Archive for April, 2013|Monthly archive page

Havens to Heaven

When I was still half asleep this morning, the radio playing from some vague distance, I heard the sad news of Richie Havens’ passing on. I found myself standing in front of my Wall of Fame where a photo of Richie is among the select few. I looked out a non-existent window to the left and the top of a ship could just be spotted. As the news hit home it transformed into the top rigging and masts of a bright white ghost ship like Frank Hurley’s images of The Endurance.

Frank Hurley Endurance

Richie Havens first entered my life as the opener of Woodstock. I went to see Michael Wadleigh’s movie of the festival of festivals at the cinema on Shaftesbury Avenue near Seven Dials with my best man and music compatriot Stuart R. The big close up of Richie’s pounding sandal stays in my head – a true leg/end. He had to go on first, although he was originally billed fifth, because traffic was holding up other performers. He held fort and held forth for a couple of legendary hours until reinforcements arrived and his repertoire was entirely exhausted. He climaxed with an improvised medley of Motherless Child and a chant of Freedom (not sure where that comes from). The energy and deep soul is spell-binding and made his name for ever…
woodstock richie havens

I met him once – on a very special occasion. September 1995, Jazz Cafe, Camden Town, London. I took my mum out for a last night out with me still as her unattached boy. We had a chat with Richie after the show and he signed the picture which has since sat on my Wall of Fame. Alongside the likes of Michael Powell and Neil Armstrong and Dave Brubeck. He was the last man standing on the Wall – now they are all up there together again…

Richie Havens on the Wall of Fame

He sang a song called Adam on his 1988 LP Mixed Bag. It has his distinctive voice underpinned with its characteristic gruffness. It has the hippy vibe, more San Francisco than his native Brooklyn (I’m not sure why I associate him with San Fran, maybe he lived there in the 90s?) It has the strongly rhythmic approach. Echoes of Gil Scott-Heron, Cat Stevens and Terry Callier. A bit of Jefferson Airplane psychedelia. A wonderful mix all his own.

The sweat on the back of his monk orange kaftan as he walks off stage still singing Freedom at the end of his Big Moment at Woodstock says everything you need to know about what he put into his music.

Ways to spend £10 million #23

Old enmities are set aside for the day

thatcher funeral

Vote for Picasso

Picasso dora mar head of a woman 1938

Happy Birthday Charlie

124 today and never bettered

charlie chaplin filming

Rip Off Britain – Never was so much owed by so many for so little

victor-meldrewI hate monopolies. I hate bad value. I hate bad faith. I hate organisations which rip people off and add no value to the lives of others.

Glad I got that off my chest.

And just to get through a difficult Victor Meldrew moment I must now start a cumulative list of the companies who typify Rip Off Britain.


1. Apcoa Parking (and London Luton Airport Operations Ltd.) – Why do they charge £2 for people to drop off their family at Luton Airport? (We’re not talking parking here, we’re talking stopping the car to let the passenger out and hand them their bag.) Winston says:

Never was so much owed by so many for so little

What do they think that £2 is paying for? What service do they imagine they are actually providing? What value do they think they’re adding? And why is their machine to collect the undeserved £2 held together with tape, why doesn’t it even work? What mediocrity that they can’t even rip you off properly. Apcoa’s vision apparently is: “to be the first choice in parking” I don’t believe it! – where’s the choice when you’re dropping someone off at the airport?

2. National Portrait Gallery – I’ve loved this place since I was a teen but £14 for an exhibition? That’s making art and culture for tourists and the chattering classes exclusively. Try playing Spot the Non-White at the ‘National’ Theatre to reach the same place by a different route.

3. [whoever next cheeses me or you off on similar grounds]

Want to add anything to the list? Feel free to join Winnie and Victor as we fight them on the landing grounds, in the fields and in the streets by commenting below.

Cannes Do attitude

A bulletin from the front-line of MIP TV in Cannes courtesy of C21 Media


C4 lines up ‘social media first’


MIPCUBE: UK broadcaster Channel 4′s first primetime show drawn entirely from digital airs this summer, allowing viewers to play along on social media and receive bonus content.

Was It Something I Said?, initially an eight-part Friday night panel show, will be presented by comedian David Mitchell and produced by Maverick TV and That Mitchell & Webb Co.

Adam Gee, Channel 4’s multi-platform commissioning editor, told C21 here in Cannes: “We’ve been trying to do this for a long time. For the last two years I’ve been looking for ‘the North West Passage’ from digital media to TV. This started life as an arts digital commission and now it’s yielded primetime television.”

Gee, responsible for commissioning campaigning multi-platform properties The Great British Property Scandal and Hugh’s Fish Fight, claimed the new show would be a social media first.

“What’s particularly interesting about it is that the playalong will be fully integrated into social media, so you won’t have to go somewhere else to join in,” he said.

The show pits two teams against each other in wordplay, based on things people have said, tweets, media, and TV and film dialogue. Viewers will be able to play along with the show on Twitter, and receive bonus content.


{reproduced courtesy of C21 Media}
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