Dave Bartholomew, A Father Of Rock And Roll, Dead At 100 ~ NPR

Dave Bartholomew, the New Orleans trumpeter, songwriter, bandleader, producer and arranger, has died; his son, Don Bartholomew, confirmed the news to NPR. He was 100.

 

Best known for collaborating on an extraordinary string of hits with Fats Domino between 1949 and 1963 – amassing more than one hundred entries on the pop and R&B charts during that span of time – Bartholomew was one of the primary architects of the sound now known as rock and roll.

David Louis Bartholomew was born on Christmas Eve 1918 in Edgard, La., the seat of St. John the Baptist Parish, located about forty miles northwest of New Orleans proper. Some of the first live music Bartholomew heard came from the bands aboard showboats that docked at Caire’s Landing in Edgard, as they steamed up and down the Mississippi River. But there was plenty of music at home, too: His father, Louis, was a bass and tuba player who performed with jazz clarinetist Willie Humphrey. In the 2016 documentary The Big Beat: Fats Domino and the Birth of Rock n’Roll, Bartholomew recalled gathering with friends and relatives around his neighborhood’s single radio to listen to Louis Armstrong, with whom he’d soon share a formative city, after his father moved the family to New Orleans while Dave was still a child, opening a barbershop in the uptown part of the city.

According to John Broven’s 1974 history Rhythm & Blues in New Orleans, local jazz bands would advertise upcoming gigs by playing on the backs of flatbed trucks that cruised through the streets; young Dave was among the gaggle of neighborhood kids who would trail along after, listening to songs like “Tiger Rag” and “Milneburg Joys.” It was hearing Armstrong’s recordings that made him choose the trumpet as his instrument — and in fact, one of his first music teachers was Peter Davis, the band instructor who changed Armstrong’s life by introducing him to the cornet when the young star was incarcerated at the Colored Waif’s Home in 1913. It was a perfect synchronicity: Bartholomew would become as important to the evolution of rock and roll as Armstrong was to jazz.

By time he was a teenager in the ’30s, Dave and his horn were landing gigs playing traditional jazz, in bands led by Oscar “Papa” Celestin and Joe Robichaux. In pianist Fats Pichon’s ensemble, he performed on the riverboat Capitol, riding upriver all the way to St. Paul and back again to New Orleans. It was that gig, he told UPI reporter John Swenson in 1988, at his induction into the Songwriters Hall of Fame, that taught him how to lead a band; when Pichon took a solo gig in 1941, Bartholomew took over until he was drafted into the Army in 1942, where he learned to write and arrange music in an Army band.

Impresario Lew Chudd was one of the wheeling-and-dealing “record men” who emerged on the new frontier of the independent recording industry after World War II. His Los Angeles-based label, Imperial Records, was only a couple of years old when he caught Dave Bartholomew’s band for the first time at the hot Houston nightspot the Bronze Peacock. It was their sound that inspired Chudd to start looking for rhythm and blues talent in New Orleans to record for Imperial, and in Dave, he found a valuable partner. New Jersey-based DeLuxe Records had been the first of the indies to mine New Orleans for its deep vein of talent after the war; Dave had had a hit recording “Country Boy” for them, and had scouted more likely acts for the label. In 1949, he signed on to do the same for Imperial. One of the very first acts he took Chudd to see, in a Ninth Ward nightclub called the Hideaway, was a promising young pianist called Antoine “Fats” Domino, Jr. Fats and Dave had a hit right out of the gate for Imperial with “The Fat Man,” a reworking of the prewar piano blues “Junker’s Blues.” The record spent three weeks in the top ten of Billboard’s R&B chart, heralding what would be almost 15 years of hitmaking for the pair – and, with its pounding rhythm, a new sound called rock and roll.

