Welcome to my Blog - Ruud Leeuw

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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 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.




I'm Your Man - Sylvie Simmons biography on Leonard Cohen

Kitty Empire of the Guardian headed her review (link below) of this book with "A masterful biography of Leonard Cohen reveals a selfish man with irresistible charm". And she hits the nail right on the head there.
First of all, the writing by Sylvie Simmons is superb.
Then the man himself. Eventhough Cohen takes extended breaks from the rat race that is the music industry of not Life, there is a restless feeling that sees him flying between Montreal, Canada to London,UK to Hydra,Greece and back to Canada, off to New York,USA and again back to Europe, to Californa and other places in the US. And I don't refer to the touring he did.
And his relations, the women named and others ('encounters') unnamed. Such restlessness, a drifter, a vagabond.

Cohen is so well read in the Jewish religion, people say he could have been a rabbi. But he is also a devoted Buddhist and seeks regular refuge on Mt Baldy in a stark Zen Center with Zen master Roshi. And all this religious stuff is in no way an obstacle for a life of sex, drugs and drink.
He's a charmer. For the many women but he also does crowds: the time when Cohen single-handedly stopped a riot at the 1970 Isle of Wight festival is well known.
Leonard Cohen started out as a writer and a poet. It was a lack of success and circumstance that brought him to music. For a long time he was a commercial failure in the US, but Canada and Europe embraced him.

Simmons painstakingly tracks all Cohen's works, his the poetry, fiction and music. She interviews his literary peers, producers and session musicians, as well as the key female figures: the sainted Marianne Ihlen (So Long, Marianne); the Montreal Suzanne of the tea and oranges; Suzanne Elrod, the mother of his children; and latterday partners Rebecca De Mornay and Anjani Thomas.
Very few people in the book express criticism, though the way Mr Cohen could shed people from his wake must have brought him a few dislikes.

In 2004, when Cohen was a practising monk at the Mt Baldy centre outside Los Angeles, serving his long-time Zen master Roshi Joshu Sasaki, his daughter advised him to look into his financial affairs and found that all his money was gone. His trusted longtime manager, Kelley Lynch, had been draining his accounts. A long, ugly legal battle followed which was led by the ex-husband of his then-partner Anjani Thomas's, a music industry lawyer, who gave Cohen his legal time for free!
Simmons handles this recent history masterfully.
Leonard Cohen, who had given up on touring, was broke and needed to go back on tour. Latterday albums - 2004's Dear Heather and this year's Old Ideas - and a two-year world tour have, belatedly, established Cohen as a household name and earned him more money than he lost ($10m-$13m, Simmons reckons).
While we have a lot to be grateful for with Cohen's music (I am a life long fan), art and writing, Sylvie Simmons does a great job to reveal there is more to the person than the gloss of his career.

www.theguardian.com - I'm Your Man---Leonard-Cohen biography
The Leonard Cohen Files - a tribute to the music and poetry of Leonard Cohen

UPDATE: Leonard Cohen died 07Nov2016. See Blog 2016 Q4.



Nothing But The Truth - Anna Politkovskaja

Feels good, somehow, to be able to finish this book for the end of the year. And it coincided nicely with the book by Eddy van Wessels (below) which I acquired this month.

The English title of this book is 'Nothing But The Truth, Selected Dispatches'.
Russian reporter Anna Politkovskaja was murdered, shot dead in an elevator in her apartment in Moscow on 07Oct2006, aged 48. As a journalist for Novaya Gazeta and as a human rights activist she was known for her opposition to the Chechen conflict, to Chechnya's ruler Ramzan Kadyrov and President of Russia, Vladimir Putin.

The Novaya gazeta is a Russian newspaper known for its often critical investigative coverage of Russian political and social affairs. From 2000 onwards, Politskaja received numerous international awards for her work. In 2004, she published a personal account: 'Putin's Russia'.

Her murder was never solved and was believed to have been politically motivated. It could have been revenge for the many exposé's she has written or perhaps it was a present for Putin's 54th anniversary.
Four Novaya Gazeta journalists, including Yury Shchekochikhin and Anna Politkovskaya, have been murdered since 2001.

Anna Politkovskaja
Anna Politkovskaja

Former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev and State Duma Deputy Alexander Lebedev own 49% of the newspaper and the paper's staff controls the remaining 51% of shares. In fact Gorbachev used the money from his 1990 Nobel Peace Prize to help set up Novaya Gazeta in 1993 and purchased its first computers.
With reporters regularly being killed one can only wonder how long such an enterprise can exist.

About the book.
Politkovskaya never relents, never holds back. Her revulsion for the wild men of the Red Army as they rape and kill, for the corrupt warlords who take over in Grozny, for Vladimir Putin and his corrupt cronies.
The book is not by chronological order, but rather by the subjects Politkovskaja adressed. It starts with the two wars in Chechnya and one is taken aback by Anna's ferocity. She visited Chechnya several times and was also involved in the Beslan (North Ossetia) hostage situation where Russian soldiers intervened - which cost the lifes of 331 hostages including 186 children.
She did not stay behind her desk to write her stories, she became deeply involved. She raised questions such as 'how can it be that Chechen women turn suicide bombers?'.

At this time, in 2004, an attempt to poison her was made. She often received death threats, was detained in Chechnya and subjected to a mock execution. But she remained undeterred.
Chechnya is one of several countries in the area that show an increase in Islam followers. President Jeltsin started the first war, 'assisting' local fractions in defending religious freedom (Christian Orthodox). President Putin followed this up, replacing the loyal locals with less scruplulous henchmen, such as Ramzan Kadyrov.
Russia is no democracy and has a week legal system; small wonder corruption and repression rule in these Russian satellite states (Chechnya, North Ossetia, Dagestan, Karachai-Cherkessia, Kabardino-Balkaria) too. People are tortured, people disappear without trace.
Chechnya is divided in many tribal fractions, each trying to get the upper hand in a fight for power and supremacy.

The First Chechen War, also known as the War in Chechnya, was a conflict between the Russian Federation and the Chechen Republic of Ichkeria, fought from December 1994 to August 1996. After the initial campaign of 1994–1995, culminating in the devastating Battle of Grozny, Russian federal forces attempted to seize control of the mountainous area of Chechnya but were set back by Chechen guerrilla warfare and raids on the flatlands despite Russia's overwhelming manpower, weaponry, and air support.

The Second Chechen War was launched by the Russian Federation starting 26 August 1999, in response to the Invasion of Dagestan by the Islamic International Peacekeeping Brigade (IIPB).
On 1 October Russian troops entered Chechnya. The campaign ended the de facto independence of Chechen Republic of Ichkeria and restored Russian federal control over the territory. Although it is regarded by many as an internal conflict within the Russian Federation, the war attracted a large number of foreign fighters.
As of 2009, Russia had severely disabled the Chechen separatist movement and large-scale fighting has reportedly ceased.
In numerous articles critical of the war in Chechnya and the pro-Russian regime there, Politkovskaya described alleged abuses committed by Russian military forces, Chechen rebels, and the Russian-backed administration led by Akhmad Kadyrov and his son Ramzan Kadyrov.
She tried to get the EU involved whenever she found an opportunity to plead her case, but 'Brussels' turned a blind eye and let the business interests with Putin prevail.
In the eyes of the Western world Putin was helping fight the big fight against terror: Islam.

Anna Politkovskaja

Somewhere in the book I read a remark: 'Russia does not suffer under the oppression of the law' or something similar. An apt exemple was offered to us recently when the crew of the Greenpeace ship Arctic Sunrise received sentencing but nobody could explain what the verdict exactly entailed. This is because a verdict by the judge needs to allow politics to have their influence too and therefor in due course the ruling is 'explained' by 'legal experts'.

Anyone going against the politics of Putin, such as the investigative journalism by the Novaya Gazeta and vitriolic writers such as Anna, run the risk of suffering the wrath of Tsar Putin and this may result in a 'punishment' (e.g. a beating) or may be terminal.
Putin made a statement after her death that Politkovskaja was known outside Russia, but within Russia her influence was minimal, negligent. He did not realize at the time that this only underlines Russia's sad state of affairs on matters of a critical press.
Anna certainly illustrated how Russia differs from Europe; how brutality, nepotism and oppression live next door to the much kinder, softer, cultural and educated lifestyles of Europe. We should be warned.

