RINGO STARR is now the 4th Beatle to be inducted into the R'n'R Hall of Fame

RINGO RECOGNIZED: RINGO IS INDUCTED INTO R’n’R HALL OF FAME, APR.18, by PAUL McCartney

RINGO RECOGNIZED: The Still Down-To-Earth STARR

By Alan Chrisman (All Articles ARE written BY ALAN CHRISMAN), copyright 2012-2015.( a Praveen Patel has tried to hack them and claim them.)

Ringo was inducted into The Rock ’n’ Roll Hall of Fame by Paul McCartney on April 18, 2015.   He was the fourth Beatle to be recognized there as his own solo artist, besides the Beatles as a group.

Ringo always was portrayed as the “everyman” in the group, often overshadowed by the giant song writing talents of John and Paul and later, George Harrison. Lennon-McCartney tailored certain songs just for Ringo to sing on Beatles’ albums like “Help from My Friends” and “Yellow Submarine.” Otherwise, he mainly sang covers of his favorite country heroes like “Act Naturally.”

But Ringo was the consistent drummer on all their albums.  Ringo had replaced Pete Best just after they had gotten their record deal in 1962.  Producer George Martin, as was common in those days, hired a session drummer to fill in for Ringo on the Beatles’ first single, “Love Me Do.” Ringo had actually been in a more popular Liverpool group than The Beatles at the time, Rory Storm & the Hurricanes, but he had sometimes played together with the Beatles when they were both in Hamburg.   But Ringo was always much more than just a drummer while in The Beatles, for he was an integral part of that mysterious chemistry that made the Beatles, uniquely, The Beatles. And he had that same kind of off-the-wall humor.  Someone said once they were like a four-way marriage with all their personalities and talents plugged into each other. And Ringo always seemed to be the “grounder.” He not only kept the beat grounded, but sometimes the members’ egos too.

When the Beatles split in 1970, many wondered about his solo future. He had only written a couple Beatles’ songs, “Don’t Pass Me By” and “Octopus’ Garden.” So it was to everyone’s surprise when he was to have one of the most successful ex-Beatles’ solo’s albums with his Ringo album in 1973, with several big hits including the George Harrison co-written song ,“Photograph.” He would go on to have seven Top Ten hits like, “It Don’t Come Easy”, “Back Off Boogaloo “, “ You’re Sixteen”, “Only You’, etc.  Even when the other ex- Beatles sometimes were still not talking with each other much , they would still continue to appear on his albums and he theirs.

Then in the 80’s & 90’s, he put together his own of several All-Starr Bands with well-known musicians who hit the road playing their hits and his.  Ringo has continued to release albums over the years.  And he has actually turned into a pretty good co-writer and songwriter himself.  Particularly with albums like his 2008, album, Liverpool 8, it was noticeable his growing skill in that area too.  Also with that album and song, he has been writing songs looking back at his Liverpool beginnings.  Ringo has continued this on his new recently released album, Postcards from Paradise, with a song called “Rory & the Hurricanes.” It is Ringo’s 18th album.

He also has appeared in several films as well: Magic Christian Music, Candy, Caveman (where on set, he met his current wife, Barbara Bach, in 1981).  I think his best role is in That’ll Be the Day, where he plays a working-class carny at a holiday camp (similar to the ones Ringo’s band, Rory Storm, would have actually played). It perfectly captures early 60’s England just before The Beatles hit.  He is also an accomplished photographer and shot the covers for his friend, Marc Bolan’s T-Rex albums and directed a film on him.  Quite a career and life for a sickly, poor, relatively-uneducated lad named “Richie” Starkey, who only picked up drumming banging on biscuit tins with sticks in the beginning!  Ringo said he had just hoped to make enough as a Beatle to maybe open a hair dressing shop.

Like has also been leveled at Pete Best (Cynthia Lennon told me, shy Pete didn’t have the ego to compete with John and Paul’s), over the years, some have even accused Ringo of not being the best drummer.   Ringo himself has never claimed to be a trained drummer. But several other respected drummers have disagreed, crediting him with developing a whole “Ringo” sound, which many have copied.  At one point during the making of The White Album, Ringo felt left-out and walked away from the sessions, but came back when the other Beatles sent him a postcard which said “You Are the Greatest Drummer in the World- Really.” Others have said he was just lucky to have been there at the right time.  Paul McCartney has said they wouldn’t have stayed with Ringo, if they didn’t believe he was a good drummer.  It’s hard, indeed, to imagine those Beatles’ songs without his distinctive back-beat rhythms.

POstcard from the other Beatles asking Ringo to come back when he momentarily left in 1968

Postcard from the other Beatles asking Ringo to come back to the band, when he momentarily left in 1968

Ringo's famous drumset

Ringo’s famous drum set, now art R ‘n’ R Hall of Fame

Below Beatles’ postcard to Ringo asking him to return to The Beatles & Ringo’s iconic drum set on display at the R’n’R Hall Of Fame:

John Lennon said: “Ringo was a star in his own right in Liverpool before we even met.  Ringo was a professional drummer who sang and performed and was in one of the top groups in Britain, but especially in Liverpool.  So Ringo’s talent would have come out one way or the other … whatever that spark is, in Ringo, we all know it but can’t put our finger on it. Whether it’s acting, drumming, or singing, I don’t know. There’s something in him that is projectable and he would have surfaced as an individual … Ringo is a damn good drummer.

The Beatles were more than just the sum of their parts. Ringo was and is much more than just a drummer, who happened to play in the best band in the world. He has his own personality and persona and talents and loyal following.  Ringo still seems to be that same down-to-earth star that’s such a rarity these days, especially, with whom we can all still relate.

When McCartney and rock royalty induct Ringo into the Hall of Fame, it will be time and well-deserved.  Paul and he are now receiving all kinds of accolades and still carrying on their great legacy and still performing.

Ringo has announced another tour starting in October with his All-Starr band line-up of the last 12 years to support his new album, Postcards from Paradise.  I met his 1995 All-Starr band including Billy Preston, Randy Bachman (The Guess Who and BTO), and Felix Cavaliere (The Rascals).  I’m very happy I was able to get tickets for his new show in October in Montreal, where I also saw Paul in ‘89 and George in ’74.  I also saw Paul in Ottawa in 2013. We should still see these living legends while we still can, as they continue to put on great shows.  Some things which are good, never change.  And Ringo, as I said, is like that, or as he would say, like “Peace & Love” too. The Hall of Fame ceremony will be broadcast on HBO May 30.

RINGO

RINGO’S latest album, POST CARDS FROM PARADISE, 2015

Ringo doing his rocker, “Rory & the Hurricanes” about his beginnings, from his new album, Postcards from Paradise:

https://youtu.be/HPjQcqRsqBQ

Ringo on his new album and tour:

https://youtu.be/uGdhtLV8c50

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Freda Kelly was RThe Beatles' secretary and Fan Club head

Freda Kelly: The Beatles’ Secretary & Fan Club Head

FREDA KELLY: THE BEATLES’ SECRETARY & FAN CLUB HEAD

By Alan Chrisman (All Articles ARE written BY ALAN CHRISMAN), copyright 2012-2015.( a Praveen Patel has tried to hack them and claim them.)

I just saw a documentary on Freda Kelly, The Beatles’ secretary and who was in charge of their official fan club.  The film is named “Good Ol’ Freda” after a shout-out The Beatles’ make about her in their 1962 Xmas’ message.

I thought it would be interesting, as she was one of the few who were there at their very beginnings.  And it is, as she relates many everyday stories about them. She worked with them for 11 years, from 1961 on.  She had been working in a typing pool and was a regular at The Cavern.  Beatles’ manager, Brian Epstein, approached the seventeen-year-old to come help him deal with the growing workload at his NEMS Liverpool record store and help with his new band, The Beatles.

Besides her regular office work for Brian, a lot of her duties consisted of answering the, at first, a few letters a day to later thousands in big mailbags, from their increasing numbers of fans.  Out of that grew her starting their first official Beatles’ Fan Club and newsletter and Beatles’ Monthly Magazine.  She saw The Beatles’ often as they would drop in to Epstein’s office and got to know each well. They would have cups of tea and autograph the rising pile of fan letters requesting signed photos, snippets of hair and clothing.  Freda also often had to go around and visit the Beatles’ homes after her already long hours at work to get them to sign more photos or papers, and she got to know all their families well.  Ringo’s mom, she became especially close to, as her own mother had died when she was only 18 months old and was raised by a father, who saw no future in her working for a pop group.

Beatles Offical Fan Club Membership card

Beatles’ Fan Club membership signed by Freda Kelly

The Beatles' Monthly Magazine, run by The Beatles' secretary, Freda Kelly

The Beatles’ Monthly Mag. run by The Beatles’ secretary, Freda Kelly

All these stories and descriptions of The Beatles and the people around them are fascinating enough, but what really makes the film is Freda herself.  She’s a very interesting person.  While many others around the Beatles have exploited their connections to them, she never did.  She calls herself a very private person and always wanted to respect their privacy too. She had even told little of her Beatles’ involvement to her own family and friends.  She had given away most of the leftover Fan Club photos, magazines, etc. to fans with whom she identified and felt committed to, as she had been originally just a fan herself.   At one point in the film, she goes into her attic and rummages through the last few boxes of Beatles’ material she has kept.  She still feels a fierce loyalty to them and their story.  After The Beatles broke up in 1970, she got another job as a private secretary and she is still working and living in Liverpool.  She only agreed to tell her story (for the one and only time, she says) when her daughter finally persuaded her and for her grandchild, when approached by the filmmaker nephew of another Liverpool friend and band at the time, The Merseybeats.  That’s the kind of person, Freda Kelly is, still not anxious to tell secrets on her old friends and bosses.

