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Welcome to my Blog!The lion roars!!!
I hope to share here my irrepressible thoughts on news, music, books, arts and such like. In general these will be items, events and issues which I feel have no place on my website (which focusses on aviation history and my travel photography).

The item immediately below this would be the latest posting.

Anybody, providing he knows how to be amusing, has the right to talk about himself. - Charles Baudelaire
Esse est percipi (To be is to be perceived) - Bishop George Berkeley


In 2013 I started a series of photo albums on Blurb.com, named '36Exp' (a subject adressed in 36 exposures, a reference to the exposures on most common rolls of 35 mm film: 12, 24 & 36.). The books can be ordered directly from the Blurb.com website.
http://www.blurb.com/user/ruudleeuw

 

 
L'OEIL INTIME by SABINE WEISS | PHOTOGRAPHY PHOTOBOOKS

LÓeil Intime by Sabine Weiss, photographer

L'Oeil Intime - Sabine Weiss

L'Oeil Intime - Sabine Weiss


Sabine Weiss is the last representative of the French humanist school of photography, which includes photographers like Robert Doisneau (discussd further down this page), Willy Ronis, Édouard Boubat, Brassaï and Izis.
Still active at over 90 years of age, she has accepted for the first time to present her personal archives, thereby providing a privileged insight into her life and career as a photographer. The exhibition at the Château de Tours 18Jun16-30Oct16 showcases just a few milestones from her long career.

I found this exhibition announced when I visited Jeu de Paume early septembre 2016 and had to make do with this fine little book.
Through about 84 prints (the exhibition announced 130 prints!), one is presented a nice overview (1950s-1990s) of the multiple facets of this prolific artist, for whom photography was first and foremost, a fascinating occupation.

Sabine Weiss was born, née Weber, in a small village Switzerland, Saint Gingolph, in 1924.
She became drawn to photography from a very early age and did her apprenticeship at Paul Boissonnas’ studio (1942-1945), a dynasty of photographers practising in Geneva since the late 19th century.
Her mother took her to Romanesque churches and art galleries from her earliest years and her father, a chemist, enjoyed seeing his small daughter develop her photos with the amateur equipment of the time.
Having intially opened her own studio in 1945, she left Geneva for Paris in 1946 and became the assistant of Willy Maywald, a German photographer living in the French capital, specialising in fashion photography and portraits.
She married the American painter Hugh Weiss in 1950, and at this time embarked upon a career as an independent photographer. She moved into a small Parisian studio with her husband—where she continues to live to this day!—and socialized in the artistic circles of the post-war period.

Circa 1952, Sabine Weiss joined the Rapho Agency thanks to Robert Doisneau’s recommendation.
Her personal work met with immediate critical acclaim in the United States with exhibitions at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Art Institute of Chicago, the Walker Art Institute in Minneapolis and the Limelight Gallery, New York. Three of her photographs were shown as part of the famous exhibition 'The Family of Man', organized by Edward Steichen in 1955, and Sabine obtained long-lasting contracts with The New York Times Magazine, Life, Newsweek, Vogue, Point de vue-Images du monde, Paris Match, Esquire, and Holiday.

From that time and up until the 2000s, Sabine Weiss continued to work for the international illustrated press, as well as for numerous institutions and brands.
In the late 1970s, her work had returned to the spotlights thanks to a growing revival of interest in so-called humanist photography on behalf of festivals and institutions. This interest encouraged Sabine to return to black and white photography. At over 60 years of age, she began a new body of personal work, punctuated by her travels in France, Egypt, India, Reunion Island, Bulgaria and Burma, and in which a more sentimental melody may be 'heard'.

Most of this text was sourced from-
www.jeudepaume.org, written by Virginie Chardin
and the essay by Marion Weiss in this book, L'oeil Intime.


[28SEP2016]

 
ALLE PRESIDENTEN VAN AMERIKA by FRANS VERHAGEN | BOOKS HISTORY

Van George Washington tot Barack Obama, door Frans Verhagen


By september 2012 this book, 'Van George Washington tot Barack Obama; alle presidenten van Amerika' listing all presidents of the United States of America, was published; this was shortly before the re-election of Barack Obama, for his second term 2012-2016.
'From George Washington to Barack Obama' describes in 4 to 6 pages each US president for his character, circumstance leading to the presidency, how history has judged him (sofar), whether he was any good or how he failed.
The biographies of all 43 presidenten, of icons such as Abraham Lincoln, both Roosevelts and George Washington to unfortunate of circumstantial presidents such as Herbert Hoover, Lyndon B. Johnson and George W. Bush.
Verhagen lists the answers to what these 43 presidents (44 presidencies) achieved, what made them succeed or fail and who was the best president..?
I found this compact paperback (237 pages) to the point and very informative. So much, if not all, the media these days is in uproar about, has happened before: fraud, corruption, financial collapse, unsavoury election campaigns, turning back on campaign promises.. You name it!

The book includes a list per president of recommended biographies.

How many presidents has the United States had?
Unfortunately the answer is more complicated than one would expect. 43 People have served as President of the United States. This includes Barack Obama, currently serving his second term.
Barack Obama is most often listed as the 44th President, this is because Grover Cleveland is counted as both the 22nd and 24th President - he was elected, then lost, then won again four years later. This is the accepted way to count the US Presidents, making Barack Obama both the 44th President but only the 43rd person to take the oath of office.
An argument can be made that Grover Cleveland should not be counted twice. Order should not affect a count of quantity, or simply that one person shouldn't be two Presidents.

Mr. Dr. Frans Verhagen (b.1954) is a Dutch journalist and publicist. His focus is mainly on the United States of America (since some 35 years, first as a student, then as a correspondent, later involved with magazines and webmaster of amerika.nl) and political/social developments in the Netherlands, emphasizing on integration.
Verhagen publishes on a regular basis in the weekly DeGroene as well as Dutch daily newspapers. Various books have been published by his hand, e.g. a biography on Abraham Lincoln (2012) and in 2016 Founding Fathers.

Frans Verhagen, Amerika specialist - (Dutch)
Verhagen's career and background
Wikipedia - List of Presidents of the United States

[28SEP2016]

 
BORKMANN'S POINT by HÅKAN NESSER | BOOKS CRIME FICTION

Hakan Nesser's Borkmann's Point, crime fiction

'Borkmann's Point' is a prize-winning crime novel by Swedish writer Håkan Nesser, first published in Sweden in 1994 and translated into English by Laurie Thompson in 2006.

The novel is set in the early 1990s when Chief Inspector Van Veeteren, a 30-year veteran of police work who appreciates fine food and drink, cuts short his vacation to help the police chief of the remote town of Kaalbringen and his small crew investigate two ax murders.
Another identical murder occurs in the weeks leading up to the retirement of Police Chief Bausen and it's expected that solving them would not only complete their work while Van Veeteren is available, but would be a high point for Bausen's career exit.
The problem is that the killings are random with the victims completely unrelated, and the murderer is too clever to be found or even noticed.

The title of the work refers to a tipping point in the solving of crimes as proposed by an admired senior colleague of Van Veeteren during his time as a probationer in the force.
At some point during the investigation enough information has been gathered that the solution of the murder inquiry is there among the evidence. The trick is to extract it from the surplus of information.
Nevertheless, the murderer is no sooner identified than the very last pages of the book have been reached. And perhaps the strongest of clues lies in the abduction of a female police officer, Beate Moerk.

For several years I had this book on my shelf. I had bought it during holidays which took my to Ystad in Sweden, where I bought a selection of Mankell's Wallander novels. This book by Håkan Nesser was also bought at the time but my taste in reading, for a time, changed to a preference for non-fiction.
For some time now I have been reading both fiction and non-fiction and am glad I finally found the opportunity to read this fine book!

en.wikipedia.org:_Borkmann's_Point


[23SEP2016]

 
PARIS by ROBERT DOISNEAU | PHOTOGRAPHY PHOTOBOOKS

Paris by Robert Doisneau, photobook

Paris by Robert Doisneau, photobook

Paris by Robert Doisneau, photobook

Robert Doisneau, photography


Robert Doisneau (b.14 Apr1912 – d.01Apr1994) was a French photographer.
He was a champion of humanist photography and with Henri Cartier-Bresson a pioneer of photojournalism. In the 1930s he used a Leica on the streets of Paris.

He is renowned for his 1950 image Le baiser de l'hôtel de ville (Kiss by the Town Hall), a photograph of a couple kissing in the busy streets of Paris.

Jean and Denise Lavergne erroneously believed themselves to be the couple in The Kiss, and when Robert and Annette Doisneau (his older daughter and also his assistant at the time) met them for lunch in the 1980s he "did not want to shatter their dream" so he said nothing. This resulted in them taking him to court for "taking their picture without their knowledge", because under French law an individual owns the rights to their own likeness.
(And this is interesting because I was adressed by a man in the street in Paris recently for taking his photograph, claiming this was not allowed in France and he was a graphic designer and he could know... He disagreed with my version that street photography is allowed but for publishing a permission of the subject is required. I had no problem deleting that particular image, but I hate being fed absolute nonsense. Anyway, it fitted with many frustration last month during my stay in Paris this months, Parisiens are so rude and/or full of themselves! -Webmaster).

Back to the court action, which forced Doisneau to reveal that he posed the shot using Françoise Delbart and Jacques Carteaud, lovers whom he had just seen kissing, but had not photographed initially because of his natural reserve; he approached them and asked if they would repeat the kiss.
He won the court case against the Lavergnes.
Doisneau said in 1992, "I would never have dared to photograph people like that. Lovers kissing in the street, those couples are rarely legitimate."
In 1950 Françoise was given an original print of the photograph, bearing Doisneau's signature and stamp, as part of the payment for her 'work'. In April 2005 she sold the print at auction for €155,000 to an unidentified Swiss collector...

The 1950s were Doisneau's peak, but the 1960s were his wilderness [sic, wikipedia] years. In the 1970s Europe began to change and editors looked for new reportage that would show the sense of a new social era. He won several awards throughout his life.
The Maison de la photographie Robert Doisneau in Gentilly, Val-de-Marne (a suburb of Paris), is a photographic gallery named in his honour.
Doisneau was known for his modest, playful, and ironic images of amusing juxtapositions, mingling social classes, and eccentrics in contemporary Paris streets and cafes. Influenced by the work of André Kertész, Eugène Atget, and Henri Cartier-Bresson, in more than 20 (!) books he presented a charming vision of human frailty and life as a series of quiet, incongruous moments.

en.wikipedia.org:_Robert_Doisneau
www.robert-doisneau.com/en/portfolios/


[20SEP2016]

 
ELLIOTT ERWITT'S KOLOR | PHOTOGRAPHY PHOTOBOOK

Elliott Erwitt's Kolor, photobook

Elliott Erwitt's Kolor, photobook
Elliott Erwitt's wit in his photography, as well as his versatility, is very much apparent here!

Elliott Erwitt, photography


Elliott Erwitt (Elio Romano Erwitz, b.26Jul1928) is an American advertising and documentary photographer known for his black and white candid shots of ironic and absurd situations within everyday settings— a master of Henri Cartier-Bresson's 'decisive moment'.
Erwitt was born in Paris, France, to Jewish-Russian immigrant parents. In 1939, when he was ten, his family immigrated to the United States. He studied photography and filmmaking at Los Angeles City College and the New School for Social Research, finishing his education in 1950. In 1951 he was drafted into the Army, and decommissioned in 1953.