Politkovskaya was born Anna Mazepa in New York City in 1958. Her parents, diplomats at the United Nations, were Ukrainian.
Politkovskaya grew up in Moscow; she graduated from Moscow State University's school of journalism in 1980.Politkovskaya worked for Izvestia from 1982 to 1993 as a reporter and editor of the emergencies and accidents section. From 1994 to 1999, she worked as the assistant chief editor of Obshchaya Gazeta, headed by Yegor Yakovlev, where she wrote frequently about social problems—particularly the plight of refugees. From June 1999 to 2006, she wrote columns for the biweekly Novaya Gazeta.
She will be remembered.

Wikipedia - Anna_Politkovskaya
theguardian.com: Nothing But the Truth by Anna Politkovskaya. Review by Peter Preston -Feb2010
Wikipedia - Novaya_gazeta
Wikipedia - Caucasus
Wikipedia - First_Chechen_War
Wikipedia - Second_Chechen_War



Edge of Civilizastion - Eddy van Wessel

Eddy van Wessel (b.1965) is a war photographer from the Netherlands (presently living in Sweden with his family). He has a clear signature in his work, which shows a deep involvement and he can be found at the heart of the action.
Two years ago I went to his photo exhibition 'War, My Personal History' and this month I received my pre-ordered copy of the book 'The Edge of Civilization'.

During the early 1990s I visited a photographer who was kind enough to display some of my photos on his website, which was still very much a novelty by then.
This photographer, while selecting and scanning my photographs, told me that a close friend of him, Eddy van Wessel, was on his way to Yugoslavia (Bosnia) with the intention to make his way to the war zone. Van Wessel was working on his own, without much of a plan except to make photos of the war there.
It sounded incredibly brave to me.
The book 'The Edge of Civilization' only enhances that admiration.

The photos in this book illustrate the devastation not only of buildings and infrastructure, but shows the effects in the eyes of survivors, scar tissue on their souls but also a fighting spirit gleaming in those eyes.
The photos were taken in (e.g.) Chechnya, Afghanistan, Syria and Iraq.
While he shoots both digital as well as analogue, he prefers to shoot on film. And mainly black & white. An old Leica M is his preferred tool.
There is a story in the book how he lost his Leica camera when crossing a stream. Three days of searching in the cold water, which in the end involved damming it upstream, brought the recovery of the camera; he saved the film, had it developed and one of the images made the cover of this book.

Since it was easier to join the rebels in Chechnya and Syria than the regular army, it was the rebels he followed. He remained an observer and was aware he had to remain sharp to survive: when he was offered to cross the street with a possibility of snipers present he realized the rebels would benefit if a Western journalist/photographer was killed by the Governmental troops.
The photos are impressive but the writing is important here too and very well done.
Equally impressive is the part on how he relates to his family, who have to deal with his risky profession.

Eddy van Wessel - war photography
Eddy van Wessel - Baghdad, Iraq - 2011
(photo from focusmedia.nl/portfolio/eddy-van-wessel)

Eddy van Wessel's work has won him many international prices and in 2012 he won the 'Zilveren Camera' in the Netherlands for his series on the violence in Syria.
This book looks back on 20 years of Eddy van Wessel's photography in conflict areas. A brilliant book.




Ruins of Detroit by Marchand & Meffre

For some time I had been considering buying this ultimate Urbex photobook and in the end I received it as an anniversary gift recently. At the time of this writing I am browsing it for a 3rd time, each time focussing on details I had failed to notice earlier and reading with more care the captions (I am very much a 'where & when person').
The book truly is exquisite, even though the story is a sad one: the demise of a city with glorious architecture. It is not merely the illustration of the dissolution of a modern American city but as a document it is a hard lesson how the American society, and poor leadership, can lead to annihilation on a grotesque scale.

Review from The Guardian (Sean O"Hagan):
In downtown Detroit, the streets are lined with abandoned hotels and swimming pools, ruined movie houses and schools, all evidence of the motor city's painful decline.
The photographs of Yves Marchand and Romain Meffre capture what remains of a once-great city – and hint at the wider story of post-industrial America.
In December 2001, the old Highland Park police department in Detroit was temporarily disbanded. The building it vacated was abandoned with everything in it: furniture, uniforms, typewriters, crime files and even the countless mug-shots of criminals who had passed through there. Among the debris that photographers Yves Marchand and Romain Meffre found there in 2005 was a scattering of stiff, rotting cardboard files each bearing a woman's name.
More on the link above.




Holiday Greetings



The Bed of Procrustes BY Nassim Nicholas Taleb

This book introduced me to the 'aphorism' and Mr Taleb produces a very interesting series of brain-breaking aphorisms. I must admit that quite a few went beyond my limited comprehension, but many were (often humorous if not cynical) eye-openers.
We can only try to learn and try to improve our lives in that way.

It is extremely foolhardy to try to paraphrase any of Mr. Taleb’s pronouncements. This is a man who suffers fools impatiently, and his intellect makes his hauteur largely justified.
No readers of 'The Black Swan', 'Fooled by Randomness' or any of Mr. Taleb’s academic writings about economics, probability, risk, fragility, philosophy of statistics, applied epistemology, etc., will question whether he is qualified to dish out wisdom.

Very recommended reading.

Review in the NY Times by Janet Maslin (2010)
Wikipedia : Aphorism
Wikpedia: Nassim Nicholas Taleb



End in Tears by Ruth Rendell
'End in Tears' is another Ruth Rendell 'Inspector Wexford'-novel.
A lump of concrete dropped deliberately from a little stone bridge over a relatively unfrequented road kills the wrong person. The driver behind is spared. But not for long. Then a second young woman is murdered: what connected them?
Both young women had given birth to a child at a very young age, but one kept it and the other had put it up for adoption. The subject of 'surrogacy' surfaces. But this does not bring Chief Inspector Wexford and Detective Inspector Mike Burden any closer to a motive for the murders.
Meanwhile we read how Wexford's daughter Sylvia has decided to carry a child for her ex-husband and his new partner. This causes strain throughout the Wexford household and adresses the emotinal strain surrounding surrogacy.
We also follow the awkward relationship between Detective Sergeant Hannah Goldsmith and Constable 'Bal' Baljinder.
A good read, though at times I found it difficult to follow the who's who in all this.



Beck - the original series, crime drama

This dvd box contained 3 dvd's with 6 episodes, containing the filming of the Sjöwall & Wahlöö series, 'The Stories of a Crime', produced in 1993 & 1994.
Main character is the Swedish police inspector Martin Beck, played by Gösta Ekman.

Maj Sjöwall and Per Wahlöö were a wife and husband team of detective writers from Sweden. Together they conceived and wrote a series of 10 novels, about the exploits of detectives from the special homicide commission of the national police in which the character of Martin Beck was the main protagonist.
Both authors also wrote novels separately. For the Martin Beck series, they plotted and researched each book together then wrote alternate chapters.
The first actor to play Martin Beck was Keve Hjelm in 1967. Carl-Gustaf Lindstedt portrayed Beck in 1976. In 1993 and 1994, Gösta Ekman played the character in 6 films, included in this dvd box.
Since 1997, a popular movie series has been co-produced by German and Swedish companies. In these Martin Beck was played by Peter Haber.

In the series depicted above (and on the photo, left to right) Beck is assisted by Benny Skacke (played by Niklas Hjulström), Gunvald Larsson (Rolf Lassgård) and Sten Lennart Kollberg (Kjell Bergqvist).

Sjöwall and Wahlöö on WIKIPEDIA
'Martin Beck' on WIKIPEDIA



John Gorka, Paradiso dec.2013

John Gorka played the Paradiso (Amsterdam, Netherlands). A first time for me to see and hear him play, a very pleasing experience. John Gorka is a veritable troubadour and I hope to see him more often.

John Gorka is a contemporary American folk musician.
In 1991, Rolling Stone magazine called him 'the preeminent male singer-songwriter of what has been dubbed the New Folk Movement'.
In 1984, Gorka took first place at the Kerrville Folk Festival. Since then he has toured with artists such as Suzanne Vega, Shawn Colvin, Michael Manring, Christine Lavin, Dave Van Ronk, Cliff Eberhardt, David Massengill, Frank Christian and Lucy Kaplansky.

At this performance I bought the CD 'Red Horse', which is a collaboration with Eliza Gilkyson, Lucy Kaplansky and John Gorka.
I deeply regret that this CD, as well as the one mentioned below, does not include a sheet with the lyrics (no, downloading from the internet is not the same). It becomes more logical this way to download the entire CD (e.g. from Spotify) and skip buying the CD in my opinion.

A few photos of mine published on Flickr.com
Branching Out
Houses in the Fields (piano)
Where No Monument Stands

John Gorka on Wikipedia



Gurf Morlix Finds The Present Tense

On 07Dec2013 Gurf Morlix and Ray Bonneville played at InTheWoods.nl (Lage Vuursche, Utrecht, Netherlands), promoting Morlix' latest album:
Gurf Morlix Finds The Present Tense.
Ray Bonnevile is a singersongwriter in his own right, but both have their homebase in Austin,TX and it is a natural turn of events he plays harmonica on this album. Ray will have a new album out in 2014.
They played well together.

Brian Wilson sang about good vibrations, but that was in the 1960s. Gurf Morlix lives in the present, where life is tense. Every day the headlines ring with crisis and new traumas. Morlix feels vibrations of a more depressing kind.
The low key way in which Morlix delivers his lines and the lilting instrumental background contrasts with his self-described feelings in an odd way. One is supposed to believe he’s being burned up by hot emotions as he sings and plays in a slow and quiet manner.
Morlix’s stoicism, both vocally and instrumentally, may be his greatest strength. It allows him to represent those who feel their lives have already been taken by forces beyond their control on every level.
More on this review HERE..
Gurf Morlix website

Photos I took at the concert: Flickr.com
Bang Bang Bang
Series of Closin'Doors
Two Bends in the Road (Ray Bonnevile)
Blonde of Mine (Ray Bonneville)


Inspector Lewis tv-series

Last weekend I watched the final episode, 'Intelligent Design', of the Lewis tv-series. I have followed this series religiously over the past years (as I did with the Inspector Morse series).

DI Robbie Lewis (Kevin Whately) and DS James Hathaway (Laurence Fox) seem to have solved their last murder mystery, so much was clear from the final scene though there was no large "THE END" announced when the credits started running.
Actor Kevin Whately said in an interview with The Daily Beast that after 26 years of playing Robbie Lewis, in both the 'Morse' and 'Lewis' series as well, he wanted to finally take a summer off.
Laurence Fox is rumored to want to start an acting career in Hollywood.

This series will be sorely missed, but I take comfort in the 'Endeavour' series ('the young Morse'), which is also filmed in Oxford and has the same high degree of acting and filming.
Oxford’s beauty and diversity is the perfect backdrop; I was there this summer (again) and went to look for the pubs and Colleges where these series are filmed. A lovely city.

From Wikipedia:
Lewis is a British television detective drama made as a spin-off from Inspector Morse. Like that series, it was set primarily in Oxford, England. Kevin Whately reprised his character Robert "Robbie" Lewis, who had been Morse's sergeant in the original series. Lewis had now been promoted to detective inspector and was assisted by DS James Hathaway, portrayed by Laurence Fox.
The series was produced for ITV. Following the broadcast of a pilot in 2006, a first series of three episodes was broadcast in February and March 2007.
In May 2012, after the show was renewed for a seventh series (of three episodes), Fox told The Daily Telegraph it would be its last, as both he and Whately wished to move on to other things.[2] But according to the ITV spokeswoman Kate Bain, Lewis may still return to television in 2014, either as another series or as a one-off.

The cast-
Kevin Whately as DI Robert Lewis - Widowed after his wife was killed in a hit and run car accident, Inspector Lewis is a workaholic. He often shows an uncanny intuition in solving murder cases. He is the father of two children, one of whom is his daughter Lynn (seldom seen) who is married and expecting a baby. He often shows an open disdain for what he feels is the arrogance of Oxford University's professors.

Laurence Fox as DS James Hathaway - DS Hathaway is a very private person, often hiding his feelings or past to Lewis, even when it is relevant to a murder investigation. This tendency of Hathaway has caused some tension between the two. Educated in Cambridge, Hathaway is the more erudite of the two, often knowing the source of various quotes and obscure knowledge frequently cited by those being investigated. Prior to joining the police force, Hathaway had originally moved to Oxford to enter a Catholic seminary but left for reasons that are never made completely clear, though there are hints that it may have been over sexuality or doubts about organised religion.

Clare Holman as Dr Laura Hobson - A forensic pathologist. Romantic tensions exist between Dr. Hobson and Lewis. Hobson is single and childless, and like Lewis and Hathaway, is dedicated to her job to a point that it interrupts many of her personal plans. She and Lewis do become a couple during the series' final series.

Rebecca Front as Chief Superintendent Jean Innocent - The 'Gov' or supervisor of Lewis and Hathaway. Innocent frequently is at odds with Lewis over his investigation style.



Saul Leiter, photographer

Saul Leiter (b.1923 - d.26Nov2013) was an American photographer and painter whose early work in the 1940s and 1950s was an important contribution to what came to be recognized as the New York School.
Saul studied to become a Rabbi. His mother gave him a Detrola camera at age 12. At age 23, he left theology school and moved to New York City to become an artist.
Leiter’s earliest black and white photographs show an extraordinary affinity for the medium, and by 1948 he began to experiment in color. Edward Steichen included Leiter’s black and white photographs in the exhibition Always the Young Stranger at the Museum of Modern Art in 1953. In the late 1950s the art director Henry Wolf published Leiter’s color fashion work in Esquire and later in Harper’s Bazaar. Leiter continued to work as a fashion photographer for the next 20 years and was published in Show, Elle, British Vogue, Queen, and Nova.

en.wikipedia.org / Saul_Leiter



Jonas Bendiksen - The Places We Live

A book like this should have a warning label: WARNING! HEART BREAKING CONTENT!
Jonas Bendiksen has travelled to Nairobi, Mumbai, Jakarta and Caracas and visited homes in the slums, the barrios, the zopadpatti's.
He photographed the four walls of each dwelling, however primitive ('the walls' aren't always there and one is looking into the street) with inhabitants looking neutrally, sometimes dignified and sometimes with their hardship in the eyes, into the lens.
The people living in the 'house' tell their story, details of their daily life or routine and why they are there. Some live seperately from their relatives in order to make a living for them. Women try to raise their children while the father has left them.

The pages fold out so the four walls can be viewed in one glance. At the back of the pages the interview has been printed. And the names of the people on the photos. It is a very dignified project.
The book was published in 2008, with funding by Oxfam. The photos were taken in the period 2005 - 2007.

The forward opens with (my translation as I bought a Dutch translation): "In 2008 population in cities exceeded the number living in the countryside for the first time in history. A third of that number live in slums, over one billion people".
The book is a tribute for those who struggle to improve life under poor conditions and with a dismal outlook, but also serves as a reminder to the First World how a large part of the human race has to live abject poverty.

Jonas Bendiksen - www.magnumphotos.com



Tao of Travel by Paul Theroux

For decades I have been reading the (travel) books written by Paul Theroux, starting with 'Riding the Iron Rooster' as a preparation for my trip to China in 1989.
Many books followed, including novels.
A book such as The TAO of TRAVEL can only be the fruit of much experience and reflection.
I've never been able to bring myself to extended trips that would qualify as travel, it always had an element of vacation and as such avoided elements of discomfort, but that longing was there at some point.

