Editing pan-Africanism

Frene Ginwala. Author supplied image.

“On April 12, 1960, a few weeks after the Sharpeville Massacre, the South African lawyer and journalist Frene Noshir Ginwala arrived in Dar es Salaam, the capital of Tanganyika. In that year, British-ruled Tanganyika was already transitioning towards independence with internal self-government. This transition provided the country’s subjects with more opportunities for political activities than most other countries in Southern and East Africa could provide. Ginwala’s important role in the anti-apartheid movement is well-known. Many obituaries written after her death on January 12, 2023, mention that she paved the way for Oliver Tambo and other South Africans to set up the ANC’s external mission after the apartheid regime banned the organization. Later on, she became the first speaker of South Africa’s first post-apartheid parliament. What is less known is that Dar es Salaam in the early 1960s was a launching pad for Ginwala’s monthly newspaper called Spearhead, subtitled The Pan-African Review. Through her various activities in journalism and beyond, Ginwala also became an integral part of Dar es Salaam’s transformation into a global hub of radical activists, anticolonial organizations, and Cold War rivalries in the 1960s. Ginwala established Spearhead just one month ahead of Tanganyika’s full independence in October of 1961 – it was published monthly between November 1961 and May 1963. In this short period, Spearhead made a gradual turn towards including more radical and partisan perspectives on its pages. In the editorial to the very first issue, Ginwala states bluntly that the newspaper’s readers will not ‘be interested in, nor will they be subjected to, the propaganda outbursts of so-called freedom fighters any more than they are likely to be taken in by the more skilled propaganda of the colonial powers.’ The newspaper’s proclaimed mission was to discuss questions pertaining to the politics of the continent and to ‘build bridges from Cape to Cairo, from Dar es Salaam to Accra.’ …”
Africa Is a Country
W – Frene Ginwala

Spearhead 1, no. 1 (November 1961), front page. University of Fort Hare (UFH), Liberation Movements Archives (LMA), Frene Ginwala Papers

Posted in Newspaper | Tagged | 1 Comment

Completely Well – B. B. King (1969)

“… 1. The Thrill Is Gone: King’s signature song was a hit for Roy Hawkins, its co-writer, in 1951, but BB’s ground-up reworking of it reached No. 15 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1970 and took his popularity to a new audience, and a new level. Its dramatic arrangment – immersing King’s angst-ridden vocals and laconic, reverb-shrouded stabs of guitar in a sea of heartbreak made up of pensive strings and atmospheric Wurlitzer, provided the established bluesman with an entirely fresh sonic setting. The song was masterminded by Bill Szymczyk, an up-and-coming staff producer at ABC Records who had lobbied hard to allow executives to pair him up with King in the studio. The result of their first collaboration was 1969’s Live & Well album: a half-live, half-studio test exercise. For its follow-up, Completely Well, Szymczyk recruited session players Herbie Lovell on drums, bassist Gerry Jemmott, keys player Paul Harris and guitarist Hugh McCracken and set up in New York’s Hit Factory studio in September 1969. The producer asked string arranger Bert de Coteaux to come up with the song’s distinctive arrangement. Szymczyk told Mix Online: ‘The thing I remember most vividly about that session was how BB smiled during it. This had never happened to him before – strings on a blues record. I’m not sure it had ever happened to anyone before.’ The atmospheric backdrop stirred up an emotional response from King, whose terse, pent-up lines bristle with dynamic energy, swooping gracefully above and below the other elements in the mix before embarking on an outro that Szymcyk recalls went on a full eight minutes. BB King recorded the song live with no guitar or vocal overdubs, using a Gibson ES-355 with Varitone through a Fender Twin Reverb. …”
BB King’s 20 greatest guitar moments, ranked (Video)
W – Completely Well
Discogs (Video)
YouTube: Completely Well (1969)    1 / 9

