Monthly Archives: July 2011

IN REMEMBRANCE: 7-31-2011

FRANK BENDER, RECOMPOSER OF FACES OF THE DEAD

By

Published: July 30, 2011

 

Frank Bender, a forensic sculptor whose work — haunting, three-dimensional faces in clay — helped identify the forgotten dead and apprehend the fugitive living, died on Thursday at his home in Philadelphia. He was 70.

July 31, 2011

Matt Rourke/Associated Press

Frank Bender, a forensic sculptor, with a bust he constructed in the 1980s of a homicide victim, Rosella Marie Atkinson.

Frank Bender

A photograph of Ms. Atkinson.

The cause was pleural mesothelioma, a rare cancer that attacks the outer lining of the lungs, his daughter Vanessa said.

An elfin man whose bald head, fierce gaze and Vandyke made him look like a pocket Mephistopheles, Mr. Bender was among the best known of the country’s handful of forensic sculptors — an unusual craft that stands at the nexus of art, crime, science and intuition.

Mr. Bender was almost entirely self-taught, for he never anticipated a career in forensic sculpture. Who, after all, envisions a life in which skulls, sent by hopeful law enforcement agencies, arrive periodically in the mail? (Usually the skulls had been denuded and cleaned, though not always, and luncheon visitors to Mr. Bender’s home-cum-studio occasionally arrived to find one bubbling away in a pot on the stove.)

A former professional photographer, Mr. Bender found his calling by chance in the late 1970s, on a trip to the Philadelphia morgue. After that he was consulted by police departments across the country and abroad, and by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

Of the 40 or so heads he sculptured over the years, most were designed to identify murder victims for whom DNA, dental records and fingerprints had come up empty.

In these cases, Mr. Bender endeavored to turn back time, using victims’ skulls to render their faces as they might have looked in life. A “recomposer of the decomposed” is what he called himself — quite cheerily — on his answering machine.

For fugitives, Mr. Bender coaxed time forward, using photographs and other information to sculpture malefactors as they might look 10 or 20 years on. It was in one such case that he scored his most spectacular success: a role in capturing one of the most notorious murderers in America.

A conjurer in clay, Mr. Bender was, he often said, as much psychologist as sculptor, divining — or so it seemed — features that skulls alone could not tell him: hair color, characteristic expressions or precise skin color, which he painted onto the finished sculpture.

His methods could yield striking likenesses. In the 1980s, for instance, the Philadelphia police asked him to help identify the remains of a woman found murdered in a down-at-the-heels area.

“She was wearing a Ship ’n Shore blouse — a nicely pleated blouse, not a blouse someone her age would wear in that neighborhood,” Mr. Bender told The Toronto Star in 2001. “To me, it told me she was looking for a way out, she was looking for a better life, so I had her looking up for hope.”

A few years later, a local woman identified the bust as her niece, Rosella Marie Atkinson, 18, who had disappeared in 1987. Rosella, she said, held her head up in just that way. In 2005, the killer confessed and was sent to prison.

It was not the money that spurred Mr. Bender: he charged about $1,700 for a sculptured head, and typically made only a few a year. Between assignments, he worked as a fine-art painter and sculptor and held various jobs, including working on a tugboat.

What drove him, those who knew him say, was a constitutional pugnacity.

“He’s a fighter for justice,” Ted Botha, the author of a book about Mr. Bender, said in an interview shortly before Mr. Bender’s death. “He’s almost like a little Captain America or something.”

Mr. Botha’s book, “The Girl With the Crooked Nose,” chronicles Mr. Bender’s work in Ciudad Juárez, Mexico, where he was asked to reconstruct the faces of women killed in a series of murders. Of the eight heads he made there, three led to identifications, Mr. Botha said.

It is impossible to gauge precisely Mr. Bender’s career success rate, where “success” means identifying a victim or catching a fugitive. Mr. Bender — who, as associates attest, was a larger-than-life character with no small awareness of his own news value — sometimes put the figure at 85 percent.

The correct figure, his associates say, is probably closer to 40 percent. “Not even he knows, because nobody actually tells him,” Mr. Botha said. “The police departments don’t always come back to him afterwards; that’s one of the kind of bittersweet things about what he does.”

Associated Press

A photograph of John List, a murder suspect;

John Bender

Mr. Bender’s bust of Mr. List.

Francis Augustus Bender Jr. was born in Philadelphia on June 16, 1941, and grew up in a blue-collar neighborhood. After serving in the Navy, he embarked on a photography career.

In the 1970s, Mr. Bender took night classes in painting at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts in Philadelphia. The academy offered no anatomy classes at night, so in 1977 he took it upon himself to visit the morgue.

There, he saw the body of a woman, shot in the head and unrecognizable.

“I know what she looks like,” Mr. Bender was surprised to hear himself say.

“Do you know anything about forensics?” a medical examiner asked him.

“I don’t even know what the word means,” he said.

Galvanized, Mr. Bender set to work, producing a bust of a woman with a long nose and cleft chin. After a photograph of it appeared in newspapers, she was identified as Anna Duval, a Phoenix woman who had flown East to recoup money from a swindler and wound up dead. Her killer was later identified as a mob hit man, already imprisoned for other crimes.

Mr. Bender’s gift for waking the dead impressed the authorities, and more cases followed. At first he layered clay onto the skulls, consulting tissue-thickness charts to determine its depth at crucial points on the face.

Later on — for prosecutors were loath to see potential evidence trapped for eternity inside a sculpture — he used the skulls to make molds, from which he cast plaster heads.

His greatest triumph came in 1989, in the case of John Emil List. In 1971, Mr. List, a seemingly mild-mannered accountant, murdered his mother, wife and three children in their Westfield, N.J., home. Then he vanished.

Eighteen years later, the television show “America’s Most Wanted” commissioned a bust from Mr. Bender for a segment on Mr. List. Working from an old photograph, he created a balding, jowly figure.

In a stroke of inspiration — or perhaps luck — Mr. Bender added glasses with thick black rims, the kind he felt a strait-laced man like Mr. List would wear.

On May 21, 1989, a woman in Virginia watching the broadcast thought she recognized her neighbor, a balding, jowly accountant with thick black glasses named Robert Clark. On June 1, Mr. Clark was arrested. Fingerprints confirmed his identity as John List. Convicted and sentenced to five life terms, he died in 2008.

Mr. Bender’s wife, the former Janice Lynn Proctor, died of cancer last year. Besides his daughter Vanessa, he is survived by another daughter, Lisa Brawner; a sister, Sara Thurston; and three grandchildren.

With William Fleisher and Richard Walter, Mr. Bender founded the Vidocq Society in 1990. Based in Philadelphia, the group comprises forensic scientists, law enforcement officers and other professionals who convene to investigate unsolved murders.

Mr. Bender was also a subject of “The Murder Room,” a book about the society by Michael Capuzzo. A documentary film about Mr. Bender, “The Recomposer of the Decomposed,” is scheduled to be released next year.

Interviewers often asked Mr. Bender whether his life among the dead gave him nightmares. Yes, he replied, but not in the way you think. For years, he explained, his dreams had been peopled by the dead, and by sinister men.

The sinister men invariably attacked him, Mr. Bender said, and whenever they did, the unnamed dead rose up in his defense.

SOURCE

**********************************************************************

DAN PEEK, CO-FOUNDER OF THE ROCK BAND ‘AMERICA’

By

Published: July 26, 2011

 

Dan Peek, an original member of the rock band America who later forsook the group for a life in Christian music, died on Sunday at his home in Farmington, Mo. He was 60.

July 27, 2011

Associated Press

America in 1976. From left, Dewey Bunnell, Dan Peek and Gerry Beckley. Mr. Peek later turned to recording Christian music.

