Welcome to my Blog!
Anybody, providing he knows how to be amusing, has the right to
talk about himself. -
In 2013 I started a series of photo albums on Blurb.com, named '36Exp' (a subject adressed in 36 exposures, a reference to the exposures on most common rolls of 35 mm film: 12, 24 & 36.). The books can be ordered directly from the Blurb.com website.
L'OEIL INTIME by SABINE WEISS | PHOTOGRAPHY PHOTOBOOKS
Sabine Weiss is the last representative of the French humanist school of photography, which includes photographers like Robert Doisneau (discussd further down this page), Willy Ronis, Édouard Boubat, Brassaï and Izis.
Sabine Weiss was born, née Weber, in a small village Switzerland, Saint Gingolph, in 1924.
Circa 1952, Sabine Weiss joined the Rapho Agency thanks to Robert Doisneau’s recommendation.
From that time and up until the 2000s, Sabine Weiss continued to work for the international illustrated press, as well as for numerous institutions and brands.
Most of this text was sourced from-
ALLE PRESIDENTEN VAN AMERIKA by FRANS VERHAGEN | BOOKS HISTORY
The book includes a list per president of recommended biographies.
How many presidents has the United States had?
Mr. Dr. Frans Verhagen (b.1954) is a Dutch journalist and publicist. His focus is mainly on the United States of America (since some 35 years, first as a student, then as a correspondent, later involved with magazines and webmaster of amerika.nl) and political/social developments in the Netherlands, emphasizing on integration.
BORKMANN'S POINT by HÅKAN NESSER | BOOKS CRIME FICTION
'Borkmann's Point' is a prize-winning crime novel by Swedish writer Håkan Nesser, first published in Sweden in 1994 and translated into English by Laurie Thompson in 2006.
The novel is set in the early 1990s when Chief Inspector Van Veeteren, a 30-year veteran of police work who appreciates fine food and drink, cuts short his vacation to help the police chief of the remote town of Kaalbringen and his small crew investigate two ax murders.
The title of the work refers to a tipping point in the solving of crimes as proposed by an admired senior colleague of Van Veeteren during his time as a probationer in the force.
For several years I had this book on my shelf. I had bought it during holidays which took my to Ystad in Sweden, where I bought a selection of Mankell's Wallander novels. This book by Håkan Nesser was also bought at the time but my taste in reading, for a time, changed to a preference for non-fiction.
PARIS by ROBERT DOISNEAU | PHOTOGRAPHY PHOTOBOOKS
Robert Doisneau (b.14 Apr1912 – d.01Apr1994) was a French photographer.
He is renowned for his 1950 image Le baiser de l'hôtel de ville (Kiss by the Town Hall), a photograph of a couple kissing in the busy streets of Paris.
ELLIOTT ERWITT'S KOLOR | PHOTOGRAPHY PHOTOBOOK
Elliott Erwitt (Elio Romano Erwitz, b.26Jul1928) is an American advertising and documentary photographer known for his black and white candid shots of ironic and absurd situations within everyday settings— a master of Henri Cartier-Bresson's 'decisive moment'.
People who know the work of Elliott Erwitt, are most likely familiar with his exhaustive body of black and white work. Whether it’s photographs of dogs, women, celebrities or beach life, his photographs reveal the world from a insightful and sometimes humorous perspective. Elliott Erwitt's Kolor is a 448-page book whose images were selected from nearly half a million Kodachrome and Ektachrome slides that Erwitt produced during his lengthy career as a editorial and commercial photographer. Though many of the images were created as part of commissioned work, the images also reflect the photographer’s penchant for creating images for himself, even when on assignment..
Elliott Erwitt's Kolor: teNeues, 2013. ISBN 9783832795771.
HENRI CARTIER-BRESSON | PHOTOGRAPHY
Henri Cartier-Bresson (b.22Aug1908 – d.Aug2004) was a French humanist photographer and considered a master of candid photography; he was also early user of 35 mm film.
Henri Cartier-Bresson's father was a wealthy textile manufacturer. His mother's family were cotton merchants and landowners from Normandy, where Henri spent part of his childhood. Henri's parents supported him financially so Henri could pursue photography more freely than his contemporaries.