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Frank Stella

Hyena Stomp,1962

“There is no question that Frank Stella is one of the seminal figures of American art. One need only look at his rigorously controlled, almost confrontationally flat, gridded, design-oriented paintings of the late ’50s and ’60s to see how he was reacting against the theatrical, highly psychologized work of abstract expressionists, and how, alongside fellow New York painters Jasper Johns and Robert Rauschenberg, he was reinventing abstraction for a new generation. His infamous 1964 quote about his own work—’What you see is what you see’—became something of an instant minimalist maxim. And suddenly, as much as Stella seemed to be resisting certain painterly dramatics, new shapes and possibilities were unleashed. The shaped paintings of Stella’s early career are as coded and straightforward as ancient runes or corporate logos, teetering between the industrial and the painstakingly handmade. They’re like flags of new orders—or new divisions. But perhaps what truly sets Stella off even from his legendary peers is that the Massachusetts-born artist is no one-time innovator. Almost singularly in the history of contemporary art, Stella has continued to evolve in major ways, never letting his work settle or get stuck in a particular style, decade, or vein. The controlled minimalist of the late ’50s and early ’60s became, in the next decades, a maximalist—the monochrome palette giving way to a riot of color. And it wasn’t long before the two dimensions of the canvas—almost a holy virtue of mid-century painting—made way for a tangle of planes and shapes and spokes that approached and surpassed the precipice of sculpture. … Stella moved to New York City in 1958 at age 22 with no definite direction besides wanting to make things. Maybe that vague strategy left him open to change and transformation. It’s hard not to associate Stella with that historic generation of artists drinking at the Cedar Tavern and finding scrap supplies and spaces in which to work in the postwar industrial badlands of mid-century Manhattan. …”
16 things to know about Frank Stella
W – Frank Stella
NY Times: The Surprising Tale of One of Frank Stella’s Black Paintings
YouTube: NSU Art Museum Exhibition Walkthrough with Frank Stella | Art Loft 603 Segment, Frank Stella – 1972

Posted in Happenings | Tagged | 1 Comment

Without Marx or Jesus: the New American Revolution Has Begun. – Jean-François Revel (1972)

“To judge a book by a Frenchman that has ‘America’ in its title by comparing it with Democracy in America is unfair. Tocqueville’s pair of books enjoy their reputation; Revel’s best-seller, little more than an extended pamphlet, will not be read or known in 2109—a date as distant in the future as the first publication of Democracy in America is in the past. In spite of this, the comparison ought to be made, not so Revel can be blamed for failing to measure up, but because it reveals some stubborn similarities in what the U.S. may mean for certain foreigners, especially certain Frenchmen. Also, Without Marx or Jesus is not a worthless book; the comparison helps to determine what it is good for. Tocqueville (like Revel) came to America to confirm his prejudices. Early notes and letters show he had largely decided, before he came, what America—or rather, democracy in action—must be like. He did not go to America with a vague and boundless curiosity, or as a tourist, and when he returned did not write one of those books (which are still popular in France) about the strange natives he had observed. … Whatever hopes Revel has for Without Marx or Jesus (some possibilities suggest themselves), one of the similarities this book has with Tocqueville’s is that in it a country called America is said to be a laboratory in which a generally praiseworthy process is happening for the first time, before taking place in the rest of the world; this process is described in a very general way, and, despite the writer’s aspiration to a global view, his references, his preoccupations, are continually to and with France, and the peculiarities of the French. One-hundred-thirty-seven years ago, the process was democratization. Today, it is ‘revolution.’ … Early on, he explains that a revolution ‘without Marx or Jesus’ is one that can be predicted, striven for, and described by means of neither of the ideologies that many Frenchmen go on adhering to, in their way, sometimes concurrently: Marxism and Catholicism….”
Revel’s Uncommon Insight
Is this a Joke? On Mary McCarthy’s Afterword to Jean-Francois Revel’s Radical Book/Pamphlet, “Without Marx or Jesus: The New American Revolution”

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Baseball And Writing By Marianne Moore

The baseball fan redux. “Baseball is a language, and, for the fanatic, it is language. It is the baseball fan who continues to make language baseball’s lingua franca.Baseball is a language, and, for the fanatic, it is language. It is the baseball fan who continues to make language baseball’s lingua franca. No more attentive fan of the Brooklyn Dodgers than the poet Marianne Moore ever attended games at Ebbetts Field or read accounts of their ultimate failures in the New York Times the next morning, and the evidence of that strange attention is of course in the poems. Her Dodgers finally won a World Series in 1955, and she combed through New York Times sports-page coverage, pulling phrases that specified her exultation, and made ‘Hometown Piece for Mssrs. Alston and Reese’ something of a collage. From its rhymed title on, the poem seems to poeticize the unpoetical and thus create high-low ironies, but when one lays the poem beside clippings from Times coverage of the Dodgers, and carefully compares them, one realizes the extent to which this writing about baseball—this writing through baseball writing—doesn’t so much restate as rewrite the already published journalism. In doing so it discloses the latter’s myriad normative phrasings, utterly inconsequential and fascinating only when considered out of context. How could contextless phrases such as ‘get a Night’ and ‘stylist stout’ sufficiently convey Dodger mania? Yet they do. Moore is typical of the baseball fanatic in internalizing sportswriting diction only in the particular, and into her own writing—a fan’s writing—assimilated this quality beyond the need of quotation marks; she was beyond creating scare-quote ironies: irked by one misplay, a specialist versed in an extension reach, Podres on the mound. These, though borrowed verbatim from the New York Times, are simply presented in the language of the poem. …”
Marianne Moore’s Baseball Poems
Jacket2: Women as baseball fans, the whole poetry
New Yorker: Baseball And Writing By Marianne Moore (December 1, 1961), Poems

