The Nazi Hunter

Posted in Uncategorized by lmass on 28/02/2011

Tom Segev has just written a very comprehensive-sounding biography about renowned nazi-hunter Simon Wiesenthal.

Born in Austria-Hungary [now Ukraine] at the beginning of the 20th century to jewish parents, Simon Wiesenthal was first imprisoned in 1941, passing through 5 concentration camps before the liberation in 1945. He wrote 3 auto-biographies, all of which vary slightly in detail. He had many enemies due to his controversial manner of exaggerating his own experiences and expertise, and of course those who fundamentally disagree with what he dedicated his life to. Only 2 weeks after being liberated, and weighing around 40 kilos, Simon Wiesenthal presented the american embassy with 150 names of nazi persecutors who he believed needed to be brought to justice. The international community’s latent efforts to arrest and punish those responsible for the holocaust did not stop Wiesenthal, and it is this dogged perserverance which identifies him as a moral authority on the holocaust. He was to spend the rest of his life compiling an archive of over 300,000 documents detailing the activities and whereabouts of hundreds of nazis, and holocaust survivors. He was instrumental in the arrest of Adolf Eichmann in Argentina, and in locating the man who arrested young diarist Anne Frank, silencing those who tried to deny her existence.

What is most remarkable about Simon Wiesenthal is his solid and unwavering concept of ‘justice not vengeance’. On the 20 September, 2005, Simon Wiesenthal passed away at the age of 96. Born before the titanic sunk, before the first TV, before commercial flight, before the two World Wars, before the internet, the work he carried out almost single handedly was instrumental in at least 800 prosecution cases against nazi criminals: his tireless efforts will be remembered.


Posted in Uncategorized by lmass on 28/02/2011

Posted in Uncategorized by lmass on 23/02/2011

Suzi Kemp

Posted in Uncategorized by lmass on 22/02/2011

I really like illustrators whose drawing style is comical and fun. Not to bang on about Mr Shrigley, but i think this new trend (of which he is a figurehead) of humourous ‘doodle’ artists is a wonderful thing. It’s important for people not to take life, and art, too seriously.

In this vein, i present to you, Suzi Kemp…


Posted in Uncategorized by lmass on 21/02/2011

Posted in Uncategorized by lmass on 13/02/2011

Awesome street art in Bogota, Colombia

Wing Attack Plan R

Posted in Uncategorized by lmass on 13/02/2011

I watched the Stanley Kubrick’s 1964 masterpiece Dr Strangelove Or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb the other day on a friends projector – political satires are sometimes quite slow and boring, but Dr Strangelove accelerates at the perfect pace. As the first of its kind in regards to the nuclear arms race, its apocalyptic conclusion is particularly impressive and foreboding. This may sound like a particularly inane detail, but i really loved the white hand written credits at the beginning, designed by Pablo Ferro. Peter Sellers is quite obviously the star of the show, playing Merkin Muffley, the dappy President of the United States; the bizarre Dr Strangelove AND the stiff upper lipped Group Captain Lionel Mandrake.

The story of this black comedy is based around the inherent fear of nuclear annihilation, which the cold war brought to the fore in the 60s after the Bay of Pigs and the assassination of President Kennedy. President Muffley and his eclectic collection of Generals struggle to find a solution to an unprecedented attack of one of their own nuclear missiles on Russia, which has been irreversibly launched by a lunatic general. The ludicrously gigantic underground war room provides the setting for this incompetent juggling act, where the right-wing anti-communist General Turgidson fights with the Russian ambassador – no fighting in the war room! – and the President entertains the notion of moving humanity underground for 100 years because of the doomsday device that is potentially going to explode imminently.

The ridiculous characters satirise the cliched hyper-masculinity of the army; The General Jack D Ripper [Sterling Hayden], whose paranoid, lunatic delusions lead him to launch a nuclear attack on Russia, and General ‘Buck’ Turgidson [George C Scott] who is seen canoodling with his Playboy Bunny ‘secretary’ in a hotel room before “popping to the war room” upon receiving a call which he cannot ignore, despite his best efforts to pass on his responsibility. As well as these brash and insane military personnel, there are the impotent bureaucrats; Group Captain Mandrake and the egg-headed President are both particularly feeble in their efforts to control the chaotic situation. We see Captain Mandrake desperately trying to get the password to reverse the red alert from General Ripper, only to feed him ammunition during a gun fight in his office, and then to be left without the correct change to make the save-the-world call to the president once he has worked it out. Possibly the funniest scene in the whole film is the president’s hilarious phone conversation – a titanic garble of nuttiness and platitudes [Crowther, ny times] – with the drunken Russian Premier Dimitri Kissof [Kissof literally means start of disaster], in which the president attempts to gently break it to the hedonistic Premier that there is a nuclear bomb heading towards to Russia.

Not forgetting the film’s title character and president’s technical expert, the schizophrenic, ex-nazi wheelchair bound Dr Strangelove who cannot control his right arm, which keeps thrusting upwards in a Hitler-esque Heil salute. The film is peppered with phallic images and sexual references which poke fun at male bravado, such as the crazy General Ripper’s loss of essence and the image of a missile or his huge cigars. Names of the characters themselves carry innuendos; Mandrake is an aphrodisiac while Merkin and Muffley are both slang for the female pubic area. The pervasiveness of these images alludes to the suggestion that sexual impotency is the main cause of all this violence.

The more I think about the sardonic humour that permeates this film, the more I realise just how clever Kubrick has been. The characterizations are not the only genius aspect of this satirical success. The setting of the film, the time it was released, the script and the music make it monty python-esque in its all round ingenuity. It is interesting to note that Kubrick only decided to make it a black comedy after he had started writing the script. Based on the book Red Alert by Peter George, the director worked on the screenplay with the author as a more solemn critique of the situation before enlisting the help of renowned satirist Terry Southern once its comedic potential became apparent. Kubrick demonstrates a scathing contempt for the stupidity of humanity, focusing on the bombastivally moronic nature of military and political personnel. It is a devastating critique of war and the imbecilic people involved in its coordination – those lunatics who promote it [Ripper and Buck] and the incompetent, inept politicians and bureaucrats who have no control over them [Mandrake and Muffley], or their machines.

PS – must watch Fail-Safe, based on the same book, it came out shortly after Dr Strangelove.

Human Planet

Posted in Uncategorized by lmass on 08/02/2011

Human Planet is currently airing on the BBC. It explores various environments which humans inhabit. So far; the sea, the desert, the arctic and jungles. Wonderously filmed and beautifully edited, it is an absorbingly exquisite television experience. Celebrating the beauty of nature and the genius of humankind, this programme emphasises the symbiotic relationship man can have with nature, underlining the tragic estrangement of the modern world with this delicate balance.

Simply. Wonderful.

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Posted in Uncategorized by lmass on 08/02/2011