From 1928 to 1929, Cartier-Bresson studied art, literature, and English at the University of Cambridge, where he became bilingual.
HCB acquired the Leica camera with 50 mm lens in Marseilles that would accompany him for many years. The anonymity that the small camera gave him in a crowd or during an intimate moment was essential in overcoming the formal and unnatural behavior of those who were aware of being photographed. He enhanced his anonymity by painting all shiny parts of the Leica with black paint.
Cartier-Bresson's first photojournalist photos to be published came in 1937 when he covered the coronation of King George VI and Queen Elizabeth, for the French weekly Regards. He focused on the new monarch's adoring subjects lining the London streets, and took no pictures of the king.
In 1937, Cartier-Bresson married a Javanese dancer, Ratna Mohini. They lived in a fourth-floor servants' flat in Paris at 19, rue Danielle Casanova, a large studio with a small bedroom, kitchen, and bathroom where Cartier-Bresson developed film. Between 1937 and 1939 Cartier-Bresson worked as a photographer for the French Communists' evening paper, Ce Soir.
In early 1947, Cartier-Bresson, with Robert Capa, David Seymour, William Vandivert and George Rodger founded Magnum Photos. Capa's brainchild, Magnum was a cooperative picture agency owned by its members.
In 1952, Cartier-Bresson published his book Images à la sauvette, whose English-language edition was titled The Decisive Moment. It included a portfolio of 126 of his photos from the East and the West. The book's cover was drawn by Henri Matisse. For his 4,500-word philosophical preface, Cartier-Bresson took his keynote text from the 17th century Cardinal de Retz, "Il n'y a rien dans ce monde qui n'ait un moment decisif" ("There is nothing in this world that does not have a decisive moment"). Cartier-Bresson applied this to his photographic style.
Cartier-Bresson's photography took him to many places, including China, Mexico, Canada, the United States, India, Japan, and the Soviet Union. He became the first Western photographer to photograph "freely" in the post-war Soviet Union.
IN CHINA by MARC RIBOUD (R.I.P.) | PHOTOGRAPHY PHOTOBOOKS
Marc Riboud (b.24Jun1923 –d. 30Aug2016) was a French photographer, best known for his extensive reports on the Far East: The Three Banners of China, Face of North Vietnam, Visions of China, and In China.
He photographed his first picture in 1937, using his father's Vest Pocket Kodak camera. Until 1951 Riboud worked as an engineer in Lyon factories, but took a week-long picture-taking vacation, inspiring him to become a photographer.
I particularly liked, besides the exceptional photography, the captions listed in the back of the book. They added insight: in Riboud's photography in China, but also living conditions of the people. The photography in this book span a period of 1956 - 1995 and illustrate a society making progress (at least in a material sense). Wonderful photography and a valuable social document.
SCHIPHOL THROUGH THE LENS OF WOLFF, 1933-1955 | PHOTOGRAPHY HISTORY
DeMeerse gallery offered an exhibition in light of the 100th anniversary of Amsterdam Int'l Airport from 03Sep16-06Oct16, "Through the lens of Wolff, 1933-1955".
More photos by me of this event see MyFlickr.com.
TO CHANGE CHINA: WESTERN ADVISERS IN CHINA 1620-1960 | BOOKS HISTORY
A review proclaimed: "From the best known and most talented historian of China writing in English today an examination of a diverse collection of Western foreigners who attempted 'to change China' - Los Angeles Times.
I read the Dutch translation 'Een ander China, Westerse adviseurs in China, 1620-1960", translated by Carla Verheijen and published by Agon (1989 edition).
While I certainly did not consider the book 'too dry' to my taste, I found the chapter on Claire Lee Chennault of particular interest. The era 1900-1950 has my special interest, where it is China concerned. But the rest of the book was equally fascinating and educational.
Jonathan Dermot Spence (b. 11Aug1936) is a British-American historian and public intellectual specialising in Chinese history.
