Friday, 22 September 2017

Dead Poets Society #51

The Message by Jacques Prévert  

The door that someone opened
The door that someone closed
The chair on which someone sat down
The cat that someone petted
The fruit that someone bit into
The letter that someone read
The chair that someone tipped over
The door that someone opened
The road where someone is still running
The woods that someone crossed running
The river in which someone jumped
The hospital where someone died.

Thursday, 21 September 2017

Joan Osborne does Bob Dylan...

Joan Osborne's album is out Sept. 1

Joan Osborne boldly takes on 'Songs of Bob Dylan'

Bob Doerschuk
30 August 2017

Unlike almost everything in today’s popular music and in the great standards of years past, the songs of Bob Dylan can be savored in multiple ways. The finest among them are elusive and accessible, puzzling and informative, all at the same time.

None of this intimidates Joan Osborne. In fact, that’s why she dedicates her new album entirely to his works. More than a tribute to his legacy, Songs Of Bob Dylan, releasing Sept. 1, also captures Osborne at her best as a vocal interpreter. Much of this stems from the insight she’s gained into his intentions as a writer.

“One of the great lessons of Dylan’s writing is that his songs are obviously about something or someone very specific to him,” says Osborne, 55. “And yet he uses this poetic language that allows it to be about many other things. This makes them all the more powerful because you want the listener, even more than the singer, to take in that story in a way that means something to them.”

This repertoire has fascinated Osborne since her earliest years. She drew from it onstage in Greenwich Village nightclubs and bars after moving east from her home state of Kentucky. As her reputation spread nationally in the wake of her hit single One of Us, Dylan himself took note. And in 1998, he sent her an unexpected invitation to join him on a duet version of his elegiac Chimes Of Freedom, to be featured on the 1999 NBC mini-series The ‘60s.

“We recorded on the same microphone,” she recalls. “My face was literally inches from his face. We did Chimes Of Freedom three times. Each one was very different from the others. Because Dylan has this very restless intelligence, he can change his approach very quickly from one moment to the next. So I had to really lock onto his phrasing and basically stare at his lips so that I could match what he was doing with my harmony. It was actually a positive thing for me because I had to concentrate fully, so I didn’t have any mental energy left over to be like, ‘Oh, my God, I’m on the microphone with Bob Dylan!’”

The decision to tackle this project stems from Osborne’s two-week residencies in 2016 and 2017 at New York’s Cafe Carlyle, each one featuring Dylan’s songs exclusively. For those engagements, she fashioned many of them into personal statements that honored his spontaneity as well as his writing. Many of these turn up on Songs Of Bob Dylan, including Rainy Day Women #12 & #35 transformed into dreamy shuffle and Ring Them Bells as a cascade of piano chords, tumbling like a carillon sounding the hour.

Just one track, Masters Of War, pushed Osborne to focus on the literal rather than figurative qualities of the lyric. There’s nothing obscure about its scorn for war profiteers, a message that was well understood in the 1960s and relevant to current events as well.

“The thing that connected with me is the line in the first verse: ‘I want you to know I can see through your mask,’ ” she says. “That’s very direct, this concept of speaking truth to power, not just saying it in a general way but addressing it directly to a person. As a mother, the verse about fearing to bring children in the world also resonates with me. This is a frightening time to be alive. And it’s this kind of moment when our great artists and poets are most needed. We need songs like this more than ever to crystallize our passion and to express what we’re feeling.”

Tuesday, 19 September 2017

Our man (and woman) in Dubrovnik

Dubrovnik by cable car (taken just before they were arrested for spying)

Lunch at the harbour

Monday, 18 September 2017

Harry Dean Stanton RIP

Image result for harry dean stanton alien

Harry Dean Stanton obituary
The long-time David Lynch collaborator left a legacy of quintessentially American roles that spanned decades and won him an army of admirers

Ronald Bergan
The Guardian
Saturday 16 September 2017

Harry Dean Stanton, who has died aged 91, was a vintage performer, only reaching his full potential in his late 50s.

