Category Archives: North America

1929–2014 ➤ Bacall slouched, she simmered and she gave as good as she got

Humphrey Bogart, Lauren Bacall, cinema, glamour, goddess, Hollywood,

Bacall raised the temperature in Hollywood: Bogie used to tell her, “Keep it quiet. If in doubt, don’t answer”

❚ THE ONLY TIME I MET LAUREN BACALL was at London’s Hayward Gallery in the late 70s. I was minding my own business admiring a huge colourful painting by David Hockney, when that unmistakably smoky voice boomed into my ear: “Aw, that is a perfect match for the curtains in the ocean room back home!” I just about suppressed laughing out loud and we became instant pals for the duration. She did actually like the Hockney, one of his sunny landscapes, and certainly gave the impression of knowing her way round the art world. Did I even ask one personal question? In the orbit of so dazzling a supernova? You’re kidding. And everyone in that gallery was silently begging me to.

➢ Lauren Bacall, the tough-talking femme fatale who taught Humphrey Bogart how to whistle, has died at the age of 89 – Guardian obituary:

cinema, glamour, goddess, Hollywood, Lauren Bacall,  Tributes, Walk of Fame

Betty’s star today on Hollywood Boulevard’s Walk of Fame

She was so nervous in her first film role, at all of 19 years old, that her head shook; so she tilted her chin down to steady herself, and had to look up from under at the camera. She stood at the bedroom door of ‘a hotel in Martinique in the French West Indies’ – the Warner Bros lot in Hollywood – looked up, and asked Humphrey Bogart for a match. And defined her life… / Continued at Guardian online

Lauren Bacall,

The inimitable Lauren Bacall with Sophie, her papillon, in her apartment at the Dakota, in New York City. Photograph by Annie Leibovitz

➢ At 86 Lauren Bacall looked back on a lucky, if often difficult, life as she gave it straight to Vanity Fair:
You are going to cut me to ribbons, I can tell. What’s the argument for this story? That I am still breathing? I don’t talk about the past,” she proclaims, taking a piece of Bissinger’s and pushing the rest in my direction. Nevertheless, the past is present everywhere in this room and all over the apartment. It is, in fact, never far from her thoughts. She has lived in great comfort in this place since 1961, when she bought it for $48,000. “I called my business manager in California and said, ‘Sell all of my stock’ — what little of it I had — and it’s the only smart financial move I ever made,” she says… / Continued at Vanity Fair online

“Go to work, Slim”

❏ Above, we see 19-year-old Betty at her sexiest in To Have and Have Not, her first movie with Bogie when they fell for each other and married for life, making it rather superior to Casablanca for romance. Watch her minx up this quirky number, How Little We Know, with Hoagy Carmichael tickling the ivories.

Lauren Bacall, cinema, glamour, goddess, Hollywood, interview

1945: Bogie and Bacall married within a year of meeting. She said the 25-year age gap was was the most fantastic thing in her life

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➤ Mad man dies after skewering the American Dream and bequeathing us Alfred E Neuman

Al Feldstein , Mad magazine, Alfred E Neuman , comics, satire, American Dream,

Al Feldstein in 1972 © Photograph by Jerry Mosey/Associated Press

❚ THE CREATIVE GIANT WHO EDITED America’s most influential satirical magazine has died. From 1956 Al Feldstein took the circulation of Mad from 400,000 to a peak of 2,850,000, and spent 29 years not only making a young generation laugh but fearlessly challenging sacred cows and urging scepticism about the American Dream and its furshlugginer advocates (a not-Yiddish word invented for the purpose). One issue a few years ago contained contributions from ten Pulitzer-winning cartoonists. In creating an American institution, Feldstein paved the way for National Lampoon, Saturday Night Live, The Simpsons, South Park, The Onion – and for Britain’s Viz magazine, according to its editor Graham Dury, creator of the Fat Slags…

Al Feldstein , Mad magazine, Alfred E Neuman ,

Mad magazine’s trademark, the grinning gap-toothed Alfred E. Neuman created by Feldstein: as an American icon, he is the face of every cover star

➢ The soul of Mad magazine dies at 88 –
by Bruce Weber in the New York Times:

The founding editor, Harvey Kurtzman, established its well-informed irreverence, but Al Feldstein gave Mad its identity as a smart-alecky, sniggering and indisputably clever spitball-shooter of a publication with a scattershot look, dominated by gifted cartoonists of wildly differing styles.