JOSEF SUDEK, PHOTOGRAPHER
THE UNDESIRED by YRSA SIGURDARDOTTIR | BOOKS CRIME FICTION ICELAND
In the present day, single-father Ódinn is investigating possibile child abuse at a home for young offenders in the 1970s. It’s part of a systematic review of the care system, so he’s not expecting terrible revelations, but the tragic deaths of two boys are slowly revealed to be more suspicious than anyone first thought.
Ódinn’s personal life is a shambles. He has recently taken parental care of his 11-year-old daughter, Rún, after her mother died in a fall from an open window, and both he and his daughter seem quite literally to be haunted by that trauma.
Apparently Yrsa Sigurdardóttir has a solid reputation for legal procedurals set in her native Iceland and so I will continue to read up on work written by her!
THE GIRL IN THE SPIDER'S WEB by DAVID LAGERCRANTZ | BOOKS CRIME FICTION
The late Stieg Larsson wrote just three novels about Lisbeth Salander, all published posthumously, and selling more than 80 million copies around the world to date!
Logically, that would be the end ot it. But such a success is hard to ignore...
Larsson's estate is run by his father and brother, Swedish law meaning that it did not pass to his long-term but unmarried partner Eva Gabrielsson. They decided that David Lagercrantz, the Swedish journalist and author of I Am Zlatan Ibrahimovic, should write a 4th novel on Lisbeth Salander, hacker, and Mikael Blomkvist, Millennium journalist.
The title of this 4th novel is The Girl in the Spider's Web.
Eva Gabrielsson opposed Lagercrantz's continuation of the series.
But the consensus is that David Lagercrantz pulled it off and I quite agree. The style of writing is very similar, perhaps a little more straightforward and easier to read.
The subject is very actual, about data being hacked and used for illegal purposes.
We find Salander audaciously and ingeniously (as ever) hacking into the NSA in a search and cyberspace fight with The Spiders. While in part successful, the intrusion in NSA's network results retalliation.
Meanwhile a Professor Balder has made great progress in his research for artificial intelligence. The research is cutting edge and risky; a feeling of paranoia becomes almost overwhelming, for Balder's personal safety, the safety of his autistic son and the fruits of his research.
We find Blomkvist bored and treading water at Millennium. By the competition he has been described as a 'has been' and indeed he feels motivation severely lacking to help Milennium magazine through another crisis.
Balder gets in touch with Blomkvist when he starts to believe his own life is in danger and that is when the ball is rolling and Blomkvist returns to his former self.
The story increases in pace when Blomkvist finds out Balder had hired Salander for research on data theft. Mikael end Lisbeth make contact by online messaging and Salander feeds him data she has found out through hacking computer systems. She is her angry and brusque personality, as we have become to know her in Stieg Larsson's trilogy.
But through circumstance Lisbeth finds herself as the protector of August, Balder's young autistic son. And we find that Camilla, Lisbeth' evil twin sister, plays a dominant role in the criminal activities of The Spiders; they steal vital data through hacking and sell it to the highest bidder. Meanwhile someone of the NSA is getting closer to finding Lisbeth out...
The Girl in the Spider's Web is fast paced and suitably thrilling; I have a feeling we have not heard the last of Salander and Blomkvist!
ANNIKA BENGTZON, CRIME REPORTER | SCANDI CRIME DRAMA FICTION DVD
I watched this series 'Annika Bengtzon: Crime Reporter' recently with great pleasure, as a dvd boxset. The series are based on the books by Liza Marklund, comprises six 90-minute episodes, each representing a story that the main character, Annika Bengtzon, a crime reporter for a Stockholm newspaper, is pursuing.
Eva Elisabeth 'Liza' Marklund (b. 09Sep62) is a Swedish journalist and crime writer.
JOEL MEYEROWITZ RETROSPECTIVE | STREETPHOTOGRAPHY PHOTOBOOKS
Joel Meyerowitz (b.06Mar1938- ) is a street photographer and portrait and landscape photographer.
Joel Meyerowitz - Retrospective. Cologne / New York: Koenig Books / D.A.P., 2014.