“The Fat Man” was recorded in the back of recent Tulane dropout Cosimo Matassa’s J&M Music Shop on Rampart and Dumaine, a jukebox and coin-operated machine business that had gradually morphed into a record store and then a studio. J&M was poised to become ground zero for the evolution of rock and roll, and Dave Bartholomew was no small part of that. His band became the house ensemble at J&M, backing a laundry list of early rock and R&B greats, including Lloyd Price, Earl King, Smiley Lewis, T-Bone Walker, Frankie Ford, Roy Brown and countless others. Members of the studio band backed Little Richard on the piano-pounder’s career-defining 1954 New Orleans sessions for Specialty Records; in Rhythm & Blues in New Orleans, Dr. John opined that “it was the New Orleans sound that got Little Richard across.”

Dave, who also broadcast a radio program out of the record shop for the local station WJMR, served as in-house producer, arranger and writer for J&M, developing a reputation as a tough and exacting taskmaster – while, as the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame wrote in its official bio, “shaping the rhythmic orientation of that city into a sound everyone would come to know and love as rock and roll.”

Bartholomew was inducted into the Rock Hall as a non-performer in 1991, five years after his protégé and partner Fats Domino joined its initial class of honorees. In 2010, the Rock Hall dedicated its annual American Music Masters celebration to both men, the first time it had so acknowledged a creative collaboration of that nature. But the “non-performer” label had stung, Bartholomew told UPI’s Swenson back in ’88 – and perhaps for good reason. His legacy as a musician and bandleader was inextricable from his influence as an architect of American music. In the late ’40s “the Dave Bartholomew Band was the band in the city as far as rhythm and blues was concerned,” sax player Alvin “Red” Tyler explained to Broven.

It’s true that by the time rock and roll was here to stay, Bartholomew was too busy writing and producing to work much with his own horn. “He had reached a level that other people wouldn’t call Dave up and say ‘Hey, man, do you want to make up a session?’ ” Tyler told Broven. “…because he would probably say ‘No, man, I don’t have time.’ ” But the sides he did record for himself in the ’50s were masterful and diverse, from the clattering Caribbean rhythms of “Shrimp and Gumbo” to the goofy novelty “My Ding-A-Ling” (which Chuck Berry unearthed for a 1972 hit) to the singular grinding blues “The Monkey Speaks His Mind,” a strange fable that questions whether humans, with all their sin, are truly superior among the primates, and which showcases his bellowing, stentorian baritone. (Elvis Costello paid tribute to the tune on his 2004 album The Delivery Man, name-checking Bartholomew on the track “Monkey to Man.”)

Ears open and eye perennially on the bottom line, Bartholomew, who appeared in his first rap video – a song called “Born in the Country,” a collaboration with his son, New Orleans hip-hop producer Don B and grandson, the rapper Supa Dezzy – in 2011, stayed up to date on the successes of New Orleans artists well into the 21st century, no matter the genre. During an interview on New Orleans’ community radio station WWOZ in 2008, the DJ attempted to flatter him – misguidedly, as it turned out – by suggesting that the latest generation of local stars, like Lil Wayne, didn’t measure up to the work of Bartholomew’s generation. Listeners could practically hear Bartholomew’s eyes widen in disdain as he informed the jockey that his fellow New Orleanian had sold millions of copies; he knew exactly how many singles the younger artist had on the Billboard charts that very week.

Playboy Magazine & Gabriel García Márquez interview

I’ve returned to rereading some Márquez classics.   Can’t forget the quality of his writing and fine imagination as he leads into the other world. rŌbert

 

 

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POR ·@TOBALVASQUEZ · EN AGOSTO 25, 2014

“An interview is like theater backwards: the interview is the performance and then you write the play.” Claudia Dreifus.

Months before receiving the literature Nobel Prize in 1982, Gabriel García Márquez welcomed Claudia Dreifus in his house at Montparnasse, Paris. Dreifus, currently a New York Times journalist achieved one of the most memorable interviews with García Márquez while working for Playboy Magazine.

