Posted in films & DVD, music

Who you gonna call?

American musician-guitarist, singer-songwriter, producer and actor Ray Parker Jr. born May 1, 1954 in Detroit to Venolia Parker and Ray Parker Sr. He has two siblings, his brother Opelton and his sister Barbara. Parker attended Angel Elementary School where music teacher, Afred T Kirby inspired him to be a musician at age 6 playing the clarinet. Parker attended Cass Tech High School in the 10th grade. Parker graduated in 1971 from Detroit’s Northwestern High School. He was raised in the Dexter-Grand Boulevard neighborhood on its West Side. Parker attended college at Lawrence Institute of Technology.

Parker gained recognition during the late 1960s as a member of Bohannon ‘s house band at the legendary 20 Grand nightclub. This Detroit hotspot often featured Tamla/Motown acts, one of which, the (Detroit) Spinners, was so impressed with the young guitarist’s skills that they added him to their touring group. Through the Bohannon relationship at 16 he recorded and co-wrote his first songs with Marvin Gaye. Parker was also employed as a studio musician as a teenager for the emergent Holland-Dozier-Holland’s Invictus/Hot Wax stable, and his choppy style was particularly prevalent on “Want Ads”, a number one single for Honey Cone. Parker was later enlisted by Lamont Dozier to appear on his first two albums for ABC Records.

In 1972, Parker was a guest guitarist on Stevie Wonder’s funk song “Maybe Your Baby” from Wonder’s album Talking Book. He also was the lead guitarist for Stevie Wonder when Wonder served as the opening act on the Rolling Stones 1972 tou In 1973, he worked with Barry White’s The Love Unlimited Orchestra, before creating Raydio, an R&B group, in 1977, with Vincent Bohnam, Jerry Knight, and Arnell Carmichael. Parker appeared briefly in the 1974 film Uptown Saturday Night as a guitar player in the church picnic scene. Parker also wrote songs and did session work for The Carpenters, Rufus and Chaka Khan, Aretha Franklin, Stevie Wonder (an association which prompted a permanent move to Los Angeles), Deniece Williams, Bill Withers, Michael Henderson, Jean-Luc Ponty, Leon Haywood, The Temptations, The Spinners, Boz Scaggs, David Foster, Rhythm Heritage, Gladys Knight and the Pips, The Honey Cone, Herbie Hancock, Tina Turner, and Diana Ross. His first bona fide hit as a writer was “You Got the Love”, co-written with Chaka Khan and recorded by Rufus. The single hit #1 on the R&B charts and #11 on the pop charts in December 1974. According to a special mention, in 1976 he worked as rhythmic guitarist for Lucio Battisti’s album Io tu noi tutti, translated as “Me you and all of us”. Parker endorses and plays Mérida Guitars.

Raydio’s first big hits were “Jack and Jill”, from their self-titled debut album and, “You Can’t Change That”, from the Rock On album. In 1980, the group became known as Ray Parker Jr. and Raydio. The group released two more albums, Two Places at the Same Time in 1980 and A Woman Needs Love in 1981. he also produced the hard funk single “Sweat (till you get wet)” by Brick. During the 1980s, Ray Parker Jr. and Raydio had three hits -Two Places at the Same Time”, “That Old Song” and, “A Woman Needs Love (Just Like You Do)”,

After Raydio broke up in 1981. Parker continued with his solo career, scoring six Top 40 hits, including the hit singles “The Other Woman” and “Ghostbusters” which was also nominated for an Academy Award for Best Original Song in 1984 but lost to Stevie Wonder’s “I Just Called to Say I Love You” from The Woman in Red. Parker’s song secured him a 1984 Grammy Award for Best Pop Instrumental Performance. He also recorded “I Still Can’t Get Over Loving You” and “Jamie”.

Parker was one of the first black artists to venture into the then-fledgling world of music videos. In 1978, Hollywood producer Thom Eubank produced several music videos of songs by Raydio’s including “Jack & Jill” and “The Other Woman”. Parker also wrote and produced hits for New Edition (“Mr. Telephone Man”), Randy Hall, Cheryl Lynn (“Shake It Up Tonight”), Deniece Williams (“I Found Love”) and Diana Ross. He performed guitar on several songs on La Toya Jackson’s 1980 debut album. In 1989, he also wrote “Ghostbusters”, a rap performed by Run-D.M.C., for the movie Ghostbusters II.

In 1989 Parker worked with actor Jack Wagner (General Hospital) on an album, which contained the song “Wish You Were Mine”, which featured an intro rap by Parker. In 2006, Parker released a new CD titled I’m Free. Parker is also the founder and owner of the Los Angeles-based recording facility Ameraycan Recording Studios. In July 2016, Parker performed on ABC’s Greatest Hits. In 2014, Parker was invited by producer Gerry Gallagher to record with Latin rock legends El Chicano, Alphonse Mouzon, Brian Auger, Alex Ligertwood, Siedah Garrett, Walfredo Reyes Jr., Spencer Davis, Lenny Castro, Vikki Carr, Pete Escovedo, Peter Michael Escovedo, Jessy J, Marcos J. Reyes, Salvador Santana, and David Paich and is featured on guitar on the song “Something Got Me Started” from Gallagher’s most recent studio album due out in 2017.