Erwitt served as a photographer's assistant in the 1950s in the US Army while stationed in France and Germany. He was influenced by meeting the famous photographers Edward Steichen, Robert Capa and Roy Stryker.
Erwitt was invited to become a member of Magnum Photos by the founder Robert Capa. He served as president for three terms.
Erwitt was awarded the Royal Photographic Society's Centenary Medal and an honorary fellowship (HonFRPS) in 2002 in recognition of a sustained, significant contribution to the art of photography. And the International Center for Photography's Infinity Award, Lifetime Achievement category, in 2011.
His technique is faultless, but he always stresses that the instinct that creates great photography is casual and uncontrollable. His keen eye created relationships between people, places and things and helped him to reveal the world in a unique and often humorous way; Erwitt seems especially sensitive to the things in the world the reveal the absurdity of life.
Since the 1970s, he has devoted much of his energy toward movies. His feature films, television commercials, and documentary films.

People who know the work of Elliott Erwitt, are most likely familiar with his exhaustive body of black and white work. Whether it’s photographs of dogs, women, celebrities or beach life, his photographs reveal the world from a insightful and sometimes humorous perspective. Elliott Erwitt's Kolor is a 448-page book whose images were selected from nearly half a million Kodachrome and Ektachrome slides that Erwitt produced during his lengthy career as a editorial and commercial photographer. Though many of the images were created as part of commissioned work, the images also reflect the photographer’s penchant for creating images for himself, even when on assignment..

Elliott Erwitt's Kolor: teNeues, 2013. ISBN 9783832795771.
With 19 books to his credit, he remains one of the most popular and celebrated photographers in the world. "He's not only talented but extremely intelligent," says John Szarkowski, director emeritus of the Museum of Modern Art's photography department, "and, as we know, in our world intelligence often passes for wit".

en.wikipedia.org:_Elliott_Erwitt
www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2003/dec/27/photography
pro.magnumphotos.com
Review of Kolor on The Phoblographer


[17SEP2016]

 
HENRI CARTIER-BRESSON | PHOTOGRAPHY

Henri Cartier-Bresson

Henri Cartier-Bresson

Henri Cartier-Bresson

 


Henri Cartier-Bresson (b.22Aug1908 – d.Aug2004) was a French humanist photographer and considered a master of candid photography; he was also early user of 35 mm film.
He pioneered the genre of street photography and conceived of photography as capturing a decisive moment.
His work has influenced many photographers.

Henri Cartier-Bresson's father was a wealthy textile manufacturer. His mother's family were cotton merchants and landowners from Normandy, where Henri spent part of his childhood. Henri's parents supported him financially so Henri could pursue photography more freely than his contemporaries.
Young Henri took holiday snapshots with a Box Brownie; he later experimented with a 3×4 inch view camera.
After trying to learn music, Cartier-Bresson was introduced to oil painting by his uncle Louis, a gifted painter. But the painting lessons were cut short when uncle Louis was killed in World War I.
In 1927 Cartier-Bresson entered a private art school and the Lhote Academy, the Parisian studio of the Cubist painter and sculptor André Lhote. Cartier-Bresson also studied painting with society portraitist Jacques Émile Blanche. During this period, he read Dostoevsky, Schopenhauer, Rimbaud, Nietzsche, Mallarmé, Freud, Proust, Joyce, Hegel, Engels and Marx.
Cartier-Bresson began socializing with the Surrealists at the Café Cyrano, in the Place Blanche. He met a number of the movement's leading protagonists. The Surrealists approached photography 'the street' with a voracious appetite for the usual and unusual; they saw that ordinary photographs, especially when uprooted from their practical functions, contain a wealth of unintended, unpredictable meanings..

From 1928 to 1929, Cartier-Bresson studied art, literature, and English at the University of Cambridge, where he became bilingual.
In 1929, Cartier-Bresson's air squadron commandant placed him under house arrest for hunting without a license. Cartier-Bresson met American expatriate Harry Crosby at Le Bourget and the two men both had an interest in photography. Harry presented Henri with his first camera.
During conscription he read Conrad's Heart of Darkness. This gave him the idea of escaping and finding adventure on the Côte d'Ivoire in French colonial Africa. He survived by shooting game and selling it to local villagers. From hunting, he learned methods which he later used in photography.

Henri Cartier-Bresson, photographer

HCB acquired the Leica camera with 50 mm lens in Marseilles that would accompany him for many years. The anonymity that the small camera gave him in a crowd or during an intimate moment was essential in overcoming the formal and unnatural behavior of those who were aware of being photographed. He enhanced his anonymity by painting all shiny parts of the Leica with black paint.
Restless, he photographed in Berlin, Brussels, Warsaw, Prague, Budapest and Madrid. His photographs were first exhibited at the Julien Levy Gallery in New York in 1932.
In 1934 Cartier-Bresson met a young Polish intellectual, a photographer named David Szymin who was called "Chim" because his name was difficult to pronounce. Szymin later changed his name to David Seymour. The two had much in common culturally. Through Chim, Cartier-Bresson met a Hungarian photographer named Endré Friedmann, who later changed his name to Robert Capa.

Cartier-Bresson's first photojournalist photos to be published came in 1937 when he covered the coronation of King George VI and Queen Elizabeth, for the French weekly Regards. He focused on the new monarch's adoring subjects lining the London streets, and took no pictures of the king.

In 1937, Cartier-Bresson married a Javanese dancer, Ratna Mohini. They lived in a fourth-floor servants' flat in Paris at 19, rue Danielle Casanova, a large studio with a small bedroom, kitchen, and bathroom where Cartier-Bresson developed film. Between 1937 and 1939 Cartier-Bresson worked as a photographer for the French Communists' evening paper, Ce Soir.
When World War II broke out in September 1939, Cartier-Bresson joined the French Army as a Corporal in the Film and Photo unit. During the Battle of France, in June 1940 at St. Dié in the Vosges Mountains, he was captured by German soldiers and spent 35 months in prisoner-of-war camps doing forced labor under the Nazis. He twice tried and failed to escape from the prison camp, and was punished by solitary confinement. His third escape was successful

In early 1947, Cartier-Bresson, with Robert Capa, David Seymour, William Vandivert and George Rodger founded Magnum Photos. Capa's brainchild, Magnum was a cooperative picture agency owned by its members.
Cartier-Bresson achieved international recognition for his coverage of Gandhi's funeral in India in 1948 and the last stage of the Chinese Civil War in 1949. He covered the last six months of the Kuomintang administration and the first six months of the Maoist People's Republic. He also photographed the last surviving Imperial eunuchs in Beijing, as the city was falling to the communists.
From China, he went on to Dutch East Indies (Indonesia), where he documented the gaining of independence from the Dutch. In 1950, Cartier-Bresson had traveled to the South India.

In 1952, Cartier-Bresson published his book Images à la sauvette, whose English-language edition was titled The Decisive Moment. It included a portfolio of 126 of his photos from the East and the West. The book's cover was drawn by Henri Matisse. For his 4,500-word philosophical preface, Cartier-Bresson took his keynote text from the 17th century Cardinal de Retz, "Il n'y a rien dans ce monde qui n'ait un moment decisif" ("There is nothing in this world that does not have a decisive moment"). Cartier-Bresson applied this to his photographic style.
"Photography is not like painting," Cartier-Bresson told the Washington Post in 1957. "There is a creative fraction of a second when you are taking a picture. Your eye must see a composition or an expression that life itself offers you, and you must know with intuition when to click the camera.

Cartier-Bresson's photography took him to many places, including China, Mexico, Canada, the United States, India, Japan, and the Soviet Union. He became the first Western photographer to photograph "freely" in the post-war Soviet Union.
Cartier-Bresson withdrew as a principal of Magnum (which still distributed his photographs) in 1966 to concentrate on portraiture and landscapes.
In 1967, he was divorced from his first wife of 30 years, Ratna "Elie". In 1968, he began to turn away from photography and return to his passion for drawing and painting. He married Magnum photographer Martine Franck, thirty years younger than himself, in 1970.
Cartier-Bresson retired from photography in the early 1970s, and by 1975 no longer took pictures other than an occasional private portrait.
Cartier-Bresson did not like to be photographed and treasured his privacy. Photographs of Cartier-Bresson are scant. When he accepted an honorary degree from Oxford University in 1975, he held a paper in front of his face to avoid being photographed. HCB died in Montjustin (Alpes-de-Haute-Provence, France) on August 3, 2004, aged 95.
In 2003, he created the Henri Cartier-Bresson Foundation with his wife and daughter to preserve and share his legacy. I was very frustrated to find the Fondation Henri Cartier-Bresson in Montparnasse closed upon my visit in Sep.2016 while no such information was published on their website (the visit to Paris was intended for visiting 3 major photography museums, but found only the one at Jeu de Paume open).
This little book was bought as a small consolation in the english bookshop Shakespeare and Company at 37 Rue de la Bûcherie.

en.wikipedia.org:_Henri_Cartier-Bresson
pro.magnumphotos.com/


[15SEP2016]

 
IN CHINA by MARC RIBOUD (R.I.P.) | PHOTOGRAPHY PHOTOBOOKS

Marc Riboud, In China / RIP

Marc Riboud, In China - photography

Marc Riboud R.I.P.


Marc Riboud (b.24Jun1923 –d. 30Aug2016) was a French photographer, best known for his extensive reports on the Far East: The Three Banners of China, Face of North Vietnam, Visions of China, and In China.

He photographed his first picture in 1937, using his father's Vest Pocket Kodak camera. Until 1951 Riboud worked as an engineer in Lyon factories, but took a week-long picture-taking vacation, inspiring him to become a photographer.
He moved to Paris where he met Henri Cartier-Bresson, Robert Capa, and David Seymour, the founders of Magnum Photos. By 1953 he was a member of the organization.

Over the next several decades, Riboud traveled around the world. In 1957, he was one of the first European photographers to go to China, and in 1968, 1972, and 1976, Riboud made several reportages on North Vietnam. Later he traveled all over the world, but mostly in Asia, Africa, the U.S. and Japan.
Riboud has been witness to the atrocities of war (photographing from both the Vietnam and the American sides of the Vietnam War), and the apparent degradation of a culture repressed from within (China during the years of Chairman Mao Zedong's Cultural Revolution). In contrast, he has captured the graces of daily life, set in sun-drenched facets of the globe (Fès, Angkor, Acapulco, Niger, Bénarès, Shaanxi), and the lyricism of child's play in everyday Paris.
In 1979 Riboud left the Magnum agency.
Riboud was made an Honorary Fellow of the Royal Photographic Society in 1998.
Riboud died in Paris on 30 August 2016, at the age of 93.

I particularly liked, besides the exceptional photography, the captions listed in the back of the book. They added insight: in Riboud's photography in China, but also living conditions of the people. The photography in this book span a period of 1956 - 1995 and illustrate a society making progress (at least in a material sense). Wonderful photography and a valuable social document.

Marc Riboud, In China - photography

en.wikipedia.org:_Marc_Riboud
http://marcriboud.com/en/
MAGNUM, In memoriam: Marc Riboud, 1923-2016


[15SEP2016]

 
SCHIPHOL THROUGH THE LENS OF WOLFF, 1933-1955 | PHOTOGRAPHY HISTORY

Schiphol door de lens van Wolff - 100 jaar Schiphol
Let history speak..
Actually the presentation was done by Simon B. Koole, photography historian and he managed
to portray the 'historic image' plus the lives and background of Annemie & Helmith Wolff very nicely.

Schiphol door de lens van Wolff - 100 jaar Schiphol
'Schiphol door de lens van Wolff - 100 jaar Schiphol.

Schiphol door de lens van Wolff - 100 jaar Schiphol

One of the management staff of Schiphol was present to offer the apologies, for Schiphol itself had overlooked this particular exhibition, too busy with so many events linked to '100 jaar Schiphol'.

Schiphol door de lens van Wolff - 100 jaar Schiphol

Schiphol door de lens van Wolff - 100 jaar Schiphol

DeMeerse gallery offered an exhibition in light of the 100th anniversary of Amsterdam Int'l Airport from 03Sep16-06Oct16, "Through the lens of Wolff, 1933-1955".

Annemie and Helmuth Wolff fled from their native Germany in the 1930s to Amsterdam, the Netherlands. They set up a photography shop. The City of Amsterdam was one of their main clients, the airport was part of that portfolio.
They worked hard, were successful and managed to travel. But in may 1940, while Holland was occupied, they were put under house arrest. Their spirit thus broken they decided to commit suicide. Helmuth was perished, Annemie was saved. She became active in the resistance and continued her photography career after WW2 had ended.

Her legacy held a 50.000 picture archive. From that archive, presently under management by Monica Kaltenschnee, a selection was made to form this exhibition.
The photography, when they were together, made it impossible to identify which photo was made by whom just by looking at it; hence the name in the title as a singular person.

The archive is being researched further and in 2017 a full exhibition will be presented of Annemie and Helmuth Wolff's work in the National Holocaust Museum.

More photos by me of this event see MyFlickr.com.

[09SEP2016]

 
TO CHANGE CHINA: WESTERN ADVISERS IN CHINA 1620-1960 | BOOKS HISTORY

Jonathan Spence - To Change China


A picture gallery of men who tried 'to change China', by converting this immense clountry to Western ways, this book chronicles the (failed) attempts of 16 'barbarians' to impose on China their own vision of her destiny.
In 10 separate chapters on persons as diverse as 17th century Jesuit astronomers and 20th century military prior, during and shortly after WWII, Jonathan Spence pinpoints essential similarities uniting 'China hands' both celebrated and obscure: a common desire to escape the frustrations of life at home; a common sense of superiority to their hosts; a common misjudgment of China's real needs; and a common fate: to be used by the Chinese rulers and cast aside, discarded, most retired home much disillusioned.

The book is low-key and neutral in tone.
Though too dry for some, this book will give the interested reader a respect for the stubborn integrity of a China confronted by so many eager and arrogant manipulators. It also will suggest how future Western advisers may expect to fare in their contacts with other prideful Third World nations.

A review proclaimed: "From the best known and most talented historian of China writing in English today an examination of a diverse collection of Western foreigners who attempted 'to change China' - Los Angeles Times.

I read the Dutch translation 'Een ander China, Westerse adviseurs in China, 1620-1960", translated by Carla Verheijen and published by Agon (1989 edition).
I gather the book was originally published in 1980 by Viking Penguin Inc. Or perhaps it was first published in 1969 and reprinted in 1980.
The book also contains photographs of the key characters featured in the book.

While I certainly did not consider the book 'too dry' to my taste, I found the chapter on Claire Lee Chennault of particular interest. The era 1900-1950 has my special interest, where it is China concerned. But the rest of the book was equally fascinating and educational.
It probably isn't the last book by Jonathan Spence, on China, I've read!

Jonathan Dermot Spence (b. 11Aug1936) is a British-American historian and public intellectual specialising in Chinese history.
He was Sterling Professor of History at Yale University from 1993 to 2008.
His most widely read book is The Search for Modern China, a survey of the last several hundred years of Chinese history based on his popular course at Yale.
A prolific author, reviewer, and essayist, he has published more than a dozen books on China. He retired from Yale in 2008.

www.kirkusreviews.com/book-reviews...to-change-china-western-advisers-in-china-1620-1960
en.wikipedia.org:_Jonathan_Spence

[08SEP2016]

 
SIMPLY ELECTRONICS

SMPLYELECTRONICS


Since a number of years I have bought from this online electronics seller. While googling for an item, a Canon S110 camera, this firm had a good deal for me in early-2013. I ordered from the website www.simplyelectronics.co.uk, thinking I was dealing with a firm in the UK.
Very naive I was!
Sometimes the delivery was very slow, other times I had it within 3 weeks as promised.

Earlier this year I found when ordering from a website in the Netherlands, with excellent use of the Dutch language, that a Chinese firm was behind it, based in Shanghai. It took a great deal of effort to get my money back for the product was unsatisfactory (onloine download of software) and only after daily messages on various Facebook pages and posting on Twitter, I received a full refund.
These events put my dealing with simplyelectronics.co.uk (a.k.a. simplyelectronics.net) in a different light, when earlier this year after months of waiting and emailing a camera I had ordered was not delivered. After initial hesitations and excuses, I did get a full refund here too.
Shortly after the website of Simply Electronics went black and customers were advised to contact their credit card companies for a refund on their outstanding orders.

Googling some further I found that this was another Chinese operated firm, operating from Hong Kong.
Funny thing, they must have found a way of finding a way of circumventing EU import taxes, as I was never asked by Customs to pay tax before I could claim my purchase. Or perhaps Simply Electronics calculated that in their purchase price, a price willing to be paid to hide they were operating from Hong Kong.
Firms I have considered buying from, not hiding the fact they operate and ship from Hong Kong, have warnings on their website about the need to pay import tax.
No doubts the people behind this facade wil return to the market under a different name.

While I have ordered through the internet since the early days of internet, mainly cheap items such as (secondhand) books, I went with the current flow of ordering about anything of any price on the internet.
These recent experiences have set my confidence back a little and before ordering items for a substantial amount, I will reconsider with whom I am dealing with.


[08SEP2016]

 
JOSEF SUDEK, PHOTOGRAPHER

Josef Sudek, photographer

Josef Sudek, photographer


Josef Sudek (b.17Mar1896, Kolín, Bohemia – d.15Sep1976, Prague) was a Czech photographer, best known for his photographs of Prague.
Sudek was originally a bookbinder. During WWI he was drafted into the Austro-Hungarian Army in 1915 and served on the Italian Front until he was wounded in the right arm in 1916.
Although he had no experience with photography and was one-handed due to his amputation, he was given a camera.
After the war he studied photography for two years in Prague under Jaromir Funke. His Army disability pension gave him leeway to make art, and he worked during the 1920s in the romantic Pictorialist style.
Always pushing at the boundaries, a local camera club expelled him for arguing about the need to move forwards from 'painterly' photography. Sudek then founded the progressive Czech Photographic Society in 1924.
Despite only having one arm, he used large, bulky cameras with the aid of assistants.

I visited an exhibition of his work in Jeu de Paume, in Paris, earlier this month. While Sudek's work was not my prime interest in photography, one can only admire his stamina in following his passion in those early days of photography, under difficult physical conditions.

en.wikipedia.org: Josef_Sudek

[07SEP2016]

 
THE UNDESIRED by YRSA SIGURDARDOTTIR | BOOKS CRIME FICTION ICELAND

The Undesried by Yrsa Sigurdardottir


Having read, to my great pleasure, all (translated) books by Arnaldur Indridason I thought to try another Icelandic author: Yrsa Sigurdardottir. Also translated by Victoria Cribb, translator of Indridason's novels.
Certainly as dark and sinister as Indridason's books, The Undesired is not a police novel. Though several deaths are under investigation...

In the present day, single-father Ódinn is investigating possibile child abuse at a home for young offenders in the 1970s. It’s part of a systematic review of the care system, so he’s not expecting terrible revelations, but the tragic deaths of two boys are slowly revealed to be more suspicious than anyone first thought.
Back in the 1970s, events are narrated by Aldís, a young woman working at the junior detention centre Ódinn years later has cause to investigate. The couple who run the home are nasty and duplicitous and Aldís is almost treated like a slave.

Ódinn’s personal life is a shambles. He has recently taken parental care of his 11-year-old daughter, Rún, after her mother died in a fall from an open window, and both he and his daughter seem quite literally to be haunted by that trauma.
Aldis has her own ghosts and demons. But she falls for Einar, an older boy recently arrived at the home, and that leads them all towards a tragic and macabre conclusion.

The pace of the story is slow, probably a good thing for the swithing from present day to the 1970s can be confusing. In the initial chapters the mood is set and pricipal characters introduced. Then step by step the story unfolds and past and present converge..
I thought that developments in the plot were unexpected enough to keep me fascinated, Sigurdardóttir does a fair job of combining horror and crime procedural elements of her plot. But I have read reviews by others who were less enthousiastic about this stand-alone novel.

Apparently Yrsa Sigurdardóttir has a solid reputation for legal procedurals set in her native Iceland and so I will continue to read up on work written by her!

en.wikipedia.org:_Yrsa_Sigurdardóttir

[07SEP2016]

 
THE GIRL IN THE SPIDER'S WEB by DAVID LAGERCRANTZ | BOOKS CRIME FICTION

The Girl in the Spider's Web

The late Stieg Larsson wrote just three novels about Lisbeth Salander, all published posthumously, and selling more than 80 million copies around the world to date!
Logically, that would be the end ot it.  But such a success is hard to ignore...

Larsson's estate is run by his father and brother, Swedish law meaning that it did not pass to his long-term but unmarried partner Eva Gabrielsson. They decided that  David Lagercrantz, the Swedish journalist and author of I Am Zlatan Ibrahimovic, should write a 4th novel on Lisbeth Salander, hacker, and Mikael Blomkvist, Millennium journalist.
The title of this 4th novel is The Girl in the Spider's Web.
Eva Gabrielsson opposed Lagercrantz's continuation of the series.
But the consensus is that David Lagercrantz pulled it off and I quite agree. The style of writing is very similar, perhaps a little more straightforward and easier to read.

The subject is very actual, about data being hacked and used for illegal purposes.
We find Salander audaciously and ingeniously (as ever) hacking into the NSA in a search and cyberspace fight with The Spiders. While in part successful, the intrusion in NSA's network results retalliation.
Meanwhile a Professor Balder has made great progress in his research for artificial intelligence. The research is cutting edge and risky; a feeling of paranoia becomes almost overwhelming, for Balder's personal safety, the safety of his autistic son and the fruits of his research.
We find Blomkvist bored and treading water at Millennium. By the competition he has been described as a 'has been'  and indeed he feels motivation severely lacking to help Milennium magazine through another crisis.
Balder gets in touch with Blomkvist when he starts to believe his own life is in danger and that is when the ball is rolling and Blomkvist returns to his former self.
 