In his second issue, Mr Feldstein seized on a character who had appeared only marginally in the magazine — a freckled, gaptoothed, big-eared, glazed-looking young man — and put his image on the cover, identifying him as a write-in candidate for president campaigning under the slogan “What, me worry?”
At first he went by Mel Haney, Melvin Cowznofski and other names. But when the December 1956 issue, No 30, identified him as Alfred E. Neuman, the name stuck.

He became the magazine’s perennial cover boy, appearing in dozens of guises, including as a joker on a playing card, an ice-skating barrel jumper, a totem on a totem pole, a football player, a yogi, a construction worker, King Kong atop the Empire State Building… Neuman signaled the magazine’s editorial attitude, which fell somewhere between juvenile nose-thumbing at contemporary culture and sophisticated spoofing… / Continued at NYTimes

Click any pic to launch slideshow


➢ He was not a warm and fuzzy guy –
David Colker in the LA Times:

The goofy, cartoon face of Alfred E. Neuman looked out from the cover of Mad magazine for decades in various guises, always with the same message: “What, Me Worry?”

“He looked like a boob, but he had a very interesting philosophy,” said Al Feldstein, who as editor built Mad from near-obscurity in the 1950s into a satirical powerhouse, “meaning no matter how bad things get, if you maintain a sense of humor, you can get through it.” Under Feldstein, who edited Mad from 1956 to 1984, the magazine skewered presidents, the Cold War, the tobacco industry, Madison Avenue advertising, Hollywood and numerous other targets. And its legacy from that time lives on.

“Basically, everyone who was young between 1955 and 1975 read Mad,” comedy writer/producer Bill Oakley said in the book The Simpsons: An Uncensored, Unauthorized History. “That’s where your sense of humor came from… / Continued in LA Times

Mad magazine, Alfred E Neuman, Lego issue ➢ Today, Mad is published by DC Entertainment – The latest issue No 526 is the Lego issue (right), after the number one movie in America.

➢ 15 things Mad magazine gave the world:

Comics in the 50s didn’t encourage people to question anything – everything was more about being pleasant and not rocking the boat. Mad came along and started picking holes in the American Dream, suggesting the products Americans were buying were crap, their leaders were clueless and that the people were being treated like dicks. These days everyone’s a cynical bastard, but Mad invented it… / Continued at Anorak online

➢ The UK edition of Mad Magazine, published by Thorpe and Porter, began in 1959 – Over the years there were a number of UK sourced covers and sometimes UK produced interior stories. View a few Mad UK covers from the 1970s with such topics as British Rail, Doctor Who, the Royal Family… even the long-running TV soap opera Coronation Street.

Mad magazine, Alfred E Neuman , comics

Feldstein’s spirit still alive and well in recent issues of Mad

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➤ Another emotional gem on Spandau’s long walk to freedom

Soul Boys of the Western World, interview, Spandau Ballet, SXSW, Austin, premiere, movie, pop music,

Spandau Ballet’s post-gig interview at SXSW in Texas: Steve Norman finds the humour in St John Keeble’s healing homilies

❚ NOT TO BE MISSED! Freshly posted at YouTube is yet another heart-on-sleeve prequel to Spandau Ballet’s promised Reconciliation and Redemption tour. A group interview on video unexpectedly becomes a very moving and positive expression of the band’s solidarity as friends. Famously “sticky moments” from the kamikaze wrecking of the band at the height of its success and the atomic fall-out during the 90s are glancingly referred to in the spirit of mild self-flagellation. The five musicians who defined Britain’s New Romantic movement are discussing Soul Boys of the Western World, their warts-and-all documentary biopic premiered last month at SXSW, the cool new-media festival at Austin in Texas.

“The film is pretty honest and hard for us to watch at times,” says songwriter Gary Kemp. “You can see in the film I was a bit precious.”