Posted in Feminist, Poetry, Sports | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

Paul Schrader Creates a Diagram Mapping the Progression of Arthouse Cinema: Ozu, Bresson, Tarkovsky & Other Auteurs

“The dozens of filmmakers in the diagram above belong to a variety of cultures and eras, but what do they have in common? Some of the names that jump out at even the casual filmgoer — Andrei Tarkovsky, Jim Jarmusch, Pier Paolo Pasolini, Terrence Malick — may suggest a straightforward connection: cinephiles love them. Of course, not every cinephile loves every one of these directors, and indeed, bitter cinephile arguments rage about their relative merits even as we speak. But in one way or another, all of them are taken seriously as auteurs by those who take film seriously as an art form — and not least by Paul Schrader, one of the most serious auteur-cinephiles alive. Schrader first made his name as a film critic, with his 1972 book Transcendental Style in Film: Ozu, Bresson, Dreyer. In it he argues that the work of Yasujirō Ozu, Robert Bresson, and Carl Theodor Dreyer have in common a quality that quite literally ‘transcends’ their differences in origin. This transcendental style in film ‘seeks to maximize the mystery of existence; it eschews all conventional interpretations of reality: realism, naturalism, psychologism, romanticism, expressionism, impressionism, and, finally, rationalism.’ It ‘stylizes reality by eliminating (or nearly eliminating) those elements which are primarily expressive of human experience, thereby robbing the conventional interpretations of reality of their relevance and power.’ … In the new edition of Transcendental Style in Film published in 2018, Schrader includes the diagram at the top of the post. It illustrates the three major directions in which filmmakers have departed from traditional narrative, represented by the N at the center. … The likes of Kenji Mizoguchi, Michelangelo Antonioni, and David Lynch point the way to the audiovisual abstraction of the ‘art gallery.’ Floating around these aesthetic end points are the names of filmmakers known for the “difficulty” of their work: Stan Brakhage, Wang Bing, James Benning. …”
Open Culture (Video)
Revisiting Paul Schrader’s Transcendental Style in Film
The Transcendental Style for a Fallen World
Durational Cinema Map (from Schrader’s)

Posted in Books, Movie | Tagged , | 1 Comment

Movie Poster of the Week: The Posters of Francesco Rosi

“An essential retrospective has just started at BAMcinématek in New York of the films of the great Italian chronicler of crime and punishment (or lack of), Francesco Rosi. One of the least talked about of the great Italian directors, Rosi, now aged 88, has been making films since the late 1950s and is mostly known for his canonical Salvatore Giuliano (1962). Both that film and its superb follow-up Hands Over the City (1963) are available from Criterion, but there is precious little else available here. (One exception is Illustrious Corpses, my favorite Rosi film, illustrated above with its French poster, which I only just discovered is streamable on Netflix under the name The Context and, sadly, dubbed. I highly recommend ignoring that and seeing the film on screen on August 20th, along with the rest of this unmissable series.) The best Rosi posters come from all over the globe, and though most of Rosi’s films were set in Southern Italy he also made films in Spain, Germany, Colombia and the US. From 1958 to 1976 Rosi made a succession of gripping, fractured thrillers centered on political corruption and organized crime. (His closest counterpart in American film is surely Sidney Lumet.) It’s interesting how many of his mid-period posters are exceptionally wordy, as if his ripped-from-the-headline scenarios needed a lot of explaining (but also because the logorrheic style was much in vogue in the ’70s). … Italian posters upping the sexual allure for Rosi’s first two films The Challenge (1958) and The Swindlers (1959). …”

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Canterbury scene

“The Canterbury scene (or Canterbury sound) was a musical scene centred on the city of Canterbury, Kent, England during the late 1960s and early 1970s. Associated with progressive rock, the term describes a loosely-defined, improvisational style that blended elements of jazz, rock, and psychedelia. These musicians played together in numerous bands, with ever-changing and overlapping personnel, creating some similarities in their musical output. Many prominent British avant-garde or fusion musicians began their career in Canterbury bands, including Hugh Hopper, Steve Hillage, Dave Stewart (the keyboardist), Robert Wyatt, Kevin Ayers, Daevid Allen, and Mike Ratledge. The Canterbury scene is largely defined by a set of musicians and bands with intertwined members. These are not tied by very strong musical similarities, but a certain whimsicality, touches of psychedelia, rather abstruse lyrics, and a use of improvisation derived from jazz are common elements in their work. ‘The real essence of Canterbury Sound is the tension between complicated harmonies, extended improvisations, and the sincere desire to write catchy pop songs.’ … There is variation within the scene, for example from pop/rock like early Soft Machine and much Caravan to avant-garde composed pieces as with early National Health to improvised jazz as with later Soft Machine or In Cahoots. Didier Malherbe (of Gong) has defined the scene as having ‘certain chord changes, in particular the use of minor second chords, certain harmonic combinations, and a great clarity in the aesthetics, and a way of improvising that is very different from what is done in jazz.’ There is debate about the existence and definition of the scene. Dave Stewart has complained at the nomenclature as he and many other musicians identified with the Canterbury scene never had anything to do with Canterbury, the place. …”
The Canterbury Scene: How A Bunch of Bookish Bohemians Became The Monty Pythons of Prog (Video)
The Music Aficionado – 1971, part 3: The Canterbury scene (Video)
YouTube: Is it Prog? : The Musicians of the Canterbury Scene, The Canterbury Scene: An Interview with Robert Wyatt – BBC South, BEST OF CANTERBURY SCENE 1:21:13

