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Leon Greenman 1910 - 2008

Posted by Whitmore, March 10, 2008 09:01am | Post a Comment


Leon Greenman
, the only Englishman sent to the Auschwitz concentration camp, has died this past Friday, March 7th. He was 97.

Greenman was one of six children born in Whitechapel, in the East End of London. His family’s background was Dutch-Jewish. His paternal grandparents were Dutch and when his father remarried, Greenman’s mother died when he was two, he moved the family to Rotterdam in the Netherlands. By the 1920s, Leon had returned to London apprenticing with a barber in Forest Gate. During the 1930s he joined an amateur operatic society where he met Esther "Else" van Dam. In 1935 they married and in 1940 their son Barnett was born. Meanwhile, he commuted between Britain and Holland, working for his father-in-law's book business.

Greenman believed that being a British citizen, his family would be protected from the Nazis.  But by late April 1942, the Nazis had enforced the wearing of the yellow Star of David on Jews in the Netherlands. Leon, meanwhile, gave his family's savings and passports to non-Jewish friends for safe keeping. Scared of reprisals for helping Jews, his friends burned the documents.

On October 8, 1942 the entire family were rounded up and taken to Westerbork, a Nazi concentration camp in the Netherlands. In mid-January 1943 they were told they were being deported to a Polish "work camp."  His wife Esther and three-year-old son Barney perished there at Auschwitz. Greenman survived the war and committed the rest of his life to teaching and reminding the public what he had witnessed at Auschwitz and the five other camps he was sent to. He believed that if he could tell enough people about the horrors of the camps and Nazism, perhaps it would never happen again.

He published a memoir, An Englishman in Auschwitz, and continued to lecture well into old age. In 1988 he received the prestigious Order of the British Empire from Queen Elizabeth II for his work fighting racism.

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MOVING VIOLATIONS PART ONE: GRAFFITI ON THE GO

Posted by Billyjam, March 10, 2008 08:25am | Post a Comment
      

New York City subway cars of a bygone era, where graffiti started and was once most prolific, or freight trains in the US or passenger trains in Italy and other European countries where graffiti is currently commonly seen, are not the only types of vehicles or moving objects that graffiti can been found on.   Trucks and sometimes cars in cities are also quite common targets for graffiti artists to tag up. Generally these are commercial vehicles since the code (albeit not always a strict one) among graf artists is to exercise respect for private property - but to hell with businesses and city owned property, especially when you can get away with the illegal act.

Always fascinated with this aspect of graffiti done on moving vehicles - oft times really rushed tags since the truck or van is only parked temporarily for as short a stop as a traffic light - I have been snapping pictures of what I have named this "moving violations"  part of graffiti.  Taken over the last few years in various cities including San Francisco, Oakland, Amsterdam, Los Angeles, and New York City they include a broad spectrum of graffiti from some intricate pieces to some very basic and obviously rushed tag jobs - kinda like the one above on the truck with Santa Rosa plates parked in the Mission District of San Francisco.

One truck owner in Chinatown in New York told me that he had long stopped trying to erase the tags on his once white van that he used to transport garments all over the city in. Other vehicle owners said that they actually commissioned artists to paint their trucks because then they knew that most other graffiti artists out of respect would then leave the vehicle alone. This way at least they could pick the art themselves.  There are also some shots (including immediately below) of a graffiti'ed barge on a canal in Amsterdam, a city rife with graffiti everywhere, even along its waterways.

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This Cartoon Can Be Yor Life...

Posted by Gomez Comes Alive!, March 10, 2008 02:37am | Post a Comment

Sunday’s episode of Fox’s television show King Of The Hill, entitled "Ladies And Gentrification," was nothing short of brilliant. In the episode, Peggy Hill is having problems selling a house to a hipster because none of the homes she has shown him are “real” enough for him. That is until Peggy agrees to meet Hank at his friend Enrique’s home in a Mexican neighborhood. Peggy brings her client along, as she is in the middle of showing the hipster homes to buy. Once the hipster sees the neighborhood, he wants to live there and Peggy closes a deal.

Soon Peggy is selling homes to other hipsters in Enrique’s Mexican neighborhood. The fruit stands and Goodwill are replaced by art galleries and trendy stores. Even Enrique’s favorite place to get fish tacos changes their menu, replacing the fried fish tacos with Salmon tacos. Soon Enrique has to move because he is being priced out of his own neighborhood.