“That Kray twin moment [a reference to the Kemps making a feature film about the Krays in 1990]: for me that’s really embarrassing cos me and Gary’s answer is really conceited, but that’s who we were at the time,” says brother and bass player Martin. “The film lets us examine where we went wrong.”

SOUL BOYS SET FOR CANNES

The Spandau Ballet documentary that proved a hit at SXSW in March, is to be screened to buyers at the ➢ Cannes Marché next month, handled by UK sales company Metro International

“We’re human, we didn’t always get it right, we were young kids thrust into the limelight,” says singer Tony Hadley.

“We went through that terrible time facing each other in court at one point,” says instrumentalist Steve Norman. “It was awful. I put my saxophone on the top shelf and didn’t want anything to do with it for about four or five years cos it was symbolic of Spandau.”

Throughout the interview St John of the Drums emerges as the Kentish Town savant with a healing prayer for the sins that destroyed lifelong friendships between the five soulboys. “You can’t be revisionist,” Keeble observes. “It was a major thing when we got back together five years ago. You cannot unknow stuff that’s gone on but I think everyone felt in their hearts that it was now better to focus on the future. The whole world’s still in front of us.”

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➢ Why the trailer for Soul Boys of the Western
World stops you in your tracks

What’s sad from a fan’s perspective is that the live gig in Texas which followed the film’s screening was the first and only time Spandau have played together since their year-long Reformation tour ended in 2010. That comeback tour was a sensational success, just as this gig has proved to be. The video interviewer, writer Lori Majewski, called Spandau a formidable live band: “I was surprised how tight you guys were, how great the live show was!” Entertainment Weekly reported the gig exuding “a rare atmosphere for a very youth-centrict fest, and a truly inspired musical moment – not bad for a bunch of fifty-somethings”.

The documentary has received keen reviews for its sole use of vintage footage and director George Hencken’s intelligent deployment of the band’s hit tunes from the 80s. The SXSW interview also reveals that at the 1985 Live Aid concert Steve Norman shot some under-cover footage backstage where cameras officially weren’t allowed. John Keeble remarks on the amount of original footage in their movie which the band themselves had never seen before – much shot by Martin Kemp as a Super8 enthusiast – while there’s plenty more footage that didn’t make the cut. So come on, lads. Let’s stage a premiere for the Spandau out-takes.

Click on video title above, then scroll to No 7 in the playlist

❏ This meeting of travellers at a crossroads in Austin has all the signs of a mystical resurrection sent from heaven, yet we’re told a Spandau tour is unlikely to happen this side of New Year. How patient must fans be? They had to wait three years for this film to be finished, having evolved naturally from a gifted film-maker recording the Reformation tour.

Two superb books on Spandau have been in preparation for years: one, a smart limited edition photobook, still awaits a strategic publication date to support a career jump-start.

The other was commissioned ten years ago, yes ten, in a wishful gesture of reconciliation while band members roamed the wilderness of solo careers. The showbiz writer Paul Simper was rightly deemed the only person qualified and trusted to capture the fascinating inside story of Spandau Ballet. His manuscript was revised five years ago to boost the Reformation tour, then publication was postponed in order to embrace the selfsame Reformation tour. His gripping text is far more thorough than many rock biogs because of the extraordinary times it describes and the wide-ranging context his research has captured. Currently, Simper is re-retuning his words which could become the book-of-the-film – once the film is given a release date. “Hearing the band talk so eloquently and emotionally gives me new impetus,” he said today. “It’s thrilling to hear them looking to the future.”

For the fans camped at the tiny Oasis of Hope, the road to truth and reconciliation for the band who’ve been pals since schooldays is a long one, as it has been for post-apartheid South Africa, and for Ireland since partition. But y’know, those two were nations with histories riven by British politics. Not a chart-topping pop group. Why doesn’t somebody ask Jerry for his Final Word then we can all get back to the music?

