Édouard Manet

French painter Édouard Manet Sadly died 30 April 1883 in Paris After contracting rheumatism, syphilis and Locomotor Ataxia a known side-effect of syphilis, which caused him considerable pain and for which his left foot was amputated because of gangrene. HBorn 23 January 1832 at his ancestral hôtel particulier (mansion) on the rue Bonaparte.His father, Auguste Manet, was a French judge who expected Édouard to pursue a career in law. However His uncle, Edmond Fournier, encouraged him to pursue painting and took young Manet to the Louvre.In 1841 he enrolled at secondary school, the Collège Rollin and in 1845, he enrolled in a special course of drawing where he met Antonin Proust, future Minister of Fine Arts and subsequent lifelong friend.in 1848 he sailed on a training vessel to Rio de Janeiro, but twice failed the examination to join the Navy. Instead From 1850 to 1856, Manet studied under the academic painter Thomas Couture. In his spare time, Manet copied the old masters in the Louvre and From 1853 to 1856, visited Germany, Italy, and the Netherlands, and was influenced by the Dutch painter Frans Hals, and the Spanish artists Diego Velázquez and Francisco José de Goya.

In 1856, Manet opened a studio Where he painted The Absinthe Drinker (1858–59), beggars, singers, Gypsies, people in cafés, and bullfights. he rarely painted religious, mythological, or historical subjects; apart from Christ Mocked, now in the Art Institute of Chicago, and Christ with Angels, in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. Manet had a portrait of his Mother and Father and The Spanish Singer, displayed at the Salon in 1861. In 1862 he painted Music in the Tuileries, and in 1863 he painted The Luncheon on the Grass (Le déjeuner sur l’herbe) which was exhibited at Salon des Refusés (Salon of the Rejected) and also painted Olympia, both of which caused great controversy. In 1868 he painted Berthe Morisot with a Bouquet of Violets and also became friends with impressionists Berthe Morisot, Edgar Degas, Claude Monet, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Alfred Sisley, Paul Cézanne and Camille Pissarro, Morisot also became his sister-in-law when she married his brother, Eugene in 1874. Unfortunately Manet was excluded from the International Exhibition of 1867 at the Paris Salon, so he set up his own exhibition.

In 1879 he painted a self portrait and became influenced by the Impressionists, especially Monet and Morisot and also painted two portraits of the composer Emanuel Chabrier. Among Manet’s fans were Émile Zola, Stéphane Mallarmé, and Charles Baudelaire. In 1878 he painted The Cafe Concert, which was set in the Cabaret de Reichshoffen on the Boulevard Rochechouart, and went on to paint many other cafe scenes depicting the Bohemian social life in 19th-century Paris in which people were depicted drinking beer, listening to music, flirting, reading, or waiting. Manet also visited Pere Lathuilles a restaurant on the Avenue de Clichy and painted Chez le père Lathuille (At Pere Lathuille’s). In 1873 he painted Le Bon Bock and in 1864 he painted The Races at Longchamps and Masked Ball at the Opera and his 1868 painting The Luncheon was painted in Manet’s Dining Room.

Manet also painted War subjects including View of the International Exhibition, and the Battle of the Kearsarge and Alabama (1864), the Battle of Cherbourg (1864) and The Barricade. The French intervention in Mexico also interested him and he Painted The Execution of Emperor Maximilian, 1867, an action which raised concerns regarding French foreign and domestic policy and is currently at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. In January 1871, Manet traveled to Oloron-Sainte-Marie in the Pyrenees and his friends added his name to the “Fédération des artistes” of the Paris Commune. In 1973 He painted The Railway, widely known as The Gare Saint-Lazare, and In 1874 painted several boating subjects which are now in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, His last major work, was A Bar at the Folies-Bergère (Un Bar aux Folies-Bergère), and In 1875, he provided Lithographs for a book-length French edition of Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Raven”. Then in 1881,the French government awarded Manet the Légion d’honneur.

Sadly Manet contracted syphilis in his forties, for which he received no treatment. He also suffered from rheumatism. In the years before his death, he developed locomotor ataxia, a known side-effect of syphilis, which caused him considerable pain. In April 1883, his left foot was amputated because of gangrene, and he died eleven days later on 30 April 1883 in Paris and is buried in the Passy Cemetery in the city.

