HERE´S ONE I MADE (well, cut and pasted) EARLIER
by Norman Warwick
I have an uncanny ability to lose a prepared article at the drop of finger on to an unnecessary button. Perhaps I delete it, but if so it doesn´t go into any rubbish bin I can delve in, and nor is it on any list sensibly headed ´deleted items´. I might have sent it as an e mail to someone, but if so you would think they would have the manners to return to sender.
Sometimes an article might simply vaporise in the ether as I send it from my pre-prepared Word document folder, over to my blog page. Fortunately, because the kind of articles I place on Sidetracks And Detour s not-for-profit daily blog, Because these articles are not time-sensitive, we can therefore afford to play a bit ahead of the game, and in fact we have articles prepared already for every Monday to Friday between now and the end of September 2022. We can, of course, juggle to admit time-specific stories if we have to, as we have done in the past to report on how the arts have responded to the changing hues of the covid pandemic and more recently to the Russian aggression in Ukraine.
Today, though I need to write a quick piece because a work on Lonesome Dove, a novel that became a great TV Western series, stalled on ignition as I pressed ´send´ to God knows where but I can´t find it,….
So here we go,….quick flick through my Book Of Days to today´s date or a search engine on computer ( delete as applicable, …NO, NO NEVER DELETE !!! ) Instead of the riveting piece about an old tv Western I can tell you a few things that happened in the past on this date.
April 8th is the 98th day in the Gregorian calendar; it marks the anniversary of President Harry Truman (left) calling to seize all domestic steel mills in order to prevent the 1952 steel strike from happening and a test flight for Gemini 1, a NASA spacecraft, was conducted on this day-
Today´s date was also the birth date of Kim Jong-hyun. a South Korean record producer, singer-songwriter, author, and radio host. Kim was the principal vocalist of the popular boy band Shinee before he committed suicide at the age of 27. In 2018, his family members established the Shiny Foundation in an attempt to help struggling young artists.
John Lennon’s son was also born on this date. Julian Lennon, (right) who spent his childhood in oblivion, inspired Beatles tracks such as Lucy In The Sky with Diamonds. He has dabbled in photography, won a Grammy for his album Valotte, written a best-selling trilogy, produced documentaries, and founded a charity for environmental and humanitarian causes.
Born on this date in 1892 was Academy Award-winning Canadian-American actor Gladys Marie Smith, but You will probably better know her by her pseudonym.- Mary Pickford, (left) was also one of the co-founders of Pickford–Fairbanks Studios and United Artists. She and 35 others co-founded the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. She was also known as “America’s Sweetheart” of silent films.
In 1941 in the still beautiful and quiet village of Tintwistle in Derbyshire, British fashion designer, Vivienne Westwood was born. She subsequently became Dame Vivienne and credited for bringing modern punk and new wave fashions into the mainstream. She attended a course on jewellery at the University of Westminster but left before graduating. She worked as a teacher for a while before turning to fashion designing. She eventually opened four boutiques in London.
Jacques Brel, (left) born on this day in 1929, was a Belgian singer, actor, director, and songwriter. He is remembered for composing and performing thoughtful, literate, and theatrical songs. Apart from inspiring French musicians, Brel’s works have also had a major influence on English-speaking performers like David Bowie, Scott Walker, Rod McKuen, Marc Almond, and Alex Harvey. Brel is the third-best-selling Belgian music artist of all time. In fact as I am typing this I am listening to a track on a Dusty Springfield album,, called if You Go Away, written by Brel who died in 1978
Of course, for every list of those born on this day there is an equally long list of those who have died on this date
While talking about the greatest artists of the 20th century, one cannot miss the name of Pablo Picasso! One of the most prominent artists of the era, Picasso (right) was a born genius whose prodigious work took the world of art by storm. it still does today nearly fifty years after he died in France in 1973 Amazingly, when children of his age were busy rote learning and playing, Picasso dedicated his time to drawing. At the tender age of seven, he started painting, and by the time he was 13, his talent and skills had surpassed that of his father. His first two major paintings include, ‘The First Communion’ and ‘Science and Charity.’ With time, he diversified into sculpting, ceramic designing, and stage designing. Picasso was responsible for coming up with ‘Cubism,’ which was the first step towards modern art. Unlike his predecessors, such as impressionists and fauvists who employed models to come up with works of art, he reached a level of abstraction that was radical enough to break the classical dominance of content over form. Through his ground-breaking work ‘Les Demoiselles d’Avignon,’ he gave birth to the modern art of the 20th century. he is currently the subject of volume Four, The Minotaur, of his biography by Sir John Richardson.
A review of this latest installment in The Guardian says that John Richardson (shown left, with the artist) opens the final (fourth) volume of his magisterial biography of Pablo Picasso with the artist in more than usual disarray.
