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On Expo - Film - In concert

This month's blogs: 2005 April (4) | 2005 April (3) | 2005 April (2) | 2005 April (1)

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"Method of this work:
literary montage.
I have nothing to say only to show."
(Passagenwerk (1927 - 1940) - Walter Benjamin)

2005, Apr 17; 23:44 ::: Sophia Loren eyeing Jayne Mansfield

Sophia Loren eyeing Jayne Mansfield's breasts (ca.1957/58), photo by Joe Shere.

It was Hollywood, 1958. Roman film goddess Sophia Loren had just breezed into town hoping to conquer America. One night, the actress was fêted at the swanky restaurant Romanoff's. Her unlikely dinner companion was Jayne Mansfield, the poor man's Marilyn Monroe. A roving photographer named Joe Shere swooped by their table and took a shot of the pair.

In the resulting photo, Mansfield smiles up at the camera while Sophia Loren is captured staring at Mansfield's Grand Canyon décolleté as if there are poisonous snakes down there. Australian-born photographer Daniela Federici created an homage to that shot using model Anna Nicole Smith (as Mansfield) and New York City DJ Sky Nellor (as Loren). This picture represents Federici's aesthetic in a nutshell -- Italian neorealist cinema circa 1950/1960s meets Hollywood glamour. Federici's sexy photographs are as self-referential as any Godard film from the 1960s, which makes sense since Federici digs the French Nouvelle Vague as well. --http://archive.salon.com/sex/gallery/2002/08/23/federici/index_np.html [Apr 2005]

2005, Apr 17; 23:44 ::: Vaudeville

A poster of the Vaudeville team, Joseph Hart and Carrie DeMar from 1899
image sourced here.

2005, Apr 17; 22:11 ::: Garage (music)

Paradise Garage logo

Garage is any of several different varieties of modern electronic dance music generally connected to house or disco. Usage is different in the US and UK.

The term was first used in the US to describe records in the late 70s and early 80s that formed the eclectic playlist of the "Paradise Garage" nightclub in New York City. Over time, the term in the US came to mainly describe the more soulful, gospel-inspired styles of disco and house music first made popular by Tony Humphries at club Zanzibar in Newark, NJ. The evolution of house music in the UK in the late 1990s led to the term being applied to a new form of music also known as speed garage or UK Garage. This style is now frequently combined with other forms of music like hip hop, rap and R&B, all broadly filed under the description urban music. The correct pronunciation of UK Garage is "Garridge", rather than in the same way as the building (although the pronunciation "garridge" for the building is also common in the UK).

Artists like Dizzee Rascal (2003 winner of the Mercury Music Award) have made East London Garage mainstream in the UK. Garage is really a mixture between drums and bass with rap or hip hop. Garage progressively becomes more raw in East London with much more emphasis on electronic beats and rhythms. The new sound Dizzee bought to the new millenium is called "Grime."

"'Garage' is one of the most mangled terms in dance music. The term derives from the Paradise Garage itself, but it has meant so many different things to so many different people that unless you're talking about a specific time and place, it is virtually meaningless. Part of the reason for this confusion (aside from various journalistic misunderstandings and industry misappropriations) is that the range of music played at the Garage was so broad. The music we now call 'garage' has evolved from only a small part of the club's wildly eclectic soundtrack." -- Frank Broughton/Bill Brewster in Last Night A DJ Saved My Life --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Garage_%28dance_music%29 [Apr 2005]

see also: garage (music) - speed garage (music) -

2005, Apr 17; 20:09 ::: Circus Maximus

Circus Maximus
photo sourced here.

Pollice Verso (1872) - Jean-Léon Gérôme
photo sourced here.

Panem et circenses
"Bread and circus plays" - Juvenal, Satires 10, 81, describing all that was needed for the emperors to placate the Roman mob, and today used to describe any public entertainment used to distract public attention from more important matters. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Latin_phrases [Apr 2004]

The Circus Maximus in an ancient arena and mass entertainment venue located in Rome, Italy.

the Circus was the site of public games and festivals influenced by the Greeks in the 2nd century BC. Meeting the demands of the Roman citizenry for mass public entertainment on a lavish scale, Julius Caesar expanded the Circus around 50 BC, after which the track measured approximately 600 metres in length, 225 metres in breadth and could accommodate an estimated 150,000 seated spectators (many more, perhaps an equal number again, could view the games by standing, crowding and lining the adjoining hills).

