Monkey News, Rockbusters, 15 Taiwan, Educating Ricky and many others. In December 2005, Pilkington stood in for two BBC 6 Music shows for Nemone, and co-presented the shows with Russell Brand.

Pilkington’s presence on The Ricky Gervais Show podcasts significantly increased his fame. He has often been mentioned in interviews given by Gervais, and is often the victim of Gervais’ practical jokes. After Pilkington said, “I could eat a knob at night” rather than for breakfast on the podcast (in relation to I’m a Celebrity contestants eating a kangaroo penis), Gervais encouraged his listeners to sample the sound bite and mix it into dance music. The phrase spawned several dance music mixes, T-shirts, and other merchandise. Many of Pilkington’s quotes have since gained publicity, particularly on the Internet. Reuters, commenting on this issue, described Pilkington as a “phenomenon” who had made “Internet history”.
On 23 November 2010, while appearing live on Richard Bacon’s Radio 5 Live afternoon show, Gervais surprised Pilkington with an on-air phone call. This led to a conversation where Pilkington, who claimed to have been interrupted while grouting his kitchen, said he had not yet been paid for his work on An Idiot Abroad and concluded the interview with an off-the-cuff link into the hourly news.
Pilkington has worked independently of Gervais and Merchant on several projects. He appeared as a guest on the shows Flipside TV and The Culture Show, and appeared in several short films as part of the Channel 4 project 3 Minute Wonders.
Merchant and Gervais have repeatedly denied claims that Pilkington’s persona is their creation. In an on-air response to similar claims made by Chris Campling during a broadcast on XFM, Merchant stated that he would be “ashamed” if the radio show was scripted, and added that “I would not have squandered a character that good on this poxy radio station”. Gervais concurred, pointing out that writing a single series’ worth of six half-hour episodes of shows such as The Office and Extras took the two of them up to a year. An interviewer for The Daily Telegraph concluded that Pilkington’s persona is genuine.

Pilkington appeared in an interview on Ricky Gervais’s live stand-up comedy DVD, Politics. The DVD of Gervais’s film The Invention of Lying contains a special feature called Meet Karl Pilkington which documents his participation in the movie as a non-speaking caveman in another special feature, The Dawn of Lying. He was given a small role in the final episode of Extras.
In September 2010, Pilkington presented An Idiot Abroad, a light-hearted travel documentary series that aired on Sky1 and that was produced by Gervais and Stephen Merchant, in which he visits the New 7 Wonders of the World while being directed by Gervais and Merchant into various activities along the way. He wrote a book to accompany the series.
Following the success of the first series, Pilkington starred in the second series subtitled The Bucket List, which debuted on 23 September 2011 on Sky 1. The premise of the series involves Pilkington trying to experience “ultimate things to do before you die” except that the list of activities is not entirely of his choosing. In June 2011, he won the Best Presenter award for An Idiot Abroad at the Factual Entertainment Awards. The third series of the show, An Idiot Abroad: The Short Way Round premiered in November 2012 and showed Pilkington and Warwick Davis travelling the Marco Polo route.
Pilkington has performed voiceover work for such clients as One Stop Office Shop, FreeView, Vodafone, HMV, Sony PSP, WHSmith, Wickes, and Unilever.
He made his acting debut on 12 April 2012 in the Channel 4 comedy-drama Derek, portraying caretaker and bus driver Dougie. He left the show after the first episode of the second series.

In 2013–2015, he starred in a two-series Sky 1 documentary called The Moaning of Life.
In 2018, he co-wrote and starred in a Sky 1 scripted sitcom called Sick of It, a very funny deadpan comedy show.

In 2014, Pilkington designed and signed his own card for UK charity Thomas Coram Foundation for Children. The campaign was launched by crafting company Stampin’ Up! UK, and his card, along with those designed and signed by other celebrities, was auctioned off on eBay in May 2014.

Pilkington has been in a long-term relationship with Suzanne Whiston, a former producer at the BBC, since the 1990s.He has supported Manchester United since the 1990s, having previously supported Manchester City as a child.

Check him out(or not):

Sources: Wikipedia, YouTube, interweb, poetpas

Featuring: Amy Winehouse

Today a tribute to potentially one of the greatest female singers of all time, Amy Winehouse moved, and moves me still, with her improvisational skills. A diamond in the rough, a rarity to see a young woman having a jazz soul and who sadly died far too young. I wrote a poem about her, called Dear Amy, which you can read at the end.

Amy Jade Winehouse (14 September 1983 – 23 July 2011) was an English singer and songwriter. She was known for her deep, expressive contralto vocals and her eclectic mix of musical genres, including soul, rhythm and blues and jazz.
A member of the National Youth Jazz Orchestra during her youth, Winehouse soon recorded a number of songs before signing a publishing deal with EMI. Winehouse’s debut album, Frank, was released in 2003. Many of the album’s songs were influenced by jazz and, apart from two covers, were co-written by Winehouse. Frank was a critical success in the UK and was nominated for the Mercury Prize. The song “Stronger Than Me” won her the Ivor Novello Award for Best Contemporary Song from the British Academy of Songwriters, Composers, and Authors.
Winehouse released her follow-up album, Back to Black, in 2006, which went on to become an international success and one of the best-selling albums in UK history. At the 2007 Brit Awards it was nominated for British Album of the Year, and she received the award for British Female Solo Artist. The song “Rehab” won her a second Ivor Novello Award. At the 50th Grammy Awards in 2008, she won five awards. Winehouse was plagued by drug and alcohol addiction. She died of alcohol poisoning on 23 July 2011, at the age of 27. After her death, Back to Black temporarily became the UK’s best-selling album of the 21st century. She was ranked 26th on their list of the 100 Greatest Women in Music.

Winehouse was born on 14 September 1983 at Chase Farm Hospital in north London, to Jewish parents. Her father, Amy had an older brother, Alex and the family lived in London’s Southgate area, where she attended Osidge Primary School. Winehouse attended a Jewish Sunday school while she was a child. During an interview following her rise to fame, she expressed her dismissal towards the school by saying that she used to beg her father to permit her not to go and that she learned nothing about being Jewish by going anyway. In the same interview, Winehouse said she only went to a synagogue once a year on Yom Kippur “out of respect”.
Many of Winehouse’s maternal uncles were professional jazz musicians. Amy’s paternal grandmother, Cynthia, was a singer and dated the English jazz saxophonist Ronnie Scott. She and Amy’s parents influenced Amy’s interest in jazz. Her father, Mitch, often sang Frank Sinatra songs to her, and whenever she got chastised at school, she would sing “Fly Me to the Moon” before going up to the headmistress to be told off. Winehouse’s parents separated when she was nine, and she lived with her mother and stayed with her father and his girlfriend in Hatfield Heath, Essex, on weekends.

After toying around with her brother Alex’s guitar, Winehouse bought her own when she was 14 and began writing music a year later. Shortly afterwards she began working for a living, as an entertainment journalist for the World Entertainment News Network and also singing with local group the Bolsha Band. In July 2000, she became the featured female vocalist with the National Youth Jazz Orchestra; influenced by Sarah Vaughan and Dinah Washington, the latter of whom she was already listening to at home. Winehouse’s best friend, soul singer Tyler James, sent her demo tape to an A&R person. She signed to Simon Fuller’s 19 Management in 2002 and was paid £250 a week against future earnings.
While being developed by the management company, Winehouse was kept as a recording industry secret, although she was a regular jazz standards singer at the Cobden Club. Her future A&R representative at Island, Darcus Beese, heard of her by accident when the manager of The Lewinson Brothers showed him some productions of his clients, which featured Winehouse as key vocalist. When he asked who the singer was, the manager told him he was not allowed to say. Having decided that he wanted to sign her, it took several months of asking around for Beese to eventually discover who the singer was. However, Winehouse had already recorded a number of songs and signed a publishing deal with EMI by this time. Incidentally, she formed a working relationship with producer Salaam Remi through these record publishers.

Beese introduced Winehouse to his boss, Nick Gatfield; the Island head shared his enthusiasm in signing the young artist. Winehouse was signed to Island, as rival interest in her had started to build with representatives of EMI and Virgin starting to make moves. Beese told HitQuarters that he felt the excitement over an artist who was an atypical pop star for the time was due to a backlash against reality TV music shows, which included audiences starved for fresh, genuine young talent.
Winehouse’s debut album, Frank, was released on 20 October 2003. Produced mainly by Salaam Remi, many songs were influenced by jazz and, apart from two covers, Winehouse co-wrote every song. The album received critical acclaim with compliments given to the “cool, critical gaze” in its lyrics. Winehouse’s voice was compared with those of Sarah Vaughan and Macy Gray, among others.
The album entered the upper reaches of the UK album chart in 2004 when it was nominated for the Brit Awards in the categories of “British Female Solo Artist” and “British Urban Act.” It went on to achieve platinum sales. Later in 2004, she and Remi won the Ivor Novello Award for Best Contemporary Song, for their first single together, “Stronger Than Me.” The album was also shortlisted for the 2004 Mercury Music Prize. In the same year, she performed at the Glastonbury Festival – Jazzworld, the V Festival and the Montreal International Jazz Festival. After the release of the album, Winehouse commented that she was “only 80 percent behind the album” because Island Records had overruled her preferences for the songs and mixes to be included.

In contrast to her jazz-influenced former album, Winehouse’s focus shifted to the girl groups of the 1950s and 1960s. Winehouse hired New York singer Sharon Jones’s longtime band, the Dap-Kings, to back her up in the studio and on tour. Mitch Winehouse relates in Amy, My Daughter how fascinating watching her process was: her perfectionism in the studio and how she would put what she had sung on a CD and play it in his taxi outside to know how most people would hear her music. In May 2006, Winehouse’s demo tracks such as “You Know I’m No Good” and “Rehab” appeared on Mark Ronson’s New York radio show on East Village Radio. These were some of the first new songs played on the radio after the release of “Pumps” and both were slated to appear on her second album. The 11-track album, completed in five months, was produced entirely by Salaam Remi and Ronson, with the production credits being split between them. Ronson said in a 2010 interview that he liked working with Winehouse because she was blunt when she did not like his work. Promotion of Back to Black soon began and, in early October 2006 Winehouse’s official website was relaunched with a new layout and clips of previously unreleased songs. Back to Black was released in the UK on 30 October 2006. It went to number one on the UK Albums Chart for two weeks in January 2007, dropping then climbing back for several weeks in February. In the US, it entered at number seven on the Billboard 200. It was the best-selling album in the UK of 2007, selling 1.85 million copies over the course of the year. The first single released from the album was the Ronson-produced “Rehab.” The song reached the top ten in the UK and the US. Time magazine named “Rehab” the Best Song of 2007. Writer Josh Tyrangiel praised Winehouse for her confidence, saying, “What she is is mouthy, funny, sultry, and quite possibly crazy” and “It’s impossible not to be seduced by her originality. Combine it with production by Mark Ronson that references four decades worth of soul music without once ripping it off, and you’ve got the best song of 2007.” The album’s second single and lead single in the US, “You Know I’m No Good,” was released in January 2007 with a remix featuring rap vocals by Ghostface Killah. It ultimately reached number 18 on the UK singles chart. The title track, “Back to Black,” was released in the UK in April 2007 and peaked at number 25, but was more successful across mainland Europe. “Tears Dry on Their Own,” “Love Is a Losing Game” were also released as singles, but failed to achieve the same level of success.

On 10 February 2008, Winehouse received five Grammy Awards, winning in the following categories: Record of the Year, Song of the Year, Best Female Pop Vocal Performance for the single “Rehab,” and Best Pop Vocal Album. The singer also earned a Grammy as Best New Artist, earning her an entry in the 2009 edition of the Guinness Book of Records for Most Grammy Awards won by a British Female Act. Additionally, Back to Black was nominated for Album of the Year. Ronson’s work with her won the Grammy Award for Producer of the Year, in the non-classical category. She ended her acceptance speech for Record of the Year with, “This is for London because Camden town ain’t burning down,” in reference to the 2008 Camden Market fire. Performing “You Know I’m No Good” and “Rehab” via satellite from London’s Riverside Studios at 3 a.m. UK time, she couldn’t be at the ceremony in Los Angeles as her visa approval had not been processed in time.
After the Grammys, the album’s sales increased, catapulting Back to Black to number two on the US Billboard 200, after it initially peaked in the seventh position. On 20 February 2008, Winehouse performed at the 2008 Brit Awards at Earls Court in London, performing “Valerie” with Mark Ronson, followed by “Love Is a Losing Game.” She urged the crowd to “make some noise for my Blake.” A special deluxe edition of Back to Black topped the UK album charts on 2 March 2008. Meanwhile, the original edition of the album was ranked at number 30 in its 68th week on the charts, while Frank charted at number 35.
In Paris, she performed what was described as a “well-executed 40-minute” set at the opening of a Fendi boutique in early March. By 12 March, the album had sold a total of 2,467,575 copies—318,350 copies had been sold in the previous 10 weeks—putting the album on the UK’s top-10 best-selling albums of the 21st century for the first time. On 7 April, Back to Black was in the top position of the pan-European charts for the sixth consecutive and thirteenth aggregate week. Amy Winehouse – The Girl Done Good: A Documentary Review, a 78-minute DVD, was released on 14 April 2008. The documentary features interviews with those who knew her at a young age, people who helped her achieve success, jazz music experts, and music and pop-culture specialists.
At the 2008 Ivor Novello Awards in May, Winehouse became the first-ever artist to receive two nominations for the top award: best song, musically and lyrically. She won the award for “Love Is a Losing Game” and was nominated for “You Know I’m No Good.” “Rehab,” a Novello winner for best contemporary song in 2006, also received a 2008 nomination for best-selling British song. Winehouse was also nominated for a 2008 MTV Europe Award in the “Act of the Year” category.
Although her father, manager and various members of her touring team reportedly tried to dissuade her, Winehouse performed at the Rock in Rio Lisboa festival in Portugal in May 2008. Although the set was plagued by a late arrival and problems with her voice, the crowd warmed to her. In addition to her own material she performed two Specials covers. Winehouse performed at Nelson Mandela’s 90th Birthday Party concert at London’s Hyde Park on 27 June 2008, and the next day at the Glastonbury Festival. On 12 July, at the Oxegen Festival in Ireland she performed a well-received 50-minute set which was followed the next day by a 14-song set at T in the Park.
On 16 August she played at the Staffordshire leg of the V Festival, and the following day played the Chelmsford leg of the festival. Organisers said that Winehouse attracted the biggest crowds of the festival. Audience reaction was reported as mixed. On 6 September, she was Bestival’s Saturday headliner, where her performance was described as polished—terminated by a curfew as the show running overdue, after Winehouse started an hour late—and her storming off stage.
A clip of Winehouse’s music was included in the “Roots and Influences” area that looked at connections between different artists at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Annex NYC, which opened in December 2008. One thread started with Billie Holiday, continued with Aretha Franklin and Mary J. Blige, and then finished with Winehouse.
Back to Black was the world’s seventh-biggest-selling album of 2008. The album’s sales meant that the market performance of Universal Music’s recorded music division did not drop to levels experienced by the overall music market.

Winehouse and Ronson contributed a cover of Lesley Gore’s “It’s My Party” to the Quincy Jones tribute album Q Soul Bossa Nostra, released in November 2010. She had agreed to form a group with Questlove of the Roots but her problems obtaining a visa delayed their working together. Salaam Remi had already created some material with Winehouse as part of the project. According to The Times, Universal Music pressed her for new material in 2008, but as of 2 September that year she had not been near a recording studio. In late October, Winehouse’s spokesman was quoted as saying that Winehouse had not been given a deadline to complete her third album, for which she was learning to play drums.
In May 2009, Winehouse returned to performing at a jazz festival in St. Lucia amid torrential downpours and technical difficulties. During her set, it was reported she was unsteady on her feet and had trouble remembering lyrics. She apologised to the crowd for being “bored” and ended the set in the middle of a song. During her stay in St. Lucia, however, she worked on new music with Salaam Remi. On 23 August that year Winehouse sang with the Specials at the V Festival, on their songs “You’re Wondering Now” and “Ghost Town”.
Island claimed that a new album would be due for release in 2010. Island co-president Darcus Beese said, “I’ve heard a couple of song demos that have absolutely floored me.” In July 2010, Winehouse was quoted as saying her next album would be released no later than January 2011, saying “It’s going to be very much the same as my second album, where there’s a lot of jukebox stuff and songs that are… just jukebox, really.” Ronson, however, said at that time that he had not started to record the album. She performed “Valerie” with Ronson at a movie premiere but forgot some of the song’s lyrics. In October, Winehouse performed a four-song set to promote her fashion line. In December 2010, she played a 40-minute concert at a Russian oligarch’s party in Moscow, with the tycoon hand selecting the songs.
In January 2011, Winehouse played five dates in Brazil, with opening acts of Janelle Monáe and Mayer Hawthorne. The following month she cut short a performance in Dubai following booing from the audience. Winehouse was reported to be tired, distracted and “tipsy” during the performance.
On 18 June 2011, Winehouse started her twelve-leg European tour in Belgrade. Local media described her performance as a scandal and disaster; she was booed off the stage due to her apparently being too drunk to perform. It was reported that she was unable to remember the city she was in, the lyrics of her songs or the names of the members of her band. The local press also claimed that Winehouse was forced to perform by her bodyguards, who did not allow her to leave the stage when she tried to do so. She then pulled out of performances in Istanbul and Athens which had been scheduled for the following week. On 21 June, it was announced that she had cancelled all shows of her tour and would be given “as long as it takes” to sort herself out.
Winehouse’s last public appearance took place at Camden’s Roundhouse on 20 July 2011, when she made a surprise appearance on stage to support her goddaughter, Dionne Bromfield, who was singing “Mama Said” with the Wanted. Winehouse died three days later. Her last recording was a duet with American singer Tony Bennett for his latest album, Duets II, released on 20 September 2011. Their single from the album, “Body and Soul,” was released on 14 September 2011 on MTV and VH1 to commemorate what would have been her 28th birthday.

Winehouse joined a campaign to stop a block of flats being built beside the George Tavern, a famous London East End music venue. Campaign supporters feared the residential development would end the spot’s lucrative sideline as a film and photo location, on which it relies to survive. As part of a breast cancer awareness campaign, Winehouse appeared in a revealing photograph for the April 2008 issue of Easy Living magazine. Winehouse had an estimated £10m fortune, tying her for tenth place in the 2008 The Sunday Times listing of the wealth of musicians under age 30. The following year her fortune had dropped to an estimated £5m. Her finances are run by Mitch and Janis Winehouse. It was reported she earned about £1m singing at two private parties during Paris Fashion Week as well as another £1m to perform at a Moscow Art Gallery for Russian oligarch Roman Abramovich. Winehouse loaned a vintage dress used in her video for “Tears Dry on Their Own” as well as a DVD to the British Music Experience, a new museum dedicated to the history of British pop music. The museum, located at the O2 Arena in London, opened on 9 March 2009.
In January 2009, Winehouse announced that she was launching her own record label. Her first album, featuring covers of classic soul records, was released on 12 October 2009. Winehouse is the backing singer on several tracks on the album and she performed backing vocals for Bromfield on the BBC’s television programme Strictly Come Dancing on 10 October.
Winehouse and her family are the subject of a 2009 documentary shot by Daphne Barak titled Saving Amy. Winehouse entered into a joint venture in 2009 with EMI to launch a range of wrapping paper and gift cards containing song lyrics from her album Back to Black. On 8 January 2010, a television documentary, My Daughter Amy, aired on Channel 4. Saving Amy was released as a paperback book in January 2010.
Winehouse collaborated on a 17 piece fashion collection with the Fred Perry label. It was released for sale in October 2010. According to Fred Perry’s marketing director “We had three major design meetings where she was closely involved in product style selection and the application of fabric, colour and styling details,” and gave “crucial input on proportion, colour and fit.” The collection consists of “vintage-inspired looks including Capri pants, a bowling dress, a trench coat, pencil skirts, a longline argyle sweater and a pink-and-black checkerboard-printed collared shirt.” At the behest of her family, three forthcoming collections up to and including autumn/winter 2012 that she had designed prior to her death will be released.

Winehouse was known for her deep, expressive contralto vocals and her eclectic mix of musical genres, including soul, (sometimes labelled as blue-eyed soul and neo soul), rhythm and blues, and jazz. The BBC’s Garry Mulholland called Winehouse “the pre-eminent vocal talent of her generation”.[146] According to AllMusic’s Cyril Cordor, she was one of the UK’s premier singers during the 2000s; “fans and critics alike embraced her rugged charm, brash sense of humor, and distinctively soulful and jazzy vocals”. In The Guardian, Caroline Sullivan later wrote that “her idolisation of Dinah Washington and the Ronettes distinguished her from almost all newly minted pop singers of the early 2000s; her exceptionally-susceptible-to-heartbreak voice did the rest”. Soon after Winehouse’s death, a number of prominent critics assessed the singer’s legacy: Maura Johnston from The Village Voice said, “When she was on, Winehouse had few peers—she wasn’t an octave-jumper like other big divas of the moment, but her contralto had a snap to it that enriched even the simplest syllables with a full spectrum of emotion”; Sasha Frere-Jones of The New Yorker proclaimed, “Nobody can match Winehouse’s unique transitions or her utterly weird phrasings. She sounded like an original sixties soul star, developed when the landscape had no rules. But now untrammeled traditionalism is in the lead and her beautiful footnote has been cut short. American soul—through visionaries like Erykah Badu and Janelle Monae and Jill Scott—had moved on. But Winehouse was a fine shepherd of the past.”
By contrast, Robert Christgau dismissed Winehouse as “a self-aggrandizing self-abuser who’s taken seriously because she makes a show of soul”. In his opinion, the singer “simulated gravitas by running her suicidal tendencies through an amalgam of 20th-century African-American vocal stylings—the slides, growls, and melismatic outcries that for many matures are now the only reliable signifiers of pop substance”. In March 2017, singer-songwriter Bob Dylan said he was enjoying listening to Winehouse’s last record (Back to Black), and called her “the last real individualist around.”

Winehouse’s greatest love was 1960s girl groups. Her hairdresser, Alex Foden, borrowed her “instantly recognisable” beehive hairdo and she borrowed her Cleopatra makeup from the Ronettes. Her imitation was so successful, as The Village Voice reports: “Ronnie Spector—who, it could be argued, all but invented Winehouse’s style in the first place when she took the stage at the Brooklyn Fox Theater with her fellow Ronettes more than 40 years ago—was so taken aback at a picture of Winehouse in the New York Post that she exclaimed, “I don’t know her, I never met her, and when I saw that pic, I thought, ‘That’s me!’ But then I found out, no, it’s Amy! I didn’t have on my glasses.”
The New York Times style reporter, Guy Trebay, discussed the multiplicity of influences on Winehouse’s style after her death. Trebay noted, “her stylish husband, Blake Fielder-Civil, may have influenced her look.” Additionally, Trebay observed:
She was a 5-foot-3 almanac of visual reference, most famously to Ronnie Spector of the Ronettes, but also to the white British soul singer Mari Wilson, less famous for her sound than her beehive; to the punk god Johnny Thunders…; to the fierce council-house chicks… (see: Dior and Chanel runways, 2007 and 2008) … to a lineage of bad girls, extending from Cleopatra to Louise Brooks’s Lulu and including Salt-n-Pepa, to irresistible man traps that always seemed to come to the same unfortunate end.
Former Rolling Stone editor Joe Levy, who had put her on the magazine’s cover, broke her look down this way: Just as her best music drew on sampling – assembling sonic licks and stylistic fragments borrowed from Motown, Stax, punk and early hip-hop – her personal style was also a knowing collage. There was a certain moment in the ’90s when, if you were headed downtown and turned left, every girl looked like Bettie Page. But they did not do what Winehouse did, mixing Bettie Page with Brigitte Bardot and adding that little bit of Ronnie Spector.
Winehouse’s use of bold red lipstick, thick eyebrows and heavy eyeliner came from Latinas she saw in Miami, on her trip there to work with Salaam Remi on Back to Black. Her look was repeatedly denigrated by the British press. At the same time that the NME Awards nominated Winehouse in the categories of “Best Solo Artist” and “Best Music DVD” in 2008, they awarded her “Worst Dressed Performer.” Winehouse was also ranked number two on Richard Blackwell’s 48th annual “Ten Worst Dressed Women” list, behind Victoria Beckham.

By 2008, her drug problems threatened her career. As Nick Gatfield, the president of Island Records, toyed with the idea of releasing Winehouse “to deal with her problems”, he said, “It’s a reflection of her status [in the US] that when you flick through the TV coverage [of the Grammys] it’s her image they use.” Post-Grammys, some questioned whether Winehouse should have been honoured with the awards given her recent personal and drug problems, including Natalie Cole, who introduced Winehouse at the ceremony and who herself battled substance-abuse problems while winning a Grammy for Best New Artist in 1975. (Winehouse was prevented from travelling to and performing at the Grammy Awards ceremony in the US due to failing a drug test. In a newspaper commentary, the executive director of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime, Antonio Maria Costa, said that the alleged drug habits of Winehouse and other celebrities sent a bad message “to others who are vulnerable to addiction” and undermine the efforts of other celebrities trying to raise awareness of problems in Africa, now that more cocaine used in Europe passes through that continent. Winehouse’s spokesperson noted that “Amy has never given a quote about drugs or flaunted it in any way. She’s had some problems and is trying to get better. The U.N. should get its own house in order.”
In January 2008, her record label stated it believed the extensive media coverage she had received increased record sales. In an April 2008 poll conducted by Sky News, Winehouse was named the second greatest “ultimate heroine” by the UK population at large, topping the voting for that category of those polled under 25 years old. Psychologist Donna Dawson commented that the results demonstrated that women like Winehouse who had “a certain sense of vulnerability or have had to fight against some adversity in their lives” received recognition.
In July 2008, BBC Radio Scotland’s head, Jeff Zycinski, stated that the BBC, and media in general, were complicit in undermining celebrities, including Winehouse. He said that public interest in the singer’s lifestyle did not make her lifestyle newsworthy. Rod McKenzie, editor of the BBC Radio One programme Newsbeat, replied: “If you play [Amy Winehouse’s] music to a certain demographic, those same people want to know what’s happening in her private life. If you don’t cover it, you’re insulting young licence fee payers.” In The Scotsman, British singer and songwriter Lily Allen was quoted to have said – “I know Amy Winehouse very well. And she is very different to what people portray her as being. Yes, she does get out of her mind on drugs sometimes, but she is also a very clever, intelligent, witty, funny person who can hold it together. You just don’t see that side.”

Winehouse dated chef-musician Alex Clare (sometimes referred to as Alex Claire) in 2006, while on a break from her on-off boyfriend and future husband, Blake Fielder-Civil. She and Clare lived together briefly, and in a pattern that Fielder-Civil would later repeat, Clare sold his story to the News of the World, which published it under the headline “Bondage Crazed Amy Just Can’t Beehive in Bed.”
Fielder-Civil, a former video production assistant, had dropped out of Bourne Grammar School and, aged 16, moved to London from his native Lincolnshire. He married Winehouse on 18 May 2007, in Miami Beach, Florida. In a June 2007 interview, Winehouse admitted she could sometimes be violent toward him after she had been drinking, saying: “If he says one thing I don’t like, then I’ll chin him.” In August 2007, they were photographed, bloodied and bruised, in the streets of London after an alleged fight, although she contended her injuries were self-inflicted. Winehouse’s parents and in-laws publicly reported their numerous concerns, the latter citing fears that the two might commit suicide. Fielder-Civil’s father encouraged fans to boycott Winehouse’s music, and Mitch Winehouse said this would not help. Fielder-Civil was quoted in a British tabloid as saying he introduced Winehouse to crack cocaine and heroin. During a visit with Mitch Winehouse at the prison in July 2008, Fielder-Civil reportedly said that he and Winehouse would cut themselves to ease the pain of withdrawal.
From 21 July 2008 to 25 February 2009, Fielder-Civil was imprisoned following his guilty plea on charges of trying to pervert the course of justice and of grievous bodily harm with intent. The incident, in July 2007, involved his assault of a pub landlord that broke the victim’s cheek. According to the prosecution, the landlord accepted £200,000 as part of a deal to “effectively throw the [court] case and not turn up,” and he testified that the money belonged to Winehouse, but she pulled out of a meeting with the men involved in the plot, to attend an awards ceremony. Mitch Winehouse, as manager of his daughter’s money, has denied the payoff came from her.
When Winehouse was spotted with aspiring actor Josh Bowman on holiday in Saint Lucia, in early January 2009, she said she was “in love again, and I don’t need drugs.” She commented that her “whole marriage was based on doing drugs” and that “for the time being I’ve just forgotten I’m even married.” On 12 January, Winehouse’s spokesman confirmed that “papers have been received” for what Fielder-Civil’s solicitor has said are divorce proceedings based on a claim of adultery. In March, Winehouse was quoted in a magazine as saying, “I still love Blake and I want him to move into my new house with me—that was my plan all along … I won’t let him divorce me. He’s the male version of me and we’re perfect for each other.” Nonetheless, an uncontested divorce was granted on 16 July 2009 and became final on 28 August 2009. Fielder-Civil received no money in the settlement.
She was in a relationship with a British writer and director of films, Reg Traviss, from early 2010 until she died. According to media reports and a biography written by Winehouse’s father, Traviss and Winehouse had planned to marry and intended to have children.
After Winehouse’s death, Pete Doherty said that he and Winehouse had been lovers at one point. However, in July 2008, when Rolling Stone reporter Claire Hoffman asked Winehouse about her relationship with Doherty, Winehouse replied: “We’re just good friends”, and added: “I asked Pete to do a concept EP, and he made this face, he looked at me like I’d pooed on the floor. He wouldn’t do it. We’re just really close”.

Winehouse’s battles with substance abuse were the subject of much media attention. In 2005, she went through a period of drinking, heavy drug use, and weight loss. People who saw her during the end of that year and early 2006 reported a rebound that coincided with the writing of Back to Black. Her family believes that the mid-2006 death of her grandmother, who was a stabilising influence, set her off into addiction. In August 2007, Winehouse cancelled a number of shows in the UK and Europe, citing exhaustion and ill health. She was hospitalised during this period for what was reported as an overdose of heroin, ecstasy, cocaine, ketamine and alcohol. In various interviews, she admitted to having problems with self-harm, depression, and eating disorders.
Winehouse told a magazine that the drugs were to blame for her hospitalisation and that “I really thought that it was over for me then.” Soon afterward, Winehouse’s father commented that when he had made public statements regarding her problems he was using the media because it seemed the only way to get through to her. In an interview with The Album Chart Show on British television, Winehouse said she was manic depressive and not alcoholic, adding that that sounded like “an alcoholic in denial”. A US reporter writes that Winehouse was a “victim of mental illness in a society that doesn’t understand or respond to mental illness with great effectiveness.”
In December 2007, Winehouse’s spokesman reported that the singer was in a physician-supervised programme and was channelling her difficulties by writing a lot of music. The British tabloid The Sun posted a video of a woman, alleged to be Winehouse, apparently smoking crack cocaine and speaking of having taken ecstasy and valium. Winehouse’s father moved in with her, and Island Records, her record label, announced the abandonment of plans for an American promotion campaign on her behalf. In late January 2008, Winehouse reportedly entered a rehabilitation facility for a two-week treatment program.
On 23 January 2008, the video was passed on to the Metropolitan Police, who questioned her on 5 February. No charges were brought. On 26 March 2008, Winehouse’s spokesman said she was “doing well”. Her record company reportedly believed that her recovery remained fragile. By late April 2008, her erratic behaviour—including an allegation of assault—caused fear that her drug rehabilitation efforts had been unsuccessful. Winehouse’s father and manager then sought to have her detained under the Mental Health Act of 1983. Her dishevelled appearance during and after a scheduled club night in September 2008 sparked new rumours of a relapse. Photographers were quoted as saying she appeared to have cuts on her legs and arms.
According to her physician, Winehouse quit using illegal substances in 2008. In an October 2010 interview, speaking of her decision to quit drugs, Winehouse said, “I literally woke up one day and was like, ‘I don’t want to do this anymore.'” However, alcohol emerged as a problem, with Winehouse abstaining for a few weeks and then lapsing into alcohol abuse. Her physician said that Winehouse was treated with Librium for alcohol withdrawal and anxiety and underwent psychological and psychiatric evaluations in 2010, but refused psychological therapy.

In 2006, Winehouse admitted to punching a female fan in the face for criticising her having taken Blake Fielder-Civil as a husband. She then attacked her own spouse as he attempted to calm her down, kneeing him in the crotch. In October 2007, Winehouse and Fielder-Civil were arrested in Bergen, Norway, for possession of seven grams of cannabis. The couple were later released and fined 3850 kroner (around £350). Winehouse first appealed the fines, but later dropped the appeal.
On 26 April 2008, Winehouse was cautioned after she admitted to police she slapped a 38-year-old man in the face, a “common assault” offence, her first of two. She voluntarily turned herself in and was held overnight. Police said, at her arrival she was “in no fit state” to be interviewed. Ten days later, Winehouse was arrested on suspicion of possessing drugs after a video of her apparently smoking crack cocaine was passed to the police in January, but was released on bail a few hours later because they could not confirm, from the video, what she was smoking. The Crown Prosecution Service considered charging her, but cleared her when it could not establish that the substance in the video was a controlled drug. Some members of Parliament reacted negatively. Two London residents were subsequently charged with conspiracy to supply cocaine and ecstasy to Winehouse. One of the pair was sentenced to two years in prison on 13 December 2008, while the other received a two-year community order.
On 5 March 2009, Winehouse was arrested and charged with common assault following a claim by dancer Sherene Flash that Winehouse hit her in the eye at the September 2008 Prince’s Trust charity ball. Winehouse’s spokesperson announced the cancellation of the singer’s US Coachella Festival appearance in light of the new legal issue, and Winehouse appeared in court on 17 March to enter her plea of not guilty. On 23 July, her trial began with prosecutor Lyall Thompson charging that Winehouse acted with “deliberate and unjustifiable violence” while appearing to be under the influence of alcohol or another substance. She testified that she did not punch Flash, but tried to push her away because she was scared of her; she cited her worry that Flash would sell her story to a tabloid, Flash’s height advantage, and Flash’s “rude” behaviour. On 24 July, District Judge Timothy Workman ruled that Winehouse was not guilty, citing the facts that all but two of the witnesses were intoxicated at the time of the incident and that medical evidence did not show “the sort of injury that often occurs when there is a forceful punch to the eye.”
On 19 December 2009, Winehouse was arrested for a third time on charges of common assault, plus another charge of public order offence after assaulting the front-of-house manager of the Milton Keynes Theatre after he asked her to move from her seat. Winehouse plead guilty to the charges and was given a conditional discharge.

With the paparazzi taking photographs of her wherever they could, Winehouse obtained an injunction against a leading paparazzi agency, Big Pictures, under the Protection from Harassment Act 1997; the resultant court order issued by the High Court in 2009 banned them from following her. Photographers were also banned from following her within 100 metres of her London home and photographing Winehouse in her home or the homes of her friends and relatives. According to a newspaper report, sources close to the singer said legal action was taken out of concern for the safety of Winehouse and those close to her.

On 23 June 2008, Winehouse’s publicist corrected earlier misstatements by Mitch Winehouse that his daughter had early stage emphysema, instead claiming she had signs of what could lead to early-stage emphysema. Mitch Winehouse had also stated that his daughter’s lungs were operating at 70 percent capacity and that she had an irregular heartbeat. He said that these problems had been caused by her chain smoking crack cocaine. The singer’s father also reported that doctors had warned Winehouse that, if she continued smoking crack cocaine, she would have to wear an oxygen mask and would eventually die. In a radio interview, Mitch Winehouse said the singer was responding “fabulously” to treatment, which included being covered with nicotine patches. British Lung Foundation spokesman Keith Prowse noted this type of condition could be managed with treatment. Prowse also said the condition was not normal for a person her age but “heavy smoking and inhaling other substances like drugs can age the lungs prematurely.” Norman H. Edelman of the American Lung Association explained that if she stopped smoking, her lung functions would decline at the rate of a normal person, but continued smoking would lead to a more rapid decline in lung function.
Winehouse was released from the London Clinic 24 hours after returning from a temporary leave to perform at Nelson Mandela’s 90th birthday and at a concert in Glastonbury, and continued receiving treatment as an outpatient. In July 2008, Winehouse stated that she had been diagnosed with “some areas of emphysema” and said she was getting herself together by “eating loads of healthy food, sleeping loads, playing my guitar, making music and writing letters to my husband every day.” She also kept a vertical tanning bed in her flat. Winehouse began precautionary testing on her lungs and chest on 25 October 2008 at the London Clinic for what was reported as a chest infection. Winehouse was in and out of the facility and was granted permission to set her own schedule regarding home leave. She returned to the hospital on 23 November 2008 for a reported reaction to her medication.

Winehouse’s bodyguard said that he had arrived at her residence three days before her death and felt she had been somewhat intoxicated. He observed moderate drinking over the next few days, and said she had been “laughing, listening to music and watching TV at 2 a.m. the day of her death”. At 10 a.m. BST on 23 July 2011, he observed her lying on her bed and tried unsuccessfully to rouse her. This did not raise much suspicion because she usually slept late after a night out. According to the bodyguard, shortly after 3 p.m., he checked on her again and observed her lying in the same position as before, leading to a further check, in which he concluded that she was not breathing and had no pulse; he said he called emergency services. At 3:54 p.m., two ambulances were called to Winehouse’s home in Camden, London. Winehouse was pronounced dead at the scene at the age of 27. Shortly afterwards, the Metropolitan Police confirmed that she had died.
After her death was announced, media and camera crews appeared, as crowds gathered near Winehouse’s residence to pay their respects. Forensic investigators entered the flat as police cordoned off the street outside; they recovered one small and two large bottles of vodka from her room. After her death, the singer broke her second Guinness World Record: for the most songs by a woman to simultaneously appear on the UK singles chart, with eight. A coroner’s inquest reached a verdict of misadventure. The report released on 26 October 2011 explained that Winehouse’s blood alcohol content was 416 mg per 100 ml (0.416%) at the time of her death, more than five times the legal drink-drive limit. According to the coroner, “The unintended consequences of such potentially fatal levels was her sudden death.”

Winehouse’s record label, Universal Republic, released a statement that read in part: “We are deeply saddened at the sudden loss of such a gifted musician, artist and performer.” Many musical artists have since paid tribute to Winehouse including U2, M.I.A., Lady Gaga, Marianne Faithfull, Bruno Mars, Nicki Minaj, Keisha Buchanan, Rihanna, George Michael, Adele, Kelly Clarkson, Courtney Love, and the punk rock band Green Day, who wrote a song in her tribute titled “Amy”. In her 2012 album Banga, singer Patti Smith released “This Is the Girl,” written as a homage to Winehouse. Mark Ronson dedicated his UK number one album Uptown Special to Winehouse, stating: “I’m always thinking of you and inspired by you.” There was a large amount of media attention devoted to the 27 Club once again. Three years earlier, she had expressed a fear of dying at that age. Winehouse did not leave a will; her estate was inherited by her parents. Winehouse’s parents set up The Amy Winehouse Foundation to prevent harm from drug misuse among young people; her brother Alex is an employee.

On 17 December 2012, British authorities reopened the probe of Winehouse’s death. On 8 January 2013, a second inquest confirmed that Winehouse died of accidental alcohol poisoning. In a June 2013 interview, Alex Winehouse revealed his belief that his sister’s eating disorder, and the consequent physical weakness, was the primary cause of her death:
She suffered from bulimia very badly. That’s not, like, a revelation – you knew just by looking at her… She would have died eventually, the way she was going, but what really killed her was the bulimia… I think that it left her weaker and more susceptible. Had she not had an eating disorder, she would have been physically stronger.

Family and friends attended Winehouse’s private funeral on 26 July 2011 at Edgwarebury Lane Cemetery in north London. Her mother and father, Janis and Mitch Winehouse, close friends Nick Grimshaw and Kelly Osbourne, producer Mark Ronson, goddaughter Dionne Bromfield and her boyfriend Reg Traviss were among those in attendance at the private service led by Rabbi Frank Hellner. Her father delivered the eulogy, saying “Goodnight, my angel, sleep tight. Mummy and Daddy love you ever so much.” Carole King’s “So Far Away” closed the service with mourners singing along. She was later cremated at Golders Green Crematorium. The family planned to sit a two-day shiva. On 16 September 2012, Winehouse’s ashes were buried alongside her grandmother’s, Cynthia Levy at Edgwarebury Lane Cemetery.

Dear Amy

precious jazzy jewel
diamond in the rough
colourful and bright
tender and yet tough

raw voice
with innocent delight
left with struggle
lost her daily fight

afraid of fame
a broken frame
died lonely
without shame

a devotee she’ll find in me
dear Amy,
wine in my house
please sing for me!

Poetpas

Check her out(or not):

Sources: Wikipedia, YouTube, interweb, poetpas

Featuring: Erroll Garner

Today I am featuring a man who I consider to be the best jazz piano player that I’ve ever heard, Erroll Garner, famous for creating the song Misty that was played in Clint Eastwood’s film Play Misty for Me (1971). However, he deserves way more recognition and credit than a link to a white man’s fim. It’s actually sad to learn so little is written about him whilst he was one of the best, or maybe even “the best”.

Erroll Louis Garner (June 15, 1921 – January 2, 1977) was an American jazz pianist and composer known for his swing playing and ballads. Garner was born with his twin brother Ernest in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania on June 15, 1921, the youngest of six children in an African-American family. He attended George Westinghouse High School (as did fellow pianists Billy Strayhorn and Ahmad Jamal).

His best-known composition, the ballad “Misty”, has become a jazz standard. Scott Yanow of Allmusic calls him “one of the most distinctive of all pianists” and a “brilliant virtuoso.” He received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 6363 Hollywood Blvd. His live album, Concert by the Sea, first released in 1955, sold over a million copies by 1958 and Scott Yanow’s opinion is: “this is the album that made such a strong impression that Garner was considered immortal from then on.”

Garner began playing piano at the age of three. His elder siblings were taught piano by Miss Bowman. From an early age, Erroll would sit down and play anything she had demonstrated, just like Miss Bowman, his eldest sister Martha said. Garner was self-taught and remained an “ear player” all his life, never learning to read music. At age seven, he began appearing on the radio station KDKA in Pittsburgh with a group called the Candy Kids. By age 11, he was playing on the Allegheny riverboats. In 1937 he joined local saxophonist Leroy Brown.
He played locally in the shadow of his older pianist brother Linton Garner.

Garner moved to New York City in 1944. He briefly worked with the bassist Slam Stewart, and though not a bebop musician per se, in 1947 played with Charlie Parker on the “Cool Blues” session. Although his admission to the Pittsburgh music union was initially refused because of his inability to read music, it relented in 1956 and made him an honorary member. Garner is credited with a superb musical memory. After attending a concert by the Russian classical pianist Emil Gilels, Garner returned to his apartment and was able to play a large portion of the performed music by recall. Garner made many tours both at home and abroad, and regularly recorded. He was, reportedly, The Tonight Show host Johnny Carson’s favorite jazz musician, appearing on Carson’s show many times over the years.