SPANDAU BALLET LIVE AT SXSW 2014

AND AT THE LOU REED TRIBUTE AT SXSW

➢ Previously at Shapersofthe80s: Curtain up on Spandau’s rollercoaster saga of war and peace

CHEEKY CHAPPIES: THE WAY THEY WERE IN ’81

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1955–2014 ➤ Frankie Knuckles, the Godfather of House Music, is gone

Frankie Knuckles,house music, tributes, deejay, Chicago,

2012: an Evening with Frankie Knuckles at Smart Bar, Chicago (© Tasya Menaker). His final live deejay set was at Ministry of Sound in London on Saturday. He had been scheduled to return to the UK for shows at Gatecrasher in Birmingham and The Arches in Glasgow later this month


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➢ Today’s tribute to Frankie Knuckles at Rolling Stone,
by Michaelangelo Matos:

Nobody can agree on who invented the blues or birthed rock & roll, but there is no question that house music came from Frankie Knuckles, who died Monday afternoon of as-yet-undisclosed causes at age 59. One of the 80s and 90s’ most prolific house music producers and remixers, Knuckles is, hands down, one of the dozen most important deejays of all time.

 Chicago, Warehouse,clubbing

The Chicago block where the Warehouse stood

At his Chicago clubs the Warehouse (1977-82) and Power Plant (1983-85), Knuckles’ marathon sets, typically featuring his own extended edits of a wide selection of tracks from disco to post-punk, R&B to synth-heavy Eurodisco, laid the groundwork for electronic dance music culture — all of it.

Knuckles made an abundant number of dance classics, including early Jamie Principle collaborations Your Love (1986) and Baby Wants to Ride (1987); Tears (1989), with Satoshi Tomiiee and Robert Owens; The Whistle Song (1991); and his remixes of Chaka Khan’s Ain’t Nobody (1989), Sounds of Blackness’s The Pressure (1992), and Hercules and Love Affair’s Blind (2008) … / Continued at Rolling Stone

Frankie Knuckles Day, Chicago, Barack Obama

August 25, 2004: declared Frankie Knuckles Day in Chicago by the then-senator Barack Obama

Barack Obama, Frankie Knuckles, condolence

Update April 17, 2014: letter of condolence from the Obamas

➢ Knuckles, the man I knew, by Clive Morgan in the Daily Telegraph

➢ Priest of the dancefloor, by Alexis Petridis in The Guardian

tom johnston, frankie knuckles, cartoon

VIDEO INTERVIEW IN LONDON 2012

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2014 ➤ At last, Kemp reveals Spandau to tour UK and US in the fall – and tomorrow The World!

Spandau Ballet, SXSW, tour news, UK, US, pop music, Twitter

Gary Kemp scoops Spandau Ballet’s own website on March 15

Spandau Ballet, SXSW, Vulcan Gas Company, pop music, Tony Hadley, reunion, concert

Spandau Ballet reunion at SXSW: the band together onstage playing 11 of their classic numbers at the Vulcan Gas Company

❚ HERE ARE THE TWEETS Spandau Ballet fans have all been waiting for, when Gary Kemp scooped even the band’s official website following their reunion performances and film premiere at SXSW in Texas. Yes, a tour is in the offing and it will conquer the world.

Spandau Ballet, SXSW, tour news, UK, US, pop music, Twitter, Irvine Welsh

Gary’s news of a UK tour also emerged on March 15 during interrogation at Twitter by Irvine Welsh, the Scottish author of the 1993 novel, Trainspotting

Spandau Ballet, SXSW, tour news, UK, US, pop music, Twitter,

Two days later, March 17: Tweeter Martin Wood, an English fan from Yorkshire, engages Gary in some banter…

Spandau Ballet, SXSW, tour news, UK, US, pop music, Twitter

… whereupon Gary Kemp announces a second scoop at Twitter. Well done, Martin!

Spandau Ballet , video,Satellite of Love , SXSW

Spandau Ballet on Friday performing Satellite of Love at the Lou Reed Tribute at SXSW … Videograb courtesy Chickrock: click the pic to view her video in new window

➢ Previously at Shapersofthe80s: First review of Soul Boys of the Western World

➢ View March 12 interview for ComingSoon.net with Spandau Ballet plus their film director George Hencken

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