Mr. Peek died in his sleep, his wife, Catherine, said. The cause is not yet known.

Formed in the late 1960s, America was known for its lush, melodic folk-rock sound and the tight vocal harmonies supplied by its members, Mr. Peek, Gerry Beckley and Dewey Bunnell.

Mr. Peek, who sang lead and backup vocals, also played guitar, bass, keyboards and harmonica.

The band’s best-known songs during his tenure include its two biggest hits, “A Horse with No Name” and “Ventura Highway,” both written by Mr. Bunnell; “Sister Golden Hair,” by Mr. Beckley; and “Lonely People,” by Mr. Peek. Mr. Peek also wrote “Woman Tonight” and “Don’t Cross the River” for the band.

After leaving America in 1977, Mr. Peek recorded Christian pop, including the successful solo album “All Things Are Possible,” released in 1979. In recent years, he lived in somewhat reclusive semi-retirement while continuing to write songs.

Daniel Milton Peek was born in Panama City, Fla., on Nov. 1, 1950. His father was an Air Force officer, and Dan spent his childhood all over the United States, and in Greenland, Japan and Pakistan.

When he was a teenager, a new posting took the family to England. It was there, in a London high school, that he met the young Mr. Beckley and Mr. Bunnell, also children of American military fathers.

The three began singing together in various permutations, under various names. They dissolved briefly when Mr. Peek returned to the United States to attend Old Dominion University, but joined forces again when he came back to London a year later. They called themselves, nostalgically, America.

“We wanted to set ourselves apart and not be seen as English guys trying to do American music, but instead accentuate that we were an American band,” Mr. Peek told The Jerusalem Post last year.

The group’s self-titled debut album was released in Britain in 1971 and in the United States by Warner Brothers the next year.

The band won a Grammy Award in 1973 as best new artist. A string of successful albums followed, including “Homecoming,” “Holiday,” “Hearts” and “Hideaway.” Many were produced by George Martin, who produced many of the Beatles’ records.

As Mr. Peek later recalled, those early years passed in a blur of airplanes and limousines, wealth, drugs and alcohol.

“Sex, drugs and rock ’n’ roll; it was the whole cornucopia of fleshly material,” he said in an interview with the Christian Broadcasting Network show “The 700 Club.” “I tried everything. I tasted every possible thing. I had a spiritual compass, but I abandoned it completely.”

In 1977, distraught at the turn his life had taken, Mr. Peek became a born-again Christian. He renounced drugs and alcohol and left the band. He signed with Lamb & Lion Records, a label founded by Pat Boone, for which he recorded “All Things Are Possible.” His other albums of religious music include “Electro Voice,” “Cross Over” and “Caribbean Christmas.” (Mr. Peek and his wife lived in the Cayman Islands for many years.)

Mr. Peek is survived by his wife, the former Catherine Maberry, whom he married in 1973 (he met her, too, during his high school days in London); his parents, Milton and Gerri; and five siblings, Tom, Deborah, Rebecca, David and Angela.

Since Mr. Peek’s departure America has been principally a duo comprising Mr. Beckley and Mr. Bunnell, and it continues to tour.

“We’ve had innumerable requests to re-form, but the ball’s in their court,” Mr. Peek said in The Jerusalem Post interview last year. “I would probably do it.”

SOURCE

Dan Peek and America.

I first heard the melodious and sublime sounds of America with the classic Horse With No Name, and my other favourite America song, Ventura Highway. The enigmatic and cryptic lyrics made me wonder who was this horse with no name? What did she represent? Why was she in the desert, and why after nine days, did the rider let her go?

America, the group, were very underrated and many people did not have the joy of knowing their music, but of the groups of the 1970s they stood out.

Mr. Dan Peek, he will be missed.

Rest in peace, Mr. Peek.

Rest in peace.

A Horse With No Name

On the first part of the journey,
I was looking at all the life.
There were plants and birds. and rocks and things,
There was sand and hills and rings.
The first thing I met, was a fly with a buzz,
And the sky, with no clouds.
The heat was hot, and the ground was dry,
But the air was full of sound.

I’ve been through the desert on a horse with no name,
It felt good to be out of the rain.
In the desert you can remember your name,
‘Cause there ain’t no one for to give you no pain.
La, la, la la la la, la la la, la, la
La, la, la la la la, la la la, la, la

After two days, in the desert sun,
My skin began to turn red.
After three days, in the desert fun,
I was looking at a river bed.
And the story it told, of a river that flowed,
Made me sad to think it was dead.

You see I’ve been through the desert on a horse with no name,
It felt good to be out of the rain.
In the desert you can remember your name,
‘Cause there ain’t no one for to give you no pain.
La la, la, la la la la, la la la, la, la
La la, la, la la la la, la la la, la, la

After nine days, I let the horse run free,
‘Cause the desert had turned to sea.
There were plants and birds, and rocks and things,
There was sand and hills and rings.
The ocean is a desert, with its life underground,
And a perfect disguise above.
Under the cities lies, a heart made of ground,
But the humans will give no love.

You see I’ve been through the desert on a horse with no name,
It felt good to be out of the rain.
In the desert you can remember your name,
‘Cause there ain’t no one for to give you no pain.

La la, la, la la la la, la la la, la, la
La la, la, la la la la, la la la, la, la
La la, la, la la la la, la la la, la, la
La la, la, la la la la, la la la, la, la
La, la, la la la la, la la la, la, la
La la, la, la la la la, la la la, la, la
La, la, la la la la, la la la, la, la
La la, la, la la la la, la la la, la, la

******************************************************************

BUTCH LEWS, FLASHY PROMOTOR FOR BOXING’S SPINKS BROTHERS

By

Published: July 24, 2011

 

Butch Lewis, the flamboyant boxing promoter and manager best known for getting Michael Spinks a $13.5 million payday for what became 91 seconds in the ring with Mike Tyson, died Saturday at his home in Bethany Beach, Del. He was 65.

July 25, 2011

Paul Hawthorne/Getty Images

Butch Lewis

His death was announced by Terrie Williams, a representative of his family, who said it was from natural causes.

A shrewd and tenacious figure with a gift for showmanship, Lewis went from the life of a street hustler and used-car salesman in Philadelphia to the pinnacle of dealmaking in the boxing world of the late 1970s and the 1980s.

He made his reputation mostly for representing Leon Spinks and his brother, Michael, who had both won gold medals at the 1976 Olympics.

Lewis’s most lucrative moment came on the night of June 27, 1988, when Michael Spinks challenged Tyson for the undisputed heavyweight championship at Convention Hall in Atlantic City.

Spinks was a quiet sort. Lewis, his manager and promoter, was anything but. He preened on fight nights in a tuxedo, a bow tie and no shirt, and he favored showy rings and bracelets.

Michael Spinks had won the light-heavyweight championship and later defeated Larry Holmes for the International Boxing Federation heavyweight championship.

Through arcane maneuvering that got Spinks out of a proposed HBO heavyweight title unification series, Lewis negotiated Spinks his largest possible purse for facing Tyson. Spinks was knocked out at 1 minute 31 seconds of the first round and then retired.

A month after that fight, Spinks told of his gratitude to Lewis, saying that he had been reluctant to fight professionally after winning his Olympic championship but that Lewis “called me over and over.”

“He’d call and say, ‘You about ready to go pro?’ ” Spinks told The New York Times. “I’d say, ‘No, not yet.’ It took six months before I said, ‘Come on, I’m ready.’ ”

Ronald Everett Lewis was born in Woodbury, N.J., on June 26, 1946, and grew up in Philadelphia. When he got out of high school, he once told The Times, he hustled essentially worthless rings he bought from a friend who worked at a jewelry store. The friend would appraise the rings at $1,500 for skeptical would-be buyers, and they would be “happy to give me $50 for a ring that’s worth $1.25.”