Short in stature (5 feet 2 inches [157 cm]), Garner performed sitting on multiple telephone directories. He was also known for his vocalizations while playing, which can be heard on many of his recordings. He helped to bridge the gap for jazz musicians between nightclubs and the concert hall.
Called “one of the most distinctive of all pianists” by Scott Yanow, Garner showed that a “creative jazz musician can be very popular without watering down his music” or changing his personal style. He has been described as a “brilliant virtuoso who sounded unlike anyone else”, using an “orchestral approach straight from the swing era but … open to the innovations of bop.” His distinctive style could swing like no other, but some of his best recordings are ballads, such as his best-known composition, “Misty”, which rapidly became a jazz standard – and was featured in Clint Eastwood’s film Play Misty for Me (1971).
Garner may have been inspired by the example of Earl Hines, a fellow Pittsburgh resident but 18 years his senior, and there were resemblances in their elastic approach to timing and use of right-hand octaves. Garner’s early recordings also display the influence of the stride piano style of James P. Johnson and Fats Waller. Fats Waller had been the one Erroll had looked up to and was his prime example of how and what he wanted to be like. He developed a signature style that involved his right hand playing behind the beat while his left strummed a steady rhythm and punctuation, creating insouciance and tension.

The independence of his hands also was evidenced by his masterful use of three-against-four and more complicated cross-rhythms between the hands. Garner would also improvise whimsical introductions—often in stark contrast to the rest of the tune—that left listeners in suspense as to what the piece would be. His melodic improvisations generally stayed close to the theme while employing novel chord voicings. Pianist Ross Tompkins described Garner’s distinctiveness as due to ‘happiness’. Erroll Garner often muttered, moaned and grunted along his solos, so much so that it felt a humorous distraction from the music to some. His would sometimes be a sheep like sound which was rather comical yet most possibly a musical expression.

In 2012 a film on Garner was released by Atticus Brady called No One Can Hear You Read, which Garner used to say when asked why he had never learned to read music. Footage of the piano prodigy playing and speaking was intercut with interviews: with admirers (including Woody Allen, Steve Allen and his fellow musicians Ahmad Jamal, also from Pittsburgh and Ernest McCarty, his bassist for many years); with family members, including his big sister Ruth Garner Moore and daughter Kim Garner; with George Avakian, the producer of Concert by the Sea; and with Jim Doran his biographer. The film attempts to address Garner’s fall from prominence after his death, reminding viewers how popular and original he was in his day as well as why he is considered in many quarters a legend, one of the true greats of jazz. On June 15, 2015, the estate of Martha Glaser, Garner’s longtime manager, announced the formation of the Erroll Garner Jazz Project, a major new archival and musical celebration of Garner. The project includes the donation of the Erroll Garner Archive—a huge trove of newly discovered historical material from Garner’s life—to the University of Pittsburgh.
On September 18, 2015, Concert by the Sea was re-released by Sony Legacy in an expanded, three-CD edition that adds 11 previously unreleased tracks.
On September 30, 2016, Ready Take One was released on Sony Legacy/Octave featuring 14 previously unreleased tracks. In 2016, Downtown Music Publishing entered an exclusive worldwide administration agreement with Octave Music Publishing Corp. The deal covers all of Garner’s works including “Misty”, as well as Garner’s extensive archive of master recordings, many of which remain unreleased.On June 25, 2019, The New York Times Magazine listed Erroll Garner among hundreds of artists whose material was reportedly destroyed in the 2008 Universal fire.

Garner sadly died at the young age of 56 of cardiac arrest related to emphysema on January 2, 1977. He is buried in Pittsburgh’s Homewood Cemetery. May he play in heaven with all the other great ones. (I personally would have loved hearing or seeing him play with Django Reinhardt).

Check him out:

Sources: Wikipedia, YouTube, interweb, Nocturne, Erroll Garner Jazz Project, poetpas

Featuring: J.R.R. Tolkien

Ronald Tolkien was an amazing writer who can not go unnoticed in my series featuring those that have made an impact or impression on me. Although I am not much of a reader, the films Lords of the Rings and The Hobbit got me interested in this Einstein of lingo (as I would call him) and these wonderful translations of some of his finest works. So check him out if you want (or not).

John Ronald Reuel Tolkien 1892 – 2 September 1973) was an English writer, poet, philologist, and academic. He was the author of the high fantasy works The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings.
He served as the Rawlinson and Bosworth Professor of Anglo-Saxon and Fellow of Pembroke College, Oxford, from 1925 to 1945 and Merton Professor of English Language and Literature and Fellow of Merton College, Oxford, from 1945 to 1959. He was at one time a close friend of C. S. Lewis—they were both members of the informal literary discussion group known as the Inklings. Tolkien was appointed a Commander of the Order of the British Empire by Queen Elizabeth II on 28 March 1972. After Tolkien’s death, his son Christopher published a series of works based on his father’s extensive notes and unpublished manuscripts, including The Silmarillion. These, together with The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, form a connected body of tales, poems, fictional histories, invented languages, and literary essays about a fantasy world called Arda and Middle-earth within it. Between 1951 and 1955, Tolkien applied the term legendarium to the larger part of these writings.
While many other authors had published works of fantasy before Tolkien, the great success of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings led directly to a popular resurgence of the genre. This has caused Tolkien to be popularly identified as the “father” of modern fantasy literature—or, more precisely, of high fantasy. In 2008, The Times ranked him sixth on a list of “The 50 greatest British writers since 1945”. Forbes ranked him the fifth top-earning “dead celebrity” in 2009.

John Ronald Reuel Tolkien was born on 3 January 1892 in South Africa which was later annexed by the British Empire, to Arthur Reuel Tolkie, an English bank manager, and his wife Mabel both with German roots.

As a child, Tolkien was bitten by a large baboon spider in the garden, an event some think later echoed in his stories, although he admitted no actual memory of the event and no special hatred of spiders as an adult.
When he was three, he went to England with his mother and brother on what was intended to be a lengthy family visit. His father, however, died in South Africa of rheumatic fever before he could join them. This left the family without an income, so Tolkien’s mother took him to live with her parents in Kings Heath, Birmingham. Soon after, in 1896, they moved to a Worcestershire village, later annexed to Birmingham. He enjoyed exploring Sarehole Mill and Moseley Bog and the Clent, Lickey and Malvern Hills, which would later inspire scenes in his books, along with nearby towns and villages such as Bromsgrove, Alcester, and Alvechurch and places such as his aunt Jane’s farm Bag End, the name of which he used in his fiction. Ronald, as he was known in the family, was a keen pupil. She taught him a great deal of botany and awakened in him the enjoyment of the look and feel of plants. Young Tolkien liked to draw landscapes and trees, but his favourite lessons were those concerning languages, and his mother taught him the rudiments of Latin very early.
Tolkien could read by the age of four and could write fluently soon afterwards.

In 1904, when J. R. R. Tolkien was 12, his mother died of acute diabetes. She was then about 34 years of age. After his mother’s death, Tolkien grew up in the Edgbaston area of Birmingham and attended King Edward’s School, Birmingham, and later St. Philip’s School. In 1903, he won a Foundation Scholarship and returned to King Edward’s. In Edgbaston, Tolkien lived there in the shadow of Perrott’s Folly and the Victorian tower of Edgbaston Waterworks, which may have influenced the images of the dark towers within his works. Another strong influence was the romantic medievalist paintings of Edward Burne-Jones and the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood; the Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery had a large collection of works on public display.

While in his early teens, Tolkien had his first encounter with a constructed language, Animalic, an invention of his cousins, Mary and Marjorie Incledon. At that time, he was studying Latin and Anglo-Saxon. Their interest in Animalic soon died away, but Mary and others, including Tolkien himself, invented a new and more complex language called Nevbosh. The next constructed language he came to work with, Naffarin, would be his own creation. Tolkien learned Esperanto some time before 1909. Around 10 June 1909 he composed “The Book of the Foxrook”, a sixteen-page notebook, where the “earliest example of one of his invented alphabets” appears.Short texts in this notebook are written in Esperanto.
In 1911, while they were at King Edward’s School, Tolkien and three friends, Rob Gilson, Geoffrey Bache Smith and Christopher Wiseman, formed a semi-secret society they called the T.C.B.S. The initials stood for Tea Club and Barrovian Society, alluding to their fondness for drinking tea in Barrow’s Stores near the school and, secretly, in the school library. After leaving school, the members stayed in touch and, in December 1914, they held a “council” in London at Wiseman’s home. For Tolkien, the result of this meeting was a strong dedication to writing poetry.
In 1911, Tolkien went on a summer holiday in Switzerland, a trip that he recollects vividly in a 1968 letter, noting that Bilbo’s journey across the Misty Mountains (“including the glissade down the slithering stones into the pine woods”) is directly based on his adventures as their party of 12 hiked from Interlaken to Lauterbrunnen and on to camp in the moraines beyond Mürren. In October of the same year, Tolkien began studying at Exeter College, Oxford. He initially studied classics but changed his course in 1913 to English language and literature, graduating in 1915 with first-class honours. Among his tutors at Oxford was Joseph Wright.

At the age of 16, Tolkien met Edith Mary Bratt, who was three years his senior. With two people of their personalities and in their position, romance was bound to flourish. Both were orphans in need of affection, and they found that they could give it to each other. During the summer of 1909, they decided that they were in love.
On the evening of his 21st birthday, Tolkien wrote to Edith, who was living with family friend C. H. Jessop at Cheltenham. He declared that he had never ceased to love her, and asked her to marry him. Edith replied that she had already accepted the proposal of George Field, the brother of one of her closest school friends. But Edith said she had agreed to marry Field only because she felt “on the shelf” and had begun to doubt that Tolkien still cared for her. She explained that, because of Tolkien’s letter, everything had changed.
On 8 January 1913, Tolkien travelled by train to Cheltenham and was met on the platform by Edith. The two took a walk into the countryside, sat under a railway viaduct, and talked. By the end of the day, Edith had agreed to accept Tolkien’s proposal. She wrote to Field and returned her engagement ring. Field was “dreadfully upset at first”, and the Field family was “insulted and angry”. Upon learning of Edith’s new plans, Jessop wrote to her guardian, “I have nothing to say against Tolkien, he is a cultured gentleman, but his prospects are poor in the extreme, and when he will be in a position to marry I cannot imagine. Had he adopted a profession it would have been different.” Following their engagement, Edith reluctantly announced that she was converting to Catholicism at Tolkien’s insistence. Jessop, “like many others of his age and class … strongly anti-Catholic”, was infuriated, and he ordered Edith to find other lodgings. Edith Bratt and Ronald Tolkien were formally engaged at Birmingham in January 1913, and married at St. Mary Immaculate Roman Catholic Church, Warwick, on 22 March 1916. In his 1941 letter to Michael, Tolkien expressed admiration for his wife’s willingness to marry a man with no job, little money, and no prospects except the likelihood of being killed in the Great War.

In August 1914, Britain entered the First World War. Tolkien’s relatives were shocked when he elected not to volunteer immediately for the British Army. In a 1941 letter to his son Michael, Tolkien recalled: “In those days chaps joined up, or were scorned publicly. It was a nasty cleft to be in for a young man with too much imagination and little physical courage.”
Instead, Tolkien, “endured the obloquy”, and entered a programme by which he delayed enlistment until completing his degree. By the time he passed his finals in July 1915, Tolkien recalled that the hints were “becoming outspoken from relatives”. He was commissioned as a temporary second lieutenant in the Lancashire Fusiliers on 15 July 1915. He trained with the 13th (Reserve) Battalion on Cannock Chase, Staffordshire, for 11 months. In a letter to Edith, Tolkien complained: “Gentlemen are rare among the superiors, and even human beings rare indeed.” On 5 June 1916, Tolkien boarded a troop transport for an overnight voyage to Calais. While waiting to be summoned to his unit, Tolkien sank into boredom. To pass the time, he composed a poem entitled The Lonely Isle, which was inspired by his feelings during the sea crossing to Calais. To evade the British Army’s postal censorship, he also developed a code of dots by which Edith could track his movements.
Tolkien arrived at the Somme in early July 1916. In between terms behind the lines at Bouzincourt, he participated in the assaults on the Schwaben Redoubt and the Leipzig salient. Tolkien’s time in combat was a terrible stress for Edith, who feared that every knock on the door might carry news of her husband’s death. Edith could track her husband’s movements on a map of the Western Front.The Schwaben Redoubt, painting by William Orpen. Imperial War Museum, London
On 27 October 1916, as his battalion attacked Regina Trench, Tolkien contracted trench fever, a disease carried by the lice. He was invalided to England on 8 November 1916. Many of his dearest school friends were killed in the war. Among their number were Rob Gilson of the Tea Club and Barrovian Society, who was killed on the first day of the Somme while leading his men in the assault on Beaumont Hamel. Fellow T.C.B.S. member Geoffrey Smith was killed during the same battle when a German artillery shell landed on a first aid post. Tolkien’s battalion was almost completely wiped out following his return to England.A weak and emaciated Tolkien spent the remainder of the war alternating between hospitals and garrison duties, being deemed medically unfit for general service.

During his recovery in a cottage in Little Haywood, Staffordshire, he began to work on what he called The Book of Lost Tales, beginning with The Fall of Gondolin. Lost Tales represented Tolkien’s attempt to create a mythology for England, a project he would abandon without ever completing. Tolkien was promoted to the temporary rank of lieutenant on 6 January 1918. When he was stationed at Kingston upon Hull, he and Edith went walking in the woods at nearby Roos, and Edith began to dance for him in a clearing among the flowering hemlock. After his wife’s death in 1971, Tolkien remembered, I never called Edith Luthien—but she was the source of the story that in time became the chief part of the Silmarillion. It was first conceived in a small woodland glade filled with hemlocks at Roos in Yorkshire. In those days her hair was raven, her skin clear, her eyes brighter than you have seen them, and she could sing—and dance. But the story has gone crooked, & I am left, and I cannot plead before the inexorable Mandos. On 16 July 1919 Tolkien was officially demobilized, at Fovant, on Salisbury Plain, with a temporary disability pension.

On 3 November 1920, Tolkien was demobilized and left the army, retaining his rank of lieutenant. His first civilian job after World War I was at the Oxford English Dictionary, where he worked mainly on the history and etymology of words of Germanic origin beginning with the letter W. In 1920, he took up a post as reader in English language at the University of Leeds, becoming the youngest professor there. While at Leeds, he produced A Middle English Vocabulary and a definitive edition of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight with E. V. Gordon; both became academic standard works for several decades. He translated Sir Gawain, Pearl, and Sir Orfeo. In 1925, he returned to Oxford as Rawlinson and Bosworth Professor of Anglo-Saxon, with a fellowship at Pembroke College.
In mid-1919, he began to tutor undergraduates privately, most importantly those of Lady Margaret Hall and St Hugh’s College, given that the women’s colleges were in great need of good teachers in their early years, and Tolkien as a married professor (then still not common) was considered suitable, as a bachelor don would not have been. During his time at Pembroke College Tolkien wrote The Hobbit and the first two volumes of The Lord of the Rings. He also published a philological essay in 1932 on the name “Nodens”, following Sir Mortimer Wheeler’s unearthing of a Roman Asclepeion at Lydney Park, Gloucestershire, in 1928.

In the 1920s, Tolkien undertook a translation of Beowulf, which he finished in 1926, but did not publish. It was finally edited by his son and published in 2014, more than 40 years after Tolkien’s death and almost 90 years after its completion.
Ten years after finishing his translation, Tolkien gave a highly acclaimed lecture on the work, “Beowulf: The Monsters and the Critics”, which had a lasting influence on Beowulf research. Lewis E. Nicholson said that the article Tolkien wrote about Beowulf is “widely recognized as a turning point in Beowulfian criticism”, noting that Tolkien established the primacy of the poetic nature of the work as opposed to its purely linguistic elements. At the time, the consensus of scholarship deprecated Beowulf for dealing with childish battles with monsters rather than realistic tribal warfare; Tolkien argued that the author of Beowulf was addressing human destiny in general, not as limited by particular tribal politics, and therefore the monsters were essential to the poem. Where Beowulf does deal with specific tribal struggles, as at Finnsburg, Tolkien argued firmly against reading in fantastic elements. In the essay, Tolkien also revealed how highly he regarded Beowulf: “Beowulf is among my most valued sources”, and this influence may be seen throughout his Middle-earth legendarium. According to Humphrey Carpenter, Tolkien began his series of lectures on Beowulf in a most striking way, entering the room silently, fixing the audience with a look, and suddenly declaiming in Old English the opening lines of the poem, starting “with a great cry of Hwæt!” It was a dramatic impersonation of an Anglo-Saxon bard in a mead hall, and it made the students realize that Beowulf was not just a set text but “a powerful piece of dramatic poetry”.
Decades later, W. H. Auden wrote to his former professor, thanking him for the “unforgettable experience” of hearing him recite Beowulf, and stating “The voice was the voice of Gandalf”.

In the run-up to the Second World War, Tolkien was earmarked as a codebreaker. In January 1939, he was asked whether he would be prepared to serve in the cryptographic department of the Foreign Office in the event of national emergency. He replied in the affirmative and, beginning on 27 March, took an instructional course at the London HQ of the Government Code and Cypher School. In 1945, Tolkien moved to Merton College, Oxford, becoming the Merton Professor of English Language and Literature, in which post he remained until his retirement in 1959. He served as an external examiner for University College, Dublin, for many years. In 1954 Tolkien received an honorary degree from the National University of Ireland. Tolkien completed The Lord of the Rings in 1948, close to a decade after the first sketches.

During his life in retirement, from 1959 up to his death in 1973, Tolkien received steadily increasing public attention and literary fame. In 1961, his friend C. S. Lewis even nominated him for the Nobel Prize in Literature.The sales of his books were so profitable that he regretted that he had not chosen early retirement. In a 1972 letter, he deplored having become a cult-figure, but admitted that “even the nose of a very modest idol … cannot remain entirely untickled by the sweet smell of incense!”
Fan attention became so intense that Tolkien had to take his phone number out of the public directory, and eventually he and Edith moved to Bournemouth, which was then a seaside resort patronized by the British upper middle class. Tolkien’s status as a best-selling author gave them easy entry into polite society, but Tolkien deeply missed the company of his fellow Inklings. Edith, however, was overjoyed to step into the role of a society hostess, which had been the reason that Tolkien selected Bournemouth in the first place. The genuine and deep affection between Ronald and Edith was demonstrated by their care about the other’s health, in details like wrapping presents, in the generous way he gave up his life at Oxford so she could retire to Bournemouth, and in her pride in his becoming a famous author. They were tied together, too, by love for their 4 children and grandchildren.
In his retirement Tolkien was a consultant and translator for the Jerusalem Bible, published in 1966. He was initially assigned a larger portion to translate, but, due to other commitments, only managed to offer some criticisms of other contributors and a translation of the Book of Jonah.

Edith died on 29 November 1971, at the age of 82. Ronald returned to Oxford, where Merton College gave him convenient rooms near the High Street. He missed Edith, but enjoyed being back in the city. Tolkien died 21 months later on 2 September 1973 from a bleeding ulcer and chest infection, at the age of 81, he was buried in the same grave. God rest his soul..

Sources: Wikipedia, YouTube, poetpas

Featuring: Andy Kaufman

I came across this remarkable odd and funny character Latka Gravas whilst watching one of my favorite American comedy shows Taxi in the 80ties. Not until much later I realized he wasn’t just some oddball actor. Later I realized he had subconsciously affected me in the sense that being weird is ok. I recommend you watch Man on the Moon, a movie starring Jim Carrey (who else) which is a great and accurate version of Andy Kaufman. Such a shame he died at such an early age…

Andrew Geoffrey Kaufman (January 17, 1949 – May 16, 1984) was an American comedian, entertainer, actor, wrestler, and performance artist. While often called a comedian, Kaufman described himself instead as a “song and dance man”. He has sometimes been called an “anti-comedian”. He disdained telling jokes and engaging in comedy as it was traditionally understood, once saying in a rare introspective interview, “I am not a comic, I have never told a joke. … The comedian’s promise is that he will go out there and make you laugh with him… My only promise is that I will try to entertain you as best I can.”
After working in small comedy clubs in the early 1970s, Kaufman came to the attention of a wider audience in 1975, when he was invited to perform portions of his act on the first season of Saturday Night Live. His Foreign Man character was the basis of his performance as Latka Gravas on the hit television show Taxi from 1978 until 1983. During this time, he continued to tour comedy clubs and theaters in a series of unique performance art / comedy shows, sometimes appearing as himself and sometimes as obnoxiously rude lounge singer Tony Clifton. He was also a frequent guest on sketch comedy and late-night talk shows, particularly Late Night with David Letterman. In 1982, Kaufman brought his professional wrestling villain act to Letterman’s show by way of a staged encounter with Jerry “The King” Lawler of the Continental Wrestling Association.
Kaufman died of lung cancer in 1984, at the age of 35. Because pranks and elaborate ruses were major elements of his career, persistent rumors have circulated that Kaufman faked his own death as a grand hoax. He continues to be respected for the variety of his characters, his uniquely counterintuitive approach to comedy, and his willingness to provoke negative and confused reactions from audiences.

Kaufman was born on January 17, 1949, in New York City, the oldest of three children. Andy, along with his younger brother Michael and sister Carol, grew up in a middle-class Jewish family in Great Neck, Long Island. He began performing at children’s birthday parties at age 9, playing records and showing cartoons. Kaufman spent much of his youth writing poetry and stories, including an unpublished novel, The Hollering Mangoo, which he completed at age 16. Following a visit to his school from Nigerian musician Babatunde Olatunji, Kaufman began playing the congas.
After graduating from Great Neck North High School in 1967, Kaufman took a year off before enrolling at the now defunct two-year Grahm Junior College in Boston, where he studied television production and starred in his own campus television show, Uncle Andy’s Fun House. In August 1969, he hitchhiked to Las Vegas to meet Elvis Presley, showing up unannounced at the International Hotel. Soon after, he began performing at coffee houses and developing his act, as well as writing a one-man play, Gosh (later renamed God and published in 2000). After graduating in 1971, he began performing stand-up comedy at various small clubs on the East Coast.

Kaufman first received major attention for his character Foreign Man, who spoke in a meek, high-pitched, heavy-accented voice and claimed to be from “Caspiar”, a fictional island in the Caspian Sea. It was as this character that Kaufman convinced the owner of the famed New York City comedy club The Improv, Budd Friedman, to allow him to perform on stage.
As Foreign Man, Kaufman would appear on the stage of comedy clubs, play a recording of the theme from the Mighty Mouse cartoon show while standing perfectly still, and lip-sync only the line “Here I come to save the day” with great enthusiasm. He would proceed to tell a few (purposely poor) jokes and conclude his act with a series of celebrity impersonations, with the comedy arising from the character’s obvious ineptitude at impersonation. For example, in his fake accent Kaufman would say to the audience, “I would like to imitate Meester Carter, de president of de United States” and then, in exactly the same voice, say “Hello, I am Meester Carter, de president of de United States. T’ank you veddy much.” At some point in the performance, usually when the audience was conditioned to Foreign Man’s inability to perform a single convincing impression, Foreign Man would announce, “And now I would like to imitate the Elvis Presley,” turn around, take off his jacket, slick his hair back, and launch into a rousing, hip-shaking rendition of Presley singing one of his hit songs. Like Presley, he would take off his leather jacket during the song and throw it into the audience, but unlike Presley, Foreign Man would immediately ask for it to be returned. After the song’s finale, he would take a simple bow and say in his Foreign Man voice, “T’ank you veddy much.”

Kaufman first used his Foreign Man character in nightclubs in the early 1970s, often to tell jokes incorrectly and do weak imitations of famous people before bursting into his Elvis Presley imitation. The character was then changed into Latka Gravas for ABC’s sitcom Taxi, appearing in 79 of 114 episodes in 1978–83. Bob Zmuda confirms this: “They basically were buying Andy’s Foreign Man character for the Taxi character Latka.” Kaufman’s longtime manager George Shapiro encouraged him to take the gig. Kaufman disliked sitcoms and was not happy with the idea of being in one, but Shapiro convinced him that it would quickly lead to stardom, which would earn him money he could then put into his own act. Kaufman agreed to appear in 14 episodes per season, and initially wanted four for Kaufman’s alter ego Tony Clifton. After Kaufman deliberately sabotaged Clifton’s appearance on the show, however, that part of his contract was dropped. His character was given multiple personality disorder, which allowed Kaufman to randomly portray other characters. In one episode of Taxi, Kaufman’s character came down with a condition that made him act like Alex Rieger, the main character played by Judd Hirsch. Another such recurring character played by Kaufman was the womanizing Vic Ferrari.
Sam Simon, who early in his career was a writer and later showrunner for Taxi, stated in a 2013 interview on Marc Maron’s WTF podcast that the story of Kaufman having been generally disruptive on the show was “a complete fiction” largely created by Zmuda. Simon maintained that Zmuda has a vested interest in promoting an out-of-control image of Kaufman. In the interview Simon stated that Kaufman was “completely professional” and that he “told you Tony Clifton was him”, but he also conceded that Kaufman would have “loved” Zmuda’s version of events.
Kaufman was nominated for the Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actor in a Series, Limited Series, or Motion Picture Made for Television for Taxi in 1979 and 1981.

Another well-known Kaufman character is Tony Clifton, an absurd, audience-abusing lounge singer who began opening for Kaufman at comedy clubs and eventually even performed concerts on his own around the country. Sometimes it was Kaufman performing as Clifton, sometimes it was his brother Michael or Zmuda. For a brief time, it was unclear to some that Clifton was not a real person. News programs interviewed Clifton as Kaufman’s opening act, with the mood turning ugly whenever Kaufman’s name came up. Kaufman, Clifton insisted, was attempting to ruin Clifton’s “good name” in order to make money and become famous.
As a requirement for Kaufman’s accepting the offer to star on Taxi, he insisted that Clifton be hired for a guest role on the show as if he were a real person, not a character. After throwing a tantrum on the set, Clifton was fired and escorted from the studio lot by security guards. Much to Kaufman’s delight, this incident was reported in the local newspapers.

At the beginning of an April 1979 performance at New York’s Carnegie Hall, Kaufman invited his “grandmother” to watch the show from a chair he had placed at the side of the stage. At the end of the show, she stood up, took her mask off and revealed to the audience that she was actually comedian Robin Williams in disguise.
Kaufman also had an elderly woman (Eleanor Cody Gould) pretend to have a heart attack and die on stage, at which point he reappeared on stage wearing a Native American headdress and performed a dance over her body, “reviving” her.
The performance is most famous for Kaufman’s ending the show by taking the entire audience, in 24 buses, out for milk and cookies. He invited anyone interested to meet him on the Staten Island Ferry the next morning, where the show continued.

The Taxi deal with ABC included giving Kaufman a television special/pilot. He came up with Andy’s Funhouse, based on an old routine he had developed while in junior college. The special was taped in 1977 but did not air until August 1979. It featured most of Andy’s famous gags, including Foreign Man/Latka and his Elvis Presley impersonation, as well as a host of unique segments. There was also a segment that included fake television screen static as part of the gag, which ABC executives were not comfortable with, fearing that viewers would mistake the static for broadcast problems and would change the channel—which was the comic element Kaufman wanted to present.[38] Andy’s Funhouse was written by Kaufman, Zmuda, and Mel Sherer, with music by Kaufman.

In 1981, Kaufman made three appearances on Fridays, a variety show on ABC that was similar to Saturday Night Live. In his first appearance, during a sketch about four people out on a dinner date who excuse themselves to the restroom to smoke marijuana, Kaufman broke character and refused to say his lines.
In response, cast member Michael Richards walked off camera and returned with a set of cue cards and dumped them on the table in front of Kaufman, who responded by splashing Richards with water. Co-producer Jack Burns stormed onto the stage, leading to a brawl on camera before the show abruptly cut away to a commercial.
Richards has claimed that this incident was a staged practical joke that was known only to him, associate producer Burns, and Kaufman, but Melanie Chartoff, who played Kaufman’s wife in the sketch, has stated that, just before airtime, Burns told her, Maryedith Burrell, and Richards that Kaufman was going to break the fourth wall.
Kaufman appeared the following week in a videotaped apology to the home viewers. Later that year, Kaufman returned to host Fridays. At one point in the show, he invited a Lawrence Welk Show gospel and standards singer, Kathie Sullivan, on stage to sing a few gospel songs with him and announced that the two were engaged to be married, then talked to the audience about his newfound faith in Jesus (Kaufman was Jewish). That was also a hoax. Later, following a sketch about a drug-abusing pharmacist, Kaufman was supposed to introduce the band The Pretenders. Instead of introducing the band, he delivered a nervous speech about the harmfulness of drugs, while the band stood behind him ready to play. After his speech, he informed the audience that he had talked for too long and had to go to a commercial.

At some point Kaufman began wrestling women and proclaimed himself “Intergender Wrestling Champion of the World”, taking on an aggressive and ridiculous personality based on the characters invented by professional wrestlers. He offered a $1,000 prize to any woman who could pin him. He employed performance artist Laurie Anderson, a friend of his, in this act for a while.

Kaufman for a time in the 1970s, acting as a sort of “straight man” in a number of his Manhattan and Coney Island performances. One of these performances included getting on a ride that people stand in and get spun around. After everyone was strapped in, Kaufman would start saying how he did not want to be on the ride in a panicked tone and eventually cry.

Kaufman never married. His daughter, Maria Bellu-Colonna (born 1969), was the child of an out-of-wedlock relationship with a high-school girlfriend and was placed for adoption. Bellu-Colonna learned in 1992 that she was Kaufman’s daughter when she traced her biological roots by winning a petition of the State of New York for her biological mother’s surname. She soon reunited with her mother, grandfather, uncle, and aunt. Bellu-Colonna’s daughter, Brittany, briefly appeared in Man on the Moon, playing Kaufman’s sister Carol as a young child.
In December 1969, Kaufman learned Transcendental Meditation at college. According to a BBC article, he used the technique “to build confidence and take his act to comedy clubs”. For the rest of his life, Kaufman meditated and performed yoga three hours a day. From February to June 1971, he trained as a teacher of transcendental meditation in Majorca, Spain.
Lynne Margulies, who met Kaufman during the filming of My Breakfast with Blassie, was in a relationship with Kaufman from 1982 until 1984.

At Thanksgiving dinner on Long Island in November 1983, several family members openly expressed worry about Kaufman’s persistent coughing. He claimed that he had been coughing for nearly a month, visited his doctor, and been told that nothing was wrong. When he returned to Los Angeles, he consulted another physician, and then checked himself into Cedars-Sinai Medical Center for a series of medical tests. A few days later, he was diagnosed with large-cell carcinoma, a rare type of lung cancer.

After audiences were shocked by his gaunt appearance during January 1984 performances, Kaufman acknowledged that he had an unspecified illness that he hoped to cure with natural medicine, including a diet of all fruits and vegetables, among other measures. Kaufman received palliative radiotherapy, but by then the cancer had spread from his lungs to his brain. His final public appearance was at the premiere of My Breakfast With Blassie in March 1984, where he appeared thin and sported a mohawk (radiation treatments made his hair fall out). The following day, he and Lynne Margulies flew to Baguio, Philippines, where as a last resort, Kaufman received treatments of a pseudoscientific procedure called psychic surgery.
Kaufman died at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles on May 16, 1984, at the age of 35.

Kaufman often spoke of faking his own death as a grand hoax, with rumors persisting, often fueled by sporadic appearances of Kaufman’s character Tony Clifton at comedy clubs after his death. Kaufman’s official website describes the faked death story as an “urban legend” and includes a picture of his death certificate.
“Clifton” performed a year after Kaufman’s death at The Comedy Store benefit in Kaufman’s honor, with members of his entourage in attendance, and during the 1990s made several appearances at Los Angeles nightclubs. Jim Carrey, who portrayed Kaufman in Man on the Moon, stated on the NBC special Comedy Salute to Andy Kaufman that the person doing the Clifton character was Bob Zmuda.
In 2013, responding to rumors following the appearance of an actress who claimed to be Kaufman’s daughter and that he was still alive, Los Angeles County Coroner’s office re-released Kaufman’s death certificate to confirm he was indeed deceased and buried at Beth David Cemetery.
In 2014, Zmuda and Lynne Margulies, Kaufman’s girlfriend at the time of his death, co authored Andy Kaufman: The Truth, Finally, a book claiming that Kaufman’s death was indeed a prank, and that he would soon be revealing himself, as his upper limit on the “prank” was 30 years.

Check him out(or not):

Sources: Wikipedia, YouTube, interweb, poetpas

Featuring: George Best

Today my tribute is to one of the Best footballers of all time. George Best was also a very flamboyant character outside the pitch. I’ve never seen a football player that was so talented in both sports and drinking.

George Best (22 May 1946 – 25 November 2005) was a Northern Irish professional footballer who played as a winger, spending most of his club career at Manchester United. A highly skillful dribbler, Best is regarded as one of the greatest players of all time. He was named European Footballer of the Year in 1968 and came sixth in the FIFA Player of the Century vote. Best received plaudits for his playing style, which combined pace, skill, balance, feints, two-footedness, goalscoring and the ability to get past defenders.
In international football, Best was capped 37 times for Northern Ireland between 1964 and 1977. A combination of the team’s performance and his lack of fitness in 1982 meant that he never played in the finals of a major tournament. He considered his international career as being “recreational football”, with the expectations placed on a smaller nation in Northern Ireland being much less than with his club. He is regarded as one of the greatest players never to have played at a World Cup. The Irish Football Association described him as the “greatest player to ever pull on the green shirt of Northern Ireland”.

With his good looks and playboy lifestyle, Best became one of the first media celebrity footballers, earning the nickname “El Beatle” in 1966, but his extravagant lifestyle led to various personal problems, most notably alcoholism, which he suffered from for the rest of his life. These issues affected him on and off the field, often causing controversy. Although conscious of his problems, he was publicly not contrite about them; he said of his career: “I spent a lot of money on booze, women and fast cars – the rest I just squandered”. After football, he spent some time as a football analyst, but his financial and health problems continued into his retirement. He died in 2005, age 59, due to complications from the immunosuppressive drugs he needed to take after a liver transplant in 2002.

A highly skilful winger, considered by several pundits to be one of the greatest dribblers in the history of the sport, Best received plaudits for his playing style, which combined pace, skill, balance, feints, two-footedness, goalscoring and the ability to get past defenders. Recalling Best’s career and style of play, Patrick Barclay said: “In terms of ability he was the world’s best footballer of all time. He could do almost anything – technically, speed, complete mastery of not only the ball but his own body. You could saw his legs away and he still wouldn’t fall because his balance was uncanny, almost supernatural. Heading ability, passing ability, I mean it goes without saying the dribbling – he could beat anybody in any way he chose. For fun he’d play a one-two off the opponent’s shins.”
“People were transfixed, bewitched and delighted by the impish, cheeky skills of Best that invariably brought a smile to all except the defenders who had to face him.”
— BBC journalist John May in an article titled, “Was Georgie the Best?”.

Although Best was mostly renowned for his dribbling skills, he has also drew praise for his ability as a creator; in regard to this ability, Tony Dove commented: “I only had the opportunity to see George play once in person – Man U played a tour game in Auckland, New Zealand, late in the 60s. His brilliance was simply dazzling – player after player from the New Zealand national team queued up to try to tackle him and he gave them all dancing lessons. I clearly remember one run, starting almost from the goal-line, from a roll-out by Stepney, when he evaded every player in the NZ team, one after the other, until he reached the opposite end of the pitch and produced a perfectly floated centre for Charlton’s head. His grace, agility and ball skills were only eclipsed by his unselfish passing – many love to remark on his goal scoring but he was prodigious as the set-up man. On the field you couldn’t ask for a better football role-model. Let the man pass with what dignity remains to him. Remember him at his best.”
In an interview Alex Stepney said, “Best would knock the ball on to the goalkeeper’s shin, who would be rushing towards his feet to close down the angle, and the ball would bounce back to him and he would score. No one has been able to emulate that in football. Not only did he do it in training but he did it against Manchester United’s arch rivals Liverpool at Anfield.”

Best was discovered at 15 years old by Manchester United and played there from 1963 to 1974. Best scored a total of 178 goals in his 466 career games with Manchester United. After that he played for other clubs in England, the US and in Australia. Best was capped 37 times for Northern Ireland, scoring nine goals. Largely surrounded by teammates of lesser ability with Northern Ireland than with his club and lower expectations as a result, Best considered his international career as being “recreational football”.

During his early years at Old Trafford, Best was a shy teenager who passed his free time in snooker halls. However, he later became known for his long hair, good looks and extravagant celebrity lifestyle, and appeared on Top of the Pops in 1965. He opened a nightclub called in Manchester in 1973 and owned restaurants and fashion boutiques.

In 1969 I gave up women and alcohol—it was the worst 20 minutes of my life.
— Best quips on his lifestyle.

Best married Angela MacDonald-Janes in 1978. Their son, Calum, was born in 1981, but they separated the following year and divorced in 1986. He married Alex Pursey in 1995. They divorced in 2005 with no children.

In 2007, GQ magazine named him as one of the 50 most stylish men of the past 50 years. When Best played football, salaries were a fraction of what top players earn today, but, with his pop star image and celebrity status, Best still earned a fortune. He lost almost all of it. When asked what happened to the money he had earned,
Best quipped: “I spent a lot of money on booze, birds (women) and fast cars. The rest I just squandered.”

Best suffered from alcoholism for most of his adult life, leading to numerous controversies and, eventually, his death. In 1981, while playing in the United States, Best stole money from the handbag of a woman he did not know in order to fund a drinking session. “We were sitting in a bar on the beach, and when she got up to go to the toilet I leaned over and took all the money she had in her bag.” In 1984, Best received a three-month prison sentence for drunk driving, assaulting a police officer and failing to answer bail. He spent Christmas of 1984 behind bars at Ford Open Prison. Contrary to popular belief and urban legend he never played football for the prison team. In September 1990, Best appeared on the primetime BBC chat show Wogan in which he was heavily drunk and swore, at one point saying to the host, “Terry, I like screwing”. He later apologised and said this was one of the worst episodes of his alcoholism.

Best was diagnosed with severe liver damage in March 2000. His liver was said to be functioning at only 20%. In August 2002, he had a successful liver transplant. He haemorrhaged so badly during the operation that he nearly died. The transplant was performed at public expense on the NHS, a decision which was controversial due to Best’s alcoholism. The controversy was reignited in 2003 when he was spotted openly drinking white wine spritzers.On 2 February 2004, Best was convicted of another drink-driving offence and banned from driving for 20 months.

Best continued to drink, and was sometimes seen at his local pub in Surbiton, London. On 3 October 2005, he was admitted at the private Cromwell Hospital in London, suffering from a kidney infection caused by the side effects of immuno-suppressive drugs used to prevent his body from rejecting his transplanted liver. On 27 October, newspapers stated that Best was close to death and had sent a farewell message to his loved ones. Close friends in the game visited his bedside to make their farewells, including Rodney Marsh, and the two other members of the “United Trinity”, Bobby Charlton and Denis Law. On 20 November, the British tabloid News of the World published a picture of Best (at his own request) showing him in his hospital bed with jaundice, along with a warning about the dangers of alcohol with his message: “Don’t die like me”. In the early hours of 25 November 2005, treatment was stopped; later that day he died, aged 59, as a result of a lung infection and multiple organ failure.

Tributes were paid to Best from around the world, including from arguably three of the greatest football players ever, Pelé, Diego Maradona and Johan Cruyff. Maradona commented: “George inspired me when I was young. He was flamboyant and exciting and able to inspire his teammates. I actually think we were very similar players – dribblers who were able to create moments of magic.” Fellow Manchester United legend Eric Cantona gave a eulogy to Best: “I would love him to save me a place in his team, George Best that is, not God.”

He was simply the Best!

Check him out (or not):

Sources: Wikipedia, YouTube, interweb, poetpas

Featuring: Charles Bukowski

By chance and coincidence, after watching the movie Barfly, I learned that the story was based on the life of Charles “Hank” Bukowski. I started to get interested when I read some of his poetry and became a fan of his writing. Alcohol seemed to be the fuel and inspiration for most of his works. His poetry has always inspired and motivated me and has definitely had a big influence on the way that I write.

Henry Charles Bukowski (born Heinrich Karl Bukowski; August 16, 1920 – March 9, 1994) was a German-American poet, novelist, and short story writer.
His writing was influenced by the social, cultural, and economic ambiance of his home city of Los Angeles. His work addresses the ordinary lives of poor Americans, the act of writing, alcohol, relationships with women, and the drudgery of work. Bukowski wrote thousands of poems, hundreds of short stories and six novels, eventually publishing over 60 books. The FBI kept a file on him as a result of his column Notes of a Dirty Old Man in the LA underground newspaper Open City.
Bukowski published extensively in small literary magazines and with small presses beginning in the early 1940s and continuing on through the early 1990s. As noted by one reviewer, “Bukowski continued to be, thanks to his antics and deliberate clownish performances, the king of the underground and the epitome of the littles in the ensuing decades, stressing his loyalty to those small press editors who had first championed his work and consolidating his presence in new ventures such as the New York Quarterly, Chiron Review, or Slipstream.” Some of these works include his Poems Written Before Jumping Out of an 8 Story Window, published by his friend and fellow poet Charles Potts, and better known works such as Burning in Water, Drowning in Flame. These poems and stories were later republished by John Martin’s Black Sparrow Press as collected volumes of his work.
In 1986 Time called Bukowski a “laureate of American lowlife”. Regarding Bukowski’s enduring popular appeal, Adam Kirsch of The New Yorker wrote, “the secret of Bukowski’s appeal … [is that] he combines the confessional poet’s promise of intimacy with the larger-than-life aplomb of a pulp-fiction hero.”
Since his death in 1994, Bukowski has been the subject of a number of critical articles and books about both his life and writings, despite his work having received relatively little attention from academic critics in the United States during his lifetime. In contrast, Bukowski enjoyed extraordinary fame in Europe, especially in Germany, the place of his birth.

Charles’ father Henry Bukowski was German-American and a sergeant in the United States Army serving in Germany after Germany’s defeat in 1918. Afterwards, Henry Bukowski became a building contractor, set to make great financial gains in the aftermath of the war. However, given the crippling postwar reparations being required of Germany, which led to a stagnant economy and high levels of inflation, Henry Bukowski was unable to make a living, so he decided to move the family to the United States. On April 23, 1923, they sailed from Bremerhaven to Baltimore, Maryland, where they settled.
The family moved to Mid-City, Los Angeles, USA in 1930, the city where Charles Bukowski’s father and grandfather had previously worked and lived. Young Charles spoke English with a strong German accent and was taunted by his childhood playmates with the epithet “Heini,” German diminutive of Heinrich, in his early youth. In the 1930s, the poet’s father was often unemployed. In the autobiographical Ham on Rye, Charles Bukowski says that, with his mother’s acquiescence, his father was frequently abusive, both physically and mentally, beating his son for the smallest imagined offense. During his youth, Bukowski was shy and socially withdrawn, a condition exacerbated during his teen years by an extreme case of acne. Neighborhood children ridiculed his German accent and the clothing his parents made him wear. In Bukowski: Born Into This, a 2003 film, Bukowski states that his father beat him with a razor strop three times a week from the ages of six to 11 years. He says that it helped his writing, as he came to understand undeserved pain. The depression bolstered his rage as he grew, and gave him much of his voice and material for his writings.
In his early teen years, Bukowski had an epiphany when he was introduced to alcohol by his loyal friend William “Baldy” Mullinax, depicted as “Eli LaCrosse” in Ham on Rye, son of an alcoholic surgeon. “This [alcohol] is going to help me for a very long time,” he later wrote, describing a method (drinking) he could use to come to more amicable terms with his own life. After graduating from Los Angeles High School, Bukowski attended Los Angeles City College for two years, taking courses in art, journalism, and literature, before quitting at the start of World War II. He then moved to New York to begin a career as a financially pinched blue-collar worker with dreams of becoming a writer.