The most important event at the Circus was chariot racing. The track could hold 12 chariots, and the two sides of the track were separated by a raised median termed the spina. Statues of various gods were set up on the spina, and Augustus erected an Egyptian obelisk on it as well. At either end of the spina was a turning post, the meta, around which chariots made dangerous turns at speed. One end of the track extended further back than the other, to allow the chariots to line up to begin the race. Here there were starting gates, or carceres, which staggered the chariots so that each travelled the same distance to the first turn.

Persecution of early Christians
Contrary to the popular wisdom that places the scene of early persecutions of Christians in the nearby Colosseum, it was in the Circus Maximus that most convicted early Christians perished. As the Circus Maximus had more seating than the Colosseum, this popular spectacle was staged there. Records indicate that only once did Christians face wild beasts in the Colosseum. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Circus_Maximus [Apr 2005]

see also: circus - entertainment - venue - game - Rome

inspired by: Kris Martin

2005, Apr 16; 12:10 ::: Mary Mendum

Mary Mendum
photo sourced here.

2005, Apr 16; 01:16 ::: La Haine (1995) - Mathieu Kassovitz

La Haine (1995) - Mathieu Kassovitz [Amazon.com] [FR] [DE] [UK]

La Haine ("Hate") is a French black-and-white film directed by Mathieu Kassovitz, released in 1995. It is a dark urban thriller which has been called France's answer to Do the Right Thing. It explores themes of racism, violence and disaffected youth in modern suburban Paris. A riot has broken out in a slum, and been quelled by the police. The film depicts twenty-four hours of the lives of three teenage friends in that slum.

Plot and characters
Vinz, (Vincent Cassel) who is Jewish, is filled with rage. He sees himself as a thug, modeled after Robert DeNiro's "Travis Bickle" from Taxi Driver. Saïd (Saïd Taghmaoui), an Arab, is the trio's constantly-talking voice of reason. Hubert (Hubert Koundé), who is black, is a boxer, quietly pouring his energy into making something of himself and getting out of the ghetto. A friend of theirs has been beaten up in police custody. This sets off a series of events that take the three down a path of destruction. Vinz finds a policeman's gun, and vows that if their friend dies in police custody, he will kill a cop.

Impact of the film
Director Mathieu Kassovitz delivers a powerfully emotional comment on the state of French society and the problems caused by urban deprivation. "La Haine" features sterling perfomances by all three main actors, especially Cassel whose portrayal of Vinz launched him to stardom.

The film was a huge commercial success and provoked much debate in France over its unflinching presentation of urban violence; the then-prime minister Alain Juppé was reported to have arranged a special screening and ordered his entire cabinet to watch the film. Kassovitz won the Best Director award at the Cannes Film Festival in 1996, as well as being nominated for the Palme d'Or; the film also picked up the César Award for Best Picture. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/La_Haine [Apr 2005]

see also: European cinema - Cinema of France

2005, Apr 15; 23:54 ::: Time of the Gypsies (1988) - Emir Kusturica

Soundtrack to Time of the Gypsies (1988)

Time of the Gypsies (1988) - Emir Kusturica [Amazon.com] [FR] [DE] [UK]

In this luminous tale set in the former Yugoslavia, Perhan, an engaging young Gypsy with telekinetic powers, is seduced by the quick-cash world of petty crime which threatens to destroy him and those he loves. -- Dawn M. Barclift via http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0097223 [Apr 2005]

Emir Kusturica (pronounced koo-stûr-ÉT-sä (born November 24, 1954) is a filmmaker born in Sarajevo, former Yugoslavia. With an impressive string of internationally acclaimed features, Kusturica became one of the most creative directors in cinema during the 1980s and '90s. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Emir_Kusturica [Apr 2005]

see also: European cinema

2005, Apr 15; 13:14 ::: Lex Yeux Sans Visage (1959) - Georges Franju

Lex Yeux Sans Visage (1959) - Georges Franju

Lex Yeux Sans Visage (1959) - Georges Franju [Amazon.com] [FR] [DE] [UK]

Georges Franju is best known for his 1960 horror film, Les Yeux sans visage (Eyes Without a Face). Described by Pauline Kael as "[p]erhaps the most elegant horror movie ever made," Eyes Without a Face is the story of a mad doctor played by Pierre Brasseur and his efforts to replace the face of his disfigured daughter, played by Edith Scob, with the faces of murdered women. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Georges_Franju [Apr 2005]

inspired by Immoral Tales (1994)

2005, Apr 15; 11:38 ::: Jim Haynes

Jim Haynes (1933 - )
photo sourced here.