The story increases in pace when Blomkvist finds out Balder had hired Salander for research on data theft. Mikael end Lisbeth make contact by online messaging and Salander feeds him data she has found out through hacking computer systems. She is her angry and brusque personality, as we have become to know her in Stieg Larsson's trilogy.
But through circumstance Lisbeth finds herself as the protector of August, Balder's young autistic son. And we find that Camilla, Lisbeth' evil twin sister, plays a dominant role in the criminal activities of The Spiders; they steal vital  data through hacking and sell it to the highest bidder. Meanwhile someone of the NSA is getting closer to finding Lisbeth out...
The Girl in the Spider's Web is fast paced and suitably thrilling; I have a feeling we have not heard the last of Salander and Blomkvist!

www.theguardian.com/books/2015/oct/06/the-girl-in-the-spiders-web-review-david-lagercrantz-stieg-larsson
[29AUG2016]

 
ANNIKA BENGTZON, CRIME REPORTER | SCANDI CRIME DRAMA FICTION DVD

Annika Bengtzon, Crime Reporter (season 1 )

Annika Bengtzon, Crime Reporter (season 1 )

Annika Bengtzon, Crime Reporter (season 1 )


I watched this series 'Annika Bengtzon: Crime Reporter' recently with great pleasure, as a dvd boxset. The series are based on the books by Liza Marklund, comprises six 90-minute episodes, each representing a story that the main character, Annika Bengtzon, a crime reporter for a Stockholm newspaper, is pursuing.

Two stories, Red Wolf and Studio Sex, I had read but this was no problem to enjoy the filmed episode. This is for a large part due to the excellent performance by Malin Crépin as Bengtzon, a no nonsense and driven crime reporter for the Swedish tabloid Kvällspressen.
Each story is complete in itself, the thread that runs through them being the newspaper's staff, Bengtzon, and her personal life. The stories are interesting; the time devoted to Bengtzon's pursuit of the story and the effect of her career on her personal life is well balanced; and the cast, especially , are effective.

Eva Elisabeth 'Liza' Marklund (b. 09Sep62) is a Swedish journalist and crime writer.
She was born in Pålmark near Piteå, Norrbotten. Her novels, most of which feature the fictional character Annika Bengtzon, a newspaper journalist, have been published in thirty languages.
Marklund is the co-owner of Sweden's third largest publishing house, Piratförlaget and a columnist in the Swedish tabloid Expressen. She is also a Unicef ambassador.

en.wikipedia.org:_Annika_Bengtzon
www.imdb.com/title/tt2188010/reviews
en.wikipedia.org:_Liza_Marklund


[28AUG2016]

 
JOEL MEYEROWITZ RETROSPECTIVE | STREETPHOTOGRAPHY PHOTOBOOKS

Joel Meyerowitz, spreetphotography

Joel Meyerowitz, Retrospective

Joel Meyerowitz, spreetphotography

Joel Meyerowitz (b.06Mar1938- ) is a street photographer and portrait and landscape photographer.
He began photographing in color in 1962 and was an early advocate of the use of color during a time when there was significant resistance to the idea of color photography as serious art.

In 1962, inspired by seeing Robert Frank at work, Meyerowitz quit his job as an art director at an advertising agency and took to the streets of New York City with a 35 mm camera and black-and-white film. Garry Winogrand, Tony Ray-Jones, Lee Friedlander, Tod Papageorge and Diane Arbus were photographing there at the same time.
Meyerowitz was inspired by Henri Cartier-Bresson, Robert Frank and Eugène Atget.
After alternating between black-and-white and color, Meyerowitz "permanently adopted color" in 1972. Meyerowitz also switched at this time to large format, often using an 8×10 camera to produce photographs of places and people.

Meyerowitz appears extensively in the 2006 BBC Four documentary series 'The Genius of Photography' and in the 2013 documentary film 'Finding Vivian Maier'.
He is the author of 16 books including Cape Light, considered a classic work of color photography.

Meyerowitz photographed the aftermath of the September 11, 2001 attack on the World Trade Center, and was the only photographer allowed unrestricted access to its Ground Zero immediately following the attack.

Joel Meyerowitz - Retrospective. Cologne / New York: Koenig Books / D.A.P., 2014.
ISBN 978-3-86335-588-3.
From 1960s street photographs taken in New York City, right up to Still Life photographs made in 2013, this is a wonderfully put together catalogue detailing the sheer breadth of Joel Meyerowitz's photographic archive.

en.wikipedia.org:_Joel_Meyerowitz
www.joelmeyerowitz.com/

 


[23AUG2016]

 
PREY SEASON 1 | MINI-SERIES CRIME DRAMA

Prey - miniseries - Season 1

Prey - miniseries - Season 1


Prey (2014) is a mini-series where we see Manchester Detective Marcus Farrow (a role by John Simm) identify a body in a bog as a criminal who vanished years ago. When he requests the case files of that inquiry he is handed two floppy disks. Since he has at work no computer to read these disks, he goes home and finds a computer on the attic. He briefly goes over the files, finds a few names, and the following day he starts asking around.
Quite unexpected this sets a series of events in motion.

Meanwhile... Marcus is told by his ex wife (and mother of his two young boys) she doesn't want to get back together, as he had hoped. In fact, she admits she is seeing a colleague of his. Marcus flips.
Then the next day, when he gets home, he finds his wife in the kitchen, barely alive, stabbed. And his youngest son dead at the feet of the stairs.
Marcus suffers a breakdown and is found outside by the police. Circumstancial evidence makes him suspect no.1, his troubled marriage is considered a strong motiv.
He is incoherent by grief during the initial interview and fails to make a case in defense of himself.
When Marcus Farrow is put on transport for detention, the van flips over in a car accident. Dizzy he stumbles out in the street, his shoulder is bleeding and for good measure he is hit by another van when he tries to make a run for it.
Hurt and bleeding, with few places he can go to, he is hunted like a fox. He is the prey every one is after, for different reasons.

Rosie Cavaliero plays a convincing Susan Reinhart, a detective in charge of investigating Mrs Farrow's murder and capturing the murderer at large.
Reinhart stalks her former (and remarried) husband and does not have her life under control. Jobwise there is plenty of doubt, of which she is aware, that she can carry this investigation. She quickly assumes Marcus is the killer and is frantic to recapture him.

Marcus is the only one to make the connection that the disks are a key factor here, but fails to see why his wife and son were killed and for whom the disks could be so important. He suspects his partner and lifelong friend Sean Devlin (Craig Parkinson) knows more then he lets on.
Spurned, bereaved, (falsely) accused, (possibly) framed, arrested, banged up, crashed, run over he tries to stay ahead of the hunters. Oops, forgot to mention he fell of a bridge too..
Confronting criminals and family of the dead criminal in his search for clues, he has difficulty avoiding arrest. He trusts DCI Andrea Mackenzie (Anastasia Hille), but she hesitates to give Marcus her full loyal support - she would be helping a fugitive, bad career move; or are there other motives in play here?
Meanwhile Marcus finds himself constantly between a rock and a hard place, tormented by the doubt his eldest son expresses.

The hunt is a gripping, breathless, buttock-clenching chase and the plot is excellent too!
Plenty of excitement in the 3 50-minutes episodes and pleased to have learned a second series was produced in 2015 in which Susan Reinhardt is investigating the highly suspicious death of Daniel Hope.

www.theguardian.com/tv-and-radio/2014/... (Sam Wollaston)
www.imdb.com
en.wikipedia.org:_Prey_(miniseries)

[19AUG2016]

 
SPRINGVLOED | SCANDI NOIR CRIME FICTION THRILLER

Springvloed - Scandi Noir crime thriller

Springvloed (Springfloden, Spring Tide)

I really enjoyed watching this 'Scandi Noir' crime thriller series this past week: 'Springvloed' (Springfloden; EN: Spring Tide).

In 1987 on the beach of Nordkoster a young, pregnant woman is murdered during full moon, by burying her in the sand up to the neck and the springtide causes her to drown...
There are very few leads to solve this macabre murder and the policeteam is unable to establish the identity or the motiv of this ghastly crime. It remained unsolved and one of the police detectives, Tom Stilton, suffers a mental breakdown and disappears in the faceless population of the homeless.
Olivia Ronning is a police trainee in Sweden and as a summer study her group of students are invited to think about modern police methods that could have been used if the murder had taken place in our time.

But Olivia takes things further. Her father, Arne Ronning, had been a colleague and friend of Tom Stilton and had also been obsessed with this murdercase. Arne had died of cancer years ago.

At the same time homeless people in Stockholm are being beaten up and even killed by young sadists, who film their crimes and publish the videos online.
Olivia finds Tom Stilton with some effort, tries to pump him for information on the old murdercase, but Tom is more concerned with the attacks on his homeless he often knows well; esspecially when a woman gets killed after such a savage beating for whom he had feelings.
Slowly Tom gets more involved with both cases, often by Olivia's persistence.

Due to Olivia's findings the Nordkoster cold case is reopened.
Initial investigation has Olivia focus on a former escort service, while the CEO of a big Swedish company with mining interests in Africa sees herself threatened by blackmail by a former associate whom she thought had died many years ago, but is also tied to the Nordkoster victim.

While more characters find their way (loved the Abbas el Fassi role, in 5 epsiodes, by Dar Salim - I recogized from the Dicte series), we see the story develop, but the ending may well surprise you!.

Olivia is played by Julia Ragnarsson, a lovely role of a headstrong and sometimes quite naive young woman. Kjell Bergqvist plays the homeless Tom Stilton very convincingly.

The authors of 'Springvloed', Cilla & Rolf Börjlind, have written at least 26 screenplays for the 'Martin Beck' series as well as for the 'Arne Dahls A-group' series! So they come well recommended!
I hope that Cilla & Rolf Börjlind will see more of their books filmed like this.

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt5194410/
http://www.scriptgirl.nl/2016/06/fijne-scandinavische-crimeserie-springvloed/ (Dutch, incl trailer)
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/18778285-spring-tide (the book)
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dar_Salim


[14AUG2016]

 
ERFENIS VAN EEN WERELDRIJK by OLEG KLIMOV / HUBERT SMEETS | PHOTOGRAPHY BOOKS

Erfenis van een Wereldrijk - Oleg Klimov - fotografie

Erfenis van een Wereldrijk - Oleg Klimov - fotografie
Oleg Klimov | Erfenis van een wereldrijk | Hubert Smeets

Oleg Klimov - photographer


The demise of the Soviet Union and the rise of Russia has been a drama for the Russian contempories, a drama with optimistic highlights as well as opportunities, but also with plenty of trauma, pessimism and decline.
The outsider was able to consider the drastic changes from a detached point of view, commenting on the political- and social-economic developments. In the eyes of Oleg Klimov they also had a human element.
Within the abrupt timespan of only 1 year traditional relations between state and people, as well as between people themselves, saw a dramatic change, a metamorphosis of society. That did not change when finally the fate of the Soviet Union was sealed.
In everything the Russians had to find themselves again. In 'Erfenis van een wereldrijk' ('Inheritance of a world empire') Oleg Klimov puts those changes into imagery.

