Tag Archives: travel

Almanac – March 12

1507 – Cesare Borgia died. Italian nobleman, politician, and cardinal. He was the son of Pope Alexander VI and his long-term mistress Vannozza dei Cattanei, and  the brother of Lucrezia Borgia. He was killed  while fighting in the city of Viana, Spain.

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1626 – John Aubrey born.  English antiquary, natural philosopher and writer.  He was a pioneer archaeologist, who recorded (often for the first time) numerous megalithic and other field monuments in southern England, and who is particularly noted as the discoverer of the Avebury henge monument.  The Aubrey holes at Stonehenge are named after him, although there is considerable doubt as to whether the holes that he observed are those that currently bear the name.

 He was also a pioneer folklorist, collecting together a miscellany of material on customs, traditions and beliefs under the title “Remaines of Gentilisme and Judaisme”.

He set out to compile county histories of both Wiltshire and Surrey, although both projects remained unfinished. His “Interpretation of Villare Anglicanum” (also unfinished) was the first attempt to compile a full-length study of English place-names.

He had wider interests in applied mathematics and astronomy, and was friendly with many of the greatest scientists of the day.

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1922 – Jack Kerouac born. American novelist and poet. He is considered a literary iconoclast and, alongside William S. Burroughs and Allen Ginsberg, a pioneer of the Beat Generation.

Kerouac is recognized for his spontaneous method of writing, covering topics such as Catholic spirituality, jazz, promiscuity, Buddhism, drugs, poverty, and travel. He became an underground celebrity and, with other beats, a progenitor of the hippie movement, although he remained antagonistic toward some of its politically radical elements.

All of his books are in print today, among them: On the Road, Doctor Sax, The Dharma Bums, Mexico City Blues, The Subterraneans, Desolation Angels, Visions of Cody, The Sea is My Brother, and Big Sur.

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1955 – Charlie Parker died. American jazz saxophonist and composer. Miles Davis once said, “You can tell the history of jazz in four words: Louis Armstrong. Charlie Parker.”

Parker was a highly influential jazz soloist and a leading figure in the development of bebop, a form of jazz characterized by fast tempos, virtuosic technique, and improvisation. Parker introduced revolutionary harmonic ideas, including rapid passing chords, new variants of altered chords, and chord substitutions.

He acquired the nickname “Yardbird” early in his career and the shortened form, “Bird”, which continued to be used for the rest of his life, inspired the titles of a number of Parker compositions, such as “Yardbird Suite” and “Ornithology.

Parker died in the suite of his friend and patron Baroness Pannonica de Koenigswarter at the Stanhope Hotel in New York City while watching The Dorsey Brothers’ Stage Show on television.

The official causes of death were lobar pneumonia and a bleeding ulcer but Parker also had an advanced case of cirrhosis and had suffered a heart attack. The coroner who performed his autopsy mistakenly estimated Parker’s 34-year-old body to be between 50 and 60 years of age.

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SPIRIT OF PLACE 2 – Conversation Piece

Another from the ongoing Spirit Of Place project.

Conversation Piece is a group of 22 bronze figures by Spanish sculpter Juan Munoz, located on the sea front at South Shields, North-East England.

As with the other Spirit Of Place recordings, the music was created from photographs using the very useful i2sm programme.

More information on this project can be found at the Malice In Sunderland website – link in the sidebar >>>

 

Mr. Frankenstein

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Tourists Are Money – Aren’t They ?

Whenever anyone tries to defend the concept of monarchy, two arguments always seem to be advanced – the value to tourism and the supposed inadequacies of an elected president. I was reminded of this today when a letter pushing both views appeared in one of our local papers, and I think these are points worth looking at.

Firstly, we’re frequently being told that the value of monarchy to the tourist industry is immense…but how do we know this ?

The answer is we dont.  Tourists come for many reasons and, unless you’re going to question every single one as they’re about to enter the country, there’s no way we can know their motivation. To imply that tourists only visit the UK because of the monarchy is as misleading as suggesting that tourists only visit Thailand with a view to a little paedophile action. Undoubtedly some do, but most have other motivations.

It follows that the economic value of the monarchy to the UK tourist industry is impossible to calculate, not that it stops  their cheerleaders from reiterating their supposed value – such as The Telegraph newspaper, which boldly stated that  ” there is the unquantifiable, but enormous, tourist revenue it generates.”  Yeah, but – if it’s unquantifiable, how do you know its enormous ?

