Coincidence No.501

film set rehearsal lighting shoot deptford laban studio

Rehearsal & pre-lighting

Today one of the first dramas I’ve produced in a good while began shooting in Deptford, SE London. It is a sci-fi story set thirty years hence.

The Coincidences

I am producing a short drama for Red Bull Media House. The director casts a particular young British actor known from both movies and TV.

I met that actor three years ago through this very blog – he saw something I wrote about the performance movement pioneer Jean Newlove and contacted me to find out more.

The first location is found for the drama by the producer – it is a building called Studio Laban beside the creek in Deptford. Rudolph Laban was a pioneer of modern dance. He taught Jean Newlove who became a follower of his.

A producer from ITV is knocking on the doors in our street. I answer. She is looking for a place to launch a camera drone to film Jeremy Corbyn’s allotment which is behind our place. I offer our garden. One of the two drone operators is Phil.

The director of the sci-fi short choses his Director of Photography. He is Phil. I’ve never met Phil apart from the day of the Corbyn drone shoot, our first encounter.

Leaving the set tonight I head back to the West End to see A Taste of Honey at the Trafalgar Studios. The play was written by Shelagh Delaney, who sent it as a 19-year-old to Joan Littlewood who recognised her natural talent and staged it at the Theatre Royal Stratford East in 1958. Littlewood employed Jean Newlove as the movement coach of her theatre company.

The performance involves an on-stage drummer, George Bird. George trained at Trinity Laban College where the set is.

jean-newlove

Jean Newlove

Quote: Marriage

 

The secret to a long marriage is a short memory.

 

Alan Alda (actor, currently to be seen as a divorce lawyer in Noam Baumbach’s Marriage Story )

marriage-story-noam-baumbach adam driver Scarlett Johansson

Quotation: the merit of craft

“First learn to be a craftsman; it won’t keep you from being a genius.”

Eugène Delacroix

picasso-early-work Self-Portrait 1896 age 15

Picasso – age 15 (1896)

pablo-picasso-self-portrait 90 years old June 30 1972

Picasso self-portrait – age 90 (1972)

 

Picasso self-portraits chronology

The Collaboration Diary 6

Last entry: The Collaboration Diary 5

After our first full-day session bashing out scope and structure, there was a bit of a hiatus. We had as ‘homework’ to each write our first 5 short pieces. We chose themes from our list (Buckets) and went our separate ways. I read relevant stuff (e.g. Rory Sutherland’s Alchemy, my collaborator Doug’s previous book Collaborative Working Pocketbook) and thought about the task. But I didn’t set pen to paper until the weekend before the second get-together/half-day session on the Monday (last Monday 11th). 

But that helped. It kept me focused. It gave me bursts of energy.

On Saturday I sat down to mark the blank sheet.

I picked the 5th topic on my list – Listening. It spoke to me because Enfant Terrible No.2 had sent me the previous day a photo from his lecture at UWE in Bristol, from his Paramedic Science course, of a Powerpoint slide about Listening and Empathy which had struck a chord with him. I used that as the springboard for a 1st person piece about the central importance of Listening in Collaboration.

It took me half an hour to write (the target 300-400 words). I went off for a short coffee break. Came back and wrote a second piece on Authenticity. That took me more like an hour.

On the Sunday I wrote two more. I didn’t write a 5th because I was happy with the first four and didn’t want to make it a chore. I sent them to Doug on Sunday night, having suggested we each read the other’s work before meeting.

I read Doug’s pieces and marked them up for the 2nd session on the Monday at the Royal College of GPs. We started the session by throwing down a quick agenda which we them worked through systematically. In so doing we addressed some big stuff…

Doug was uncertain about our working title – he had tested it on a few people and felt it wasn’t quite striking a chord. We discussed what was wrong or missing , concluded it was too narrow and added “&” and a second adjective to get something that hit the right note for us both.

We talked about the positioning of the book, the difference between Collaboration and Team-Work, and how to make our book distinctive. We felt the new title (as the old had done) captured a sense of a particular, original approach. We also spent some time debating a definition of Collaboration Doug had read and liked. We edited it a bit together and decided to make it the touchstone for the Manifesto that would be our opening. We are each going to write a version of the Manifesto and then combine them.

At 11 o’clock we stopped to observe the silence for Remembrance Day

join hands siouxsie and the banshees album lp vinyl cover design

We looked at the work we had done on structure and felt it was reasonably sound and an easy step from our Buckets document to a neat Structure document for the Proposal.

Item 3 on the agenda was a mutual “critique” as Doug put it. That was very civilised. He wanted to push me beyond the 1st person singular/personal perspective I had adopted – possibly too narrow? I encouraged him to avoid extended metaphors, neat turns of phrase where the sound overrode the sense and to include more concrete examples so the text didn’t feel too abstract. We agreed to be wary of imperative tones.

