They Might Be Giants

They might be giants. Yes they might. This is a relatively obscure way to start a post – and am I quoting the US band They Might Be Giants who began life in 1982 and are still extant and still, beyond rock-music aficionados, obscure. Though in the Top Trumps of obscure bands with giants in their title the Young Marble Giants, a Welsh band formed in 1978, must be the winner. And I bet that for the very small percentage of you reading this who are familiar with them that an even smaller percentage of you are aware that this group are still going too?!

They Might Be Giants

For some of you reading this They Might Be Giants might have resonated differently conjuring up the 1971 film directed by Anthony Harvey and starring George C Scott and Joanne Woodward. Actually those of you in this camp might likewise Top Trump this having first thought of the play of the same name that this film was based on, both written by James Goldman. If you are not familiar with it I can do no better than quote one line from Wikipedia describing its premise as:

a millionaire who retreats into fantasy after the death of his wife,
imagining himself to be Sherlock Holmes, the legendary fictional detective.

If that doesn’t make you want to track it down well I don’t know what to say!

All this being what it is, it is the US group They Might Be Giants that I was alluding too.

Obscure though I describe them a larger number of you may be familiar with their song ‘Birdhouse In Your Soul’ as a title not easily forgotten and though its chart success was modest, both in the US and UK, it did enjoy its fair-share of radio play. For it was catchy in a novelty song kind of way. You may or may not care for it but once heard you might not be able to forget it even f you wanted to.

Its word were pretty obtuse too, see sample:

Filibuster vigilantly
My name is blue canary one note spelled l-i-t-e
My story’s infinite
Like the Longines Symphonette it doesn’t rest

But it is still not their best known song. For even those of you who steer a wide-birth of rock-music may have been subject to another of their songs and on a very regular basis.

That is if you or your children or your partner or all of the aforementioned are/were a fan of the US comedy Malcolm In The Middle which ran for seven seasons between 2000 and 2006 and subject to endless re-runs ever since.

Malcolm in the MiddleFor the song that heralded and farewelled each and everyone of its 151 episodes with its refrain ‘You’re not the boss of me’ was from the catalogue of They Might Be Giants and titled perhaps inevitably ‘Boss of Me’. As a way to get a high profile to one of your songs this has to be hard to beat.

This song was not a single or album-track that someone involved in the show’s production heard and thought would be apt for its theme-tune rather it was written especially for it.

The song begins with the lines

Yes, No, maybe,
I don’t know
Can you repeat the question

Before launching into the refrain at great speed and frequency.

You’re not the boss of me now

And quite a subversive sentiment given that the show was ostensibly a family based comedy and not in the way that The Family Guy is a family-based comedy!

It was tea-time viewing but Malcolm Wilkerson and his family was no more a fantasy cartoon than Bart Simpson and his family – both dysfunctional and all the more real for it.

I watched an episode of Malcolm in the Middle recently but can no longer watch Malcolm’s father Hal and see him as a cuddly good-natured father figure. I can only think of Walter White.

Walter White being the actor Bryan Cranston’s latest incarnation. If you don’t yet know what I am going on about then you clearly have not been watching the US TV series Breaking Bad.

Breaking BadThe Walter White character is a father in Breaking Bad too.  He is diagnosed with a terminal brain cancer. Initially and naturally we sympathize with his plight. They also have one teenage son, Walter White Jr, who has cerebral palsy, and now in their late-forties they are about to welcome their second child in to the world.

Walt White Sr is just another everyday saint. Later we will discover that he is an unreconstructed sociopath, perhaps he always was or perhaps his life-threatening condition tipped him into this dark domain.

And the writer’s have played a trick with us because just as with serial-killing Dexter Morgan from the US show Dexter we find ourselves on the side of the anti-hero, or just plain villain, even as the death-count in both cases ever increases at their own hands and for ever more tenuous reasons. The killing has become a habit and the viewer has become an idle non-judgemental witness to it all. There but for the grace of….we are being encouraged to think.

