Archive | February, 2014

International Mother Language

23 Feb

Friday (21.2.14) saw the 14th year observance of ‘International Mother Language‘. UNESCO announced in 1999 that a day should be observed worldwide with focus on linguistic and cultural diversity and multilingualism. The United Nations Assembly also recognised this day and deemed 2008 the ‘International Year of Languages‘.

Awareness stems from the demonstrations of 1952, when students from Dhaka University, Jagannath University and the Dhaka Medical College all demonstrated in the capital Dhaka (in the present day Bangladesh) for the recognition of their mother tongue, Bengali, to be one of the two national languages of then Pakistan. The students were shot and killed by police near the capitals’ High Court.

The A, B, C Of It

‘Mother language’, is taken verbatim from the romance languages and is more commonly known by the terms ‘mother tongue’ or ‘native tongue’. In linguistics however it is known as an ancestral language or ‘protolanguage’ of which there is no documentation but from which modern languages have evolved.
As someone who lives in a country where communicating in a second language is not quite second nature, it’s a welcome occasion – I often find speaking in a second language difficult and I can find myself in some pretty hot water from time to time with misunderstandings and misinterpretations. Perhaps many a battle could be quelled if we took more time and interest in understanding at least the ‘A,B,C’ of one another’s mother tongue.

Here are three personal favourites, sung in Spanish, Arabic and French. 

1.The first from the Nomadic artist Lhasa De Sela with Por Eso Me Quedo (That’s Why I’m Staying). Lhasa died way too early, at the age of 37 of breast cancer in 2010. 

2. Yasmine Hamdan with Khalas (All right-then)
Born in Beirut in 1976, the stunning Hamdan travelled – due to the Civil War, between Beirut, Kuwait, Abu Dhabi and Greece together with her family, she sings in Arabic, is an accomplished artist and actor, she also appears cameo in Jim Jarmusch’ film; Only Lovers Left Alive singing ‘Hal’ with her bandSoapkills‘. Amazing!

3. Les Rita Mitsouko with Y’a De L’Haine (There Is Hate)
Catherine Ringer and Frédéric Chichin formed the band in 1980 and remained a duo until Chichin died due to cancer in 2007, aged 53. The french couple were adept in melting different music styles from Jazz to Hip Hop to form an innovative style of their own.


The Feast Of Valentine

14 Feb

Today is the day of red roses on demand, cheap and nasty cuddly toys with red glittery hearts, with sentiments of love stuck to them with cheap glue are sold by the bucket – I’m no cynic, but this short prelude’s a bit more interesting.

Saint Valentine

He is the Patron Saint of ; 1. betrothed couples, 2. against fainting, 3. bee keepers, 4.happy marriages, 5. love and not to forget plague and epilepsy – it’s all in there.
The feast of St. Valentine on 14th February was first established in 496 by Pope Gelasius I. But who exactly was Valentine. There are many legends and twists to history  but I’m going with the Nuremberg Chronicle  (Die Schedelsche Weltchronik) issue about the Roman Priest who was imprisoned for secretly marrying young people in the christian church. The emperor of the time – Claudius I, banned young people getting married – unmarried soldiers fought much better than married ones – as they worried too much about dying and leaving wife and child to suffer- hence not giving their all to Claudius’ need on the battle field.

After being caught for his shenanigans, Valentine was imprisoned by Claudius and tortured – he managed to heal a blind girl while all this was going on until his debated time of death (between 269 – 273). Another story pertains to Valentine being the  former bishop of Terni and while under house arrest of Judge Asterius – they began talking about faith and Valentine managed to heal Asterius’ blind daughter – like in the roman priest story. Valentine the Bishop of Terni came also to a sticky end in a similar way of that of Valentine the roman priest story.

‘Courtly Love’ – not Courtney Love

Valetines Day is alleged to have been in a more romantic association since the high middle ages  with the term “courtly love” – it was first popularized 1883 in the writing of Bruno Paulin Gaston Paris – who studied roman philology. Only in higher circles of society did ‘the idolizer’ accept the independence of his mistress (normally beig married to someone else) and tried to make himself worthy of her by acting bravely and honorably and by doing whatever deeds she might desire, subjecting himself to a series of ordeals to prove to her his love and commitment. Sexual satisfaction, Paris said, may not have been a goal or even end result, but the love was not entirely  platonic either. Hmm.
The term “courtly love” was taken on and widely accepted. In 1936  C.S Lewis wrote The Allegory of Love cemented “courtly love” was a “love of higher specialized sort” whose characteristics are humility and courtesy.

Enough said. Heres the weekend playlist devoted to love – starting with who other than Donna Summer with  Love To Love. Enjoy!

Outcast – Happy Valentines Day

The Bee Gees – Inside Out covered by Feist
Glen Hansard – Lover don’t Leave Me Waiting
Burt Baccarach/Herb Alpert –  This Guys In Love With You
Nick Cave –  Babe You Turn Me On
Joan Armatrading – Love And Affection
Marvin Gaye – Let’s Get It On
Neil Young – When You Dance You Can Really Love
Neko Case – This Tornado Loves You
John Martyn – Couldn’t love you more
Cher’s cover of Shirley Bassey’s – The Way of Love
Tom Tom Club – Genius of Love

Oirigins Are Not The Only Fruit

12 Feb
12 February is Darwin Day

12 February is Darwin Day

Darwin Day

Today is Darwin Day – also his birthday. It’s been celebrated since his death on 19.4.1882.
The memorial celebrations were kept pretty much a family affair until his wife – Emma, died in 1896.