Finally we discussed the path forward through publishers, both the one Doug has been discussing this book with and other options. He was very disciplined in not making our final submission too early but to keep shaping and refining our (not particularly conventional) approach until the new year.

We concluded by setting our ‘homework’ before the next session and fixing a date in December. Doug has more time to write this month, I don’t so will probably end up leaving my homework until Sunday night just like the good old days.

It was another very satisfying, focused and productive session – shorter than last time, a half-day.

Surfeit of Humanity

Dolphins at sea

I learnt an amazing thing today. (It was on Start the Week on BBC Radio 4.) They had a dolphin expert on the show and he told about how a dolphin had been trained in American sign language – pretty amazing in itself.

But this was the mindblower: when the dolphin saw a swan for the first time it signed the words: Water Bird

 

Lack of Humanity

In September 2012 ‘Freedom for Humanity’ was painted by Mear One AKA Kalen Ockerman on Hanbury Street near Brick Lane. Ironically it’s the street my grandfather worked on when he fled from Nazi Germany in May 1939.

September 2012. 'Freedom for Humanity' a street art graffiti work by artist Mear One aka Kalen Ockerman on Hanbury Street near Brick Lane london

September 2012. 'Freedom for Humanity' a street art graffiti work by artist Mear One aka Kalen Ockerman on Hanbury Street near Brick Lane london

(detail)

Ockerman: “I chose to depict the likenesses of such early turn of the century Robber Barons, specifically Rothschild, Rockefeller, Morgan, Carnegie, Warburg, as well as Aleister Crowley who was a kind of philosophical guru to the ruling elite of that time and a well-known Satanist.”

Rothschild banker

Rothschild

Nathaniel Rothschild (1840-1915)

Nathaniel Rothschild (1840-1915) – massive bulbous hook nose, biblical beard? not so much

Rockefeller

Rockefeller

John_D._Rockefeller_1885

John D. Rockefeller Snr. (1839-1937) – more of a pointy-uppy nose really

john-d-rockefeller-jr

Maybe it’s supposed to be Jnr. – John D. Rockefeller Jnr. (1874-1960) – the suit looks right, but the nose is still a bit off (the specs have been lent to Warburg)

Morgan

Morgan

John Pierpont Morgan

John Pierpont Morgan – more fat than hooked in the nasal department

Crowley

Crowley

Aleister_Crowley

Aleister Crowley – rather a slim nose, not much like Kalen’s effort

Carnegie

Carnegie

andrew-carnegie

Andrew Carnegie – schnozzular mismatch

Warburg

Warburg

Paul_Warburg

Paul Warburg – Kalen’s not quite captured him

alf garnett

More Alf Garnett really – it stands to reason, don’t it, you silly moo

der_sturmer_christmas_1929

Der Sturmer, Christmas 1929, urging people not to buy from Jewish shops. The caption included “Our people hung their Christ on the cross, and we do a great business on his birthday…”

Corbyn: “You are in good company. Rockefeller destroyed Diego Viera’s (sic) mural because it includes a picture of Lenin”

frida kahlo diego rivera

Diego & his missus (Frieda Kahlo)

Viera AKA Rivera: “My Jewishness is the dominant element in my life.” (1935)

Lenin: “The art of any propagandist and agitator consists in his ability to find the best means of influencing any given audience, by presenting a definite truth, in such a way as to make it most convincing, most easy to digest, most graphic, and most strongly impressive.” (The Slogans and Organisation of Social-Democratic Work, 1919)

Corbyn: “I sincerely regret that I did not look more closely at the image I was commenting on, the contents of which are deeply disturbing and anti-Semitic.”

Coincidences No.s 290 & 291

I’ll come clean – the numbers on these coincidences are completely random, but I noticed yesterday’s one (No. 288)  was the same number as the one before that, which I wrote on 25th September (No. 288). Which is odd as on both occasions I was trying to chose a totally random number. Why would my brain pick the same random number on two consecutive occasions separated by nearly two months? No wonder it’s so hard to win the Lottery.

Episode-288

No. 290 Lance on the boil

I am listening to the boxing match between YouTube creators KSI and Logan Paul on Radio 5. Steve Bunce is co-presenting with Calum McDonald. Bunce gets McDonald’s name wrong, calling him both Josh and Lance. “Where on earth did I get Lance from?” he asks.

I turn over to Radio 4/BBC World Service. A man called Lance is talking about cybersecurity for robots and automated hotels.

ksi-logan-paul boxing

No. 291 Nazis on the loose

I am talking to Enfant Terrible No. 1 about a Holocaust denier he met travelling on a car-share journey to Bristol the night before last. He paid this dirtbag £12 to get a ride down there.