Breaking Bad production photoWalter White you see will need to pay for all this expensive cancer treatment and on his modest salary being as he is a teacher of Chemistry to high-school students this is never going to happen. Instead he decides to put his chemistry knowledge to use in a more lucrative way – as a producer or cook of Methamphetamine!

He having taken a libertarian stance – it is not for him to protect people from themselves and though it might be against the law is it really against any moral laws? The law-of-our-lands allowing us to take other killing substances like alcohol and tobacco, so for this crystal meth we have just a modern day prohibition fuelled by fear more than anything else?

Meanwhile the carnage piles up about him and pity his poor wife Skyler wanting to divorce him but now embroiled in the laundering of more money than any of them could ever spend in a hundred lifetimes, and the threat of death hanging over her and their two children. And yet we find ourselves wanting Walter White to prevail. Well I do anyway. Perhaps I should speak just for myself!

At an earlier point in the proceedings a former boss, Gustavo Fring (known as ‘Gus’), assigns him a new cook in preference to his own choice Jesse Pinkman because Jesse unlike Walter is also a sometime meth-user and consequently a tad unpredictable. He has no formal chemistry training either, rather an acolyte of Walter’s. Gus would prefer Jesse to disappear, literally, and hence the arrival of a new cook, chemistry degree-educated Gale Boetticher.

Gale reads to Walt White a poem by Walt Whitman, ‘When I Heard The Learn’d Astronomer’

When I heard the learn’d astronomer;
When the proofs, the figures, were ranged in columns before me;
When I was shown the charts and the diagrams, to add, divide, and measure them;
When I, sitting, heard the astronomer, where he lectured with much applause in the lecture-room,
How soon, unaccountable, I became tired and sick;
Till rising and gliding out, I wander’d off by myself,
In the mystical moist night-air, and from time to time,
Look’d up in perfect silence at the stars.

This was Gale’s way of explaining to Walt his love for chemistry.  And it resonated for Walt. But not enough to save his life from him!

And what about the similarity of the names Walter White and Walt Whitman; the show’s creator Vince Gilligan is drawing what parallel between them we are left to wonder?

Walt WhitmanThe collection from which it comes from ‘Leaves of Grass’ was first published in 1855 but was a life-long work for Whitman being revised by him right up to his death in 1892.

It is now available for free on Project Gutenberg which likely means you can download it on Tablets and Mobile phones. That is unless you prefer your poetry on paper.

This life-work may suggest to you it is a huge tome and indeed it is. Divided in to 35 books – some poems are brief but most are long.

How should we approach such a work? Chronologically, earnestly determinedly working our way through? Or a lucky dip approach – random choose a poem and if it resonates with us we explore further, but if not and as long as it did not turn us off completely we return again at a later date and random dip again…

There is also a 2009 US film titled Leaves of Grass which I have not seen but it is not Walt Whitman based or inspired (that I can establish anyway) directed and written by Tim Blake Nelson. This is one of these films about identical twins yet not identical – in this case  an Ivy League professor is lured back to his Oklahoma hometown, where his twin brother, a small-time pot grower, has concocted a scheme to take down a local drug lord.  Clear Breaking Bad parallels there!

Leaves of GrassNot inspired by Walt Whitman perhaps but Tim Blake Nelson is a bit of a polymath as there is a film due for 2014 release about another American poet called Bukowski about – who do you think?! What do you mean you don’t know Charles Bukowski?!

Not directed or written by Tim Blake Nelson here rather his involvement is as an actor (he also sings!) where he is playing Henry Bukowski. Now details on this film are sketchy so I do not know whether this is Henry his father or Charles himself as he was born Henry Charles Bukowski (well Heinrich Karl actually because he was German-born American naturalised).

This film is not about his poetry in particular though or his life biography rather a period described by IMDB thus:

The story of writer Charles Bukowski’s formative years from childhood to high school

and his struggles with an abusive father, disfiguring acne, alcohol abuse, and his initial attempts at writing.

But Charles Bukowski has been on film and behind film before. He wrote the 1987 film Barfly with the great tag-line:

 Some people never go crazy. What truly horrible lives they must lead.

BarflyThe barfly in Barfly was played by Mickey Rourke going by the name of Henry Chinaski but this is clearly autobiographical. And indeed upon Bukowski’s death in 1994 the New York Post used a photo of Mickey Rourke in this Barfly role!

I have only seen this film once and this was with my father. And perhaps this is not the sort of film to see with your father.

Reading this synopsis of the film I now want to see it again. And alone!

Henry Chinaski never cared for the American dream, the thought of needing to become ‘something’ and fit into the system disgusts him. He believes that life is free and yours to live like you see fit, and if that in some cases involves copious amounts of whiskey then so be it. Henry spends his days drinking and listening to the radio, and he spends his nights drinking and fighting against Eddy who he thinks personifies shallowness and shameless self promoting…

Perhaps better than reading poetry is hearing it recited. Perhaps better still performed by the poets themselves.

With Bukowski we can hear such performances and one such was his poem ‘Bluebird’.

Below I share it written then after spoken.

There’s a bluebird in my heart that
wants to get out
but I’m too tough for him,
I say, stay in there, I’m not going
to let anybody see
you.

there’s a bluebird in my heart that
wants to get out
but I pour whiskey on him and inhale
cigarette smoke
and the whores and the bartenders
and the grocery clerks
never know that
he’s
in there.

there’s a bluebird in my heart that
wants to get out but I’m too tough for him,
I say,
stay down, do you want to mess
me up?
you want to screw up the
works?
you want to blow my book sales in
Europe?
there’s a bluebird in my heart that
wants to get out
but I’m too clever, I only let him out
at night sometimes
when everybody’s asleep.
I say, I know that you’re there,
so don’t be
sad.
then I put him back,
but he’s singing a little
in there, I haven’t quite let him
die and we sleep together like
that
with our
secret pact
and it’s nice enough to
make a man
weep, but I don’t
weep, do
you?

Whitman’s poems make you want to read more of his poems, Bukowski’s make you want to write your own poems?

They might be giants.

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Sha la la la la

Baby It's You - Shirelles single

Baby. It’s. You.

Baby. It’s You.

Baby it’s. You.

Baby It’s You – however you want to punctuate this line this is a song of the purest of pure romantic love songs Pure romance. Pure reasonable obsession.

Much of pop music is about ‘you’, the otherwise lesser referred second-person of the made up fiction world. And what passions this ‘you’ inspires. What passions you inspire? Am I talking about you? Do I know you?!

This is the seductiveness of the second-person. Its crafty craft. Actually some obscure person in some obscure place is the actual subject of all the directed passion and angst but if you are in the similar throes of love then that love song about ‘you’ is about you, and your love. Oh yes it is. Oh no it’s not. Well it is kind of isn’t it? What with the universality of romance and love and relationships and all that? What a head-fuck! But all aboard this crazy train together we go.

The object of your love, hate, love and hate, gaze, affection, infection. Infected with first love. First requited love. First requited serious love.

As serious as love.

Shirelles album Baby It's YouBaby It’s You is one of many sultry Burt Bacharach musical muses. And it has lyrics by David, but not Hal. Rather a Mack David, along with Luther Dixon. Wikipedia gives the full details here.

Is it the sparse lines that make Baby It’s You? The simmering, shimmering performance by the Shirelles and lead Shirelle in particular? Some marriage of them both? Perhaps it was her song waiting to be written. Her being Shirley Owens. Or perhaps it is Bacharach’s Brandy Bacchanalian back-beat?

Or some cocktail of all those heady ingredients?…

The Beatles covered ‘Baby It’s You’ on their debut album, ‘Please, Please Me’, so this Shirelles’ song is not perhaps the most famous version.  Not even the second most famous version as a Californian group called Smith had a Top Ten hit with it in 1969 and perhaps more significantly it then featuring in the 2007 Quentin Tarantino film Death Proof.

