By 1954, segregation on inter-state rails and buses was declared unconstituional by the supreme court, however this did little to effect the practices on public transportation in the deep south, where whites still sat in the front with blacks at the back, giving up their seats for white people should the carraige/bus be full. Those who disobeyed state segregation laws were arrested and fined. On 1955, Rosa Parks was arrested after refusing to give up her seat to a white man. Protests organised by Martin Luther King followed in Montgomery, with a boycott of buses by black people. For 13 months, 17,000 individuals walked or got lifts to work. The eventual loss of revenue and the decisions of the supreme court forced the Montgomery bus companies to accept integration.
In 1961 a group of students challenged the status quo of the deep south and tested local laws and customs maintaining the separation and persecution of blacks. Mixed groups of blacks and whites rode on public transport, using facilities that had recently been de-segregated along the way. They were trained in non-violent techniques, and travelled through the Deep South in mixed groups.
The violent reactions that many of the Freedom Riders met in the south bolstered the credibility of the American Civil Rights Movement, calling attention to the brutal disregard for federal law that had riders arrested, beaten and abused by police offices for violating state and jim crow laws. White mobs were free to attack without intervention, with police in some states cooperating with the Ku Klux Klan, who had hoped that their violent techniques would deter people from taking part in the freedom rides. Over 1000 people ended up going on freedom rides, and with local authorities refusing to provide protection, 500 federal marshals were sent by President John F Kennedy to keep them safe.
James Peck after being beaten in Birmingham
The rides were organised by the Congress of Racial Equality [CORE], as well as the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee [SNCC] . As well as riding on buses, sit-ins were also held against segregated lunch counters, as well as boycotts of retail establishments that maintained segregation.
The bus which was burnt by the KKK – freedom riders only escaped when the mob who was blocking the door ran for cover for fear of explosions
Many of the riders were imprisoned in Missippi state penitentiary, where their mattresses, sheets, toothbrushes and even running water were taken away following their refusal to stop singing.
In September 1961 the Interstate Commerce Commision drafted regulations to end racial segregation in bus terminals, but what was probably more valuable was the publicity which was aroused surrounding the events of the freedom riders, and the attention and sympathy this won for the American Civil Rights movement as a whole.
Carob trees (Ceratonia siliqua) have been farmed in the Middle East for at least 4000 years – carob is used as a chocolate substitute. Their edible pods are traditionally eaten on Tu B’shevat, a Jewish holiday celebrating trees. The seeds inside the pods were also traditionally used to weigh diamonds, which is where we get the word CARATfrom!
London isn’t a party animal by nature, it doesn’t join in or have a favorite karaoke song. It does, though, have a wicked, dry and often cruel sense of humor. It is clever, literate and dramatic. It is private and taciturn, a bit of a bore, and surprisingly sentimental.
Lines to a Lady With an Unsplit Infinitive
Miss Margaret Mutch she raised her crutch
With a wild Bostonian cry.
“Though you went to Yale, your grammar is frail,”
She snarled as she jabbed his eye.
“Though you went to Princeton I never winced on
Such a horrible relative clause!
Though you went to Harvard no decent larva’d
Accept your syntactical flaws.
Taught not to drool at a Public School
(With a capital P and S)
You are drooling still with your shall and will
You’re a very disgusting mess!”
She jabbed his eye with a savage cry.
She laughed at his anguished shrieks.
O’er the Common he fled with a hole in his head.
To heal it took Weeks and Weeks.
“O dear Miss Mutch, don’t raise your crutch
To splinter my new glass eye!
There ain’t no school that can teach a fool
The whom of the me and the I.
There ain’t no grammar that equals a hammer
To nail down a cut-rate wit.
And the verb ‘to be’ as employed by me
Is often and lightly split.
A lot of my style (so-called) is vile
For I learned to write in a bar.
The marriage of thought to words was wrought
With many a strong sidecar.
A lot of my stuff is extremely rough,
For I had no maiden aunts.
O dear Miss Mutch, leave go your clutch
On Noah Webster’s pants!
The grammarian will, when the poet lies still,
Instruct him in how to sing.
The rules are clean: they are right, I ween,
But where do they make the thing?
