2015, what can we say, good year or bad year?
The start of the year for me was marked by a terrorist attack. The first wave on the Wednesday was the attack on the Charlie Hebdo magazine. So followed two more days of terror. On the Thursday I was giving my students an exam but obviously what had happened the day before was very much in the minds of everyone…one student even remarked with words to the effect… “why are we doing this?”. It was true there was this palpable fraught prevailing atmosphere. Sirens were wailing as we persisted doggedly with the exam, which seemed irrelevant in light of what was going on. Walking home, I saw three ambulances racing past. One thing that happens in these kind of circumstances is that you become addicted to the news, feeding off whatever information and updates that come available. The terrorists were still at large at this time and so you really feel a need to baton down the hatches. The Porte de Vincennes siege at a Hypercacher kosher superette in Porte de Vincennes, is a bit too close for comfort, and explains the ambulances. We decide going to large shopping centers or doing unnecessary visits to Paris, is not possible, with our young son in mind. His crèche, perhaps due to the fact that we live in area with a Jewish population, has armed police near at hand, when we take him in the morning. Dismay turns to anger and the cry to preserve freedom of speech. Suddenly “Je suis Charlie” is the slogan posted everywhere. Leaders from all over the world arrive in solidarity, a large march takes place. Car chases and a shootout see the demise of the terrorist. A hero emerges from the Jewish supermarket siege, a man employed by the supermarket hides shoppers in a freezer, saving lives. The dust settles, Paris drifts out of the news…or at least so we thought…
My book “Flight of Destiny” has been an ongoing project for over three years…then on April the 7th it is finally published, with a mixture of relief and excitement. Before this momentous event, I had no idea I would also be responsible for the marketing process, hunting down interviews, spotlights, trying to gain any kind of visibility. I am entering a new world, I become a disciple of Goodreads, I post like crazy on facebook, I build up followers on Twitter. I join tweet teams. I start a blog. I learn quickly about things I was completely blind to, like what hashtag # is…My book seems to lack reviews…but friends and acquaintances seem intrigued enough to buy my book. I was told by publisher this was a book for an American audience…but there is no evidence of this. Reviews I discover are generally gained by exchanges with other authors…readers don’t write reviews on Amazon or Goodreads. I am now a social media junky. I discover more and more things don’t come easy for new authors. My book is a paperback, it is not cheap, promoting it proves like rolling a very sizable boulder up a very steep hill, it demands time and skills that other authors seem far more equipped with.
However…I can at least look book at two “reading I did with pleasure…The first reading was with two other authors… David Burke who wrote Writers in Paris, Literary Lives in the City of Light and
Randall Price, private chef and author of Chroniques Caustiques, his adventures in French kitchens.
The second reading I did was a few days after terrorists struck Paris again. This attack saw countless young lives senselessly wasted. There were even people who were connected to an Architecture school where I work, who lost their lives. Many people were touched by this terrible event. The world seemed to unite in their condemnation. Months before I had been invited to do a reading for “Paris Lit up”. Though some people might be naturally anxious about going out in Paris, the event still attracted quite a rowdy boisterous crowd. I was the guest reader but there were people reciting poetry, singers, a film maker. Some chose to refer to the devastating events that were still fresh in the mind.
There were some good films that came out in 2015, films I enjoyed…
Birdman…great performance by Michael Keaton. Some memorable scenes. Should actors who have played superheroes try and venture into Broadway?
Foxcatcher…based (unbelievably) on a true story. What a great performance by Steve Carell, as an eccentric then ultimately dangerous millionaire John Eleuthère du Pont, whose passion is wrestling.
Whiplash…the film is dominated by a psychotic overly passionate drum teacher played by JK Simmons. I still have vivid memories from school of a maths teacher who totally “lost it” and would let loose his aggression on those (like myself) incapable of following his class. I had a tutor at art college, who was not aggressive physically, but who was more psychological, freaking us out.
Still Alive, as ever produced a great performance Julianne Moore, who at a young age develops Alzheimer’s disease.
A film that I found fascinating was “Amy” a documentary about Amy Winehouse. I wrote an article about this film, below is an exert.
It’s no surprise that so many talented musicians, die before they reach thirty (there is of course the 27 club, featuring Brian Jones, Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin and Jim Morrison. Amy Winehouse, also died age 27 and is subject to a controversial film. Even if you are not inspired by her music, this film makes fascinating watching, as well as being heart rendering. I wonder what was going through many people’s mind at her funeral? Had some people contributed to her downfall and death? There must have been some guilty consciences…
Like many people she had this destructive streak. If she wasn’t plying herself with drugs, it was alcohol, and her death was put down to alcohol poisoning. Why should we be sad? Every so many generations comes a singer that is exceptional, outstanding or which adjective you choose to use…Amy was one such singer. By the end her life was a circus, she had lost control.
Even in semi-conscious states Amy was put on a plane and sent out to do concerts. There is a slight “Syd and Nancy” feel about Amy and her husband Blake Fielder-Civil. In the film Blake does not across very favorably, with druggy sounding drawl. It was he, who introduced Amy to harder drugs.
Blake is Amy’s partner in this spiraling down to oblivion. Both tortured souls, both kindred spirits…
All the pain Amy has gathered in her mind also adds to her incredible creativity. There is that amazing captivating voice of hers, up with the jazz greats…but there is also the fact that she puts so much of herself into her songs.
The year was also marked by abhorrent images of ISIS slaughtering, abusing, torturing men and women alike, as well as destroying historical artifacts. They seem to be intent on conjuring up the cruelest ways to torture and kill people, they are simply pure evil. However politicians, apart from trying to extinguish them by dropping bombs seem to have no pro-active proposals to destroy this evil. The world seems to have slipped into one almighty mess. I can’t be too optimistic for 2016, there just seems to be more terrifying prospects in store unless we put an end to this never ending cycle of hatred.
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