I switch on Spotify as we are talking. I’m listening to some album called Classical Chillout – I wanted something to write to. The track that it resumes on is the theme tune to Schindler’s List.

Schindlers List liam neeson

 

 

 

 

Remembering Kristallnacht

The night of 9th/10th November 1938 was Kristallnacht in Nazi GermanyThe night of 9th/10th November 1938 was Kristallnacht in Nazi Germany. The Kristall/crystal part of the name refers to the broken glass from the smashed windows of Jewish shops, businesses and synagogues. Jewish homes, schools and hospitals were ransacked, damaged and destroyed. Over 250 synagogues and 7,000 businesses were attacked. 30,000 Jewish men were arrested and sent to concentration camps.

The event was widely reported, pretty much as it was happening, largely by foreign journalists working in Germany. With what impact is a moot point.

Kristallnacht was made possible by the support, funding and protection afforded the National Socialists by corporate Germany. Five years earlier (on 20th February 1933 at the palace of the President of the Assembly on the banks of the Spree in Berlin) 24 leading industrialists had attended a meeting with Hitler and Göring. In the wake of it they coughed up money and other support. In doing so they cleared the way for the rise of the Nazis and ultimately Kristallnacht and the Holocaust. This key event is brilliantly spotlighted in Eric Vuillard’s Prix Goncourt-winning novella (récit) The Order of the Day/L’Ordre du Jour.

The brands at that meeting included:

  • Allianz – the insurance and financial services multinational which sponsors the stadium of our local rugby team, Saracens
  • Opel – their cars are now sold in the UK under the Vauxhall brand – they’re even sold in Israel, under their own name
  • Bayer – the multinational pharma company with the motto “We exist to help people thrive” – wrong people in 1933
  • BASF – whose tapes I used to use to make mixtapes as a teenager
  • Agfa – whose film I used to use as a budding teen photographer
  • Siemens – the multinational manufacturer with the motto “Ingenuity for life”
  • IG Farben – broken up after the war on account of having supplied the gas for the gas chambers among other evils – the main successor companies are Agfa, BASF, Bayer and Sanofi (motto: “Empowering Life”)
  • Telefunken – a tellies and hifis name from my youth

So the brands (and their logos) long outlived the Jewish businesses with the broken shop-windows, the people who ran them and the congregations that filled those synagogues.

A great irony is that another sledgehammer wall smashing event took place in Germany on 9th November – the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989.

allianz_logo-history

The evolution of an eagle-based logo

Allianz-logo

The Eagle has Landed

Logo_Hitler nazi eagle

Nazis loved eagles too – this eagle is looking the other way

Opel-logo-2009

Blitzkrieg means lightning war

second-world-war-nazi-germany-the-waffen-ss-symbol

Nazis loved lightning too

bayer-logo-1904

A cross-based logo (1904)

Logo_Bayer

The cross has persisted

Nazi-NSDAP-Logo

A cross-based logo – Hackenkreuz (= hook cross)

BASF-logo

IG Farben (which created bad chemistry) morphed into BASF among others

IG_Farben_Logo

IG Farben dissolved after the war

ig farben luftschutz helmet

An IG Farben Luftschutz helmet – oddly familiar

AGFA-Logo

Another recipient of IG Farben

Siemens-Logo

Life?

SANOFI-Logo

Life? Another recipient of IG Farben

Telefunken logo

Lightning strikes thrice

 

Coincidences No.s 288 & 289

No. 288 – Matt A: Locke

I am in half-sleep early this morning thinking about a presentation I am doing next week at the University of Westminster on Public Service Media and about the fact that my old Channel 4 colleague Matt Locke is also speaking that afternoon.

I have the radio on in that half-sleep and I hear the (place)name Matlock (in Derbyshire) just after I think about Matt Locke. And then in the traffic report the fact that the A6 is blocked by floodwater in Matlock comes up. And then in the news a short while after the death of a woman in Matlock, drowned in the flooding river Derwent, gets mentioned.

Matlock Mercury floods 2019-11-09

Today’s edition

 

No. 289 – Matt B: Lenehan

This one is typical of the type of coincidence where you haven’t thought about something or heard a word for ages and then it comes up twice or more in 24 hours. 

I am at a seminar on James Joyce’s Ulysses at Senate House, University of London. We are talking about the Sirens chapter and the character of Matt Lenehan who in his diminutive creepiness reminds me of Peter Lorre’s character in Casablanca (Ugarte).

The next morning (today) I am finishing Patti Smith’s entertaining Year of the Monkey (her new poetic memoir, which revolves around semi-sleep states as in No. 288). It it she mentions that her late brother Todd’s favourite movie was The Beast with Five Fingers starring Peter Lorre.