Anyway. Be that as it may. It is my favourite version. And in pop music that is all that actually matters isn’t it? As said it is all about you. That is me, not you! My opinion and has someone else said the world can shut its mouth…

Anna Calvi - Suzanne & ISince its release over a half a century ago it has had many covers… Best in my view is by Anna Calvi from her ‘Suzanne and I’ album but another notable, notable at least by the artist involved than what they bring to the song, version is by the Carpenters with a surprisingly lacklustre treatment.

Many of the other versions are too dutiful and not worth the listing nevermind the listening. I have a problem with the cover version in principle. If a song is special why try to make it standard?…I suppose it becomes standard by the vanity of subsequent performers thinking they can bring something new to a song, though others that do, do not even try that, content just to do it verbatim, a superior karaoke version at best.

The actual year of this song’s birth was 1961. Does it matter? It is older than me and most of you reading this I am sure, and so? Songs are time-capsules. This song is not over-fifty but teenage and forever teenage. Well songs are time-capsules until some performer comes along and attempts a chicken-in-the-basket version of them but let’s not hark on that again!

The lead Shirelle

The lead Shirelle

And with Baby It’s You, it is the Shirelles rendering that transforms the song, unmatched and unmatchable. As noted, Her Song. Their performance of those words and music, words and music which are but slender, not much to go on, a fancy yet made so much of by them and Shirley Owens in particular.

If you have some familiarity with the Shirelles likely it is because of the glorious ‘Will You Love Me Tomorrow’ though again you may know that from a version by its co- writer Carole King (with her writing partner and later husband Gerry Goffin, then later still, ex-husband) ‘Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow?’

But it is Baby It’s You that we are concerned with, ‘Will You Love Me Tomorrow’ is a post for another day. Perhaps you will write it?!

Here comes the song.

Sha la la la la, sha la la la la, sha la la la la.

And believe me this is the correct number of La’s as I have counted and recorded them very studiously. If you see a different la count on another website including those devoted to song-lyrics (and flogging you the ring-tones that go with them) then they are just lazy and or plain wrong! What I am not going to attempt though is the tempo of those la’s. I mean you can just listen to it after all! Or if you can read music try this.

From Online Sheet Music Dot Com

From Online Sheet Music Dot Com

Sha la la la la

at quicker tempo this time and with male backing singers.

Then enters Shirley Owens.  She sings about You and to you. She talks to us. And herself. Rather she sings to all of us, including herself. We think. Or I think! For the second-person we can but be certainly uncertain.

It’s not the way you smile that touches my heart. Sha la la la la.

I’ve seen this rendered as ‘It’s not the way you smile that touched my heart’ but that tense is confused – it would need to be ‘It’s not the way you smiled that touched my heart’ – and she clearly sings ‘smile’ but to these ears it does indeed sound as if she is singing ‘touched’, perhaps ‘touch’  which also reads odd so I am filling in the gap as ‘touches’ and perhaps it just trails off in her mouth, she thinks it but does not vocalise it…and this idea has the Karen Carpenter seal of approval with her clear if sha la la la la-less take on that line too.

It’s not the way you kiss that tares me apart

Yet more songs about dissolving and resolving in love. No sha la la la la this time rather…

Woah-oh-woh. Many many nights roll by

I sit alone at home and cry, over you.

What can I do?

I can’t help myself.

Well this is what we tell ourselves anyway. Even if we are not helpless we want to believe that we are. And revel in this bitter-sweet surrender.

Cos baby it’s you.

Sha la la la la. Baby it’s you. Sha la la la la.

Next verse.

Sha la la la la. You should hear what they say about you. Cheat, cheat. Sha la  la la la.

They say, they say, you’ve never, never never been true. Cheat, cheat.

Much better than singing it damn straight as ‘They say you’ve never been true’.

Woah-oh. Doesn’t matter what they say, I know I’m gonna love you any old way. What can I do, when it’s true.

I don’t want nobody, nobody, cause baby it’s you.

Sha la la la la. Baby it’s you. Sha la la la la.

Then an odd musical interlude of squeaky slightly shrill organ, yet an oddly fitting offset too.