PREY SEASON 1 | MINI-SERIES CRIME DRAMA
Prey (2014) is a mini-series where we see Manchester Detective Marcus Farrow (a role by John Simm) identify a body in a bog as a criminal who vanished years ago. When he requests the case files of that inquiry he is handed two floppy disks. Since he has at work no computer to read these disks, he goes home and finds a computer on the attic. He briefly goes over the files, finds a few names, and the following day he starts asking around.
Quite unexpected this sets a series of events in motion.
Meanwhile... Marcus is told by his ex wife (and mother of his two young boys) she doesn't want to get back together, as he had hoped. In fact, she admits she is seeing a colleague of his. Marcus flips.
Rosie Cavaliero plays a convincing Susan Reinhart, a detective in charge of investigating Mrs Farrow's murder and capturing the murderer at large.
Marcus is the only one to make the connection that the disks are a key factor here, but fails to see why his wife and son were killed and for whom the disks could be so important. He suspects his partner and lifelong friend Sean Devlin (Craig Parkinson) knows more then he lets on.
The hunt is a gripping, breathless, buttock-clenching chase and the plot is excellent too!
SPRINGVLOED | SCANDI NOIR CRIME FICTION THRILLER
In 1987 on the beach of Nordkoster a young, pregnant woman is murdered during full moon, by burying her in the sand up to the neck and the springtide causes her to drown...
The authors of 'Springvloed', Cilla & Rolf Börjlind, have written at least 26 screenplays for the 'Martin Beck' series as well as for the 'Arne Dahls A-group' series! So they come well recommended!
ERFENIS VAN EEN WERELDRIJK by OLEG KLIMOV / HUBERT SMEETS | PHOTOGRAPHY BOOKS
The demise of the Soviet Union and the rise of Russia has been a drama for the Russian contempories, a drama with optimistic highlights as well as opportunities, but also with plenty of trauma, pessimism and decline.
The outsider was able to consider the drastic changes from a detached point of view, commenting on the political- and social-economic developments. In the eyes of Oleg Klimov they also had a human element.
Within the abrupt timespan of only 1 year traditional relations between state and people, as well as between people themselves, saw a dramatic change, a metamorphosis of society. That did not change when finally the fate of the Soviet Union was sealed.
In everything the Russians had to find themselves again. In 'Erfenis van een wereldrijk' ('Inheritance of a world empire') Oleg Klimov puts those changes into imagery.
The book (aprox. 25x32cm, published 2004) includes images of industrialisation, homeless people, earthquake Armenia 1988, Moscow protests 1991, President Jeltsin, Sacharov shortly before his death 14Dec89, war in Nagorno-Karabach 1990, psychiatric institutions and prison, Grozny 1995, Afghanistan 2001+, Uzbekistan 1990s + 2003, Siberia, and so much more.
Hubert Smeets (Russia correspondent for NRC Handelsblad 1990-1994 and Chief Editor 2003- for DeGroene weekly magazine in The Netherlans) wrote an interesting and informative history essay, while Simon B. Kool detailed Oleg Klimov's start in photography and his subsequent career. He wrote many books on Russia.
A masterful document.
PANAMA PAPERS by BASTIAN OBERMAYER & FREDERIK OBERMAIER
It all started so small an seemingly inconsequential enough: Bastian Obermayer received an email whil eon a family visit, with an inquiry whether he was 'interested in data'. The sender expressed a willingness to share.
Within a year, the source had provided 11.5m documents including emails, bank statements and passport scans that showed how the law firm guided some of its clients and kept their assets hidden from scrutiny and, in some cases, tax authorities.
An American agency, International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ), with a vast experience in leaked data, was contacted and became involved. Again the data was scrutinized for validity and correctness, because the smallest error could cast doubt when published on all the other data.
The ICIJ is US-based non-profit group has in the past 5 years published 3 headline-grabbing, data-driven feats of journalism, all rooted in leaked financial documents, all based in belief in cross-border collaborations.
And so the Panama Papers rocked the financial and political world when reporters from about 80 countries began publishing and broadcasting accounts in april 2016, in intricate detail, on how parts of the offshore industry work and who were involved.