I could feel the insidious fingers of memory rustling through the underbrush like the dismembered hand of the pianist scrabbling toward Peter Lorre’s throat in The Beast with Five Fingers.

(Good sentence!)

the beast with five fingers movie poster

 

4 highlights of Geneva

Following on from the last post (All Souls’ Day) I have spent much of today reading most of Patti Smith’s new book, Year of the Monkey. It’s put me in the mood to write (which is always the sign of a special writer – her friend Allen Ginsberg has much the same effect from my experience).

GIFF Geneva International Film Festival 2019 Geneve

I am in Geneva on a flying visit to the Geneva International Film Festival. Late last night – after returning home from my second viewing of the brilliant Joker at Warner Bros., where I bumped into my old Channel 4 colleague John Yorke and chewed the story fat with him – I managed to find the old tobacco tin at home where I keep my Swiss money. It turned out I had quite a lot – I haven’t been to Switzerland for a few years and it has appreciated markedly in the wake of the disastrous Brexit referendum (I hear they are a bit better at referenda here).

referenda oui non geneva geneve switzerland suisse

So I shifted the Swiss francs to my Euro purse, a suede purse from California my grandmother gave me as a boy – it says something like Gold Nuggets on it, long since worn away. I notice in Year of the Monkey how attached Patti Smith is to particular (not monetarily valuable) objects in her life, attributing meaning through memory to them.

purse with swiss francs

I decided to blow as much of my purseload as possible – this is what I spunked it on…

1) Soup

pumpkin soup cream

I love soup – it’s a top food and generally healthy. In Year of the Monkey Patti has chicken soup, decorated with egg yolks (not sure which came first the chicken or the eggs), with her ailing friend Sam Shepherd on his ranch in Kentucky. This is pumpkin soup – I don’t normally like it, often too sweet, but this was delicious. I ate it outside Le Perron restaurant at the foot of the hill in the old town – I ate under the tree at that restaurant years ago with my younger brother. We did a sudoku outside another cafe in the old quarter that time too – I hate puzzles and crosswords but on that occasion it was fun. Patti seems much attracted to numbers both in dates (in which she sees magical coincidences – see All Souls’ Day) and in books of geometry. The fly leaves of Year of the Monkey have some kind of algebraic-geometric sketch and scribblings. I think it’s what she describes herself drawing on a white bedsheet in a moment of inspiration.

2) Perch

perch fillets geneva geneve

Fillet of perch is a speciality of Geneva – they get the poor little critters from Lac Leman. So I sat outside Le Perron – the only person to do so – but the weather was mild. The owner found it amusing but conceded the weather was soft. “Il faut en profiter” I told him – I’ve really enjoyed exercising my French today. Patti references Rimbaud’s Illuminations in the bit I just read – I made a mental commitment to read it soon. He wrote those prose-poems in London around 1873-75.

verlaine rimbaud camden town plaque

8 Royal College Street, Camden Town

3) Steak Frites

steak frites wine

The Cafe de Paris was a recommendation by the lugubrious hotel night receptionist – it is a stone’s throw from Hotel Cristal. It turned out to be a carbon copy of Le Relais de Venise in London’s Soho and Marylebone. A restaurant that just does one meal but one meal really well – a great idea. The meal is green salad followed by steak and French fries aka steak frites. There must be a model for this kind of restaurant I thought – checked it out, there is – Le Relais de Venise established in Paris in 1959. Of course the meal demands red wine so I had a couple of little glasses. Patti is always eating and drinking in this new book as well as the last, M Train. It’s like join the cafes.

4) Cherries

cherries in cognac

Cherries drenched in cognac. Frankly it’s one of the BEST THINGS I’VE EVER TASTED.

I love cherries. I’ve not really engaged with cognac. Perfect combo. Highlight of the highlights.

Geneva geneve autumn fall old city

The old town

Patti Smith – like myself – is an inveterate flâneur. I wandered over to the digital outpost of the Festival where the VR projects were on display. As usual, underwhelming. I contend that factual programming is not the strong point of what is a very important new technology. Games, health, retail, architecture, training – all no-brainers. Documentary – my jury’s out. The cobbled streets, small squares, narrow lanes and flowing fountains of the old town are charming – in stark contrast to the banks and luxury goods shops.

When I lived just over the border in Savoie (Savoy, SE France) there was an outbreak of graffiti that year in Geneva. At the end of the year they caught the culprit – a psychologist who contended that the place was too clean and boring for the citizens’ mental health. The thing is someone somewhere pays for these watch shops and luxury brands to be here – they pay in poverty and hardship. Le reverse de la medaille. Every coin has another side.

GIFF reverse banners geneva international film festival geneve

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