In the waxy gloam of a Funeral Home
Where the gray morticians bow?
Is it written best on a palimpsest,
Or carved on a whaleboat’s prow?
Is it neatly joined with needlepoint
To the chair that was Grandma’s pride?
Or smeared in blood on the shattered wood
Where the angry rebel died?
O dear Miss Mutch, put down your crutch,
and leave us to crack a bottle.
A guy like I weren’t meant to die
On the grave of Aristotle.
O leave us dance on the dead romance
Of the small but clear footnote.
The infinitive with my fresh-honed shiv
I will split from heel to throat.
Roll on, roll on, thou semicolon,
ye commas crisp and brown.
The apostrophe will stretch like toffee
When we nail the full stop down.
Oh, hand in hand with the ampersand
We’ll tread a measure brisk.
We’ll stroll all night by the delicate light
Of a well placed asterisk.
As gay as a lark in the fragrant dark
We’ll hoist and down the tipple.
With laughter light we’ll greet the plight
Of a hanging participle!”
She stared him down with an icy frown.
His accidence she shivered.
His face was white with sudden fright,
And his syntax lily-livered.
“O dear Miss Mutch, leave down your crutch!”
He cried in thoughtless terror.
Short shrift she gave. Above his grave:
HERE LIES A PRINTER’S ERROR.
This is a just a note to say that PINTEREST is now consuming the majority of my cyber past times.
I am going to be blasphemous and say it is probably the best social media platform, so you should check it out unless you have some weird aversion to really nice images.
Martha Marcy May Marlene utilises the power of silence to the nth degree. No drama, no blood, no raised voices [barely any dialogue at all, in fact] – lots of heavy, buzzing silence which builds and creates such high tension that you find your knuckles are white before you even drew the first gasp.
Martha/Marcy May/Marlene is the lost and mysterious Elizabeth Olsen, who plays the role of troubled space cadet with aplomb. Glazed and confused, M’s story slowly and painfully makes itself known through a series of flashbacks, which are seamlessly interwoven with the present narrative with stylish connects; underwater shots, black outs, noises. You find yourself flitting between M’s memory and real life without really noticing, and by the end it is not entirely clear what was real, whether these were memories of real events or the distorted visions of a harangued young girl.
It is the reaction of her sister Lucy which unhinges the story for me slightly. Such intensely bizarre behaviour – the scene when Lucy is having sex with her husband Ted and M steals into their room to curl up on the end of the bed, the sound of their love-making apparently comforting and familiar to her rather than private intimacy not to be interrupted – would surely stir deep worry in regards to M’s sexual experiences in the two years she has been missing. However, Lucy merely puts her to sleep – clearly troubled – but without any conscious effort, or without seeming to realise, the true extend of M’s abuse. I find it hard to believe that you would reach the end of your tether in a few short days with a sister you apparently love so much, have missed so much, and who is clearly so deeply troubled. Bruises on her head and a deeply introverted stance would surely ring more alarm bells than leaving yourself to believe the weak story of a dodgy relationship gone wrong. One’s mind might not jump to brain-washing orgy-having cults, but you might be inclined to probe a little deeper than the surface skimming questions Lucy and Ted weakly ask in between M’s stony silences.
It is her bizarre social skills that are the most troubling thing of this film, and the most astoundingly portrayed by Olsen. You are put on edge by simple throwaway comments, which are so jarring in their inappropriateness; ‘is it true that married people don’t fuck?’. Not just shy then, M’s behavior is the product of a deeply sinister time at the chilling farm, led by charismatic and ruthless Patrick, a rapist and control freak, whose manipulative control over his ‘family’ is such that murder is justifiable. M guides a young recruit through the process leading to the ‘cleansing’ – aka – rape, as she experienced herself. We see that she was uncomfortable with the experience, but is persuaded, against a better judgement she is desperately trying to repress, that is was good.
It is solitude which defines this film so well – M’s introverted isolation leads to a devastating climax which, despite being shot almost entirely off screen, is terrifyingly unsettling.
As you grow up, always tell the truth, do no harm to others, and don’t think you are the most important being on earth. Rich or poor, you then can look anyone in the eye and say, “I’m probably no better than you, but I’m certainly your equal.
Harper Lee, 2006
Francesca Woodman used long exposures to create a sense of movement and other-wordliness in her black and white photographs of female nudes. Many of her portraits of these ghostly figures were actually of herself. She committed suicide at the age of 22 in 1981. She left behind a prolific body of work which includes an extensive collection of these beautiful photos, which celebrate the lines and shape of the female form. The fluidity she achieved in her photos is second to none, and I love the intimate expressiveness of the poses.
On February 7th, 1910, one Herbert Cholmondesly of HMFO demanded a special train from London’s Paddington Station to convey four Abyssinian princes to Weymouth docks. In fact, the troupe who boarded HMS Dreadnought that morning were pranksters, recruited by the noted adventurer William Horace de Vere Cole, the ‘Cholmondesly of the FO’. Under the elaborate disguises as African potentates were novelist Virginia Woolf, sportsman Anthony Buxton, artist Duncan Grant and a judge’s son Guy Ridley. Their interpreter was Woolf’s brother Adrian. Red carpet and a guard of honour awaited them at Weymouth, with Admiral Sir William May himself welcoming the company.
When rain threatened their make-ups, the ‘princes’ requested the permission to inspect the ship. Inside, they overacted to a ludicrous degree: they handed out visiting cards printed in Swahili. Being at a loss of what to say, Buxton improvised Virgil’s Aeneid in a strange accent, lest the navy recognized Latin. They asked for prayer mats at sunset, and tried to bestow Abyssinian honours on senior officers. ‘Bunga-bunga,’ they exclaimed whenever they were shown some great aspect of the ship; this except Virginia Woolf who had to try hard to disguise her womanish voice.
Yet, their disguises were so good that an officer who knew both Woolf and Cole previously failed to recognized either. They had another close-shave when Buxton sneezed and one-half of his moustache flew off, but he stuck it back again before anyone noticed. (The Navy too had its own faux pas: as the Abyssinian flag could not be found, the flag of Zanzibar was flown instead!)
The next day the Navy was mortified to learn that the party they had escorted around the warship had not been Abyssinian dignitaries at all. Instead it had been a group of young, upper class pranksters who had blackened their faces, donned elaborate theatrical costumes, and then forged an official telegram in order to gain access to the ship. Their ringleader was a man named Horace de Vere Cole, but the entourage also included a young woman called Virginia Stephen who would later be better known as the writer Virginia Woolf.
When asked if they would like to have sex with me, 30% of women said “yes” while the other 70% replied, “what, again?”
i am without doubt the person who’s been the most persecuting in the entire history of the world
…says it all really.
It is only in the last few years that I have really begun to notice the magic of autumn. In the days of yore, when the golden leaves and fallen conkers signified a return to school, this month did not imbue me with a sense of magic wonder. In more recent years, even if new terms did begin, I began to experience a strange sense of euphoria at the glory of this fruitful month.
Before the 16th century, this season was referred to as harvest across most of Europe. However, increasing urbanisation rendered this label redundant and meaningless, and so the old french world Automphne replaced it. It is the foreboding sense of the dark winter months, and the fading warmth of the summer sun which imbues autumn with a melancholy that makes this time of year only more sweet. Maybe it’s because I’m British, but there is something about blustery winds and cold hands and feet that make me feel at home – more so than broiling in sweltering heat, despite the latter weathers more popular reputation.
Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness,
Close bosom-friend of the maturing sun;
Conspiring with him how to load and bless
With fruit the vines that round the thatch-eves run;
To bend with apples the moss’d cottage-trees,
And fill all fruit with ripeness to the core;
To swell the gourd, and plump the hazel shells
With a sweet kernel; to set budding more,
And still more, later flowers for the bees,
Until they think warm days will never cease,
For Summer has o’er-brimm’d their clammy cells.
Who hath not seen thee oft amid thy store?
Sometimes whoever seeks abroad may find
Thee sitting careless on a granary floor,
Thy hair soft-lifted by the winnowing wind;
Or on a half-reap’d furrow sound asleep,
Drows’d with the fume of poppies, while thy hook
Spares the next swath and all its twined flowers:
And sometimes like a gleaner thou dost keep
Steady thy laden head across a brook;
Or by a cyder-press, with patient look,
Thou watchest the last oozings hours by hours.
Where are the songs of Spring? Ay, where are they?
Think not of them, thou hast thy music too,—
While barred clouds bloom the soft-dying day,
And touch the stubble plains with rosy hue;
Then in a wailful choir the small gnats mourn
Among the river sallows, borne aloft
Or sinking as the light wind lives or dies;
And full-grown lambs loud bleat from hilly bourn;
Hedge-crickets sing; and now with treble soft
The red-breast whistles from a garden-croft;
And gathering swallows twitter in the skies
John Keats – To Autumn
Written September 19th, 1819
When asked what surprises him most, the Dalai Lama said this ;
” Man, because he sacrifices his health in order to make money. Then he sacrifices money to recuperate his health. And then he is so anxious about the future that he does not enjoy the present; the result being that he does not live in the present or the future; He lives as if he’s never going to die, and then he dies having never really lived.”
Something to be concerned about falling into?
‘Everything is good with butter. If an ingredient is not good with butter it is not a good ingredient.’
First, let me explain – RAK = Random Acts of Kindness, is an up and coming consumer strategy which does exactly what it says on the tin – random, out of the blue acts of genuine kindness. Is there such a thing? As Joe-from-friends once said, there is no such thing as philanthropy. The dictionary defines philanthropy as;
|1.||the practice of performing charitable or benevolent actions|
|2.||love of mankind in general|
Sounds about right. Yes, I hear you, cynic; “it’s not kindness, its a PR stunt to promote the brand and increase their corporate responsibility, its manipulative marketing”. But who gives a shit if it promotes the brand if that brand is devoting time, energy and creativity to brighten up a few peoples days? If creating happiness becomes synonymous with making money, being creative, and most importantly, T R E N D Y, then who gives a damn what the side products are.
I like RAK. A lot. Some great examples;
- a company sends a care package to a random selection of people who have tweeted that they are tired.
- an airline employs a surprise team to give passengers tailor made gifts – eg – one tweets that he is going to miss a football game while in america. The surprise team give him at the airport a lonely planet guide of the city he is visiting with every sports bar highlighted in blue.
-another airline surprised passengers on a late christmas eve flight with personalised presents on the luggage carousel.
- an eco-conscious restaurant leaves gift certificates on cars which have received parking tickets, or covers bike seats when it rains.
- Tropicana brought a gigantic helium balloon ‘sun’ to an arctic town which faces 31 days of solid darkness during the winter :
It doesn’t matter how big or how small. People being kind should be the norm. And everybody likes a freebie.
Aka, The Skin I Live In, is the new Almodovar movie. In an interview with the director himself, he suggests that it is a horror film done “his way”. It certainly is different – the vibrant colours and glamourous sexuality of Almodovar’s previous films are replaced with a measured colour palate and tense perversity which is bound to shock any viewer.
Antonio Banderas is the brilliant but sinister plastic surgeon Ledgard, whose tragic family story unfolds as the story reaches its climatic plot-twist. The doctor has been researching a new transgenetic skin to help burn victims. It is hard to discern whether he is tortured because of things that have happened to him, or whether these terrible things have happened because he tortures those around him. Is he mad or is he bad? Opposite Ledgard is the otherwordly Elena Anaya, who plays the passive and mysterious Vera, a ‘patient’ in the sprawling country home/clinic. Almodovar’s legendary ability to capture the beauty and grace of his spanish leading ladies boasts close ups of Anaya’s flawless feautures as she is watched by her creator-come-admirer through voyeuristic home surveillance. The prevailing question is – who is she? Is their apparent budding attraction due to the fact that she is his wife, brought back from the dead thanks to his surgical prowess? Or is there a darker, more abnormal history to the duo?
It is a story of control, vengeance, punishment and lust. Moreover, it is a story of identity and gender. The film bears similarities to El Secreto de Sus Ojos [The Secret in Their Eyes], an Argentinian thriller which has similar themes of entrapement, brutality and revenge. More disturbing than enjoyable, La Piel que Habito is still very much worth a watch, even if it is simply to gawp at Anaya’s perfect face.