Writer, Traveller, Publisher, Paris Sunday Dinner Host

Thanks for coming!: An autobiography (1984) - Jim Haynes [Amazon.com] [FR] [DE] [UK]

I was born in Louisiana, moved to Venezuela aged 10, boarding school in Atlanta, university in Louisiana and then moved to Scotland in 1956. I attended the University of Edinburgh, started a bookshop and gallery (The Paperback), the Traverse Theatre and participated in the creation of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe. I helped to create The Hospitality Exchange. Moving to London in 1966 I co-created the London Traverse Theatre Company, co-launched the newspaper, “I.T.” and the mixed-media space, the Arts Lab. Having produced over 250 theatre productions, I was awarded The Whitbread Prize in 1966. In 1969 I co-launched the sexual freedom newspaper, Suck, and directed the Wet Dream Film Festival - both in Amsterdam. In the same year the newly created University of Paris 8 invited me to be a professor where I taught Media Studies and Sexual Politics for thirty years. Together with Cathy Sroufe, we launched a Sunday salon in my Paris atelier. Also in Paris, I created the kitchen-table publishing house, Handshake Editions, the audio magazine The Cassette Gazette, and began to write and to publish books. For many years I have attended the Cannes Film Festival (25 times), the Edinburgh Festival (45 times), the Warsaw “Jazz Jamboree” (10 times), the Lahti Writers’ Reunion (8 times), the Belgrade October Meeting (5 times), the Frankfurt Book Fair (36 times) and many other film festivals (Berlin ,Budapest, Telluride, Gdynia and Moscow ). My books include an autobiography, Thanks for Coming! (Faber & Faber, 1984), Hello, I Love You!, Workers of the World, Unite and Stop Working!, Everything Is!, and the travel series, People to People (Poland, Romania, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary and Bulgaria, Russia and the Baltic States: Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania). The People to People series was honored by the London-based Institute for Social Inventions.

Almost every Sunday evening, there is a dinner party in my Paris atelier to which anyone may come. The first fifty or so people to call are welcome. During the dinners people meet people from all corners of the world. (All share the expenses. Any extra goes to help various friends and projects.) To come, call on Saturday or Sunday when you're in Paris and join us. --Jim Haynes via http://www.jim-haynes.com/ [Apr 2005]

2005, Apr 15; 10:51 ::: Fantômas (1913-1914) - Louis Feuillade

Movie poster for Fantômas (1913 - 1914) serial

The silent film pioneer Louis Feuillade directed five films based on the Fantômas series, appearing in 1913-1914. They are regarded as masterpieces of silent film and are often considered to be superior to the novels themselves. His later serial Les Vampires, which concerns a mysterious crime syndicate known as "The Vampires," is reminiscent of the Fantômas series in many respects, and generally considered superior to the earlier films. Both sets of films have been released on video. A number of subsequent series of Fantômas films have been made, including one series starring Louis de Funes.

The Fantômas novels and the subsequent films were highly regarded by the French avant-garde of the day, particularly by the surrealists. Blaise Cendrars called the series "the modern Aeneid"; Guillaume Apollinaire said that "from the imaginative standpoint Fantômas is one of the richest works that exist." The painter René Magritte and the surrealist poet and novelist Robert Desnos both produced works alluding to the novels or the subsequent films. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fantomas [Apr 2005]

2005, Apr 15; 10:41 ::: Many historically important works have been described as obscene