The stories of wealth hidden by the office of Jürgen Mossack & Ramon Fonseca triggered unrest in Iceland and then the resignation of its prime minister over his undisclosed holdings.
Btw, these are not the offshore tax constructions by Starbucks, Apple, etc. These are not adressed here.
Unfortunately, when we see how whistleblowers are treated if found out, and how institutions like ICIJ struggle for funding to carry on with this kind of work, we have to draw the conclusion that the good guys are at a disadvantage to the bad guys...
‘The Panama Papers’, by Bastian Obermayer and Frederik Obermaier - Review by Christine Spolar
THE ROTTWEILER by RUTH RENDELL | BOOKS CRIME FICTION
The Rottweiler (2003) is not a Wexford novel. A pity I thought, but nevertheless good entertainment. The location is London, though I am not quite sure if that is actually mentioned. But I recently stayed in the area, Edgware Road is quite frequently mentioned and Paddington Station is within walking distance. My B&B adress was only a 3 minute walk from Star Street!
In this novel Rendell focusses on a single house near Paddington Station, where the owner of an antiques shop in Star Street supplements her income by taking in tenants.
Other important characters are Zeinab, of whom Inez is aware she playes holds two suitors at a distance but who welcomes the men's expensive gifts and dinner invitations. Zeinab is not the only one who goes under a false name.
The most recent killing is near Inez' shop and she and her tenants get questioned. The killer is in the habit to take small souvenirs, a lighter or jewellery, and a few items are found in Inez' shop. The police detectives keep returning.
We go through the story mainly from the perspectives of Inez, Zeinab and Peter. Later actual killer of the young woman is revealed to us and we go through his perspective; and the young man who accidently discovers the killer's identity and decides to blackmail him.
RESTLESS | DVD BOXSET THRILLER
'Restless' is a 2012 British TV adaptation of William Boyd's espionage novel Restless (2006). Directed by Edward Hall, the film features Hayley Atwell, Rufus Sewell, Michelle Dockery, Michael Gambon and Charlotte Rampling. The two parts first aired on 27 and 28Dec2012 on BBC One.
The first episode opens in the 1970s with Ruth Gilmartin, a PhD student at St Johns College Cambridge, driving with her young son to visit her mother in her country cottage. When she arrives her mother, Sally Gilmartin, is nervous and believes that men are watching her from the nearby woods. Ruth mocks her mother's fears. Sally then hands her a notebook with the name 'Eva Delectorskaya' on the front, and informs her daughter that this is her real name...
ELITE SQUAD a.k.a. FLICS | FRENCH CRIME DRAMA DVD BOXSET
TRACKS ACROSS AMERICA by BILLY CONNOLLY | TRAVELOGUE BOOKS
Many years ago, in 1996, I stumbled on a series featuring Billy Connolly travelling through Australia. The 8-part series followed Connolly on his custom-made Harley Davidson trike. It was a travel program but had a unique feature: it also contained moments from comedy gigs he did while touring Australia. Brilliant mix!
Over the years I've seen Connolly returning as a travel presenter on tv documentaries whilst touring in Australia & New Zealand, in Scotland and in North America.
Connolly has been married to his 2nd wife, comedian and psychologist Pamela Stephenson, since 1989. He is father to five children and Connolly became a grandfather in 2001.
The book 'Billy Connolly's Tracks Across America' was a chance buy a few weeks ago. The ITV documentary has yet to appear on my screen and I am looking forward to watch it, but I realised I had nothing yet in my bookcase by or on Billy Connolly (I am looking forward to purchase and read Stephenson's Bravemouth: Living with Billy Connolly some day) and had to buy this book.
It is a jolly good read this book and Billy Connolly adds his stardust on it.
THE CLIFF (HAMARINN - HRAUNID) | CRIME DRAMA DVD BOXSET
The Cliff (series 1 titled 'Hamarinn', 2009) is a dramatic mystery about a Crime Detective who is sent from Reykjavik to a small community in Iceland to help a local policewoman investigate a suspicious accident. Together they unravel a mystery that involves bizarre incidents and unexplained deaths. The driver of a power shovel suffers an accident at night in the vicinity of the works of a controversial power line that must cross a cliff. Considered since times of old a sacred place, the locals know of strange lights up there and unexplained phenomena.