The interview came out in February 1983 after a several months of polemic delay from Playboy Magazine that postponed its publishing until the Nobel Prize was awarded.

Credit- Biografías y Vidas

Why do an interview with Garcia Márquez for Playboy?

For much of the 60’s through the 80’s and into de the 90’s, the Playboy interview was the premier interview in the journalistic world. There was more space to develop the form and it became an art form in and of it self. So to be in Playboy Magazine gave you both the room and the money to do things you couldn’t do anywhere else in journalism. All the important people of the time would sit for the Playboy interview. It was like a ritual. Adding to that, the people who wrote the Playboy interviews was a very elite group, some of the greatest interviewers and writers. So I was really fortunate to be among them.

How was the process of getting the interview, how did you managed convinced him?

I had done a Playboy interview with the film actor, Donald Sutherland. It was a terrific interview and then the magazine said to me, «who do you want to interview next?» I had been reading a One Hundred Years of Solitude and while having lunch with a friend we talked about it and I decided to add him to the list of people I was going to suggest. There were some movie stars, rock signers, and there was Gabo (Gabriel Garcia Márquez). When I suggested his name my editors said, «see if you can do it.»

I didn’t know anybody who knew Gabo, but I new somebody who knew his translator, Gregory Rebassa. And you always need, as I say to my students, a rabbi to connect you with the person you are looking for. It was known that he was elusive; that he didn’t give many interviews and that he was in a State Department list that made it very difficult for him to travel to the US. So I took his translator for lunch and we talked about the topics of the interview, which were his literature, the emerging Latin American literature and it’s discovery by the rest of the world.

Just by chance, for some fluky reason, Gabo came to New York and Gregory Rebassa called me and said, «you can get him on the phone.» I reached him in his hotel using a payphone –because at that time there were no cellphones. Rebassa had spoken to him about me. I think he wanted to figure out if I was worthy. Among the things we talked, he said he didn’t wanted to do the interview in English because he didn’t felt confortable enough.

Photograph: Atonatiuh-BrachoViva-Photography

So you told him you knew French?

(laughts) Not really. He asked if I know Spanish and I said no. Then he asked, “well what do you speak, besides English?” I said, “German…” and we both laughed. He said that this was beginning to sound like a Dos Passos novel. So we agreed that I would come to Paris and after eight weeks of studying as if I was studying for a doctoral degree, I met him in the french capital with my interpreter.

Were you able to see him during intimate moments or share time with his family?

He came to my hotel the first day and we talked for several hours. Then he invited us for lunch and he talked about how he knew everything about food and how you couldn’t get a bad meal in Paris. Nothing had been open so we finally ended up in one of these cafes where Sartre and De Beauvoir used to go, but it was the most atrocious and disgusting food. He had managed to find the one bad restaurant in Paris.

Did you tell him that after?

I think we all make jokes about it, but he wasn’t all that funny, which also surprised me. I found him very serious as many funny people are. People read One Hundred Years of Solitude and find it funny and charming, but he was actually very somber. So I tried to lighten the interview up and one day I went out and I bought very expensive truffles from the best truffle maker in Paris. A huge box wrapped in a pink satin ribbon and I said, “in One Hundred years of Solitude there is a priest that levitates with chocolate. Let’s see if this could make this interview levitate.” He took the box, threw it in a corner and said, “it only works with liquid chocolate, as it was written on the book.”

Was there any moment when he opened himself up to you?

He opened himself up pretty much throughout the interview. He said his son had asked him to do the Playboy interview. He told me the background of every story in One Hundred Years of Solitude–all the real stories behind the mythical ones. One of the things he told me is that among his friends he was the most practical person, and that he also possessed almost clairvoyance of accidents and bad things happening around him. As he was telling me this, a painting fell to the floor.  I asked him if he predicted that, and he said, “no, that is just an accident.

You make reference in your interview to his close relationship with Panamanian dictator, Omar Torrijos and Fidel Castro.  Where you able to identify the obsession, some have said, that he had for power?

I think he was interested in the powerful and their impact in Latin America. Like many Latin-American writers, he wrote at least one novel about a dictator. That seemed to be a ritual. But I didn’t particularly feel that. I think he was very confident in his skills as a writer. One Hundred Years of Solitude is probably the greatest piece of Spanish literature since Cervantes.

What he did was powerful in a different sense: he told the Latin American story in Latin American terms as an insider.

Now you ask about his friendships. I don’t know how genuine it was when he said that his friendship with Castro was just personal. Castro is an interesting person, so he might have found him intriguing. They were just a bunch of great guys who liked each other. Although, let me add the term great guys in quotes, I mean they had like guy friendships and they must of been very interesting to each other. But I don’t think it was because he was that interested in power perse.

Gabo once asked the Chilean poet Pablo Neruda, if journalism was the way to connect writers back to reality. You mention in your interview that Garcia Márquez’s goal was to find a connection between journalism and literature. Do you think that is what differentiated him from other writers of his time?

He would take reality and just move it one step into outer space. He just moved reality a little, but in a very believable way so you believed that butterflies entered the room every time people were in love. What he would do is tell amazing things that you wouldn’t quite believe but he would tell them with such a straight face that you would.

Photograph: Topham/AP

In past interviews Gabo mentions that love drove his desire to write. Where you able to identify this in your interview?

Yes, he ended the interview that way and he certainly was loved. People all over the world loved him and felt One Hundred Years of Solitude was their own story. Koreans and Japanese would find it fascinating because there was a kind of universality to the family story. People see their own families in his characters. He changed our perception of Latin American Literature and opened the way for other Latin American literature to develop. He certainly paved the way to people like Julio Cortázar and Carlos Fuentes. It’s not that these writers didn’t have readers in their own countries; it’s just that people through Europe and the United Stares began looking at Latin America with literary respect and fascination after Gabriel García Márquez.

I had a professor who said once that Gabo received the Novel Price because he described a culture. Do you think this is true?

I think he just moved the entire culture forward, and he created great literature about a culture. A lot of the literature in the developing world had difficulties being seen and appreciated in the developed world. He brought Latin America to everyone.  So I don’t think he got the Nobel Prize for that reason. I think he had the Nobel because he was a great artist and his literature needed recognition.

Gabo said once that to be a good writer you have to be a good journalist. To be a good journalist do you need to be a good writer?

No, the opposite isn’t true. I think that to be a good novelist, whatever you write has to be believable, unless you are a non-fiction novelist. To be a good journalist you have to be factual, truthful, reliable, observant and good writer. That’s a lot. I think it might even be harder than being a writer because you have to make it all work and you can’t adjust reality a little bit.

Many compare you with Oriana Fallaci, who was considered one of the greatest interviewers of the last century. Can you share with us some secrets about your interviewing techniques?

I compensate with my shyness by being extremely well prepared in my interviews, and I advice anybody to do the same. Then I kind of let go improvising from the basis of being well prepared. The other thing is that I chose my interview subjects very well. I don’t interview just anybody simply because they are famous or powerful, I interview them because I sense they are good storytellers.

Claudia-DreifusClaudia Dreifus is a journalist, educator and lecturer, producer of the weekly feature “Conversation with…” of the Science Section of the New York Times, and known for her interviews with leading figures in world politics and science. She recently published “Higher Education?: How Colleges Are Wasting Our Money and Failing Our Kids—and What We Can Do About It”

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Gabriel García Márquez

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Swedish Academy
The Permanent Secretary

Press release

The Nobel Prize in Literature 1982

With this year’s Nobel Prize in Literature to the Colombian writer, Gabriel García Márquez, the Swedish Academy cannot be said to bring forward an unknown writer.

García Márquez achieved unusual international success as a writer with his novel in 1967 (One Hundred Years of Solitude). The novel has been translated into a large number of languages and has sold millions of copies. It is still being reprinted and read with undiminished interest by new readers. Such a success with a single book could be fatal for a writer with less resources than those possessed by García Márquez. He has, however, gradually confirmed his position as a rare storyteller, richly endowed with a material from imagination and experience which seems inexhaustible. In breadth and epic richness, for instance, the novel, El otoño del patriarca, 1975, (The Autumn of the Patriarch) compares favourably with the first-mentioned work. Short novels such as El coronel no tiene quien le escriba, 1961 (No One Writes to the Colonel), La mala hora, 1962 (In Evil Hour), or last year’s Crónica de una muerte anunciada (Chronicle of a Death Foretold), complement the picture of a writer who combines the copious, almost overwhelming narrative talent with the mastery of the conscious, disciplined and widely read artist of language. A large number of short stories, published in several collections or in magazines, give further proof of the great versatility of García Márquez’s narrative gift. His international successes have continued. Each new work of his is received by expectant critics and readers as an event of world importance, translated into many languages and published as quickly as possible in large editions.

Nor can it be said that any unknown literary continent or province is brought to light with the prize to Gabriel García Márquez. For a long time, Latin American literature has shown a vigour as in few other literary spheres, having won acclaim in the cultural life of today. Many impulses and traditions cross each other. Folk culture, including oral storytelling, reminiscences from old Indian culture, currents from Spanish baroque in different epochs, influences from European surrealism and other modernism are blended into a spiced and life-giving brew from which García Márquez and other Spanish-American writers derive material and inspiration. The violent conflicts of a political nature – social and economic – raise the temperature of the intellectual climate. Like most of the other important writers in the Latin American world, García Márquez is strongly committed, politically, on the side of the poor and the weak against domestic oppression and foreign economic exploitation. Apart from his fictional production, he has been very active as a journalist, his writings being many-sided, inventive, often, provocative, and by no means limited to political subjects.

The great novels remind one of William Faulkner. García Márquez has created a world of his own around the imaginary town of Macondo. Since the end of the 1940s his novels and short stories have led us into this peculiar place where the miraculous and the real converge – the extravagant flight of his own fantasy, traditional folk tales and facts, literary allusions, tangible, at times, obtrusively graphic, descriptions approaching the matter-of-factness of reportage. As with Faulkner, or why not Balzac, the same chief characters and minor persons crop up in different stories, brought forward into the light in various ways – sometimes in dramatically revealing situations, sometimes in comic and grotesque complications of a kind that only the wildest imagination or shameless reality itself can achieve. Manias and passions harass them. Absurdities of war let courage change shape with craziness, infamy with chivalry, cunning with madness. Death is perhaps the most important director behind the scenes in García Márquez’s invented and discovered world. Often his stories revolve around a dead person – someone who has died, is dying or will die. A tragic sense of life characterizes García Márquez’s books – a sense of the incorruptible superiority of fate and the inhuman, inexorable ravages of history. But this awareness of death and tragic sense of life is broken by the narrative’s apparently unlimited, ingenious vitality which, in its turn, is a representative of the at once frightening and edifying vital force of reality and life itself. The comedy and grotesqueness in García Márquez can be cruel, but can also glide over into a conciliating humour.

With his stories, Gabriel García Márquez has created a world of his own which is a microcosmos. In its tumultuous, bewildering, yet, graphically convincing authenticity, it reflects a continent and its human riches and poverty.

Perhaps more than that: a cosmos in which the human heart and the combined forces of history, time and again, burst the bounds of chaos – killing and procreation

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Garcia Marquez: ‘Memories of My Melancholy Whores’

 

~~~  LISTEN  ~~~

Alan Cheuse reviews Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s Memories of My Melancholy Whores. The strange and magical novel chronicles the discoveries made by a lifelong bachelor when he turns 90 and finds love with a 14-year-old prostitute.

ROBERT SIEGEL, host:

Nobel Prize winner Gabriel Garcia Marquez has a new novel. It’s called “Memories of My Melancholy Whores.” Alan Cheuse has a review.

ALAN CHEUSE reporting:

The unnamed, near-nonagenarian narrator of this splendid short novel has plans for his 90th birthday, a lifelong self-educated and not very attractive bachelor who lives frugally and writes a weekly column for the local newspaper in his provincial Colombian town. He calls the madam of his favorite local brothel and asks her to procure for him an adolescent virgin with whom he will spend one night. Thus begins a story that, upon hearing it summarized as I’ve done so far, you might think would be rudely realistic and, depending on your sensibilities, something that would produce varying degrees of revulsion. But we’re in the hands of El Maestro, who’s written about “One Hundred Years of Solitude” and “Love in the Time of Cholera.” What he gives us this time around is a memorable love story in a minor, minor key.

When the old man sets out that night for the brothel, there’s a full moon and, as he tells us, `The world looked as if it were submerged in green water.’ When he enters the room in the bordello where his assignation is to take place, he discovers the 14-year-old beauty is sleeping, drugged by the madam. Though he arranges to see her time and time again, Sleeping Beauty never awakes,, but he awakes. After a lifetime of paying for sex because, as he says, `It’s the consolation you have when you can’t have love,’ he falls madly for the girl and finds a new life at an age, as he himself puts it, `when most mortals have already died.’

And the young girl–you’ll have to read this short novel; you can do it in one sitting–to find out what happens to her. You’ll be quite aware of what’s happening to you, alive and well and growing old and young in a world that looks as if it’s submerged in green water.

SIEGEL: The book is “Memories of My Melancholy Whores” by Gabriel Garcia Marquez. It’s translated by Edith Grossman. Our reviewer Alan Cheuse teaches writing at George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia.

 

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Gabriel García Márquez, The Art of Fiction No. 69

Interviewed by Peter H. Stone

ISSUE 82, WINTER 1981

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Gabriel García Márquez was interviewed in his studio/office located just behind his house in San Angel Inn, an old and lovely section, full of the spectacularly colorful flowers of Mexico City. The studio is a short walk from the main house. A low elongated building, it appears to have been originally designed as a guest house. Within, at one end, are a couch, two easy chairs, and a makeshift bar—a small white refrigerator with a supply of acqua minerale on top.

The most striking feature of the room is a large blown-up photograph above the sofa of García Márquez alone, wearing a stylish cape and standing on some windswept vista looking somewhat like Anthony Quinn.

García Márquez was sitting at his desk at the far end of the studio. He came to greet me, walking briskly with a light step. He is a solidly built man, only about five feet eight or nine in height, who looks like a good middleweight fighter—broad-chested, but perhaps a bit thin in the legs. He was dressed casually in corduroy slacks with a light turtleneck sweater and black leather boots. His hair is dark and curly brown and he wears a full mustache.

The interview took place over the course of three late-afternoon meetings of roughly two hours each. Although his English is quite good, García Márquez spoke mostly in Spanish and his two sons shared the translating. When García Márquez speaks, his body often rocks back and forth. His hands too are often in motion making small but decisive gestures to emphasize a point, or to indicate a shift of direction in his thinking. He alternates between leaning forward towards his listener, and sitting far back with his legs crossed when speaking reflectively.

 

INTERVIEWER

How do you feel about using the tape recorder?

GABRIEL GARCÍA MÁRQUEZ

The problem is that the moment you know the interview is being taped, your attitude changes. In my case I immediately take a defensive attitude. As a journalist, I feel that we still haven’t learned how to use a tape recorder to do an interview. The best way, I feel, is to have a long conversation without the journalist taking any notes. Then afterward he should reminisce about the conversation and write it down as an impression of what he felt, not necessarily using the exact words expressed. Another useful method is to take notes and then interpret them with a certain loyalty to the person interviewed.

~~~  READ THE INTERVIEW  ~~~

 

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US soccer star Megan Rapinoe says she’s ‘not going to the f*****g White House’ if the women’s team wins the World Cup ~ love this woman’s spirit

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An Alabama car dealership is giving away bibles, flags and 12-gauge shotguns in honor of the Fourth of July ~ “better get your butt down to Alabama real soon”

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In an appeal to patriotism, a car dealership in Alabama is giving away bibles, flags and guns for a Fourth of July special.

From now until July 31, Chatom Ford will offer customers a bible, American flag and a gift certificate for a 12-gauge shotgun when they purchase any new or used vehicle.
In a promotional video titled “God, Guns and Freedom,” manager Koby Palmer cocks a shotgun in front of a red truck with an American flag draped across the back.
“We’re going to be celebrating July Fourth a little bit differently this year,” he said in the video, posted to Facebook June 19.
The promotion, a first for the dealership, is meant to honor the tiny town of Chatom, home to just over 1,200 people, and its values, Palmer told CNN.
“We just wanted to show appreciation for some of the things that [residents] take pride in in this area,” he said.
Customers can’t drive off the lot with a new gun, though: They must take their gift card to a participating firearms dealer to redeem it, he said.

An ‘American stand’ or ‘violently American?’

Palmer said the dealership’s been “overwhelmed” with positive feedback since the promotion started. They’ve sold five vehicles in two days and might even sell out their inventory by the time the sale ends.
Customers from across the country have flooded their Facebook with comments of praise for “taking an amazing American stand” and refrains of “God Bless America.”
But the promotion’s attracted criticism in equal measure for its provision of guns and bibles, ranging from “just lunatic” to “violently American.”
Palmer assured that customers don’t have to take the bible, gun certificate or flag if they’re uncomfortable.
“We’re not trying to force anything on anybody,” he said. “We accept all views and all walks of life

On ‘Africa Speaks,’ Santana Finds a Worthy Partner in Buika

 

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Credit Debra L Rothenberg/Getty Images

By Jon Pareles

The call was completely unexpected. It was Concha Buika’s manager on the phone to say that Carlos Santana had invited her to work on the album he was making. “I was like, no!” Buika recalled by telephone from her home in Miami. “I was so nervous and so excited. I couldn’t believe it.”

Buika is a multilingual singer and songwriter from Spain who has fused flamenco, jazz, rock, African and Afro-Caribbean rhythms and more. She won a Latin Grammy in 2010 for the album “El ÚltimoTrago,” a collaboration with the Cuban pianist Chucho Valdés, revisiting rancheras from the Mexican singer Chavela Vargas. (Although Buika and the Santana band have done a few performances together, they are touring separately this summer. Buika is performing at Central Park SummerStage on Sunday.)

Buika expected to be a guest vocalist, for perhaps a song or two, on an album filled with other guests and would-be pop hits, along the lines of Santana’s 1999 blockbuster “Supernatural,” which has sold more than 15 million copies in the United States alone. (On tour this year, Santana is celebrating that album’s 20th anniversary and the 50th anniversary of his barn-burning Woodstock set.) Instead, Buika became the singer and co-writer of every song on “Africa Speaks,” Santana’s new album.

 

Satchmo In His Adolescence: 1915 Film Clip May Show Young Louis Armstrong

March 1950: Louis Armstrong plays trumpet in his dressing room before a show in New York.

AFP/Getty Images

 

Louis Armstrong has served as the focus of many works of literature. Now, a few seconds of old film that appear to feature Armstrong as a teenage boy have captivated jazz journalist James Karst. If Karst’s theory is correct, the clip from 1915 shows Armstrong at a turning point in his early life — years before he became famous and eventually legendary around the world.

Karst tells NPR’s Scott Simon that he stumbled upon the alleged clip of Armstrong on the Getty Images website. For the first beat of the eight-second clip, apparently taken from a newsreel, pedestrians cross a busy New Orleans street in 1915. Then, the boy who Karst suspects to be a 13 or 14-year-old Armstrong enters the shot.

“A couple of seconds into this film clip, a newsboy walks into the scene,” Karst describes. “His back is facing the camera at first. And then he turns around, and you can see that he’s holding a newspaper — what I believe to be the New Orleans Item, an afternoon paper. And he briefly engages the camera, smiles and then he turns around and keeps going.”

When Karst saw the clip, its possible significance occurred to him instantly. “I saw it and immediately recognized that Louis Armstrong, when he was a young man in this very year, was a newsboy in New Orleans, and was one of, apparently, relatively few black newsboys in New Orleans in this location,” he says. Karst immediately set out to determine whether or not this newsboy was in fact Armstrong. 

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From there, Karst got to work piecing together bits of evidence to support his hunch. He reached out to Dr. Kurt Luther, a professor at Virginia Tech University known for his work identifying people in Civil War-era photographs, for advice, and compared the facial features of the boy in the video to those seen in the earliest known images of Armstrong. Karst also accessed census records to verify the small number of black newsboys on the New Orleans records at the time the film was taken.

At the time, Karst says, Armstrong would have recently been released from a boys’ reformatory where he had been sent for shooting a pistol into the air — this reformatory is also where Armstrong played in the marching band and received his first formal music instruction. As Karst says, after coming out of the reformatory in June of 1914, Armstrong found work as a newsboy to help support his family, who lived in poverty.

Karst says he’s been surprised to find that others largely accept his suggestion, which was published in a magazine of the Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities. “I fully expected people to try to pick it apart.”

According to Karst, there is one evident clue on the boy’s face in the clip: “The beautiful Louis Armstrong smile that later became famous.”

Van Gogh Painted Many ‘Sunflowers.’ But How Different Are They?

Should they be considered copies, independent artworks or something in between? An extensive international research project has just released its findings.

“Vincent van Gogh Painting Sunflowers” by Paul Gauguin. Credit Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam (Vincent van Gogh Foundation)

By Nina Siegal

AMSTERDAM — In the summer of 1888, Vincent van Gogh invited his friend and fellow painter Paul Gauguin to visit him in Arles, France, and to stay with him at the house where he hoped to establish an artists’ retreat. When Gauguin arrived in the fall, he found his room decorated with Van Gogh’s artworks, including a painting of sunflowers arranged in a ceramic vase against a yellow background.

The two-month visit ended disastrously. The two artists had a blowout fight, and van Gogh sliced off his ear, suffered a mental breakdown and ended up in the hospital. Gauguin fled back to Paris.

A couple of weeks later, however, he wrote to van Gogh requesting that painting, “Sunflowers,” praising it as “a perfect page of an essential ‘Vincent’ style.”

Understandably, van Gogh was reluctant to hand over what he felt might be his most accomplished work, and so he decided to paint another version of the yellow “Sunflowers” to exchange with a work by Gauguin. He completed that one in January 1889, but never sent it.

These two paintings, both called “Sunflowers,” are generally accepted as the finest of several depictions of the thick-stemmed, nodding blooms that van Gogh made in 1888 and 1889 during his time in Arles. The first is now in the collection of the National Gallery in London, and the second is in the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam.

The 1889 version of “Sunflowers,” which is in the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam.
Credit Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam (Vincent van Gogh Foundation)

Van Gogh referred to this work as a “repetition” of the London painting. But art historians and curators have long been curious to know how different this “repetition” is from the first. Should it be considered a copy, an independent artwork or something in between?

An extensive research project conducted over the past three years by conservation experts at both the National Gallery and the Van Gogh Museum has concluded that the second painting was “not intended as an exact copy of the original example,” said Ella Hendriks, a professor of conservation and restoration at the University of Amsterdam, who was the lead researcher on the project.

“Though the basic palette is the same, there were different colors that were used, differences in paint texturing, and his brushwork is different,” she said.