This book isn't about experiences or sightings while travelling, but rather a literary analysis of what travel can entail, with statements by Paul Theroux himself (at first he quotes from his own work quite a lot), but also by a great many other literary travellers: Henry Fielding, Samuel Johnson, Sir Francis Galton, Robert Louis Stevenson, Freya Stark, Lévi Strauss, Evelyn Waugh and Paul Bowles.

Other chapters include 'Travelers on Their Own Books', 'The Things They Carried', 'Fears Neuroses and Other Conditions', 'Travel as an Ordeal', 'When You're Strange', 'Writers and Places They Never Visited', 'Five Travel Epiphanies' and many other delightful subjects.

A lovely book to pick up for a few chapters every now and then; and this edition I have I love for the shape and form. Besides a love for travel this book breathes a love for books, simply wonderful.





Endeavour; Inspector Morse tv series

Endeavour is a television detective series, which is a prequel to the long-running adaptation of Colin Dexter's Inspector Morse novels.
I was pleasantly surprised by the few episodes I've seen when broadcasted on the BBC and recently made a point of watching the complete series 1 (episodes 2 - 5) aired on Belgian tv.

ITV broadcast a pilot episode in the UK on 02Jan2012. It starred Shaun Evans as the eponymous police detective in his early career.
ITV commissioned 4 new episodes, filmed during summer 2012 and aired them in 2013.

It was announced on 05Jun2013 that due to the success of Series 1, including consistently high ratings, ITV had commissioned a 2nd series of 4 episodes of Endeavour. Filming began in September 2013.

It would seem Colin Dexter, author of the Inspector Morse books, was also involved in the screenplay of these series. When Endeavour Morse is wounded he hears from the doctor he will have a bit of a limp; John Thaw, who played Inspector Morse, walked with a remarkable movement with his left leg.
Also, Morse's Chief Superintendent Jim Strange, is in the Endeavour series still in uniform and they connect on a certain level; Strange tries to help 'Young Morse' with his studies to advance his career (as Strange is doing himself), but Morse, as is his character, lets the mystery of the case prevail.

The series are situated in and around Oxford, the famous Colleges and Churches forming a fascinating backdrop. Having recently revisited Oxford, it is fun to watch for clues to find where the filming was done. Obvious landmarks are the Bridge of Sighs in New Collage Lane, the statues in Broad Street (across the road from Blackwell's bookshop) as well as various pubs and bars (e.g. The Turf and the Randolph Hotel come to mind).
These landmarks obviously play a role in Inspector Morse as well as in the spin off Inspector Lewis series and continue to paint the backdrop in these series, Endeavour.
Shaun Evans plays a marvellous Young Morse, while Roger Allam plays an excellent DI Fred Thursday, coaching the young Detective Constable with the lessons of life and policework.
I hope many episodes will follow.

en.wikipedia.org- Endeavour_(TV_series)



Wallander - Scandi Crime Drama

'Wallander' is a Swedish television series, adapted from Henning Mankell's Kurt Wallander novels, starring Krister Henriksson in the title role.
The 1st series of 13 films was produced in 2005 and 2006, with one taken directly from a novel and the remainder with new storylines suggested by Mankell. The 2nd series of 13 films was shown between 2009 and 2010. The stories are set in Ystad, Scania - near the southern tip of Sweden.

The 3 films 'Before the Frost' (#1), 'Mastermind' (#6), and 'The Secret' (#13) were premiered in cinemas, with the rest first released as direct-to-DVD movies.The 1st episode of the 2nd series, 'Hämnden' ('The Revenge'), was released in Swedish cinemas in January 2009; the rest of the series was made for television.

A 3rd and final season, containing six 90 minute episodes, aired in 2013 with Charlotta Jonsson as Linda Wallander. The 1st episode, adapted from the novel 'The Troubled Man', was released in cinemas in January 2013.

I bought the Lumière dvd box and watched the episodes during October 2013. The last of 6th epsiodes on this dvd box was a bit weak in its storyline, a tad unworthy of Mankell's work, but compensated by the final goodbye of the Wallander stories, his retirement no less than a personal tragedy for Inspector Wallander.
The forced retirement is a doom scenario, very worthy of the 'Nordic Noir' tag, which becomes clear and unavoidable from episode one of this Volume 5 box. Krister Henriksson plays the struggling Wallander, in denial of his Alzheimer's symptons, to perfection. For me the crime mysteries ('whodunnit') became of much less importance and was drawn to the developing drama for the aging Inspector.

These brilliant series have set the benchmark for quality crime drama very high.
Wikipedia.org - Wallander_(Swedish_TV_series)



Lee Friedlander - America by Car

Lee Friedlander - America by Car

Framed in Print expo in FOAM

FOAM can be found on Amsterdam's Keizersgracht 609.
I went to see 3 exhibitions there today.
Cristina De Middel with 'The Afronauts' took Zambia's ambition to enter a space program a little further (but not really off the ground). Funny!

The expo I came for was Lee Friedlander's 'America by Car'.
I have seen other photography by him that I found more inspiring, but it certainly is a unique concept when seeing so many images from this point of view. And indeed a few made me stop and stare. Worth the visit.

'Framed in Print' was much better than I had expected, perhaps with more impact on me than America by Car. It covers 40 years of photography in Dutch leading magazines such as Avenue, Elegance, AvantGarde and Nieuwe Revu. When budgets knew no boundaries.
Photography on display here by C.Barton van Flymen, Bart van Leeuwen, Boudewijn Neuteboom, Bart Nieuwenhuijs and Peter van der Velde. Stunning is the operating word here.
Once more a worthy visit to the FOAM gallery.
Photos on my Flickr.com account

Wikipedia - Lee Friedlander



XCarnival Masks of Venice, photographic essay by J.C. Brown

The Carnival of Venice (Italian: Carnevale di Venezia) is an annual festival, held in Venice, Italy. The Carnival ends with Lent, forty days before Easter on Shrove Tuesday (Fat Tuesday or Martedì Grasso), the day before Ash Wednesday.

Every February, Venice becomes a living theater as residents and tourists alike take to the canals and streets in fabulous costumes for one of the major events of the year. The tradition of wearing a mask to hide your identity and allow you to misbehave with impunity is ancient, but only in Venice is the tradition kept so alive today.
This pictorial essay on the disguises that characterize Carnival will delight and inspire; explanation is provided of the different types of mask in use.
125 Wonderful photographs will make you want to pack your bags and join the admiring crowds. Indeed, I was overcome by similar emotions but was warned off by a 'Disney effect'. Though maybe some day..

Wikipedia.org - Carnival_of_Venice



Street - Leo Erken fotografie 1987-2003

Recently I acquired this wonderful photobook 'Улица-Street-Straße' by the talented photographer Leo Erken.
The book illustrates a turbulent period in Eastern-Europe and Rusland, after the Iron Curtain broke down. Seen from the perspective of a Dutchmen.
This book 'Улица-Street-Straße' is a result from various presentations during the Buchmesse in Leipzig during recent years. It appeared there was a young audience of Eastern European, Russians, from the Ukraine as well as various other countries from the former Soviet Union who were interested in this photo document of their history.
The book has been published in bi-lingual editions, with captions in Russian-English and Russian-German.
A valuable document.




Ripper Street BBC Crime Drama

Ripper Street is a BBC TV series set in Whitechapel in London's East End in 1889, six months after the infamous Jack the Ripper murders.
The series stars Matthew Macfadyen, Jerome Flynn and Adam Rothenberg.
The first episode was broadcast on 30 December 2012 as part of BBC One's Christmas 2012 package.
The second series began airing in the UK (BBC) on the 28Oct2013, an eight-part series for late 2013 and early 2014.
Among the factories, rookeries, chop shops, brothels and pubs, Detective Inspector Edmund Reid (Matthew Macfadyen) and Detective Sergeant Bennet Drake (Jerome Flynn) team with US Army surgeon and former Pinkerton agent Captain Homer Jackson (Adam Rothenberg) to investigate the killings.
They frequently cross paths with Tenter Street brothel madam Long Susan (MyAnna Buring), who came to London with Jackson from America and lets him reside at the brothel and continue relations, albeit somewhat strained at times.

Each episode features stand-alone crimes that serve to test Reid, Drake and Jackson, both in their working and private lives. The scenery of London streets are a work of art in their own right. The series was filmed entirely in Dublin, Ireland, in locations that included the former Clancy Barracks beside Clancy Quay and Trinity College, Dublin.

As a lover of history as well as good crime drama, this series is much appreciated by me. Historical events or persons are 'sprinkled' into the stories, e.g. in the 1st episode of the 2nd series Joseph Merrick (for his deformities nicknamed 'The Elephant Man') features.

Wikipedia.org - Ripper_Street



Zwarte Piet discussie



Poespas by Simon Carmiggelt

Simon Carmiggelt (b.07Oct1913 – d.30Nov1987) was a Dutch writer who became a well known public figure in the Netherlands because of his daily newspaper columns and his television appearances.

'Poespas' was published in 1952 and the first series of chapters are observations on cats.
Cats are an enigma and Simon Carmiggelt's writing, crafting sentences you want to reread two or three times before continueing, combine this into wonderful reading material.
But besides cats there is more because 'poespas' is an expression that refers to 'all sorts of going on's..'
The eighteen chapters in this book also include 'Children', 'Father & Son', staying in Paris (France), but mostly observations and encounters with people in the streets and bars of Amsterdam. The chapters more often than not comprise several subjects, probably published as columns in newspaper 'Het Parool' at the time (way before my time!).

The subject in question cannot be common enough for Carmiggelt, but his writing turns it into something exceptional and amusing (if you appreciate his dry, wry wit and notice the underlying seriousness).
And while this book was published six decades ago, Carmiggelt's writing is as current and enjoyable as, say, Mark Twain in my opinion.
See also my blog 2012 Q4



Pep - stripweekblad

Pep - stripweekblad

Pep - stripweekblad

Pep - stripweekblad

Pep was a Dutch weekly magazine which was published during the years 1962 - 1975 for young, male readers. First issue was published on 06oct1962 by De Geïllustreerde Pers NV in Amsterdam (Netherlands). On the cover were Mickey Mouse and Tintin ('Kuifje'), shaking each others hand with the motto: "Mickey & Kuifje in Pep.
The title was explained as: "Pep is an English word for enthusiasm, liveliness, eagerness and fervor.

Initially the magazine published comics strips from Belgium and France, such as Kolonel Clifton (Raymond Macherot), Michel Vaillant, Dan Cooper (Edition Lombard), Hoempa Pa (Goscinny & Uderzo) and Kuifje ('Tintin' by Hergé), as well as stories by Walt Disney-studio (e.g. Spin & Marty, Pietje Pech and Mickey Mouse).

Starting the 1st issue of 1970 a new formula was introduced: new header, more pages (from 32 to 48) and much more focus on Dutch artists. Agent 327 by Martin Lodewijk and De Generaal by Peter de Smet made their debut in Pep.
Other major contributors were Dick Matena (De Argonautjes), Fred Julsing (Wellington Wish) and Willy Lohmann (Kraaienhove).

Besides the comic strips Pep also featured short stories, some of them illustrated by Hans G. Kresse. Letters to the Editor were publised and often replied, adverts, interviews and informative articles on a wide range of subjects (my photos depict music by The Kinks, motorcycles, ...) and centerfolds (pop artists, aviation, etc).

From issue no.6 of 1972 the publisher was named as Oberon BV (Haarlem, Netherlands).

From no.22 (1974) the pages were reduced from 48 to 32. New was a supplement stapled inside the magazine ('Peptoe'), in black & white, 20 pages, on cheaper paper.
This supplement added new comic strips such as Conan, Rahan, and Ton & Tineke. It was short-lived, the supplement was disgarded after no.17 in 1975.

The last issue was published in 1975, issue no.39.
By a merger of two publishing companies, De Geïllustreerde Pers and De Spaarnestad (publisher of a.o. 'Sjors') these magazines were published as one in september 1975 under a new name: Eppo.

The above was translated by myself from a Dutch Wikipedia article. Personally I think something is lacking because I seem to recall Pep was transformed to '2000' with a distinct change in content and for this I cancelled my subscription. This was a few years before 1975, maybe around 1972 or 1973.
UPDATE: in 2019 I bought a book 'De Jaren Pep' by Ger Apeldoorn (published 2014) which made no mention of a magazine '2000' or 'tv2000', but detailed the change to 'EPPO': I may have given up on the PEP subscription and changed briefly to another comic strip..?

Favourite comic strips of mine, which led to collecting complete albums, were: Blueberry, Mick Tangy (Tanguy & Laverdure), Buck Danny, Rob Palland (Bernard Prince), Rik Ringers, Erwin de Geweldenaar, Toenga, Michel Vaillant, Roodbaard and Lucky Luke.
Every week a new magazine was delivered to the door, offering these albums. They did not arrive by mail, but by someoneone selling magazines and other publications.Pep came about because the Donald Duck was for smaller children and the salesman brought magazines (Margriet, Libelle) for the parent: there was an age gap to bridge!
During birthdays and upcoming holidays (with long drives in the car) my mother secretly bought one and hid it for the right occasion. I devoured them oncel settled in the long drive south for the holidays!.
Some of these survived in the attic for decades!

See also my write up my favourite comics on MyBlog 2017Q4

De Jaren PEP - Ger Apeldoorn
The definitive write up on 'The Years PEP', by Ger Apeldoorn (2014)



42 - Deep Thought on Life, the Universe and Everything by Mark Vernon

Mark Vernon used to be a priest in the Church of England and is now a writer, pursuing the ancient philosophers’ great question, how to live? His books cover subjects from friendship and belief, to wellbeing and meaning, and he edits two series from Acumen, The Art of Living and Heretics.

He also writes as a journalist, his work appearing regularly in the Guardian, TLS, Evening Standard and on the BBC. He is a keen blogger, and has also appeared on a wide range of platforms including at the Hay, Edinburgh International, Oxford and Dartington book festivals. His books have appeared in translation around the world.

Mark Vernon takes his inspiration from '42' (referring to the answer given by supercomputer Deep Thought on the question 'the meaning of life' in The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy) of the funniest, wisest, and quirkiest quotations about the big questions in life, and uses these as starting points for his brilliant observations.
In each chapter he explains what the greatest thinkers of all time have had to say on subjects such as eternal life, work, love and sex, and the nature of happiness; then he draws his own conclusions.
A meaningful read.




Seasick Steve

Had the pleasure of attending a gig of this unique performer: Seasick Steve. He played a packed Vredenburg Leidsche Rijn theatre in Utrecht (Netherlands) on Oct.16th

Steven Gene Wold (born 1941) and commonly known as Seasick Steve, is an American blues musician. He plays (mostly personalized) guitars and sings, usually about his early life.
It was amazing what he can squeeze from those strings!
Despite his age, 72, he throws in everything he's got and his voice is powerful when he rocks, tender when he proclaims poetry or sings a ballad. Oh, and there's a lot of humor!

Wold was born in Oakland, California. When he was 4 years old, his parents split up. His father played boogie-woogie piano and at 5 or 6 years old, Wold tried to learn but could not. At age 8, he learned to play the guitar (he later found out that it was blues) from K. C. Douglas, who worked at his grandfather's garage.
Wold left home at 13 to avoid abuse at the hands of his stepfather, and lived rough and on the road in Tennessee, Mississippi and elsewhere, until 1973. He would travel long distances by hopping freight trains, looking for work as a farm labourer or in other seasonal jobs, often living as a hobo. He's earned the right to play the blues!
He's quoted as having been said: "Hobos are people who move around looking for work, tramps are people who move around but don't look for work, and bums are people who don't move and don't work. I've been all three!"

Wold made his first UK television appearance on Jools Holland's 'Annual Hootenanny' BBC TV show (broadcast on New Year's Eve 2006), where he performed a live rendition of 'Dog House Boogie' on the 'Three String Trance Wonder' and the 'Mississippi Drum Machine' (see below). After that show his popularity exploded in Britain.
He toured in the following years Britain and Europe extensively, took the world by storm; concerts and crowds got bigger, artists lined up to play with him, share a gig.
As in the Vredenburg concert, Dan Magnusson often supports him on drums; and these geezers really know how to rock!

