Archive for April, 2009


The latest guest in the “Playlist” series (a list of 10 songs) is writer and journalist, Lara Pawson, who is currently based in London:

“This was extremely difficult to do. I feel I have betrayed many musicians by leaving them off the list. But here we go.”

1. Sparky’s Magic Piano by Henry Blair with Ray Turner at the piano, Narration by Verne Smith, Music by Billy May (1947).   I spent many hours listening to this as a little girl, with my brother and sister. It’s surprisingly spooky. I love it because it is only audio – not pictures – so you have to imagine Sparky, his mother and the piano.

2. Hula Hoop, Betty Johnson followed by Georgia Gibbs (1958).  Again, I listened to this as a child and loved it. In fact there are two tracks (the first two) on this youtube recording, and I used to dance and hula hoop to them both. I love love love them, and I bet your daughter would too, Sean. I have now bought a hula hoop so that I can dance to these tracks, but wish I still had the small orange single we had as children. Is there a colonialist notion of exotica running through the tracks? Perhaps there is, even if it is not explicit.

3. “What’ll I do,” by The Peddlers, from the album ‘Live at the Pickwick!’. I love the whole of this album. I love the hammond organ. It reminds me of my grandfather because we used to listen to hammond organ tracks in his house (Walter Wanderley) when we were children, and he’d tell us tales of Brazil and get us all dancing. My sister, I think, introduced me to the Peddlers.

4. “Ngaxi by os Astros (Angola 2008). This is totally fabulous, but you do need to understand Portuguese I’m afraid. It captures what Luanda – and the world I guess – has become today. It is the tale of a silly, materialistic young woman who wins a ‘Miss’ beauty contest and whose ‘destiny’ is Portugal’s capital, Lisbon. She stops respecting her elders, she doesn’t listen to the advice of others and she stops going to school: while she may look great on the outside, she is ‘leaking petrol.’

5. The entire soundtrack for the film Once Upon A Time in the West, by Ennio Morricone. I first saw this film in 1999 in Luanda during the Angolan war when I was working as a correspondent for the BBC and Reuters. I’d just returned from a journey into the heart of the country, and had escaped a few close brushes with death. I was in a strange place in my head. And then I saw this film. It blew me away. It’s the first film I’ve ever owned, and the only film I can watch over and over and love it more and more. When I hear the music, and/or watch the film, I remember Angola, the war, and the friend of mine who first showed me the film, the one and only Aidan McQuade. The film is utterly ungenerous and unglamorous about violence and the music is, well, exceptional.



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With his son, Ken Wiwa, on Saturday at the annual Pen World Voices Festival of International Literature.

Also, on the program, Egyptian novelist, psychiatrist, and activist Nawal El Saadawi, giving a lecture on Sunday.

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The 4th annual Brooklyn Blogfest happening at PowerHouse Books in DUMBO, Brooklyn.

I’ll be leading one of the “Blogs-of-a-Feather” sessions.

Lots of stuff for the borough’s bloggers and potential bloggers.

Come out.

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The Committee to Protect Journalists in New York City has announced the 10 Worst Countries to be a Blogger.

In short they are in order:

Saudi Arabia

More context and the methodology here.

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Excerpt from former New York Times Johannesburg correspondent Suzanne Daley’s review of Mark Gevisser’s book of the former South African President, “A Legacy of Liberation: Thabo Mbeki and the Future of the South African Dream”:

[Here is] the description of the funeral of Mbeki’s father in 2001. Govan Mbeki, who had been more activist than parent, insisted that he be buried in a dilapidated, litter-strewn local cemetery near Port Elizabeth. This produced, as Govan must clearly have understood it would, a painful tableau for his son, the president who had not succeeded in lifting most of his countrymen out of poverty. “There was something festive and celebratory in the air — not just that Govan Mbeki truly was a local hero in these neglected quarters, but that the carnival of power had come to town — and most onlookers cheered for the dignitaries they recognized,” Gevisser writes. “Some, however, made no bones about their feelings. ‘Look at your fancy cars!’ one woman yelled to a prominent black businessman as he alighted from his BMW.”

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The Winter 2009 issue of The Literature Review is themed “Africa Calling” and is guest edited by Jeffery Renard Allen, features work by African writers writing in English. Contributions by Siphiwo Mahala, Parul Sehgal, Victor Ehikhamenor, Jackee Batanda, Chika Unigwe, Yvonne Adhiambo Owuor, Esi Edugyan, Stanley Gazemba, Zed Houndete, Oghenerukevwe Jennifer Agbatutu, Brian Chikwava, Mildred Kiconco Barya, Andiah Kisia, Christopher Mlalazi, David Mills, Caitlin Meissner, Neema Ngwatilo Mawiyoo, Patricia Jabbeh Wesley, Shailja Patel, Kitso-yame Kgaboesele, Kim Coleman Foote, Tracy Nneka Nnanwubar and Paula Delgado-Kling

Download selected content here.

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Listen here.

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