The year is 1933 and, while his celebrity and his wealth are unassailable, Picasso’s marriage to the Russian ballerina Olga Khokhlova has entered its bitter endgame. Meanwhile, his relationship with maîtresse-en-titre Marie-Thérèse Walter, tucked away in the country, is beginning to pall even before it has properly hit its stride. Waiting in the wings is Dora Maar, the surrealist photographer who will dominate Picasso’s life, mostly painfully, for the next eight years.
It is thrilling to read a narrative in which scholarly prose is regularly interrupted with: ‘Picasso once told me … ‘
Richardson shows himself as deft as ever at making connections between Picasso’s tumultuous private life and his art. The increasingly despised Olga appears in a series of nightmare images – as a hideously toothy horse, as a wonky ballerina straining to hold her arms above her head and, worst of all, as a disappointed bride whose veil is slipping off the end of her nose. Earth mother Marie-Therese, meanwhile, is transposed into what Richardson describes as “a kinky cluster of boxed vaginas, beehive breasts, and turdlike fingers”. Then there is glamorous Dora, depicted famously in The Weeping Woman, stringy hair and sausage fingers.
As Richardson pithily puts it: “Picasso Picassified people.”
It wasn’t only women who were fighting over Picasso. The surrealists, that group of Paris-based painters and writers who reached deep into the newly fashionable unconscious for inspiration, were eager to claim the most famous artist of the day for themselves. The figurative but distorted forms that Picasso was producing resonated powerfully with the dreamscapes that paid-up surrealists such as Salvador Dalí and André Breton were producing. While Picasso was not generally a joiner, he agreed to design the cover for the first issue of Minotaure, the influential magazine of the movement that was launched in 1933.
The mythical figure of the minotaur – part-man, part-bull – functioned more personally as an alter ego for Picasso, representing all his lasciviousness, guilt and despair. His identification emerged out of a renewed relationship with his native Spain and its cult of the bullfight. With Franco in power, and the country at war with itself, it no longer felt possible for Picasso to maintain his previous position of studied political neutrality. In 1937 he embarked on Guernica, the massive painting that dramatised the apocalyptic destruction of a Basque village by the Nazi Luftwaffe. The tangle of mangled limbs, weeping women and dead children remains the single most powerful anti-war painting ever produced, and cemented Picasso’s status as the greatest artist of the 20th century.
What has always made Richardson’s biographical work on Picasso so alive is the fact of his personal friendship with the artist. It is thrilling to read a narrative in which scholarly prose is regularly interrupted with the phrase “Picasso once told me … ” followed by an entirely fresh anecdote. Richardson died in 2019 at the age of 95 before finishing this book, and there are signs in the later chapters, completed by his research associates, of a slackening of pace. How lucky we are, though, that Richardson lived long enough to get this far, even if he departed leaving Picasso with three decades of life and art yet to live.
A Life of Picasso: The Minotaur Years 1933-43 by John Richardson is published by Jonathan Cape (£35). To support the Guardian and the Observer buy a copy at guardianbookshop.com.
I am well aware that the reason these kind of lists excite me so much is that they send me rushing away down sidetracks and detours to find background information like that above.
I am such a fan, however, of Laura Nyro (right) , who died on this date in 1997, (good God, that´s twenty five years ago already) that don´t need to have much more information to share. She died at the early age of fifty after a career as an American songwriter, singer, and pianist. Laura achieved critical acclaim with her own recordings, particularly the albums Eli and the Thirteenth Confession (1968) and New York Tendaberry (1969), and had commercial success with artists such as Barbra Streisand and the 5th Dimension recording her songs, such as Stoney End. There would be even wider posthumous recognition of her talents as we learned how much some of her contemporaries, such as Elton John, idolized her. She was praised for her strong emotive vocal style and 3-octave mezzo-soprano vocal range.
Between 1968 and 1970, a number of artists had hits with her songs: The 5th Dimension with Blowing Away, Wedding Bell Blues, Stoned Soul Picnic, Sweet Blindness, and Save the Country; Blood, Sweat & Tears and Peter, Paul and Mary with And When I Die; Three Dog Night and Maynard Ferguson with Eli’s Comin’; and Barbra Streisand with, Time and Love, and Hands Off The Man (Flim Flam Man). Nyro’s best-selling single was her recording of Carole King‘s and Gerry Goffin‘s Up on the Roof.]
Having mentioned how excited I am by following sidetracks & detours signalled by, I note we have Already mentioned the serendipity and coincidences that make apparent. Today is the anniversary of the death in 1950 of ´Russian´ ballet dancer Vaslav Nijinsky (shown on our cover and at top of this article) who was actually born in 1889 in Kyiv, Ukraine. There must surely be ´tears in heaven´ tonght.