There is a great scene in which Hank and Enrique are having fish tacos when a group of hipsters enter. They give Hank attitude because he’s neither a hipster nor a Mexican, calling him Gringo. The too cool hipsters say hello to Enrique,  to which he says to Hank, “They always act like they know me but I don’t know who they are!”

The episode touches upon many issues of gentrification that I thought were brilliant. One is that most hipsters want what they cannot have. While most poor people are trying to get out of a barrio, the hipsters want to get in, simply because they think it’s cool. Their adventures or ‘realness” are things that most people try to escape. Another thing is how they showed how hipsters love the realness of an ethic neighborhood but do very to little preserve the culture, often eliminating ethic businesses to bring in their own hipster culture. Then there was the hipsters that feel that they are “down” with the people simply because they live in the neighborhood, without actually getting to know their neighbors that were there before them. For the most part, many hipsters fraternized only among other hipsters from the same neighborhood.

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Control Machete

Posted by Gomez Comes Alive!, March 10, 2008 01:07am | Post a Comment

My girlfriend got me back into listening to the group Control Machete. To be honest, I hadn’t thought about them for a long time. They were one of those groups that I was into in the late 90’s/early 2000's, then I somewhat forgot about them. It was the same with her. One of Control Machete’s songs came up on her computer and she was hooked all over again, and so was I. We started discussing the song "Danzon" from their Artilleria Pesada album. The song was collaboration with Ruben Albarran from Café Tacvba and members of The Buena Vista Social Club. We argued who sang the chorus to the song. She insisted it was Ruben but I thought it was Omara Portuonda. I was way off. Ruben’s voice is somewhat feminine so I just assumed, and you know what they say about assumption…

Control Machete was the first Mexican Hip-Hop group I’d ever heard that was a true hip-hop group. They didn’t play instruments and they didn’t try to mimic The Beastie Boys, like some of their counterparts. They didn’t flow in Spanglish like the groups in the hip-hoppers in the U.S. (Mellow Man Ace, Cypress Hill, Big Pun, Fat Joe, Of Mexican Descent) It was two MC’s, Pato and Fermin IV, and a DJ (Toy) They had obvious hip-hop influences mixed with the ones that came from growing up in Monterey, Nuevo Leon, Mexico. Fermin had one of the roughest voices in rap music that sounded a little like the Don Ramon character from the Chavo Del Ocho T.V. show. Control Machete’s DJ, Toy Hernandez, dug up samples that the best beat makers in Hip-Hop would envy. They were proud of being Mexican but not in a super-nationalistic way. Lyrically, Pato and Fermin IV instilled their listeners with pride in their culture as a way to inspire and to speak against poverty, ignorance, and oppression that constantly plagued Mexico. They were too heavy for the Fresas, ( Mexican slang for hipster) who looked to Europe for all their cues, but for the kids growing up in the barrios that grew up listening to hip-hop, they were a breath of fresh air.

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See It Now, March 9th, 1954

Posted by Whitmore, March 9, 2008 09:58pm | Post a Comment

On this date, March 9, 1954, America's most respected journalist of the day Edward R. Murrow narrated an episode of See It Now, a news magazine broadcast on CBS television, called "A Report on Senator Joseph McCarthy."  Murrow had produced several episodes looking into hysteria of the Communist witch hunt of the 1950’s, but this program in particular was a monumental step toward the collapse of the demagogic and Constitutionally reckless Joseph McCarthy. Often referred to as television's "finest hour”, Murrow takes apart McCarthy’s campaign, showing it to be nothing more than unsubstantiated accusations and persecution towards anyone with a different point of view. By mainly playing recordings of McCarthy himself bullying witnesses and making cockeyed speeches, See It Now showed what they felt was the most dangerous risk to democracy-- not suspected Communists working in the government, but McCarthy’s actions themselves. The broadcast received tens of thousands of letters, telegrams and phone calls running 15 to 1 in favor of Murrow.

As Murrow said in his ending:

"No one familiar with the history of this country can deny that congressional committees are useful. It is necessary to investigate before legislating, but the line between investigating and persecuting is a very fine one and the junior Senator from Wisconsin has stepped over it repeatedly. His primary achievement has been in confusing the public mind, as between internal and the external threats of Communism. We must not confuse dissent with disloyalty. We must remember always that accusation is not proof and that conviction depends upon evidence and due process of law. We will not walk in fear, one of another. We will not be driven by fear into an age of unreason, if we dig deep in our history and our doctrine, and remember that we are not descended from fearful men -- not from men who feared to write, to speak, to associate and to defend causes that were, for the moment, unpopular.

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