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David Porter » Archive

Roots Matter in the Diversities of Life, Culture and the Arts

In an age of ever-extended families and diverse communities, peoples’ need to know where they come from and belong to is reflected in their arts. From Genesis in the Bible on the one hand and Darwin’s Origins of Species on the other, to Frankie Goes to Hollywood’s Two Tribes (Go to War) (1984), everything from religions, traditions, lifestyles and world-views are determined by people’s roots. Heritage-search companies offer programs to research family trees for probate, adoption or interest in genealogy. Military records from the first world war (1914-1918) are now accessible on line. Interest is high in getting a picture of how a great grandparent lived and died. In 1977 historical epic Roots aired. It‘s an early example of a TV mini-series, based on the studies author Alex Haley made into his own … Read entire article »

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Creatives, Mavericks and Non-Conformists in the Movies

Movie plots need conflicts and tensions. Readily available is the solo fight against society, the system, big business or baddie(s). Atticus Finch opposing racial prejudice in small town America in To Kill A Mocking Bird (1962) is the beating heart of the story: it rings true. Rebel Without a Cause (1955) made James Dean the maverick star. Lynch-mob mentality of hysterical masses clamouring for somebody’s blood makes a perfect protagonist. The voice in the wilderness, the lone person of conscience/courage within the crowd, is the stuff of inspiration. Those who refuse to toe the (unjust) line are often regarded as heroes, but not till later. Irish political philosopher Edmund Burke (1729 -1797) is attributed with: ‘All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing’. The truth … Read entire article »

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Lotteries, Raffles, Games of Chance: People Certainly Like a Bet

From football pools to local/national lotteries, horse racing to snow falling at Christmas, the gambling instinct is strong, despite psychological doubts. Life assurance, taking a financial risk on how long somebody will live, has been big business since the Romans inaugurated ‘burial clubs’. In the UK, betting on football pools has been around since 1923 (Littlewoods, with Vernons in 1925, Zetters in 1933 and Brittens in 1946). Catering for people to have a flutter or punt on horse or greyhound races, the Cambridge/Oxford Boat Race or other sporting events, on the weather, a bingo card or political fortunes creates a turnover in the UK alone of £95 billion a year at conservative estimates and employs 35,000 people directly and indirectly. In the USA people gamble on baseball games or other sporting events … Read entire article »

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Hotels in the Arts: Special Places in Film, Music and Literature

Presley’s “Heartbreak Hotel” and The Eagles’ “Hotel California” are not the only hotels, real and imagined, that have played a major part in great arts. Hotel businesses market themselves on historical events or people, celebrity connections, geographical/movie locations to develop customer bases. Lucy Komisar, in The Travel Lady said: “no longer just places to sleep and shower, hotels are now environments for experience.” She reckoned in Paris, for example, the left bank Bel Ami (utilising Guy de Maupassant’s 1885 novel) and for art links, the right bank Hilton Arc de Triomphe, should be visited. Such boutique hotels sit alongside guest houses, inns, pubs, clubs and restaurants the world over, exploiting all connections to boost trade. Hotels in Literature Hotels are perfect settings for creativity. Hedwig Baum’s novel Grand Hotel (1929; movie 1932) was set … Read entire article »

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Modernist/Futuristic Architecture: Shaping Lives, People, History

Modernism is not new: yesterday’s modernist architecture becomes today’s joke becomes tomorrow’s nostalgia. But like all art, it progresses age by age. Architects cannot start with completely blank paper. There are planning laws, neighbouring older property, local traditions, geography, topography, space, transport, utilities, client needs, economics and political constraints to take into account in every design. Most architects also yearn to make an artistic, creative, innovative and original impact, and ‘futuristic dreaming’ has frequently inspired them. Obsession with the future is an understandable human trait, reflected in things people do, say, wear, eat and the spaces they live in. Nowadays, such modernism or futurism, is mixed with concern for the environment and resources, with energy and cost, so ‘eco’ and ‘sustainable’ have become part of the language landscape. Modernism’s Past According to Trend Hunter: … Read entire article »

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