By 1960, Bukowski had returned to the post office in Los Angeles where he began work as a letter filing clerk, a position he held for more than a decade. In 1962, he was distraught over the death of Jane Cooney Baker, his first serious girlfriend. Bukowski turned his inner devastation into a series of poems and stories lamenting her death. In 1964 a daughter, Marina Louise Bukowski, was born to Bukowski and his live-in girlfriend Frances Smith, whom he referred to as a “white-haired hippie”, “shack-job”, and “old snaggle-tooth”.
E.V. Griffith, editor of Hearse Press, published Bukowski’s first separately printed publication, a broadside titled “His Wife, the Painter,” in June 1960. This event was followed by Hearse Press’s publication of “Flower, Fist and Bestial Wail,” Bukowski’s first chapbook of poems, in October, 1960.

In 1969 Bukowski accepted an offer from legendary Black Sparrow Press publisher John Martin and quit his post office job to dedicate himself to full-time writing. He was then 49 years old. As he explained in a letter at the time, “I have one of two choices – stay in the post office and go crazy … or stay out here and play at writer and starve. I have decided to starve.” Less than one month after leaving the postal service he finished his first novel, Post Office. As a measure of respect for Martin’s financial support and faith in a relatively unknown writer, Bukowski published almost all of his subsequent major works with Black Sparrow Press, which became a highly successful enterprise owing to Martin’s business acumen and editorial skills. An avid supporter of small independent presses, Bukowski continued to submit poems and short stories to innumerable small publications throughout his career.
Bukowski embarked on a series of love affairs and one-night trysts. One of these relationships was with Linda King, a poet and sculptress. Critic Robert Peters reported seeing the poet as actor in Linda King’s play Only a Tenant, in which she and Bukowski stage-read the first act at the Pasadena Museum of the Artist. This was a one-off performance of what was a shambolic work. His other affairs were with a recording executive and a twenty-three-year-old redhead; he wrote a book of poetry as a tribute to his love for the latter, titled, “Scarlet” (Black Sparrow Press, 1976). His various affairs and relationships provided material for his stories and poems. Another important relationship was with “Tanya”, pseudonym of “Amber O’Neil” (also a pseudonym), described in Bukowski’s “Women” as a pen-pal that evolved into a week-end tryst at Bukowski’s residence in Los Angeles in the 1970s. “Amber O’Neil” later self-published a chapbook about the affair entitled “Blowing My Hero”.
In 1976, Bukowski met Linda Lee Beighle, a health food restaurant owner, rock-and-roll groupie, aspiring actress, heiress to a small Philadelphia “Main Line” fortune and devotee of Meher Baba. Two years later Bukowski moved from the East Hollywood area, where he had lived for most of his life, to the harborside community of San Pedro, the southernmost district of the City of Los Angeles. Beighle followed him and they lived together intermittently over the next two years. They were eventually married by Manly Palmer Hall, a Canadian-born author, mystic, and spiritual teacher in 1985. Beighle is referred to as “Sara” in Bukowski’s novels Women and Hollywood.
In May, 1978, he returned to Germany and gave a live poetry reading of his work before an audience in Hamburg. This was released as a double 12″ L.P. stereo record titled “CHARLES BUKOWSKI ‘Hello. It’s good to be back.'” His last international performance was in October 1979 in Vancouver, British Columbia. It was released on DVD as There’s Gonna Be a God Damn Riot in Here. In March 1980 he gave his last reading at the Sweetwater club in Redondo Beach, which was released as Hostage on audio CD and The Last Straw on DVD. In 2010 the unedited versions of both The Last Straw and Riot were released as One Tough Mother on DVD.
In the 1980s and 1990s, cartoonist Robert Crumb illustrated a number of Bukowski’s stories, including the collection The Captain Is Out to Lunch and the Sailors Have Taken Over the Ship and the story “Bring Me Your Love.”
In the 1980s, he collaborated with illustrator Robert Crumb on a series of comic books, with Bukowski supplying the writing and Crumb providing the artwork.
Bukowski has been published in Beloit Poetry Journal.

Bukowski died of leukemia on March 9, 1994, in San Pedro, aged 73, shortly after completing his last novel, Pulp. The funeral rites, orchestrated by his widow, were conducted by Buddhist monks. He is interred at Green Hills Memorial Park in Rancho Palos Verdes. An account of the proceedings can be found in Gerald Locklin’s book Charles Bukowski: A Sure Bet. His gravestone reads: “Don’t Try”, a phrase which Bukowski uses in one of his poems, advising aspiring writers and poets about inspiration and creativity. Bukowski explained the phrase in a 1963 letter to John William Corrington: “Somebody at one of these places […] asked me: ‘What do you do? How do you write, create?’ You don’t, I told them. You don’t try. That’s very important: not to try, either for Cadillacs, creation or immortality. You wait, and if nothing happens, you wait some more. It’s like a bug high on the wall. You wait for it to come to you. When it gets close enough you reach out, slap out and kill it. Or, if you like its looks, you make a pet out of it.”
Bukowski was an atheist.

Bukowski’s work was subject to controversy throughout his career, and Hugh Fox claimed that his sexism in poetry, at least in part, translated into his life. In 1969, Fox published the first critical study of Bukowski in The North American Review, and mentioned Bukowski’s attitude toward women: “When women are around, he has to play Man. In a way it’s the same kind of ‘pose’ he plays at in his poetry—Bogart, Eric Von Stroheim. Whenever my wife Lucia would come with me to visit him he’d play the Man role, but one night she couldn’t come I got to Buk’s place and found a whole different guy—easy to get along with, relaxed, accessible.”
In June 2006, Bukowski’s literary archive was donated by his widow to the Huntington Library in San Marino, California. Copies of all editions of his work published by the Black Sparrow Press are held at Western Michigan University, which purchased the archive of the publishing house after its closure in 2003.
Ecco Press continues to release new collections of his poetry, culled from the thousands of works published in small literary magazines. According to Ecco Press, the 2007 release The People Look Like Flowers at Last will be his final posthumous release, as now all his once-unpublished work has been made available.

Bukowski often spoke of Los Angeles as his favorite subject. In a 1974 interview he said, “You live in a town all your life, and you get to know every bitch on the street corner and half of them you have already messed around with. You’ve got the layout of the whole land. You have a picture of where you are…. Since I was raised in L.A., I’ve always had the geographical and spiritual feeling of being here. I’ve had time to learn this city. I can’t see any other place than L.A.”
Bukowski also performed live readings of his works, beginning in 1962 on radio station KPFK in Los Angeles and increasing in frequency through the 1970s. Drinking was often a featured part of the readings, along with a combative banter with the audience. Bukowski could also be generous, for example, after a sold-out show at Amazingrace Coffeehouse in Evanston, Illinois on Nov. 18, 1975, he signed and illustrated over 100 copies of his poem “Winter,” published by No Mountains Poetry Project. By the late 1970s, Bukowski’s income was sufficient to give up live readings.
One critic has described Bukowski’s fiction as a “detailed depiction of a certain taboo male fantasy: the uninhibited bachelor, slobby, anti-social, and utterly free”, an image he tried to live up to with sometimes riotous public poetry readings and boorish party behavior.A few critics and commentators also supported the idea that Bukowski was a cynic, as a man and a writer. Bukowski denied being a cynic, stating: “I’ve always been accused of being a cynic. I think cynicism is sour grapes. I think cynicism is a weakness.”

Over half of Bukowski’s collections have been published posthumously. Posthumous collections have been known to have been ‘John Martinized’, with the poems having been highly tampered and edited, at a level which was not present during Bukowski’s lifetime.
One example of a popular poem, “Roll the Dice” (when comparing the original manuscript to “What Matters Most is How Well You Walk Through the Fire”), themes such as alcoholism are removed. The creative editing present includes changing lines from “against total rejection and the highest of odds” to “despite rejection and the worst odds”.

Check him out(or not):

Sources: Wikipedia, YouTube, interweb, poetpas

Featuring: Laurel & Hardy

Nothing amuses and amazes me more than one of the best comic couples of all times, Laurel & Hardy. These great kind souls brought me so much joy and laughter and inspiration over the years, and still do. For me they are the ultimate and perfect yin and yang of comedy.

Laurel and Hardy were a comedy duo act during the early Classical Hollywood era of American cinema. The team was composed of Englishman Stan Laurel and American Oliver Hardy. They became well known during the late 1920s to the mid-1940s for their slapstick comedy, with Laurel playing the clumsy and childlike friend of the pompous bully Hardy.

Prior to emerging as a team, both actors had well-established film careers. Laurel had appeared in over 50 films as an actor (while also working as a writer and director), while Hardy had been in more than 250 productions. The two comedians had previously worked together as cast members on the film The Lucky Dog in 1921. However, they were not a comedy team at that time and it was not until 1926 that they appeared in a short movie together, when both separately signed contracts with the Hal Roach film studio. Laurel and Hardy officially became a team in 1927 when they appeared together in the silent short film Putting Pants on Philip. They remained with the Roach studio until 1940 and then appeared in eight comedies for 20th Century Fox and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer from 1941 to 1945. After finishing their movie commitments at the end of 1944, they concentrated on performing in stage shows and embarked on a music hall tour of England, Ireland, and Scotland. They made their last film in 1950, a French-Italian co-production called Atoll K. They appeared as a team in 107 films, starring in 32 short silent films, 40 short sound films, and 23 full-length feature films.

Stan Laurel

Stan Laurel (June 16, 1890 – February 23, 1965) was born Arthur Stanley Jefferson in Ulverston, Lancashire, England into a theatrical family. His father was a theatrical entrepreneur and theatre owner in northern England and Scotland who, with his wife, was a major force in the industry. In 1905, the Jefferson family moved to Glasgow to be closer to their business mainstay of the Metropole Theatre, and Laurel made his stage debut in a Glasgow hall called the Britannia Panopticon one month short of his 16th birthday. His father secured Laurel his first acting job with the juvenile theatrical company of Levy and Cardwell, which specialized in Christmas pantomimes. In 1909, Laurel was employed by Britain’s leading comedy impresario Fred Karno as a supporting actor, and as an understudy for Charlie Chaplin. Laurel said of Karno, “There was no one like him. He had no equal. His name was box-office.”
In 1912, Laurel left England with the Fred Karno Troupe to tour the United States. Laurel had expected the tour to be merely a pleasant interval before returning to London; however, he decided to remain in the U.S. In 1917, Laurel was teamed with Mae Dahlberg as a double act for stage and film; they were living as common law husband and wife. The same year, Laurel made his film debut with Dahlberg in Nuts in May. While working with Mae, he began using the name “Stan Laurel” and changed his name legally in 1931. Dahlberg demanded roles in his films, and her tempestuous nature made her difficult to work with. Dressing room arguments were common between the two; it was reported that producer Joe Rock paid her to leave Laurel and to return to her native Australia. In 1925, Laurel joined the Hal Roach film studio as a director and writer. From May 1925 until September 1926, he received credit in at least 22 films. Laurel appeared in over 50 films for various producers before teaming up with Hardy. Prior to that, he experienced only modest success. It was difficult for producers, writers, and directors to write for his character, with American audiences knowing him either as a “nutty burglar” or as a Charlie Chaplin imitator.

Oliver Hardy

Oliver Hardy (January 18, 1892 – August 7, 1957) was born Norvell Hardy in Harlem, Georgia. By his late teens, Hardy was a popular stage singer and he operated a movie house in Milledgeville, Georgia, the Palace Theater, financed in part by his mother. For his stage name he took his father’s first name, calling himself “Oliver Norvell Hardy”, while offscreen his nicknames were “Ollie” and “Babe”. The nickname “Babe” originated from an Italian barber near the Lubin Studios in Jacksonville, Florida, who would rub Hardy’s face with talcum powder and say “That’s nice-a baby!” Other actors in the Lubin company mimicked this, and Hardy was billed as “Babe Hardy” in his early films.
Seeing film comedies inspired him to take up comedy himself and, in 1913, he began working with Lubin Motion Pictures in Jacksonville. He started by helping around the studio with lights, props, and other duties, gradually learning the craft as a script-clerk for the company. It was around this time that Hardy married his first wife, Madelyn Salosihn. In 1914, Hardy was billed as “Babe Hardy” in his first film, Outwitting Dad. Between 1914 and 1916 Hardy made 177 shorts as Babe with the Vim Comedy Company, which were released up to the end of 1917. Exhibiting versatility in playing heroes, villains and even female characters, Hardy was in demand for roles as a supporting actor, comic villain or second banana. For 10 years he memorably assisted star comic and Charlie Chaplin imitator Billy West, Jimmy Aubrey, Larry Semon, and Charley Chase. In total, Hardy starred or co-starred in more than 250 silent shorts, of which roughly 150 have been lost. He was rejected for enlistment by the Army during World War I due to his size. In 1917, after the collapse of the Florida film industry, Hardy and his wife Madelyn moved to California to seek new opportunities.

Laurel and Hardy

Hal Roach has described how the two actors came together as a team. First, Hardy had already been working for Roach when Roach hired Laurel, whom he had seen in vaudeville. Laurel had very light blue eyes, and Roach discovered that, due to the technology of film at that time, Laurel’s eyes wouldn’t photograph properly — blue photographed as white. This problem is apparent in their first silent film together, The Lucky Dog, in which an attempt was made to compensate for the problem by making-up Laurel’s eyes very heavily. For about a year, Roach had Laurel work at the studio as a writer. Then panchromatic film was developed, they did a test for Laurel, and found that the problem was solved. Laurel and Hardy were then put together in a film, and the two seemed to complement each other. Usually comedy teams were composed of a straight man and a funny man, but these two were both comedians; however, they both knew how to play the straight man when the script needed it. Roach said, “You could always cut to a close-up of either one, and their reaction was good for another laugh.”

The humor of Laurel and Hardy was highly visual, with slapstick used for emphasis. They often had physical arguments with each other (in character), which were quite complex and involved cartoon violence, and their characters precluded them from making any real progress in the simplest endeavors. Much of their comedy involves milking a joke, where a simple idea provides a basis from which to build multiple gags without following a defined narrative.
Stan Laurel was of average height and weight, but appeared small and slight next to Oliver Hardy, who was 6 ft 1 in (185 cm) tall and weighed about 280 lb (127 kg) in his prime. Details of their hair and clothing were used to enhance this natural contrast. Laurel kept his hair short on the sides and back, growing it long on top to create a natural “fright wig”. At times of shock, he would simultaneously cry while pulling up his hair. In contrast, Hardy’s thinning hair was pasted on his forehead in spit curls and he sported a toothbrush moustache. To achieve a flat-footed walk, Laurel removed the heels from his shoes. Both wore bowler hats, with Laurel’s being narrower than Hardy’s, and with a flattened brim. The characters’ normal attire called for wing collar shirts, with Hardy wearing a neck tie which he would twiddle and Laurel a bow tie. Hardy’s sports jacket was a tad small and done up with one straining button, whereas Laurel’s double-breasted jacket was loose fitting.
A popular routine the team performed was a “tit-for-tat” fight with an adversary. This could be with their wives—often played by Mae Busch, Anita Garvin, or Daphne Pollard—or with a neighbor, often played by Charlie Hall or James Finlayson. Laurel and Hardy would accidentally damage someone’s property, and the injured party would retaliate by ruining something belonging to Laurel or Hardy. After calmly surveying the damage, they would find something else to vandalize, and the conflict would escalate until both sides were simultaneously destroying items in front of each other. An early example of the routine occurs in their classic short Big Business (1929), which was added to the National Film Registry in 1992. Another short film which revolves around such an altercation was titled Tit for Tat (1935).
One of their best-remembered dialogues was the “Tell me that again” routine. Laurel would tell Hardy a genuinely smart idea he came up with, and Hardy would reply, “Tell me that again.” Laurel would attempt to repeat the idea, but, having forgotten it, babble utter nonsense. Hardy, who had difficulty understanding Laurel’s idea when expressed clearly, would understand the jumbled version perfectly. While much of their comedy remained visual, various lines of humorous dialogue appeared in Laurel and Hardy’s talking films. Some examples include:
“You can lead a horse to water but a pencil must be led.”
“I was dreaming I was awake but I woke up and found meself asleep.”
“A lot of weather we’ve been having lately.”

In some cases, their comedy bordered on the surreal, in a style that Stan Laurel called “white magic”. For example, in the 1937 film Way Out West, Laurel clenches his fist and pours tobacco into it as if it were a pipe. He then flicks his thumb upward as if working a lighter. His thumb ignites and he matter-of-factly lights his “pipe”. Amazed at seeing this, Hardy unsuccessfully attempts to duplicate it throughout the film. Much later he finally succeeds, only to be terrified when his thumb catches fire. Laurel repeats the pipe joke in the 1938 film Block-Heads, again to Hardy’s bemusement. This time, the joke ends when a match Laurel was using relights itself, Hardy throws it into the fireplace, and it explodes with a loud bang.
Rather than showing Hardy suffering the pain of misfortunes, such as falling down stairs or being beaten by a thug, banging and crashing sound effects were often used so the audience could visualize the scene themselves. The 1927 film Sailors Beware was a significant film for Hardy because two of his enduring trademarks were developed. The first was his “tie twiddle” to demonstrate embarrassment. Hardy, while acting, had received a pail of water in the face. He said, “I had been expecting it, but I didn’t expect it at that particular moment. It threw me mentally and I couldn’t think what to do next, so I waved the tie in a kind of tiddly-widdly fashion to show embarrassment while trying to look friendly.” His second trademark was the “camera look”, in which he breaks the fourth wall. Hardy said: “I had to become exasperated so I just stared right into the camera and registered my disgust.” Offscreen, Laurel and Hardy were quite the opposite of their movie characters: Laurel was the industrious “idea man”, while Hardy was more easygoing.

The catchphrase most used by Laurel and Hardy on film is: “Well, here’s another nice mess you’ve gotten me into!” In popular culture the catchphrase is often misquoted as “Well, here’s another fine mess you’ve gotten me into.” The misquoted version of the phrase was never used by Hardy and the misunderstanding stems from the title of their film Another Fine Mess. Numerous variations of the quote appeared on film. For example, in Chickens Come Home Ollie says impatiently to Stan “Well. … ” with Stan replying, “Here’s another nice mess I’ve gotten you into.” The films Thicker than Water and The Fixer-Uppers use the phrase “Well, here’s another nice kettle of fish you pickled me in!” In Saps at Sea the phrase becomes “Well, here’s another nice bucket of suds you’ve gotten me into!” The catchphrase is used in its original form in the duo’s 1951 film Atoll K, where it fittingly serves as the final line of dialogue in what is the final Laurel and Hardy film. Most times, after Hardy said that phrase, Laurel would start to cry, exclaiming “Well, I couldn’t help it…” and begin to whimper while speaking gibberish. Another regular catchphrase, cried out by Ollie in moments of distress or frustration, as Stan stands helplessly by, is “Why don’t you do something to help me?”

The first feature film starring Laurel and Hardy was Pardon Us from 1931. The following year The Music Box, whose plot revolved around the pair pushing a piano up a long flight of steps,won an Academy Award for Best Live Action Short Subject. While many enthusiasts claim the superiority of The Music Box, their 1929 silent film Big Business is by far the most consistently acclaimed. The plot of this film sees Laurel and Hardy as Christmas tree salesmen involved in a classic tit-for-tat battle with a character played by James Finlayson that eventually destroys his house and their car. Big Business was added to the National Film Registry in the United States as a national treasure in 1992. The film Sons of the Desert from 1933 is often claimed to be Laurel and Hardy’s best feature-length film. The 1934 film Babes in Toyland remains a perennial on American television during the Christmas season. When interviewed Hal Roach spoke scathingly about the film and Laurel’s behavior during the production. Laurel was unhappy with the plot, and after an argument was allowed to make the film his way. The rift damaged Roach-Laurel relations to the point that Roach said that after Toyland, he no longer wished to produce Laurel and Hardy films. Nevertheless, their association continued for another six years. Hoping for greater artistic freedom, Laurel and Hardy split with Roach. Laurel and Hardy signed with 20th Century-Fox in 1941 and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer in 1942. However, the working conditions were now completely different as they were simply hired actors, relegated to both studios’ B-film units, and were initially not allowed to contribute to the scripts or improvise, as they had always done. In 1950–51, Laurel and Hardy made their final feature-length film together, Atoll K.

Following the making of Atoll K, Laurel and Hardy took some months off to deal with health issues. Upon their return to the European stage in 1952, they undertook a well-received series of public appearances, performing a short sketch Laurel had written called “A Spot of Trouble”. Hoping to repeat the success the following year Laurel wrote a routine entitled “Birds of a Feather”. On September 9, 1953, their boat arrived in Cobh in the Republic of Ireland. Laurel recounted their reception:
The love and affection we found that day at Cobh was simply unbelievable. There were hundreds of boats blowing whistles and mobs and mobs of people screaming on the docks. We just couldn’t understand what it was all about. And then something happened that I can never forget. All the church bells in Cobh started to ring out our theme song “Dance of the Cuckoos” and Babe (Oliver Hardy) looked at me and we cried. I’ll never forget that day. Never.

In 1956, while following his doctor’s orders to improve his health due to a heart condition, Hardy lost over 100 pounds (45 kg; 7.1 st), nonetheless suffering several strokes resulting in reduced mobility and speech. Despite his long and successful career, Hardy’s home was sold to help cover the cost of his medical expenses. He died of a stroke on August 7, 1957, and longtime friend Bob Chatterton said Hardy weighed just 138 pounds (63 kg; 9.9 st) at the time of his death.

For the remaining eight years of his life, Stan Laurel refused to perform and even turned down Stanley Kramer’s offer of a cameo in his landmark 1963 movie It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World. In 1960, Laurel was given a special Academy Award for his contributions to film comedy but was unable to attend the ceremony, due to poor health, and actor Danny Kaye accepted the award for him. Despite not appearing on screen after Hardy’s death, Laurel did contribute gags to several comedy filmmakers. During this period most of his communication was in the form of written correspondence and he insisted on personally answering every fan letter.
Laurel lived until 1965 and survived to see the duo’s work rediscovered through television and classic film revivals. He died on February 23 in Santa Monica and is buried at Forest Lawn-Hollywood Hills in Los Angeles, California.