Lewis’s father soon put him to work as a salesman at his used-car dealership. His father had been one of the original stockholders in a syndicate that backed Joe Frazier, an eventual heavyweight champion, and Butch soon began traveling with Frazier.

“I’d be in on meetings with he and Ali and the promoters,” Lewis said. “I got to see how the wheels turned in the fight business. And the more I saw of it, the more I liked it.”

Lewis met Muhammad Ali through Frazier and became a co-promoter of Ali’s heavyweight championship fight with Richard Dunn in Munich in 1976. That resulted in Lewis’s going to work for the promoter Bob Arum, who made him a vice president of his firm, Top Rank. Lewis signed Leon and Michael Spinks while with Arum.

Lewis guided Leon Spinks to his victory over Ali for the heavyweight title in 1978 and left Arum that year to promote on his own.

He later formed Butch Lewis Productions and branched out into entertainment. In June 2010, IMG Worldwide joined with Lewis’s firm in a management company primarily representing minority entertainers and celebrities.

Lewis is survived by his sons, Ronald Lewis, Brandon Lewis and Kevin Mosley; his daughter, Sita Lewis; his brother, John; his sisters, Gail Brison and Sheree Lewis; six grandchildren; and one great-grandchild.

SOURCE

*******************************************************************

MICHAEL CACOYANNIS, DIRECTOR OF ‘ZORBA THE GREEK’

By

Published: July 25, 2011

 

Michael Cacoyannis, a Greek filmmaker whose art-house films and adaptations of Euripides for stage and screen were critically acclaimed, but who was best known as the director of the 1964 Hollywood hit “Zorba the Greek,” died on Monday in Athens. He was 90.

July 26, 2011

International Pictures, via Photofest

Michael Cacoyannis, right, with Anthony Quinn on the set of “Zorba the Greek” (1964), which became an instant classic.

His death was confirmed by the Michael Cacoyannis Foundation, an institution for the performing arts he founded in 2003.

Mr. Cacoyannis’s early work brought a new level of respect to Greek filmmaking in the 1950s, when postwar European cinema was dominated by the Italians and French. It also gave exposure to some of Greece’s finest performers. His 1955 film, “Stella,” which won the Golden Globe as best foreign film, featured Melina Mercouri in her first movie role. Irene Papas would appear in many of his productions.

But “Zorba,” his eighth film, created a cultural phenomenon that transcended filmmaking.

Anthony Quinn’s barefooted, dancing, woman-loving Zorba became a symbol of Greek vitality that boosted Greek tourism for decades. For better and worse, it also stamped the Greeks as people with a knack for living for the moment, a characterization that has haunted them during the country’s national debt crisis.

The film won three Academy Awards. But although nominated for best director and best film, Mr. Cacoyannis and “Zorba” lost out to George Cukor’s adaptation of “My Fair Lady.”

Mr. Cacoyannis discovered theater while he was a student in London, where his well-off family sent him to study law before the start of World War II. He received a law degree, but never practiced. Instead, he enrolled in acting classes and appeared in stage roles before going to Greece in 1953 to make films.

His first four films were well received on the international art-house circuit: “Windfall in Athens” (1954), “Stella” (1955), “A Girl in Black” (1956) and “A Matter of Dignity” (1958). “Electra” (1961), which made Ms. Papas a star, was called one of the 10 best films of the year by Bosley Crowther, the film critic of The New York Times.

A devotion to classical Greek drama prompted Mr. Cacoyannis to film and stage a number of plays by Euripides and Aristophanes, beginning in 1963 with a stage production in New York of “The Trojan Women,” Euripides’ antiwar play. During tryouts Mr. Cacoyannis was said to have despaired at some of the candidates as he tried to convey to them the depth of the tragedy.

“Imagine that your president has just been assassinated, and his son is being dragged off to be killed,” he suggested. The cast in place, rehearsals began on Nov. 22, 1963, the day President John F. Kennedy was shot. The production ran for 600 performances before closing in May 1965.

Mihalis Kakogiannis was born on June 11, 1922, in Limassol, Cyprus. (He later adopted a phonetically simpler spelling of his last name.) He was one four children. His father, Panayotis, a lawyer and member of the island’s legislative and executive councils, was knighted by the British government in 1936.

After his first stay in London, from 1939 to 1953, he returned there from 1967 to 1974, when Greece was under a military-backed dictatorship.

The popular success of “Zorba” was never repeated. Mr. Cacoyannis’s later filmmaking efforts received lukewarm reviews. A 1971 film version of “The Trojan Women,” with Katharine Hepburn, Vanessa Redgrave and Ms. Papas, was widely panned. But he remained active as a director of plays and opera in New York and in Europe. Among his many operatic productions were Puccini’s “Bohème” in New York (1972), Mozart’s “Clemenza di Tito” at Aix-en-Provence, France (1988), and Cherubini’s “Medea” in Athens (1995).

Mr. Cacoyannis is survived by a sister, Giannoula.

He told interviewers late in his life that bringing classical Greek drama to the English-speaking stage and screen was among his most satisfying work, and always a source of inspiration.

“I believe all the Greek plays are very up to date,” he said. “They go straight to the roots.”

SOURCE

The lusty, life-loving, and robust Zorba was a character that to this day still stays with me. Thanks to director Michael Cacoyannis, I still have the image of Zorba at the end of the movie trying to instill a zest for life into the young Briton writer(played by Alan Bates) who came to stay at the Greek island of Crete. After all he had been through, Zorba could still put on a smile, laugh at life’s trials, tribulations, and absurdities, as well as revel in its gifts. The thanks for that goes not only to the late Anthony Quinn ‘s performance, but, especially to Mr. Cacoyannis in his direction of the movie.

Yes, Mr. Cacoyannis is primarily known for Zorba, and over the years it has irked him that Zorba is all that comes to mind when his name is mentioned. But, it is a wonderful movie, and still stands the test of time.

Thanks for the memories, Mr. Cacoyannis. To honor you, I will listen to my LP soundtrack of Zorba.

Rest in peace, Mr. Cacoyannis.

Rest in peace.

Dance!

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

SKYWATCH: EARTH’S COMPANION, AMATEUR DISCOVERIES, AND MORE

News

Earth’s Traveling Companion

July 27, 2011 | Astronomers have identified a small body sharing Earth’s orbit in a gravitationally stable resonance that keeps it from hitting us or escaping. Finally, Earth has a Trojan asteroid to call its own. > read more

Amateur Discovers A Planetary Nebula

July 28, 2011 | Austrian amateur Matthias Kronberger has found a planetary nebula near the northern constellation of Cygnus, the Swan. His discovery might help scientists understand the role of stellar companions in the formation of these glowing gas clouds. > read more

From Stars to Stardust

July 29, 2011 | Astronomers have determined that a recent supernova in the Large Magellanic Cloud created a half-Sun’s worth of dust — hinting that such stellar explosions might be an unexpectedly rich source of dust throughout the universe. > read more

Kepler’s Dilemma: Not Enough Time

July 27, 2011 | NASA’s planet-hunter has already identified more than 1,200 exoplanet candidates. But project managers now quietly acknowledge that the spacecraft will have serious difficulty spotting habitable, Earth-size worlds by the mission’s end next year. > read more

A Promising White-Dwarf Binary

July 26, 2011 | A team of scientists has found two white dwarfs locked in a close mutual orbit, providing an excellent chance to test Einstein’s general theory of relativity. > read more

Sky & Telescope September 2011

July 22, 2011 | Sky & Telescope‘s September 2011 issue is now available to digital subscribers. > read more

Observing

S&T: Lauren Darby

Tour August’s Sky by Eye and Ear!