In any case, unless you’re a visting head of state you are not going to meet any members of the monarchy on your visit. You might just see one from a distance at a ceremonial affair, but you’d probably get a better view on TV.

No, what most tourists probably come for is  things – landscapes, museums, various other attractions…if the monarchy vanished without trace tomorrow, these things would still be there and tourists would still come to see them.

After all, does no-one visit France, Germany or America because they dont have monarchies ?

The second argument usually put forward is that  “having a monarchy saves us from having President Blair”, the implication being that any president would inevitably be an ex-politician. They seem to miss the point that he would at least be a head of state we were permitted to vote in…and who we could also vote out.

But in any case, its not really a valid argument anyway, because there isn’t a rule book. In the event of the abolition of the monarchy we’d have the chance to actually write the new rules, and one of them could be to exclude ex-politicians from running for office – something I’d advocate.

What exactly would a president be ?  Really, a sort of meeter-and-greeter on a national level, a non-political figurehead.  Someone to put on a show at official functions, open a few events, someone like….an actor ?

Is it such a strange idea ?  An actor would make a great head of state – they’d only be playing a part, after all. By actor, incidentally, I’m not talking about soap stars, I’m talking about actors – there must be loads of them around, experienced stage actors largely unknown to the general public but more than capable of bringing something to the part.

After all, Mrs Windsor might have been on the job for 60 years but she still sounds like a unenthusiastic  housewife reading a particularly boring shopping list. This is partly because – despite what the media would desperately like you to believe – the Windsors have zero charisma, but also I suspect, because she never had a director telling her  “put a little life into it, luv…”

And now – some more music…

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SPIRIT OF PLACE 1 – Man Haven Bay

Spirit Of Place is an ongoing multi-media Frankenstein Sound Lab project, revolving around an experimental computer programme called i2sm.

i2sm creates music – or more properly sound – from images via the medium of MIDI instrument voices. You load your photo, painting, etc, choose a starting point, and go. The programme spirals out from the starting point and each colour it encounters en route produces a musical note. Well, in a nutshell…

What you often get, of course, is a mad assemblege of sqwarks and whistles, but within that some rather neat little riffs and tunes appear.  You can save the piece and later edit out the good bits and use them as samples to build a piece of music.

The idea behind Spirit Of Place was to take photos at a few favorite local spots here in North East England and use i2sm to generate pieces of music which perhaps might capture some of the spirit of the place.In most cases we also recorded background sound at the locations. Often its so far back in the mix as to not be obvious – but its there, linking us with a certain place in time and space.

Anyone who has used MIDI sounds will be aware that some are better than others. As a result of experimenting, we’ve found the ones that work best for us are ones like piano, viola, contrabass, xylophone, strings… as a result the pieces tend to sound like something which might best be described as experimental modern classical.

We then decided to try to make videos of each place.

The first of these pieces was generated from a photo of Man Haven Bay, on the South Tyneside coastline, between South Shields and Sunderland. This piece predates the idea of Spirit Of Place, in fact was the genesis of it.

Eventually there will be an album and maybe a DVD too – for more info, visit the Malice In Sunderland website [link in the sidebar >>>].

Meanwhile – here’s Man Haven Bay.

 

Mr. Frankenstein

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Apollo Pavilion, Peterlee

This is a video of a visit I made on Leap Year Day – 29th February 2012 – to the Apollo Pavilion, a famous/infamous structure – not sure whether or not it qualifies as a sculpture – in Peterlee, County Durham, UK.

 

 

Named after the first manned mission to the moon in 1969 – the year the structure was built – the Apollo Pavilion is an iconic example of 1960s public art.

The stucture was designed by the artist Victor Pasmore and marked the culmination of his work as consulting director of urban design with Peterlee development corporation. The Pavilion has undergone major restoration in 2009.

Its had a lot of detractors over the years, but I have to admit I quite like it. It probably helped that  I visited on a sunny day, the shadows cast by the various projecting bits of concrete added an extra depth, as did the sunlight reflecting off of the water of the lake. A visit on an overcast day might be a different proposition altogether.

It has its own website:  http://www.apollopavilion.info

Peterlee is a post-war new town, founded in 1948, and was  named after someone called, yes – Peter Lee (1864–1935), a  celebrated Durham miners’ leader, county councillor and Methodist local preacher.

Music –  Log In B  by  Moondog.

Mr. Frankenstein

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