As for music the duo’s famous signature tune, known variously as “The Cuckoo Song”, “Ku-Ku” or “The Dance of the Cuckoos”, was composed by Roach musical director Marvin Hatley as the on-the-hour chime for the Roach studio radio station. Laurel heard the tune on the station and asked Hatley if they could use it as the Laurel and Hardy theme song. The original theme, recorded by two clarinets in 1930, was recorded again with a full orchestra in 1935. Leroy Shield composed the majority of the music used in the Laurel and Hardy short sound films. A compilation of songs from their films, titled Trail of the Lonesome Pine, was released in 1975. The title track was released as a single in the UK and reached #2 in the charts.

Laurel and Hardy’s influence over a very broad range of comedy and other genres has been considerable. Lou Costello of the famed duo of Abbott and Costello, stated “They were the funniest comedy duo of all time”, adding “Most critics and film scholars throughout the years have agreed with this assessment.” Writers, artists and performers as diverse as Samuel Beckett, Jerry Lewis, Peter Sellers, Steve Martin, John Cleese,and Kurt Vonnegut amongst many others, have acknowledged an artistic debt. Starting in the 1960s, the exposure on television of (especially) their short films has ensured a continued influence on generations of comedians.

Since the 1930s, the works of Laurel and Hardy have been released again in numerous theatrical reissues, television revivals (broadcast, especially public television and cable), 16 mm and 8 mm home movies, feature-film compilations and home video. Numerous colorized versions of copyright-free Laurel and Hardy features and shorts have been reproduced by a multitude of production studios. Although the results of adding color were often in dispute, many popular titles are currently only available in the colorized version. The color process often affects the sharpness of the image, with some scenes being altered or deleted, depending on the source material used. Their film Helpmates was the first film to undergo the process and was released by Colorization Inc., a subsidiary of Hal Roach Studios, in 1983. Colorization was a success for the studio and Helpmates was released on home video with the colorized version of The Music Box in 1986.

There are three Laurel and Hardy museums. One is in Laurel’s birthplace, Ulverston, United Kingdom, where I have been and another one is in Hardy’s birthplace, Harlem, Georgia.The third one is located in Solingen, Germany.

In 2018 a film was made about their lives called Stan & Ollie, a biographical comedy-drama based on the later years of their lives. The film stars Steve Coogan and John C. Reilly as Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy.
The film focuses on details of the comedy duo’s personal relationship while relating how they embarked on a grueling music hall tour of the United Kingdom and Ireland during 1953 and struggled to get another film made.

I often watch Laurel & Hardy on dvd as they’re not much on tv anymore. Sadly, broadcasters seem to think now everything has to be fast and flashy…
I am glad I grew up with their revival in the seventies and eighties and gladly look back to the times after school watching them tv, laughing my head off.

Check them out (or not):

Sources: Wikipedia, YouTube, interweb, poetpas

Featuring: Oskar Schindler

After watching Schindler’s List, which is one of my most favorite films, I was interested to learn about this “life saver” Oskar Schindler and became intrigued by his mission to rescue and save as many lives as he could during the Holocaust in World War 2. I have nothing but respect for this man, who in time, realized life was more important than death. A true hero…

Schindler was born on 28 April 1908, into a German family in Zwittau, Moravia, Austria-Hungary. After attending primary and secondary school, Schindler enrolled in a technical school, from which he was expelled in 1924 for forging his report card. He later graduated, but did not take exams that would have enabled him to go to college or university. Instead, he took courses in Brno in several trades, including chauffeuring and machinery, and worked for his father for three years.
On 6 March 1928, Schindler married Emilie Pelzl. The young couple moved in with Oskar’s parents and occupied the upstairs rooms, where they lived for the next seven years. Soon after his marriage, Schindler quit working for his father and took a series of jobs. After an 18-month stint in the Czech army, where he rose to the rank of lance corporal in the 31st Army, Schindler returned to Moravian Electrotechnic, which went bankrupt shortly afterwards. His father’s farm machinery business closed around the same time, leaving Schindler unemployed for a year. He took a job with Jaroslav Šimek Bank of Prague in 1931, where he worked until 1938. Schindler was arrested several times in 1931 and 1932 for public drunkenness. Also around this time he had an affair with Aurelie Schlegel, a school friend. She bore him a daughter, Emily, in 1933, and a son, Oskar Jr, in 1935. Schindler later claimed the boy was not his son.

Schindler joined the separatist Sudeten German Party in 1935. Although he was a citizen of Czechoslovakia, Schindler became a spy for the Abwehr, the military intelligence service of Nazi Germany, in 1936. He later told Czech police that he did it because he needed the money; by this time Schindler had a drinking problem and was chronically in debt.
His tasks for the Abwehr included collecting information on railways, military installations, and troop movements, as well as recruiting other spies within Czechoslovakia, in advance of a planned invasion of the country by Nazi Germany. He was arrested by the Czech government for espionage on 18 July 1938 and immediately imprisoned, but was released as a political prisoner under the terms of the Munich Agreement, the instrument under which the Czech Sudetenland was annexed into Germany on 1 October. Schindler applied for membership in the Nazi Party on 1 November and was accepted the following year.
Schindler was promoted to second in command of his Abwehr unit and was involved in espionage in the months leading up to Hitler’s seizure of the remainder of Czechoslovakia in March. His wife helped him with paperwork, processing and hiding secret documents in their apartment for the Abwehr office. As Schindler frequently travelled to Poland on business, he and his 25 agents were in a position to collect information about Polish military activities and railways for the planned invasion of Poland. One assignment called for his unit to monitor and provide information about the railway line and tunnel in the Jablunkov Pass, deemed critical for the movement of German troops. Schindler continued to work for the Abwehr until as late as fall 1940.

Schindler first arrived in Kraków (Krakau) in October 1939, on Abwehr business, and took an apartment the following month. In November 1939, he contacted interior decorator Mila Pfefferberg to decorate his new apartment. Her son, Leopold “Poldek” Pfefferberg, soon became one of his contacts for black market trading. They eventually became lifelong friends.
Also that November, Schindler was introduced to Itzhak Stern, an accountant for Schindler’s fellow Abwehr agent Josef “Sepp” Aue, who had taken over Stern’s formerly Jewish-owned place of employment as a Treuhander (trustee). Property belonging to Polish Jews, including their possessions, places of business, and homes were seized by the Germans beginning immediately after the invasion, and Jewish citizens were stripped of their civil rights. Schindler showed Stern the balance sheet of a company he was thinking of acquiring, an enamelware factory called Rekord Ltd owned by a consortium of Jewish businessmen that had filed for bankruptcy earlier that year. Stern advised him that rather than running the company as a trusteeship he should buy or lease the business, as that would give him more freedom from the dictates of the Nazis, including the freedom to hire more Jews.
With the financial backing of several Jewish investors, including one of the owners, Abraham Bankier, Schindler signed an informal lease agreement on the factory on 13 November 1939 and formalised the arrangement on 15 January 1940. He renamed it Deutsche Emailwarenfabrik (German Enamelware Factory) or DEF, and it soon became known by the nickname “Emalia”. He initially acquired a staff of seven Jewish workers and 250 non-Jewish Poles. At its peak in 1944, the business employed around 1,750 workers, a thousand of whom were Jewish.
Schindler’s ties with the Abwehr and his connections in the Wehrmacht and its Armaments Inspectorate enabled him to obtain contracts to produce enamel cookware for the military. These connections also later helped him protect his Jewish workers from deportation and death. As time went on, Schindler had to give Nazi officials ever larger bribes and gifts of luxury items obtainable only on the black market to keep his workers safe. Schindler himself enjoyed a lavish lifestyle and pursued extramarital relationships with his secretary, Viktoria Klonowska, and Eva Kisch Scheuer, a merchant specialising in enamelware from DEF. Emilie Schindler visited for a few months in 1940 and moved to Kraków to live with Oskar in 1941.

Initially, Schindler was mostly interested in the money-making potential of the business and hired Jews because they were cheaper than Poles—the wages were set by the occupying Nazi regime. Later he began shielding his workers without regard for cost. The status of his factory as a business essential to the war effort became a decisive factor enabling him to help his Jewish workers. Whenever Schindlerjuden (Schindler Jews) were threatened with deportation, he claimed exemptions for them. He claimed wives, children, and even people with disabilities were necessary mechanics and metalworkers. On one occasion, the Gestapo came to Schindler demanding that he hand over a family that possessed forged identity papers. “Three hours after they walked in,” Schindler said, “two drunk Gestapo men reeled out of my office without their prisoners and without the incriminating documents they had demanded.”
On 1 August 1940, Governor-General Hans Frank issued a decree requiring all Kraków Jews to leave the city within two weeks. Only those who had jobs directly related to the German war effort would be allowed to stay. Of the 60,000 to 80,000 Jews then living in the city, only 15,000 remained by March 1941. These Jews were then forced to leave their traditional neighbourhood of Kazimierz and relocate to the walled Kraków Ghetto, established in the industrial Podgórze district. Schindler’s workers travelled on foot to and from the ghetto each day to their jobs at the factory. Enlargements to the facility in the four years Schindler was in charge included the addition of an outpatient clinic, co-op, kitchen, and dining room for the workers, in addition to expansion of the factory and its related office space.

In fall 1941, the Nazis began transporting Jews out of the ghetto. Most of them were sent to the Bełżec extermination camp and murdered. On 13 March 1943, the ghetto was liquidated and those still fit for work were sent to the new concentration camp at Płaszów. Several thousand not deemed fit for work were sent to extermination camps and murdered; hundreds more were murdered on the streets by the Nazis as they cleared out the ghetto. Schindler, aware of the plans because of his Wehrmacht contacts, had his workers stay at the factory overnight to prevent them coming to harm. Schindler witnessed the liquidation of the ghetto and was appalled. From that point forward Schindler changed his mind about the Nazis. He decided to get out and to save as many Jews as he could.
Płaszów concentration camp opened in March 1943 on the former site of two Jewish cemeteries. In charge of the camp was SS-Hauptsturmführer Amon Göth, a sadist who would shoot inmates of the camp at random. Inmates at Płaszów lived in constant fear for their lives. Emilie Schindler called Göth “the most despicable man I have ever met.”

Initially Göth’s plan was that all the factories, including Schindler’s, should be moved inside the camp gates. However, Schindler, with a combination of diplomacy, flattery, and bribery, not only prevented his factory from being moved, but convinced Göth to allow him to build (at Schindler’s own expense) a subcamp at Emalia to house his workers plus 450 Jews from other nearby factories. There they were safe from the threat of random execution, were well fed and housed, and were permitted to undertake religious observances.
Schindler was arrested twice on suspicion of black market activities and once for breaking the Nuremberg Laws by kissing a Jewish girl, an action forbidden by the Race and Resettlement Act. The first arrest, in late 1941, led to him being kept overnight. His secretary arranged for his release through Schindler’s influential contacts in the Nazi Party. His second arrest, on 29 April 1942, was the result of his kissing a Jewish girl on the cheek at his birthday party at the factory the previous day. He remained in jail five days before his influential Nazi contacts were able to obtain his release. In October 1944, he was arrested again, accused of black marketeering and bribing Göth and others to improve the conditions of the Jewish workers. He was held for most of a week and released. Göth had been arrested on 13 September 1944 for corruption and other abuses of power, and Schindler’s arrest was part of the ongoing investigation into Göth’s activities. Göth was never convicted on those charges, but was hanged by the Supreme National Tribunal of Poland for war crimes on 13 September 1946.
In 1943, Schindler was contacted via members of the Jewish resistance movement by Zionist leaders in Budapest. Schindler travelled there several times to report in person on Nazi mistreatment of the Jews. He brought back funding provided by the Jewish Agency for Israel and turned it over to the Jewish underground.

As the Red Army drew nearer in July 1944, the SS began closing down the easternmost concentration camps and evacuating the remaining prisoners westward to Auschwitz and Gross-Rosen concentration camp. Göth’s personal secretary, Mietek Pemper, alerted Schindler to the Nazis’ plans to close all factories not directly involved in the war effort, including Schindler’s enamelware facility. Pemper suggested to Schindler that production should be switched from cookware to anti-tank grenades in an effort to save the lives of the Jewish workers. Using bribery and his powers of persuasion, Schindler convinced Göth and the officials in Berlin to allow him to move his factory and his workers to Brünnlitz, in the Sudetenland, thus sparing them from certain death in the gas chambers. Using names provided by Jewish Ghetto Police officer Marcel Goldberg, Pemper compiled and typed the list of 1,200 Jews—1,000 of Schindler’s workers and 200 inmates from Julius Madritsch’s textiles factory—who were sent to Brünnlitz in October 1944.

On 15 October 1944 a train carrying 700 men on Schindler’s list was initially sent to the concentration camp at Gross-Rosen, where the men spent about a week before being re-routed to the factory in Brünnlitz. Three hundred female Schindlerjuden were similarly sent to Auschwitz, where they were in imminent danger of being sent to the gas chambers. Schindler’s usual connections and bribes failed to obtain their release. Finally after he sent his secretary, Hilde Albrecht, with bribes of black market goods, food and diamonds, the women were sent to Brünnlitz after several harrowing weeks in Auschwitz.
In addition to workers, Schindler moved 250 wagon loads of machinery and raw materials to the new factory. Few if any useful artillery shells were produced at the plant. When officials from the Armaments Ministry questioned the factory’s low output, Schindler bought finished goods on the black market and resold them as his own.[69] The rations provided by the SS were insufficient to meet the needs of the workers, so Schindler spent most of his time in Kraków, obtaining food, armaments, and other materials. His wife Emilie remained in Brünnlitz, surreptitiously obtaining additional rations and caring for the workers’ health and other basic needs. Schindler also arranged for the transfer of as many as 3,000 Jewish women out of Auschwitz to small textiles plants in the Sudetenland in an effort to increase their chances of surviving the war.
In January 1945 a trainload of 250 Jewish people who had been rejected as workers at a mine in Golleschau in Poland arrived at Brünnlitz. The boxcars were frozen shut when they arrived, and Emilie Schindler waited while an engineer from the factory opened the cars using a soldering iron. Twelve people were dead in the cars, and the remainder were too ill and feeble to work. Emilie took the survivors into the factory and cared for them in a makeshift hospital until the end of the war. Schindler continued to bribe SS officials to prevent the slaughter of his workers as the Red Army approached. On 7 May 1945 he and his workers gathered on the factory floor to listen to British Prime Minister Winston Churchill announce over the radio that Germany had surrendered, and the war in Europe was over.

As a member of the Nazi Party and the Abwehr intelligence service, Schindler was in danger of being arrested as a war criminal. Bankier, Stern, and several others prepared a statement he could present to the Americans attesting to his role in saving Jewish lives. He was also given a ring, made using gold from dental work taken out of the mouth of Schindlerjude Simon Jeret. The ring was inscribed “Whoever saves one life saves the world entire.” To escape being captured by the Russians, Schindler and his wife departed westward in their vehicle, a two-seater Horch, initially with several fleeing German soldiers riding on the running boards. A truck containing Schindler’s mistress Marta, several Jewish workers, and a load of black market trade goods followed behind. The Horch was confiscated by Russian troops at the town of Budweis, which had already been captured by Russian troops. The Schindlers were unable to recover a diamond that Oskar had hidden under the seat.They continued by train and on foot until they reached the American lines at the town of Lenora, and then travelled to Passau, where an American Jewish officer arranged for them to travel to Switzerland by train. They moved to Bavaria in Germany in the fall of 1945.

By the end of the war, Schindler had spent his entire fortune on bribes and black market purchases of supplies for his workers. Virtually destitute, he moved briefly to Regensburg and later Munich, but did not prosper in postwar Germany. In fact, he was reduced to receiving assistance from Jewish organisations. In 1948 he presented a claim for reimbursement of his wartime expenses to the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee, and received $15,000. He estimated his expenditures at over $1,056,000, including the costs of camp construction, bribes, and expenditures for black market goods, including food. Schindler emigrated to Argentina in 1949, where he tried raising chickens and then nutria, a small animal raised for its fur. When the business went bankrupt in 1958, he left his wife and returned to Germany, where he had a series of unsuccessful business ventures, including a cement factory. He declared bankruptcy in 1963 and suffered a heart attack the next year, which led to a month-long stay in hospital. Remaining in contact with many of the Jews he had met during the war, including Stern and Pfefferberg, Schindler survived on donations sent by Schindlerjuden from all over the world. He died on 9 October 1974 and is buried in Jerusalem on Mount Zion, the only member of the Nazi Party to be honoured in this way. For his work during the war, on 8 May 1962, Yad Vashem invited Schindler to a ceremony in which a carob tree was planted in his honor on the Avenue of the Righteous. He and his wife, Emilie, were named Righteous Among the Nations, an award bestowed by the State of Israel on non-Jews who took an active role to rescue Jews during the Holocaust, on 24 June 1993.

Writer Herbert Steinhouse, who interviewed him in 1948, wrote that “Schindler’s exceptional deeds stemmed from just that elementary sense of decency and humanity that our sophisticated age seldom sincerely believes in. A repentant opportunist saw the light and rebelled against the sadism and vile criminality all around him.”In a 1983 television documentary, Schindler was quoted as saying, “I felt that the Jews were being destroyed. I had to help them; there was no choice.”

In 1980, Australian author Thomas Keneally by chance visited Pfefferberg’s luggage store in Beverly Hills while en route home from a film festival in Europe. Pfefferberg took the opportunity to tell Keneally the story of Oskar Schindler. He gave him copies of some materials he had on file, and Keneally soon decided to make a fictionalised treatment of the story. After extensive research and interviews with surviving Schindlerjuden, his 1982 historical novel Schindler’s Ark (published in the United States as Schindler’s List) was the result.
The novel was adapted as the 1993 movie Schindler’s List by Steven Spielberg. After acquiring the rights in 1983, Spielberg felt he was not ready emotionally or professionally to tackle the project, and he offered the rights to several other directors.[99] After he read a script for the project prepared by Steven Zaillian for Martin Scorsese, he decided to trade him Cape Fear for the opportunity to do the Schindler biography. In the film, the character of Itzhak Stern (played by Ben Kingsley) is a composite of Stern, Bankier, and Pemper. Liam Neeson was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actor for his portrayal of Schindler in the film, which won seven Oscars, including Best Picture.
Other film treatments include a 1983 British television documentary produced by Jon Blair for Thames Television, entitled Schindler: His Story as Told by the Actual People He Saved (released in the US in 1994 as Schindler: The Real Story),and a 1998 A&E Biography special, Oskar Schindler: The Man Behind the List.

In 1997 a suitcase belonging to Schindler containing historic photographs and documents was discovered in the attic of the apartment of Ami and Heinrich Staehr in Hildesheim. Schindler had stayed with the couple for a few days shortly before his death in 1974. Staehr’s son Chris took the suitcase to Stuttgart, where the documents were examined in detail in 1999 by Dr. Wolfgang Borgmann, science editor of the Stuttgarter Zeitung. Borgmann wrote a series of seven articles, which appeared in the paper from 16 to 26 October 1999 and were eventually published in book form as Schindler’s Koffer: Berichte aus dem Leben eines Lebensretters; eine Dokumentation der Stuttgarter Zeitung (Schindler’s Suitcase: Reports from the Life of a Lifesaver). The documents and suitcase were sent to the Holocaust museum at Yad Vashem in Israel for safekeeping in December 1999.

In early April 2009, a carbon copy of one version of the list was discovered at the State Library of New South Wales by workers combing through boxes of materials collected by author Thomas Keneally. The 13-page document, yellow and fragile, was filed among research notes and original newspaper clippings. The document was given to Keneally in 1980 by Pfefferberg when he was persuading him to write Schindler’s story. This version of the list contains 801 names and is dated 18 April 1945; Pfefferberg is listed as worker number 173. Several authentic versions of the list exist, because the names were re-typed several times as conditions changed in the hectic days at the end of the war.
One of four existing copies of the list was offered at a ten-day auction starting on 19 July 2013 on EBay at a reserve price of $3 million. It received no bids.

Even though Schindler made a bad choice becoming a member of the Nazi party (which was a common thing to do back in the day) he saved over a 1000 lives. The people he saved went on and had children and they had children… and thus saving generations of life. At the end of the movie Schindler’s List there was a beautiful quote: “Whoever saves one life, saves the world entire”…

Here are some clips from the movie, which I consider to be one of the best movies of all time (also because of the beautiful music). It still gives me goosebumps:

WARNING: SPOILERS

Sources: Wikipedia, YouTube, interweb, poetpas

Featuring: Robin Williams

In light of his 69th birthday this week I shall be featuring one of my most favorite comedians on screen. He often made me laugh out loud at times with his impersonations of various characters on tv shows and movies not to forget. He’s been an uplifting spirit for me over the years; he moves me, up and down and in all other directions and ways…

I wrote a poem about him which I will add at the end. Check him out (or not):

Robin McLaurin Williams (July 21, 1951 – August 11, 2014) was an American actor and comedian. He is often regarded by critics as one of the best comedians of all time. He was known for his improvisation skills, and the wide variety of memorable voices that he created. He began performing stand-up comedy in San Francisco and Los Angeles during the mid-1970s, and rose to fame for playing the alien Mork in the sitcom Mork & Mindy (1978–1982).
After his first starring film role in Popeye (1980), Williams starred in several critically and commercially successful films including The World According to Garp (1982), Moscow on the Hudson (1984), Good Morning, Vietnam (1987), Dead Poets Society (1989), Awakenings (1990), The Fisher King (1991), Patch Adams (1998), One Hour Photo (2002), and World’s Greatest Dad (2009). He also starred in box office hits such as Hook (1991), Aladdin (1992), Mrs. Doubtfire (1993), Jumanji (1995), The Birdcage (1996), Good Will Hunting (1997), and the Night at the Museum trilogy (2006–2014). He was nominated for four Academy Awards, winning Best Supporting Actor for Good Will Hunting. He also received two Primetime Emmy Awards, six Golden Globe Awards, two Screen Actors Guild Awards, and four Grammy Awards.
In August 2014, at age 63, Williams committed suicide by hanging at his home in Paradise Cay, California. His widow, Susan Schneider Williams—as well as medical experts and the autopsy—attributed his suicide to his struggle with Lewy body disease.