July 29, 2011 | This is your last chance to spot Saturn before it sinks into the evening twilight. But there are many other celestial attractions to look for on August evenings. > read more

Ceres and Vesta in 2011

May 20, 2011 | The two brightest asteroids are fairly close to each other in 2011. Click here for instructions and charts to find them. > read more

Interactive Sky Chart is Unavailable

June 3, 2011 | Our popular Interactive Sky Chart will be unavailable for an indeterminate period. > read more

This Week’s Sky at a Glance

Twilight view

This Week’s Sky at a Glance

July 29, 2011 | Saturn and Spica sink to the sunset. Jupiter blazes high before dawn. And the bright asteroid Vesta — accompanied by NASA’s DAWN spacecraft! — comes to opposition. > read more

Community

Mario Motta

Al Takeda / ATMoB

Light Pollution’s Medical Effects

July 20, 2011 | Watch an video interview with noted physician and dark-sky activist Mario Motta. > read more

The Battle to Control Light Pollution

July 21, 2011 | Listen to a podcast interview with Bob Parks, exceutive director of the International Dark-Sky Association. > read more

Let the Star Parties Begin!

April 14, 2011 | Want to gaze at the Milky Way all night or peer into the eyepiece of a 12-foot-tall telescope? Then escape the city lights and head for the nearest “star party.” > read more

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

COLORLINES: RACIAL WEALTH GAP HAS NEVER BEEN LARGER

 

 

July 28, 2011 Colorlines.com Direct | Published by the Applied Research Center

The Racial Wealth Gap’s Larger Than Ever. Here’s How It Will Destroy Us

The median wealth of a white family is now at least 20 times higher than that of a black family. Kai Wright says that’s a problem for the entire country.

Muslim “Terrorists,” White “Lone Wolves,” and the Lessons of Oslo

Michelle Chen: The key lesson from Oslo is that fear blinds, not just those who act on violent impulses but also those who bear witness to it.

How Long Do Immigrant Families “Wait in Line”? Sometimes Decades

Stokely Baksh illustrates who’s applying for family and work visas and how long they have to wait. Sometimes decades.

       

Wisconsin Special Elections Preview 2012’s Voting Rights Showdown
Millions of black and Latino voters may be turned away from polls in states weighing new rules.

From Attica to Pelican Bay: A Brief History of Prison Rebellions
With news that California’s prison hunger strike may have ended, we take a look back at seminal prison rebellions that have called for similar changes.

New Film ‘No Look Pass’ Follows Gay Asian American Basketball Star
The documentary follows former Harvard basketball star Emily Tay as she navigates hoops, love, and the expectations of her parents.

SFPD Defense of Cop Shooting? Victim’s Fatal Wound Was ‘Self-Inflicted’
While community outrage continues to run high and video of the shooting spreads across the Web, residents want real police accountability.

Top Arkansas Student Denied Sole Valedictorian Honors Because of Race
The student contends that the administration has long made it harder for black students to be recognized for their academic achievements.

 

 
COLUMNS
Dispatches
Movement Notes
Global Justice
Gender Matters
HOT TOPICS
DSK Rape Case
Drug War
ACTION
CELEBRATE LOVE
Colorlines.com on Facebook and Twitter
Like us Follow us


Colorlines.com is published by the Applied Research Center

  SF Bay Area: Last call for this evening’s show “The W. Kamau Bell Curve: Ending Racism in About an Hour”One part manifesto, one part diatribe, and several parts funny. Kamau Bell returns to San Francisco for two special performances of his comedy show and is offering Colorlines.com readers $10 tickets! Get your tickets online and use discount code: colorlines.

Both shows feature Kamau in a post-show talkback and Q&A session with the audience hosted by Colorlines.com.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

HATEWATCH: BLACK PASTOR WHO THANKED GOD FOR SLAVERY HOSTS ANTI-N.A.A.C.P. RALLY

Black Pastor Who Thanked God for Slavery Hosts Anti-NAACP Rally

by Leah Nelson  on July 22, 2011

Barbara Coe, head of the anti-immigrant hate group California Coalition for Immigration Reform (CCIR) and a self-described member the Council of Conservative Citizens (CCC), which considers black people a “retrograde species of humanity,” will be speaking this Sunday at a tea party rally “to expose NAACP lies and their big government agenda.”

Ho hum, you say? Read on.

The rally, which is scheduled to coincide with the NAACP’s 102nd annual convention, is being sponsored by the South Central L.A. Tea Party. Its founder is Rev. Jesse Lee Peterson, a controversial black minister and radio personality who once thanked God for slavery; has said that most blacks “lack moral character;” and who in 2009 wrote an article headlined “Obama hates the white man,” for the far-right World Net Daily.

His beef with the NAACP? According to the press release announcing Sunday’s rally, Peterson’s tea party group alleges that, “NAACP has made numerous false allegations of ‘racism’ against Tea Party groups, but has yet to provide a shred of evidence backing up their baseless claims.” (This charge against the NAACP is false. A full report on extremism in the tea party movement can be found at teapartynationalism.com).

Peterson, a former follower of both Jesse Jackson and Louis Farrakhan, has some surprising links to open racists and nativists besides his connection to CCC member Barbara Coe.

Self-described white separatist Virginia Abernethy, who sat on the editorial advisory board of the CCC’s The Citizen’s Informer, told Max Blumenthal of The Nation that she considers Peterson a friend. He was among the putative leaders of Choose Black America, a now-defunct anti-immigrant group launched by the Federation for American Immigration Reform – which itself is a hate group founded and funded by John Tanton, the racist architect of the modern anti-immigrant movement. In May 2006, Peterson faced down protestors who called him a “Sambo” when shared a stage with founding father of the anti-Minuteman movement Jim Gilchrist – who has been known to turn a blind eye to white nationalists in the past. (For more on Peterson, his connections to white nationalists, and his failed attempted to launch a yearly “National Repudiation of Jesse Jackson Day,” see Blumenthal’s excellent 2005 profile, “The Minister of Minstrelsy.”)

Other scheduled speakers at Peterson’s rally include Obama-reviling San Diego talk show host Rick Roberts; anti-abortion Oakland Pastor Walter Hoye; Muslim-bashing rabbi Nachum Shifren; and “Tea Party Review” publisher William Owens, Jr., who is black.

They’re a motley crew. Roberts’ website currently features an article claiming that “Obama doesn’t care about black people.” Hoye was jailed in 2009 for violating a city ordinance requiring protestors to stay at least eight feet from anyone entering an abortion clinic. Shifren spoke at an anti-Muslim rally put on in 2010 by the anti-Semitic English Defence League, saying, “To all my Jewish brothers who have called me a Nazi, and have asked why I’m poking my nose into England’s business, I say to them they don’t have the guts to stand up here and take care of business.”

Peterson should feel right at home.

SOURCE

********************************************************

I have posted on the so-called Rev. Petersen before in this  post.

His state of mental insanity is still pronounced and has not been attended to.

Since he hangs tight with the likes of Abernethy, let’s see how evolved he will become in their eyes when he runs afoul of the law. Let’s see how many of his fine, upstanding “peaceful” racists cohorts will come to his aid. My bet is that they will scatter like cockroaches when the light is turned on. Dollars to donuts his White friends will drop him like a bad habit, and guess who he will run to for support and help? It definitely will not be the type of racist Whites he is hanging out with.

As for this comment:  “Blacks lack moral character“, it is obvious you not only lack moral character, Rev, you are still in need of that transorbital prefrontal lobotomy you have been running from for the last fifteen years.

As for “retrograde species”, the Tea baggers, Coes, Abernethys, and Petersens of the world are retrograde, atavistic, and pre-pre-Pre Cambrian forms of devolution.