Billed as Dean Stanton throughout the 1950s and 60s, the narrow-faced, weather-beaten actor with the hangdog expression was probably the busiest actor of his generation. His distinctive features and style proved a godsend for casting directors in search of conmen, misfits, sleazeballs, losers and eccentrics.

In the first half of his career, Stanton made scores of television appearances, mainly westerns, and dozens of films, mostly in brief roles. His face but not his name gained recognition.

That is until he came into more focus in Ridley Scott’s Alien (1979) as a downtrodden engineer on the doomed spaceship. Then, in 1984, greatness was thrust upon him when he was given two of his rare leading roles, in Alex Cox’s Repo Man and Wim Wenders’ Paris, Texas, which were, understandably, his own favourites. A few years later, he was celebrated by Debbie Harry in the 1989 Blondie hit I Want That Man.

Stanton was born in a small town in Kentucky, where his father, Sheridan Harry Stanton, was a tobacco farmer and barber, and his mother, Ersel, a hairdresser and cook. After leaving high school in 1944, he served in the US navy in the second world war, during which he saw action in Okinawa. He then returned to study journalism and radio at the University of Kentucky, where he became seriously interested in acting after playing Alfred Doolittle in a college production of Pygmalion.

He dropped out of university and headed for California and the prestigious Pasadena Playhouse, where he acted alongside Gene Hackman and Robert Duvall. Four years later, Stanton, who was also an excellent singer, and played the harmonica, bass and guitar, toured the country with The American Male Chorus. In Cool Hand Luke (1967), Stanton got to sing Just a Closer Walk With Me, accompanying himself on the guitar. He also taught Paul Newman the song he sings, I Don’t Care if it Rains or Freezes, Long as I Got My Plastic Jesus.

After touring with the chorus and working in children’s theatre, Stanton headed back to California where he began to get work in films and TV. One of his earliest features was the western The Proud Rebel (1958), in which he played the first of many villains, in this instance, framing Alan Ladd for starting a brawl.

For most of the 60s, Stanton was a regular in TV horse operas like Laramie, Have Gun, Will Travel, Bonanza and Rawhide. In the cinema, he was noticed as an evil outlaw with an eyepatch in Monte Hellman’s cultish low-budget western Ride in the Whirlwind (1965), written and starring Jack Nicholson. (Stanton was best man at Nicholson’s marriage in 1962, and the pair lived together in Laurel Canyon after Nicholson’s divorce in 1968.)

Stanton’s film career really took off in the 70s, with two more roles for Hellman – Two-Lane Blacktop (1971) and The Cockfighter (1974) – and Sam Peckinpah’s Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid (1973). Stanton recalled that during the latter, he became friends with Bob Dylan. “We hung out quite a bit during the shoot,” he said. “Drove together all the way from Guadalajara, Mexico, to Kansas City together. We jammed together quite a bit.” Stanton sang with Dylan and Joan Baez in the sprawling film Dylan directed, Renaldo and Clara (1978).

He played an FBI man in The Godfather II (1974), supported Marlon Brando and Nicholson in The Missouri Breaks (1976), and was convincing in Straight Time (1978) as an ex-con, bored with his middle-class existence, who, while lying beside his pool, asks Dustin Hoffman, planning a heist, to “Get me out of here!”.

In 1979 came Alien and John Huston’s Wise Blood, with Stanton excellent as a fraudulent blind preacher in the latter. Stanton then proved his versatility in three comedies: as the smooth-talking recruiting sergeant in Private Benjamin (1980), who gets Goldie Hawn to sign up to the “new” army; as the pathetic chain-smoking dognapping vet in The Black Marble (1980), and announcing that “there are over 100 bodily fluids and I have tasted each and every one of them”, as a medic in Young Doctors in Love (1982).