Robin McLaurin Williams was born at St. Luke’s Hospital in Chicago, Illinois, on July 21, 1951. His father was a senior executive in Ford’s Lincoln-Mercury Division. His mother was a former model and Williams credited her as an important early influence on his humor, and he tried to make her laugh to gain attention.
When Williams attended public elementary school he described himself as a quiet child who did not overcome his shyness until he became involved with his high school drama department. His friends recall him as very funny.
As both his parents worked, Williams was partially raised by the family’s maid, who was his main companion. Williams attended Redwood High School in nearby Larkspur. At the time of his graduation in 1969, he was voted “Most Likely Not to Succeed” and “Funniest” by his classmates. After high school graduation, Williams enrolled at Claremont Men’s College in Claremont, California, to study political science; he dropped out to pursue acting. Williams studied theatre for three years at the College of Marin. According to adrama professor, the depth of the young actor’s talent became evident when he was cast in the musical Oliver! as Fagin. Williams often improvised during his time in the drama program, leaving cast members in hysterics.
In 1973, Williams attained a full scholarship to the Juilliard School in New York City. He was one of 20 students accepted into the freshman class, and he and Christopher Reeve were the only two accepted by John Houseman into the Advanced Program at the school that year. William Hurt and Mandy Patinkin were also classmates. Reeve remembered his first impression of Williams when they were new students at Juilliard: “He wore tie-dyed shirts with tracksuit bottoms and talked a mile a minute. I’d never seen so much energy contained in one person. He was like an untied balloon that had been inflated and immediately released. I watched in awe as he virtually caromed off the walls of the classrooms and hallways. To say that he was ‘on’ would be a major understatement.”
Williams left Juilliard during his junior year in 1976 at the suggestion of Houseman, who said there was nothing more Juilliard could teach him. Gerald Freedman, another of his teachers at Juilliard, said Williams was a “genius” and that the school’s conservative and classical style of training did not suit him; no one was surprised that he left.

Williams began performing stand-up comedy in the San Francisco Bay Area in 1976. He gave his first performance at the Holy City Zoo, a comedy club in San Francisco, where he worked his way up from tending bar. In the 1960s, San Francisco was a center for a rock music renaissance, hippies, drugs, and a sexual revolution, and in the late 1970s, Williams helped lead its “comedy renaissance”, writes critic Gerald Nachman. Williams says he found out about “drugs and happiness” during that period, adding that he saw “the best brains of my time turned to mud.”
Williams moved to Los Angeles and continued performing stand-up at clubs including The Comedy Store. Williams said that partly due to the stress of performing stand-up, he started using drugs and alcohol early in his career. He further said that he neither drank nor took drugs while on stage, but occasionally performed when hung over from the previous day. During the period he was using cocaine, he said it made him paranoid when performing on stage.

Williams once described the life of stand-up comedians:
It’s a brutal field, man. They burn out. It takes its toll. Plus, the lifestyle—partying, drinking, drugs. If you’re on the road, it’s even more brutal. You gotta come back down to mellow your ass out, and then performing takes you back up. They flame out because it comes and goes. Suddenly they’re hot, and then somebody else is hot. Sometimes they get very bitter. Sometimes they just give up. Sometimes they have a revival thing and they come back again. Sometimes they snap. The pressure kicks in. You become obsessed and then you lose that focus that you need. Williams felt secure that he would not run out of ideas, as the constant change in world events would keep him supplied. He also explained that he often used free association of ideas while improvising in order to keep the audience interested.

During an interview in 1992, Williams was asked whether he ever feared losing his balance between his work and his life. He replied, “There’s that fear—if I felt like I was becoming not just dull but a rock, that I still couldn’t speak, fire off or talk about things, if I’d start to worry or got too afraid to say something. … If I stop trying, I get afraid.” While he attributed the recent suicide of novelist Jerzy Kosiński to his fear of losing his creativity and sharpness, Williams felt he could overcome those risks. For that, he credited his father for strengthening his self-confidence, telling him to never be afraid of talking about subjects which were important to him.

After the Laugh-In revival and appearing in the cast of The Richard Pryor Show on NBC, Williams was cast by Garry Marshall as the alien Mork in a 1978 episode of the TV series Happy Days, “My Favorite Orkan”. Sought after as a last-minute cast replacement for a departing actor, Williams impressed the producer with his quirky sense of humor when he sat on his head when asked to take a seat for the audition. As Mork, Williams improvised much of his dialogue and physical comedy, speaking in a high, nasal voice. The cast and crew, as well as TV network executives were deeply impressed with his performance.
Mork’s appearance proved so popular with viewers that it led to the spin-off television sitcom Mork & Mindy, which co-starred Pam Dawber, and ran from 1978 to 1982; the show was written to accommodate his extreme improvisations in dialog and behavior. Although he portrayed the same character as in Happy Days, the series was set in the present in Boulder, Colorado, instead of the late 1950s in Milwaukee. Mork & Mindy at its peak had a weekly audience of sixty million and was credited with turning Williams into a “superstar”. Mork became popular, featured on posters, coloring books, lunch-boxes, and other merchandise. Mork & Mindy was such a success in its first season that Williams appeared on the March 12, 1979, cover of Time magazine.

His first starring film performance is as the title character in Popeye (1980), in which Williams showcased the acting skills previously demonstrated in his television work; accordingly, the film’s commercial disappointment was not blamed on his performance. He went on to star as the leading character in The World According to Garp (1982), which Williams considered “may have lacked a certain madness onscreen, but it had a great core.

His first major break came from his starring role in director Barry Levinson’s Good Morning, Vietnam (1987), which earned Williams a nomination for the Academy Award for Best Actor.[62] The film is set in 1965 during the Vietnam War, with Williams playing the role of Adrian Cronauer, a radio shock jock who keeps the troops entertained with comedy and sarcasm. Williams was allowed to play the role without a script, improvising most of his lines. Over the microphone, he created voice impressions of people, including Walter Cronkite, Gomer Pyle, Elvis Presley, Mr. Ed, and Richard Nixon. “We just let the cameras roll,” said producer Mark Johnson, and Williams “managed to create something new for every single take”.

In 1989, Williams played a private-school English teacher in Dead Poets Society, which included a final, emotional scene that some critics said “inspired a generation” and became a part of pop culture. Similarly, his performance as a therapist in Good Will Hunting (1997) deeply affected even some real therapists. In Awakenings (1990), Williams plays a doctor modeled after Oliver Sacks, who wrote the book on which the film is based. Sacks later said the way the actor’s mind worked was a “form of genius”. In 1991, he played an adult Peter Pan in the film Hook, although he had said he would have to lose 25 pounds for the role. Terry Gilliam, who co-founded Monty Python and directed Williams in two of his films, The Fisher King (1991) and The Adventures of Baron Munchausen (1988), said in 1992 that Williams had the ability to “go from manic to mad to tender and vulnerable … [Williams had] the most unique mind on the planet. There’s nobody like him out there.”
Other performances Williams had in dramatic films include Moscow on the Hudson (1984), Awakenings (1990), What Dreams May Come (1998), and Bicentennial Man (1999).[89] In Insomnia (2002), Williams portrays a writer/killer on the run from a sleep-deprived Los Angeles policeman (played by Al Pacino) in rural Alaska.

His roles in comedy and dramatic films garnered Williams several accolades, including an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for his role in Good Will Hunting as well as two previous Academy Award nominations, for Dead Poets Society, and as a troubled homeless man in The Fisher King, respectively.
Among the actors who helped him during his acting career, he credited Robert De Niro, from whom he learned the power of silence and economy of dialogue when acting. From Dustin Hoffman, with whom he co-starred in Hook, he learned to take on totally different character types, and to transform his characters by extreme preparation. Mike Medavoy, producer of Hook, told its director, Steven Spielberg, that he intentionally teamed up Hoffman and Williams for the film because he knew they wanted to work together, and that Williams welcomed the opportunity of working with Spielberg. Williams benefited from working with Woody Allen, who directed him and Billy Crystal in Deconstructing Harry (1997), as Allen had knowledge of the fact that Crystal and Williams had often performed together on stage.

Williams voiced characters in several animated films. His voice role as the Genie in the animated musical Aladdin (1992) was written for him. The film’s directors said they had taken a risk by writing the role. At first, Williams refused the role since it was a Disney movie, and he did not want the studio profiting by selling merchandise based on the movie. He accepted the role with certain conditions: “I’m doing it basically because I want to be part of this animation tradition. I want something for my children. One deal is, I just don’t want to sell anything—as in Burger King, as in toys, as in stuff.” Williams improvised much of his dialogue, recording approximately 30 hours of tape, and impersonated dozens of celebrities, including Ed Sullivan, Jack Nicholson, Robert De Niro, Groucho Marx, Rodney Dangerfield, William F. Buckley, Peter Lorre, Arnold Schwarzenegger, and Arsenio Hall. His role in Aladdin became one of his most recognized and best-loved, and the film was the highest-grossing of 1992; it won numerous awards, including a Golden Globe for Williams. His performance led the way for other animated films to incorporate actors with more star power. He was named a Disney Legend in 2009.

Williams married his first wife, Valerie Velardi, in June 1978. Their son Zachary Pym “Zak” Williams was born in 1983. Velardi and Williams were divorced in 1988.
In 1989, Williams married Garces, who was six months pregnant with his child. They had two children, Zelda Rae Williams and Cody Alan Williams. In March 2008, Garces filed for divorce from Williams, citing irreconcilable differences. Their divorce was finalized in 2010. Williams married his third wife, graphic designer Susan Schneider, in 2011.

During the late 1970s and early 1980s, Williams had an addiction to cocaine. He was a casual friend of John Belushi, and the Saturday Night Live comic’s death in 1982 from a drug overdose, which happened the morning after the two had partied together, along with the birth of his own son Zak, prompted him to quit drugs and alcohol: “Was it a wake-up call? Oh yeah, on a huge level. The grand jury helped, too.” Williams later said of Belushi’s death, “It sobered the shit out of me.” Williams turned to exercise and cycling to help alleviate his depression shortly after Belushi’s death; according to bicycle shop owner Tony Tom, Williams said, “cycling saved my life.” In 2003, Williams started drinking again while working on a film in Alaska. In 2006, he checked himself into a substance-abuse rehabilitation center in Newberg, Oregon, saying he was an alcoholic. Years afterward, Williams acknowledged his failure to maintain sobriety, but said he never returned to using cocaine, declaring in a 2010 interview: No. Cocaine—paranoid and impotent, what fun. There was no bit of me thinking, ooh, let’s go back to that. Useless conversations until midnight, waking up at dawn feeling like a vampire on a day pass. No.

In March 2009, he was hospitalized due to heart problems. He postponed his one-man tour for surgery to replace his aortic valve, repair his mitral valve, and correct his irregular heartbeat. His publicist, Mara Buxbaum, commented that he was suffering from severe depression before his death. His wife, Susan Schneider, said that in the period before his death, Williams had been sober, but was diagnosed with early stage Parkinson’s disease, which was information he was “not yet ready to share publicly”. An autopsy revealed that Williams had diffuse Lewy body dementia, which had been diagnosed as Parkinson’s. This may have contributed to his depression. In an essay published in the journal Neurology two years after his death, Schneider revealed that the pathology of Lewy body disease in Williams was described by several doctors as among the worst pathologies they had seen. She described the early symptoms of his disease as beginning in October 2013. Williams’ initial condition included a sudden and prolonged spike in fear and anxiety, stress and insomnia; which worsened in severity to include memory loss, paranoia, and delusions. According to Schneider, “Robin was losing his mind and he was aware of it. He kept saying, ‘I just want to reboot my brain’.

On August 11, 2014, at his home in Paradise Cay, California, Williams committed suicide by hanging. His body was cremated and his ashes were scattered over San Francisco Bay the next day. The final autopsy report, released in November 2014, concluded that he “died of asphyxia due to hanging”. Neither alcohol nor illegal drugs were involved, and prescription drugs present in his body were at therapeutic levels. The report also noted that Williams had been suffering from depression and anxiety. An examination of his brain tissue suggested Williams suffered from “diffuse Lewy body dementia”. Describing the disease as “the terrorist inside my husband’s brain”, his widow Susan Schneider Williams said.

Williams credited comedians including Jonathan Winters, Peter Sellers, Nichols and May, and Lenny Bruce as influences, admiring their ability to attract a more intellectual audience with a higher level of wit. He also liked Jay Leno for his quickness in ad-libbing comedy routines and Sid Caesar, whose acts he felt were “precious”. Jonathan Winters was his “idol” early in life; Williams, aged eight, first saw him on television and paid him homage in interviews throughout his career. Williams was inspired by Winters’ ingenuity, realizing, he said, “that anything is possible, that anything is funny … He gave me the idea that it can be free-form, that you can go in and out of things pretty easily.”
During an interview in London in 2002, Williams told Michael Parkinson that Peter Sellers was an important influence, especially his multi-character roles in Dr. Strangelove, stating, “It doesn’t get better than that.” British comedy actors Dudley Moore and Peter Cook were also among his influences, he told Parkinson.
Williams was also influenced by Richard Pryor’s fearless ability to talk about his personal life on stage, with subjects including his use of drugs and alcohol, and Williams added those kinds of topics during his own performances. By bringing up such personal matters as a form of comedy, he told Parkinson it was “cheaper than therapy” and gave him a way to release his pent-up energy and emotions.

Robin,
my dear pierrot
you made me smile
why did you go

~poetpas

Sources: Wikipedia, YouTube, interweb, poetpas

Featuring: Bill Murray

Today I am featuring a man famous for his roles in Ghostbusters, Scrooged, Meatballs and Groundhog Day. I first saw him on Saturday Night live, an American late-night live television sketch comedy and variety show for which he received an Emmy Award. I love his black sense of humor and deadpan delivery and is one of my favorite comedians. He makes weird seem obvious and depression normal.

William James Murray was born on September 21, 1950, was raised in Wilmette, Illinois, a northern suburb of Chicago. Bill and his eight siblings were raised in an Irish-Catholic family. As a youth, Murray read children’s biographies of American heroes like Kit Carson, Wild Bill Hickok, and Davy Crockett. During his teen years, he worked as a golf caddy to fund his education at the Jesuit high school. During his teen years he was the lead singer of a rock band called the Dutch Masters and took part in high school and community theater. After graduating from Loyola Academy, Murray attended Regis University in Denver, Colorado, taking pre-medical courses. He quickly dropped out, returning to Illinois. Decades later, in 2007, Regis awarded him an honorary Doctor of Humanities degree. On September 21, 1970, his 20th birthday, the police arrested Murray at Chicago’s O’Hare Airport for trying to smuggle 10 lb (4.5 kg) of cannabis, which he had allegedly intended to sell. The drugs were discovered after Murray joked to the passenger next to him that he had packed a bomb in his luggage. Murray was convicted and sentenced to probation.

With an invitation from his older brother, Brian, Murray got his start at The Second City in Chicago, an improvisational comedy troupe, studying under Del Close. In 1974, he moved to New York City and was recruited by John Belushi as a featured player on The National Lampoon Radio Hour. In 1975, an Off-Broadway version of a Lampoon show led to his first television role as a cast member of the ABC variety show Saturday Night Live with Howard Cosell. On several projects, Murray rose to prominence in 1976. He officially joined the cast of NBC’s Saturday Night Live for the show’s second season, following the departure of Chevy Chase. Murray was with SNL for three seasons from 1977 to 1980.

Murray landed his first starring role with the film Meatballs in 1979. He followed this with a portrayal of Hunter S. Thompson in 1980’s Where the Buffalo Roam. In the early 1980s, he starred in a string of box-office hits, including Caddyshack, Stripes, and Tootsie. Murray was the first guest on NBC’s Late Night with David Letterman on February 1, 1982. He later appeared on the first episode of the Late Show with David Letterman on August 30, 1993, when the show moved to CBS. On January 31, 2012 – 30 years after his first appearance with Letterman – Murray appeared again on his talk show. He appeared as Letterman’s final guest when the host retired on May 20, 2015.

Murray began work on a film adaptation of the novel The Razor’s Edge. The film, which Murray co-wrote, was his first starring role in a dramatic film. He later agreed with Columbia Pictures to star in Ghostbusters—in a role originally written for John Belushi—to get financing for The Razor’s Edge. Ghostbusters became the highest-grossing film of 1984 and the highest-grossing comedy of all-time.[23] The Razor’s Edge, which was filmed before Ghostbusters but not released until after, was a box-office flop.Frustrated over the failure of The Razor’s Edge, Murray stepped away from acting for four years to study philosophy and history at Sorbonne University, frequent the Cinémathèque in Paris, and spend time with his family in their Hudson River Valley home.

Murray returned to films with Scrooged in 1988 and Ghostbusters II in 1989. In 1990, Murray made his first and only attempt at directing when he co-directed Quick Change with producer Howard Franklin. His subsequent films What About Bob? (1991) and Groundhog Day (1993) were box-office hits. After Groundhog Day, he appeared in a series of well-received supporting roles in films like Ed Wood, Kingpin, and Space Jam (where he appeared as himself). However, his starring roles in Larger than Life and The Man Who Knew Too Little were not as successful with critics or audiences. In 1998, he received much critical acclaim for Wes Anderson’s Rushmore, for which he won Best Supporting Actor awards from the New York Film Critics Circle, the National Society of Film Critics, and the Los Angeles Film Critics Association. Murray decided to take a turn towards more dramatic roles and experienced a resurgence in his career, taking on roles in Wild Things, Cradle Will Rock, Hamlet and The Royal Tenenbaums. In 2003, he appeared in Sofia Coppola’s Lost in Translation and went on to earn a Golden Globe Award, a BAFTA Award, and an Independent Spirit Award, as well as Best Actor awards from several film critic organizations. He was considered a favorite to win the Academy Award for Best Actor, but Sean Penn ultimately won the award for his performance in Mystic River. In an interview included on the Lost in Translation DVD, Murray states that it is his favorite movie in which he has appeared. Also in 2003, he appeared in a short cameo for Jim Jarmusch’s Coffee and Cigarettes, in which he played himself “hiding out” in a local coffee shop.

During this time Murray still appeared in comedic roles such as Charlie’s Angels and Osmosis Jones. In 2004, he provided the voice of Garfield in Garfield: The Movie, and again in 2006 for Garfield: A Tail of Two Kitties. Murray later said that he only took the role because he was under the mistaken impression the screenplay, co-written by Joel Cohen, was the work of Joel Coen. In 2004, he made his third collaboration with Wes Anderson in The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou and in 2005 his second collaboration with Jim Jarmusch in Broken Flowers. That same year, Murray announced that he was taking a hiatus from acting as he had not had the time to relax since his new breakthrough in the late 1990s.

Murray was nominated for a Golden Globe for his performance in the 2014 film St. Vincent. He played a music manager in 2015’s Rock the Kasbah. In 2016, he was the voice of Baloo in the live-action adaptation of Disney’s The Jungle Book, directed by Jon Favreau. There had been speculation that he might return to the Ghostbusters franchise for a rumored Ghostbusters 3, but he dispelled such rumors in an interview with GQ. In March 2010, Murray appeared on the Late Show with David Letterman and talked about his return to Ghostbusters III, stating “I’d do it only if my character was killed off in the first reel.” In an interview with GQ, Murray said: “You know, maybe I should just do it. Maybe it’d be fun to do.” In the interview, when asked “Is the third Ghostbusters movie happening? What’s the story with that?”, Murray replied, “It’s all a bunch of crock”.

In 2019, Murray was part of the ensemble cast of the zombie-comedy The Dead Don’t Die directed by Jim Jarmusch. On February 2, 2020, a Jeep commercial starring Murray aired during the Super Bowl referencing his role in the film Groundhog Day as Phil, with him stealing the groundhog and driving him to various places in the orange Jeep Gladiator.

Personal life:

During the filming of Stripes, Murray married Margaret Kelly on January 25, 1981. Margaret gave birth to two sons, Homer and Luke. Following Murray’s affair with Jennifer Butler, the couple divorced in 1996. In 1997, he married Butler. Together, they have four sons: Caleb, Jackson, Cooper, and Lincoln. Butler filed for divorce on May 12, 2008.Murray stated in a 1984 interview: “I’m definitely a religious person, but it doesn’t have much to do with Catholicism anymore. I don’t think about Catholicism as much.

Murray has been known for his mood swings, leading Dan Aykroyd to refer to him as “The Murricane”. Murray has said of his reputation: “I remember a friend said to me a while back: ‘You have a reputation.’ And I said: ‘What?’ And he said: ‘Yeah, you have a reputation of being difficult to work with. ‘But I only got that reputation from people I didn’t like working with, or people who didn’t know how to work, or what work is’.

I love this man, this comedian, his philosophy, oddness and everything else about him.

Check him out (or not)

Sources: Wikipedia, YouTube, interweb, poetpas

Featuring: Groucho Marx

Groucho Marx is one of my comical inspirators who makes me laugh out loud with his sharp and witty one liners. I used to watch the Marx Brothers films which he and his 4 brothers made. It was like life can be: chaotic, lyrical and humorous. I would like to think that his sense of humor is catchy and perhaps some may have noticed that I caught it.

Groucho Marx was considered the most recognizable of the Marx Brothers. Groucho-like characters and references have appeared in popular culture both during and after his life, some aimed at audiences who may never have seen a Marx Brothers movie. Marx’s trademark eyeglasses, nose, mustache, and cigar have become icons of comedy—glasses with fake noses and mustaches are sold by novelty and costume shops around the world.

Julius Henry “Groucho” Marx (October 2, 1890 – August 19, 1977) was an American comedian, actor, writer, stage, film, radio, and television star. He is generally considered to be a master of quick wit and one of America’s greatest comedians.
He made 13 feature films as a team with his siblings the Marx Brothers, of whom he was the third-born. He also had a successful solo career, primarily on radio and television, most notably as the host of the game show You Bet Your Life.
His distinctive appearance, carried over from his days in vaudeville, included quirks such as an exaggerated stooped posture, spectacles, cigar, a thick greasepaint mustache, and eyebrows. These exaggerated features resulted in the creation of one of the most recognizable and ubiquitous novelty disguises, known as Groucho glasses: a one-piece mask consisting of horn-rimmed glasses, a large plastic nose, bushy eyebrows and mustache.

Julius Henry Marx was born on October 2, 1890, in Manhattan, New York. It was populated with European immigrants, mostly artisans. Marx started his career in vaudeville in 1905 when he joined up with an act called The Leroy Trio. In 1909, Marx and his brothers had become a group act. The brothers’ mother, Minnie Marx, was the group’s manager, putting them together and booking their shows. The group had a rocky start, performing in less than adequate venues and rarely, if ever, being paid for their performances. Eventually one of the brothers would leave to serve in World War I and was replaced by Herbert (Zeppo), and the group became known as the Marx Brothers.

Groucho made 26 movies, 13 of them with his brothers Chico and Harpo. Marx developed a routine as a wisecracking hustler with a distinctive chicken-walking lope, an exaggerated greasepaint mustache and eyebrows, and an ever-present cigar, improvising insults to stuffy dowagers and anyone else who stood in his way. As the Marx Brothers, he and his brothers starred in a series of popular stage shows and movies.Their first movie was a silent film made in 1921 that was never released, and is believed to have been destroyed at the time. A decade later, the team made two of their Broadway hits—The Cocoanuts and Animal Cracker—into movies. Other successful films were Monkey Business, Horse Feathers, Duck Soup, and A Night at the Opera.

Marx also worked as a radio comedian and show host. One of his earliest stints was a short-lived series in 1932, Flywheel, Shyster, and Flywheel, costarring Chico. Though most of the scripts and discs were thought to have been destroyed, all but one of the scripts were found in 1988 in the Library of Congress. In 1947, Marx was asked to host a radio quiz program You Bet Your Life. It was broadcast by ABC and then CBS before moving to NBC. It moved from radio to television on October 5, 1950, and ran for eleven years. Filmed before an audience, the show consisted of Marx bantering with the contestants and ad-libbing jokes before briefly quizzing them. The show was responsible for popularizing the phrases “Say the secret word and the duck will come down and give you fifty dollars,” “Who’s buried in Grant’s Tomb?” and “What color is the White House?” (asked to reward a losing contestant a consolation prize).

Marx’s three marriages ended in divorce. His first wife was chorus girl Ruth Johnson. The couple had two children, Arthur Marx and Miriam Marx. His second wife was Kay Marvis. Marx was 54 and Kay was 21 at the time of their marriage. They had a daughter, Melinda Marx. His third wife was actress Eden Hartford. He was 64 and she was 24 at the time of their wedding. During the early 1950s, Marx described his perfect woman: “Someone who looks like Marilyn Monroe and talks like George S. Kaufman.”

Despite his lack of formal education, he wrote many books, including his autobiography, Groucho and Me (1959) and Memoirs of a Mangy Lover (1963). He was a friend of such literary figures as Booth Tarkington, T. S. Eliot and Carl Sandburg. Much of his personal correspondence with those and other figures is featured in the book The Groucho Letters (1967) with an introduction and commentary on the letters written by Marx, who donated his letters to the Library of Congress. His daughter Miriam published a collection of his letters to her in 1992 titled Love, Groucho.

As he passed his 81st birthday in 1971, Marx became increasingly frail, physically and mentally, as a result of a succession of minor strokes and other health issues. On the 1974 Academy Awards telecast, Marx’s final major public appearance, Jack Lemmon presented him with an honorary Academy Award to a standing ovation. The award honored Harpo, Chico, and Zeppo as well: “in recognition of his brilliant creativity and for the unequalled achievements of the Marx Brothers in the art of motion picture comedy. Noticeably frail, Marx took a bow for his deceased brothers. “I wish that Harpo and Chico could be here to share with me this great honor,” he said, naming the two deceased brothers. Marx’s final appearance was a brief sketch with George Burns in the Bob Hope television special Joys. His health continued to decline the following year; when his younger brother Gummo died at age 83 on April 21, 1977, Marx was never told for fear of eliciting still further deterioration of his health.

Marx maintained his irrepressible sense of humor to the very end, however. George Fenneman, his radio and TV announcer, good-natured foil, and lifelong friend, often related a story of one of his final visits to Marx’s home: When the time came to end the visit, Fenneman lifted Marx from his wheelchair, put his arms around his torso, and began to “walk” the frail comedian backwards across the room towards his bed. As he did, he heard a weak voice in his ear: “Fenneman,” whispered Marx, “you always were a lousy dancer.” When a nurse approached him with a thermometer during his final hospitalization, explaining that she wanted to see if he had a temperature, he responded, “Don’t be silly — everybody has a temperature.” Actor Elliott Gould recalled a similar incident: “I recall the last time I saw Groucho, he was in the hospital, and he had tubes in his nose and what have you,” he said. “And when he saw me, he was weak, but he was there; and he put his fingers on the tubes and played them like it was a clarinet. Groucho played the tubes for me, which brings me to tears.”

Marx was hospitalized at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center with pneumonia on June 22, 1977, and died there nearly two months later at the age of 86 in August that year.
Marx was cremated and the ashes are interred in the Eden Memorial Park Cemetery in Los Angeles. He was survived by his three children and younger brother Zeppo, who outlived him by two years. His gravestone bears no epitaph, but in one of his last interviews he suggested one: “Excuse me, I can’t stand up.”
Groucho Marx once said, ‘Anyone can get old — all you have to do is to live long enough’.

Check him out (or not):

https://www.brainyquote.com/authors/groucho-marx-quotes

Sources: Wikipedia, YouTube, Brainyquote, interweb, poetpas

Featuring: One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest

My all time favorite movie this is. It has everything in it: drama, comedy, good story and plot, great actors and solid acting. I personally think that this is Jack Nicholson’s best performance. He was well casted and personified a perfect McMurphy. And so was Louise Fletcher who played nurse Ratched. I must have watched it over 100 times.

One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest is a 1975 American drama film directed by Miloš Forman, based on the 1962 novel One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest by Ken Kesey. Kirk Douglas acquired the rights to the screenplay and Micheal Douglas was the producer. The film stars Jack Nicholson as Randle McMurphy, a new patient at a mental institution, and features a supporting cast of Louise Fletcher, William Redfield, Will Sampson, Sydney Lassick, Brad Dourif, Danny DeVito and Christopher Lloyd in his film debut.

Filming began in January 1975 and lasted three months, taking place on location in Salem, Oregon, and the surrounding area, as well as on the Oregon coast. The producers decided to shoot the film in the Oregon State Hospital, an actual mental hospital, as this was also the setting of the novel.

Considered by some to be one of the greatest films ever made, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest won all five major Academy Awards (Best Picture, Actor in Lead Role, Actress in Lead Role, Director and Screenplay). It also won numerous Golden Globe and BAFTA Awards. In 1993, the film was deemed “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant” by the United States Library of Congress, and selected for preservation in the National Film Registry.

Plot: (contains spoilers!)
In 1963 Oregon, recidivist malefactor Randle Patrick McMurphy is moved to a mental institution after serving a short sentence on a prison farm for several charges of assault, and statutory rape of a 15-year-old. Though not actually mentally ill, McMurphy hopes to avoid hard labor and serve the rest of his sentence in a relaxed environment. Upon arriving at the hospital, he finds the ward run by nurse Mildred Ratched, a cold, passive-aggressive tyrant who uses her rules and authority to intimidate her charges into a restrictive, joyless existence.
The other patients include anxious, stuttering Billy Bibbit; Charlie Cheswick, who is prone to childish tantrums; delusional and innocent Martini; the well-educated, paranoid Dale Harding; belligerent and profane Max Taber; epileptics Jim Sefelt and Bruce Fredrickson, the former of whom gives his medicine to the latter; quiet but violent-minded Scanlon, “Chief” Bromden, a very tall Native American deaf-mute, and several others with more chronic conditions. Ratched soon sees McMurphy’s lively, rebellious presence as a threat to her authority, and she confiscates the patients’ cigarettes and rations them, and suspends their card-playing privileges. During his time in the ward, McMurphy gets into a battle of wills with Ratched. He steals a hospital bus, escaping with several patients to go on a fishing trip, encouraging his friends to discover their own abilities and find self-confidence.
After learning that the judge’s time sentence doesn’t apply to the hospital, and he could remain there indefinitely, McMurphy makes plans to escape, encouraging Chief to throw a hydrotherapy console through a window. It is also revealed that McMurphy, Chief, and Taber are the only non-chronic patients sentenced to staying at the institution, as the rest are self-committed and could voluntarily check-out at any time, but are too afraid to do so. McMurphy, Chief, and Cheswick get into a fight with the orderlies after the latter becomes agitated over his confiscated cigarettes. Ratched sends them to the “shock shop”, where McMurphy discovers Chief can actually speak and hear, having feigned his deaf-muteness to avoid engaging with anyone. After being subjected to electroconvulsive therapy, McMurphy returns to the ward pretending to have brain damage, although he reveals the treatment has made him even more determined. McMurphy and Chief make plans to escape, but decide to throw a secret Christmas party for their friends after Ratched leaves for the night.
McMurphy sneaks two women, Candy and Rose, into the ward, bringing bottles of alcohol, and bribes the night guard. After a night of partying, McMurphy and Chief prepare to escape, inviting Billy to come with them. Not ready to leave the hospital, he refuses. Billy asks for a “date” with Candy and McMurphy arranges for him to have sex with her. Ratched arrives in the morning to find the ward in disarray and most of the patients passed out drunk. She discovers Billy and Candy together, and aims to embarrass Billy in front of everyone. Billy manages to overcome his stutter and stands up to Ratched, until she threatens to inform his mother about his escapade. Billy’s stutter returns and he cracks under the pressure. Nurse Ratched has him placed in the doctor’s office to wait for the doctor to arrive. Moments later when McMurphy is trying to escape, Billy commits suicide. McMurphy flies into a rage and pins Ratched to the floor, choking her with both hands until Washington knocks him out. Some time later, Ratched comes back with a neck brace and a scratchy voice, and Harding now leads the now-unsuspended card-playing. Rumors spread that McMurphy has escaped in order to avoid being taken “upstairs”. Later that night, Chief sees McMurphy being returned to his bed. When McMurphy is utterly unresponsive and physically limp, Chief discovers lobotomy scars on his forehead. In an act of mercy, Chief smothers McMurphy to death with a pillow. He then finally is able to lift the hydrotherapy foundation out of the floor, throws it through the window, and escapes into the night, cheered on by Taber.

I feel that this is a movie that everyone must have seen at least once in their lives. You can’t not watch it; it’s too good not to…I also have a top 10 list of movies if anyone’s interested 😊

Check it out (or not):

Sources: Wikipedia, YouTube, interweb, poetpas

Featuring: Django Reinhardt

Not known to everyone, this guitarist has changed my life in a way that is impossible for me to put into words. His compositions, play and melodies are beyond explanation, and even comprehension I might add. In my view, he is technically the best guitarist I have ever heard (with the use of only 3 fingers). His music influenced my life and writing and changed my view on music. It was also my introduction to the world of jazz, which made me discover other great musicians which I will feature in other posts.

Django Reinhardt (23 January 1910 – 16 May 1953) was a Belgian-born Romani-French jazz guitarist and composer. He was the first jazz talent to emerge from Europe and remains the most significant.
With violinist Stéphane Grappelli, Reinhardt formed the Paris-based Quintette du Hot Club de France in 1934. The group was among the first to play jazz that featured the guitar as a lead instrument. Reinhardt recorded in France with many visiting American musicians, including Coleman Hawkins and Benny Carter, and briefly toured the United States with Duke Ellington’s orchestra in 1946. He died suddenly of a stroke at the age of 43.

Reinhardt’s most popular compositions have become standards within gypsy jazz, including “Minor Swing”, “Daphne”, “Belleville”, “Djangology”, “Swing ’42”, and “Nuages”. Jazz guitarist Frank Vignola claims that nearly every major popular-music guitarist in the world has been influenced by Reinhardt. Over the last few decades, annual Django festivals have been held throughout Europe and the U.S., and a biography has been written about his life. In February 2017, the Berlin International Film Festival held the world premiere of the French film Django.

When Django was 18 he nearly died. On the night of 2 November 1928, Reinhardt was going to bed in the wagon that he and his wife shared in the caravan. He knocked over a candle, which ignited the extremely flammable celluloid that set his wagon on fire. Reinhardt survived but suffered extensive burns over half his body. His ring finger and pinky of his left hand were badly burned. Doctors believed that he would never play guitar again. Reinhardt applied himself intensely to relearning his craft, however, making use of a new guitar bought for him by his brother Joseph.
While he never regained the use of those two fingers, Reinhardt regained his musical mastery by focusing on his left index and middle fingers, using the two injured fingers only for chord work. During the years after the fire, Reinhardt was rehabilitating and experimenting on the guitar that his brother had given him. While developing his interest in jazz, Reinhardt met Stéphane Grappelli, a young violinist with similar musical interests. He and Grappelli frequently jammed together and formed the band Hot Club de France in 1934. Reinhardt also played and recorded with many American jazz musicians, such as Adelaide Hall, Coleman Hawkins, Benny Carter, etc. He participated in a jam session and radio performance with Louis Armstrong. Later in his career, Reinhardt played with Dizzy Gillespie in France.

During WW II Django was fortunate enough to be able to survive and play as Roma and Sinti, or better known as gypsies, were deported by Nazis and jazz music was prohibited. Yet some German officers were impressed by Django’s virtuosity leaving him to travel and play in France.

Many guitar players and other musicians have expressed admiration for Reinhardt or have cited him as a major influence. Jeff Beck described Reinhardt as “by far the most astonishing guitar player ever” and “quite superhuman”.
Grateful Dead’s Jerry Garcia and Black Sabbath’s Tony Iommi, both of whom lost fingers in accidents, were inspired by Reinhardt’s example of becoming an accomplished guitar player despite his injuries. Garcia was quoted in June 1985 in Frets Magazine: His technique is awesome! Even today, nobody has really come to the state that he was playing at. As good as players are, they haven’t gotten to where he is. There’s a lot of guys that play fast and a lot of guys that play clean, and the guitar has come a long way as far as speed and clarity go, but nobody plays with the whole fullness of expression that Django has. I mean, the combination of incredible speed – all the speed you could possibly want – but also the thing of every note has a specific personality. You don’t hear it. I really haven’t heard it anywhere but with Django.

Django had a son Babik who was also an accomplished and talented guitar player. Bireli Lagrene, Angelo Debarre are amongst many interpreters that play the Gypsy jazz music style still today.

Check him out (or not):

Sources: Wikipedia, YouTube, poetpas

Featuring: John Cooper Clarke

This man has been my main and ultimate inspirer for writing poetry. From my (post) punk days I have developed a taste for his poetry which is full of wit and sarcasm. His rapidfire delivery system attracted me to explore his work and occasionally try to apply some of his style to my own.

John Cooper Clarke is an English performance poet who first became famous during the punk rock era of the late 1970s when he became known as a “punk poet”. He released several albums in the late 1970s and early 1980s, and continues to perform regularly.

Clarke was born in Salford, Lancashire, in 1949. He became interested in poetry after being inspired by his English teacher. He began his performance career in Manchester folk clubs, working with Rick Goldstraw and his band the Ferrets. Clarke has attributed his early success in part to the influence of the English poet Pam Ayres. Her run of success on the British TV show Opportunity Knocks led both Clarke and his mother to believe that he could make a living at poetry.

In 1979 he had his only UK top 40 hit with “Gimmix! Clarke toured with Linton Kwesi Johnson, and has performed on the same bill as bands such as the Sex Pistols, the Fall, Joy Division, the Buzzcocks, Siouxsie and the Banshees, Elvis Costello, Rockpile and New Order. His set is characterised by lively, rapid-fire renditions of his, usually performed a cappella. Often referred to as “the bard of Salford”, he usually refers to himself on stage as “Johnny Clarke, the name behind the hairstyle”.

In July 2013, Clarke was awarded an honorary doctorate of arts in “acknowledgement of a career which has spanned five decades, bringing poetry to non-traditional audiences and influencing musicians and comedians” by the University of Salford. Upon receipt, Clarke commented: “Now I’m a doctor, finally my dream of opening a cosmetic surgery business can become a reality.” His poem “I Wanna Be Yours” was adapted by Arctic Monkeys and frontman Alex Turner for the band’s fifth album, AM.

I love this man, the bard of Salford, his work, his intelligence, looks and appearance, free spirit, wit, sarcasm, etcetera, etcetera…Without having known him I wouldn’t have written what I’ve written, so far…

Check him out (or not):

johncooperclarke.com

Photo: Gerald Jenkins.
Sources: Wikipedia, YouTube, johncooperclarke.com, Amazon, poetpas

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Featuring: Yongey Mingyur

Most of us have heard of the Dalai Lama and Tibet. After China took control over Tibet, the 14th Dalai Lama resettled in India as spiritual leader. Through following him and taking an interest in Tibetan Buddhism I learned about another inspiring teacher named Rinpoche Yongey Mingyur.

Mingyur Rinpoche was born in Nepal in 1975. From the age of nine, his father taught him meditation, passing on to him the most essential instructions of the Dzogchen and Mahamudra traditions. At the age of eleven, Mingyur Rinpoche began studies in northern India. Two years later, Mingyur Rinpoche began a traditional three-year retreat. At the age of nineteen he studied the primary topics of the Buddhist academic tradition, including Middle Way philosophy and Buddhist logic.
In June 2011, Mingyur Rinpoche left his monastery in Bodhgaya to begin a period of extended retreat. Rinpoche left in the middle of the night, taking nothing with him, but leaving a farewell letter. He spent four years as a wandering yogi.
During the first few weeks of this retreat, Rinpoche had a near-death experience, likely due to a severe form of botulism. This may have been the result of choosing to eat only the meals that were free and available to him after allowing himself to run out of money. The near-death experience, according to Rinpoche, was one of the most pivotal and transformative experiences of his life. After continuing with his retreat for four years, he later returned to his position as abbot.

Yongey Mingyur is a very amusing little man who brought me much wisdom and insight into meditation and Tibetan buddhism. Through him I have found more inner peace. He was scientifically tested and proven to be the happiest man on the planet. His thoughts on having a “monkey mind” in our brain that tries to control our lives are very interesting and helpful. This man has positively changed my life big time.

Check him out (or not):

Books:

Videos:

Sources: Wikipedia, YouTube, Amazon, interweb, poetpas

Featuring: Jim White

I first learned about Jim White when I saw his movie Searching for the Wrong-Eyed Jesus. Searching for The Wrong-Eyed Jesus is a captivating and compelling road trip and follows “Alt Country” singer Jim White through a gritty terrain of churches, prisons, truck stops, biker bars and coal mines. This is a journey through a very real contemporary Southern U.S., a world of marginalised white people and their unique and home-made society. Along the way are road-side encounters with modern musical mavericks including The Handsome Family, Johnny Dowd, Dave Eugene Edwards, old time banjo player Lee sexton; rockabilly and mountain Gospel churches and novelist Harry Crews telling grisly stories down a dirt track.

This movie had a certain impact on me and left me wondering if there was more to this Jim White. After I checked him out on YouTube I realized he is a very sensitive, smart and sincere person.

Jim White (born Michael Davis Pratt) was influenced in his childhood by gospel. He has been a comedian, a fashion model, a boxer, a preacher, a professional surfer, and a New York City cab driver before embarking on a music career. White attended film school at New York University. Soon after finishing his lengthy thesis at the university, White entered a self-described “deep hole of sickness and depression and poverty.” However, during a party organized by film school friends, White began to perform, and began writing material for an album soon afterward.

White’s live shows, particularly when touring solo, can be characterized as off-beat, blending his playlist with open discussion with the audience, anecdotal storytelling derived from his own life experiences, all of which is typically humorous and insightful, with a deep sense of his feeling for the broken beauty of humanity.

Check him out (I would):

Sources: IMDb, Wikipedia, YouTube, interweb, poetpas
Photo: By Tecumseh1973 Wikipedia

Featuring: Featuring:

From this day forth, every now and (only)(until) then, dear boys and girls, I shall be posting an occasional post titled Featuring:

In these posts I shall feature somebody or something that has moved me or made an impression on me. These posts shall most possibly appear weekly, most likely on a Sunday (god willing) so check it out and enjoy…or don’t.

Dance to the radio 📻

Radio, live transmission
Radio, live transmission
Listen to the silence, let it ring on
Eyes, dark grey lenses frightened of the sun
We would have a fine time living in the night
Left to blind destruction
Waiting for our sight
And we would go on as though nothing was wrong
And hide from these days we remained all alone
Staying in the same place, just staying out the time
Touching from a distance
Further all the time
Dance, dance, dance, dance, dance, to the radio
Dance, dance, dance, dance, dance, to the radio
Dance, dance, dance, dance, dance, to the radio
Dance, dance, dance, dance, dance, to the radio
Well I could call out when the going gets tough
The things that we’ve learnt are no longer enough
No language, just sound, that’s all we need know, to synchronise
Love to the beat of the show
And we could dance
Dance, dance, dance, dance, dance, to the radio
Dance, dance, dance, dance, dance, to the radio
Dance, dance, dance, dance, dance, to the radio
Dance, dance, dance, dance, dance, to the radio

~Transmission – Joy Division