In 1909 a load of scientists and upper crust from some 167 countries all over the world got together in Cambridge, GB to honour and dispute Darwin’s contributions. From then the 12th February 1909 saw the 100th anniversary of Darwin, and also the 50th anniversary of Darwin’s ‘The Origins Of The Species’, which was by now – since its first publishing in 1859, being raved about by the New York Academy of Sciences and the American Museum of Natural History.
Although Creationists don’t recognise biological evolution as such – Darwin’s findings remain generally undisputed by scientists, who continue to explore our ever-changing animal world.

Here Pearl Jam puts it succinctly with ‘Do The Evolution‘ from the album ‘Yield‘ (1998) – later their Greatest Hits (2004).

Playlist: A Plethora Of Perfection

8 Feb
Maximo Park

Maximo Park

I’m in love! Maxïmo Parks’ ‘Too Much Information‘ has seduced me to the max. The album with its 19 songs – every one a pearl,  is just the best. It’s laced with the presence of The Smiths – better said; Johnny Marr in particular on Lydia, The Ink Will Never Dry, Wire, Willie Nelson, Ryan Adams, Joy Divison, Human League, Nick Cave – to name but a few of the artists that can be heard in spirit. With the beautiful, effortless northern voice of Paul Smith, Too Much Information is something for everyone and very radio friendly without it being exactly mainstream. Buy the album – it’s really worth it!

Sliding up nicely as a run along to Maxïmo Park is anything by ‘The War On Drugs‘. Founded by Granduciel  and Kurt Vile in 2005 –  three years later the  band released their debut album (Wagonwheel Blues) shortly after which Kurt Vile left to concentrate on his solo career. The second album – Slave Ambient received critical acclaim in 2011- the third due out this year the single Red Eyes is here to hear. Must Buy!

Another too good not to mention is ‘Extra Curricular‘  Robin Hood – (produced by Lack Of Afro), along with ‘Wax’; We Can’t All Be Heros‘ – also produced by the same massively talented afore-mentioned British multi-instrumentalist, producer, remixer and DJ. Adam Gibbons (‘Lack Of Afro‘).

This weekends playlist goes out to who ever likes an eclectic mix – Enjoy!

Maxïmo Park: Leave This Island

Wire: Kidney Bingos

The Human League: Being Boiled

Liaisons dangereuses: Los niños del parque

Ian Dury: Wake Up And Make Love With Me

Ryan Adams: Lucky Now

Willie Nelson: Just Breathe

Extra Curricular(Lack Of Afro):  Robin Hood

Wax (Lack Of Afro)We Can’t All Be Heros 

Lack of Afro –  feat. Jack Tyson-Charles: Recipe for Love 

The War On Drugs: Red Eyes

Kurt Vile: Smoke Ring For My Halo


Happy Birthday To The ‘Pope of Dope’

5 Feb

William S. Burroughs (5.2.1914 – 2.8.1997)


He’s hard to condense in tribute as there was so much going on with the man … but my naivety prevails and I’ll go ahead anyway. Because love him or hate him, he was a one of the purest of human beings who lived every atom of his life – wretched and stapled with genius.
“In the magical universe there are no coincidences and there are no accidents. Nothing happens unless someone wills it to happen.”  William Burroughs

William Seward Burroughs was born on this day in 1914. His family, of wealthy means stemmed from St. Louis, Missouri and his upbringing was modeled on the conservative bearings of his family’s background of the time. Throughout his puberty, ambivalence to his own sexuality – he states, was a product of his repressed upbringing. He kept journals relating to the erotic attachment he’d had to another boy at boarding school – he later destroyed the journals. Throughout his life he was sexually and romantically involved with both men and women.
He went on to study English at Havard University, afterwards attended medical school in Vienna. After his move to New York in 1943 he befriended Alan Ginsberg and Jack Karouac – all three were at the helm of the ‘Beat Generation’, fiercely opposing the dominant values of their society. He also met Joan Vollmer Adams in 1944 with whom he lived with and had a child together (Billy Burroughs, who died prior to his father in 1981, after fighting the symptoms of alcohol addiction). Vollmer was  accidentally killed by Burroughs when he shot her during a drunken game of ‘William Tell’ in Mexico 1951.
This event was said to have marked his writing from then on. Stated to have said “I’m forced to the appalling conclusion that I would never have become a writer but for Joan’s death,”  – that he also quoted the poet Edwin Arlington Robinson: “There are mistakes too monstrous for remorse.”
Burroughs opened up his own can of worms, spooning them into his writings – drugs, his own addiction – his torment with addiction, the grotesque and pornographic underbelly of society labelled the ingredient on the can. His third and probably best known novel ‘Naked Lunch’ (1959) was his first non linear work of which David Cronenberg directed the film of the book in 1991.

William Burroughs  influenced many musicians. His cutting of texts inspired by the artist and close companion Bryan Gysin went on to inspire the work of David Bowie. Patti Smith cited him as having influenced her becoming an artist, Lou Reed, Sonic Youth, Kurt Cobain, Joy Division, Thom Yorke and many more have also had their 10 peneth to say on Burroughs. He’s depicted on the cover of The Beatles ‘Sargeant Peppers…’ Album (2. row next to Marilyn Monroe) and the band Steely Dan is named after a dildo in Naked Lunch.

Burroughs last entry in his book ‘Last Words’ before he died were: ” Love, the most natural painkiller what there is.”

So with that rather long lead, here are a couple of birthday songs for Mr William Seward Burroughs.

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