Archive for the ‘These are a few of my favorite things’ Category

Spectacular success for Hither Green cinema day

October 19, 2009


Great thanks to all those who yesterday came to the Hither Green cinema day.
For those that weren’t there here’s a run down of what happened:

– 250 people paid to be there providing living demonstration that the area needs cultural activity;
– in the morning the two drama workshops for children were great, lots of happy faces and possibly a follow up as a regular drama club for children may start to take place in the neighbourhood (contact here if interested);
– people from all walks of life collaborated in a spontaneous and harmonious way to make the event happen. Each according to their abilities, some could run a bar, some others could design leaflets, some others could make spreadsheets, some other again could drive a van, all equally necessary. We showed to 250 people that things can happen and we got many of them to join us to make it bigger and better the next time round;
– three great films were enjoyed on a big screen, one with live piano accompaniment from a truly great pianist;
– we had a busy foyer with a well provided bar and an exhibition about the history of the area. There people got to know each other (including guest of honour Sally Cooper, daughter of Gladys Cooper, the greatest star Hither Green ever conceived);
– at the final count we broke even which was not something we could take for granted since the operation involved considerable set up costs.

Yesterday the newly formed Hither Green Community Hall and Arts Society started its activity with a resounding success, may it continue like this.


Obama’s secret weapon

November 6, 2008

Today there’s one story that deserves a break in this long blogging silence. And as important as it is it’s not the election of Barack Obama as next President of the USA, it’s the successful campaigning holiday of Cllr Chris Maines.

Unbeknown even to Senator Obama, in the run up to  elections Chris Maines bought a ticket to the swing state Florida and there he joined the Obama Campaign and put his fine skills of political  campaigner to good use, knocking on doors, asking people to vote Obama.

He believes that politics can change things for the better for many and that it was better to do his little bit than to live in regret. Many in the world are greatly affected by who’s in charge at the White House and yet can’t vote for that, Chris found a way round that.

It’s a stitch up!

May 25, 2008

From the balcony of the penthouse of New Zealand House you can really see London. We were there yesterday for a Polynesian dance session, the event was really good fun, the Polynesians and all the other Kiwis there were lovely and the view from the balcony would have been all as breathtaking even without wind. I couldn’t refrain from stitching some of the photos up today, you can see the result in some detail by clicking on it.

Seven songs

May 7, 2008

I’ve been tagged by Andrew:

List seven songs you are into right now. No matter what the genre, whether they have words, or even if they’re not any good, but they must be songs you’re really enjoying now, shaping your spring. Post these instructions in your blog along with your 7 songs. Then tag 7 other people to see what they’re listening to.

I’m actually quite happy to share what music lives around me these days, interestingly Andrew that tagged me also mentions Curtis Mayfield. He’s evidently in the air. Let’s start with him then.

Curtis Mayfield – People Get Ready

I love this song, this afternoon I was at the playground at Hillyfields with my daughter, there’s a locomotive/climbing frame, I really can’t take it anymore to say choo choo at every reference to a train so I introduced this song to her today. All the other parents there probably thought I was a nutter.
And speaking of nutters here’s another version by Al Green, I love this version, this youtube video is from “the Gospel according to Al Green” a dvd that I’m a proud owner of.

Pino Daniele – Ce sta chi ce penza – A protest song from the alleys of Naples.

Steely Dan – Two Against Nature – there’s only this fragment available online, shall you decide to buy the disc to hear the rest you wouldn’t be wasting your money. Massive.

Nina Simone – Sinnerman – hypnotic.

Paul Simon – Slip Sliding Away, a great poem.

Jaco Pastorius – Ocus Pocus – – Jaco Pastorius debut album is a milestone – I had it on a loop for a few days last week.

Billy Cobham – Stratus – very good for air guitar.

Tagged: Andrew, Kate, Henry, Rob, Helena, Inspector Sands, Clare

Vicar 1 – Government 0

July 13, 2007

Rev David Garlick, Vicar of the local St Mary’s Church scored a massive point against the over-regulation that the most disfunctional elements of the British Government just can’t stop imposing on us all.

In a stunt performance of dizzy height the Vicar led the congregation and blessed the no-smoking sign that sticks as an eyesore on the door of the 18th century’s church, next to the medieval tower. Well done!!

This is not the first time that I see local Vicars displaying excellent judgement. I will never forget when a couple of years ago at an electoral husting another local Vicar, that of St Swithun, interrupted the speech of one of the candidates at the uttering of the word “citizens”. The Vicar quickly corrected it with “subjects” reminding all present that in our democracy some have more rights than others.


Update: I just bumped into the Vicar queuing at the supermarket. BBC Radio London contacted him to interview him on Monday morning.

Harmonies, patterns, spaces and everything else

April 7, 2007

[Image: Inside the Pantheon; via].

I lifted this image straight out of bldgblog for two reasons.
The first reason is to flag today’s amazing interview with Walter Murch.

The second reason is that the Pantheon is my favourite ancient building in the world. Every time I’m in Rome I visit it and I find that being in a man-made space that it’s been in constant use for the best part of two thousand years adds some very useful depth to the sense of time that we normally live with.

Fun with titles

April 4, 2007

Priest ‘did not know’ about death

Is this the silliest newspaper title of  all times? Can it be beaten?

On the map

March 22, 2007

Click me!

The Trap

March 20, 2007

Just how free are we? According to Adam Curtis – we’re not. In fact, he says that in an attempt to liberate us, Western governments have simply narrowed our choices and created a system where class and money means everything. In a series of three films, Curtis finds out how we got where we are today, and how our system of governance has led to chaos abroad. Be warned. These films may well change your life.

That was the synopsis for the Trap on BBC2 on Sunday at 9pm. I saw the first two episodes and found them fan-ta-stic!

Unfortunately there’s only one episode left. Fortunately here you can see a series of extracts that can help you prepare to see the third and last episode this coming Sunday.

Not to be missed (read this line one hundred times).

That was Michael Brecker

March 10, 2007

Micheal BreckerThe second entry for these are a few of my favorite things is dedicated to one of the greatest musicians that I ever had the luck to see performing live, Micheal Brecker.

They say that he was 57 when he passed away on 13th January this year. I am not so sure. I think that he lived a thousand lives at the same time or one could not explain how he managed to play so many gigs around the world and play in so many records if he didn’t have at least 500 years available to do so.

I was quite saddened by the fact that when he died there was no big report of his departure and the achievement of his life in mainstream media, at least not in the UK. I suspect that many music hacks regarded him as a good session man and not much more. Those misguided opinions are only the product of prejudice against his pop frequentations and are also often not immune from a dose of envy that professional critics may behold against those that can actually do something suspiciously well. In fact whenever I saw Micheal Brecker playing I was hypnotized and led to a beautiful place where I could drink at the fountain of the truth on saxophone playing.

I lost the count of the times I saw him playing. I saw him playing in trio, quartet, quintet, orchestra, acoustic group, electric group and solo.
I once managed to sneak in a theatre in the afternoon and saw him practicing, he noticed me but allowed me to stay. He was the nicest person you can think of. I kept quiet and marveled.
Once I attended a workshop with him (I play alto sax), he was very tired having of course played the previous night so he mostly sat with his sunglasses on, told us a few things about himself and very gently gave us lesson one. How to correctly mount a reed on the mouthpiece and how to break it in. Then how to make your own exercises. Sounds basic but they were probably the most useful tips on saxophone playing I ever heard.

The last time that I saw him he played solo! Everybody knows that it is not really the thing to do for a sax to play a full gig solo, it’s not that kind of instrument. Micheal Brecker knew better. I saw him, he did it. And it was great! It was here in London on 9th November 2001, at the Union Chapel.
Now browsing the net I found this recording of that very gig and it’s got excellent crisp sound too.

And as I sat listening to it the most incredible thing happened. My heart stopped, my jaw dropped! I heard my voice! The sound of Brecker’s saxophone is very clear and floating over a mesmerized audience but there is this one member of the public that from time to time you can hear loud and clear yelling for joy and that’s my voice. I’m always very expressive when I see somebody playing it right. The voice is there at start, saying yeah, then you can even hear me holding my breath (that’s what I do, I’m a very participating listener, sometimes I just can’t breathe, I can only listen), then yelling again and again and finally shouting for joy at the triumphant end. The person that recorded this unauthorized video was evidently sitting next to me.

It’s now 2:30 am, I discovered this recording three hours ago and I’m still listening to it going on a loop over and over again and I still can’t quite believe it.

Credit where it’s due: the link to the video comes from this website on Micheal Brecker that’s a work of love from a committed fan and collector.

These are a few of my favorite things #1

March 9, 2007

CrumbWith this post I’m definitely starting to take full advantage of having a general purpose blog.

This is the first of these are a few of my favorite things posts where I promote beauty according to me. Here’s a piece of advice for you in case you need a little book to keep on your coffee table to show off your high-brow taste with your guests.

R. Crumb’s heroes of Blues, Jazz & Country contains the full series of 112 trading cards that Crumb illustrated in the 80’s. The illustrations were done from photos and depict some of the best known names of American popular music like Louis Armstrong and Duke Ellington as well as some of the less known like Peg Leg Howell or Ernest Stoneman and the Blue Ridge Corn Shuckers.

The book comes together with a wonderful cd sporting 21 titles recorded between 1927 and 1931 and selected by Crumb himself that besides being a great artist is also a banjo player and the proud owner of a collection of 5000 78’s.

This book and disc combo is a fantastic trip into early popular american music. Get it and leave it on your coffee table now before you have to invent some implausible excuse to explain your guests why you haven’t got your own copy yet.