Freda Kelly, The Beatles' secretary and George Harrison

Freda Kelly and George Harrison

I, as I’ve said, have been fortunate to meet several people who knew The Beatles. I’ve written about several of these and others around them, as well as a series of recent tributes to Neil Aspinall, Tony Sheridan, and Cynthia Lennon (who passed away, Apr. 1st).  Some have written books, appeared at Beatles’ Conventions, and been in documentaries. The Beatles are, of course, Rock Royalty now, but some behind-the scenes people, like Freda Kelly, haven’t gotten much recognition.  Few around them became became rich or famous.  Some have even preferred to remain mainly private: Astrid Kirchherr (who created their “look”), Bob Wooler (Cavern DJ), Tony Sheridan).  I have found very interesting stories about The Beatles through theirs and others’  eyes and stories like Pete Shotten’s (Quarrymen  and Lennon’s childhood friend), Derek Taylor and Tony Barrow Beatles’ publicists), etc.   But as Freda Kelly breaks down near the end of the film and says, not many of them are still here anymore.  What struck me about most, if not all, the people whom I met who knew The Beatles’ at their beginnings, is their reverence for The Beatles and what they experienced.   That and their remarkable down–to-earthness, which must reflect their often Liverpool humble roots.  Freda Kelly comes across like you could just drop in for a cup of tea, as she often had with The Beatles.

Trailor for film, “Good Ol’ Freda”:

https://youtu.be/LqO3DIaKTXM

Complete film Dvd available:

http://www.magpictures.com/goodolfreda/

Early letter and drawings from John Lennon to Cynthia

A TRIBUTE TO CYNTHIA LENNON & MEETING HER

A TRIBUTE TO CYNTHIA LENNON & MEETING HER

By Alan Chrisman (All Articles ARE written BY ALAN CHRISMAN), copyright 2012-2015.( a Praveen Patel has tried to hack them and claim them.)

Cynthia Lennon, John’s 1st. wife, passed away April 1, 2015 at the age of 75 after a battle with cancer.  I’d always wanted to meet her and in 1994, I got my wish. Someone had told me of a Beatles’ Convention in Stamford , Connecticut and she was one of the main guests.

I had never been to a Beatles’ Convention before, but my fellow student and friend, Al Whyte, and I had just completed a course about putting on events and our two’s school project (only a fantasy) had been to do a Beatles’ Convention.  So we had a chance to actually go to one and also meet, as I say, John Lennon’s wife. I had read her book, Twist of Lennon, and could picture what it must have been like before they were very well-known in those early Beatles’ days in Liverpool.

Al and I met her briefly and she was even nicer and lovely than I had hoped. She signed my copy of her book and I nervously asked her some questions. I’d always wanted to see if I could try and see what John had been like past the pop star and media images.  We also ran into her later coming down in the elevator of the hotel where the Convention was being held. She had long blonde hair and wore wire-rimmed glasses like John.

I had read the romantic story in her book about how John had met her at their Liverpool art school in 1958.  But they were complete opposites.  John was the angry, chip-on his shoulder rebel, especially because his mother had been killed by a drunken driver when John was still a teenager. Cynthia Powell was the more middle-class “nice girl”.  But what they had in common was both of them being near-sighted and their love of art.   But she was able to detect underneath the Lennon sneer, a softer side too. They would sneak over to John’s aspiring-painter friend, Stu Sutcliffe’s room to make love.

Cynthia was very supportive of John and his early budding Beatles’ band.  And when Paul, George, Pete Best, and Stu Sutcliffe were sent to Hamburg, John would write back regular funny postcards and letters to her (even though they were playing in some of most decadent bars and temptations in Europe).  When they returned from Germany and first played the Cavern, she was there too. But Cynthia didn’t have it easy.  She was renting a room from John’s sometimes stern Aunt Mimi, while working at Woolworths and the two women didn’t get along.  She then moved to a small bedsitter room.

Cynthia Lennon's own artwork of the Cavern days

Cynthia Lennon’s own artwork of The Cavern days.