Many historically important works have been described as obscene, or prosecuted under obscenity laws. For example, the works of Charles-Pierre Baudelaire, Lenny Bruce, William S. Burroughs, James Joyce, D. H. Lawrence, Henry Miller, and the Marquis de Sade. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Obscenity#United_States_obscenity_law [Apr 2005]

see also: obscenity

2005, Apr 15; 10:35 ::: The element of fantasy in serial killer's development

The element of fantasy in serial killer's development cannot be over-emphasised. They often begin fantasising about murder during-or even before-adolescence. Their fantasy lives are very rich and they daydream compulsively about dominating and killing people, usually with very specific elements to the murderous fantasy that will eventually be apparent in their real crimes. Some killers are influenced by reading about the Holocaust and fantasize about being in charge of concentration camps. In such cases, however, it is generally not the political ideology of Nazism that they enjoy or are inspired by, but simply an attraction to the brutality and sadism of its application. Others enjoy reading the works of Marquis de Sade, who lends his name to the word sadism due to his stories, which were packed with rape, torture and murder. Many use pornography, frequently the violent type involving bondage, although they may also read "detective magazines" that feature stories of real life homicide cases. Others may even be fascinated and aroused by less obviously disagreeable material. Jeffrey Dahmer was fascinated by the character of The Emperor in Return of the Jedi and even bought himself some yellow contact lenses to make him resemble the evil character, while several killers say their fantasies have been influenced by The Bible, in particular the Book of Revelation. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Serial_killer#Psychology_and_development [Apr 2005]

see also: serial killer

2005, Apr 14; 17:47 ::: Soul Jazz presents: Acid - Can You Jack? (2005) - VA

Soul Jazz presents: Acid - Can You Jack? (2005) - VA [Amazon.com] [FR] [DE] [UK]

The TB-303 was a synthesizer/sequencer produced by the Roland corporation in 1982 and 1983 that had a crucial role in the development of contemporary electronic music. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Roland_TB-303 [Apr 2005]

Also coming soon is Acid - Can You Jack? Chicago Acid and Experimental House 1985-95 featuring Marshall Jefferson, Larry Heard, Adonis, Phuture, Lil Louis, Armando, Tyree, Roy Davis Jnr, Cajmere…. A massive 2-cd, 2 double lp (vol 1 and vol2) release featuring the cream of Chicago’s creative artists that gave rise to a new sound. Featuring sleevenotes by Tim Lawrence (who wrote the book Love Saves The Day) as well as exclusive interviews and photos with the artists, this is one of our essential releases. Available from 9 Apr, 2005 --http://www.souljazzrecords.co.uk [Apr 2005]

see also: acid house

2005, Apr 14; 16:18 ::: Cross the Border-Close the Gap (1972) - Leslie Aron Fiedler

Cross the Border-Close the Gap (1972) - Leslie Aron Fiedler [Amazon.com] [FR] [DE] [UK]

Crime fiction: "High art" versus "popular art"

The discrepancy between taste and acclaim

Up to the 1960s or so, reading the paperback edition of a crime novel was usually considered a cheap thrill -- with the word "cheap" used in both meanings: "inexpensive" and "of minor quality". The educated and civilized world was often interested or at least pretend to be the "high art" categorised by classical music, paintings by renowned artists, in famous classical plays and novels like those of William Shakespeare. The term "popular art" referred to folk music, jazz, or rock 'n' roll, photography, the design of everyday objects, comics, science fiction, detective stories or erotic fiction (the latter circulating in private prints only to beat the censor) to quote a few examples. The idea of a "main stream" of literary output suggested that any book deviating, in either content or form or both, from the established norm of "high art" was "cheap", and anyone interested in that kind of stuff weird and/or uneducated. The universities and the other institutions of higher learning also looked down on artists producing "popular art" and categorically refused to critically assess it.

This often did not correlate with the immense popularity of popular art on both sides of the Atlantic, sometimes due to sensationalism. For example, the British had been fascinated by Edgar Wallace's (1875 - 1932) crime novels ever since the author set up a competition offering a reward to any reader who could figure out and describe just how the murder in his first book, The Four Just Men (1906), was committed.

A re-assessment of critical ideals

In the long run, the vast output of popular fiction could not be ignored any longer, and literary critics -- gradually, carefully and tentatively -- started questioning the whole idea of a gap between "high art" (or "serious literature") on the one hand and "popular art" (in America often referred to as "pulp fiction", often verging on "smut and filth") on the other. One of the first scholars to do so was American critic Leslie Fiedler. In his book Cross the Border -- Close the Gap (1972), he advocates a thorough reassessment of science fiction, the western, pornographic literature and all the other subgenres that so far had not been considered as "high art", and their inclusion in the literary canon:

The notion of one art for the 'cultural,' i.e., the favored few in any given society and of another subart for the 'uncultered,' i.e., an excluded majority as deficient in Gutenberg skills as they are untutored in 'taste,' in fact represents the last survival in mass industrial societies (capitalist, socialist, communist - it makes no difference in this regard) of an invidious distinction proper only to a class-structured community. Precisely because it carries on, as it has carried on ever since the middle of the eighteenth century, a war against that anachronistic survival, Pop Art is, whatever its overt politics, subversive: a threat to all hierarchies insofar as it is hostile to order and ordering in its own realm. What the final intrusion of Pop into the citadels of High Art provides, therefore, for the critic is the exhilarating new possibility of making judgments about the 'goodness' and 'badness' of art quite separated from distinctions between 'high' and 'low' with their concealed class bias.

In other words, it was now up to the literary critics to devise criteria with which they would then be able to assess any new literature along the lines of "good or "bad" rather than "high" versus "low".


  • A conventionally written and dull novel about, say, a "fallen woman" could be ranked lower than a terrifying vision of the future full of action and suspense.
  • A story about industrial relations in early 20th century-Britain -- a novel about shocking working conditions, trade unionists, strikers and scabs -- need not be more acceptable subject-matter per se and a well-crafted and fast-paced thriller about modern life.

But, according to Fiedler, it was also up to the critics to reassess already existing literature. In the case of U.S. crime fiction, writers that so far had been regarded as the authors of nothing but "pulp fiction" -- Raymond Chandler, Dashiell Hammett, James M. Cain, and others -- were gradually seen in a new light. Today, Chandler's creation, private eye Philip Marlowe -- who appears, for example, in his novels The Big Sleep (1939) and Farewell, My Lovely (1940) -- has achieved cult status and has also been made the topic of literary seminars at universities round the world, whereas on first publication Chandler's novels were seen as little more than cheap entertainment for the uneducated masses. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crime_fiction#.22High_art.22_versus_.22popular_art.22 [Apr 2005]

see also: Leslie Fiedler - genre fiction - popular - culture - bias

2005, Apr 14; 15:46 ::: Minstrel shows in the 1890s

All Coons Look Alike To Me, by the black songwriter Ernest Hogan
image sourced here.

Minstrel shows in the nineties also featured coon songs, songs whose lyrics stereotyped and ridiculed African American culture. Both black and white composers wrote such songs, with one of the most popular being All Coons Look Alike To Me, by the black songwriter Ernest Hogan. In the 1890s over 600 coon songs were published (Whitcomb25). By the end of the century, minstrel shows in the North generally gave way to the quicker-paced, brasher vaudeville, the variety show which quickly became the nation's favorite form of entertainment. It was based on the olio of the minstrel show, and demanded a constant supply of new popular songs. --http://www.bgsu.edu/departments/acs/1890s/ragmusic/music.html [Apr 2005]

Bamboozled (2000) - Spike Lee [Amazon.com] [FR] [DE] [UK]

The minstrel show, or minstrelsy, is an indigenous form of American entertainment consisting of comic skits, variety acts, dancing, and music, usually performed by white people in blackface. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Minstrel_show [Apr 2005]

2005, Apr 14; 15:11 ::: Sante D'Orazio: Photographs (2000) - Sante D'Orazio

Sante D'Orazio: Photographs (2000) - Sante D'Orazio [Amazon.com] [FR] [DE] [UK]

Product Description:
Sante D'Orazio is one of the most important image-makers working in the area of fashion and editorial photography today. Manifested in the sexy and vibrant campaigns he has produced for clients such as Versace, Tommy Hilfiger, Victoria's Secret, Revlon, and L'Oreal, D'Orazio's signature style-a unique blend of art and commerce-has become a mainstay of the fashion industry. Since the 1980s, the photographer has also worked editorially for numerous magazines including American Vogue, Esquire, Town & Country, Detour, Max, Interview and Vanity Fair. In this follow-up to his enormously successful first book, A Private View (1998), D'Orazio again presents his most thrilling images of supermodels like Kate Moss, Christy Turlington, Cindy Crawford, and Helena Christenson, while sharing his best portraits of such entertainment personalities as Catherine Zeta-Jones, Angelina Jolie, Jennifer Lopez, Mariah Carey, Cameron Diaz, Johnny Depp, Sean Penn, and Antonio Banderas. Produced in a large format design, and exquisitely printed on fine Italian paper, Sante D'Orazio, Photographs is certain to delight anyone interested in the art of fashion and portrait photography. Containing loads of previously unpublished material as well as D'Orazio's classic editorial work, Sante D'Orazio: Photographs is a sexy tribute to one of today's most impressive photographers. --via Amazon.com

see also: erotic photography

2005, Apr 14; 13:51 ::: 13th February 1891: Frances Coles

13th February 1891: Frances Coles is found dead under the railway arch, Swallow Gardens, Whitechapel.
image sourced here.