We see a murder mystery develop with ingredients of folklore and the supernatural. Set in a beautiful and dark landscape. As often happens in cases of small towns, petty interests, secretiveness, and small intrigues make things more complicated than it may seem at first glance.
Helgi Marvinsson (Björn Hlynur Haraldsson) is the investigator from Reykjavik, Inga (Dóra Jóhannsdóttir) is determined to proof herself in this
major investigation and their relationship is tense at the start. Inga's husband is a businessman who profits with the dam project and their marriage is
under strain by work and suspected infedelity.
As the investigators progress in their investigations, more accidents happen and the number of victims is increasing. The pressure from police chiefs to resolve the case mounts and the detectives themselves trapped by the magic of the mountain.
While I purchased this boxset as The Cliff, series 1 & 2', that was actually the title of the first series ('Hamarinn'). The 2nd series I noticed was offered on Netflix as 'The Lavafields' and the Icelandic title is 'Hraunid' (2014).
We see the return of police inspector Helgi Marvinsson (Björn Hlynur Haraldsson), who is taken from a case of smuggling to take charge in a
suspected murder investigation in Snæfellsnes, a remote peninsula in west Iceland.
Helgi continues to struggle with his trauma and is slowly coming apart. The one thing that seems to keep him together, his job and this investigation, seems
set to selfdestruct too.
The only other returning role from 'The Cliff - Hamarinn' is that of the forensic investigator Marín, a very charming role by Maria Ellingsen.
From 'Svartir Englar': Sólveig Arnarsdóttir, who plays the role of Helgi's divorced wife and
the actor who plays the role of former police chief in Snæfellsnes - WHAT IS THE ACTOR'S NAME?
This thriller is yet another excellent fit in the Nordic Noir genre. It’s a somber thriller, often set in a bleak, but beautiful landscape. With murder, drug smuggling, biker gangs, and one very unhappy detective.
A GOD IN RUINS by KATE ATKINSON | NOVEL FICTION DRAMA
On the backcover I read, having picked it up from the shelf at Blackwell's', that 'A God in Ruins' was about one Teddy Todd, a bomber pilot in WW2. Well, World War 2 that could be interesting, I thought.
For one thing the chronology of the chapters in the book. The opening chapter is '20 March 1944 - The Last Flight', only 2 pages. The second chapter is '1925 Alouette', featuring Teddy as a small child, but also aunt Izzy, mother Sylvie, sister Ursula, friends, school. All rather dreamlike with meadows, skylarks, etc.
The 3rd chapter is 3 pages quoted from a book, which we find Teddy has been reading; what age is he here? Again a very short chapter. Next we skip to 1980! And in the next 30 or so pages we read about Teddy's daughter Viola, as she went through a hippie fase and how she and her husband took up 'alternative lifestyle', lived as squatters and ended up (Viola moaning but passive) in a commune with their two small children.
Rereading a review: " 'A God in Ruins' is the story of Teddy’s war and its legacy, “a ‘companion’ piece rather than a sequel”, according to the author." After almost 100 pages Teddy and WW2 was nowhere in sight.
With no particular characters of any interest nor a gripping story line, I was quickly fed up and found myself unable to go through another 460 pages. Life is too short and my shopping at Blackwell's brought me a good selection of other books, which in time will be discussed here.
WINOGRAND, FIGMENTS FROM THE REAL WORLD | PHOTOGRAPHY
Garry Winogrand (b.14Jan1928 – d.19Mar1984) was a street photographer from the Bronx, New York, known for his portrayal of American life, and its social issues, in the mid-20th century.
Photography curator, historian, and critic John Szarkowski called Winogrand the central photographer of his generation. Critic Sean O'Hagan, writing in The Guardian in 2014, said "In the 1960s and 70s, he defined street photography as an attitude as well as a style."
