Saturday, March 30, 2019

185 Empty Chairs

Christchurch will now be remembered for the terrorist attack on it's mosques, today two weeks ago, but the city has had more of it's share of violence this decade.
On 22 February 2011 a massive 6.2 earthquake shook the city, causing widespread damage across Christchurch and killing 185 people.
Local artist (and boinero) Peter Majendie arranged 185 empty chairs that he had painted white on the site of the demolished Oxford Terrace Baptist Church, creating an unofficial memorial for the 185 individuals who died in the earthquake.

The day after the installation, the local newspaper The Press reported that the artist's intention was for the memorial to stay for a week. However, it has become a major tourist attraction now. Installed at the day of the earthquake's first anniversary, it preceded the official earthquake memorial—the Canterbury Earthquake National Memorial—by five years.

Wednesday, March 27, 2019

Count Geoffrey Wladislas Vaile Potocki de Montalk

Count Geoffrey Wladislas Vaile Potocki de Montalk (1903 –1997) was a poet, polemicist, pagan and pretender to the Polish throne; a right-winger with fascist leanings.
Born in New Zealand, he was the eldest son of Auckland architect Robert Wladislas de Montalk, grandson of Paris-born Professor Count Joseph Wladislas Edmond Potocki de Montalk, and great-grandson of Polish-born Count Jozef Franciszek Jan Potocki, the Insurgent, of Białystok.
In 1926, de Montalk left his wife and small daughter in New Zealand to be a poet by "...follow(ing) the golden road to Samarkand". He travelled to England but moved in 1949 to Draguignan in the south of France where he obtained land and a ramshackle stone cottage – the Villa Vigoni – deep in the Provençal countryside.
In 1932 he was arrested after attempting to publish a manuscript of erotic translations of works by Rabelais and Verlaine, with three short bawdy verses of his own. He appeared before Sir Ernest Wild, Recorder of London at the Central Criminal Court and after a celebrated trial – at which he was supported by Leonard and Virginia Woolf and many of the leading writers of the day – he was sentenced to six months in Wormwood Scrubs.
He emerged from prison bitter and determined to flout English convention. He adopted a mock-medieval style of dress, wearing sandals and a crimson tunic, and a cloak made from a length of scarlet curtain he had begun wearing soon after arrival in London and had worn during his trial. His hair, which had been allowed to grow in prison, continued to grow until it was waist length. After his release he travelled to Warsaw, where he was well received and reported on by the newspapers.
He did not return to New Zealand until 1983. Between 1984 and 1993, he followed the sun by spending summers in either New Zealand or France. He died at Brignoles in France in 1997 and was buried at Draguignan.
Thanks Thomas

Tuesday, March 26, 2019

Vyacheslav Artyomov

Vyacheslav Petrovich Artyomov (1940) is a Russian and Soviet composer.
Artyomov was preparing to become physicist, studying music at the same time. He graduated from the Moscow Conservatory in 1968 where he studied composition.
In 1975, he joined the improvisation group "Astreya" together with the composers Sofia Gubaidulina and Viktor Suslin. In 1979, he was blacklisted as one of the “Khrennikov's Seven” at the Sixth Congress of the Union of Composers for unapproved participation in some festivals of Soviet music in the West.
After the collapse of the USSR, his works were nominated for the State Prizes in Russia and prestigious prizes in the US. They appeared on 29 CDs in USA, GB, Germany and Russia Artyomov is a member of the Russian Academy of Natural Sciences, President of the Foundation for Spiritual Creation, and holder of the Order of Friendship (2010).

Monday, March 25, 2019

Viktor Suslin

Viktor Yevseyevich Suslin (1942 –2012) was a Russian composer. Together with Sofia Gubaidulina and Vyacheslav Artyomov he formed the improvisatory ensemble 'Astraea' in 1975.
In November 1979 after several performances of his works in Paris, Cologne and Venice, Suslin was publicly denounced and blacklisted as one of the "Khrennikov's Seven" at the Sixth Congress of the Union of Soviet Composers for unapproved participation in some festivals of Soviet music in the West.
Suslin emigrated to West Germany in 1981.

Sunday, March 24, 2019


Cellist, London
Hungarian Csaba Gal in München  (Munich, Germany)
Performers in Nice, France

Violinist Andrei Denga and accordionist Alexander Popov, Union Station, Toronto, Canada
Mark, New Zealand
Cello player, Riga, Latvia

Saturday, March 23, 2019

Christchurch - 15 March 2019

Like so many New Zealanders, and people across the globe, I am still trying to come to terms with the terrorist attacks on the two mosques in Christchurch, Friday a week ago.
Pain and an overwhelming sense of loss. Pain, for all those people who have lost their loved ones and the suffering of all those (critically) wounded people, fighting for their lives.
Loss, in the sense of loosing our innocence, this country that for so long felt like a last safe haven on this planet; far away from everywhere in the literal and metaphorical sense.
Police go (went) around the street unarmed, no checks for weapons when boarding domestic flights, my children who don't realize how special it is to have such integrated, multi-cultural schools and universities...
For many Kiwi's, one of the first reactions to the attacks was that all that would be over now. And some things will change, and already have, but what struck me most, is how this awful, senseless and cowardly deed, has actually brought this country together. Massive demonstrations against racism and xenophobia, vigils where 10's of 1000's show their respect and solidarity, a sweeping new ban on firearms that came just six days after the shooting (what a stark contrast to the political stalemate in the US), student societies who offer a taxi and escort service to Muslim women, hardened gang members talking about love and offering protection, etc., etc.
I found some pictures of beret wearers, but it doesn't feel right to publish these here and now. For once from me, some different headgear; our Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern in hijab (top) and this fantastic symbolic photo of Constable Michelle Evans in hijab with a rifle and rose outside the Christchurch Memorial Park Cemetery, as victims of the mosque shootings are buried.

Friday, March 22, 2019

Aoraki / Mount Cook

Aoraki / Mount Cook is the highest mountain in New Zealand. 
Its height since 2014 is listed as 3,724 metres (12,218 feet), down from 3,764 m (12,349 ft) before December 1991, due to a rockslide and subsequent erosion. It lies in the Southern Alps, the mountain range which runs the length of the South Island. 
A popular tourist destination, it is also a favourite challenge for mountain climbers. Aoraki / Mount Cook consists of three summits, from South to North the Low Peak (3,593 m or 11,788 ft), Middle Peak (3,717 m or 12,195 ft) and High Peak. The summits lie slightly south and east of the main divide of the Southern Alps, with the Tasman Glacier to the east and the Hooker Glacier to the southwest.
 There was a large rock fall in 1991 that turned the summit into a knife-edge ridge and reduced the height of the mountain by an estimated 10 m or so at that time. Aoraki / Mount Cook was measured in 2013 to be 3724 m, which is 30 m down from its pre-1991 rock-fall measurement.

Thursday, March 21, 2019

José Moreno

When José Moreno was captured in 1937 during the Spanish Civil War, he was sentenced to death by one of the commanders in Franco's army.
For reasons he says he never understood, he was spared that fate. He celebrated his 100th birthday in November.
“I should have died then — but here I am, feeling well enough to remember clearly all that I’ve endured,” said Mr. Moreno, with a big grin. “I still don’t really know why I wasn’t killed and instead sent to prison, so it’s very hard to believe that I have managed to live so long.”
Mr. Moreno was only a teenager when the civil war started, but it is a chapter of his life that he has not tried — or perhaps managed — to close.
While he watches the news in color these days, his views remain black and white, shaped by his wartime experience and his ardent support for Basque nationalism.

His latest concern is the resurgence of the far right. In December, Vox, a nationalist, anti-immigrant party, won its first parliamentary seats in an election in the southern region of Andalusia.
Mr. Moreno now shares an apartment with his daughter, Manuela, in the Bilbao suburb of Portugalete, close to the shipyards where he once worked. The apartment is filled with Basque memorabilia, including photos of Mr. Moreno meeting local politicians.

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Professor Bill Mitchell

Professor Bill Mitchell holds the Chair in Economics and is the Director of the Centre of Full Employment and Equity (CofFEE), an official research centre at the University of Newcastle. He also is a Visiting Professor at Maastricht University, The Netherlands and is on the management board of CofFEE-Europe, a sister centre located at that university.
He is also a professional musician and plays guitar with the Melbourne Reggae-Dub band – Pressure Drop. The band was popular around the live music scene in Melbourne in the late 1970s and early 1980s. The band reformed in late 2010.

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Eddy Harris

In 1985, author and explorer Eddy L. Harris paddled the Mississippi River from its source in Lake Itasca, Minnesota to its terminus in the Gulf of Mexico at the City of New Orleans. 
During his remarkable journey, he navigated both the difficulties of a living river and the challenges of being a Black man in America. Thirty years later, he made the trip again—this time, with cameras. 
Harris’ film, River to the Heart, paints an intimate portrait of what awaits those willing to venture out into the unknown world and discover all that it has to offer.

Monday, March 18, 2019

Sir Charles William Feilden Hamilton OBE

Sir Charles William Feilden Hamilton OBE (1899 –1978), generally known as Bill Hamilton, was a New Zealand engineer who developed the modern jetboat, and founded the water jet manufacturing company, CWF Hamilton Ltd.
Hamilton never claimed to have invented the jet boat. He once said "I do not claim to have invented marine jet propulsion. The honour belongs to a gentleman named Archimedes, who lived some years ago." What he did was refine the design enough to produce the first useful modern jet boat.
Hamilton survived an aeroplane accident at Wellington Airport in poor conditions in 1936. The collision with the anemometer took the starboard wing off the Miles Falcon Six he was travelling in and killed pilot Malcolm "Mac" McGregor.
After a trip to England he became fascinated with motor cars and raced a Bentley. He decided to develop his own heavy machinery. He built a workshop, developed an excavator with an earth scoop and built a dam to supply water for a hydroelectric plant to supply power for domestic use and for his engineering projects, and started a manufacturing business.
In the 1950s Hamilton set out to try to build a boat that could navigate the shallow fast flowing rivers where he lived. The rivers were too shallow for propeller driven boats to navigate as the propeller would hit the river bottom.
When he took one of his early demonstration jet boats to the United States, the media scoffed when he said he planned to take it up the Colorado River, but in 1960 three Hamilton jet boats, the Kiwi, Wee Red and Dock, became the first and only boats to travel up through the Grand Canyon. The critics were silenced further when the boats went down river through the Grand Canyon to cache petrol just prior to the uprun.