Monday, February 23, 2015

Football "fans" in Paris, Rome & London

It comes as no surprise to anyone in Europe who loves the sport of football that another group of thugs has been spotted behaving egregiously while supposedly following their beloved team. If you live in the UK you might assume I'm referring to the so-called Chels*** fans filmed on the Paris Metro repeatedly pushing a black man off a train as he tried to board. While our print and online media here were full of reports and responses regarding this incident, I recall no reference or links to reports about the Dutch thugs who damaged the Bernini fountain at the foot of the Spanish Steps in Rome. Police battled hundreds of "fans" and arrested 29. Perhaps because they follow Feyenoord of Rotterdam rather than an English team they were not considered newsworthy.

Not a football problem but a social problem blah blah blah times of economic uncertainty reflected in social unrest blah blah blah we've been working hard for years to eradicate racism in football BLAH BLAH BLAH

Lucia is right when she questions why I would put my passion, my time and my money into such a corrupt and damaged system run by a bunch of old white men - I find it almost impossible to defend. At the same time, another side to this debate is expressed in the new film coming out next week - The Story of QPR. It's full of QPR fans explaining the reasons for their attachment. I'll see it at a premiere on Thursday so I'm not yet sure which part of my interview was used, but the film-makers have promised me a copy of my rough footage :-)

Meanwhile, the news that broke today about more disgusting behaviour by so-called football fans is shown in another amateur vid , shot on Sunday, of WHammers on their way to the derby game with Spurs. The bleeping makes it hard to understand all the words but it sounds like "I've got a foreskin. Haven't you, Jew?"

Some time last year, Lucia and I were on the District Line heading for the East End one Saturday afternoon, sitting in a carriage full of WHam fans. A group of young men started singing a song about running up and down White Hart Lane saying "We got foreskins, we got foreskins - you ain't!". I'd not heard that one before and in my innocence (not having a clue about the benefits, or lack thereof, of having a foreskin, or not) thought it was just a bit of banter. Lucia was scared, and I said to her that as long as the nice middle-aged couple in WHam colours sitting across from us seemed calm, we didn't need to worry. We got out at Whitechapel and had a lovely afternoon together.

Listening to the version of the "song" presented in this new vid with the addition of swearwords and the vicious tone in which "Jew" is said shows me the hate such statements represent. I didn't get it on the train. But that was before last summer, and the public response to events in Israel and Gaza. Now I  really need to be more aware about our physical safety. There's no such thing as banter any more, or at least I'm an idiot if I think so. I am too old and fat to escape trouble. It is cliche time:  better safe than sorry, because I would rather soothe the guilt of betraying my liberal principles than heal the cuts & bruises of an antisemitic attack.

PS for my WHam friends I should also note the spoof vid some WHam fans made this week in response to Paris - the Mail includes it in this article. Russell Brand tweeted his support of using comedy as a "weapon against hate". I'd like to see it like that, rather than just a way to wind up some West London rivals.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Holocaust Memorial Day 2015

This year marks the 70th since the liberation of Auschwitz in 1945. I suppose that I should be glad that national television stations think it is important to put on programmes marking this occasion, e.g., Claude Lanzmann's "Shoah", a documentary about Alfred Hitchcock's forgotten film and "The Eichmann Show". It's so hard to see them, and to sleep afterwards. However, since there are still those around us who feel able to make the ridiculous claim that the Holocaust never happened, I guess we must keep on telling the story.

Never again!

Friday, January 09, 2015

Terrible Day of Terror

After the terrorist attack at the Charlie Hebdo office on Wednesday I found this picture to post:

After the murder of the hostages in the kosher supermarket these are the hashtags:

Much has been said and written already, and certainly there will be much more. Tonight I can only weep, and hold my arms out to those I love.

Saturday, January 03, 2015

What is Wrong With This Picture?

Ready to be eaten!

I've always loved Ribena. I've also been a vegetarian since I was 11. Nobody mentioned, however, that  I need to watch what I drink as well as what I eat. Have you seen any Ribena ads recently (here is an example)? Look at all the jolly blackcurrants just dying to get into the bottle. They've been anthropomorphised to make them appealing, like cute little kiddies … and all they want is to be part of our pleasurable experience, i.e., drinking the little darlings, i.e., ingesting and digesting them. Unless they expect to come out whole the other end of my colon, this means bye bye berry.

The ad that first made me think about this was for butter, and featured a butter man flying a butter plane straight into a baked potato. Maybe it's ok for a carnivore to eat a butter human but this veggie couldn't bear it. I searched online just now for that old ad but could not find it. However, the Country Life butter ads aren't much better. Here's one where the men made of butter make sandwiches with butter and enjoy them heartily. Isn't that cannibalism? And here's a Lurpak ad that ends with the guy actually spreading himself on the bread. Che schifo!

I hate it when people don't think things through. Rant over. And to say sorry, here's a good old-fashioned butter ad complete with earworm.

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Looking Back, Looking Forward

Hoping that we may hold on to the good things from 2014, let the bad ones go, and enter the secular new year with optimism.

best wishes to you all!

Dave Whelan is Punished

This story has hopefully reached its conclusion as the Football Association bans Wigan chairman Dave Whelan for 6 weeks from all football-related activities and fines him UKP50k for having made antisemitic and anti-Chinese remarks. Here is the report from the BBC online:

This story contains language which you may find offensive.

Wigan owner Dave Whelan has been given a six-week ban from all football-related activity and fined £50,000 for making racist comments about Jewish and Chinese people.
The 78-year-old, who has a week to appeal against the punishment, was also ordered to attend an education programme run by the Football Association.
Last month, Whelan accepted a charge but denied remarks he made during a newspaper interview were racist.
The FA Disciplinary Commission said it was "satisfied" Whelan "is not a racist" and did not intend to cause offence by his comments. 
Whelan stated in November that he would resign as Wigan chairman if he was "found guilty of being a racist".

BBC Sport's David Ornstein:

"It is understood Wigan have strongly advised Whelan not to appeal against his punishment.
The Latics do not feel the ban affects their business because the owner is not involved in the day-to-day running of the club. It is understood he is not involved in transfers and is not a signatory on deals, limiting the impact of this in the January transfer window."
Whelan said he was misquoted in an interview with the Guardian last month, during which he used the term "chink". The Guardian also reports the businessman said: "Jewish people chase money more than everybody else."
Whelan subsequently apologised for any offence caused by his comments, in which he was defending the appointment of Malky Mackay as the club's new manager.
Mackay is currently under investigation by the FA regarding allegations the Wigan boss sent "sexist, racist and homophobic" text messages during his time in charge at Cardiff.
Earlier this month, the FA ruled Whelan's comments constituted an aggravated breach of rule E3[1] in that his comments were "abusive and/or insulting and/or constitute improper conduct and/or bring the game into disrepute". 
The governing body also looked into other comments made by Whelan about Chinese people in a December interview with the Jewish Telegraph.
The FA Commission said in a statement: "We are satisfied on the evidence before us that Mr Whelan is not a racist. 
"We are equally satisfied on the evidence before us that Mr Whelan did not intend to cause any offence by his comments."
But the commission added that it had to "view the comments objectively and Mr Whelan's subjective intentions were irrelevant as far the ruling was concerned".
Simon Johnson, a former FA director who is now chief executive of the Jewish Leadership Council,  welcomed the governing body's action.
He said: "The decision is an important one because it establishes, and I agree, that Mr Whelan is not racist but that is irrelevant. He came out with comments that were racist and therefore they have issued this punishment for a breach of the rules.
"I have never called for him to resign. I simply called for him to withdraw his comments and apologise for them and that is what he has done."

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Whelan Accepts Charge of Misconduct

So Dave Whelan, chairman of Wigan FC, has accepted a charge of misconduct from the Football Association for recent remarks he made about Jewish and Chinese people.

Forgive my lack of eloquence, but DUH!

He continues to claim that he was misquoted and misrepresented but as I recall there are various examples on film of actual words coming out of his actual mouth. Unless it was his evil twin. Or a clone?

The Guardian's latest report is here.
The Telegraph suggests he may step down as chairman here.
Even the Mail has to acknowledge Whelan is in trouble.

Meanwhile, his team are languishing in the nether regions of the Championship :-)

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Dave Whelan Accused of Racism

Wigan chairman Dave Whelan in a bit of a mess
We all thought that the problem was Wigan football club's chairman Dave Whelan hiring Malky Mackay as the new manager. Mackay is under investigation by the Football Association for allegedly making racist and antisemitic remarks in texts and e-mails with his assistant when manager of Cardiff City. In today's Guardian, however, David Conn reports that Whelan's explanation for the appointment included some questionable remarks of his own:

One of Mackay's texts commented on a Jewish football agent, Phil Smith, saying:  "Nothing like a Jew that sees money slipping through his fingers." The Guardian article continues:

"Whelan said he does not believe the reference to Smith is offensive, first explaining he believed Mackay was only reflecting that Jewish people 'love money' like everybody does. 'The Jews don't like losing money. Nobody likes losing money,' Whelan told the Guardian.

Asked whether he did not think what Mackay said was offensive, because the claim that Jews 'love money' has been used as a negative stereotype, Whelan said: 'Do you think Jewish people chase money a little bit more than we do? I think they are very shrewd people.' Asked if he himself believed that, Whelan, the multimillionaire former owner of JJB Sports, said:  'I think Jewish people do chase money more than everybody else. I don't think that's offensive at all.'"

The whole of Conn's piece is here.

BBC Sports editor Dan Roan writes:

"For many, Wigan owner Dave Whelan's appointment of Malky Mackay - and now his controversial comments in defence of that decision - will provide further evidence that professional football exists in a moral bubble of its own, which all too often appears to be out of touch with modern values."

Roan also notes that in the USA, the National Basketball Association banned an owner - Donald Sterling - for life for his racist comments.

BBC report is here.

The Jewish News currently has this brief report online, and when I typed "Wigan" into the Jewish Chronicle online search (having found nothing via "Whelan"), I got this lovely report on Yossi Benayoun's blues at seeing red when QPR played Wigan last season!

Are Whelan's comments another example of the general sense that has developed since last summer that it is somehow ok now to make such statements openly and publicly? I have no doubt, and quite a lot of experience, that such thoughts are common and timeless. But when did it become permissible to say them out loud?

The Board of Deputies rejects Whelan's 'apology' here.
The statement by the BoD here.
"World's worst apology" as per Huffington Post UK here.
The Daily Mail has a vid of his 'apology' here.

Meanwhile, each time this idiot refers to 'Jewish' people 'AND' 'English' people I go nuts. Does he actually believe that if you are a Jew you cannot be a Brit? Ouch.

Goodnight Jack Ego - Mike Nichols z"l

This was the album I found in my mother's stash of non-classical music when I was about 11. She had seen Nichols & May on Broadway, and bought it as a souvenir. The record was moved to its new home in my bedroom next to my father's Woody Allen, Mort Sahl and Nina Simone albums. There were only four tracks from the show, but I memorised them all, and waited for moments in my life when I might quote them. 1970's England wasn't quite the place, although I had a close shot with the spelling gag … "K as in knife, A as in aardvark, P as in pneumonia, L as in luscious, A as in aardvark again, N as in newel post". However, not knowing what a newel post was, I didn't have enough conviction, and it all went a bit flat.

A couple of years later, visiting our friends Bob & Elizabeth in Hamden CT, I discovered there were 2 more albums:  Examine Doctors and Improvisations to Music. I also discovered that there were no more albums, as the duo went their separate ways after 4 or 5 years.

Now Mike Nichols is dead. When the news broke, most of the online reports referenced the same opus:  The Graduate movie. It may well be his most well-known work. I've even seen it seventeen or eighteen times. I'd love to think, though, that the obituaries might introduce people to the improvisational comedy. It's (mostly) timeless and absolutely humorous even if you don't know what a newel post is.

I'm off to listen to "Disc Jockey" & "Telephone". Here are a few links to the obits. If you only have time to look at one item, the Vanity Fair interview with the duo is excellent.

Who's Afraid of Nichols & May - Vanity Fair
Vanity Fair obit
The Guardian obit
New York Times obit
Telegraph obit
BBC online obit
Daily Mail report
The Independent obit

Telephone - sketch
Mother and Son - sketch
1959 Emmy Awards speech
(from a man who actually won a Grammy, an Oscar, Emmys and Tony awards)
It's Not Nancy - sketch
$65 Dollar funeral - sketch

ok, am going a bit mad here but whatever - here's an 1960 ep of What's My Line that featured N & M. They show up at 16:47. Of course Bennett Cerf guesses who they are.

15/1/5 UPDATE

all the links to the sketches are down - they appear to have been removed due to copyright infringement. The company noted as making the complaint is named as Hamilcar & Icarus. They don't appear when Googled, although I have learned that Hamilcar is apparently a Carthaginian name and a version of it was a given name of Mussolini. Sigh. And then of course there's our old friend Amilcar Hasenfratz.

Apart from the famous Icarus, the only other cultural reference that comes to mind is that the spaceship whence came Charlton Heston in the original Planet of the Apes movie was called Icarus I think.

The What's My Line link, however, is still working as of today.