If anything, the N.A.A.C.P. should be suing Petersen and the rest of his ilk for defamation of character, slander, and libel. Obama “hates the White man”? Hmm. More like Petersen hates his own black self, and the Black woman who gave birth to him.

Petersen and Uncle Ruckus would get along just great.

I can see it now. . . .Uncle Ruckus and Rev. Petersen:

He considers Black Americans as less than human and not to be trusted, so he himself cannot be trusted or given respect for how he degrades the title of reverend and that he implys that Blacks are niggers:

Petersen and Ruckus, two of a kind.

Oh, wait!

Rev. Petersen is Uncle Ruckus, in the flesh.

God save us.

1 Comment

Filed under Uncategorized

BLACK WOMEN IN AMERICA: FLORENCE SMITH PRICE

Black American women composers have been forgotten for decades, but, their music has been catalogued for posterity. One great Black woman composer stands as a giant in her field.

Here is her story.

*************************************************************

Florence Beatrice Smith Price (April 9, 1888 – June 3, 1953), was one of the first Black American women composers to achieve widespread recognition.

The life story of Ms. Price is one filled with amazing accomplishments in the music world during the first half of the 20TH century. Not only would her music career have been a model of success on its own merit, but the historical and cultural contexts of Ms. Price’s work especially establish a unique persona worthy of acclaim. Ms. Price’s legacy was grounded in the pride and fortitude of her parentage, propelling her through a rich array of pursuits in music education and composition. Thus, Florence Price is remembered in the music world as the first Black American woman composer to earn international recognition. Her works have been performed by major orchestras as well as by numerous renowned solo artists.

Florence Beatrice Price was born in Little Rock, Arkansas, the daughter of a politically and socially well-connected family. Her father, James H. Smith, was a dentist who opened his office on Main Street in Little Rock, the first Black to claim that distinction in this southern town in the late 1800s. He married Florence Gulliver, who had been a teacher in the Indianapolis area. Their union produced three children, one son and two daughters. Florence was th youngest. At a very early age  Florence began studying piano with her mother. Her mother presented Florence in public performance when she was four years old. Encouraged in her musical studies throughout her childhood, Florence soon began composing her own music. By the time she was eleven, one of her pieces was in print, and when she was sixteen one of her compositions earned her a fee.

Ms. Price left Little Rock, and studied piano, organ, and composition at the New England Conservatory in Boston, studying with George W. Chadwick, Frederick S. Converse, and Henry M. Dunham. She graduated  in 1906 at the age of eighteen. For the next four years she taught at the Cotton-Plant Arkadelphia Academy and Shorter College in her hometown. She then moved to Atlanta, Georgia in 1910 where she accepted a position as head of the music department  at Clark University.

In 1912, she returned to Little Rock, met and married Thomas Price, and in time became well established as a teacher. Along with piano and organ, Ms. Price offered violin lessons, another instrument she had studied as a child. She soon began to earn recognition for her work, winning the Holstein Composition Award in 1925. During this time, race relations were horrific for Black citizens, and had been on a steady decline in Arkansas. Ms. Price’s application for membership in the Arkansas Music teachers Association was denied. Then, the lynching of a Black man accused of assaulting a White woman had a great impact on the lives of many Black families, including her own. As a result, Mr. and Mrs. Price moved their family to Chicago in 1927, where she would remain for the rest of her life.

Ms. Price’s successes, as well as those of contemporaries such as William Grant Still (1895 – 1978) and William Dawson (1899-1990), occurred during what is known as the Negro Renaissance. Ms. Price and her colleagues pursued formal studies of music composition, bringing a new approach to the manner in which nationalistic elements were incorporated into their creations. Her music included the melodic, harmonic, and rhythmic flavor of her musical heritage with the traditions oF Western classical music. Ms. Price was one of the earliest Black American composers to successfully bridge this gap.

Ms. price wrote many piano pieces appropriate for the pedagogical work in which she was so heavily involved. A number of these have piqued the interests of scholars. Three Little Negro Dances, published by Presser Publishers, originally appeared as solo piano pieces and was later arranged by Ms. Price for two pianos as wells as for symphonic band. Other piano titles that reflected Ms. Price’s intent to write for younger students were The Gnat and the Bee, and Doll Waltz.

In 1932, Ms. Price won four awards during the Wannamaker Competition, one of which was for Symphony in E Minor.

Ms. Price also left a piano concerto and a work completed in 1935, Tecumseh, which was published by Carl Fischer. Ms. Price contributed symphonies for orchestra: three numbered symphonies (Symphony in E Minor played by a U.S. orchestra, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra) and several concertos for orchestra, piano or violin. Violin for Concerto No. 2 was written just one year later before her death. The Chicago Symphony Orchestra and the Chicago Women’s Orchestra performed her Piano Concerto in One Movement. Along with Presser and Fischer, Summy, Clayton, Oxford Piano Course, and Silver Burdette have published her works.

In addition to her classical compositions, Ms. Price was also known for writing commercials for radio, a lucrative aspect of the music business, yet on the other hand considered less of an expectation among more “traditional” classical composers. Ms. Price went on to become a member of the prestigious American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP). Her works have been performed by other symphonies such as the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, and the United States Marine Band.

Famous artists who have performed her works include Marian Anderson, Roland Hayes, Leontyne Price, Todd Duncan, and William Warfield.

Ms. Price wrote more than 300 musical works, among her most known pieces are:  Sonata in E Minor, Fantasie Negre, Mississippi River Suite, Symphony No. 3 in C Minor, as well as Symphony in E Minor.

On June 3, 1953, Ms. Florence Beatrice Smith Price died of a stroke.

While Ms. Price’s music may not have become standard in the repertoire amongst pianists, American symphony orchestras, or other performers, since her death, it is a beneficial gift to the music world that her profound contributions did not become lost to history.

In 1986, Ms. Price’s Symphony in E Minor was given rebirth through a performance by the North Arkansas Symphony Orchestra, as a birthday remembrance performed during the month of Ms. Price birth month of April. The performance was held at the University of Arkansas, the home of more than eighty scores by Ms. Price in the Special Collections Division of the university library. The life and music of Ms. Florence Beatrice Smith Price may have come full circle. Her start began in Arkansas, peaked in Chicago, and returned home for the final stage of development–settling into a place in music history.

1.
Kaleidoscope: Music by African-American Women by Margaret Bonds, Florence B. Price, Lettie Beckon Alston, Regina Harris Baiocchi and Valerie Capers (Audio CD – 1997)
(1)
2.
Soulscapes: Piano Music by African American Women by L. Viola Kinney, Valerie Capers, Dorothy Rudd Moore, Undine Smith Moore and Florence B. Price (Audio CD – 2006)
(3)

REFERENCES:

“Florence Smith Price”, by Mellasenah Morris, from Black Women in America, by Darlene Clark Hine, et. al. Oxford University Press, 2005.

Florence Beatrice Smith Price, Correspondence, Musical Scores, and Other Papers (1906 -1975)

The Encyclopedia of Arkansas: Florence Beatrice Smith Price

Florence Beatrice Price: American Composer, Arranger and Teacher

AUDIO SAMPLES:

Symphony No. 3 in C Minor

Cotton Dance

Silk Hat and Walking Cane

1 Comment

Filed under Uncategorized

ANCIENT NUBIA AND THE LAND OF PUNT

When I hold my love close, and her arms steal around me, I’m like a man translated to Punt … when the world suddenly bursts into flower.

Ancient Egyptian love song

Nubia was the ancient land known as Kush in what is present-day Sudan. The ancient Land of Punt originally encompassed what is now known as Eritrea, Ethiopia and Somalia. 

At the height of its glory, the Land of Punt was a prestigious commerce, military and economic center, and had a profound effect on the culture of the Egyptians.

Nubia also had a great influence on Egypt. Even the way the Nubians wore their hair was copied by the Egyptians.

Abu Simbel was originally located in Nubia.

File:Abu Simbel Temple May 30 2007.jpg
Abu Simbel.

The facial features of the smaller statues at the feet of Ramses II are Nubian, even in the hairstyles (some of which were a type of Afro as well as braided hairstyles similar to what Black American women wear) was a beauty that the queens of Egypt wanted to be in the afterlife. Nubians, in ancient Egyptian texts, were referred to as a sign of beauty. One of the Egyptian lyrics went:

“I wish my lover was a Nubian.”


Kemsit, the Nubian queen of the Egyptian King Mentuhotep II (2061-2010 B.C.), and her servants; from a painting in her tomb chamber wall; Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; from Naville, The XI Dynasty Temples at Deir el-Bahri III (London: Egypt Exploration Fund, 1913), pl 3.

Kemsit was sometimes called Kemsiyet and Khemsait. She was buried in Mentuhotpe’s mortuary complex at Thebes. Her sarcophagus had inscriptions calling her the “Sole Favorite of the King”, but this was on other female’s sarcophagi as well.

As a nation, the Land of Punt was the source of trade in items that could be found nowhere else but in Africa;  ebony (black wood), ivory (from elephants), baboons, gold, myrrh and frankincense (two aromatic woods that are mentioned in the Bible).

Two Somali young men with a day’s collection. Frankincense is collected in mountain regions.

Frankincense and myrrh were cultivated from tree resins. Frankincense was a very expensive commodity and was heavily traded in ancient times from Nubia, the Land of Punt, Egypt, Rome, and into the Middle East. It was used as a perfume, for medicinal treatments and as an incense.

Myrrh, slightly less expensive, was still a valued commodity that was in demand. It was used to perfume clothing, as an incense, and for embalming.

The frankincense tree grows in arid regions of the Horn of Africa (Ethiopia and Somalia). The tree’s amber-colored resin, collected through an incision in the bark.


In what is now Sudan and South Sudan, Kush/Nubia flourished along the White Nile, Blue Nile and Atbara River. Some of its principal cities were Meroe (city of the great Nubian pyramids, city of the oldest college in Africa for 2,000 years), Kerma (Nubia’s first capital–a 5,000 year old African city–built before Stonehenge), and Musawarrat es Sufra. Some of Nubia’s religious temples are much older than the Parthenon.

 

A decade ago, there was an archaeological excavation in progress that was unearthing a city that the ruins indicated was 5,000 years older than the pyramids of Giza–making the site the oldest city in Africa. And in 2002, the remains of a palace and a colonnade built more than 2,000 years ago by the greatest black civilization ever were discovered.

Nubia also had prominent Nubian queens whose courage, command of their people, and tenacity in ruling and in battle, gave them a goddess-like stature in the eyes of both their people, allies, and enemies.

A Nubian Princess in her ox-chariot, from the Egyptian tomb of Huy, 1320 BC.

One such queen was Kandace Amanirenas of Meroe.

An historian of the time stated that “This queen had courage above her sex”.

She led her armies into battle and defeated three Roman cohorts, defacing a statue of Emperor Augustus, bringing the head of the statue back to Nubia as a prize. The head was buried in the doorway of an important building as the final act of contempt and disrespect.

The divine right of king passed from god to ruler, leaving no room for a maternal ruler. On the other hand, Nubian queens are often portrayed at the event of divine birth.

The Goddess Hathor. Sculpture, Egypt, 1320-1200 BC, 18TH Dynasty.

One such queen was Amanishaketo (10 BC-0). She was the daughter of a queen and the wife of a brother whom she survived.

Fragment of Relief
Painted and gilded stucco.
This representation of the queen, shows the sumptuous jewelry adorning her neck and arms. The entire figure was covered with gold foil, while the background was painted blue, creating the illusion of a faience tile. (To read about faience  tile, click  here.) The queen holds a decorative collar with both hands, and a mirror with one; both objects are intended as offerings for a missing deity standing to the left.

Her successor was her daughter, Amanitore, who was mentioned in the Bible (Acts 8:27).

The Egyptians called the Land of Punt Ta netjer, “land of the gods” (-in reverence of the Egyptian Sun God) and they called the  Nubian kingdom  Ta Seti, “land of the bow”. The Romans called the present-day people of Sudan Nubians; the Greeks called the ancient people of the Land of Punt, Ethiopians (Aithiopia:  “burned face”). Nubia was conquered by Egypt when Egypt was at its most powerful. Egypt ruled much of Nubia between 2000 B.C. and 1000 B.C., but when Egypt collapsed into civil war, Nubian pharaohs ruled Egypt between 800 B.C. to 700 B.C. Before Egypt ruled Nubia, archaelogical excavations show that the earliest influences on Egypt came from Nubia, not the other way around.

The Nubians conquered Egypt and left their mark on Egypt, with many of their customs and traditions adopted by the Egyptians.

Sailing on the sea, and making a good start for God’s Land. Making landfall safely at the terrain of Punt….

—from Hatshepsut’s temple at Deir el-Bahri

Two of the most famous famous pharaohs in Nubia/Egypt history are Taharka and Pianky.

Pianky (pēängˈkē, –ăngˈ–) or Pianki,aka Piye: king of ancient Nubia (c.741–c.715 B.C.). After subduing Upper Egypt, he defeated (c.721 B.C.) Tefnakhte, lord of Saïs, who had just completed the conquest of Lower Egypt. Piankhi was also victorious at Memphis. He returned (c.718 B.C.) to his Nubian capital, Napata, and erected a granite stele on which he inscribed an account of his campaigns. Piankhi’s rule in Egypt was too brief to achieve much; immediately after his withdrawal Tefnakhte reestablished his rule of Lower Egypt.

Taharka is mentioned in the Bible, (Isaiah 37:8-9, & 2 Kings 19:8-9).

Taharka (təhärˈkə)  or Tirhakah tērˈəkə, tērhäˈkə, d. 663 B.C., king of ancient Egypt, last ruler of the XXV dynasty; son of Pianky. Before he was king, at the age of 20, he led the Egyptians against Sennacherib, who disastrously defeated him. Seizing (688 B.C.) the throne by force, Taharka established a residence at Tanis. In 671 he lost Memphis and Lower Egypt to the Assyrians under Esar-Haddon. On the withdrawal of the Assyrians, Taharka again entered Lower Egypt, only to be expelled (667) by Assurbanipal. He restored the temples at Napata.

SOURCE:   The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia

Shabti of Taharka.  Ankerite. Third Intermediate Period, Dynasty XXV, c. 690-664 BC. From Nuri, pyramid 1.  SOURCE

Granite sphinx of Taharqo, 25th Dynasty from a temple at Kawa. Now residing in the British Museum, London.  SOURCE

There were expeditions to the Land of Punt by Egyptian Pharaohs, but the one organized by Queen Hatshepsut is the most memorable and well-documented.

During her reign, Queen Hatshepsut (Hatasu) of the 18th dynasty (1473-1458 BC), sent an expedition to the Land of Punt to make trade and commerce with the king and queen who ruled Punt:  the Prince (“Great”) of Punt, Parihu, and his wife, Princess Ati. Hieroglyphics  of this voyage is left behind as temple reliefs in Deir el-Bahri:

The Land of Punt was known for its warriors and bowmen, who were known and feared by those who saw them in battle.

Nubia was Africa’s earliest black civilization which traces its history from 3800 BC, through Nubian monuments and artifacts, and through the written records of Rome and Egypt.