Interlude over.

Woah-oh-oh, many, many nights roll by.

I sit alone at home and cry over you. What can I do? I can’t help myself.

Cos baby it’s you. Sha la la la la. Baby it’s you. Sha la la la la.

By the by they had another song simply called ‘Sha la la’ though the la count after sha’s in that song was not a faithful four as here but all over the shop! And of a much faster tempo. I just thought you should know!

Don’t leave me alone. Sha la la la la.

Come on home. Sha la la la la la.

(Fades to whisper)

Baby it’s you. Sha la la la la.

Good morning midnight, It’s Christmas

A Christmas post of mine from last year which I am posting again. I don’t know if you remember it the first time but whether you do or you do not I hope you like it. And if you do not I may still send it again next Christmas!

Blog Rest and Play

Cristina Sleep It OffMy mother said ‘I’m a survivor, I pull together Christmas every year.

Something has to last’ she said ‘Once a year let’s have the past’

And then one year to reach up high to hang an angel from the tree

became a painful thing ‘Besides she’s lost her wing’ my mother said

Thing’s Fall Apart by Cristina Monet-Palaci first appeared pale-faced and defiant upon the world, well New York anyway, same thing they say, well New Yorkers say anyway, back in 1981. Going by her first name Cristina her pop-life burned briefly incandescent before evaporating in a puff of neon-dust several years later.

This post is about Things Fall Apart only, though it itself may tell you very much about Cristina. It was her Christmas song, or rather her concession to Christmas song, which as you should gather already is hinting that for her the spirit of Christmas is the…

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Pablo Lobato – picturing celebrity

Bevan tried to change the nation
Sonny wants to turn the world, well he can tell you that
he tried
I could make a transformation as a rock & roll star

written by David Bowie

Having featured three illustrators recently from Europe (Italy, France and Spain) today I feature one from another continent, America, more specifically Argentina.

Michael Jackson by Pablo Lobato

Michael Jackson

Pablo Lobato is his name and he first came to my attention, as with last week’s featured Cristina Grossi, on the Chicquero blog in a post from June of this year titled Celebrities Illustrated. And it is his illustrations of celebrities that this post will be focusing on.

And he is one of us. A WordPress blogger that is!

His most recent post a striking illustration of Bob Marley. Bob Marley the Rihanna of his time – I shall just leave that there without further explanation!

Bob Marley

Bob Marley

But what you may also note about this post is its date – 6 November 2009. Regular readers (are there any of you?!) will know that November 6 is a special day but that is not what I am alluding too, rather that the last post was over three years ago. Is he no longer illustrating or more likely has he given up the ghost on WordPress blogging for lack of page views and user feedback?! (I am in no way projecting my experience upon him here!).

We may be able to discover as there are links on his blog to his Facebook, Flickr and Twitter accounts. And also ‘My Reps’ – a link to his management company website.

His Facebook page though does not link back to a professional portfolio business type page thingey rather a personal page where we/I learn that his TV likes include Modern Family and Music likes Lou Reed. Listed among the Other, being his other interests, are American Caricaturist Al Hirschfield and another American illustrator, cartoonist and author Bob Staake.

But this is getting me and more importantly you nowhere. I say you because for myself there is great pleasure to be found in getting lost, going astray, the best car journeys etc etc…but you are just a flitting reader of this blog-post and I have already likely trespassed too much upon your time…

So perhaps his Flickr page will be more illuminating. And yes his work is featured and recent – he is alive and illustrating! His work his grouped into Sets and we can see that his work has featured in The New Yorker and the 2009 Monterey Jazz Festival among others.

Flickr page

Flickr page

He has also done twelve pieces based on the Western Zodiac. I do not believe in Astrology but here is his Scorpio, my star-sign! Star as in astronomy not celebrity!

Scorpio

Scorpio

If you do believe in Astrology and want to see yours and the rest or if you just believe in his illustrations then please follow this link.

Finally I would expect no dead-ends from his management company, Anna Goodson Management, and I was not disappointed – is that two double negatives making a positive?!