Stanton’s off-kilter performance in Repo Man, passing on his philosophy of life to his protégé (Emilio Estevez), perfectly gelled with the sensibilities of the tale involving punk-rockers and creatures from another planet. In Paris, Texas, in a role written for him by Sam Shepard, he is first seen walking alone in the Texan desert and does not speak for the opening 20 minutes. Stanton’s attraction to eastern philosophy and spirituality may have helped his still, eloquent performance, brilliantly evoking an outsider, a voyeur of life. “I can’t relate to the Judaic-Christian concept at all,” he once claimed. “It’s a fascistic concept. All fear-based. All about there being a boss. Someone in charge. A creator.”

Stanton continued to reveal his more tender side with several gentle performances such as the guardian angel in One Magic Christmas (1985), as Molly Ringwald’s burnt-out father in Pretty in Pink (1986), and as a sweet-natured, but ill-fated, private investigator – “so clever he could find an honest man in Washington” – in David Lynch’s Wild at Heart (1990). Also for Lynch, he made a touching cameo appearance in A Straight Story (1999) and in the cryptic Inland Empire (2006), he makes the most of his short role as Jeremy Irons’s debauched and broke assistant.

Television offered him the chance to return to his villainous ways as a satanic church leader of a polygamous group in 39 episodes of Big Love (2006-2010). On the whole, the quality of his films declined, but Stanton could always be relied upon to hold audience’s attention, paradoxically, with his understated portrayals. “Usually, I just play myself,” Stanton explained. “Whatever psychological traumas or conflicts I’m going through at the time I try to put into the role. Sometimes it’s quite a feat to pull off, but sometimes it works.” His final film, Lucky, directed by John Carroll Lynch, is due for release at the end of September.

Apart from his busy film schedule, Stanton had a parallel career as a musician, on guitar and singing in The Harry Dean Stanton Band, which played their own mixture of mariachi and jazz. He lived alone in a house on LA’s Mulholland Drive, where his doormat read, “Welcome UFOs”. In 1996, he happened to be home when burglars struck, tied him up and pistol-whipped him before stealing some expensive electronics and taking off in his car. But they were soon apprehended after the car was traced by a tracking device. Stanton suffered only minor injuries. He rarely talked publicly about his private life but, though he never married, he once said he had “one or two children”.

Harry Dean Stanton, actor; born 14 July 1926; died 15 September 2017

Saturday, 16 September 2017

A Friday Night Boy in Croatia...

Dubrovnik by bus

Roman Ibramovich's superyacht moored in front of the hotel in Cavtat

Friday, 15 September 2017

Dead Poets Society #50

Image result for kenneth h. ashley poet
Out of Work by Kenneth H. Ashley

Alone at the shut of day was I,
With a star or two in a frost-clear sky,
And the byre smell in the air.

I'd tramped the length and breadth o' the fen;
But never a farmer wanted men;
Naught doing anywhere.

A great calm moon rose back o' the mill,
And I told myself it was God's will
Who went hungry and who went fed.

I tried to whistle, I tried to be brave;
But the new ploughed fields smelt dank as the grave;
And I wished I were dead.

Wednesday, 13 September 2017

Bob Dylan: Trouble No More at The New York Film Festival

Trouble No More is due to screen during this year's New York Film Festival

Bob Dylan’s new concert film documents his “born again” era

Michael Bonner
29 August 2017

Variety reports that the film Trouble No More, is due to screen during the New York Film Festival.

The Festival has carried a break-down of the film, which is scheduled for Monday, October 2.

The film is directed by Jennifer Lebeau and runs just shy of an hour.

In connected news, Pitchfork notes that there’s a companion book coming, too:Trouble In Mind: Bob Dylan’s Gospel Years – What Really Happened, and you can find some further info about that over on the book’s Amazon page.
Like every other episode in the life of Bob Dylan, the “born again” period that supposedly began with the release of Slow Train Coming (1979) and supposedly ended with Shot of Love(1981) has been endlessly scrutinized in the press. Less attention has been paid to the magnificent music he made. This very special film consists of truly electrifying video footage, much of it thought to have been lost for years and all newly restored, shot at shows in Toronto and Buffalo on the last leg of the ’79-’80 tour (with an amazing band: Muscle Shoals veteran Spooner Oldham and Terry Young on keyboards, Little Feat’s Fred Tackett on guitar, Tim Drummond on bass, the legendary Jim Keltner on drums and Clydie King, Gwen Evans, Mona Lisa Young, Regina McCrary and Mary Elizabeth Bridges on vocals) interspersed with sermons written by Luc Sante and beautifully delivered by Michael Shannon. More than just a record of some concerts, Trouble No More is a total experience.