The book (aprox. 25x32cm, published 2004) includes images of industrialisation, homeless people, earthquake Armenia 1988, Moscow protests 1991, President Jeltsin, Sacharov shortly before his death 14Dec89, war in Nagorno-Karabach 1990, psychiatric institutions and prison, Grozny 1995, Afghanistan 2001+, Uzbekistan 1990s + 2003, Siberia, and so much more.

Hubert Smeets (Russia correspondent for NRC Handelsblad 1990-1994 and Chief Editor 2003- for DeGroene weekly magazine in The Netherlans) wrote an interesting and informative history essay, while Simon B. Kool detailed Oleg Klimov's start in photography and his subsequent career. He wrote many books on Russia.

A masterful document.

www.worldpressphoto.org/people/oleg-klimov
nl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hubert_Smeets (Dutch)

[12AUG162016]

 
PANAMA PAPERS by BASTIAN OBERMAYER & FREDERIK OBERMAIER

Panama Papers by Bastian Obermayer and Frederik Obermaier

Panama Papers

Panama Papers

Panama Papers

It all started so small an seemingly inconsequential enough: Bastian Obermayer received an email whil eon a family visit, with an inquiry whether he was 'interested in data'. The sender expressed a willingness to share.
Bastian Obermayer is a journalist with the Süddeutsche Zeitung and of course he was interested in 'data'. But he and Frederik Obermaier were little prepared for the amount of confidential data leaked to them!
The information leaked from confidential files of a lawyer's practice, Mossack Fonseca with its headquarters in Panama but offices all around the world, became so much bigger than WikiLeaks and what Edward Snowden shared with the world!

Within a year, the source had provided 11.5m documents including emails, bank statements and passport scans that showed how the law firm guided some of its clients and kept their assets hidden from scrutiny and, in some cases, tax authorities.
For many months Obermayer & Obermaier accepted the information that was shared with them and worked on it by themselves. Gradually the size of information, its global reach and so many, many people involved became too much for them to research by themselves. Their computer did not have the capacity to search through such an amount of information and they had to request san expensive computer as never yet found with the Süddeutsche.. Their management believed in them and supported the project.
While the information grew and grew, it also became more complex: 214.000 offshore companies were eventually part of the trove.
It became clear they needed specialists and specialized software...

An American agency, International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ), with a vast experience in leaked data, was contacted and became involved. Again the data was scrutinized for validity and correctness, because the smallest error could cast doubt when published on all the other data.
Meanwhile Obermay/ier's colleague's at the newspaper were not informed; the fear for leaks was enormous.
Very gradually, through meetings, a dedicated forum and conferences other journalists and data reasearchers became involved. In many countries involved the journalists began to focus on the people and institutions they were near to.

The ICIJ is US-based non-profit group has in the past 5 years published 3 headline-grabbing, data-driven feats of journalism, all rooted in leaked financial documents, all based in belief in cross-border collaborations.
In this case of 'the Panama Papers', ICIJ editors provided help to harness and manage the data, a massive effort to sort the files in ways that non-geek reporters could use. It then organised teams of investigative journalists from news outlets across the world.

And so the Panama Papers rocked the financial and political world when reporters from about 80 countries began publishing and broadcasting accounts in april 2016, in intricate detail, on how parts of the offshore industry work and who were involved.

The stories of wealth hidden by the office of Jürgen Mossack & Ramon Fonseca triggered unrest in Iceland and then the resignation of its prime minister over his undisclosed holdings.
Vladimir Putin denounced questions about his close friend, a cellist tied to offshore companies with cash flows worth billions, but whom was suspected to be a partner in crime with Putin, his family and busines realtions.
Even David Cameron had to explain his family’s past offshore holdings; politically embarrassing.
In China, within hours of publication, the authorities simply censored the term "Panama Papers”, because Xi Jinping had close involvement and many other in high office.
FIFA & UEFA did not escape scrutiny and consequences either. Poroshenko of the Ukraine and Assad of Syria were among the world leaders mentioned. But Lionel Messi and his father also found use of offshore constructions.
en.wikipedia.org:_List_of_people_named_in_the_Panama_Papers

Btw, these are not the offshore tax constructions by Starbucks, Apple, etc. These are not adressed here.
And the law offices do not only reside in countries such as Panama, Seychelles - but also in the USA (e.g. Nevada, Delaware)

Unfortunately, when we see how whistleblowers are treated if found out, and how institutions like ICIJ struggle for funding to carry on with this kind of work, we have to draw the conclusion that the good guys are at a disadvantage to the bad guys...
The only hope is that whistleblowers continue to face the dangers and responsible journalism bring these sordid constructions out in the open and force politicians and companies to change legislature for the better.
Meanwhile, since the financial institutions caused the global economy to collapse in 2008 and very few were held accountable, and so many lawyers and financial specialists deploy their low morality in legal loopholes, we should not hold our breath for a better world.

‘The Panama Papers’, by Bastian Obermayer and Frederik Obermaier - Review by Christine Spolar
www.theguardian.com/news/series/panama-papers
panamapapers.sueddeutsche.de (english)
en.wikipedia.org:_Panama_Papers
en.wikipedia.org:_International_Consortium_of_Investigative_Journalists (ICIJ)panamapapers.icij.org/20160403-panama-papers-global-overview.html
en.wikipedia.org:_Offshore_financial_centre
en.wikipedia.org:_List_of_offshore_financial_centres

[09AUG2016]

 
THE ROTTWEILER by RUTH RENDELL | BOOKS CRIME FICTION

The Rottweiler by Ruth Rendell


Over the years I have picked up a number of Ruth Rendell novels, mostly with Chief Inspector Wexford in the lead. Rendell's books bring out a certain English atmosphere I like. While the characters are well developed and the plot not too obvious, the books offer easy reading. Just what I needed these days.

The Rottweiler (2003) is not a Wexford novel. A pity I thought, but nevertheless good entertainment. The location is London, though I am not quite sure if that is actually mentioned. But I recently stayed in the area, Edgware Road is quite frequently mentioned and Paddington Station is within walking distance. My B&B adress was only a 3 minute walk from Star Street!

In this novel Rendell focusses on a single house near Paddington Station, where the owner of an antiques shop in Star Street supplements her income by taking in tenants.
So meet Inez, shopowner and 'landlord'; she watches every evening an episode of a crime mystery in which her deceased husband played the lead character. She reads the series of murders in the area in the newspapers with interest and has plenty of time to cast a critical on the persons surrounding her.
The tenants are-
Will, an adult but with a mind of a child. He works as a builder's assistent.
Ludmilla, an elderly lady, her Russian accent is obviously fake. Freddy is her paramour and he often visits.
Jeremy, aged about 40 and keeps himself very private; he is in the habit to start the day with a cup of tea with Inez in the shop before he goes to work.

Other important characters are Zeinab, of whom Inez is aware she playes holds two suitors at a distance but who welcomes the men's expensive gifts and dinner invitations. Zeinab is not the only one who goes under a false name.
And Becky is Will's aunt, the responsible adult in her orphaned nephew's life; but more and more she finds Will's care a burden.

The most recent killing is near Inez' shop and she and her tenants get questioned. The killer is in the habit to take small souvenirs, a lighter or jewellery, and a few items are found in Inez' shop. The police detectives keep returning.
For quite a lot of the novel, the killings are secondary to various sub-plots involving Zeinab's suitors and Will's aunt, Becky.

We go through the story mainly from the perspectives of Inez, Zeinab and Peter. Later actual killer of the young woman is revealed to us and we go through his perspective; and the young man who accidently discovers the killer's identity and decides to blackmail him.
While The Rottweiler was entertaining, I have to admit there is a certain lack of tension in the story.

www.theguardian.com/books/11Oct2003_review by Joan Smith
en.wikipedia.org:_Ruth_Rendell

[09AUG2016]

 
RESTLESS | DVD BOXSET THRILLER

Restless - thriller

Restless - mini series

'Restless' is a 2012 British TV adaptation of William Boyd's espionage novel Restless (2006). Directed by Edward Hall, the film features Hayley Atwell, Rufus Sewell, Michelle Dockery, Michael Gambon and Charlotte Rampling. The two parts first aired on 27 and 28Dec2012 on BBC One.

The first episode opens in the 1970s with Ruth Gilmartin, a PhD student at St Johns College Cambridge, driving with her young son to visit her mother in her country cottage. When she arrives her mother, Sally Gilmartin, is nervous and believes that men are watching her from the nearby woods. Ruth mocks her mother's fears. Sally then hands her a notebook with the name 'Eva Delectorskaya' on the front, and informs her daughter that this is her real name...

Ruth is handed that dossier and her mother urges her to read it all. Through flashbacks we witness how Eva has become a secret agent, groomed by one Lucas Romer. While Eva and Lucas become lovers, Eva is sent to United States to seduce the married Mason Harding, an adviser to the president.
After Eva survives an attempt to kill her, through circumstances the map makes its way to and fools the U.S. president and American secret services. However, as her fellow spies die one-by- one, Eva knows she has been betrayed, and she escapes into Canada. She gets married and has a daughter, meanwhile manages to kee her identity under the radar from Lucas Romer and the British secret services.

Then a photo of Eva is published by chance in a local newspaper and she fears discovery and even assassination; so she decides to tell her daughter her secret life story and asks her help to face her old demons.

en.wikipedia.org:_Restless_(2012_miniseries)

[07AUG2016]

 
ELITE SQUAD a.k.a. FLICS | FRENCH CRIME DRAMA DVD BOXSET

Flics - Elite Squad


Elite Squad, a.k.a. Flics, is a French crime series by the creators of a similar series 'Braquo', recently discussed on these pages.
The series is described as 'realistic'. There is a bit too much violence and animosity between colleagues and police departments to my taste and I do hope that this vibe is not realistic for the French police services! Although, recent terrorist events in France may confirm the lack of coöperation between police departments..

Quai des Orfèvres 36 is the headquarters of the French police, in the heart of Paris.
It is there where we get acqainted with commandant Yachvili ('Yach'), who is in charge of a special police unit. ‘Yach’, in his forties and divorced, works by intuition and is prepared to bend the rules to get a result. Much as we saw in the Braquo-series.
His big rival is commandant Boris Constantine, who has a much more rational approach to police work and prefers to follow rules and protocol. He hurts emotionally to the extend that life has little meaning for him, for he lost the woman he was very much in love with in a car accident.
Yach's and Boris' superior is Léa Legrand, an ambitious young woman.

The three are connected in an arrest with dire consequences: both Léa and Yach were hurt in the shooting and Léa has since walked with a cane, the bullet still in her body near her spine.

In that faithful shooting Boris did not give cover to Yach and the latter became seriously wounded; Boris suspected Yach, until that time his partner & friend, was making advances on his girlfriend on a party; subsequently Boris had an argument with his girlfriend about this upon which she fled the apartment and got herself killed in a car accident.
There is a tense relationship between the three, in their look on life and career.

Meanwhile there are crimes being committed and serious villains to be caught, while Internal Affairs starts investigations on persons and procedures. There are very few smiles around on Quai des Orfèvres 36! Enter some young interns fresh from the police academy..

Like I said a little too much 'fireworks' and battering of collegues in wc's to my taste, but I liked the drama and graphic filming: backstreets of Paris, abandoned warehouses, parking lots, etc.
No doubt I will find it on my way to watch subsequent (?) series of 'Flics', but I have to admit I am more looking forward to the 6th series of The Spiral.