The Russian ballet dancer and choreographer, considered as the greatest male dancer of the 20th century. His expertise and technical perfection earned him popularity and respect within a short career span of nine years. He was among the few male dancers who could perfectly execute the’ en pointe’ technique, which was considered rare in those times. Born into a family of celebrated dancers, he along with his siblings was trained in ballet from a young age. His skill was noticed from childhood, and he was given opportunities to perform with various productions even while pursuing his studies. After completing his graduation from the reputed Imperial Ballet School, Vaslav Nijinsky went on to work with Mariinsky Theatre. However, very soon he met Sergei Diaghilev and became part of his company, the Ballets Russes. Though he initially performed as a lead in performances, he later attempted to choreograph ballet acts by incorporating modern trends. His career was shortened due to his mental instability, diagnosis of schizophrenia and associated travel difficulties. He was admitted to asylum several times between 1919 and 1950.
Thanks to finding his name on this list I find myself drawn towards the biography by Lucy Moore, who is a frequent columnist and reviewer in The Guardian. I see that a 2013 review by Peter Conrad in The Observer in 2013 of that biography (right) begins by asking ´How can we separate the dancer from the dance´,……that´s a question that could send us down sidetracks and detours for a lifetime in search of the answer. I´m going to order my copy now !
Although she died on this date in 1993 Marian Anderson, (left), is still regarded as one of the best contraltos of the twentieth-century. She earned the distinction of becoming the first African American singer who performed with the New York Metropolitan Opera. Marian was born in Philadelphia and started displaying her extraordinary vocal talent from the time she was a child. However, her family was not well off and did not have enough means to pay for her formal vocal training. It was a magnanimous gesture shown by the members of Marian’s church congregation who raised funds, which enabled her to attend a music school for about a year. A major portion of her singing career was devoted in giving performances in recital in important music venues and in concerts as well as with well-known orchestras throughout Europe and the United States of America. Though she was offered various roles with many of the major European opera companies but Marian declined all of them as she was not a trained actor. Her first preference had always to perform in recitals and concerts only. However, Marian did perform opera arias within her recitals and concerts. She did several recordings that were a reflection of her broad performance talents ranging from concert literature to traditional American songs, to opera and spirituals. Marian Anderson became one of the important personalities in the then on-going struggle for many of the black artists for overcoming racial prejudices during the mid-twentieth-century in the United States of America.
Of course, it is not only titles like The Book Of Days or the search engine equivalent that can pump a writer´s juices because all aspiring writers should be, and many established writers are, already, familiar with the huge benefits, to all types of writers, carried in a particular monthly magazine. I myself have been a subscriber for more than thirty years. Writing Magazine gives all sorts of tips from top writers to improve our creative writing skills but also offers pages and pages of sound business sense every month, and even helps us to network by sharing comprehensive lists of literary festivals and events and competitions. Writers, like my friend and Sidetracks And Detours reader Jenny Roche, keep an eye on what particular publishers are seeking and keep an eye on new trends and opportunities of publication, this offering subscribers, whether aspirant or established, new points of contact.
photo 12 Even beyond that, Writing Magazine offers us the facility to stay ahead of what publishers are looking for by reminding us, as I see in the April edition, that come June of this summer editors and publishers will, although probably already inundated with them, still be searching for the one great piece addressing, from whatever angle, any of the anniversaries that fall in June such as
100 years Judy Garland was born in June 1922
80 years Brian Wilson Paul McCartney born 1942
40 years ET was released 1982
25 years The Globe re-opened in London 1997*
- this could help me create a piece about the 25th anniversary of the London Globe ( from the stage of which I once recited The Lion And Albert) and the current opening of the Globe North, in Liverpool (from which I haven´t yet delivered a recital, but its on my bucket list).
My articles for consideration are prepared, for all of the stories referred to in the article above, to send to relevant outlets at appropriate times.
Writing Magazine also shines a spotlight each month on one of the UK´s hundreds of creative writing groups . The April issue tells us about the blindingly named Clerkenwell Writers Asylum, a name which certainly has me wanting to know more about them.
Sometimes, on days like this, when articles go astray and I can´ t seem to think of anything to write and the clock keepos ticking, I feel like an inmate in an asylum trying to make logic of subconscious thought. At other times, when it is the world around me that is surely going made and will not leave mer along, I seek asylum in the act of writing, where I know i can close out the real world and create, instead, a story of a man who continually deludes himself into thinking that, if only he could get himself organised he could acquire a Nobel prize for Litarature ! Nevertheless, language fioghts against we writers,…. I mean look at that word asylum,……
ASYLUM: (dictionary definition)
(especially formerly) an institution for the maintenance and care of the mentally ill, orphans, or other persons requiring specialized assistance.
an inviolable refuge, as formerly for criminals and debtors; sanctuary:He sought asylum in the church.
- a refuge granted an alien by a sovereign state on its own territory.
- a temporary refuge granted political offenders, especially in a foreign embassy.
3 any secure retreat.
Seriously, with a language like ours is there any wonder we writers sometimes become confused?