Tuesday, 12 September 2017

Laurel and Hardy memorabilia for auction in Newcastle

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Laurel and Hardy comedy scripts go under the hammer in Newcastle
A Laurel and Hardy expert is putting 30 lots from his collection on the comedy duo up for auction in Newcastle

Tony Henderson
The Evening Chronicle
11 September 2017

A leading authority on comic genius Stan Laurel has chosen to sell part of his extensive collection on the performer on Tyneside – because of the star’s North East roots.

A. J Marriot has written seven books on Stan and his comedy partner Oliver Hardy and from 2002 until last year was editor of the Laurel and Hardy magazine.
Fred Wyrley-Birch from Anderson and Garland auctioneers in Newcastle with the Laurel and Hardy memorabilia

Stan, born Arthur Stanley Jefferson, spent his formative years from age five to 15 living in Dockwray Square in North Shields, where his father managed the local theatre.
A photograph of Stan Laurel from the Marriot collection which is to be auctioned

As he gained worldwide fame, he maintained his connections with North Shields and corresponded with people in the area until his death in 1965.

Because of the links, Barnsley-based Mr Marriot has elected to sell 30 lots from his collection – expected to fetch a total of around £12,000 - on Tuesday at Newcastle auctioneers Anderson and Garland.

The sale includes original Laurel and Hardy comedy sketch scripts, including one for their only British TV appearance in 1953, which itself is estimated at £700 - £1,000.
Laurel and Hardy memorabilia at the auction

The scripts were written, typed and then overwritten by Stan Laurel.

One was performed on Laurel and Hardy’s US Tours, and the others on their three post-war tours of British variety theatres.

There are also files of signed photographs, film posters and a range of theatre programmes from Laurel and Hardy tours, including that for their show at the Newcastle Empire in 1952.
Stan and Ollie with staff at the Grand Hotel, Tynemouth 

After making his name in the United States, Stan Laurel visited North Shields in 1932 where he was given a civic reception.

Mr Marriot’s research shows that in his speech at the reception, Stan said: “I was not born in North Shields, but I feel that I just belong here. I am proud to be amongst you all.”

When he returned to Britain in 1947, he and Oliver Hardy visited Dockwray Square.

Mr Marriot wrote in his Laurel and Hardy “British Tours” book: “They were guests of the Mayor of Tynemouth Francis J. Mavin, who had them chauffeured to Dockwray Square. At his last attempt, in 1932, Stan had been unable to enjoy the visit in solitude owing to the mass of fans but, this time, having the whole week in which to chose his moment, found the square relatively empty.
A photograph of Stan Laurel from the Marriot collection 

“Hardy was to say that Laurel was so excited as he neared his home, ‘he almost jumped out of the car.’”

Mr Marriot’s books have sold in 40 countries and one will be the basis for a film next year.

He started researching for his first book. Laurel and Hardy – The British Tours in 1987, which took six years of fact-finding and the writing of 600 letters to people seeking information and first-hand memories.
The Stan Laurel Statue in North Shields

Other books followed, covering the duo’s US and European tours and Stan Laurel’s solo stage tours plus two volumes on Stan and Ollie’s Life and Times.

Mr Marriot said: “During my research I contacted hundreds of people who were part of the Laurel and Hardy story, plus gathering material from scores of library, newspapers, collectors, auctions and agencies.

“But now, after the fun of gathering the items from all four corners of the globe it is now time to let others have the fun of owning this personalised memorabilia.”