I have become somewhat addicted in recent weeks to Widowspeak’s new album, ‘Plum’. The gateway drug was the Brooklyn duo’s dreamy, hypnotic cover of Dire Straits’ ‘Romeo and Juliet’ from a recent EP, ‘Honeychurch’. But now I am hooked on their own compositions, particularly the album’s title track.
In ‘The Corona Crash: how the pandemic will change capitalism’, British economist and journalist, Grace Blakeley, argues that COVID-19 has heralded a new age of “state monopoly capitalism”. But while massive state intervention in the economy is completely justified, instead of propping up the owners of the old polluting economy, our money should be directed into a huge programme of investment in a green and just recovery. Along the way, in a highly readable and concise pamphlet, Blakeley dissects the reality of globalisation, the legacy of financialisation, and the arguments for a Green New Deal. Indeed, her writing is so quotable that what follows is more of a ‘Corona Crash’ pass notes than a review..
I wonder if Brandon Yoshizawa knew that the exhaust plume of a Falcon 9 rocket would take on the shape of a flower as its hot discharge made contact with colder air of the upper atmosphere? He was certainly in the right place at the right time and with the requisite skill to capture an extraordinary image. The result, Flower Power, is a perfect example of the blend of art and science that makes the annual Astronomy Photographer of the Year exhibition at the Greenwich National Maritime Museum so special.
“We, the children of nature, fight for Mother Earth” said the young Brazilian climate activist at the FridaysForFuture rally in Manhattan last week. Earlier, New York’s Peace Poets advised the large crowd of which I was part to make common cause with indigenous leaders, whose ancestors have been fighting for environmental justice for hundreds of years. It was with those thoughts in mind that I returned to Battery Park the following day, enjoying an exhilarating cycle across the Brooklyn Bridge to visit the Museum of the American Indian.
Radio, a mesmerising one-person play at Dalston’s Arcola Theatre, will make you laugh, ponder, look at the Moon in a new way, and always carry a playing card or two in future.
Professor Brian Cox told us all about the universe in Nottingham last night. It wasn’t a lecture because we were drinking cosmic beer and no-one fell asleep, but an awful lot of information poured out in fast-flowing Mancunian, devoid of pauses and punctuated by lots of smiles. At one point half way through I thought I understood Einstein’s General Theory of Relativity. But this morning I realise that with every passing second more of that knowledge is slipping away into the space-time continuum and so I need to get this blog down fast.
Last week, the Mayor of New York, Bill De Blasio, announced free access to health care for all New Yorkers. For British citizens a universal right to free health care might not sound radical – it is something those of us under the age of seventy have enjoyed our entire lives. But medical bills are the single biggest cause of bankruptcy in the USA. Having witnessed some of those closest to me requiring urgent access to our free British National Health Service over three successive New Years, I am in full agreement with the Mayor when he says that “[h]ealthcare is a right not a privilege reserved for those who can afford it”, but also reminded that it is a “right” that most global citizens do not actually enjoy.
Ah, Green Man. A dreamy festival bursting with beguiling folk and indie music, where the views of Table Mountain (original Welsh version) compete for attention with the bands on the main stage; where the range of craft beers is so extensive they required a menu the length of a short novel; where there’s more vegan food than you could shake a tofu skewer at; and which this year was dedicated to the National Health Service (NHS), whose founder, Nye Bevan, grew up and developed his twin passions for social justice, song and art in nearby Tredegar.
If anyone has yet to see ‘To Provide All People’, Owen Sheers’ incredible ‘poem in the voice of the NHS’, dramatised by the BBC, then you are missing out on the television event of the year.
I do love a good dictionary and Dr Johnson remains the master of the genre, three hundred years after he compiled his first such tome. This is why markontour and friends took a short detour to Lichfield on our long drive back to London from the English Lake District, for it was in this little Staffordshire city that Samuel Johnson was born in 1709 and his childhood home has be turned into a lovely museum and bookshop.