International Dance Day

International Dance Day takes place annually on 29 April. It was introduced in 1982 by the International Dance Council (CID, Conseil International de la Danse), The umbrella organization for all forms of dance within UNESCO. The date is not linked to a particular person or a particular form of dance, although it’s also the day when the French dancer and ballet master Jean-Georges Noverre was born.

Throughout history Dance has been an integral part of human culture and it constitutes an ideal means for bringing people together from different countries. However recently it has become less prioritized by official establishments worldwide. So the main purpose of Dance Day events is to reintroduce the art of dance to the wider public and encourage people who do not follow dance events.

Every year, the president of the International Dance Council delivers an official message to promote Dance Day.through its global network of Sections and members. The focus of Dance Day 2005 was on primary education. International Dance Council urged dance establishments to contact the Ministries of Education with the proposals to celebrate this day at all schools with writing essays about dance, drawing dance pictures, dancing in the streets, etc. The 2006 message focused on the reluctance of dancers to join collective organizations, expresses an opinion that this is a major reason of the lack of the due recognition (legislation, financing, visibility) of dance in society, and calls: “Dancers of the world, unite!” The 2008 message focused on Finding better ways of representing and promoting Dance through Governments, Sponsors, Newspapers and other socialMedia.

A universal vision, dubbed the “new humanism” has also been suggested as a response to globalization and crisis, to encourage social cohesion, the preservation of peace and provide an opportunity for the entire human community to be included. Dance Festivals and similar events are a most effective way to encourage social cohesion, reciprocal knowledge and diversity in the most lively manner

Fred Dibnah MBE

The late, great Engineer, Steeplejack and British television personality Fred Dibnah MBE Was born 29th April in 1938. As a child, Dibnah was fascinated by the steam engines which powered the many textile mills in his home town of Bolton and developed a keen interest in mechanical engineering, Steam Engines and chimneys and the men who worked on them. He began his working life as a joiner, before becoming a steeplejack. From age 22, he served for two years in the armed forces, as part of his national service. Once demobilised, he returned to steeplejacking but met with limited success until he was asked to repair Bolton’s parish church. The resulting publicity provided a welcome boost to his business, ensuring he was almost never out of work.

Dibnah’s interest in steam power stemmed from his childhood observations of the steam locomotives on the nearby railway line, and his visits to his father’s workplace—a bleach works in Bolton—where he was fascinated by the steam engines used to drive the line shafting. He later became a steam enthusiast, befriending many of the engine drivers and firemen who worked on the nearby railway.(Yeah a similar thing happened to me when I went down to the Severn Valley Railway, Which incidentally Fred also visited a few years ago) As a teenager he met a driver who invited him onto the footplate of his locomotive and who asked him to keep the boiler supplied with fuel. Dibnah became so enamoured with steam engines that he eventually looked for one he could buy.

He learnt of a steamroller kept in a barn near Warrington and which the owners had bought from Flintshire County Council. He had the boiler pressure-tested and, despite it being in poor condition, bought it for £175. He towed it to a friend’s house, spent a fortnight making various repairs and drove it to his mother’s house in Bolton. After he married and bought his own property on Radcliffe new Road, he cut an access road to the garden of his new house and moved the steamroller there. Restoring the engine took many years, as Dibnah had to create his own replacement parts, using Victorian engineering techniques and equipment he built in his garden. The boiler was in poor condition and needed serious work, but Dibnah fell back on local knowledge and was eventually able to build a new boiler. Once restored, he used the 1910 Aveling & Porter steamroller together with a living van he bought and restored, to take his family around the local steam fairs

In 1978, while making repairs to Bolton Town Hall, Dibnah was filmed by a regional BBC news crew. The BBC then commissioned an award-winning documentary, which followed the rough-hewn steeplejack as he worked on chimneys, interacted with his family and talked about his favourite hobby—steam. Since then he has gone on to make many more Television programmes about Steam Engines & Locomotives and In 1998, he presented a programme on Britain’s industrial history and went on to present a number of fascinating series, largely concerned with the Industrial Revolution and its mechanical and architectural legacy.

In mid-2000, Dibnah was awarded an honorary degree of Doctor of Technology for his achievement in engineering by Robert Gordon University in Aberdeen, and on 19 July 2004 he was made an honorary Doctor of the University by the University of Birmingham. He was also awarded an MBE for services to heritage and broadcasting. He said “I’m looking forward to meeting the Queen but I shall probably have to get a new cap. And I’d like to meet Prince Charles because we share the same views about modern architecture.”On 7 July 2004, Dibnah went to Buckingham Palace to receive his award from the Queen.

Sadly Fred’s health was failing at this point although filming continued at various locations around the country, with sons Jack and Roger, who had become essential members of the tour, providing much-needed support for their father. By the end of July, the crew had filmed only 34 days with Dibnah, out of a planned 60. It was becoming more difficult by the day for Dibnah to fulfil his filming duties and the crew decided to cut short the schedule. Fred sadly passed away from cancer at Bolton Hospice in November 2004, aged 66. He is survived by his five children from three marriages.

Alibi by Joseph Kanon

I am currently reading the gripping Hammett Prize winning thriller Alibi by Joseph Kanon. Part Murder mystery and part love story, the novel is set in1946, and tells the story of Adam Miller, a recently demobilised US Army war Crimes Investigator, who has come to Venice to visit his expatriate widowed mother and try to forget the horrors he has witnessed in Germany. In Venice Miller meets and falls in love with Claudia, a beautiful Italian Jewish woman who is scarred by her devastating experiences in prison camp during World War II.

Adam is soon forced to confront another Venice, a city still at war with itself, haunted by atrocities it would rather forget when it transpires that Everyone, including Claudia and his mother’s suave new Venetian suitor, has been compromised by the occupation. Then when Venice’s troubled past erupts into violence and somebody is murdered, he finds himself at the center of a web of deception, murky morality, intrigue, and unexpected moral dilemmas and is forced to ask himself, when is murder acceptable? What are the limits of guilt and question How much is someone willing to pay for a perfect Alibi?

Sir Terry Pratchett OBE

imagePopular English novelist Sir Terry Pratchett OBE, was born 28th April 1948. He is best known for his frequently comical work in the fantasy genre In particular the popular and long-running Discworld series of comic fantasy novels. Pratchett’s first novel, The Carpet People, was published in 1971, and his first Discworld novel The Colour of Magic was published in 1983. Since then he has been very prolfc, writing on average, two books a year . After finishing the fourth Discworld novel, Mort, he decided to focus fully on hs novels and make his living through writing and published his fifth book Equal Rites soon after.

Since then He has written many other discworld Novels including Monsterous Regiment, Hogfather, Small Gods, Soul Music, Interesting Times, The Truth, The Fifth Elephant, Maurice & his Educated Rodents, Carpe Jugulum, Wyrd Sisters, Making Money, Wintersmith, Thud!, Night Watch, Unseen Academicals and I shall Wear Midnight. His latest Discworld book, Snuff has become the third-fastest-selling novel since records began in the United Kingdom selling 55,000 copies in the first three days (and I bought one of them). The novels all had distinctive cover art by Josh Kirby and Since Kirby sadly passed away in October 2001, the covers have been designed by Paul Kidby.

imageMany of Pratchett’s books have also been adapted for Radio and Television, the BBC’s Woman’s Hour broadcast The Colour of Magic as a serial in six parts and Truckers was adapted as a stop motion animation series for Thames Television by Cosgrove Hall Films in 1992. Johnny and the Dead was also made into a TV serial for Children’s ITV on ITV, and in 1995. Wyrd Sisters and Soul Music were adapted as animated cartoon series by Cosgrove Hall for Channel 4 in 1996. In January 2006, BBC One also aired a three-part adaptation of Johnny and the Bomb. A two-part, feature-length version of Hogfather starring Michelle Dockery, David Jason and featuring the voices of Christopher Lee and Ian Richardson, was first aired on Sky One in the United Kingdom in December 2006, and on ION Television in the U.S. in 2007. A two-part, feature-length adaptation of The Colour of Magic and its sequel The Light Fantastic aired during Easter 2008 on Sky One. A third adaptation, Going Postal was aired at the end of May 2010. The Sky adaptations are notable also for the author’s presence in cameo roles.

imageHe remains a hugely popular author to this day and many of his books have occupied top places on the best-seller list. According to the Bookseller’s Pocket Yearbook from 2005, in 2003 Pratchett’s UK sales put him in 2nd place behind J. K. Rowling and in the paperback sales list Pratchett came 5th, behind James Patterson, Alexander McCall Smith, John Grisham and J. R. R. Tolkien). His sales in the UK alone are more than 2.5 million copies a year. In 1998 Pratchett was appointed Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) “for services to literature” . In addition, he was knighted in the 2009 New Year Honours. In 2001 he won the Carnegie Medal for his children’s novel The Amazing Maurice and his Educated Rodents.

In December 2007, Pratchett publicly announced that he was suffering from posterior cortical atrophy, a variation of Alzheimer’s disease and, subsequently, made a substantial public donation to the Alzheimer’s Research Trust, and filmed a programme chronicling his experiences with the disease for the BBC. Sadly though Sir Terry Pratchett OBE, passed away on Thursday, 12 March 2015 at the age of 66 after a lengthy battle  with the disease at his home surrounded by his family and with his cat sleeping on his bed. His latest novel “The Shepherd’s Crown” will be published posthumously in 2015.

Ian Rankin

imageI am also a big fan of the Crime Thriller novels of Prolific Scottish crime writer Ian Rankin, OBE, DL who was born 28th April 1960. His best known books are the Inspector Rebus novels, although He has also written several pieces of literary criticism. Rankin did not set out to be a crime writer. He thought his first novels Knots and Crosses and Hide and Seek were mainstream books, more in keeping with the Scottish traditions of Robert Louis Stevenson and even Muriel Spark . He was disconcerted by their classification as genre fiction. Scottish novelist Allan Massie, who tutored Rankin while Massie was writer-in-residence at the University of Edinburgh, reassured him by saying, who would want to be a dry academic writer when “they could be John Buchan?”

Among his best known novels are The Flood, Knots and Crosses, Watchman, Westwind, Hide and Seek, Tooth and Nail, Strip Jack, Witch Hunt, Bleeding Hearts, Mortal Causes, Blood Hunt, Let it Bleed, Black and Blue, The Hanging Garden, Dead Souls, Set in Darkness, The Falls, Resurrection Man, Beggars Banquet, A Question of Blood, Flesh Market Close, Exit Music, A Cool Head and Doors Open.

Rankin’s Inspector Rebus novels are set mainly in Edinburgh and are considered major contributions to the Tartan Noir genre. Ten of the novels have also been adapted for a television series on ITV, starring John Hannah as Rebus in Series 1 & 2, with Ken Stott taking on the role for Series 3-5. In 2009, Rankin also recently donated the short story “Fieldwork” to Oxfam’s Ox-Tales project, four collections of UK stories written by 38 authors and Rankin’s story was published in the Earth collection. Rankin’s latest novel include  Standing in Another Man’s Grave( 18th Inspector Rebus & 3rd Malcolm Fox novel),  Saints of the Shadow Bible (19th Inspector Rebus & 4th Malcolm Fox novel), Dark Road Stage play, The Beat Goes On: The Complete Rebus Stories Short stories And Even Dogs in the Wild (the 20th Inspector Rebus & 5th Malcolm Fox novel).

Kate Pierson (B-52’s)

Kate Pierson, the American singer-songwriter and bass player withThe B-52’s and NiNa, Was born 27 April 1948. The B-52s were formed in Athens, Georgia in 1976. The original line-up consisted of Fred Schneider(vocals, percussion, keyboards), Kate Pierson (organ, bass, vocals), Cindy Wilson(vocals, bongos, tambourine, guitar), Ricky Wilson (guitars), and Keith Strickland(drums, guitars, synthesizers, various instruments) and cowbell player, poet and vocalist Fred Schneider played an impromptu musical jam session after sharing a tropical Flaming Volcano drink at a local Athens Chinese restaurant. Other ideas they had to name their band were the “Tina-Trons” and “Felini’s Children”. When they first jammed, Strickland played guitar and Wilson played congas. They later played their first concert (with Wilson playing guitar) in 1977 at a Valentine’s Day party for their friends.

The band’s name comes from a particular beehive hairdo resembling the nose cone of the aircraft of the same name. Keith Strickland suggested the name after a dream he had had one night, of a band performing in a hotel lounge. In the dream he heard someone whisper in his ear that the name of the band was “the B-52s.” The band’s quirky take on the new wave sound of their era was a combination of dance and surf music set apart from their contemporaries by the unusual guitar tunings used by Ricky Wilson and thrift-store chic. Their first single, “Rock Lobster”, recorded in 1978, was an underground success, which led to the B-52’s performing at CBGB and Max’s Kansas City in New York City. A rerecorded version of Rock Lobster was released as a single. In the UK and Germany it was backed with Running Around (Instrumental), which appeared on their second album Wild Planet. The buzz created by the record in the UK meant their first show in London at the Electric Ballroom, London, was packed in anticipation, with many UK pop stars such as Sandie Shaw, Green Gartside from Scritti Politti, Joe Jackson, and others in attendance. In Canada, released on the Warner Bros. label, the single went from cult hit to bona fide smash, eventually going on to reach the No. 1 position in the RPM-compiled national chart on May 24, 1980.

In 1979 The B-52’s signed contracts with Warner Bros. Records for North America, South America, Australia, and New Zealand; and with Island Records for the UK, Europe, and Asia. Chris Blackwell, founder of Island, produced their debut studio album. Recorded at Blackwell’s Compass Point Studios in The Bahamas, and released on July 6, 1979, The B-52’s contained re-recorded versions of “Rock Lobster” and “52 Girls”, six originals recorded solely for the album, and a remake of the Petula Clark single “Downtown”. According to the band interview on the DVD With the Wild Crowd! Live in Athens, GA, the band was surprised by Blackwell’s recording methods; he wanted to keep the sound as close as possible to their actual live sound so used almost no overdubs or additional effects. The album was a major success for the band, especially in Australia where it reached number three on the charts alongside its three singles “Planet Claire”, “Rock Lobster”, and “Dance This Mess Around”. In the United States, the single “Rock Lobster” reached the Billboard Hot 100 chart, while the album itself was certified platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America.

The follow-up, Wild Planet, reached number eighteen on the Billboard 200 chart in 1980 and was certified gold. “Private Idaho” became their second Hot 100 entry. On January 26, 1980, The B-52’s performed on Saturday Night Live. They also performed at the Heatwave festival (billed as the “New Wave Woodstock”) in Toronto, Canada in August 1980; and appeared in the Paul Simon film One Trick Pony. Their third release was a remix of tracks from their first two studio albums. Party Mix! took six tracks from the first two LPs and presented them in extended forms. John Lennon cited “Rock Lobster” as an inspiration for his comeback. In 1981 the band collaborated with musician David Byrne to produce a third full-length studio album. Due to alleged conflicts with Byrne over the album’s musical direction recording sessions for the album were aborted, prompting the band to release Mesopotamia (1982) as an extended play (EP), in 1991, Party Mix! and Mesopotamia, the latter of which had been remixed, were combined and released together on a single compact disc. In 1983 the band released their fourth album Whammy!; this album brought the band into synthesizer and drum machine experimentation. The album entered the Billboard 200 chart in 1983, reaching number twenty-nine during the year. “Legal Tender” reached the Billboard Hot 100 chart, as well as the Billboard Hot Dance Club Play Singles chart alongside “Whammy Kiss” and “Song for a Future Generation”. After initial pressings of Whammy! were released, copyright issues with Yoko Ono led to the song “Don’t Worry” being removed and replaced on future pressings by “Moon 83″, a remixed version of the track “There’s a Moon in the Sky (Called the Moon)” from their debut album.

After taking a one year absence from their musical careers in 1984 The B-52’s regrouped in 1985 to record Bouncing off the Satellites, their fifth studio record, and in January of that year they performed in Brazil, at Rock in Rio; their largest crowd ever. During the recording, guitarist Wilson had been suffering from AIDS/HIV-related health complications. None of the other band members were aware of his illness. In an interview, fellow band member Kate Pierson stated that Wilson had kept his illness secret from his fellow band members because he “did not want anyone to worry about him or fuss about him.” On October 12, 1985 Wilson died from the illness, at the age of 32. With Cindy Wilson devastated by her brother’s death, and her bandmates too being depressed about Ricky’s passing, the band went into seclusion and did not tour to promote their album nor the group, prompting a hiatus from their musical careers. In 1987 they released a public service announcement in the style of The Beatles’ Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band album cover on behalf of AMFAR (The Foundation for AIDS Research).

Following Ricky Wilson’s death in 1985 Strickland switched full-time to guitar. The band subsequently added various musicians for their live shows. This included Sara Lee or Tracy Wormworth on (bass),Zachary Alford or Sterling Campbell on (drums, percussion) and Pat Irwin or Paul Gordon (keyboards & guitars).Rooted in new wave and 1960s rock and roll, the group later covered many genresranging from post-punk to pop rock. The “guy vs. gals” vocals of Schneider, Pierson, and Wilson, sometimes used in call and response style (“Strobe Light,” “Private Idaho”, and “Good Stuff”), are a trademark. Presenting themselves as a positive, fun, enthusiastic, slightly oddball and goofy party band, the B-52’s tell tall tales, glorify wild youth and celebrate sexy romance.