Tomb of Huy, about 1342-1333 BC.

Huy, Viceroy of Nubia buried at Qurnat Murai. The three wall paintings show a procession of Nubian princes, carrying rings and bags of gold, arriving in Egypt, from the Theban tomb of Huy, who was the “King’s Son of Kush” under Egyptian Pharoah Tutankhamun.

To the ancient Greeks, Romans and Egyptians, the ancient Land of Punt and Nubia were lands of great beauty and natural wealth, of fascinating people, of gold mines, ebony, ivory, fantastic animals, and incense–wealth prized by their neighbors. Today, the people of what was once the Land of Punt are now known as Somalis, Ethiopians, and Eritreans. Though Sudan remained the homeland of the Nubians, today their descendants with a population of 300,000, live in both Sudan and Egypt. The Aswan Dam brought devastation to the Nubians, flooding over 500 square miles of their land. After the building of the Aswan High Dam in 1960, many Nubian monuments that had stood the tests of time were flooded over with water. Many ancient monuments were lost forever. Some monuments were dismantled and reassembled at new locations in Sudan and Egypt. The Nubians lost their ancient homeland in the 1960s when many of them during the great exodus moved to Egypt. But, many of them stayed to live in the land of their ancestors. Even then, they still faced more sufferings with displacement and relocation from their homeland during the buildings of dams, as well as the callous neglect and disrespect shown towards their magnificent history.

The Nubians have lived though so much through the millennia, but, their culture and heritage stills remains. The Nubian people of today still have their indigenous language, dress, customs, music and dances.

Nubians are still fiercely independent, carriers of an ancient culture that has managed to remain vibrant in the face of insurmountable odds.

REFERENCES:

RISE OF THE BLACK PHAROAHS“, PBS/NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC VIDEO: This video explores the history of the Kush/Nubians who ruled Egypt as pharaohs for 100 years. The video explodes racist myths that black-skinned African pharaohs did not conquer and rule ancient Egypt. The video will remain up until October 1, 2017 for viewing.

1.

16 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

IN REMEMBRANCE: 7-24-2011

AMY WINEHOUSE, BRITISH SOUL SINGER WITH A TROUBLED LIFE

Juan Medina/Reuters

Amy Winehouse at a music festival near Madrid in 2008. More Photos »

By

Published: July 23, 2011

 

Amy Winehouse, the British singer who found worldwide fame with a sassy, hip-hop-inflected take on retro soul, yet became a tabloid fixture as her problems with drugs and alcohol led to a strikingly public career collapse, was found dead on Saturday in her apartment in London, the police said. She was 27.

 
Multimedia
 
July 24, 2011

Matt Dunham/Associated Press

Ms. Winehouse in 2007. Her album “Back to Black” established her as a fresh voice in music. More Photos »

July 24, 2011

Michael Buckner/Getty Images

Amy Winehouse with Blake Fielder-Civil in 2007. More Photos »

The cause was not immediately known. The police said that they were investigating the circumstances of the death, but that “at this early stage it is being treated as unexplained.”

With a husky, tart voice and a style that drew equally from the sounds of Motown and the stark storytelling of rap, Ms. Winehouse became one of the most acclaimed young singers of the past decade, selling millions of albums, winning five Grammy Awards and starting a British retro-R&B trend that continues today.

Yet, almost from the moment she arrived on the international pop scene in early 2007, Ms. Winehouse appeared to flirt with self-destruction. She sang of an alcohol-soaked demimonde in songs like “Rehab” — whose refrain, “They tried to make me go to rehab/I said, ‘No, no, no,’ ” crystallized Ms. Winehouse’s persona — and before long it seemed to spill over into her personal life and fuel lurid headlines.

The interplay between Ms. Winehouse’s life and art made her one of the most fascinating figures in pop music since Kurt Cobain, whose demise in 1994 — also at age 27 — was preceded by drug abuse and a frustration with fame as something that could never be escaped. Yet in time, the notoriety from Ms. Winehouse’s various drug arrests, public meltdowns and ruined concerts overshadowed her talent as a musician, and her career never recovered.

On Saturday, as the news of Ms. Winehouse’s death spread, many musicians took to Twitter with deep sadness but no surprise. Lily Allen, who rose through the British pop scene shortly after Ms. Winehouse, called her “such a lost soul.” The singer Josh Groban wrote: “Drugs took her gift, her soul, her light, long before they took her life. RIP Amy.”

As much as her misfortunes eventually took on a sense of predictability, when Ms. Winehouse arrived with her breakthrough second album “Back to Black,” which was released in Britain in late 2006 and in the United States the next year, she was a fresh voice with a novel take on pop history. She spoke of her love for Frank Sinatra, Thelonious Monk and Motown, as well as Nas, the hard-core New York rapper with a sharp eye for narrative detail.

Her greatest love, however, was the 1960s girl groups, something that was evident from the instantly recognizable beehive hairdo and Cleopatra makeup that she borrowed from the Ronettes. In an interview with The Los Angeles Times in 2007, Ms. Winehouse explained how a breakup had inspired the songs on “Back to Black,” and described her state of mind in terms of music and alcohol.

“I didn’t want to just wake up drinking, and crying, and listening to Shangri-Las, and go to sleep, and wake up drinking, and listening to the Shangri-Las,” she said. “So I turned it into songs, and that’s how I got through it.”

Amy Jade Winehouse was born in Southgate, London, on Sept. 14, 1983. Her mother, Janis, was a pharmacist, and her father, Mitch, was a cab driver who nursed a love for music. They both survive her, along with a brother, Alex.

Ms. Winehouse showed an early talent for performing, as well as an eclecticism that would characterize her later work. She loved her father’s Sinatra records, but she also liked hip-hop; at age 10 she and a friend formed a rap group called Sweet ’n’ Sour that Ms. Winehouse later described as “the little white Jewish Salt-N-Pepa.” (Ms. Winehouse was the “sour” half.)

She attended the Sylvia Young Theater School in London and later went to the BRIT School for Performing Arts and Technology, a free performing arts school there that counts several other recent female pop stars among its alumnae, including Ms. Allen and Adele, another young singer who is sometimes seen as picking up the neo-soul mantle from Ms. Winehouse.

In 2003, at age 19, Ms. Winehouse released her first album, “Frank.” Influenced by jazz, it established her as a rising star in Britain. But “Back to Black,” recorded with the producers Mark Ronson and Salaam Remi, and the Brooklyn retro-soul band the Dap-Kings, made her an international sensation. With thick horns and club-ready hip-hop beats, the album was a darkly stylish update of classic 1960s R&B, and it was adored by critics and the public alike.

According to Nielsen SoundScan, which tracks music sales, Ms. Winehouse has sold 2.7 million albums and 3.4 million tracks in the United States.

Yet, while “Rehab” was still climbing the charts, Ms. Winehouse made headlines for drug binges and arrests that left her hospitalized and forced her to cancel concert dates.

In October 2007, Ms. Winehouse and her husband at the time, Blake Fielder-Civil, were arrested in Norway on charges of marijuana possession. A month later, Mr. Fielder-Civil was arrested and accused of perverting the course of justice by trying to bribe the victim in a bar fight not to testify against him. (Ms. Winehouse and Mr. Fielder-Civil divorced in 2009.)

Perhaps the peak of Ms. Winehouse’s career was the 2008 Grammy Awards. She was nominated for six prizes and took home five, including Best New Artist. Yet even days before the show, her appearance there was uncertain because of visa problems. In the end, she performed by satellite from London.

Although Ms. Winehouse has not made an album since “Back to Black,” she tried to revive her career several times. In a recent interview with The New York Times, Ms. Winehouse’s father, who released a jazz album this year, said she had been in good health lately. (Mr. Winehouse was scheduled to perform at the Blue Note jazz club in New York on Monday, but canceled after learning of his daughter’s death.)