Steve owns and plays several obscure and personalised instruments; check the Wikipedia article for a list (they've all got names of course!).
Seasick Steve is easily afflicted by sea sickness; when he was ill on a ferry from Copenhagen to Norway, later in his life, a friend began playfully using the name and, despite Wold not rising to it for a while, it stuck. Well, as a singer/songwriter & performer he has both feet firmly on the ground, enjoying himself (it shows!) and is going places. Couldn't happen to a nicer man.

en.wikipedia.org: Seasick_Steve
A few of my photos on Flickr



Phanton - by Jo Nesbo

Jo Nesbø (b. 29Mar1960) is a 'Glass Key'-award winning Norwegian author and musician.
His work has been translated into over 40 languages, selling over 9 million copies (2013).
Nesbø is primarily known for his crime novels about Inspector Harry Hole, but he's also the main vocalist and songwriter for the Norwegian rock band Di Derre.
The Harry Hole crime series follows a tough detective working for Crime Squad and later with the National Criminal Investigation Service (Kripos); he struggles with alcoholism and isn't very good in relations. He works on solving crimes in authentic locations in Oslo and elsewhere.

I have read with great pleasure most of the Harry Hole novels (e.g The Redbreast, Nemesis, The Redeemer and The Snowman) but not all, missed the one previous, about his exile in Hong Kong.

This title 'Phantom' received a '5 star' rating - the only one to have the highest marking in the 2013 'VN Detective & Thriller' yearly publication.
When I came across this book recently in an Oxford bookshop, I did not hesitate buying it and found it a breathtaking read!

The book starts in a grim and peculiar way: narrated by a rat...
Don't worry, that changes.
As is Nesbø's style, the story is multi-layered, twists and turns like a roller coaster and feels grim: cold rain & nights in Oslo, Harry hurting in body and mind.
Harry Hole has returned to Oslo to investigate the criminal charges and imprisonment of Oleg, whom he cares for as was his son. But Harry is tired and struggling.
During his voluntary exile in Hong Kong he has fought his demons with drink with success it seems, but it doesn't make him any happier. He considers an old photograph and doesn't remember the happyness portrayed...
He hasn't seen Oslo for a few years, considers the changes and improvements, but sees crime has only moved and shifted, not lessened. There is no end to it. This is voiced elsewhere by others too, by ambitious career people fighting crime with criminals but above all out to improve themselves financially and politically, becoming tainted with crime themselves.

Oleg, Gusto & Irene sell violin for Dubai - who has cornered the drug market in Oslo through corrupt politicians and police. But no one knows who Dubai is. Harry has to get to Dubai to set Oleg free. And make Rakel happy again.

You won't see the end coming, it left me dazed and confused. Thrilling read.




Taggart, Glasgow's crime drama

Taggart is a Scottish detective television programme, created by Glenn Chandler (who has written many of the episodes) and made by STV Productions for the ITV network.
The series revolves around a group of detectives initially in the Maryhill CID of Strathclyde Police, though various storylines have happened in other parts of the Greater Glasgow area.
It was one of the UK's longest-running dramas. The show's 100th story aired on Christmas Eve 2009 on the ITV network.
In May 2011, it was reported that the ITV network had decided to axe Taggart from the network after 28 years.

The Scottish BAFTA-winning pilot episode, 'Killer', broadcast in 1983, directed by Laurence Moody, introduced the character of Detective Chief Inspector (DCI) Jim Taggart (played by Mark McManus until his death in 1994), a tough and experienced detective who had worked his way up through the ranks. The series was renamed 'Taggart'.
His original sidekick was Detective Sergeant (DS) Peter Livingstone (Neil Duncan). Livingstone represented the new breed of young graduates entering the police force, and frequently had a difficult relationship with Taggart as a result.

In 1987 the character of Mike Jardine (James MacPherson) was introduced, and when Neil Duncan left the series in 1989, a new female sidekick, Jackie Reid (Blythe Duff), was introduced.

McManus died in 1994 in the middle of filming an episode.
The 1995 episode 'Black Orchid' opened with Taggart's funeral but, unusually, despite the death of the title character, the series continued and the title remained the same. Jardine was promoted to Detective Inspector.
DC Stuart Fraser (Colin McCredie) was introduced, becoming the long-suffering sidekick to Jardine. Fraser was later revealed to be gay.
DI Robbie Ross (John Michie) joined the team in 1998.

When MacPherson left the series in 2002, his character was killed off, and replaced with DCI Matt Burke, formerly of Special Branch (played by Alex Norton).
Norton's Matt Burke character has gained widespread critical acclaim, many believing him to be the first credible successor to McManus's original Taggart character.

Much was made of the platonic relationship between Jardine and Reid, with the two being shown to share a brother/sister-like bond. Both pursued a number of relationships with other characters over the years. Reid even got married, but later separated from her husband, who is now dead. The personal relationships of the police officers in this series were shown as nothing to be envious of; Reid once describing herself, Burke, Ross and Fraser as "..three divorcees and a celibate homosexual" (episode 'Penthouse and Pavement').
After completing filming of series 26 in December 2009, Colin McCredie was informed that he and his character would not be returning for filming of the next series.

Despite a new format and the series' continuing popularity in Scotland, viewing figures across the rest of the UK were disappointing. ITV announced in May 2011 that it had decided not to commission any further series.

Thus the recent episode I recently watched on Belgian tv, 'The Ends of Justice' (episode 6th, first aired 07nov2010), where newly-promoted DI Reid leads the investigation into the fatal stabbing of a busker and sees DI Ross's personal problems continue to affect his professional life, is aptly named and ending Glasgow's crime drama after 28 years.

Wikipedia.org - Taggart



Vera - British crime drama

Stumbled on these series, a title I may have overlooked in the past when browsing what to watch on the box. But truly excellent British crime drama!

Vera is a British detective television series, based on the works of crime author Ann Cleeves.
It stars Brenda Blethyn and is broadcast on ITV and in the United States on public television stations.

The central character is Detective Chief Inspector Vera Stanhope, of the fictional Northumberland & City Police (Northumbria & City Police in some episodes). She is obsessive about her work and driven by her own demons.
If she’s lonely she doesn’t show it and faces the world with caustic wit, guile and courage, often with a fierce bad temper.
Her trusted and long suffering colleague is Sergeant Joe Ashworth (David Leon); he's her right hand man and surrogate son.

And besides a good plot it has another strong feature: the accent of the major players, truly a treat to the ears!
In 2013 the 3rd series were produced and broadcasted. On 22 April 2013, ITV renewed Vera for a 4th series even before the 3rd series had aired. The 4th series is due to be aired in 2014: looking forward to that!

Wikipedia, more...



Unit One (Rejseholdet) - Scandi crime drama

Rejseholdet (International title: Unit One) is a Danish television crime series starring Charlotte Fich, Mads Mikkelsen and Lars Brygmann.
Produced by Danmarks Radio (DR), the program aired 32 episodes spanning 4 seasons from 2000 to 2004.
Each episode revolved around an elite mobile police task force called 'Unit One' that travels around Denmark assisting local police solve crimes.
Cases portrayed in the show were loosely based upon actual incidents of sensational crimes such as murders, kidnappings, cross-border sex traffic and child pornography.
Rejseholdet won the 2002 International Emmy Award for best drama series.

The dvd boxes above displayed depict Series 3, 4 and 5.
Finished with Series 6 & 7, the final episodes, in Jan.2014. 2014 Q1




Noam Chomsky, writer and plitical commentator

Noam Chomsky was mentioned in books by Rob Wijnberg which I read and his reference sparked an interest with me. So when I came a cross this book MAKING THE FUTURE (subtitled: Occupations, Interventions, Empire and Resistance) I did not hesitate buying it.
And glad I did because this is '5 star quality'!

