Monthly Archives: May 2011

Richard Phillips turns Lindsay Lohan into a true star

A good friend of mine was just offered an internship at one of the prestigious Gagosian Galleries in London. It looks like one of the many impressive pieces she’ll get to see up-close will be artist Richard Phillips portrait of Lindsay Lohan.

Rather than being a photographic portrait, his is a filmed portrait of the Hollywood star composed of several extremely romantic, and indeed erotic, shots. The 98-second film is about to be shown at the Venice Biennale and is a terrific example of artistic productions of its kind.


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Manly Poems – the death of Gil Scott-Heron/The Revolution Will Not Be Televised

Gil Scott-Heron died today. The poet/musician/author was one of the loudest African-American voices of post-Luther King America. His spoken word performances were famously powerful and his lyrics are captivating to read, even better to listen to. To my generation, he’s probably most easily recognised through his recitation of the poem ‘Who Will Survive In America?’ being used in Kanye West’s recent song ‘Lost In The World‘ (which is worth a listen anyway, beautiful music).

Nonetheless, Scott-Heron’s most famous piece of work was the poem ‘The Revolution Will Not Be Televised’, recorded in 1970. I’ve selected it as part of my list of Manly Poems because Scott-Heron’s rousing rhetoric is a tremendous portrayal of a time of social change, some would say revolution, the likes of which my generation knows nothing. Any man can tell a story, a great man makes you imagine, feel, wish you were there.

The Revolution Will Not Be Televised

You will not be able to stay home, brother.
You will not be able to plug in, turn on and cop out.
You will not be able to lose yourself on skag and skip,
Skip out for beer during commercials,
Because the revolution will not be televised.

The revolution will not be televised.
The revolution will not be brought to you by Xerox
In 4 parts without commercial interruptions.
The revolution will not show you pictures of Nixon
blowing a bugle and leading a charge by John
Mitchell, General Abrams and Spiro Agnew to eat
hog maws confiscated from a Harlem sanctuary.
The revolution will not be televised.

The revolution will not be brought to you by the
Schaefer Award Theatre and will not star Natalie
Woods and Steve McQueen or Bullwinkle and Julia.
The revolution will not give your mouth sex appeal.
The revolution will not get rid of the nubs.
The revolution will not make you look five pounds
thinner, because the revolution will not be televised, Brother.

There will be no pictures of you and Willie May
pushing that shopping cart down the block on the dead run,
or trying to slide that color television into a stolen ambulance.
NBC will not be able predict the winner at 8:32
or report from 29 districts.
The revolution will not be televised.

There will be no pictures of pigs shooting down
brothers in the instant replay.
There will be no pictures of pigs shooting down
brothers in the instant replay.
There will be no pictures of Whitney Young being
run out of Harlem on a rail with a brand new process.
There will be no slow motion or still life of Roy
Wilkens strolling through Watts in a Red, Black and
Green liberation jumpsuit that he had been saving
For just the proper occasion.

Green Acres, The Beverly Hillbillies, and Hooterville
Junction will no longer be so damned relevant, and
women will not care if Dick finally gets down with
Jane on Search for Tomorrow because Black people
will be in the street looking for a brighter day.
The revolution will not be televised.

There will be no highlights on the eleven o’clock
news and no pictures of hairy armed women
liberationists and Jackie Onassis blowing her nose.
The theme song will not be written by Jim Webb,
Francis Scott Key, nor sung by Glen Campbell, Tom
Jones, Johnny Cash, Englebert Humperdink, or the Rare Earth.
The revolution will not be televised.

The revolution will not be right back after a message
about a white tornado, white lightning, or white people.
You will not have to worry about a dove in your
bedroom, a tiger in your tank, or the giant in your toilet bowl.
The revolution will not go better with Coke.
The revolution will not fight the germs that may cause bad breath.
The revolution will put you in the driver’s seat.

The revolution will not be televised, will not be televised,
will not be televised, will not be televised.
The revolution will be no re-run brothers;
The revolution will be live.

Gil Scott-Heron

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Filed under Manly Poems, Poetry

I’m famous in Aberdeen

“This guy just walked into the library wearing a grey dressing gown. There’s a line, and he crossed it.”

Yeah, that was me.

Thanks to Caitlin, for the screen grab!

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The real reason Obama left Ireland early…

They say it was because of the ash cloud. I have my doubts…

(thanks Michael!)

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Filed under Current Affairs, Laughs

‘O’Bama’ speaks at College Green in Dublin

What with the Queen’s visit last week, Leinster’s amazing victory over Northampton to win the Heineken Rugby Cup on Saturday, and US President Obama’s visit today, Ireland is enjoying a healthy amount of positive publicity at the moment.

