International Women’s Day

8 Mar

One hundred and three years ago the first International Women’s Day was recognized in European countries – Germany, Austria and Denmark among others in 1911. In 1975 the UN officially recognized its observance and today it is a national holiday in 27 countries.

This years official global theme is ‘Inspiring Change’. The importance of equality for all women is the focus of this years events – not purely as a fundamental human right (the Charter of the United Nations, signed in San Francisco in 1945, was the first international agreement) but also to enable progress. UN secretary General, Ban Ki-moon rightly states; “The evidence is clear: equality for women means progress for all.”

Countries with more gender equality have better economic growth.  Companies with more women leaders perform better.  Peace agreements that include women are more durable.  Parliaments
with more women enact more legislation on key social issues such as health, education, antidiscrimination and child support.  Ban Ki-moon

‘The Industry’
In 1975 Helen Reddy’s number 1 hit song ‘I am Woman’ was claimed by the UN as their theme. But what’s going on for women in the music industry now?

Charlotte Church delivered her infamous Peel Lecture in 2013 debating the status of women in the music industry under the thumb of a male dominated music business and the consequent perception we have on what are mainly main stream women artists. She does have a point about Rihanna’s and Miley’s positions as role models to the more influenceable – but although the numbers are few there are role models – influent, strong women standing on and behind the stage. Women musicians who, by the omnipresence of ‘hits and clicks’ as a means of success, are granted a certain autonomy to do it their way. This is not to say that sexism and inequality don’t exist. A controversy from Japan is a good example. The members of the Japanese girl group AKB48 are prohibited by contract of engaging in any romantic or sexual relations. When 20-year-old Minami Minegishi – a member of AKB48, shaved her head and made a tearful confession and apology for having a boyfriend on YouTube it caused a stir. The throng of 80 plus young women are part of a hit churning song and dance troupe who perform on a daily basis and work in shifts at the groups theatre. They are patronized to appear virginal and ‘available’ to the male audience. Record producer and AKB48 creator Professor Yasushi Akimoto is behind the record sales of over US$200million. The YouTube clip was also aired on femispire but slightly alarming is that one of the woman co-presenters who aired the video added that the young woman involved “broke the cardinal rule” and that it’s “hard for me to sympathise when she knows what she’s getting into”, Minami Minegishi apparently also “she sold her soul”. Am I now allowed to say ‘shame on you dumb blond woman presenter in a tight red dress’. Of course I’m not and wouldn’t dare.
The mountainous struggle women have in Japan to equal themselves to their male counterparts in the work place is as old as Confucius and that a young woman snatches any chance to promote any possibility of becoming independent is well … do the math.

Women in Radio
Between the hours of 7pm and 7am (7th – 8th March) BBC Radio 1 will be hosting its tribute to IWD which is a good thing but as Jane Martinson (The Guardian) writes; “Were they not allowed out during the day?”
Statistics given by Sound Women and Creative Skillset show that:

  • 1 in 5 solo voices on the radio is female
  • That figure is 1 in 8 during peak-time breakfast and drive hours
  • In co-hosted show, you are nearly 10 times as likely to hear 2+ male presenters as you are to hear 2+ female presenters
  • Solo women are more likely to be on air at weekends than during the week.

Finishing off my rant with a musical tone I leave you this weekends playlist for International Women. Enjoy!

1. Beth Ditto: Open Heart Surgery

2. Gaby Moreno: Ave Que Emigra

3. Dessa: Fighting Fish

4. Courtney Barnett: Anonymous Club

5. Lilly Allen: Hard Out Here

6. Angel Olsen: Forgiven/Forgotten

7. Julia Weldon: You Never Know

8. Annie Lennox, Eurythmics: Sweet Dreams

9. Beyoncé: Run The World (Girls)

10. Helen Reddy: I Am Woman

Reading:

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/media/tv-radio/women-radio-presenters-under-pressure-to-sound-more-like-men-says-mary-beard-9166518.html

http://www.parliament.uk/briefing-papers/SN02936/international-womens-day-2014-background-statistics

http://www.un.org/en/events/womensday/2014/sgmessage.shtml

http://www.internationalwomensday.com/theme.asp#.UxnQvyg08pQ

http://www.fao.org/docrep/013/am307e/am307e00.pdf

http://www.internationalwomensday.com/about.asp#.UxgTkSg08pQ

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/beth-blatt/sing-for-international-womens-day_b_4892574.html

http://www.digitalmusicnews.com/permalink/2013/10/15/church

http://womeninmusic.org/web/

http://www.theguardian.com/music/2013/oct/26/women-running-music-industry-feature

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! maximopark.com

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)

220px-William_S._Burroughs_at_the_Gotham_Book_Mart

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.

Happy Birthday Watson.ch

25 Jan

This week saw the launch of an online news portal in Switzerland: ‘Watson.ch‘. It’s yet to be produced in English, but it’s only a matter of time before Watson.ch takes the cake – and eats it all over the world!

The challenge to get this near to right was great but here’s Reverbs Happy Birthday varied-topical-playlist tribute to what will be a beautiful baby namens WATSON, who was born to run.

Girl Talk : What’s It All About — Feed the Animals

Tom Jones: What’s New Pussy Cat

What’s Going On: Marvin Gaye

Johnny Guitar Watson: Gangster of Love

Madrugada: What’s On Your Mind

The Next Messiah: Jenny Lewis feat. Zooey Deschanel

The Watson Twins – Just Like Heaven

Gene Watson: Fourteen Carat Mind

The SleepCoat League Presents:

An endless stream of nothing by zartosht kuipers.

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