Voices from Russia

Thursday, 23 November 2017

23 November 2017. A Light Goes Out in Our Musical Firmament… D A Khvorostovsky Passes at 55 From Brain Cancer

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Last year, Dmitri Aleksandrovich gave a moving performance of Журавли (Zhuravli: The White Cranes)… I find this the most appropriate piece to mark his passing. There’s also the gutsy original rendition by the late great M N Bernes (People’s Artist of the RSFSR).  Mark Naumovich’s version is much more stark and raw… listen to him… it’s à propos for such a day (he also died relatively young of cancer, at age 57). This was the last recording that Bernes made… many thought it his musing on his approaching death. That may be the same with the above performance, as it occurred one year after the diagnosis of a brain tumour.

D A Khvorostovsky was a People’s Artist of Russia. I D Kobzon (People’s Artist of the USSR) reported that his funeral will be 27 November at the Chaikovsky Zal of the Moscow Conservatoire. Dmitri Aleksandrovich wasn’t a believer… his ashes will lie in Novodevichy and in his Siberian home. However, we stand in respect before the mystery of death and wish the best for his family and friends, and express sincere and honest condolences at his passing (as did President Putin). Secular people simply aren’t religious believers (for a multitude of reasons, many grounded in actuality); we should respect them and their beliefs, without reserve. I bow before all of Dmitri Aleksandrovich’s loved ones and express my solidarity with their pain and my community with their grief.

ВЕЧНАЯ ЕМУ ПАМЯТЬ!

A light went out in our musical firmament… the whole world mourns…

BMD

Friday, 10 November 2017

The Civil War was About Slavery. Period. End of story. Deal With It.

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Slavery caused the Civil War. A failure to compromise had nothing to do with it. Yes, I know a thousand people have made that point in the days since White House Chief of Staff John Kelly’s nonsensical assertion on Fox “News” that “the lack of ability to compromise” is what tore America apart. Allow me to be the thousand and first. There are things that need saying here, and I need to say them. It isn’t just that there is no “compromise” between slavery and freedom. It’s also that Kelly’s use of that word is painfully ironic in a nation that’s always been all too ready to bargain with the humanity of African-American people.

In 1776, in his first draft of the Declaration of Independence, Thomas Jefferson condemned slavery. Southern states baulked, so he compromised. In 1820, North and South argued whether the new state of Missouri would permit slavery. Congress intervened, so they compromised. In 1877, there was a disputed election. Someone suggested giving the presidency to Rutherford B Hayes if he agreed to withdraw federal troops that protected former slaves in the South. The two sides compromised. In 1961, the Freedom Riders pulled into Mississippi. The federal government made a deal with the state that if Mississippi guaranteed no violence, it could arrest the riders, though they’d done nothing illegal. They compromised. And so on. Historically, America always seems to find a way to sell black people out.

Kelly is just the latest in a long line of those who lack the guts to face this straight-on. They hide out in textbooks where slaves become “settlers”; they flee from Roots because it’s “depressing”. Moreover, they insist on moral equivalence between people sellers and the people they sold, lynchers and the people they lynched, traitors who fought to destroy America and patriots who fought to preserve it. Kelly added in the Fox interview:

Robert E Lee was an honourable man.

That’s an interesting take for a military man on an enemy general in a war that killed more Americans than Hitler, Hirohito, and Bin Laden combined. White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders said in defending Kelly:

All of our leaders have flaws.

As if Lee’s ordering two men and a woman stripped to the waist and whipped (he did say, “Lay it on well”) for the crime of seeking freedom was in the same moral universe as Barack Obama’s cigarette jones. I can anticipate how all this would land among certain people. They’d call it “racist”. They’d call it “divisive”. They’d call it everything but untrue. You see, they deeply invested in the myth that their struggles with poverty, mass incarceration, joblessness, and miseducation arise from something African-Americans chose or did, while the rest of the country, innocent as the dawn, did nothing to cause or benefit from any of it. They’ll be angry at the reminder that this is ridiculous… as if this was about them. As if we should give a damn about their anger.

This country stole from black people. It stole their bodies, their children, their names, their land, and their lives. Now, some of them seek to steal the very memory of the crime. Well, let them tell a thousand lies. Let them treat truth like the money card in a game of three-card monte. Let them salve history with the balm of false equivalence. However, let them know that some of us find strength for our own trials in knowing the trials of our mothers and fathers. We won’t be fooled and we won’t be robbed. We will remember… and demand they do the same.

No compromise.

3 November 2017

Leonard Pitts Jr

Miami Herald

http://www.miamiherald.com/opinion/opn-columns-blogs/leonard-pitts-jr/article182630021.html

Tuesday, 10 March 2015

10 March 2015. As Seen by Vitaly Podvitsky… We Mourn the Zasyadko Miners

00 Vitaly Podvitsky. We Mourn the Zasyadko Miners. 2015

We Mourn the Zasyadko Miners

Vitaly Podvitsky

2015

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We praise those who die as they aim for the skies as heroes. However, those who die digging in the bowels of the earth are no less worthy of our honour. I dedicate this to all those who died on 4 March at the Zasyadko mine.

4 March 2015

Vitaly Podvitsky

Russian Bear Cartoon Workshop

http://vk.com/supercartoon

Wednesday, 12 November 2014

12 November 2014. 96 Years Since the “Eleventh Hour of the Eleventh Day of the Eleventh Month”… Remembrance Day in the Commonwealth and France Unveils Memorial to the War Dead in Flanders

00 australian war memorial. remembrance day. 12.11.14

A man places a memorial poppy on the wall at the Australian War Memorial in Canberra ACT AUSTRALIA

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00 cenotaph. toronto. old city hall. 12.11.14

An honour guard at the Cenotaph near the Old City Hall in Toronto ON CANADA

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00 Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red. Rmembrance Day at the Tower of London. 12.11.14

“Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red” at the Tower of London London ENGLAND UK

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00 Notre Dame de Lorette. FRANCE. WWI memorial. 12.11.14

French troops at the dedication of the L’Anneau de la Mémoire/Memorial international Notre-Dame-de-Lorette (Ring of Remembrance) memorial wall with over 500,000 names of those of all nations who fell in Northern France, at the Nécropole nationale de Notre-Dame-de-Lorette in Ablain St-Nazaire FRANCE (the world’s largest French military cemetery). This event was also in commemoration of the 100th anniversary of the outbreak of World War I (“The Great War”). 

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