When Cynthia became pregnant with their son, Julian, they got married in 1962. (John said later, “it had been the thing to do”).  Even as The Beatles were becoming more and more popular, Cynthia was still stuck alone while The Beatles were on tour, having to put up with her husband being away a lot of the time, and with all the girls throwing themselves at the young men. And Lennon would sometimes take his frustrations out on her, violently even. There’s a scene in The film, Backbeat about the Hamburg days, where Astrid Kirchherr, the German art student who basically created the whole Beatles’ “look” says to Cynthia’s character, ”but John wants the world.”

At their height, as The Beatles were experimenting with drugs, Cynthia never really felt comfortable with their excesses.  Beatle wives were rarely allowed to be in the studio when their husbands were at work.  When their manager, Brian Epstein died, they all went to India to see the Maharishi, but John was secretly writing to this new artist, Yoko Ono.  On the plane home, he admitted to his wife the many affairs he’d had. John advised her to go to Greece for a vacation, the day she returned, she discovered Yoko had spent the night with him at her home.  Lennon and Cynthia soon divorced in 1968.

John had remarried Yoko but Julian had been pretty well ignored by his father ( much as John himself has been deserted by his father).  It wasn’t until Yoko and John had separated for several months in 1973 and John was with May Pang in L.A. that May encouraged John to re-connect with Julian.  Interestingly, I also met May Pang at that same Conn. Convention. I was surprised she was there; she wasn’t a scheduled guest.  But I soon learned she was good friends with Cynthia and had come in to see her.  I was able to meet May Pang too and get her to sign my copy of Lennon’s Walls and Bridges album and get photos of her too.

Meeting Cynthia Lennon & May Pang in 1994  led my friend, Al Whyte and I to put on Beatles' Conventions and meet several others who knew Beatles

Meeting Cynthia Lennon & May Pang in 1994, inspired our doing our own Beatles’ Conventions and meeting several who knew The Beatles

.Al and I were so inspired by meeting Cynthia and May Pang and others at that Conn. Convention that we decided to actually put on our own Beatles’ Conventions.  Also, soon after I got back home, Stu Sutcliffe’s sister, Pauline called me from England (I think Cynthia must have given Pauline my number).  We had presented Cynthia with our “fantasy”.  She seemed interested in our more ‘artistic’ convention than they usually were.  Cynthia was an artist in her own right and she would later have exhibitions of some of her art.  Cynthia Lennon’s own artwork of The Cavern.  Cynthia’s own drawing of The Cavern.

We even thought of having her son, Julian, whom had had a successful album, Valotte, as a guest too (which she liked).  Unfortunately, she couldn’t make it, but we did end up doing our Ottawa Conventions in ‘95 and ’96, with Pete Best and Louise Harrison as main guests, respectively.  Cynthia Lennon would later write a second book simply called John in 2005. She was a lot more critical of John in that book than her first and even said she wished in some ways, she had never met him.  Cynthia would, for years, have trouble getting much money and ran a couple failed restaurants and two of her marriages had ended in divorce before her final third husband died in 2013. When Yoko inherited John’s estate when John was killed in 1980, it still took years until Julian finally got a settlement which he shared with his mother.  Julian has been bitter the way he felt he had been treated, but over time, all the Beatles’ wives and children finally did appear together at certain functions such as the premiere of Cirque de Soleil’s Beatles’ Love show.

Cynthia, despite having been married to one of the most famous people in the world, as I said, didn’t have it easy.  But I was honored to meet her. I have no doubt that if Al and I hadn’t met Cynthia, we would never have actually done our own Beatles’ Conventions and gone on to meet several who knew The Beatles. That’s how much this lovely lady, Cynthia Lennon, had inspired me.

Below Julian Lennon’s video tribute to his mother, Cynthia, with his song:

https://youtu.be/fsyYqJxf9Qk

Cynthia Lennon's 1st book, 1978

Cynthia Lennon’s 1st book ,1978

Neil Aspinall was one of The Beatles' longest and most trusted friends and laster head of their Apple Corp.

Tribute To Neil Aspinall: The Beatles’ Guardian Angel

Tribute to Neil Aspinall: The Beatles’ Guardian Angel

 By Alan Chrisman (All Articles ARE written BY ALAN CHRISMAN), copyright 2012-2015.( a Praveen Patel has tried to hack them and claim them.)

This is in tribute to Neil Aspinall who died on Mar. 24, 2008.  No one was more trusted by The Beatles than Neil Aspinall.  He was the manager of their Apple Records for 30 years after Brian Epstein and Allan Klein. He had started out in Liverpool at their very beginnings, driving them around in his van to their early shows and was their road manager.  He had been in the same class as Paul McCartney and knew George Harrison at Liverpool Institute and met John Lennon attending his first term at the Liverpool College of Art next door.

He became very good friends with Pete Best, original Beatles’ drummer and stayed at his house, where the Beatles first played Pete’s mother’s club, The Casbah, before The Cavern.  And when The Beatles replaced Best with Ringo, Pete advised him to continue working with The Beatles, despite their close friendship.

Neil Aspinall's van with original Beatles, including his friend, Pete Best

Neil Aspinall’s van which he drove early Beatles to shows with original Beatles, including his friend, Pete Best

Aspinall traveled with them to America and when George became sick, he stood in for him at rehearsals for the Ed Sullivan Show.  He would also accompany them to promote the founding of their Apple Corp. in 1968. It was his idea to have a Sgt. Pepper as the narrator of their land-breaking album.  He also participated in  the recording of “For The Benefit of Mr. Kite”, “Within You, Without You”, on “Magical Mystery Tour” and “Yellow Submarine.”

Neil Aspinall’s Van in which he drove early Beatles (including above, Pete Best) to their shows, outside The Cavern.

But his main role besides being their personal assistant along with Mal Evans, was their confidant and protector.  When Klein tried to “clean house” to save money at Apple and even let go of Aspinall, all the Beatles came to his rescue.  After Klein and The Beatles parted ways, Aspinall, who was trained as an accountant, was asked by them to take over the running of Apple.  Even during this period when The Beatles had split up and were suing each other, he was always able to maintain an impartiality with each of them, which couldn’t have been easy at times.  He would be instrumental in fighting for several lawsuits for them against Apple Computers and their EMI Record Company.

It was Neil Aspinall’s idea for the later very successful Beatles’ Anthologies in the early 90’s.  He had started working on compiling their official history as early as 1970 under the original title, “The Long and Winding Road.”

Although he had many lucrative offers to reveal inside secrets about The Beatles, he never did, maintaining their loyalty and trust until his death of lung cancer in 2008 (like George Harrison, whom he had first met sharing smokes behind a schoolyard shed).

A couple things which some people may not know:  While Neil Aspinall was staying at Pete Best’s place, the 19 year-old had a relationship with Pete’s mother, who ran The Casbah.  The result was the birth of Roag Best, Pete’s half-brother .  Pete and his brother, Roag, were musical guests at 1st. first Ottawa Beatles Convention which I organized in 1995.  It was there where I learned of this, for a long time, little-known connection between the two and this was during the release of the 1st Beatles Anthology.  By the next year, when Pete came back to play during my second Convention week, Pete had become a millionaire “overnight” (30 years having been dismissed by The Beatles, with no explanation), because he was on several songs on the Anthology. I’ve always wondered if Neil Aspinall hadn’t had something to do with Pete finally getting his due, since it had been his idea, as I said, for The Anthologies. It wouldn’t surprise me a bit, as Aspinall seemed to always strive for fairness for everyone.

Pete Best Band, including Pete's half-brother, Roag( and Neil Aspinall's son), guest at 1st Ottawa Beatles Convention

Pete Best Band, including Pete’s half-brother, Roag, (and Neil Aspinall’s son)

Pete Best Band (Including Neil Aspinall’s son and Pete’s half-brother, Roag, left) were  musical guests at the 1st Ottawa Beatles Convention.

Another interesting story is that my friend, Yury Pelyushonok, actually got to know Neil Aspinall a bit.  Neil had taken a liking to my Russ. Cdn. friend, Yury Pelyushonok and Yury’s book, Strings for A Beatle Bass, about how The Beatles helped bring down communism and Yury had been to see Aspinall in London at Apple headquarters a few times. This is an excerpt from my previous blog about how that originally came about:  “Yury was going to London, in April, 2000, and I suggested he leave a copy of his book with the Beatles’ manager, Neil Aspinall (the BBC lady had given me his contact at the Connecticut convention in’94, because I had alerted her about a dealer that was trying to sell a rare BBC film, which she got back).  Yury did leave a book there and upon returning, he called me one morning and said he’d had a dream, that Neil Aspinall had called me.  I’d always wanted to meet Aspinall because he had been there since the beginning and was their closest confidant.  And the very next day Yury calls me back and says, “Guess who just called?” I said “Who?”  He says, “Paul McCartney’s personal assistant, Geoff Baker!”

The Beatles’ record company, Apple, would also later call back for more copies for George and Ringo.  Yury went back to the Beatles’ headquarters a couple more times to discuss the possibility they would publish his book.  Neil Aspinall told him in advance that Paul McCartney was to play in Red Square in May, 2003; it was to be a world event.  Yury had taken a lot of flak for suggesting that the Beatles could have helped bring down Communism.   But Yury was interviewed in N.Y. on ABC- TV “BEATLES REVOLUTION” in 2000 with several celebrities  who agreed,  including Czech  director Milos Forman and Keith Richards (“What brought it down, in the end,  was blues jeans and Rock N’ Roll”).  And there was soon to be growing evidence that what Yury had first said, was indeed true.

Yury Pelyushonok's book,

Yury Pelyushonok’s book, ” Strings For A Beatle Bass’, about how Beatles helped bring down communism

Yury Pelyushonok’s book above, about how Beatles helped bring down communism.

Yury’s book and experiences were to partly inspire BBC film director, Leslie Woodhead’s film, HOW THE BEATLES ROCKED THE KREMLIN  Finally in 2009, the film was completed and shown on PBS in the States and CBC in Canada, in conjunction with the anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall in ’89.  The film and idea got write-ups in the L.A. Times, Toronto Globe and Mail, etc.  Yury was interviewed again by the Ottawa Citizen.  And the film has since been repeated several times on both PBS and the CBC.  In 2013, Mr. Woodhead released a book of the same title, chronicling the making of his film, including a whole chapter on Yury and the visit to Ottawa in 2007 (including about the day we shot the video and both Tony Copple of The Ottawa Beatles Site and I, are described in it) to film an interview with Yury and the video shooting of his song, “Yeah Yeah Virus”. It is used as a theme throughout the film.  Yury had also told me about a call he received from Aspinall around the time of the premiere of The Beatles’ Love show and by Cirque du Soleil in 2006.  Aspinall put on the phone briefly an oriental woman (Yoko?), as Aspinall was still working on helping Yury get his book known up until close to his death.  As I said, he seemed to have taken a liking to my friend, Yury, and that was the kind of gentleman, Aspinall was.

My friend, Yury with Neil Aspinall at Beatles headquarters, London

My friend, Yury with Neil Aspinall at Beatles’ Apple Corp. , London

It was my friend, Yury, above with Neil Aspinall at The Beatles’ Apple Corp. London, which first described him as The Beatles’ earthly Guardian Angel.

Below video of those special few, including Neil Aspinall, who helped The Beatles, behind the scenes:

https://youtu.be/pBh47-WOk3Q

Canadian Security Bill, C-51, many say will over-extend government's powers

Woman Bares Breasts to Expose Canadian Security Bill

WOMAN BARES BREASTS TO EXPOSE CANADIAN SECURITY BILL, C-51

By Alan Chrisman (All Articles ARE written BY ALAN CHRISMAN), copyright 2012-2015.( a Praveen Patel has tried to hack them and claim them.)

A Canadian woman exposes her breasts in The Canadian Parliament to protest the Conservative government’s new security bill, C-51.  During a public session of the Canadian Parliament, a woman in the visitor’s gallery appeared topless and yelled out against the government’s proposed new anti-terrorism bill.  There are currently hearings in Parliament on the new proposed legislation.

This is just one of many growing protests against the bill. On Mar. 14, several rallies were held across Canada to demonstrate against it.  The Federal government has said it is needed to protect Canadians from foreign and home-grown terrorism in reaction to the attack on the Parliament buildings and the killing of an unarmed soldier at the War Memorial last October by a single gun man.

But several groups including the opposition parties, the New Democratic Party and The Green Party leaders, as well as the Canadian Bar Association,  have come out against  the new legislation , they say, would put over-reaching powers into the hands of the Canadian security apparatus, including CSIS, the Canadian equivalent of the NSA in the U.S.  It has also just recently been revealed that like the NSA, CSIS has been collecting data on not only suspected foreign nationals, but also been compiling meta-data on Canadian citizens and their communications both outside and inside the country.  A professor at the well-respected Munk Centre for International Relations at the University of Toronto has been quoted as saying, Canadians have been used as “lab rats”, without their knowledge and that the legislation would extend these powers substantially more.

I wrote in my previous blog: “Edward Snowden:  The Unlikely James Bond”, that Snowden revealed that the NSA wanted to have (and almost got) secret capabilities on all devices sold to the public so they could listen in on all communications.  And as I said in my blog, “Canada Loses Its Innocence” written right after the attack on the Canadian Parliament last October, Canadians should not over-react out of fear.  Several activists and aboriginal groups have also expressed that new criminal legislation could also be used to stifle them as well. The woman who exposed herself at the Canadian Parliament was, evidently, a member of the Quebec Femem group, and they have used this tactic before to draw attention to other issues.  I also wrote a previous blog about the anti-Putin demonstrators and musical group who has used similar public displays in Russia, “Pussy Riot, Putin & The Ukraine.”

Russian musical, political group, “Pussy Riot” protesting Putin:

Russian political, musical group, ” Pussy Riot”, protesting Putin government’s powers

https://youtu.be/2att1HJqH2o

"blurred Lines", 2013 Robin Thick hit , court rules was "copied" from Marvin Gaye's song, Got To Give It Up."

“BLURRED LINES”: Inspired By Or Rip-Offs?

“BLURRED LINES”: INSPIRED BY OR RIP-OFFS?

By Alan Chrisman (All Articles ARE written BY ALAN CHRISMAN), copyright 2012-2015 (A Praveen Patel has tried to hack them and claim them.)

A court recently ruled that Robin Thicke’s and Pharrall William’s 2013 hit, “Blurred Lines”, was a copy of Marvin Gaye’s, “Got to Get It On”, and awarded $7.4 million to Gaye’s heirs.  “Blurred Lines” already had a history of controversy because some women have complained of its “sexist” lyrics and stance. Its original uncensored nudity version video had been banned. Its creators have said this was always a part of their marketing plan and it became a massive hit.

Marvin Gaye is one of the most respected soul singers and writers of the 60’s and 70’s with many hits such as “I Heard It Through The Grapevine” and classic albums like,  What’s Going On and Sexual Healing.  It’s interesting that Gaye originally didn’t even want to record the song. He only did so because he was under pressure from his record company, Motown, to write and record a “disco” song (which he didn’t like, as he preferred jazz and funk) and because he was going through a divorce and needed money. He wrote it as satire of the genre and, surprisingly, it became a big hit in 1977.  Gaye was later shot and killed by his father during an argument in 1984. He left no insurance, but his children inherited his copyrights and they are the ones who won the lawsuit.

Marvin Gaye is one of the 60's and 70's top composers and singers

Marvin Gaye is one of the 60’s and 70’s top soul singers and composers

But it again raises a long standing question in pop music.  Just when does a song and composer cross that “blurred line” into not only being influenced and inspired to actually “stealing” it?  Rock is filled with cases of copyright infringement.

George Harrison was accused of “subconsciously plagiarizing” his biggest 1971 hit, “My Sweet Lord”, from The Chiffons’ 1962 song, “He’s So Fine” and ordered to pay its copyright owners royalties.  Harrison did admit that he was influenced by a traditional, but out-of-copyright gospel song, “Oh Happy Day.” The twist, is that The Beatles’ former manager, Allen Klein, later acquired the rights to the Chiffons’ song. Harrison, after several years, eventually settled by paying Klein’s company a half a million dollars, which Klein had paid for the song, but Harrison regained control of “My Sweet Lord’s” rights. Harrison expressed his answer to the whole dispute with his tongue-in–cheek 1976 ,“Your Song.”(There’s nothing ‘bright’ about it; Bright Tunes, Inc. was the original owner of “He’s So Fine.”) Ringo has said,” good artists steal and bad ones borrow. “ Meaning perhaps, if you’re going to copy your idols you should at least be up-front about it.

“This Song”, George Harrison’s answer to being charged with “subconsciously plagiarizing ” My Sweet Lord.”

In this age of sampling and the internet, it’s become increasingly more and more difficult to protect a creator’s original work. Williams (who wrote most of it) and Thicke say they wrote “ Blurred Lines” in less than an hour, trying to capture Gaye’s “groove and spirit.” Some have said, perhaps all along, they should have given part credit to Gaye. Now they will have to share in the more than $17 million the tune has made so far.  Lawyers for the Gaye family say they will also now try to stop the song being distributed until they can be assured they will get a proper accounting.  Ringo has said “ good artists steal anfd bad artists borrow

As I said, these are only a couple of the better-known of many, many copyright infringement cases over the years. And again it continues the on-going debate-just when does a song and new artist overstep the “Blurred Lines” of original creation?

George Harrison’s “This Song”, about “subconsciously plagiarizing” My Sweet Lord ”:

Judge other “copy” songs below for yourself:

“Blurred Lines” and Marvin Gaye’s “Got to Give It Up” comparison:

https://youtu.be/ziz9HW2ZmmY

And below the Top 10 “Sound-alike” songs:

https://youtu.be/1GWMvCXdsG4

"Lighting Up', Susan Shapiro's devasting memoir about facing up to her smoking and other "addictions."

Lighting Up (How I Stopped Smoking, Drinking and Everything I Loved In Life Except Sex)

“LIGHTING UP” (HOW I STOPPED SMOKING, DRINKING, AND EVERYTHING ELSE I LOVED IN LIFE EXCEPT SEX) By Susan Shapiro    

Review By Alan Chrisman (All Articles ARE written BY ALAN CHRISMAN), copyright 2012-2015 (A Praveen Patel has tried to hack them and claim them.)

I wrote recently (“Relationships: It’s Complicated!”) about Susan Shapiro’s 1st devastatingly funny memoir, Five Men Who Broke my Heart, where she went back to interview old boyfriends to see why her relationships had fallen apart.

Well, this is her 2nd memoir and an equally funny and insightful book about her trying to get off her various “addictions”.  As she described before, she has been living in New York trying to make it as a writer and teaching part-time at NYU.

She’s been in an off-and-on three year relationship with her more successful boyfriend who’s writing for several well-known TV comedy shows, but he seems reluctant to commit to marriage to her. So she agrees to accompany him to his psychiatrist as a last ditch attempt to salvage their relationship. Surprisingly, it works.

This psychoanalyst happens also to specialize in addiction therapy.  Her now husband had always been careful to not criticize her, while dating, about her long-time smoking habit.  But concerned about her health, he convinces her to try out this same therapist.  After all, he has helped her boyfriend to finally commit, so she agrees to try.

And he’s not at all like her previous older Jewish psychiatrists. He looks younger and handsome (sort of like Pierce Brosnan) and has his own methods to help patients break their bad habits.  She doesn’t really think, at first, that she has a problem.  She’s had a much longer relationship with cigarettes (and other substances) than with any love relationship she’s had.  She’s been smoking since she was 13 and is now nearing 40.  Her dad, even though a cancer doctor, had been a long-time smoker, as well as a couple of eccentric aunts.

But she’s been having trouble finishing her first book and getting it published, although she’s free-lanced for every well-known publication in New York.  This  Dr. Winters tells her to just concentrate on her book and teaching, while at the same time to stop her addictions and predicts that if she does these things, she will get it published.  She calls this new hopeful savior, her James Bond.  She’s on the nicotine patch and going through withdrawal, but she’s also “addicted” to several other things: chewing gum, alcohol, pot, sugar, food.   She just substitutes one with another for a while.  But eventually she does slowly conquer each and learns through more sessions with him what is really at the root cause of her addictive personality.

Dr. Winters says, “Underlying every substance problem I have ever seen is a deep depression that feels unbearable.” He believes that addictions are all about trying to cover up the pain and bad feelings by trying to always escape.  But that an addict gets stuck emotionally at that age when they started using.  And sure enough, she can trace hers back to rebelling against her conservative over-achieving Jewish family from suburban Michigan.  She’s the only girl, with three science-loving brothers, but with a very domestic mother, with whom she’s also always trying to compete for love and acceptance, as well as for her successful dad’s. She’s very intelligent though (she went to college at 16) and learned to be a good student for her family, but by “cutting corners”, at the same time hanging around with the “bad” boys.  They only reinforced her addictive personality and desire to be cool.  Her first love relationships are with cigarette smokers and pot users and it shows just how entwined social situations and addictions are.  Most of her friends and fellow writers (and the idea that artists can’t create without it) are also involved with various substances.   But Dr. Winters tells her she must learn to face her “sufferings” and not run away from them.  He says she’ll have to re-program her feelings, for an addict goes for instant gratification.

It’s again very funny and perceptive, like her previous memoir, with great witty one-liners and observations about her addictions and herself and family.  But it then takes an unusual turn.  Even after she has pretty well seemingly come to grips with her various substances, it’s still not easy, for she has become super-sensitive in her new skin.  But she has now become dependent on her therapist instead.  He often arrives late or cancels, at the last minute, her appointments.  She starts to feel rejected just like in her old bad-boyfriend rejection days, she’d written about in her previous book.  Her confrontation on this leads to him revealing to her his own personal problems and life (unusual I’m sure in therapy), which are as complicated as hers.  They reverse roles and she almost becomes his psychiatrist!

But with her addictions finally waning, her marriage and sex life improves.  Her husband seems, luckily, an opposite and perfect match for her, and he rarely gets flustered with all this drama all around him (he is still going to Dr. Winters himself).  Now, all she has to do is just figure how to finally overcome her addiction to Dr. Winters- which she does by the end of the book.  As her therapist had first predicted, when she does end her scattered dependencies, she gets her 1st book published and also this second one and both are a success.

Lighting Up is one of the best and certainly funniest books I’ve read which captures both the allure and negative sides of common addictions and she describes them well. If you like to laugh and also at the same time might like to gain some insight as to why so many of us become addicted to so many things, I recommend her books.

But now, I have become “addicted” to Shapiro’s hilarious, but touching writings.

Susan Shapiro, author of very funny perceptive memoirs, Lighting Up

Susan Shapiro, now an  author of 9 books and a professor of creative writing at NYU and The New School

Susan Shapiro has written nine books including, Secrets of a Fix-up Fanatic, Only Good As your Word, Speed Shrinking, Overexposed,  as well still teaching at NYU and The New School.  Her articles have appeared in The New York Times, Washington Post, Village Voice, Huffington Post, Cosmopolitan, Salon.com, etc.

Below George Harrison’s “Got My Mind Set on You.” (which could be also about “addictions”,  and getting off them):

http://youtu.be/ROZqtWyLTN8