Flics / Elite Squad
Principal actors:
Frédéric Diefenthal : Commandant Victor Yachvili de la BRB (Brigade de répression du banditisme)
Yann Sundberg : Commandant Boris Constantine de la Crim (Brigade Ciminelle)
Catherine Marchal : Léa Legrand (Directrice de la Police Judiciaire de Paris)


https://fr.wikipedia.org:_Flics

[02AUG2016]

 
TRACKS ACROSS AMERICA by BILLY CONNOLLY | TRAVELOGUE BOOKS

Tracks Across America by Billy Connolly

Tracks Across America by Billy Connolly

Tracks Across America by Billy Connolly

Many years ago, in 1996, I stumbled on a series featuring Billy Connolly travelling through Australia. The 8-part series followed Connolly on his custom-made Harley Davidson trike. It was a travel program but had a unique feature: it also contained moments from comedy gigs he did while touring Australia. Brilliant mix!
I enjoyed Connolly's Scottish sing-song accent, his humor and his upbeat look at things. A unique character!

In 1995, Connolly recorded a BBC special, entitled A Scot in the Arctic, in which he spends a week by himself in the Arctic Circle; in solitude his plays his banjo and from time to time ran around naked I seem to recall! Far from conventional and I like that.
In 1997, Connolly starred with Judi Dench in Mrs. Brown, in which he played John Brown, the favoured Scottish servant of Queen Victoria. He was nominated for a BAFTA Award and a BAFTA Scotland Award for Best Actor, as well as a Screen Actors Guild Award for Best Supporting Actor for his performance.
That was the time I learned he was even more versatile than a 'mere' comedy-person-turned-presenter and banjo player.

Over the years I've seen Connolly returning as a travel presenter on tv documentaries whilst touring in Australia & New Zealand, in Scotland and in North America.
In fact, I came across him in person, in the streets of Vancouver, B.C. but did not go up to him because he was in conversation with someone and imagine he could well do without my words of praise.

Connolly has been married to his 2nd wife, comedian and psychologist Pamela Stephenson, since 1989. He is father to five children and Connolly became a grandfather in 2001.
In September 2013 Connolly underwent minor surgery for early-stage prostate cancer. The announcement also stated that he is being treated for the initial symptoms of Parkinson's disease. Connolly admitted earlier in 2013 that he had started to forget his lines during performances.
He appeared on 'Who Do You Think You Are?' on 02Oct2014, when his family's Indian ancestry was revealed!
He is a fan of Glasgow-based Celtic F.C. and has a seat for life at the club's Celtic Park stadium, an honour bestowed only on him and Rod Stewart...

The book 'Billy Connolly's Tracks Across America' was a chance buy a few weeks ago. The ITV documentary has yet to appear on my screen and I am looking forward to watch it, but I realised I had nothing yet in my bookcase by or on Billy Connolly (I am looking forward to purchase and read Stephenson's Bravemouth: Living with Billy Connolly some day) and had to buy this book.
I read it with great pleasure, because Connolly's style of writing is as such that I hear his voice and good humor; one has to do without his contagious giggle...
I also envy Connolly for such travel across the USA and loved the spots selected for a visit in this series, they are of great variety and while some are obvious there are plenty much less obvious: the hamburger joint made (more) famous by Obama's visit, joins Mall walkers, visits an oil (fracking) boomtown in decline, pays tribute to Hank Williams' grave, chats with former hobo on a train and enjoys his music, admires a toilet seat collection and so much more!
Billy also makes comparisons to Scotland, shares dreams of his youth that brought him to this point in travel & time, while also sharing funny ancedotes (loved the one he shared on Gerry Rafferty!).

It is a jolly good read this book and Billy Connolly adds his stardust on it.

en.wikipedia.org:_Billy_Connolly
www.standard.co.uk: billy-connolly-s-tracks-across-america

[01AUG2016]

 
THE CLIFF (HAMARINN - HRAUNID) | CRIME DRAMA DVD BOXSET

XThe Cliff - Icelandic tv crime thriller

The Cliff (series 1 titled 'Hamarinn', 2009) is a dramatic mystery about a Crime Detective who is sent from Reykjavik to a small community in Iceland to help a local policewoman investigate a suspicious accident. Together they unravel a mystery that involves bizarre incidents and unexplained deaths. The driver of a power shovel suffers an accident at night in the vicinity of the works of a controversial power line that must cross a cliff. Considered since times of old a sacred place, the locals know of strange lights up there and unexplained phenomena.

We see a murder mystery develop with ingredients of folklore and the supernatural. Set in a beautiful and dark landscape. As often happens in cases of small towns, petty interests, secretiveness, and small intrigues make things more complicated than it may seem at first glance.
The town is divided between a project (a dam) offering jobs and environmental issues.

Helgi Marvinsson (Björn Hlynur Haraldsson) is the investigator from Reykjavik, Inga (Dóra Jóhannsdóttir) is determined to proof herself in this major investigation and their relationship is tense at the start. Inga's husband is a businessman who profits with the dam project and their marriage is under strain by work and suspected infedelity.
Helgi is traumatized by the death of his son, when aged 9. His marriage failed and he tries to find solace in his work; but his preoccupation puts the relationship with his daughter under stress.

As the investigators progress in their investigations, more accidents happen and the number of victims is increasing. The pressure from police chiefs to resolve the case mounts and the detectives themselves trapped by the magic of the mountain.

www.imdb.com/

Björn Hlynur Haraldsson played Eric Odegard in the Fortitude series. He also had a role in 'Trapped', but his part (episodes #1, #2, #3) as Trausti Einarsson must have been a smaller one as I did not recall his performance.

While I purchased this boxset as The Cliff, series 1 & 2', that was actually the title of the first series ('Hamarinn'). The 2nd series I noticed was offered on Netflix as 'The Lavafields' and the Icelandic title is 'Hraunid' (2014).

The Lava Fields - Icelandic crime thriller
Part two of The Cliff tv-series: The Lava Fields (Hraunid)

We see the return of police inspector Helgi Marvinsson (Björn Hlynur Haraldsson), who is taken from a case of smuggling to take charge in a suspected murder investigation in Snæfellsnes, a remote peninsula in west Iceland.
The local police inspector Greta (Heida Reed, a stunning beauty) has only been promoted two months before the killing and since the victim is an important banker she needs a senior investigator. Greta taunts Helgi with her youthful confidence.
Heida Reed in Hraunid

Helgi continues to struggle with his trauma and is slowly coming apart. The one thing that seems to keep him together, his job and this investigation, seems set to selfdestruct too.
I liked how, inspite of all the unfamiliar and somewhat difficult names, the cast and its relations in both series were kept together. Probably to do with the pace of the story, never too fast so one could to loose the plot.

The only other returning role from 'The Cliff - Hamarinn' is that of the forensic investigator Marín, a very charming role by Maria Ellingsen.
It puzzled me from what series I recalled the actor playing the former policechief: I could not find his role name in the cast. I looked at images of the acors in 'Fortitude' and 'Trapped', then I recalled a series of years earlier: 'Dark Angels - Svartir Englar' (2008; see blog 2015Q1) and bingo! Alas, the name of the actor is still missing!

Two actors from Svartir Englar also starring in Hraunid)
From 'Svartir Englar': Sólveig Arnarsdóttir, who plays the role of Helgi's divorced wife and
the actor who plays the role of former police chief in Snæfellsnes - WHAT IS THE ACTOR'S NAME?
EMAIL


This thriller is yet another excellent fit in the Nordic Noir genre. It’s a somber thriller, often set in a bleak, but beautiful landscape. With murder, drug smuggling, biker gangs, and one very unhappy detective.

netflixtvshowsreview.com/2016/07/nordic-noir-iceland-lava-field-tv-series/
www.imdb.com
'Nordic Noir' series on Wikipedia

[30JUL2016]

 
A GOD IN RUINS by KATE ATKINSON | NOVEL FICTION DRAMA

A God in Ruins by Kate Atkinson


I recently bought this book when on a shopping spree at Blackwell's in Edinburgh. I have read several books by Kate Atkinson and was very enthusiastic about her writing. The books featured PI Jackson Brodie and were situated in and around Edinburgh. I also enjoyed the series that were made of of these novels.
But Kate Atkinson has abandoned Jackson Brodie and a previous novel, widely acclaimed it seems, featured the Todd family, one Ursula Todd in particular.
It seems I can erase Kate Atkinson as a preferred author from my list as I did not get past page 85 in this book.
The front cover of this book has a quote by the Daily Telegraph as "Dazzling". I would say 'boring' would be more accurate, though I will admit taste in books is a very subjective thing.
At least for me it certainly was not 'breathtaking' or 'magnificent' either.

On the backcover I read, having picked it up from the shelf at Blackwell's', that 'A God in Ruins' was about one Teddy Todd, a bomber pilot in WW2. Well, World War 2 that could be interesting, I thought.

For one thing the chronology of the chapters in the book. The opening chapter is '20 March 1944 - The Last Flight', only 2 pages. The second chapter is '1925 Alouette', featuring Teddy as a small child, but also aunt Izzy, mother Sylvie, sister Ursula, friends, school. All rather dreamlike with meadows, skylarks, etc.

The 3rd chapter is 3 pages quoted from a book, which we find Teddy has been reading; what age is he here? Again a very short chapter. Next we skip to 1980! And in the next 30 or so pages we read about Teddy's daughter Viola, as she went through a hippie fase and how she and her husband took up 'alternative lifestyle', lived as squatters and ended up (Viola moaning but passive) in a commune with their two small children.

Rereading a review: " 'A God in Ruins' is the story of Teddy’s war and its legacy, “a ‘companion’ piece rather than a sequel”, according to the author." After almost 100 pages Teddy and WW2 was nowhere in sight.
"This wilful disruption of chronology allows Atkinson to reveal her characters in glimpses over the course of the novel while withholding vital information that creates mysteries at the heart of the story". I did not like that at all, it throws the characters all over time.

With no particular characters of any interest nor a gripping story line, I was quickly fed up and found myself unable to go through another 460 pages. Life is too short and my shopping at Blackwell's brought me a good selection of other books, which in time will be discussed here.

www.theguardian.com/books/2015/may/10/a-god-in-ruins-kate-atkinson-observer-review
en.wikipedia.org:_Kate_Atkinson

[29JUL.2016]

 
WINOGRAND, FIGMENTS FROM THE REAL WORLD | PHOTOGRAPHY

Winogrand, figments from the real world

Winogrand, figments from the real world

Garry Winogrand, photographer


Garry Winogrand, the photographer, was on added to my shopping list only a month or so ago and I counted myself very lucky to come across this fine book at Barter Books in Alnwyck two weeks ago!

Garry Winogrand (b.14Jan1928 – d.19Mar1984) was a street photographer from the Bronx, New York, known for his portrayal of American life, and its social issues, in the mid-20th century.
Though he photographed in Los Angeles and elsewhere, Winogrand was essentially a New York photographer.
Winogrand received three Guggenheim Fellowships to work on personal projects, a fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts, and published 4 books during his lifetime.
He was one of 3 photographers featured in the influential New Documents exhibition at Museum of Modern Art in New York in 1967 and had solo exhibitions there in 1969, 1977 and 1988. He supported himself by working as a freelance photojournalist and advertising photographer (by need, not by ambition) in the 1950s and 1960s, and taught photography in the 1970s.

