Born Bernie Schwartz, working class Bronx kid. For all his fame and popularity, an underrated actor. And, by all accounts, a decent human being. The New York Times obit is here.
As ‘Shell Oil Jnr’, wooing Marilyn a la Cary Grant.
An atypically serious role, with Sidney Poitier.
Probably his finest performance.
In 1998, he founded the Emanuel Foundation for Hungarian Culture, and served as honorary chairperson. This is for the restoration and preservation of synagogues and 1300 Jewish cemeteries in Hungary. He dedicated this to the 600,000 Hungarian victims of the Holocaust. (see his Wikipedia entry)
Reasons why the Ed Miliband victory is not the disaster everyone says it is:
1) David and Ed are actually very similar in terms of policy. The media have exaggerated what differences there are to bring life into what has been a dull and protracted contest.
2) In any case, there is strong public support for redistributive and leftwing policies that the Westminister village doesn’t see.
Michael White brings a little perspective:
As I noted yesterday, [Ed] Miliband keeps protesting that ‘there’s nothing very leftwing’ about attacking investment bankers’ bonuses or the terms of the coalition’s timetable for deficit cuts – on which the coalition is likely to have to retreat, I suspect.
Opposing free schools? Many sensible people opposed them and Michael Gove’s claim that he would release huge pent-up demand has (so far) proved illusory. A graduate tax? Ditto, though I happen to think he’s got it wrong (so far).
Defence of universal benefits from bus passes to child benefit? Ditto again. A higher minimum wage and a high pay commission to address rising levels of inequality? Sounds good to me. More unequal societies tend to be unhappier ones.
Behind all this lies what Polly Toynbee rightly calls the imaginary ‘middle class’ routinely presented by the Mail, Telegraph and Express as earning much more than it does. Articles repeatedly suggest incomes and lifestyles far above what folk actually earn.
In real life, the median income is around £25,000, the median household income £36,000. In the mid-market Tory papers readers can often be forgiven for thinking it is at least double those figures.
It matters because it leads to an over-emphasis on, for instance, the 40% rate of income tax – which most people don’t pay. As Robin Cook once reminded his Today programme tormentor – John Humphreys, I suspect – that ‘more of your listeners are interested in the rate of benefits than in the top tax rate’.
Still, the Daily Mail gets to the heart of the matter: Ed Miliband is having sex with a woman to whom he is not married.
David and Ed…
… ain’t got nothing on this (Boris Karloff, The Black Room, 1935):
If Britain has an official narrative it’s of the Great Decline. This once great nation degenerated into a Third World country where the good are paralysed by political correctness and the lazy and evil live high on the sweat of the few remaining working men. The story of how we went from the spirit of the Blitz to a selfish, hedonistic wasteland has captivated highbrow conservatives, policy units and libertarian bloggers alike. In some ways this miserable romance has become a self-fulfilling prophecy. It has hardwired self-pity, parochialism and resentment into the UK’s political discourse. It’s a climate where mainstream newspapers publish the most fantastical conspiracy theories and incitements to racial hatred while clerics make high-profile pronouncements about the End Times like doomsayers wailing in the street.
A key part of the Great Decline narrative is immigration. The hatred for immigrants in our culture has now become a national pathology. Migrants in reality tend to be dispossessed and vulnerable yet they are somehow responsible for taking both our jobs and our benefits, depressing wages, and destroying social cohesion. If they come from Islamic countries they are said to be imposing their native culture upon this small island. It’s this last point that Edmund Standing focuses on in his report ‘Debunking the ‘Islamisation’ Myth‘. ‘Are we now to seriously believe,’ he asks, ‘that Britain is finished because a religious minority, many of whom are poor and powerless, and very few of whom are found at the heart of our economy and our political process, has arrived on our shores?’
Standing begins by putting the Great Decline narrative in historical context, tracing it from Melanie Phillips back to earlier apocalyptics like Spengler and the Nazi theorist Max Nordeau. He then goes on to knock down the conspiracy theories of the contemporary British right. Standing takes apart the demographic basis for the Eurabia idea, and could have pointed out that it rests on the sinister fallacy that future generations will believe exactly the same things that their parents did, as if belief and culture were hammered into the genetic code.
Standing’s an atheist and considers Islam itself to be harmful and stupid. A lot of people will object to his report for these reasons alone, but for my money it’s a stronger, finer attack on the current bigotry against British Muslims than anything produced by the far left.
(Image via John Rentoul)
…or was it ‘Harlem Fuss’?
Above: Waller on the right, and Condon (second from left).
Eddie Condon’s description of this recording session (the morning after a major drinking session with Fats Waller, whom he was supposed to be ‘minding’ for the record company), on 1st March 1929:
“We stopped at the Riverside Towers and I got my banjo. At ten minutes before twelve we walked into the Leiderkranz Hall at Fifty-eighth Street and Lexington Avenue. Mr Adams (boss of the Southern Music Company – JD) was waiting for us.
“‘I see you are punctual,’ he said to me. ‘Congratulations.’ To Fats he said, ‘Well, Mr Waller, what is it to be this morning?’
“‘ Well, Mr Adams,’ Fats said, ‘this morning I think we’ll start with a little thing we call ‘The Minor Drag.’ It’s a slow number. Then we got a little ol’ thing for the other side we call – he hesitated - ‘Harlem Fuss’…
“…When we finished Mr Adams came of of the control-room. He didn’t say anything. We listened to the playback.
“I had a difficult time believing what I heard because it sounded wonderful. I looked at Mr Adams. He was smiling.
“‘You see,’ he said to me, ‘what careful rehearsal will do? You have performed your job excellently.’
“I walked over to Fats. ‘What are we going to play for the other side?’ I whispered. ‘What is Harlem Fuss?’
“‘It’s just a little blues in a major key,’ he said.
“We made it. When the master was cut Mr Adams was delighted.
“After that the Southern Music Company, with careful planning and preperation, brought out the record on a Victor Label with the titles reversed: ‘Harlem Fuss’ was called ‘ The Minor Drag’ and ‘ The Minor Drag’ was called ‘ Harlem Fuss.’ I got my seventy five dollars.”
Quiz question: what was racially/socially ground-breaking about Fats Waller’s “Harlem Fuss/ Minor Drag” 1929 recording session?
Prize: any Eddie Condon or Fats Waller CD you wish copied from my collection and posted to you free of charge.
PS: Stroppy remembers Jimmy Hendrix - like Waller a short-lived, wayward musical genius – 40 years on.
Susan “Grimmer Up North” Press keeps her ear to the ground on Labour Party matters, so I trust her judgement on this:
…I should be at work today but I am dosing myself up with antibiotics and paracetamol in a bid to ward off a disgusting lurgy which came from nowhere to knock me for six.
I’ll review the film itself as soon as I can. Meanwhile, here’s the trailer: