Friday, April 29, 2016

José Villegas Cordero

José Villegas Cordero (1844 –1921 was a Spanish painter of historical, genre and costumbrism scenes.
His father ran a barbershop, and his family had their doubts about an artistic career. But, in 1860, when he was still only sixteen, he sold one of his works at the "Exposición Sevillana" for 2,000 Reales. This changed his family's mind and he was apprenticed to the painter José María Romero López, staying with him for two years before enrolling at the Escuela de Bellas Artes de Sevilla.
He went on to work in Madrid, Rome and Morocco.
The 1890s began quietly but, in 1896, his younger brother Ricardo (who was also an artist) drowned after he fell off a boat on the Guadalquivir. This plunged him into depression and he began painting works of an ecclesiastical nature. Two years later, he was appointed Director of the "Academia española de Bellas Artes en Roma". In 1901, in recognition of his work there, he was named Director of the Museo del Prado; abandoning his studio in Rome and returning to Madrid. 
He held that post until 1918 and presided over a major reorganization. During that time, he also established a new reputation as a portrait painter. He resigned due to negative publicity following a jewellery theft by one of the museum's guards.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Surfing with Beret

I find berets in the most unexpected places.
In the surfing community for example, where a beret is the thing to wear these days.
And not just in Hawaii; the Basque Country itself is well known for it's great surfing:

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Tame Iti

Tame Wairere Iti (1952) is a Tūhoe Māori activist (New Zealand). He grew up in the Urewera area, and in the late 1960s and 1970s he was involved in protests against the Vietnam War, apartheid in South Africa and in many Māori protest actions. His ability to court controversy and his full facial moko (traditional Maori facial tattoo) make him well-recognised.
Iti became involved with Nga Tamatoa, a major Māori protest group of the 1970s, from its early days. He joined the Communist Party of New Zealand, and went to China in 1973 during the Cultural Revolution. He has taken part in a number of land occupations and held a hikoi to the New Zealand Parliament.
Iti has worked as a radio DJ and artist. He was a partner in an restaurant on Auckland's Karangahape Road that served traditional Māori food. The alcohol-free restaurant, which incorporated an art gallery, opened in 1999 and closed within a year.
He stood for Parliament as a candidate of Mana Māori in the 1996, 1999 and 2002 New Zealand general elections.
As of 2012 Iti has been employed by Tūhoe Hauora, a health service, for several years as a social worker dealing with drug and alcohol problems.

Tame Iti's ability to court controversy has made him a common feature in New Zealand news media. Iti has a full facial moko, which he described as "the face of the future" in New Zealand. During 2004 he wore a mohawk. The public arguably know Iti best for his moko and for performing whakapohane (baring his buttocks) at protests.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

José Luis Álvarez Enparantza

José Luis Álvarez Enparantza (1929 –2012) better known by his pseudonym Txillardegi, was a Basque linguist, politician and writer. Born in San Sebastián (Basque Country), he did not learn the Basque language until the age of 17, but came to be considered one of the most influential figures in Basque nationalism and culture in the second half of the 20th century.
He was a major contributor to the standardisation of Basque. His philosophy was based on the following points:
  • ·         that if minority languages are to survive, they have to be able to deal with modern science and technology;
  • ·         that a standardised language is a key part of modernisation;
  • ·         that any subject could be discussed in an understandable way in any language, based on "trying, time, and intelligence";
  • ·         and that the main feature, among others, that should identify a person (or the country) as Basque should be knowledge of the Basque language.

A member of the Basque Nationalist Party (PNV) in his youth, he promoted the defence and study of the Basque language as the basis of Basque identity.
After becoming disillusioned with the PNV, Txillardegi was one of the founders of ETA in 1959, together with a group of young nationalists and was the visible leader of the cultural branch of the movement.
Txillardegi participated in the foundation in 1977 of Herri Batasuna and was elected senator for the abertzale coalition in the first elections.
Coming to believe that the armed struggle was unviable, for a time he was active in Aralar and then publicly distanced himself from the armed struggle when the party participated in an act of solidarity, organized by the Basque government, with the victims of ETA violence.

Monday, April 25, 2016

The Underbeats

In the 1960s, The Underbeats became one of the most popular bands in the Twin Cities of Minneapolis/St. Paul. Founder Jim Johnson left the band in 1966 after he was drafted to serve in Vietnam.  When he returned in 1968 the band left Minnesota and relocated to Los Angeles.
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In 1969 The Underbeats changed their name to Gypsy, landed the house gig at the Whisky-A-Go Go on The Sunset Strip and played with everyone who came through the club in 1969 and 1970.

Jim Johnson had the Underbeats wear berets for nearly a year because Johnson saw Chuck Berry wear one in a photograph.

Sunday, April 24, 2016

F. W. Murnau

Friedrich Wilhelm "F. W." Murnau (born Friedrich Wilhelm Plumpe; 1888 – 1931) was a German film director. Murnau was greatly influenced by Schopenhauer, Nietzsche, Shakespeare and Ibsen plays he had seen at the age of 12, and became a friend of director Max Reinhardt. During World War I he served as a company commander at the eastern front and was in the German air force, surviving several crashes without any severe injuries.
Arguably Murnau's best known work is his 1922 film Nosferatu, an adaptation of Bram Stoker's Dracula. Although not a commercial success due to copyright issues with Stoker's novel, the film was considered a masterpiece of Expressionist artwork. He was also known for his work with the 1924 film The Last Laugh and his interpretation of Goethe's Faust (1926). He later emigrated to Hollywood in 1926, where he joined the Fox Studio and made three films, including Sunrise (1927), 4 Devils (1928) and City Girl (1930).
In 1931 Murnau travelled to Bora Bora to make the film Tabu with documentary film pioneer Robert J. Flaherty, who left after artistic disputes with Murnau, who had to finish the movie on his own. A week prior to the opening of the film Tabu, Murnau died in a Santa Barbara hospital from injuries he had received in an automobile accident that occurred along the Pacific Coast Highway near Rincon Beach, southeast of Santa Barbara. 

Of the 21 films Murnau directed, 8 have been completely lost, leaving 13 surviving in their entirety. One reel of his feature Marizza, genannt die Schmuggler-Madonna survives.

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Chuck Berry

Charles Edward Anderson "Chuck" Berry (born October 18, 1926) is an American guitarist, singer and songwriter, and one of the pioneers of rock and roll music. 
With songs such as "Maybellene" (1955), "Roll Over Beethoven" (1956), "Rock and Roll Music" (1957) and "Johnny B. Goode" (1958), Berry refined and developed rhythm and blues into the major elements that made rock and roll distinctive, with lyrics focusing on teen life and consumerism and utilizing guitar solos and showmanship that would be a major influence on subsequent rock music.

Friday, April 22, 2016

Anatole

Anatole is the title character in a series of children's picture books written by Eve Titus and illustrated by Paul Galdone. "Anatole" is also the name of the series. The ten books were originally published from 1956 to 1979. Two books in the series, Anatole in 1957, and Anatole and the Cat in 1958, were nominated for the Caldecott Medal, and were subsequently named Caldecott Honor books.
Anatole the mouse lives in a mouse village outside the city of Paris. One day, while commuting by bicycle to forage for food, he overhears some humans complaining about mice as villains. Deeply aggrieved at the insult to his honor, Anatole resolves to do better. He goes to work in a French cheese factory as a taster and evaluator of the cheese.
Working alone and anonymously late at night, he leaves notes to guide the cheesemakers in their work. His taste for good cheese leads to the factory's commercial success and to his murine fame to such an extent that Anatole is regularly hailed as a "mouse magnifique" by rodent contemporaries.
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The factory's human owners and workers also hold his work in high esteem, although they have no idea that the mysterious Anatole is a mouse, believing him simply an eccentric cheese connoisseur who prefers to work alone. In these works the author, through the character of Anatole, consistently places emphasis on the dignity of work.
Anatole lives in a conventional nuclear family, married to the beautiful and supportive Doucette and with six lovely children.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Jerry Ellis

Jerry Ellis (1947) is an American author of fiction and non-fiction works best known for the book Walking the Trail written after he walked the 900 mile route of the Cherokee Trail of Tears.
Jerry Ellis was born in Fort Payne, Alabama, of mixed Scottish and Cherokee descent. His Cherokee great-great grandmother was living in the Fort Payne area at the time of the Trail of Tears, but she and her family escaped removal. He is the brother of actress Sandra Ellis Lafferty.
Ellis graduated from the University of Alabama. In 1989 he was the first person in the modern world to walk the Cherokee Trail of Tears. Ellis lives in both Fort Payne, Alabama, and in Rome, Italy. Ellis' Native American art--masks, pipes, dolls, and weapons--have been exhibited in numerous Native American galleries. Ellis is the co-founder of Tanager House; an artist retreat set on 200 wooded acres in the mountains of north Alabama, where he leads workshops on writing/publishing, spirituality, self-actualization.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Yvon Chouinard

Yvon Chouinard (1938) is a rock climber, environmentalist and outdoor industry businessman. His company, Patagonia, is known for its environmental focus.
Chouinard is also a surfer, kayaker, falconer and fly fisherman. He has written about climbing issues and ethics and on mixing environmentalism and sound business practices.
 Receiving a honorary degree during commencement at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia.
Chouinard is most known for founding the clothing and gear company, Patagonia. In 1970 on a trip to Scotland, he purchased some rugby shirts and sold them with great success. From this small start, the Patagonia company developed a wide selection of rugged technical clothing.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Yela

Austrian-Zimbabwean singer/songwriter Yela teamed up with super producer Steve McKie to make soul magic. 
"One More" is a buoyant track that begins with Yela singing, "If I get one more night with you, well let me tell you what I'd do." Get your heads out of the gutter, she's speaking of pure love and savoring the perfect moment. If you've never had that feeling, you will once you listen to "One More." Growing up her musical inspirations ranged from Billie Holiday, Bob Marley and Miriam Makeba to Stevie Wonder, Joni Mitchell and Jimi Hendrix. 
Her voice presents an old soul with new energy that will keep your attention. By the way, if you've never heard of Steve McKie, look him up. The Philly-bred musician and producer is well known for his work with soul royalty such as Jill Scott, Bilal, Robert Glasper, Musiq Soulchild, Estelle and more.

Monday, April 18, 2016

Andraé Crouch

Andraé Edward Crouch (1942 – 2015) was an American gospel singer, songwriter, arranger, record producer and pastor. Referred to as "the father of modern gospel music" by contemporary Christian and gospel music professionals, Crouch was known for his compositions "The Blood Will Never Lose Its Power", "My Tribute (To God Be the Glory)" and "Soon and Very Soon". 
In secular music, he was known for his collaborative work during the 1980s and 1990s with Stevie Wonder, Elton John and Quincy Jones as well as conducting choirs that sang on the Michael Jackson hit "Man in the Mirror" and Madonna's "Like a Prayer". Crouch was noted for his talent of incorporating contemporary secular music styles into the gospel music he grew up with. His efforts in this area were what helped in paving the way for early American contemporary Christian music during the 1960s and 1970s.
Crouch's original music arrangements were heard in the films The Color Purple and Disney's The Lion King, as well as the NBC television series Amen. Awards received by him include seven Grammy Awards, being inducted into the Gospel Music Hall of Fame in 1998, and receiving a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 2004.

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Solomon Dalung

Sports Minister Solomon Dalung (1964) joined the Nigerian Prisons Service in the early eighties. In 1991 while still in the Prisons Service, he enrolled to study law at the Law Faculty of the University of Jos. The unpredictable academic calendar that characterised the Nigerian university atmosphere in that period saw him spending a whole nine years before bagging an LLB.
He proceeded to the Nigerian Law School, Bwari, in Abuja, graduated in 2000 and was called to the Nigerian Bar in 2001.
In 2005, he combined his job as a lecturer in the University of Jos with his post-graduate degree programme in law. His LLM program successfully ended in 2007 and he was appointed the Chairman of Langtang South Local Government Area the same year. His tenure as LG chairman ended in May 2008. He then returned to the University of Jos, but made an attempt at representing Langtang North and South at the National Assembly but lost.
On why he wears a red beret: Nneka Ikem Anibeze, the spokesperson and Special Adviser to the Minister of Sports and Youth Development, Comrade Barrister Solomon Dalung said the Minister ‘’is a staunch activist who cares for the welfare of the masses. His wears portray the struggle for the government to provide a better life for the people’’.

Saturday, April 16, 2016

New National Guard to prevent Russian 'Maidan'

President Putin worries about unstable times to come in Russia. The formation of a new National Guard is his answer "to keep the peace", and much more: an 'insurance policy' for a new term as president in 2018.
Last week the Russian president signed the decree for one of the largest reorganizations of the Russian security structures since the fall of the Soviet Union. The security forces and domestic forces are merged into one paramilitary organization. 
‘The Face of War’, made of shells by artist Darja Martsjenko 
The new National Guard carries no longer responsibility to the Minister of the Interior, but only to Putin himself. Commander Viktor Zolotov, in the past the bodyguard of the president and head of the presidential security service is its commander.
Russia's security apparatus is indeed impressive. Domestic forces now number more than 180,000 heavily armed men. The riot police OMON employs tens of thousands of members. And then there are other special police units such as the 'rapid reaction force' SOBR. All these units should not be confused with the regular police, which has almost a million men - on a little less than 150 million inhabitants. 
The Soviet leaders never had much faith in the regular army, which did not consist of professionals but of conscripts. When communist reactionaries staged a military coup in 1991, the army sided with the people and Boris Yeltsin. A mistake Mr Putin won't make.

Friday, April 15, 2016

The Triplets of Belleville

Many berets in The Triplets of Belleville.
Champion is a lonely little boy whose only passion in life is his bicycle. As the years go by, he enters the world-famous cycling race 'Le Tour de France' and there starts the beginning of his eventful quest across the ocean, accompanied by his faithful dog Bruno and adopted grandmother, Madame de Souza.
The movie is an allegory about the commercialization and professionalization of the entertainment industry. It can also be read more broadly as a warning of what we lose in the drive for profit.
The triplets stand for the quirky ways of art driven by the individual artist, rich in texture and poor in budget. The mafia stands for corporations, with boxy identical thugs who merge together (even the seemingly-cutesy character designs turn out to be detailed symbols). The Tour de France is depicted as an event started by bicycle lovers but now pushed so far by competition that the racers are overspecialized freaks who walk awkwardly. The kidnapping is corporate takeover, draining the last dregs of meaning from the event by replacing the travel with machinery.
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One could go on and on; about trains, Bruno the dog’s dreams, food, Europe vs. North America.... Every touch is meaningful.

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Asylum Seekers, Refugees, Australia and Berets

1956, Switzerland. Hungarian refugees fleeing the National insurgency
Growing up in the Netherlands, 50 years ago, jokes on our southern (Belgian) neighbours were a constant; pretty similar to Americans vs Canadians, NZ'ers vs Australians. But, despite being NZer now, this post on my incomprehension of Australian politics and attitudes has nothing to do with that. I love the country and find Australians among my very best friends and people I highly respect.
Refugee with immigration officers at New York dock, 1951
At the same time, the way Australia deals with asylum seekers and refugees is something that can't be brought in the limelight too much. There is no country in the Western World with such an incredible poor record of care and acceptance of people fleeing from persecution and human rights abuses. Worse, get's away with breaking treaties and conventions it signed up to. 
Israel Ruth Gruber, refugee from Exodus
Cynically, so many Australians arrived in the subcontinent themselves fleeing from persecution or certainly, the want of a better (safer) life for themselves and offspring. 
Macedonia, refugee camp
Following, an animated short film, narrated by two asylum-seeking men detained in Australia's Manus Island Offshore Processing Centre, recounting the dangerous journeys that brought them to the island and their memories of the riot that erupted in 2014.
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In July 2013, the Australian Government introduced a controversial immigration policy, transferring asylum seekers arriving by boat to remote offshore detention centres on foreign Pacific islands. Seven months later, the Manus Island centre erupted in violence when police and guards put down protests with sticks, machetes and guns, and 23 year-old asylum seeker Reza Barati was killed.
Albania, 1999: Kosovar refugees released after detention in Mitrowice prison by the Serbs, collapsing after having crossed the border
Whistleblower Rod St George tells about life on Manus Island here:
Why this post? In the first place, because these messages can't be spread often enough. Quoting George Steiner, it is a crime to say "but I didn't know", even if you are not in a position to do something, denial or keeping the silence is almost as bad as perpetrating.

Audrey Hepburn interviewing a jewish refugee in Paris, from Morocco, who fled from anti-semitism, 1968
And second, so many refugees wear berets, of course. Many of my family did, before being slaughtered in Auschwitz and Sobibor.
France, 1939. Two refugees made homeless during the civil war in Spain