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Who’s Who On The Beatles’ ‘Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band’ Album Cover

The Beatles Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band remains the most iconic album cover of all time. From Paul McCartney’s original concept to the final design, staged by British pop artist Peter Blake and his then-wife, Jann Haworth, it’s not just an album cover, but a dazzling display of modern art that defines its era. Not only a groundbreaking design for the time, the artwork also broke the bank, costing almost £3,000 to create – well over £50,000 in today’s money and more than any other pop album sleeve at that time. The concept was for the four Beatles themselves to appear in costume as Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, surrounded by a gathering of influential people as if they had just performed a concert. A total of 58 different people are depicted on the final artwork, which was photographed by ​Michael Cooper. As Peter Blake once said, doing ​’this by using cardboard cut-outs, it could be a magical crowd of whomever they w​anted.’ Those chosen from a collective list drawn up by John, Paul, George, Peter Blake, Jann Haworth, and London art dealer Robert Fraser. Looking to avoid any serious controversy, Jesus Christ and Adolf Hitler were deemed unsuitable for inclusion, while other choices, such as Mahatma Gandhi and Leo Gorcey, were removed for different reasons. Also notable by his absence is Elvis Presley, who, Paul McCartney later said, was ‘too important and too far above the rest to even mention.’ Those that made the final cut remain a fascinating cross-section of cultures, importance, and each individual Beatle’s own interests. To paraphrase the song, you might have known the band for all these years, so here we introduce to you, everyone else that featured on the Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band album cover. …”
W – List of images on the cover of Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band

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Blood On His Hands: Henry Kissinger

May 23 2023:TA SOUS, Cambodia — At the end of a dusty path snaking through rice paddies lives a woman who survived multiple U.S. airstrikes as a child. Round-faced and just over 5 feet tall in plastic sandals, Meas Lorn lost an older brother to a helicopter gunship attack and an uncle and cousins to artillery fire. For decades, one question haunted her: ‘I still wonder why those aircraft always attacked in this area. Why did they drop bombs here?’ The U.S. carpet bombing of Cambodia between 1969 and 1973 has been well documented, but its architect, former national security adviser and Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, who will turn 100 on Saturday, bears responsibility for more violence than has been previously reported. An investigation by The Intercept provides evidence of previously unreported attacks that killed or wounded hundreds of Cambodian civilians during Kissinger’s tenure in the White House. When questioned about his culpability for these deaths, Kissinger responded with sarcasm and refused to provide answers. An exclusive archive of formerly classified U.S. military documents — assembled from the files of a secret Pentagon task force that investigated war crimes during the 1970s, inspector generals’ inquiries buried amid thousands of pages of unrelated documents, and other materials discovered during hundreds of hours of research at the U.S. National Archives — offers previously unpublished, unreported, and underappreciated evidence of civilian deaths that were kept secret during the war and remain almost entirely unknown to the American people. The documents also provided a rudimentary road map for on-the-ground reporting in Southeast Asia that yielded evidence of scores of additional bombings and ground raids that have never been reported to the outside world.
The Intercept_
The Intercept_: Transcripts of Kissinger’s Calls Reveal His Culpability
The Intercept_: Notorious 1973 Attack Killed Many More Than Previously Known
The Intercept_: U.S. Blamed the Press for Military Looting in Cambodia
MSNBC’s Mehdi Hasan Rings In Kissinger’s 100th Birthday — By Laying Millions of Deaths at His Feet

Smoke rises from bombs dropped by U.S. planes near the Cambodian capital of Phnom Penh July 25, 1973. Communist led insurgents surrounding Phnom Penh shelled the city July 25 from as close as four miles. A Cambodian government official said the shelling was a “Monstrous terror attack aimed at intimidating the civilian population of the capital.
Posted in Agent Orange, Cambodia, Henry Kissinger, Napalm, Nixon, Vietnam War | Tagged , , , , , | 1 Comment