Anna Goodson Management Website Home Page

Anna Goodson Management Website Home Page

On clicking the ‘Artists’ hyperlink we come to this striking representation of the Anna Goodson Management client-base, with intriguing glimpses of yet more illustrators that I hope to explore further at a later date.

Clients of Anna Goodson Management

Clients of Anna Goodson Management

And Pablo Lobato being referred to just by his first name here, Pablo. If you name your child Pablo do you predispose them – boy or girl! – to become an artist genius?! At least to place the name and idea and grand possibility of Piccasso into your heart and mind…

His client page includes a link to his own website but we are greeted with this message – moving on!

His website down

This client page provides a brief bio about him

Soon after finishing his studies, Pablo started working as a graphic designer for different magazines. This, however, only lasted five years, since total boredom drove him back to his first passion – illustrations. Today, Pablo has made quite a name for himself in Argentina where he lives and works.

And it provides a good number of his works. I won’t have to go Googling today.

As Lobato has a fascination with celebrity I could just have featured a dozen or so of his illustrations without comment but as if I can keep my words to myself! I could also have featured them without name too and set up this post as a competition to see how many of them you recognise and to which then you could submit your answers to me by Email with the first to submit all correct answers to receive a lovely celebrity themed prize from me. But I’m a bah humbug and I ain’t giving any prizes away!

Jay-Z

Jay-Z

Pablo Lovato Beyonce

Beyonce

One famous person illustrated was also illustrated and featured in my post about Jorge Arevalo – namely Amy Winehouse – the link is to his illustration by way of comparison.

Amy Winehouse

Amy Winehouse

He also features Heads of State such as Obama, Chavez and Merkel. Are Heads of State celebrities? Is Obama? Perhaps some of them aspire to and would be better leaders if they did not.

Kim Jong Un

Kim Jong Un

Not all of his work is celebrity-fixated. He does very good illustrations too of jazz-ensembles – not that Jazz and Celebrity cannot be synonymous but come on let’s be realistic here! – and you should check them out.

I have focused in the main on celebrities from music and the movies but he also illustrates sporting and fashion stars too.

Finally more of the population of Celebrity-Ville where only the famous and infamous are allowed.

Elton John

Elton John

Diane Keaton

Diane Keaton

Charlie Sheen

Charlie Sheen

Madonna

Madonna

Fame, (fame) what you like is in the limo
Fame, (fame) what you get is no tomorrow
Fame, (fame) what you need you have to borrow
Fame (fame)

written by David Bowie, John Lennon and Carlos Alomar

It’s somebody’s birthday

Mine! Yours too? No, really, get out of here!

Yeah that’s right you heard. I know you didn’t buy me anything and next you’re going to tell me you didn’t know. Well what with computerised reminders there’s no excuse next year.

Don’t worry I don’t ask for much, I’m easily pleased, just have it sent by pixelated pixies to the ether courtesy of my blog which is listed in between Bjork’s website and Bluebird Boulevard. Well you know that’s made up as the web is not organised by alphabet but by whimsy.

Yeah alright I guess you can give me good karma instead if you want, it’s not going to pay none of my bills or look good around the home, but if it makes you feel better then I guess that’s the main thing even though it is my actual birthday not yours, but anyway.

I was born into the world one long since forgotten Friday in the 1960’s – early in the afternoon if you must know. I don’t know if any of you were around then but perhaps your parents or even grandparents (shudders!) told you about it – on that day the Earth sighed slightly on its axis just as I blinked into the bright life of day.

I had actually tried unsuccessfully blinking in to the bright life of day a few hours earlier on the way to the hospital when I tried to make my first appearance in the passenger seat of my Dad’s Mini – perhaps I was curious as to all the fireworks going off – perhaps I was conceived in that car too, would not that have been a nice symmetry but urgh that’s the kind of thing which is quite okay to say and think about other people’s parents but not your own. Anyway my mother had other ideas and I had to wait until I got there, you know how that is.