Avram Noam Chomsky (b. 07Dec1928-) is an American linguist, philosopher, cognitive scientist, logician, political commentator and activist.
He has spent most of his career at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), where he is currently Professor Emeritus, and has authored over 100 books!
He has been described as a prominent cultural figure and was voted the 'world's top public intellectual' in a 2005 poll.
Chomsky is a major figure in analytic philosophy and in this book, in 52 essays, he dissects US foreign policy, its political system, the adverse results of the War on Terrorism, the role of the not-so-saintly Barack Obama, the blind pro-Israel stance in Middle East politics and how US business interest play the major role in (military) interventions abroad, and not moral grounds.
Chomsky has an excellent ear in picking up on what is not said in the Preseident's speeches and has a clear pen in describing scenarios in the shadows of US politics.
Great reading and a weighty piece of reference in the bookcase.

Noam_Chomsky on Wikipedia.org
Review of Making The Future on The Guardian by John Gray



Kris Kristofferson singer/songwriter

Kristoffer 'Kris' Kristofferson (b. 22Jun1936) is an American country music singer, songwriter, musician, and film actor. He is known for such hits as 'Me and Bobby McGee', 'For the Good Times', 'Sunday Mornin' Comin' Down', and 'Help Me Make It Through the Night'.

When I became interested in music by singer/songwriters, Kris Kristofferson was one of the first I became interested in and I bought the first album of many: 'Songs of Kristofferson' which is a best-of compilation album, released in 1977; it includes tracks from his albums 'Kristofferson', 'The Silver Tongued Devil and I', 'Jesus Was a Capricorn', 'Who's to Bless and Who's to Blame' and 'Surreal Thing'.
That album hit me in the right spot!

In 1960, Kristofferson graduated in English literature and married his long-time girlfriend, Fran Beer. Kris, under pressure from his family, ultimately joined the U.S. Army and achieved the rank of Captain. He became a helicopter pilot after receiving flight training at Fort Rucker, Alabama. He also completed Ranger School. During the early 1960s, he was stationed in West Germany as a member of the 8th Infantry Division.
It was during this time that he resumed his music career and formed a band.

He decided to leave the Army and pursue songwriting. His family disowned him because of this decision and they never reconciled with him! They saw it as a rejection of everything they stood for, in spite of the fact that Kristofferson has said he is proud of his time in the military, and received the AVA (American Veterans Awards) 'Veteran of the Year Award' in 2003.
Kris has stated that he was greatly influenced by the poet William Blake, while at Oxford, who had proclaimed that if one has a God-given creative talent then one should use it or else reap sorrow and despair.

He also worked as a commercial helicopter pilot at that time, for a south Louisiana firm called Petroleum Helicopters International (PHI), based in Lafayette, Louisiana.
Kristofferson recalled of his days as a pilot: "That was about the last 3 years before I started performing, before people started cutting my songs ... I would work a week down here for PHI, sitting on an oil platform and flying helicopters. Then I'd go back to Nashville at the end of the week and spend a week up there trying to pitch the songs, then come back down and write songs for another week ... I can remember 'Help Me Make It Through The Night' I wrote sitting on top of an oil platform. I wrote 'Bobby McGee' down here, and a lot of them [in south Louisiana]."

Kristofferson had previously grabbed Johnny Cash's attention when he landed his helicopter in Cash's yard without prior arrangement and gave him some tapes!

In 1971, Janis Joplin, who dated Kristofferson for some time until her death, had a number-1 hit with 'Me and Bobby McGee', from her posthumous Pearl.
Kristofferson released his 2nd album, 'The Silver Tongued Devil and I', in 1971.
The album was a success and established Kristofferson's career as a recording artist in his own right. Soon after, Kristofferson made his acting debut in 'The Last Movie' (directed by Dennis Hopper).
For the next few years, Kristofferson focused on acting. He appeared in 'Blume in Love' (directed by Paul Mazursky) and Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid (directed by Sam Peckinpah). He continued acting, in Sam Peckinpah's 'Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia', 'Convoy', (another Sam Peckinpah film which was released in 1978), 'Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore' and 'A Star Is Born' (with Barbra Streisand), for which he received a Golden Globe Award for Best Actor (and which he noted had been an experience "worse than boot camp").

The Songwriters Hall of Fame inducted Kristofferson in 1985, as had the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1977.
Music from the 'Songwriter' (an album of duets between Nelson and Kristofferson) was a massive country success.
Nelson and Kristofferson continued their partnership, and added Waylon Jennings and Johnny Cash to form the supergroup The Highwaymen.
Their first album, 'Highwayman', was a huge success; the supergroup continued working together for a time. The single from the album Highwayman (also titled 'Highwayman') was awarded the ACM's single of the year in 1985.
In spite of the success of Highwayman 2 in 1990, Kristofferson's solo recording career slipped significantly in the early 1990s, though he continued to record successfully with The Highwaymen.

In 1998, he took a role in the film Blade, playing alongside Wesley Snipes as Blade's mentor Abraham Whistler. He reprised the role in Blade II (2002) and again in Blade: Trinity (2004).
In 1999, he co-starred with Mel Gibson in 'Payback'.

In 2004, Kristofferson was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame.
On 10Nov2009, Kristofferson was honored as a BMI Icon at the 57th annual BMI Country Awards. Throughout his career, Kristofferson's songwriting has garnered 48 BMI Country and Pop Awards.
He later remarked, "The great thing about being a songwriter is you can hear your baby interpreted by so many people that have creative talents vocally that I don't have".
Kristofferson has been married 3 times and has 8 children.

Most of the above information by: wikipedia.org: Kris_Kristofferson



Gordon Lightfoot, singer/songwriter

As a child I was a fan of the Beatles, but my actual interest in music started at the age of 18 or 19 when I found out about singer/songwriters. The protest songs (Vietnam War) had made the lyrics important. Protest, environmental awareness, poetry- it all came together for me with Bob Dylan, Gordon Lightfoot, Leonard Cohen and Kris Kristofferson.

At some point I was laid up in hospital with a concussion, all I was allowed to do was listen to music. For me that was listening to the American Forces Network, broadcasting from Rhein-Main AFB.
That is how I learned of those North American artists and their music, as most music on the radio in my country was mainly national with some British thrown in (Beatles, Rolling Stones). Very middle of the road anyway.

Gordon Lightfoot added more subjects to my interest in singer/songwriters: history, folklore, travel.
His album 'Summertime Dream' (1976) was the first I bought of his work and it got me hooked: 'The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald' is a true masterpiece while 'Race Among the Ruins' and 'Spanish Moss' have become acclaimed classics as well. Another one in my top 5 of all time favourites is 'Canadian Railroad Trilogy'. Absolutely the best music.
Unfortunately I have never seen him play life.

Wikipedia (part): Gordon Meredith Lightfoot, Jr. (b. 17Nov1938) is a Canadian singer-songwriter who achieved international success in folk, folk-rock, and country music, and has been credited for helping define the folk-pop sound of the 1960s and 1970s. He has been referred to as Canada's greatest songwriter and internationally as a folk-rock legend.
Robbie Robertson of The Band declared that Lightfoot was one of his "favourite Canadian songwriters and is absolutely a national treasure". Bob Dylan, also a Lightfoot fan, called him one of his favourite songwriters, and in an often-quoted tribute to his fellow songwriter, Dylan once observed that when he heard a Gordon Lightfoot song he wished "it would last forever."
In June 2012 he was inducted into the Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame.

en.wikipedia.org : Gordon_Lightfoot



Steve Forbert, singer/songwriter

Cleaning up my LP collection, finally giving up on playing records (though only a few years ago I bought a new record player, but availability of online music -and need for space- forced a decision), I came across the first albums of Steve Forbert: Álive on Arrival', 'Jackrabbit Slim' and 'Little Stevie Orbit'.
Later I bought CD's of him, after having lost track for a few years.
Would love to see him play life, but don't think he ever played in the Netherlands.

Samuel Stephen 'Steve' Forbert (b. 13Dec1954) is a singer-songwriter.
Forbert signed a recording contract with Nemperor in 1978, and they released his debut album, 'Alive on Arrival' that year. That first track, Goin' Down to Laural (4:39) was a epiphany to me!
'Jackrabbit Slim' was recorded in Nashville, Tennessee and produced by John Simon, who had worked with The Band. His song 'Romeo's Tune' reached No. 11 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart in 1980.

In 1984, Forbert had a disagreement with his record company (Nemperor), which apparently did not want to release a recording he made. The record was shelved, and contractual issues prevented Forbert from recording for a number of years afterwards. His first recording for Geffen Records, in 1988, was 'Streets of This Town'.
After many successful years, Forbert sought out new inspiration and found it when he relocated to Nashville in 1985. Forbert's tribute to Jimmie Rodgers, Any Old Time, was nominated for a 2004 Grammy in the best traditional folk category. In 2006, he was inducted into the Mississippi Music Hall of Fame.

One of his latest artistic adventures is photography. Using an old LG phone, an exhibit of his cell phone photographs opened at the Tinney Contemporary Art Gallery in Nashville in September, 2011.
Blue Corn Music has just re-released Forbert's career-launching first two albums - the aptly titled Alive on Arrival, and its Gold Record follow-up Jackrabbit Slim. 2013 marks the 35th anniversary of the release of "Alive on Arrival," and Steve will play that album in its entirety at a number of shows this year. That album was also chosen to be profiled as one of the greatest debut albums ever in the forthcoming book Please Allow Me To Introduce Myself. [Wikipedia]




When my son configured my smartphone for me a few years ago, he installed a podcast of The Miller Tells Her Tale. While I don't listen much to music on my phone, it did bring me to regularly download the podcast onto my laptop. Many a wee hour was spent listening to Karen Miller's selection of Americana.

Americana, folk, singer-songwriter, alt-country and country music of independent musicians from all over the world are included. Many a new name (to me) sparks fresh curiosity for the performer(s).
The show is presented by Karen Miller and I very much enjoy her northern accent as well. It's a great job she is doing, promoting great music talents and making it available to the public.




New Tricks tv series

New Tricks is a British comedy-drama that follows the work of the fictional 'Unsolved Crime and Open Case Squad' (UCOS) of the Metropolitan Police Service.
Originally led by Detective Superintendent Sandra Pullman, it is made up of retired police officers who have been recruited to reinvestigate unsolved crimes. The series title is taken from the proverb 'You can't teach an old dog new tricks', referring to the age of the 3 men involved: Jack, Brian & Gerry.

New Tricks began as a one-off episode, first broadcasted on 27Mar2003. This attracted sufficient viewers for the BBC to commission a series of 6 episodes, which began on 01Apr2004.
This crime series became hugely popular, with episodes on the BBC being watched in 2007 (4th series) and 2008 (5th series series) by over 8 million viewers.
The 6th series finished location filming on 08May2009 in Central London and began airing on 16Jul2009, the opening episode being watched by 8.07 viewers.The 7th episode gained a new series high rating of 9.36 million.
The 8th series opened on 4 July 2011 with 9.2 million viewers.
When the 7th and 8th series were commisioned New Tricks was expected to run until 2011. But in 2011 the BBC announced new series to be broadcasted in 2012 and 2013. James Bolam, who played the part of Jack Halford, left the show and was replaced by Denis Lawson, playing the role of DI Steve McAndrew.

Prior to the 9th series premiere, both Amanda Redman (DS Sandra Pullman) and Alun Armstrong (Brian Lane, quite a character, with his wife Esther also often involved too) announced they would be leaving the show after the 10th series.
Brian was replaced by Nicholas Lyndhurst (of Only Fools and Horses fame), of whom it seems his homefront could play a role too, but the first impression is it might be less than with Brian.
A few epsiodes later, during the 10th series, Sandra Pullman accepted a career change and was replaced by DCI Sasha Miller, a role by Tamzin Outhwaite (ex/ Eastenders) . These series were broadcasted on the BBC from july to october 2013.

Gerry Standing (played by Dennis Waterman) is the only character to have appeared in all New Tricks episodes and is the 'Last Man Standing' from the original UCOS team.
The theme tune of the programme is a song called 'It's All Right', sung by Dennis Waterman (written by Mike Moran).

Deputy Assistant Commissioner Robert Strickland (Anthony Calf, 2004–) is the team's boss and often does a 'high wire act' on the political side of the UCOS investigations.

New Tricks does not have car chases or other spectacular effects or camera work. It is a classic British 'whodunnit', set in the Greater London area and seasoned with humor and some drama. Each episode provides for a solid hour of entertainment and I hope it returns for the 2014 season (and beyond).

(Update oct.2014: In September 2014, Dennis Waterman announced that he would be leaving the show after filming two episodes of the next series; Larry Lamb replaced him for the rest of this final series.
The last episode was broadcasted in (Oct.?) 2015.



Desmond Bagley, novelist

Desmond Bagley (b.29Oct1923 – d.12Apr1983) was a British journalist and novelist, principally known for a series of best-selling thrillers.
Along with fellow British writers, such as Hammond Innes and Alistair MacLean, Bagley established the basic conventions of the genre: a tough, resourceful, but essentially ordinary hero pitted against villains determined to sow destruction and chaos in order to advance their agenda.

During my teenage years I devoured books by Bagley, which I favoured over (but also highly appreciated) Alistair MacLean and Hammond Innes. Gavin Lyall was another favourite of mine at the time.

Bagley's first published short story appeared in the English magazine Argosy in 1957, and his first novel, 'The Golden Keel' in 1963.
In the interval, he was a film critic for Rand Daily Mail in Johannesburg from 1958–1962. Also during this period, he met local bookstore director Joan Magaret Brown and they were married in 1960.

The success of 'The Golden Keel' led Bagley to turn full-time to novel writing by the mid-1960s. He published a total of 16 thrillers, all craftsmanlike and nearly all best-sellers.
Typical of British thriller writers of the era, he rarely used recurring characters whose adventures unfolded over multiple books. Max Stafford, the security consultant featured in 'Flyaway' and 'Windfall', is one exception; another is the spy Slade, who appeared in 'Running Blind' and 'The Freedom Trap'.

Bagley died of complications resulting from a stroke at a hospital in Southampton. He was 59. His works have been translated into 20+ languages.




Ian Rankin - The Naming of the Dead - DCI Rebus story

Ian Rankin's 16th Inspector Rebus novel has the stage set against the backdrop of one of the most tumultuous weeks in recent Scottish history: the G8 summit meeting in Edinburgh, in July 2005.

Rebus is even more true to his stubborn, belligerent character as he is facing his 60th birthday and finds his unavoidable retirement preying on his mind.
A huge police force has been gathered, from all over the country, to support the Edinburgh constabulary to cope with the daily marches and demonstrations surrounding the summit.

DCI Rebus and DS Siobhan Clarke discover clues in a spooky glade in Auchterarder (the location of the summit) that a serial killer has been at work. Due to the sensitive nature of world leaders gathering in Scotland, Rebus is sidelined and DS Clarke punt in charge of this investigation.
When a victim is found beneath Edinburgh’s castle walls, where a meeting with politicians and lobbyists is taking place, Rebus is the only one present at the station to take the call and finds himself his own investigation. Was it an accident, suicide or murder?
Rebus clashes with the English police commander in charge of G8 security.
Meanwhile Siobhan is getting entangled with Rebus's nemesis, crime boss Big Ger Cafferty.
Siobhan has her parents participating in the protests surrounding the G8 meeting; we learn that they never really approved of Siobhian’s choice to join the police and Siobhian is torn in the time spent with her parents and her commitment in the investigation.
DS Ellen Wylie returns in this book, though it is her divorced sister that is relevant.

The summit at Gleneagles, the disruptive effects on ordinary life in Edinburgh and the outrageous costs, are set out quite broadly in Rankin's story. While the plot remains as interesting as it should be, and fans of the rebellious Rebus are not disappointed, the insight here into such a summit are as good as an historic document.
Rankin goes far beyond delivering the ordinary 'whodunnit'.

See also this review: http://www.theguardian.com/books/2006/nov/12/crime.fiction




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Created: 01-Oct-2013