Photography curator, historian, and critic John Szarkowski called Winogrand the central photographer of his generation. Critic Sean O'Hagan, writing in The Guardian in 2014, said "In the 1960s and 70s, he defined street photography as an attitude as well as a style."
This book contains the following chapters for Winogrand's images: The Eisenhower Years, The Street, Women, The Zoo, On The Road, The Sixties,Etc., The Fort Worth Fat Stock Show & Rodeo, Airport, and Unfinished Work.

The essay 'The Work by Garry Winogrand' by John Szarkowski, could also have been titled 'The life of Garry Winogrand', because through his photography Winogrand tried to fathom life, people, relationships. A telling factor is the fact that after his death some 2.500 rolls of undeveloped film were found: Winogrand moved among people late in life as a photographer, kept clicking his shutter but often without properly framing or focussing and apparently not in the least interested in the results.

I read Szarkowski's excellent essay detailing Winogrand as a bit of a tragic figure, but I have a feeling that is not how Winograd experienced his life. His legacy in photography is without a doubt monumental and I am very pleased to have his work, and this book in particular, in my collection.

en.wikipedia.org:_Garry_Winogrand

[24JUL2016]

 
MY SHIT LIFE SO FAR by FRANKIE BOYLE | BOOKS SATIRE AUTOBIOGRAPHY

Frankie Boyle, My Shit Life So Far

Francis Martin Patrick Boyle (b.16Aug1972) is a Scottish comedian and writer, well known for his pessimistic and often controversial and sexually explicit sense of humour. He was a permanent panelist on the comedy panel show Mock the Week from its beginning in 2005 until his departure in late 2009 and made guest appearances on several other panel shows.
Boyle was born and raised in Glasgow to Irish parents from the Crolly area of County Donegal.
He attended Holyrood Secondary school in Glasgow. After leaving school, he worked as a library assistant over the summer and attended Langside College. He then studied Urban Planning at Aston University for a year before leaving and beginning a BA in English Literature at the University of Sussex. He graduated from university aged 22 and his first job was working in a Mental Health Hospital.
He then went to a teacher training college in Edinburgh and had placements in schools, but by then he was already performing as a stand up comedian.
He gained his big break after performing at The Stand Comedy Club in Edinburgh, a venue that has also helped launch the careers of Stewart Lee, Johnny Vegas, Dara Ó Briain and Michael McIntyre.

'My Shit Life So Far' is a comedic observational autobiography by Frankie in the most explicit language possible it seems to me.
The book details his working class childhood in Pollokshaws in Glasgow to his rampant teenage sex drive, and his first job, working in a mental hospital. In order to avoid obscenity, the word 'shit' on the cover was covered by stickers in bookshops, but I would say it would have been fair warning for the explicit terms Frankie uses: 'cunt' appears in the text far more often than 'shit'.
No doubt Frankie has had something to say about 'shit' being covered.

The writing, in my view, could be classified as 'rantings' if there hadn't been any chronological order and analytical perspective of his life. I did find it hard to read more than a chapter each time I picked up the book, the language sometimes become somewhat disruptive for my taste and meandering.
There is comedy, he is a jester, but of the grim 'shock & awe'-kind rather than clever analytical viewpoints. In fact, much of his life (poverty, drink & drugs, fear of flying, relationships) seems hardly a laughing matter and it is a small wonder he found humor on his way.

Frankie Boyle's career seems rather opportunist and he ends the book doubtful as how to proceed (with his comedy talents), but meanwhile he has published another book (Work!Consume!Die!) which was well received, and so in spite of his dark and disconcerning view of life on this planet we may enjoy his 'rantings' for a good while longer - if we can stand the spicy language!

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Frankie_Boyle
en.wikipedia.org/wiki/My_Shit_Life_So_Far
www.theguardian.com/books/2009:_frankie-boyle-celebrity-memoirs

[24JUL2016]

 
THE TRAVELLING COMPANION by IAN RANKIN | SHORT STORY

Travelling Companion


I was shopping with Blackwell's in Edinburgh recently for crime fiction books, Ian Rankin's latest in particular and while succeeding in every sense I also came across this short story, 'The Travelling Companion', by Ian Rankin.
I could not resist this charming little book and found it ideal for my holidays.

For recent college graduate Ronald Hastie, a job at the legendary Shakespeare and Company bookshop offers the perfect occupation during a summer abroad in Paris. Working part-time in exchange for room and board leaves plenty of freedom to explore the city once visited by his literary hero, Robert Louis Stevenson.
Things only get better when he meets a collector who claims to have the original manuscripts of both the first draft of Jekyll and Hyde and the never-published The Travelling Companion (both thought to have been destroyed).
Then Ron meets the man’s mysterious assistant, and a reckless obsession stirs inside him. As the life he knew back home in Scotland fades from memory, he desperately seeks the secret lying within Stevenson’s long-lost pages. . . 

https://fictionophile.wordpress.com/2016/05/03/the-travelling-companion-by-ian-rankin

[21JUL2016]

 
DARK MATTER by PHILIP KERR | NOVEL CRIME FICTION

Dark Matter (The Private Life of Sir Isaac Newton) by Philip Kerr


Only in recent times I started to read work by Philip Kerr, sofar I've read two books in Kerr's Bernie Gunther series; with great pleasure I might add. So this one was a bit of a leap, having no particular interest in a biography of Sir Isaac Newton the subtitle 'The Private Life of Sir Isaac Newton' made me a little anxious.
But what a pleasant surprise this book this! Truly an excellent read: while Sir Isaac Newton is well known in history the bodyguard he was assigned, Christopher Ellis, is not and allows the author to compose an exciting and cleverly written historical thriller!

Set in squalid 17th-century London, this intellectually rigorous mystery finds Sir Isaac Newton pursuing counterfeiters and uncovering a far-reaching plot that threatens Great Britain. We find Sir Newton assigned to the post of Warden of the Royal Mint and in the chase for counterfeiters Newton and Ellis stumble across a conspiracy with reaches far into the Tower of London (where the Mint is also located).

It is quite marvellous how Kerr manages to describe the living society in London to the point where you can image and almost smell the filth and squalor of the London streets and prison quarters. And the logistics of transport (or lack of) in London and beyond.

The investigations are set against the background of England’s war with France in the late 1600s. With the outcome of the conflict uncertain, England can ill afford a collapsed economy, a distinct possibility if counterfeiters abroad in the land remain unchecked.
Ellis’s predecessor at the Mint is found murdered, and three more killings follow, all in gruesome circumstances and with ciphers left at the scene. "I am a man that sees much and understands more", proclaims Newton as the investigation gets underway. Indeed, his keen observations and deductions become the core of his dialogues with Ellis, their subjects spiraling from the case to include science, religion, and human nature.

Another interesting fact, and I trust wel researched by Kerr: opium was known to be available as a drinkable potion, laudanum (wikipedia), but it was the Dutch that found out how it could be smoked! No wonder we did not get that in history lessons at school!

'Dark Matter' found me engrossed in life and conspiracies in 17th century London; the story contains a volatile mix of politics, science (including alchemy), religion and even some romance and this book by Philip Kerr has won me over for this author.

www.kirkusreviews.com/book-reviews: philip-kerr_dark-matter

[21JUL2016]

 
UNCOMMON PLACES by STEPHEN SHORE | PHOTOGRAPHY BOOKS

Uncommon Places by Stephen Shore, photography

Uncommon Places by Stephen Shore, photography

Uncommon Places by Stephen Shore, photography

Uncommon Places by Stephen Shore, photography

Uncommon Places by Stephen Shore, photography

Uncommon Places by Stephen Shore, photography

Uncommon Places by Stephen Shore

Published by Aperture in 1982 and long unavailable, Stephen Shore's legendary 'Uncommon Places' has influenced many photographers. Among the first artists to take color beyond advertising and fashion photography, Shore's large-format color work on the American vernacular landscape stands at the root of what has become a vital photographic tradition.

Stephen Shore put himself up for a challenge went he started using colour film where professional- and art photographers used black & white. While 35mm and medium format became increasingly popular, Shore began to use 8x10 view cameras on a tripod.
He's one photographer that can claim, as his motto, "I did it my may!"

'Uncommon Places: The Complete Works' presents a definitive collection of the original series, much of it never before published or exhibited.
Like Robert Frank and Walker Evans before him, Shore discovered a hitherto unarticulated version of America via highway and camera.
In contrast to Shore's signature landscapes with which Un-common Places is often associated, this expanded survey reveals equally remarkable collections of interiors and portraits, continueing where 'American Surfaces' (see below) stopped.

Shore's 1982 book, 'Uncommon Places', was a bible for the new color photographers because, alongside William Eggleston, his work proved that a color photograph, like a painting or even a black and white photograph, could be considered a work of art!
Notable photographers Nan Goldin, Andreas Gursky, Martin Parr, Joel Sternfeld and Thomas Struth have acknowledged his influence on their work.
I was most impressed by 'American Surfaces' and 'Uncommon Places', because I can relate to the feeling those images exude; they represent what I felt, 'road-tripping' through North America - but was unable to register as a concept because I mix my photos with tourist sites.

In recent years, Shore has been working in Israel, the West Bank, and Ukraine. I found his images of the Ukraine particularly fascinating and hope to travel in his footsteps some day; now is not the best of times.

Shore has been the director of the photography department at Bard College since 1982. Since about 2 years Shore also has an Instagram / Facebook account.

http://stephenshore.net/
en.wikipedia.org:_Stephen_Shore
My photos of 'Stephen Shore Retrospective' (June 2016) on Flickr.com




[05JUL2016]

 
AMERICAN SURFACES by STEPHEN SHORE | PHOTOGRAPHY BOOKS

American Surfaces by Stephen Shore (Phaidon)

American Surfaces by Stephen Shore (Phaidon)

American Surfaces by Stephen Shore (Phaidon)

American Surfaces by Stephen Shore (Phaidon)

Having recently visited in Amsterdam the Retrospective exhibition on Stephen Shore's amazing photography, I came away with two books; the first, 'American Surfaces', illuminated here.

The Phaidon edition I bought is a reprint and expanded edition compared to the original book.

'American Surfaces', Stephen Shore's ground-breaking and largely unpublished series of photographs from 1972-3, took documentary photography to a new level.
When first exhibited at the Light Gallery in New York this visual diary of Shore's travels across the United States confounded critics. Displayed as hundreds and hundreds of colout photographs, processed simply at Kodak's labs in New Jersey, they were a stark contrast to the formal, black-and-white prints that were recognized as art photography at the time.

Despite its unfavourable reviews, the show was bought in its entirety by Weston Naef, the Curator of Photography at the Metropolitan Museum in New York, where 220 of the photographs now reside.
'American Surfaces' has since become the benchmark for documenting our fast-living, consumer-oriented world, a body of work that followed on from Walker Evans and Robert Frank's experiences of crossing the United States and which continues to influence photographers today.