But you know readers my first car was a Mini and I still own it, that’s a much more pleasant symmetry to hold in your mind isn’t it? Or another symmetry is that I have never been much of a morning person – well unless you call around midnight morning. That last sentence was said in the voice and style of Deck of Cards by Wink Martindale. Otherwise it just reads cheesy.

I hope you did not come expecting coherence? I have only had one beer so far but the day is young. So yes I am Friday’s child. The child that is loving and giving – of course you all chorus – but Wednesday’s child is full of woe you know – fancy that – that really sets up a child for life – and get this the child that is born on the sabbath is good and gay – well of course!

Friday’s Child is also a novel by Georgette Heyer and a poem by WH Auden – oh yeah!

It is also two different songs by Them and Nancy Sinatra.

Also a second season episode of the original Star Trek.

Yep I can read and take what I want from Wikipedia with the best of them.

Back to Nancy. Oh by the way if you are on Twitter so is Nancy and she follows back – well she followed me back. But Barack Obama never followed me back and I know he follows people back. Heaps of people back. But not me. Not that I am bothered about it.

Back to Nancy. Her version of Friday’s child is actually Lee Hazlewood’s as he wrote it and she sings and well according to him we are not loving and giving rather hard luck is my brother and my sister’s misery. My daddy they called hard times. Just who is this they I would like to know. Born a little ugly too we are – so harsh to be judging the barely born vaguely grotesque I think and it goes on that good looks passed us by and it ends that of us ‘they’ll forget to bury’.

But anyway enough about Friday, it is after all Tuesday, though might still be Monday where you are, but November 6 will be Tuesday all over the world I am sure of it.

I’m going to finish with a birthday song, Live Wire by Martha and the Vandellas. More importantly it was released into the world the same year I was – see I am giving you clues there as to my exact vintage!

It was one of those Motown songs by Dozier and the Holland brothers.

It starts ‘It’s my birthday’ (Yeah!) but then ‘and he forgot again’ and goes on

Every time we date, he’s always late
Tired of abuses and excuses, I’ve made up my mind
Gonna tell him this time we’re through, yeah

But everything I plan to say
Just seems to fade away
Every time I see his face,
My eyes light up, sparks start to flyin’

But he’s a live wire
A real live wire
He’s like a bolt of lightnin’
And sets my soul on fire

That is romantic isn’t it? Or the eternal triumph of hope over experience? Either way it’s moving.

Did I tell you that I met Martha Reeves once? No? Well I did, well not actually met her obviously but I saw her in concert. Not though in her and the Vandella’s sixties heyday, I was after all still in diapers then but lets backtrack to heydays.

While it must be great to have had a heyday and survived it too it does kind of suggest that the best is all behind you? But better to have lived and had a heyday than never to have had a heyday at all – see that really doesn’t make very much sense – practically gibberish – but if you look at it in some angles, twist it around a bit, there you got it, then it does make some kind of sense. Kind of.

So I saw Martha and the Vandellas and I cannot even recall if they were the same Vandellas that were with Martha in her aforementioned heyday either.

Nor did I see them in Detroit. Or any of the American States. They were a long way from home. My childhood home county of Shropshire in fact. In its capital – called Shrewsbury and it was the 1980’s – more exactly it was 1983 which I remember because it was General Election Night in Britain and so June but then this is far too much detail of which you could not possibly care.

But anyway there she Martha was up on stage before my very eyes and I briefly caught her eyes – oh yes Martha Reeves and I have looked into each other’s eyes – though I still being an unsure tautness of awkward quickly averted my gaze and pretended a semblance of dance to Dancing in the Streets or whatever song it was they were belting out at the time.

I have also exchanged eye contact with former World Chess Champion Gary Kasparov you know when he was in London defending his title against our very own Nigel Short. I felt he was looking right through me – very unsettling and quite uncalled for I thought when I was only come to watch one of his games at The Savoy Theatre and his look suggesting that I should be staring not at him but at the ceiling or something…but where was I oh yes….

Oh and have a glass of your favourite tipple with me, mine will be a red wine. A few more of these and I promise you I will have forgotten that you did not get me anything.