The essay 'The Work by Garry Winogrand' by John Szarkowski, could also have been titled 'The life of Garry Winogrand', because through his photography Winogrand tried to fathom life, people, relationships. A telling factor is the fact that after his death some 2.500 rolls of undeveloped film were found: Winogrand moved among people late in life as a photographer, kept clicking his shutter but often without properly framing or focussing and apparently not in the least interested in the results.
MY SHIT LIFE SO FAR by FRANKIE BOYLE | BOOKS SATIRE AUTOBIOGRAPHY
Francis Martin Patrick Boyle (b.16Aug1972) is a Scottish comedian and writer, well known for his pessimistic and often controversial and sexually explicit sense of humour. He was a permanent panelist on the comedy panel show Mock the Week from its beginning in 2005 until his departure in late 2009 and made guest appearances on several other panel shows.
'My Shit Life So Far' is a comedic observational autobiography by Frankie in the most explicit language possible it seems to me.
The writing, in my view, could be classified as 'rantings' if there hadn't been any chronological order and analytical perspective of his life. I did find it hard to read more than a chapter each time I picked up the book, the language sometimes become somewhat disruptive for my taste and meandering.
THE TRAVELLING COMPANION by IAN RANKIN | SHORT STORY
For recent college graduate Ronald Hastie, a job at the legendary Shakespeare and Company bookshop offers the perfect occupation during a summer abroad in Paris. Working part-time in exchange for room and board leaves plenty of freedom to explore the city once visited by his literary hero, Robert Louis Stevenson.
DARK MATTER by PHILIP KERR | NOVEL CRIME FICTION
Set in squalid 17th-century London, this intellectually rigorous mystery finds Sir Isaac Newton pursuing counterfeiters and uncovering a far-reaching plot that threatens Great Britain. We find Sir Newton assigned to the post of Warden of the Royal Mint and in the chase for counterfeiters Newton and Ellis stumble across a conspiracy with reaches far into the Tower of London (where the Mint is also located).
It is quite marvellous how Kerr manages to describe the living society in London to the point where you can image and almost smell the filth and squalor of the London streets and prison quarters. And the logistics of transport (or lack of) in London and beyond.
The investigations are set against the background of England’s war with France in the late 1600s. With the outcome of the conflict uncertain, England can ill afford a collapsed economy, a distinct possibility if counterfeiters abroad in the land remain unchecked.
Another interesting fact, and I trust wel researched by Kerr: opium was known to be available as a drinkable potion, laudanum (wikipedia), but it was the Dutch that found out how it could be smoked! No wonder we did not get that in history lessons at school!
'Dark Matter' found me engrossed in life and conspiracies in 17th century London; the story contains a volatile mix of politics, science (including alchemy), religion and even some romance and this book by Philip Kerr has won me over for this author.
UNCOMMON PLACES by STEPHEN SHORE | PHOTOGRAPHY BOOKS
Published by Aperture in 1982 and long unavailable, Stephen Shore's legendary 'Uncommon Places' has influenced many photographers. Among the first artists to take color beyond advertising and fashion photography, Shore's large-format color work on the American vernacular landscape stands at the root of what has become a vital photographic tradition.
Stephen Shore put himself up for a challenge went he started using colour film where professional- and art photographers used black & white. While 35mm and medium format became increasingly popular, Shore began to use 8x10 view cameras on a tripod.
'Uncommon Places: The Complete Works' presents a definitive collection of the original series, much of it never before published or exhibited.
Shore's 1982 book, 'Uncommon Places', was a bible for the new color photographers because, alongside William Eggleston, his work proved that a color photograph, like a painting or even a black and white photograph, could be considered a work of art!
In recent years, Shore has been working in Israel, the West Bank, and Ukraine. I found his images of the Ukraine particularly fascinating and hope to travel in his footsteps some day; now is not the best of times.
Shore has been the director of the photography department at Bard College since 1982. Since about 2 years Shore also has an Instagram / Facebook account.
AMERICAN SURFACES by STEPHEN SHORE | PHOTOGRAPHY BOOKS
Having recently visited in Amsterdam the Retrospective exhibition on Stephen Shore's amazing photography, I came away with two books; the first, 'American Surfaces', illuminated here.
The Phaidon edition I bought is a reprint and expanded edition compared to the original book.