Yet Ms. Winehouse’s most recent comeback attempt faltered badly. Last month, she canceled a European tour after a performance in Belgrade on the first night, during which she appeared to be too intoxicated to perform properly.

James C. McKinley Jr., Ravi Somaiya and Julia Werdigier contributed reporting.

Amy Winehouse at a music festival near Madrid in 2008.
Juan Medina/Reuters

Amy Winehouse at a music festival near Madrid in 2008.

Ms. Winehouse, the British singer who found worldwide fame with a sassy, hip-hop-inflected take on retro soul, became a tabloid fixture because of addiction problems.

An Appraisal

For Winehouse, Life Was Messier Than Music

By JON PARELES

Under better circumstances, Amy Winehouse’s “Back to Black” would have been a foundation for a maturing catalog.

SOURCE

*****************************************************************

JOE LEE WILSON, A LEADER OF THE ’70S LOFT-JAZZ MOVEMENT

By PETER KEEPNEWS

Published: July 22, 2011

Joe Lee Wilson, an acclaimed singer who was also a leader of the loft-jazz movement in the 1970s, died on Sunday at his home in Brighton, England. He was 75.

July 23, 2011

Sherry Brown/Tulsa World

Joe Lee Wilson last fall.

The cause was congestive heart failure, his wife, Jill, said.

Mr. Wilson, a baritone with a resonant, seductive voice in the tradition of Billy Eckstine and a style rooted in the blues of his native Southwest, seemed destined for big things when he signed with Columbia Records in 1969. But for reasons that remain unclear, most of the recordings he made for Columbia were not released, and although he went on to record for various small labels, and to enjoy critical praise and some success — especially in Europe, where he spent the last three decades of his life — he stayed largely under the radar for most of his career.

In the early 1970s Mr. Wilson became closely associated with the jazz avant-garde, working with the saxophonist Archie Shepp and other exponents of free jazz. In 1972 he was among the organizers of the New York Musicians’ Jazz Festival, featuring avant-gardists who felt snubbed by the Newport Jazz Festival, which was presented in New York for the first time that summer. A year later, Mr. Wilson was on the Newport-New York bill.

At around the same time, Mr. Wilson opened the 100-seat Ladies’ Fort in a basement on Bond Street in NoHo. It quickly became one of the most noteworthy of the do-it-yourself musician-run performance spaces in Lower Manhattan, known generically as jazz lofts, which served as valuable showcases and workshops for more experimental types of jazz at a time when musicians were finding employment opportunities scarce and nightclubs were going out of business.

The Ladies’ Fort was a shoestring operation, generating more enthusiasm than money. “Since we were turned down for a grant, we pay the musicians by giving them two-thirds of the receipts we take in at the door,” Mr. Wilson told The New York Times in 1977. “The other third goes for the rent. Which is two months behind.” The Ladies’ Fort closed in 1979.

Joseph Lee Wilson was born on Dec. 22, 1935, in Bristow, Okla., to Stella and Ellis Wilson. He moved to Los Angeles when he was 15 and attended the Los Angeles Conservatory, where he studied opera, and Los Angeles City College. He began singing with local bands in 1958 and moved to New York in 1962, where he worked with Sonny Rollins, Freddie Hubbard and others.

In addition to his wife, whom he married in 1976, he is survived by a daughter, Naima Wilson, of Los Angeles.

Daniel E. Slotnik contributed reporting.

SOURCE

******************************************************************

MAGNUS MALAN, APARTHEID DEFENDER

By

Published: July 18, 2011

 

Magnus Malan, a South African general and defense minister who in the 1980s helped devise and carry out his nation’s last-ditch strategy to preserve its system of rigid racial segregation, including ordering raids into surrounding countries, died on Monday in Cape Town. He was 81.

July 19, 2011

Mike Hutchings/Reuters

Gen. Magnus Malan, South Africa’s former defense minister, at the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in 1997.

A family spokesman said the cause was heart failure, The South African Press Association reported.

General Malan used the phrase “total onslaught” to describe the threats to apartheid, as the country’s racial laws were known. He saw those threats coming from Communists, neighboring African countries and liberals in the United States. His answer was “a total strategy,” combining elements of the political, economic and psychological spheres as well as the military.

He approved counterinsurgencies in Mozambique and Angola; set up a covert agency responsible for disinformation and assassination; sent troops to control unrest in so-called townships, areas designated for blacks; and declared that political rights were not a relevant concern for blacks. He and his aides regularly used terms like “annihilate” and “exterminate.” He approved a biological warfare program.

He also created programs to win the support of middle-class blacks by easing restrictions on black businesses and opening some hotels, theaters and restaurants to blacks.

General Malan was charged with authorizing an assassination squad that mistakenly killed 13 civilians, mainly women and children, in 1987. He was the highest-ranking apartheid official ever prosecuted. He was acquitted in 1996 after a seven-month trial on the ground that there was no evidence linking him to the massacre. President Nelson Mandela, without commenting on the substance of the verdict, defended the court’s legitimacy.

In 1997, General Malan volunteered to testify before South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission, which investigated atrocities in the country’s past. He accepted responsibility for the cross-border counterinsurgencies and for setting up the secret police agency, and for the deaths they caused. But he characterized the actions as “legal acts of state.”

The commission condemned General Malan and other top government leaders for using words like “eliminate,” “take out” and “wipe out,” a predilection that it said led to the killing of political opponents. It also condemned the assassination teams. It passed these findings on to prosecutors, who for reasons of “national interest” did not take up the case.

Magnus Andre De Merindol was born in Pretoria on Jan. 30, 1930, and later adopted his mother’s surname, Malan. His father was a biochemistry professor who went on to become a member of Parliament and parliamentary speaker for the National Party, which governed South Africa from 1948 to 1994.

He tried to join the Army at 13, then returned to school after he was rejected. He earned a bachelor’s degree in military science from the University of Pretoria; joined the Navy; and served a stint in the Marines on Robben Island, site of the prison where Mr. Mandela was held. He transferred to the Army as a lieutenant, rising rapidly, and studied at the United States Army’s General Staff College at Fort Leavenworth, Kan., in 1962-63.

By the early 1970s, General Malan had come to epitomize the sort of modern military technocrat whose influence was rising in South Africa. He was named chief of the South African Army in 1973 and chief of the South African Defense Force in 1976. He was the youngest man to hold both positions.

Prime Minister P. W. Botha, who had come to rely on General Malan as chief of the defense force, named him his defense minister in 1980. He rose to become chairman of the minister’s council in the House of Assembly, the lower house of Parliament.

But his real power came from being part of the secretive group of military and political commanders that became known as “securocrats.” He presided over a budget of nearly $4 billion, of which 60 percent was controlled by an inner group of the cabinet. He approved the innocuously named Civil Cooperation Bureau, which became known for assassinations and other covert deeds.

In his testimony to the truth commission, General Malan said: “During these periods we are talking about, 1980 to 1991, we were fighting a war. I had more than 100,000 troops under training or busy with operations. So we were pretty much busy. We had a front approximately as far as London is from Moscow.”

General Malan led the talks that paved the way for Namibia’s independence in 1990, ending its status as a colony of South Africa. In July 1991, President F. W. de Klerk removed him from the defense ministry in the wake of embarrassment over secret government financing of a mainly black party that opposed Mr. Mandela’s African National Congress. He moved General Malan to the ministry for water affairs and forestry. General Malan retired from Parliament in 1993.

He is survived by his wife of 49 years, the former Magrietha van der Walt; two sons; a daughter; and nine grandchildren.

SOURCE

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized