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.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Photo of the Week: Looking at a Leica

In the 1930's, when Nazi laws limited the amount of money Jews were allowed to take out of Germany, Aunt Judith invested in a couple of Leica cameras. She was allowed to take them out of the country, and she held on to them just in case.  She bequeathed them to Auntie Dorrit, who also held onto them just in case. When Aunt ravaj became a photographer, she was given the cameras, but held onto them just in case. The case is now here, and our Leica friend came over today to assess the situation. It looks promising, and we shall see!

Saturday, November 08, 2014

Woman's Hour & Homotopia

in the studio

Next Wednesday in Liverpool the ravaj will be taking part in the Homotopia festival panel "You Gotta Have Faith". In advance of that event, the female panellists were invited to speak during Woman's Hour on BBC Radio 4 yesterday morning. Jenni Murray was moderating from the Salford studio. Nadia (in for Rose) was in Birmingham. Vicky Beeching and I were at Western House in London. You can hear our spot here.

I was a bit disappointed with Dame Jenni, or at least with those that wrote her script. She seemed more interested in our suffering and rejection by our faith groups rather than the work we are doing to foster change and develop understanding in our communities. However, it was a great introduction to the subject, which we will discuss further, and with Peter Tatchell, on the stage of the Unity Theatre next week. Feel free to stop by if you're in the neighbourhood.