Parker has also appeared on many television programmes including Gimme a Break, Pryor’s Place (for which Parker appeared in the opening title sequence singing the theme song), Disorderlies, Enemy Territory, Charlie Barnett’s Terms of Enrollment, two episodes of Berrenger’s, and Uptown Saturday Night (1974). He was also a production assistant for the film Fly by Night and made guest appearances on 21 Jump Street and Kids Incorporated. In early 2009, Parker appeared in a television advertisement for 118 118. In 2014, Parker appeared in the fifth episode of the first season of NBC’s romantic comedy television series A to Z, singing the “Ghostbusters” theme song for a Halloween party. Ray Parker also appeared onTV One’s series, Unsung.

Posted in films & DVD, music

Bernard Butler (Suede)

English musician, songwriter and record producer Bernard Joseph Butler was born born 1 May 1970. He is best known as the first guitarist with Suede, until his departure in 1994. He has been hailed by some critics as the greatest guitarist of his generation; BBC journalist Mark Savage called him “one of Britain’s most original and influential guitarists”. He was voted the 24th greatest guitarist of the last 30 years in a national 2010 BBC poll and is often seen performing with a 1961 cherry red Gibson ES-355 TD SV (Stereo Varitone) with a Bigsby vibrato tailpiece. Butler also names former Smiths guitarist Johnny Marr as his major inspiration.

He first achieved fame in 1992 as the guitarist with Suede, forging a songwriting partnership with Brett Anderson. He co-wrote and played guitars on every recording until 1994, when he exited Suede, leaving behind the Mercury Music Prize-winning debut Suede, as well as the follow-up Dog Man Star. Immediately after leaving Suede he formed the duo McAlmont and Butler with David McAlmont and they released two singles, “Yes” and “You Do”. A compilation album, The Sound of McAlmont and Butler, was also released.

Butler then released two solo albums under his own name, People Move On and Friends and Lovers, on Creation Records, yielding the hit single “Stay”. In 2001 Butler teamed up with McAlmont for a second McAlmont and Butler album, Bring it Back, and they toured the UK after the release of two singles, “Falling” and “Bring it Back”. In 2004 Butler formed a new band with Brett Anderson, The Tears, based on the same style that yielded their first successes with Suede in the early 1990s. The Tears released their debut LP, Here Come The Tears, produced by Butler, in June 2005. Singles include “Refugees”, which reached number 9 in the UK Singles Chart, and “Lovers”.

Butler has also collaborated with many musicians and has played on and/or produced records by Aimee Mann, Edwyn Collins, Neneh Cherry, Tim Booth (of James), Eddi Reader, Hopper, Roy Orbison, Bert Jansch, The Libertines, Heather Nova, Mark Owen, The Veils, Sophie Ellis-Bextor, The Cribs, the Pretenders, The On-Off’s, 1990s, The Mescalitas, Cut Off Your Hands, Cajun Dance Party, The View, Arkitekt, Sons and Daughters, Black Kids, Tricky, Sharleen Spiteri, Nerina Pallot and Natalie McCool. In 2005 he was introduced to Welsh singer Duffy, and contributed to her top-selling debut album Rockferry—it was the best selling album of 2008 in the UK—which won the Best Pop Vocal Album Grammy Award in 2008. Butler told the media in April 2014, in regard to the Welsh singer’s musical career difficulties:

In 2009 Butler co-wrote/produced/played on tracks by The Veils, Tommy Reilly, Jonathan Jeremiah, Kate Jackson and Catherine A.D who now performs as The Anchoress. He also worked on Kate Nash’s second album My Best Friend Is You. Butler also worked with Nerina Pallot, Fyfe Dangerfield, Noisettes, Slow Club, Gabrielle, Howling Bells, The Veils, Simon Dine, and new artists Jodie Marie, Vince, Daley, Summer Camp, Joe Worricker and Scott McFarnon. Butler also produced albums for Frankie & The Heartstrings and the album Days & Nights. He also co-wrote and produced Texas’s comeback album The Conversation. In 2013 Butler worked with the group Teleman, to finish their debut album; he also worked on songs with London group Flowers; and collaborated with Paloma Faith and Fyfe Dangerfield.

In 2013, he sang an impromptu improvisational performance at the Sunderland record store run by Frankie & The Heartstrings. Alongside members of Warm Digits, Field Music and 1990s and also played two shows at The Slaughtered Lamb in London, UK, accompanying Ben Watt on electric guitar. In 2013, new group Trans released the red EP, the first in a series of EPs for Rough Trade Records with Jackie McKeown, Paul Borchers and Igor Volk In February 2014, Butler played two lives shows with Watt at London’s St Pancras Old Church, preceding the release of Watt’s solo album Hendra. Butler also joined Watt on an eight-show UK tour in support of the album. Butler played again with Watt in November 2014 as part of the Ben Watt Trio. Butler also organised two special McAlmont & Butler performances to raise funds for The Bobath Centre’s work with children with cerebral palsy. The London shows at the Union Chapel and Islington Assembly Hall sold out, and the duo were accompanied by a full band that consisted of members of The Magic Numbers, Mako Sakamoto on drums and Sean Read on keyboards.