2005, Apr 14; 13:36 ::: Old comedy

The old comedy, dating from the establishment of democracy by Pericles, about 450 BCE, arose, as we have seen, from the obscene jests of Dionysian revellers, to which was given a political application. In outward form these comedies were the most extravagant of burlesque, in essence they were the most virulent of abuse and personal vilification. In its license of word and gesture, on its audacious directness of invective, no restriction was placed by the dramatist, the audience or the authorities. The satire and abuse were directed against some object of popular dislike, to whom were not only applied such epithets as coward, fool and knave, but he was represented as saying and doing everything that was contemptible, as suffering everything that was ludicrous and degrading. But this alone would not have won for comedy such recognition as it received from the refined and cultured community of the age of Pericles. The comic dramatist who would gain a hearing in Athens must borrow from tragedy all its most attractive features, its choral dances, its masked actors, its metres, its scenery and stage mechanism, and above all the chastened elegance of the Attic language - for this the audience required from the dramatist, as from the lyric poet and the orator. Thus comedy became a recognized branch of the drama, often presenting a brilliant sparkle in dialogue and a poetic beauty in the choral parts not unworthy of the best efforts of the tragic muse. Thus, also, it became a powerful engine in the hands of a skillful and unscrupulous politician.

It was upon this stock that the mighty genius of Aristophanes grafted the Pantagruelism, which, ever since it was reproduced by Rabelais, has had among European writers, as in Cervantes, Swift, Voltaire and others, some adequate representation. Though the word Pantagruelism is applied by Rabelais to the characters sustained by court fools, he made a free use both of the spirit and mechanical appliances of old Greek comedy, adopting the disguise of buffoonery to attack some prevailing form of cant and hypocrisy. And this is precisely what Aristophanes did, the term invented by the great French master accurately describing the chief characteristics of his prototype. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Greek_comedy#Old_Comedy [Apr 2005]

see also: comedy

2005, Apr 14; 12:38 ::: Tar-ra-ra-boom-der-ay (1891) - Henry J. Sayers

Tar-ra-ra-boom-der-ay (1891) - Henry J. Sayers
image sourced here.

Though a pure American song, written by Sayers in Missouri, the song was actually introduced in London by Lottie Collins. Collins performed the song at Koster's and Bial's theaters in New York in 1892 and launched the song's US success. Over the years, the easily sung and remembered tune has been claimed by many other composers and lyricists who have added their own version of the words. Almost all versions after the first, include extra verses and a "Gentleman's" version that sets the main character as a man rather than a woman as originally written. Recorded often, with one recording by the U.S. Marine Corps band, the song has also been featured in two movies, 1943's Happy Go Lucky and 1947's Mother Wore tights.

The song has also often been used for many other settings; as a drinking song, a fraternity song and for many other "made up" occasions. As a result, I think most people only are familiar with the chorus and fewer still have ever heard or seen the original lyrics. A bit ribald yet full of humor and good natured fun, this is the kind of song that will probably go on for another 110 years and beyond. There has been some debate even as to Sayers originality with the refrain. Music scholars have found the tune in an old German songbook. At one point, lawsuits were filed against various users of the song and Judge Robert Patterson declared the refrain to be in public domain. In spite of that, a number of people who laid claim to the song often extorted money from performers of the song. Cited as a "freak song" by Sigmund Spaeth¹, it has nonetheless proven to be inextinguishable.