This book brings together the largest selection of images yet published from the series and is the first time they have been sequenced in the order in which they were taken.
'American Surfaces' follows Shore's extraordinary journey, travelling first into the deep South before taking Route 66 from Flagstaff to Chicago, and returning home to New York to continue his visual diary in his home city.

While the book is a far cry from any tourist travel, it strongly effects a feeling within me of 'wanting to go out on the road'.
The cover of the book is a brilliant one!

en.wikipedia.org:_Stephen_Shore
newrepublic.com/article/115243/stephen-shore-photography-american-surfaces-uncommon-places
www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2005/nov/...
de.phaidon.com/store/photography/american-surfaces

[04JUL2016]

 
WOODY GUTHRIE & THE HISTORY OF AMERICAN FOLK | MUSIC CD

Woody Guthrie & History of American Folk

Woody Guthrie & History of American Folk
Songs of hope and struggle

Perhaps the most widely known piece of trivia about Woodrow Wilson Guthrie is that his guitar bore the slogan 'This machine kills fascists'. If that's all you know of the singer, then you have a treat in store. Because this album The Ultimate Collection is full of the music that not only made him a legend in his own lifetime but influenced generations.

Bob Dylan not only drew deep from his work but, in 1963, publicly recited a poem entitled 'Last thoughts on Woody Guthrie'. His debut album, released the previous year, had contained 'Song to Woody', underlining the inspirational effect the folk balladeer had had on the man soon to become rock'n'roll's poet laureate!

So what's the story? Born in Okemah, Oklahoma in 1912 and named after Woodrow Wilson, who became US President that very same year, Guthrie first mastered the harmonicabefore learning guitar in his teens.
After a spell with a Texan magic show, he headed west to California and became a regular performer on a radio station there. His travels had seen him witness the worstof the Great Depression, and this politicised him to a great extent and not surprisingly, his music reflected this.

He travelled through the United States, working as a labourerto support himself and got involved in union politics wherever he went. "If you can't hitchhike, ride a freight train" was his celebrated 'rule of thumb'.
And by travelling so freely, he lived up to the title of his most famous song, 'This Land Is Your Land'.

By the time he was 30, Woody Guthrie had written hundreds of songs, many of which remain folk standards today. He moved from Los Angeles to New York in 1939 abd was recorded by musicologist Alan Lomax for the US Library of Congress in March 1940.
Many of his best songs, e.g. 'Pretty Boy Floyd', 'I Ain't Got No Home', 'Dust Bowl Blues', 'and 'Do Re Mi' among them were documented in that session.

Lomax and his wife Elizabeth interviewed the then 27-year old Guthrie over a 3-day period, and he performed some of his songs in-between reflections on his life and times: these also appeared in an autobiography, 'Bound for Glory'.

In that same month he met the similarly left-wing Pete Seeger, 7 years his junior, at a benefit concert for migrant workers where he was performing with Leadbelly. The pair formed a group known as the Almanac Singers, establishing a base in New York's Greenwich Village which would become a focus for the growing folk movement.
But while the younger Seeger was called up to the armed forces, Guthrie briefly continued the group format with Leadbelly, Sonny Terry and Brownie McGhee in the Headline Singers.

After his own spell fighting for Uncle Sam, Guthrie signed with the Folkways label, and his songs would become the bedrock of their catalogue.
But ill health struck in the form of Huntingdon's Chorea, and this relentless disease would see him hospitalised from 1952 all the way through to his eventual death in 1967.

By that time, the musical movement he had played such a pivotal role in starting was in full flight. The likes of Peter Paul & Mary and the Kingston Trio had popularised the genre in chart terms, but the likes of Tom Paxton and Phil Ochs were truer to Guthrie's folk/protest template.
Dylan was a superstar, the Byrds had taken folk to No.1, the likes of Country Joe MacDonald were protesting the war in Vietnam and even Woody's son Arlo was soon to become a worldwide star with his tales of Alice's Restaurant.
In Britain Lonnie Donegan would take manu of his cues on board to help create skiffle, while when 1950s turned 1960s Donovan doubed his guitar with the slogan 'This machine kills'. Now where had we seen that before!

The tributes and influence continued both after Woody's death. Phil Ochs and Joan Baez among those recording Guthrie's songs.
Bruce Springsteen performed 'This Land Is Your Land' and released it on a live album, while in 1995 daughter Nora approached British singer Billy Bragg to put some of the last lyrics her father composed to music. Two acclaimed albums resulted.
It wasn't the first time the punk generation had paid tribute: Joe Strummer, before he came to fame in the Clash, called himself 'Woody' Mellors.

A statue honouring Guthrie stands in his home town of Okemah, where a folk festival celebrates his legacy each summer. But his music remains his greatest testimony!
-Michael Heatley (inside CD cover)


en.wikipedia.org:_Woody_Guthrie
en.wikipedia.org:_Pete_Seeger
en.wikipedia.org:_Lead_Belly
en.wikipedia.org:_Odetta
en.wikipedia.org:_Ramblin'_Jack_Elliott
en.wikipedia.org:_Cisco_Houston
en.wikipedia.org:_Josh_White
en.wikipedia.org:_Burl_Ives

[03JUL2016]

 
IMPERIAL RUSSIAN STOUT by KLEIN DUIMPJE | ALCOHOLIC BEVERAGE

Imperial Russioan Stout by Klein Duimpje (brewery)

My favourite alcoholic beverage for the past few months: Imperial Russian Stout by local microbrewery 'Klein Duimpje'
www.kleinduimpje.nl
[03JUL2016]

 
THE ELEPHANTA SUITE by PAUL THEROUX | BOOKS NOVEL FICTION

The Elephanta Suite - Paul Theroux


I bought this book as a secondhand in a small bookshop in Bangkok and perhaps the 'unread' appearance should have been a warning, because I have given up on this paperback after some 80 pages...

The story sees Americans tackling life in a contrasting culture and indeed India is a 'contrasting culture' because I've been there. And because I had a (small) taste of only a few weeks, I cannot comprehend the distance this married couple take and feel to India.
They fly to India and immediately transfer to a health spa, where they undergo self reflection, meditation, massages and yoga. We learn about the distance grown in their marriage, but neither of the two characters are particularly endearing or fascinating.
I have great difficulty in giving up on books and it rarely happens, but Paul Theroux' writing in The Elephanta Suite could not bring me to the final pages of the book.

en.wikipedia.org:_Paul_Theroux

[03JUL2016]

 
NEDERLANDS-INDIË: DOOR DE OGEN VAN HET VERLEDEN by DICK ROZING| HISTORY

Nederlands-Indië, door de ogen van het verleden
(ISBN 978-90-902839-0-6, 128 pages, size 24x17cm)

Nederlands-Indië, door de ogen van het verleden

Nederlands-Indië, door de ogen van het verleden

Nederlands-Indië, door de ogen van het verleden
Example of the plates that would end up in front of the classroom.

Nederlands-Indië, door de ogen van het verleden
Only a few of the end selected 170 images are reproduced in this size.

Nederlands-Indië, door de ogen van het verleden


Nederlands-Indie - Door de ogen van het verleden, translates as 'the Dutch-Indies - through the eyes of the past'.

Over a century ago Henri Wagenaar Reisiger was a man with a mission. As a young man he had moved from Leeuwarden to Amsterdam where he found work in the tea trade; for work he travelled to the Dutch Indies a number of times, early in the 20th century.
He witnessed with his own eyes how a small group of Dutchmen worked hard to make a living ' in the East', but found interest at home for the many opportunities, besides tea, severely lacking. Reisiger realised he could only sell the Dutch Indies at home by illustrations and decided a series of photographs to educate the people at home was the best option.

Books used at school held very few illustrations and those used were used time and again. By improving education at school on the subject of the colonies, on culture and resources, both in the East as well as in the West, Wagenaar Reisiger hoped to pave a way for people to take up on those opportunities these countries could offer.
He was able to assemble a team to travel far and wide over Java and Sumatra during a six months period and found funding to process the images into about 170 large size illustrations, with documentation for teachers to use to educate their pupils and students.

While it must have enriched schooling in the early 20th century, history has not recorded how many people were influenced in opting for a career in the Dutch colonies due to this initiative.

[01JUL2016]

 
CHINA IN HET VOORBIJGAAN by PIETER GRIFFIOEN | DOCUMENT PHOTOGRAPHY

Pieter Griffioen - China in het voorbijgaan (1985 - 1991)

Pieter Griffioen - China in het voorbijgaan (1985 - 1991)

Pieter Griffioen - China in het voorbijgaan (1985 - 1991)
110 pages, 74 images

Pieter Griffioen - China in het voorbijgaan (1985 - 1991)

Pieter Griffioen - China in het voorbijgaan (1985 - 1991)

Pieter Griffioen - China in het voorbijgaan (1985 - 1991)


English title: IMPRESSIONS OF CHINA, although I liked the Dutch subtitle, translated, better: CHINA IN PASSING.
The English subtitle, CHINA'S PRESENT PAST, refers to the focus by Griffioen on his expectation that the things he photographed were expected to fade into the past in a matter of years.

In january 1983, after a long journey through a number of asian countries, Griffioen found himself in Hong Kong, at the gateway to China the mysterious Middle Kingdom.
In those days a single traveller had to make his way without the benefit of guide books. Going into China felt not without risk, but not going would probably be regretted the rest of his life.
So Pieter took the plunge and headed into the great Chinese unknown.
That trip, a mere two weeks, fascinated him so much that he decided to start a photography project. It would result in five more extended visits to China, between 1985 and 1991.
He travelled 30.000 kilometers, mainly by train.
The first two trips were solitary undertakings, but Griffioen found the Chinese community difficult to penetrate.
With the help of the 'Netherlands-China Friendship Association' (VNC, of which I was a member too for a number of years, back in the days) Pieter was able to reach deeper into the community and gained access (and help by interpreters) to hospitals, steelplants, a shipyard, a prison, oil fields, etc., where he was allowed to photograph.
Griffioen focussed on aspects he expected to disappear in a number of years.
As Pieter Griffioen himself declares, this book and its documentary photography is not meant to represent China of that era, merely how he viewed China.

I very much liked how thumbnails are used at the back of the book to explain most of the images and I found some explanations quite contrary to what my initial impression had been.
Willem van Kemenade wrote the essay to start the book with, how he met Griffioen in China (both being a member of the VNC) and detailing China's social and political climate in those years. Very informative and helpful.
All texts in this book are both in Dutch as well as in English.
Pleased to say that the acquired 32x24cm book is a signed edition.


Pieter Griffioen (b.1949) entertained photography as a hobby for a number of years, but in 1983 he became a member of the Photography Committee of 'Stichting Sinus' and inspired by the works of Henri Cartier-Bresson and Marc Riboud photography took a more prominent place in his life. Subsequently, he produced a number of photo series after visits to Peru, Moscow and China.
This book is the result of his travels in China during the priod 1985-1991.

I found little of him or his work online these days, but noticed he published a series of photos taken in Cuba, in 2001, displayed at the Noorderlicht Photofestival. The series was titled 'Cuba, bent not broken'. And I found reference that this series was again going to be used in november 2016 in a joined exposition with Gabriel Davalos at the Sint Aegtenkapel in Amersfoort (Netherlands).

www.cubanculturalventures.com/nieuws


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Created: 01-Jul-2016