'American Surfaces', Stephen Shore's ground-breaking and largely unpublished series of photographs from 1972-3, took documentary photography to a new level.
Despite its unfavourable reviews, the show was bought in its entirety by Weston Naef, the Curator of Photography at the Metropolitan Museum in New York, where 220 of the photographs now reside.
This book brings together the largest selection of images yet published from the series and is the first time they have been sequenced in the order in which they were taken.
WOODY GUTHRIE & THE HISTORY OF AMERICAN FOLK | MUSIC CD
Perhaps the most widely known piece of trivia about Woodrow Wilson Guthrie is that his guitar bore the slogan 'This machine kills fascists'. If that's all you know of the singer, then you have a treat in store. Because this album The Ultimate Collection is full of the music that not only made him a legend in his own lifetime but influenced generations.
Bob Dylan not only drew deep from his work but, in 1963, publicly recited a poem entitled 'Last thoughts on Woody Guthrie'. His debut album, released the previous year, had contained 'Song to Woody', underlining the inspirational effect the folk balladeer had had on the man soon to become rock'n'roll's poet laureate!
So what's the story? Born in Okemah, Oklahoma in 1912 and named after Woodrow Wilson, who became US President that very same year, Guthrie first mastered the harmonicabefore learning guitar in his teens.
He travelled through the United States, working as a labourerto support himself and got involved in union politics wherever he went. "If you can't hitchhike, ride a freight train" was his celebrated 'rule of thumb'.
By the time he was 30, Woody Guthrie had written hundreds of songs, many of which remain folk standards today. He moved from Los Angeles to New York in 1939 abd was recorded by musicologist Alan Lomax for the US Library of Congress in March 1940.
Lomax and his wife Elizabeth interviewed the then 27-year old Guthrie over a 3-day period, and he performed some of his songs in-between reflections on his life and times: these also appeared in an autobiography, 'Bound for Glory'.
In that same month he met the similarly left-wing Pete Seeger, 7 years his junior, at a benefit concert for migrant workers where he was performing with Leadbelly. The pair formed a group known as the Almanac Singers, establishing a base in New York's Greenwich Village which would become a focus for the growing folk movement.
After his own spell fighting for Uncle Sam, Guthrie signed with the Folkways label, and his songs would become the bedrock of their catalogue.
By that time, the musical movement he had played such a pivotal role in starting was in full flight. The likes of Peter Paul & Mary and the Kingston Trio had popularised the genre in chart terms, but the likes of Tom Paxton and Phil Ochs were truer to Guthrie's folk/protest template.
The tributes and influence continued both after Woody's death. Phil Ochs and Joan Baez among those recording Guthrie's songs.
A statue honouring Guthrie stands in his home town of Okemah, where a folk festival celebrates his legacy each summer. But his music remains his greatest testimony!
IMPERIAL RUSSIAN STOUT by KLEIN DUIMPJE | ALCOHOLIC BEVERAGE
My favourite alcoholic beverage for the past few months: Imperial Russian Stout by local microbrewery 'Klein Duimpje'
THE ELEPHANTA SUITE by PAUL THEROUX | BOOKS NOVEL FICTION
The story sees Americans tackling life in a contrasting culture and indeed India is a 'contrasting culture' because I've been there. And because I had a (small) taste of only a few weeks, I cannot comprehend the distance this married couple take and feel to India.
NEDERLANDS-INDIË: DOOR DE OGEN VAN HET VERLEDEN by DICK ROZING| HISTORY
While it must have enriched schooling in the early 20th century, history has not recorded how many people were influenced in opting for a career in the Dutch colonies due to this initiative.
CHINA IN HET VOORBIJGAAN by PIETER GRIFFIOEN | DOCUMENT PHOTOGRAPHY
English title: IMPRESSIONS OF CHINA, although I liked the Dutch subtitle, translated, better: CHINA IN PASSING.
In january 1983, after a long journey through a number of asian countries, Griffioen found himself in Hong Kong, at the gateway to China the mysterious Middle Kingdom.
BREXIT | WORLD AFFAIRS MEDIA