Barack Obama kicked off his tour of Europe today with a visit to Ireland during which he met the President and the Taoiseach before travelling to his ancestral home of Moneygall to meet locals and drink Guinness in Hayes’ Pub. He then returned to Dublin and gave a speech at College Green which went down a storm

For those who asked – I got hold of a transcript of the speech in full:

Hello Dublin. Hello Ireland. My name is Barack Obama, of the Moneygall Obamas, and I’ve come home to find the apostrophe that we lost somewhere along the way.

Someone once said broken Irish is better than clever English. So here goes; Ta athas orm le bheith in Eireann – I am happy to be in Ireland!

I want to thank my extraordinary hosts, Taoiseach Kenny and his wife Fionnula, President McAleese and her husband Martin, and I want to thank the Garda for letting me crash this party. And I want to pass on my condolences at the recent passing of the former Taoiseach Garret Fitzgerald. Someone who believed in the power of education, in the potential of youth, and in the power of peace, and who lived to see that peace realised.

And I want to thank you, the people of Dublin and Ireland, for the welcome you have given us. It certainly feels like a hundred thousand welcomes. And I feel even more welcome after that pint that I had. I feel even warmer.

And I want to pass on the greetings of tens of millions of Irish Americans. I knew I had roots on this side of the Atlantic, but until recently I did not know I had Irish roots. But now, if you ask the Corrigan brothers, there is no-one more Irish than me. So I want to thank the genealogists. It turns out that if you run for president, people start taking a bit of interest in what you do. I wish I’d known it earlier when I was running for office in Chicago, because Chicago is the Irish capital of the Mid-West, where they say you can hear the brogue of every county in Ireland. And I wanted as a politician to take part in the St Patrick’s Day parade. And they’d only let us go right at the back. Well, I bet those parade organisers feel pretty bad. Because this is a pretty good parade right here.

Now an American doesn’t really need Irish blood to know that ours is an ancient shared history with strong bonds and shared values. So I am here as American president to reaffirm those bonds of affection. Earlier Michelle and I dropped by Moneygall to stop by the local pub and meet my eighth cousin Henry, who we know affectionately as Henry VIII.

And it was incredible to see the town where a young shoemaker called Falmouth Kearney lived his life and set out by ship for New York, and made a new life, and married an American girl from Ohio. He settled in the Midwest. It’s a familiar story – it’s one known by Americans of all backgrounds, because it’s part of who we are, a nation of immigrants from all over the world. But as I was standing in Moneygall I thought how heartbreaking it must have been for all those people, leaving Dingle cliffs and Donegal homes, in the hope that a better life was possible, supported by nothing more than faith – faith in the almighty, faith in the idea of America. And they passed on that faith to their children, and to their children’s children, and to their great-great-great grandchildren like me. They call it the American dream. It’s a dream that we’ve carried forward, sometimes through stormy waters, sometimes at great cost, for more than two centuries. But we’re grateful that they did take those chances, because otherwise someone else would be speaking to you right now.

We’re grateful to you, because no other nation so small has inspired so much. Irish signatures are on our founding documents, Irish blood has been spilled on our battlefields, Irish sweat has built our cities. You can say there’s always been a little green behind the red, white and blue. When the father of our country, George Washington, needed an army, it was the fierce fighting of your sons that caused a British general to lament: “We have lost America through the Irish”.

When we strove to blot out the stain of slavery, we found common cause with your struggle against oppression. Our great abolitionist Frederick Douglas formed an unlikely friendship with your great liberator Daniel O’Connell.

When Abraham Lincoln struggled to preserve our young union, more than 100,000 Irishmen joined our struggle, with green flags waving alongside our star-spangled banner.

And when an Iron Curtain fell across this continent and our way of life was challenged, it was our first Irish president, our first Catholic president, who made us believe that man could do something as big and bold as walk on the moon, who made us dream again. That is the tale of America and Ireland, our brawn and blood side by side, making and remaking a nation. I think we all realise that both of our nations have faced great trials in recent years, including recession so severe that many people are still trying to fight their way out, and many in this enormous audience worry about their own futures. Parents worry what it means for their children. Will they inherit futures as big and as bright as the ones that you inherited? Will your dreams remain alive in our time? Well, this nation has faced these questions before. When the land could no longer feed those who tilled it. Yours is a nation marked by the hardest of trials and deepest of sorrows, but it is also a nation that overcame repression and famine and beat all the odds. I know that our future is still as big and as bright as our children expect it to be. I know that because I know it is precisely at times like these, at times of great challenge and times of great change, when we remember who we truly are. We Irish and we Americans, who never stop trying to find a better future, even in hard times, by investing in things that matter most, like family, and community. We remember in the words made famous by one of your greatest poets, in dreams begin responsibility. this is a nation that has kept alive that responsibility by trying to keep alive the flame of education, and I see the young people now, among the best-educated in the world, and I know Ireland will succeed.