Little is know about Henry J. Sayers beyond his publication of this song. He was a press agent handling the publicity for a number of performing companies in 1891 when the song was published. Yet another story related to the song says that Sayers heard the song performed by "Mamma Lou" in St. Louis and that she actually wrote it. Sayers supposedly copied it and had it published therefore earning himself the title of composer. --http://parlorsongs.com/issues/2002-1/thismonth/featurea.asp [Apr 2005]

The phenomenon of "hit" songs did not really come into the American consciousness until the 1890's. Of course, the oft mentioned After The Ball, established a benchmark that all songs that followed were measured against. Before the 90's, the American music publishing industry was scattered and ill defined. Hit songs were disconnected and generally regional, save for a few from early American popular song composers such as Stephen Foster and Henry Clay Work. It was with the establishment of a central publishing industry, Tin Pan Alley, and the growth of communication media and later the phonograph and radio that fostered the idea of nation wide and even world wide hit songs.

This first feature on the subject of hits explores the years from 1890 to 1910 and some of the enduring hits that came from those years. be sure to see our February, 2002 feature for a review of the decade when hit songs exploded onto the scene, 1911 - 1920. Also, be sure to see our "In Search Of" series for articles about the concept of hit songs and what makes a song successful. --http://parlorsongs.com/issues/2002-1/thismonth/featurea.asp [Apr 2005]

poster for Lottie "Tar-ra-ra-boom-der-ay" Collins show
image sourced here.

Lottie Collins began her career in 1877 in a skipping rope dance act with her sisters. While in America in 1891 she heard what was to become her trademark song, ‘Tar-ra-ra-boom-der-ay!’. She sang it at the Tivoli in London and it became a major hit. Lottie would pause after the demure first verse and then whirl into an uninhibited version of the skirt dance. Her legs flashing in high-kicking Can-Can style steps would reveal her stockings held up by sparkling suspenders. This sent the audience wild and left Lottie exhausted.

The sensational, uninhibited nature of the dance and the expanse of exposed leg drew complaints from the Puritan league, but music hall audiences loved her and she became a symbol of the ‘Naughty Nineties’. One hundred years later her garters were sold by auction at Sotheby’s. Although she performed other songs and sketches, Lottie was forever associated with her one song. The exhausting nature of the dance may have contributed to her early death in 1910 at the age of only 44. Her daughter José became a star of musical comedy. --http://www.peopleplayuk.org.uk/guided_tours/music_hall_tour/music_hall_stars/collins.php [Apr 2005]

see also: music hall - Tin Pan Alley - popular music - radio - phonograph - 1890s - sheet music

2005, Apr 14; 12:16 ::: Pain in philosophy

A critical issue in philosophy is the role of pain and pleasure. Two near contemporaries in the 18th and 19th centuries, Jeremy Bentham and the Marquis de Sade had very different views on these matters. Bentham saw pain and pleasure as objective phenomena, and defined utilitarianism on that principle. However the Marquis de Sade offered a wholly different view - which is that pain itself has an ethics, and that pursuit of pain, or imposing it, may be just as useful and just as pleasurable, and that this indeed is the purpose of the state - to indulge the desire to inflict pain in revenge, for instance, via the law (in his time most punishment was in fact the dealing out of pain). The 19th century view in Europe was that Bentham's view had to be promoted, de Sade's (which it found painful) suppressed so intensely that it - as de Sade predicted - became a pleasure in itself to indulge. The Victorian culture is often cited as the best example of this hypocrisy. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pain_%28philosophy%29 [Apr 2005]

see also: pain - pleasure

2005, Apr 14; 11:16 ::: Encyclopedia making

Information in a printed encyclopedia necessarily needs some form of hierarchical structure. Traditionally, the method employed is to present the information ordered alphabetically by the article title. However with the advent of dynamic electronic formats the need to impose a pre-determined structure is unnecessary. Nonetheless, most electronic encyclopedias still offer a range of organisational strategies for the articles, such as by subject area or alphabetically.

The encyclopedia's hierarchical structure and evolving nature is particularly adaptable to a disk-based or on-line computer format, and all major printed encyclopedias had moved to this method of delivery by the end of the 20th century. Disk-based (typically CD-ROM format) publications have the advantage of being cheaply produced and extremely portable. Additionally, they can include media which is impossible in the printed format, such as animations, audio, and video. Hyperlinking between conceptually related items is also a significant benefit. On-line encyclopedias offer the additional advantage of being (potentially) dynamic: new information can be presented almost immediately, rather than waiting for the next release of a static format (as with a disk or paper based publication). --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Encyclopedia#Encyclopedia_making [Apr 2005]

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