Butler also created the soundtrack to the 1997 film The James Gang and played on the soundtrack of Velvet Goldmine, alongside Thom Yorke and Jonny Greenwood of Radiohead.

Posted in Events

Calan Mai

Calan Mai or Calan Haf (“Calend of Summer”) is a May Day holiday of Wales held on 1 May. Celebrations start on the evening before, known as May Eve, with bonfires; as with Calan Gaeaf or November 1, the night before (Welsh: Nos Galan Haf) is considered an Ysbrydnos or “spirit night” when spirits are out and about divination is possible. The tradition of lighting bonfires celebrating this occasion happened annually in South Wales until the middle of the 19th century. Calan Haf parallels Beltane and other May Day traditions in Europe.

Customs for Calan Mai include gathering hawthorn (Welsh: draenen wen, “white-thorn”) branches and flowers which villagers would then use to decorate the outside of their houses, celebrating new growth and fertility. In Anglesey and Caernarvonshire it would be common on May Eve to have gware gwr gwyllt “playing straw man” or crogi gwr gwellt “hanging a straw man”. A man who had lost his sweetheart to another man would make a man out of straw and put it somewhere in the vicinity of where the girl lived. The straw man represented her new sweetheart and had a note pinned to it. Often the situation led to a fight between the two men at the May Fair. Calan Haf would be the time to stage a mock fight between Summer and Winter. The man representing Winter carried a stick of blackthorn (Welsh: draenen ddu “black-thorn”) and a shield that had pieces of wool stuck on it to represent snow. The man representing Summer was decorated with garlands of flowers and ribbons and carried a willow-wand which had spring flowers tied on it with ribbons. A mock battle took place in which the forces of Winter threw straw and dry underbrush at the forces of Summer who retaliated with birch branches, willow (Welsh: helygen) rods, and young ferns (Welsh: rhedyn). Eventually the forces of Summer would win and a May King and Queen were chosen and crowned, after which there was feasting, dancing, games and drinking until the next morning. This is similar to the Green Man festivals held annually in Clun and many other places near the Welsh border.

May Day was also the time that the twmpath chwarae or “tump for playing” (a kind of village green) was officially opened. Through the summer months in some villages the people would gather on the twmpath chwarae in the evenings to dance and play various sports. The green was usually situated on the top of a hill and a mound was made where the fiddler or harpist sat. Sometimes branches of oak decorated the mound and the people would dance in a circle around it. Dawnsio haf “summer dancing” was a feature of the May Day celebration, as was carolau Mai “May carols” also known as carolau haf “summer carols” or canu dan y pared “singing under the wall”, these songs being often of a bawdy or sexual nature. The singers would visit families on May morning accompanied by a harpist or fiddler, to wish them the greetings of the season and give thanks to “the bountiful giver of all good gifts.” If their singing was thought worthy, they would be rewarded with food, drink, and possibly money. Common drinks during Calan Mai festivities were metheglin or mead. Sometimes it was made of herbs, including woodruff, a sweet-smelling herb which was often put in wine in times past to make a man merry and act as a tonic for the heart and liver. Elderberry and rhubarb wines were popular and the men also liked various beers.

Posted in Events, nature

International Sunflower Guerrilla gardening day

The International Sunflower Guerrilla Gardening Day, takes place annually on the 1st of May internationally. During the event guerrilla gardeners surruptitiously plant sunflowers in their neighborhoods, typically in public places perceived to be neglected, such as tree pits, flower beds and roadside verges. Guerrilla gardening is the act of gardening on land that the gardeners do not have the legal rights to cultivate, such as abandoned sites, areas that are not being cared for, or private property. It encompasses a diverse range of people and motivations, ranging from gardeners who spill over their legal boundaries to gardeners with political influences who seek to provoke change by using guerrilla gardening as a form of protest or direct action.

This practice has implications for land rights and land reform; aiming to promote re-consideration of land ownership in order to assign a new purpose or reclaim land that is perceived to be in neglect or misused. The land that is guerrilla gardened is usually abandoned or perceived to be neglected by its legal owner. That land is used by guerrilla gardeners to raise plants, frequently focusing on food crops or plants intended for aesthetic purposes.Some guerrilla gardeners carry out their actions at night, in relative secrecy, to sow and tend a new vegetable patch or flower garden in an effort to make the area of use and/or more attractive. Some garden at more visible hours for the purpose of publicity, which can be seen as a form of activism.

International Sunflower Guerrilla Gardening Day Has taken place since 2007, and was conceived by guerrilla gardeners in Brussels, (who go by the name of The Brussels Farmers). They declared it Journée Internationale de la Guérilla Tournesol. It has been championed by guerrilla gardeners around the world, notably by GuerrillaGardening.org and participation has grown each year since then. In 2010, more than 5000 people signed up for the event from North America, Europe and Asia.Although sunflower sowing at this time of the year is limited to relatively temperate parts of the Northern Hemisphere, this day is also marked in other parts of the world by planting plants appropriate to the season.

The online organisation GuerrillaGardening.org was created in October 2004 by Richard Reynolds as a blog of his solo guerrilla gardening outside Perronet House, a council block in London’s Elephant and Castle district. At the time, his motivations were simply those of a frustrated gardener looking to beautify the neighborhood, but his website attracted the interest of fellow guerrilla gardeners in London and beyond, as well as the world’s media. Reynolds’s guerrilla gardening has now reached many pockets of South London, and news of his activity has inspired people around the world to get involved. He also works alongside other troops, some local and some who travel to participate. He has also guerrilla-gardened in Libya, Berlin and Montreal. Today, GuerrillaGardening.org is still his blog but also includes tips, links and thriving community boards where guerrilla gardeners from around the world are finding supportive locals.

His book, On Guerrilla Gardening, which describes and discusses activity in 30 different countries, was published by Bloomsbury Publishing in the UK and USA in May 2008, in Germany in 2009, France in 2010 and South Korea in 2012. He regularly speaks on the subject to audiences and in 2010 launched a campaign focusing specifically on pavements as an opportunity, to ‘plant life in your street’. Many local branches have sprouted since, such as Leaf Street, an acre of land in Hulme, Manchester, England, that was once an urban street until turfed over by Manchester City Council. Local people, facilitated by Manchester Permaculture Group, took direct action in turning the site into a thriving community garden. Another example is Kew Bridge Eco Village, London, England which was created after land rights activists moved on to a derelict piece of land near Kew Gardens in West London. Kew Bridge Eco Village started as a small community of squatters who grew vegetables and built basic wooden dwellings on the land.

Posted in Humour, music

Spike Jones

The late, great musician and bandleader, Lindley Armstrong “Spike” Jones sadly died 1 May 1965. He was born on December 14th 1879 and got his nickname from being so thin that he was compared to a railroad spike. At the age of 11 he got his first set of drums. As a teenager he played in bands that he formed himself. A railroad restaurant chef taught him how to use pots and pans, forks, knives and spoons as musical instruments. He frequently played in theater pit orchestras. In the 1930s he joined the Victor Young orchestra and thereby got many offers to appear on radio shows, including Al Jolson’s Lifebuoy Program, Burns and Allen, and Bing Crosby’s Kraft Music Hall. From 1937 to 1942, he was the percussionist for the John Scott Trotter Orchestra, which played on Bing Crosby’s first recording of White Christmas. The City Slickers evolved out of the Feather Merchants, and made experimental records and performed publicly, gaining a small following. The original members included vocalist-violinist Carl Grayson, banjoist Perry Botkin, trombonist King Jackson and pianist Stan Wrightsman.Throughout the 1940s and early 1950s Spike Jones and his City Slickers enjoyed huge success, with their satirical arrangements of popular songs. Ballads and classical works, which after receiving “the Jones treatment” would be punctuated with gunshots, whistles, cowbells, and outlandish vocals and sounded absolutely hilarious.

Among the best known satirical recordings were humorous takes on the classics such as the adaptation of Liszt’s Liebesträume, played at a breakneck pace on unusual instruments. Others followed: Rossini’s William Tell Overture was rendered on kitchen implements using a horse race as a backdrop, with one of the “horses” in the “race” likely to have inspired the nickname of the lone SNJ aircraft flown by the US Navy’s Blue Angels aerobatic team’s shows in the late 1940s, “Beetle Bomb”. In live shows Spike would acknowledge the applause with complete solemnity, saying “Thank you, music lovers.” A collection of these 12 “homicides” was released in 1971 as Spike Jones Is Murdering the Classics. They include such tours de force as Pal-Yat-Chee (Pagliacci), Ponchielli’s Dance of the Hours, Tchaikovsky’s None but the Lonely Heart, Flight of the Bumble-Bee and Bizet’s Carmen. Then In December 1945 Spike released his version of Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker Suite, arranged by Joe “Country” Washburne with lyrics by Foster Carling.

Sadly The rise of rock-’n’-roll during the 1950′sand the decline of big bands hurt Spike Jones’ repertoire. The new rock songs were already novelties, and Jones could not decimate them the way he had lampooned “Cocktails for Two” or “Laura.” He played rock-’n’-roll for laughs when he presented “for the first time on television, the bottom half of Elvis Presley!” This was the cue for a pair of pants — inhabited by dwarf actor Billy Barty — to scamper across the stage. Jones adapted to changing tastes. In 1950, when America was nostalgically looking back at the 1920s, Jones recorded an album of Charleston arrangements. In 1953 he responded to the growing market for children’s records, with tunes aimed directly at kids (like “Socko, the Smallest Snowball”).In 1956 Jones supervised an album of Christmas songs, many of which were performed seriously.

In 1957, he revamped his own act for television. Gone was the old City Slickers mayhem, replaced by a more straightforward big-band sound, with tongue-in-cheek comic moments. The new band was known as Spike Jones and the Band that Plays for Fun. He also recorded a cover of “Dominique” with Spike Jones’ New Band in 1964, a hit by The Singing Nun, in which he not only plays part of the melody on a banjo but melds the melody successfully with “When the Saints Go Marching In!” The last City Slickers record was the LP Dinner Music For People Who Aren’t Very Hungry. The whole field of comedy records changed from musical satires to spoken-word comedy (Tom Lehrer, Bob Newhart, Mort Sahl, Stan Freberg). Spike Jones adapted to this, too; most of his later albums are spoken-word comedy, including the horror-genre sendup Spike Jones in Stereo (1959) and Omnibust (1960). Jones remained topical to the last: his final group, Spike Jones’ New Band, recorded four LPs of brassy renditions of pop-folk tunes of the 1960s (including “Washington Square” and “The Ballad of Jed Clampett”). Jones was a lifelong smoker. He was once said to have gotten through the average workday on coffee and cigarettes. Smoking may have contributed to his developing emphysema. His already thin frame deteriorated, to the point where he used an oxygen tank offstage, and onstage he was confined to a seat behind his drum set. He sadly died on May 1, 1965 and is buried in Holy Cross Cemetery, Culver City, California.

Posted in music

D’Arcy Wretsky (Smashing Pumpkins)

American musician D’arcy Wretzky-Brown was born May 1, 1968. She was raised in South Haven, Michigan, where her mother, a musician working as a lounge singer, encouraged D’arcy and her sisters to perform music. Growing up, she played the violin and oboe, and performed in choirs. She also performed gymnastics. Wretzky intended to start a musical career since she was 10 years old. She would later refer to her father, a pipefitter with a love of horseback riding, as “a very strange man.” The young Wretzky was a self-described “tomboy,” and had a contentious relationship with her sister. Wretzky attended South Haven’s L.C. Mohr High School, where she grew interested in post-punk and played in cover bands. After high school, she moved to France to join a band, but the band had already disbanded upon her arrival, prompting her to return to the United States. She then moved to Chicago and spent the summer living with friends and attending concerts. Wretzky stated that she is a self-taught bass player.

IMG_4561Wretsky joined the Smashing Pumpkins after a concert at a local rock club, When she overheard Billy Corgan criticizing the band that had performed. An argument and discussion followed, and Corgan recruited her into his band, the nascent Smashing Pumpkins, which, at the time, was merely Corgan, James Iha, and a drum machine. Wretzky was joined by Jimmy Chamberlin a few months later, after Joe Shanahan encouraged Corgan to add a live drummer. Wretzky is the credited bassist on the Smashing Pumpkins’ first five studio albums: Gish, Siamese Dream, Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness, Adore, and Machina/The Machines of God. It was confirmed by both her and Corgan, however, that Corgan played the bass tracks for Siamese Dream because he could complete them in far fewer takes. Wretzky also contributed backing vocals in concert, and on many songs including “Daydream” from Gish, many songs on Siamese Dream, “1979”, “Cupid De Locke”, “Farewell and Goodnight”, “Beautiful”; “Where Boys Fear To Tread” from Mellon Collie, and “Dreaming” and “The Bells” from The Aeroplane Flies High. Wretzky also co-wrote one Smashing Pumpkins song, “Daughter”.

Wretzky’s time in the band was marked by alternating periods of happiness and discomfort. Corgan considered her the “moral authority” and “moral conscience” of the band. In the aftermath of the success of 1995’s Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness, Corgan said she began an “apparent slow descent into insanity and/or drugs.” After “The Arising!” tour in April 1999 which saw all four original members performing together for the first time since 1996, Wretzky decided to leave the band with intentions of pursuing an acting career. The band was recording Machina/The Machines of God at the time and consequently she performed very few bass parts on the album. Most of the bass parts were handled by Corgan himself. Shortly after leaving the group, she was arrested for possession of crack cocaine. Corgan later said she was “fired for being a mean spirited drug addict who refused to get help.” She was replaced on 2000s Machina tour by former Hole bassist Melissa Auf der Maur.

Wretzky did not participate in the Smashing Pumpkins’ reunion. In 2008, she and her former bandmate James Iha filed a lawsuit against Virgin Records for selling ringtones of Smashing Pumpkins songs without their consent. Wretzky is a Sci-Fi fan of both Star Trek and the X-Files. She has stated that space travel and aliens are a recurring influence on her creative ideas, and still a possible influence on acting aspirations and the talked about future plans for a solo album. In 2009 Wretzky Called in unexpectedly on Chicago’s Q101 FM with Ryan Manno. During the interview, she professed her admiration for Monkees frontman Davy Jones who was known to be an early romantic crush of Darcy’s. She also discussed her appreciation for the band Silversun Pickups She also mentioned that she then lived on a farm in Michigan, that she had briefly lived in Austin, Texas, sometime during the previous decade, and that former fiancé Wendell Green had died. Sadly Wretzky was jailed in February 2011 for missing four court dates related to a ticket she received for failing to control her horses. She spent six days in jail. She was also arrested on February 7, 2011, on a misdemeanor drunken-driving charge in South Haven, Michigan.

During 2013, Wretzky’s relationship with Corgan remained tense however she tried to re-establish contact with him in 2014 and In August 2016, Billy Corgan posted a video to Facebook acknowledging that he and Wretzky had recently reestablished communication saying “I’ve been in communication with D’arcy for the first time in 16 or 17 years, it’s awesome to have my friend back.” Corgan emphasized that this did not necessarily mean the band was getting back together instead insisting “my primary interest in the old band was us having good relationships again.”

Wretzky joined the band Catherine as a second vocalist for their final album Hot Saki and Bedtime Stories. She also appeared in the video for Four Leaf Clover. At the time, Wretzky was married to Catherine member Kerry Brown. Wretzky contributed vocals to the track “One and Two” on James Iha’s 1998 solo album, Let It Come Down. In 1999, she contributed vocals on two Filter songs, “Cancer” and the big international hit “Take A Picture”. During this time, she worked with cellist Eric Remschneider, whom she had worked with when he had recorded with the Smashing Pumpkins. Filter lead singer Richard Patrick Had a romantic relationship with Wretzky saying she was the subject of a song he wrote called “Miss Blue”

Posted in cars, sport

Ayrton Senna

Generally regarded as one of the greatest F1 drivers to have raced, the Brazilian driver & three-time Formula One world champion Ayrton Senna was tragically killed 1st May 1994 in a crash at Tamburello corner while leading the 1994 San Marino Grand Prix at Imola. Senna was born in Santana near Sao Paulo on 21st March 1960 and began his motorsport career in karting, moving up to open-wheel racing in 1981, and winning the British Formula 3 championship in 1983.

Ayrton Senna began his motorsport career in karting, moving up to open-wheel racing in 1981, and winning the British Formula 3 championship in 1983. He made his Formula One debut with Toleman-Hart in 1984 before moving to Lotus-Renault the following year and winning six Grands Prix over the next three seasons. In 1988, he joined Frenchman Alain Prost at McLaren-Honda. Between them, they won all but one of the 16 Grands Prix that year and Senna his first World Championship. Prost claimed the championship in 1989, and Senna his second and third championships in 1990 and 1991. In 1992, the Williams-Renault combination began to dominate Formula One. Senna nonetheless managed to finish the 1993 season as runner-up, winning five races and negotiating a move to Williams in 1994. Senna was recognised for his qualifying speed over one lap and from 1989 until 2006 held the record for most pole positions.

He was especially quick in wet conditions, as shown by his performances in the 1984 Monaco Grand Prix, the 1985 Portuguese Grand Prix, and the 1993 European Grand Prix. He also holds the record for most victories at the prestigious Monaco Grand Prix – six – and is the third most successful driver of all time in terms of race wins. Senna courted controversy throughout his career, particularly during his turbulent rivalry with Alain Prost. Both the 1989 Championship won by Prost and the 1990 Championship won by Senna were decided by collisions between them at those years’ Japanese Grands Prix.

Posted in Events

Beltane/May Day/International Workers Day

May Day on May 1 is an ancient Northern Hemisphere spring festival and usually a public holiday. it is also a traditional spring holiday in many cultures. Dances, singing, and cake are usually part of the celebrations that the day includes. In the late 19th Century, May Day was chosen as the date for International Workers’ Day by the Socialists and Communists of the Second International to commemorate the Haymarket affair in Chicago. In those countries that celebrate International Workers’ Day, the day may also be referred to as “May Day” but it is a different celebration from the traditional May Day.

The earliest May Day celebrations appeared in pre-Christian times, with the Floralia, festival of Flora, the Roman goddess of flowers, held April 27 during the Roman Republic era, and with the Walpurgis Night celebrations of the Germanic countries. It is also associated with the Gaelic Beltane, most commonly held on April 30. The day was a traditional summer holiday in many pre-Christian European pagan cultures. While February 1 was the first day of Spring, May 1 was the first day of summer; hence, the summer solstice on June 25 (now June 21) was Midsummer.[citation needed]

As Europe became Christianised, the pagan holidays lost their religious character and May Day changed into a popular secular celebration. A significant celebration of May Day occurs in Germany where it is one of several days on which St. Walburga, credited with bringing Christianity to Germany, is celebrated. The secular versions of May Day, observed in Europe and America, may be best known for their traditions of dancing around the maypole and crowning the Queen of May. Fading in popularity since the late 20th century is the giving of “May baskets,” small baskets of sweets or flowers, usually left anonymously on neighbors’ doorsteps.

Since the 18th Century, many Roman Catholics have observed May — and May Day — with various May devotions to the Blessed Virgin Mary In works of art, school skits, and so forth, Mary’s head will often be adorned with flowers in a May crowning. May 1 is also one of two feast days of the Catholic patron saint of workers St Joseph the Worker, a carpenter, husband to Mother Mary, and surrogate father of Jesus.Replacing another feast to St. Joseph, this date was chosen by the Pope Pius XII in 1955 to create as a counterpoint to the Communist International Workers Day celebrations on May Day.Beginning in the late 20th century, many neopagans began reconstructing traditions and celebrating May Day as a pagan religious festival. Traditional English May Day rites and celebrations include Morris dancing, crowning a May Queen and celebrations involving a maypole. Much of this tradition derives from the pagan Anglo-Saxon customs held during “Þrimilci-mōnaþ” (the Old English name for the month of May meaning Month of Three Milkings) along with many Celtic traditions.

the traditional flower associated with May Day is the May blossom,the flower of the May tree or common hawthorn, Crataegus monogyna. May Day has also been a day of festivities throughout the centuries and is most associated with celebrating springtime fertility (of the soil, livestock, and people) and revelry with village fetes and community gatherings. Since the reform of the Catholic calendar, May 1 is the Feast of St Joseph the Worker, the patron saint of workers. Seeding has been completed by this date and it was convenient to give farm labourers a day off. Perhaps the most significant of the traditions is the maypole, around which traditional dancers circle with ribbons.

The May Day bank holiday, on the first Monday in May, was traditionally the only one to affect the state school calendar, although new arrangements in some areas to even out the length of school terms mean that Good Friday (a common law holiday) and Easter Monday (a bank holiday), which vary from year to year, may also fall during term time. The Spring Bank Holiday on the first Monday in May was created in 1978; May Day itself – May 1 – is not a public holiday in England (unless it falls on a Monday). In February 2011, the UK Parliament was reported to be considering scrapping the bank holiday associated with May Day, replacing it with a bank holiday in October, possibly coinciding with Trafalgar Day (celebrated on October 21), to create a “United Kingdom Day.”

May Day was abolished and its celebration banned by puritan parliaments during the Interregnum, but reinstated with the restoration of Charles II in 1660.[8] May 1, 1707, was the day the Act of Union came into effect, joining England and Scotland to form the Kingdom of Great Britain. In Oxford, it is traditional for May Morning revellers to gather below the Great Tower of Magdalen College at 6:00 a.m. to listen to the college choir sing traditional madrigals as a conclusion to the previous night’s celebrations. It is then thought to be traditional for some people to jump off Magdalen Bridge into the River Cherwell. However this has actually only been fashionable since the 1970s, possibly due to the presence of television cameras. In recent years, the bridge has been closed on 1 May to prevent people from jumping, as the water under the bridge is only 2 feet (61 cm) deep and jumping from the bridge has resulted in serious injury in the past. There are still people who insist on climbing the barriers and leaping into the water, causing themselves injury. In Durham, students of the University of Durham gather on Prebend’s Bridge to see the sunrise and enjoy festivities, folk music, dancing, madrigal singing and a barbecue breakfast. This is an emerging Durham tradition, with patchy observance since 2001.

Kingsbury Episcopi, Somerset, has seen its yearly May Day Festival celebrations on the May bank holiday Monday burgeon in popularity in the recent years. Since it was reinstated 21 years ago it has grown in size, and on May 5, 2014 thousands of revellers were attracted from all over the South West to enjoy the festivities, with BBC Somerset covering the celebrations. These include traditional maypole dancing and morris dancing, as well as a number of excellent contemporary music acts; artists such as Mad Dog Mcrea and the Three Daft Monkeys have played in previous years. In 2014, the Green Man Stage was graced with four acts, including traditional Somerset folk singer Mary Bateman, upbeat folk act The Roving Crows, solo acoustic artist Gaz Brookfield and the Lounge Lizards.

Whitstable, Kent, hosts a good example of more traditional May Day festivities, where the Jack in the Green festival was revived in 1976 and continues to lead an annual procession of morris dancers through the town on the May Bank Holiday. A separate revival occurred in Hastings in 1983 and has become a major event in the town calendar. A traditional Sweeps Festival is performed over the May bank holiday in Rochester, Kent, where the Jack in the Green is woken at dawn on May 1 by Morris dancers.

At 7:15 p.m. on May 1 each year, the Kettle Bridge Clogs morris dancing side dance across Barming Bridge (otherwise known as the Kettle Bridge), which spans the River Medway near Maidstone, to mark the official start of their morris dancing season. Also known as Ashtoria Day in Northern parts of rural Cumbria. A celebration of unity and female bonding. Although not very well known, it is often cause for huge celebration. The Maydayrun involves thousands of motorbikes taking a 55-mile (89 km) trip from London (Locksbottom) to the Hastings seafront, East Sussex. The event has been taking place for almost 30 years now and has grown in interest from around the country, both commercially and publicly. The event is not officially organised; the police only manage the traffic, and volunteers manage the parking.

Padstow in Cornwall holds its annual Obby-Oss (Hobby Horse) day of festivities. This is believed to be one of the oldest fertility rites in the UK; revellers dance with the Oss through the streets of the town and even through the private gardens of the citizens, accompanied by accordion players and followers dressed in white with red or blue sashes who sing the traditional “May Day” song. The whole town is decorated with springtime greenery, and every year thousands of onlookers attend. Prior to the 19th-century distinctive May day celebrations were widespread throughout West Cornwall, and are being revived in St. Ives and Penzance.

Kingsand, Cawsand and Millbrook in Cornwall celebrate Flower Boat Ritual on the May Day bank holiday. A model of the ship The Black Prince is covered in flowers and is taken in procession from the Quay at Millbrook to the beach at Cawsand where it is cast adrift. The houses in the villages are decorated with flowers and people traditionally wear red and white clothes. There are further celebrations in Cawsand Square with Morris dancing and May pole dancing. At the University of St Andrews, some of the students gather on the beach late on April 30 and run into the North Sea at sunrise on May Day, occasionally naked. This is accompanied by torchlit processions and much elated celebration. Both Edinburgh and Glasgow organize Mayday festivals and rallies. In Edinburgh, the Beltane Fire Festival is held on the evening of May eve and into the early hours of May Day on the city’s Calton Hill. An older Edinburgh tradition has it that young women who climb Arthur’s Seat and wash their faces in the morning dew will have lifelong beauty.
—————————————-
International Workers’ Day or Labour Day is held on May 1 in Great Britain to celebrate labourers and the working classes. It is promoted by the international labour movement, anarchists, socialists, and communists, it also coincides with the Celtic spring festival Beltane. The date was chosen to commemorate the Haymarket affair, which occurred in Chicago on 4 May 1886 when the police killed four demonstrators while trying to disperse a public assembly during a general strike for the eight-hour working day. International Workers Day was also campaigned for by other trade unionists as a day to celebrate labor and was first proposed In 1882 by Matthew Maguire, a machinist, who proposed a Labor Day holiday while serving as secretary of the Central Labor Union (CLU)) of New York.Peter J. McGuire of the American Federation of Labor also proposed a day in May 1882, after witnessing the annual labour festival held in Toronto, Canada. Thus on September 1887, Oregon was among thirty US States to celebrate Labor Day an official public holiday.

Elsewhere May 1 was chosen to be International Workers’ Day After Raymond Lavigne proposed international demonstrations on the 1890 anniversary of the Chicago protests at a meeting held by Second international in Paris. Subsequently May Day was formally recognized as an annual event at the International’s second congress in 1891. In 1904, the International Socialist Conference called on “all Social Democratic Party organizations and trade unions to legally establish an eight hour working day. Since thenvMay Day has been a focal point for demonstrations by various socialist, communist and anarchist groups. May Day has been an important official holiday in countries such as the People’s Republic of China, North Korea, Cuba and the former Soviet Union. May Day celebrations typically feature elaborate popular and military parades in these countries. In 1955, the Catholic Church dedicated 1 May to “Saint Joseph The patron saint of workers and craftsmen (among others).

During the Cold War, May Day became the occasional for large military parades in Red Square by the Soviet Union and attended by the top leaders of the Kremlin, especially the Politburo, atop Lenin’s Tomb. It became an enduring symbol of that period. Haymarket affair in Chicago. The police were trying to disperse a public assembly during a general strike for the eight-hour workday, when an unidentified person threw a bomb at the police. The police responded by firing on the workers, killing four demonstrators. In 1889, a meeting in Paris was held by the first congress of the Second International, following a proposal by Raymond Lavigne which called for international demonstrations on the 1890 anniversary of the Chicago protests. In 1955, the Catholic Church dedicated 1 May to “Saint Joseph” the patron saint of workers and craftsmen

In London there is a May Day March and rally, organised by the London May Day Committee (South East Region Trades Councils), during which people gather together in Clerkenwell Green near the Marx Memorial Library before marching to Trafalgar Square for a rally with speeches from representatives of local, national and international trades unions and campaigning organisations. This event always takes place on May 1 with the intention to reinstate May 1, regardless of what day it falls on, as a national holiday. More images and information of London’s May Day rally is covered by the “Working Class Heroes” project.
——————————————————
Beltane or Beltain is the Gaelic May Day festival. Most commonly it is held on 1 May, or about halfway between the spring equinox and the summer solstice. Historically, it was widely observed throughout Ireland, Scotland and the Isle of Man. In Irish it is Bealtaine in Scottish Gaelic Bealltainn and in Manx Gaelic Boaltinn or Boaldyn. It is one of the four Gaelic seasonal festivals—along with Samhain, Imbolc and Lughnasadh—and is similar to the Welsh Calan Mai.

Beltane is mentioned in some of the earliest Irish literature and it is associated with important events in Irish mythology. It marked the beginning of summer and was when cattle were driven out to the summer pastures. Rituals were performed to protect the cattle, crops and people, and to encourage growth. Special bonfires were kindled, and their flames, smoke and ashes were deemed to have protective powers. The people and their cattle would walk around the bonfire, or between two bonfires, and sometimes leap over the flames or embers. All household fires would be doused and then re-lit from the Beltane bonfire. These gatherings would be accompanied by a feast, and some of the food and drink would be offered to the aos sí. Doors, windows, byres and the cattle themselves would be decorated with yellow May flowers, perhaps because they evoked fire. In parts of Ireland, people would make a May Bush; a thorn bush decorated with flowers, ribbons and bright shells. Holy wells were also visited, while Beltane dew was thought to bring beauty and maintain youthfulness. Many of these customs were part of May Day or Midsummer festivals in other parts of Great Britain and Europe.

Beltane celebrations had largely died-out by the mid-20th century, although some of its customs continued and in some places it has been revived as a cultural event. Since the latter 20th century, Celtic neopagans and Wiccans have observed Beltane, or something based on it, as a religious holiday. Neopagans in the Southern Hemisphere often celebrate Beltane at the other end of the year (~1 November).