Today, people who once knew the pain of an empty stomach now feed those who hunger abroad. Ireland is working hand in hand with the United States to feed those who are hungry around the world, because we know what crippling poverty is like, and we want to help others.

This is a nation that met its responsibilities and inspired the world when they saw past they years of pain and mistrust to form a lasting peace on this Ireland. You, the Irish people, persevered, and you made your votes count, and you showed that for all the intractibility of our humans, the irrepressible human nature to love kept nagging and nudging us towards reconciliation. You will have to sustain that irrepressible impulse, and America will stand by you always in your pursuit of peace. You must understand, Ireland, that you have already so surpassed the world’s highest hopes. what was remarkable about the Northern Ireland elections was that they didn’t attract that much attention – not because the world has lost interest, but because that once unlikely thing has become real.

In dreams, begin responsibility. Embracing that responsiblity and working towards it, that’s what makes dreams real. That’s what Falmouth Kearney did, and that’s what so many generations of Irish men and women have done in this spectacular country. That is something we can teach them, Irish and Americans alike. Your best days are still ahead. Our greatest triumphs, in America and Ireland alike, are still to come. If anybody ever says otherwise, that your problems are too big, think about all we’ve done together, remember that spring time is just around the country, and respond with a simple creed: Is Feidir Linn! Yes We Can! Thank you very much Dublin. Thank you very much Ireland. Thank you very much everybody.

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Filed under America, Current Affairs, Ireland, Politics

Oriana Fallaci: the Godmother of Italian journalism

About two years ago, I read Kate Adie’s fascinating autobiography The Kindness of Strangers, in which she describes how she got involved in the BBC and her fascinating experiences as a foreign correspondent reporting from Bosnia, Northern Ireland, Tiananmen Square, Iraq and Sierra Leone. In many ways, Adie embodies the essence of stereotypical Britishness: calm under adverse circumstances and focused on getting the job done without fuss. This strong personality made her universally respected in her field.

I did not know, until discussing radical Islam with my Italian flatmate and another friend of mine, also Italian, that Italy has its very own answer to Kate Adie. In fact, the woman in question, Oriana Fallaci, was a generation older than Adie and, unlike Adie, actually participated in fighting during World War II.

Fallaci was born to Socialist parents in 1929 and was a partisan fighter during the war. Reflecting on this period later, Fallaci said: “…I have always looked on disobedience toward the oppressive as the only way to use the miracle of having been born.”

While still in her teens, Fallaci became a journalist writing for an Italian paper. In 1967, she began her career as a war correspondent, working in Vietnam, India, Pakistan, the Middle East and in South America. Glamorous, tough and beautiful, Fallaci quickly gained notoriety for her coverage of various high-profile conflicts across the globe. In Mexico, whilst covering the Tlatelolco Massacre preceding the 1968 Olympics (held in Mexico City), Fallaci was shot three times, dragged down stairs by her hair and left for dead by Mexican forces.  In a profile of Fallaci, The New Yorker described her former support of the student activists as having “devolved into a dislike of Mexicans”:

The demonstrations by immigrants in the United States these past few months “disgust” her, especially when protesters displayed the Mexican flag. “I don’t love the Mexicans,” Fallaci said, invoking her nasty treatment at the hands of Mexican police in 1968. “If you hold a gun and say, ‘Choose who is worse between the Muslims and the Mexicans,’ I have a moment of hesitation. Then I choose the Muslims, because they have broken my balls.”

Fallaci became famous for her aggressive and provocative style of interviewing which baited the subjects into answering question very badly. In a 1972 interview with Henry Kissinger, he agreed that the Vietnam War was “a useless war” and afterwards, Kissinger described the exchange as “the single most disastrous conversation I have ever had with any member of the press.”

Fallaci retired in the 1980s, moved to New York and lectured in various universities including Chicago, Harvard, Yale and Columbia. However, after the 9/11 attacks she came out of retirement and published what is by far her most famous work: The Rage And The Pride. In the book, she heavily criticised Islamic extremism and Islam in general, warning that Europe was too tolerant of Muslims, writing “sons of Allah breed like rats”. The Rage And The Pride and the two other books that followed to form a trilogy were all bestsellers in Italy and across Europe, selling in excess of 1.5 million copies. You can read The Rage And The Pride here

Fellaci was a life-long smoker and died of lung cancer in 2006.

This compilation of interviews with Charlie Rose is a terrific glimpse of a woman whose writings and opinions caused as many to hate her as to love her (skip to 9:15) . In Italy she is a folk hero of sorts. It’s easy to see why. I just wish I’d heard of her before now.

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Filed under Europe, Politics, Pop Culture

Revision time takes its toll on my friends


I’m 1,500 words away from finishing my last ever piece of university coursework, so until that’s done, it’ll be radio silence.

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