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Jorge Arevalo in The New Yorker, and beyond

Jorge Arevalo Illustration of Audrey Tauto France

Audrey Tautou

I came upon Jorge Arevalo, well I nearly passed him by. If you read or have ever read The New Yorker then you will know that in amongst the endless words which you pretend you are swimming with but have long-since drowned, in amongst all these words are occasional pictures and photographs of which to serve as some relief from those words but are as often and quite rightly demanding our attention too. I must admit I usually but glance at them eager enough to keep up with those words but on this occasion I was distracted enough by an illustration to decide to explore its creator’s work further.

This particular issue was the October 22, 2012 one and the illustration in question was not even attached to a written piece but in the Goings On About Town which I usually rush through as not actually best placed to gad about New York what with being on the other side of the Atlantic and all. More particularly it was in the Movies Opening section illustrating ‘Nobody Walks‘.

Nobody Walks Jorge Arevaldo IllustrationWith the web an easy enough task to delve deeper and or wade wider and his own website  was quickly stumbled upon. It greets us with a photograph of the Rat Pack (Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis Jr and Dean Martin). Clicking on we see his illustrations. There is not much detail on his website and perhaps there does not need to be.

His site does detail his clients, the list is not that long but again perhaps it does not need to be including as it does in addition to the aforementioned New Yorker, Vanity Fair and Rolling Stone.

He has a number of books published of his portraits and illustrations too – I am not going to detail them as I have enough to gabble on about here. But if you like what you see here and want more of his work then there are links to his publications on his site too.

Juliette Binoche by Jorge Arevalo

Juliette Binoche

I’ve not included all the photos as what would be point of that when you can visit his site on his own terms and what-have-you, but instead a list of those not featured here who you may want to see illustrated in this fashion – Kate Moss with and without Pete Docherty, Chet Baker, Kate Hudson, Sasha Grey, Martin Scorsese, Lady Antebellum, James Franco, Kanye West, Jonas Brothers, Garrincha, Jane Reno, Jackie Kennedy, James Brolin, Elijah Wood, Chloe Sevigny, Pharrell Williams, Grace Coddington, Stacy Peralta and Alexander McQueen. A lot. Or enough.

Meryl Streep by Jorge Arevalo

Meryl Streep

Miles Davis by Jorge Arevalo

Miles Davis

The ones I have included I have kept my responses, bubbles of thought to a minimum  –  as I’m not you and you’re not obviously me therefore and it follows you will respond in your own unique way so I don’t think you are much interested in my view overmuch. We are all narcissists together on the world wide web after all. But anyway bravely, foolishly I include a few of my thoughts in words however invisible they may be to you between Arevalo’s portraiture.

Amy Winehouse by Jorge Arevalo

Amy Winehouse

Disgracefully I have never written about Amy Winehouse – her music, her voice, her life – what’s that about (?) but then I read your blogs dear subbers and you’ve not written about her either – what really is up with that?

I like the unfussy statement of Arevalo’s portraits. A kind of a doodle but super-charged in full colours.

Mad Men by Jorge Arevalo

Mad Men – y’know those Ad Men

Mad Men by Jorge Arevalo
More mad men…

Mad Men by Jorge Arevaldo
Mad Women…

His time frame stretches from Dean Martin to Miley Cyrus, the young at heart Dean to the old head on young shoulders Miley …

This picture of the Olsen Twins captures their innate spookiness well I feel.

The Olsen Twins by Jorge Arevalo

The Olsen Twins

The next of the singular time-defying Grace Jones and it looks like she is singing I’ve Seen that Face before!?!

Grace Jones by Jorge Arevalo

Grace Jones

Some of his illustrations are a bit more busy but no less bold.

The Black-Eyed Peas by Jorge Arevalo

The Black Eyed Peas

Charlotte Casiraghi by Jorge Arevalo
Charlotte Casiraghi, some minor European Royal

So if this has wetted your appetite, piqued your curiosity, stirred wonder in your hearts…you know what to do.

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