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March 2009

THE ESSENTIAL MONTHLY FOR ALL AMERICANS

Est. 1976

THE AMERICAN • MARCH 2009 • Issue 671

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MELODY GARDOT The singer who turned adversity into achievement

RESTAURANT REVIEWS WHAT’S ON GUIDES SPORTS • POLITICS MUSIC • ARTS

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The American Issue 671 – March 2009 Published by Blue Edge Publishing Ltd. Old Byre House, East Knoyle, Salisbury SP3 6AW, UK Publisher: Michael Burland +44 (0)1747 830328 theamerican@blueedge.co.uk Please contact us with your news or article ideas Advertising & Promotions: Sabrina Sully, Commercial Director Nadia Abd Rabbo, Ad Manager +44 (0)1747 830520 sabrina.theamerican@blueedge.co.uk nadia.theamerican@blueedge.co.uk Subscriptions enquiries: Phone +44 (0)1747 830328, email theamerican@blueedge.co.uk Correspondents: Virginia Schultz, Wining & Dining virginias@blueedge.co.uk Mary Bailey, Social maryb@blueedge.co.uk Cece Mills, Arts cecem@blueedge.co.uk Jarlath O’Connell, Theater jarlatho@blueedge.co.uk Bob Pickens, Columnist bobp@blueedge.co.uk Richard Gale, Sports Editor richardg@blueedge.co.uk Sean Chaplin, Sports seanc@blueedge.co.uk Dom Mills, Motorsports domm@blueedge.co.uk Jeremy Lanaway, Hockey jeremyl@blueedge.co.uk Riki Evans Johnson, European rikie@blueedge.co.uk Nadia Abd Rabbo, Music nadiaa@blueedge.co.uk ©2009 Blue Edge Publishing Ltd. Printed by The Westdale Press Ltd 70 Portmanmoor Road, Industrial Estate, East Moors, Cardiff CF24 5HB Main cover image: Melody Gardot. Inset: Tyler Hansbrough (Photo © Kevin C Cox/Getty Images).

Welcome T

he financial news is bad and getting worse. President Obama’s inauguration is a few weeks old so it’s lost its immediate impact. The weather in Britain is dismal, even for those of us who have lived here for ages. It’s time to look forward to a less gloomy time. Spring is coming, or so they say, and The American has pages of good ideas, whether you’re just arriving, you’ve been here for years or you’re on vacation. Our Diary Dates section always has some great events to get out to, and Mary Bailey has been to Hereford and the Welsh Borders, a little known area that has a lot to offer. If staying in, and eating and drinking well, is more your thing, check out our latest restaurant reviews. And our theatre review is on a play called Spring Awakening! We also have a bunch of essential reads about your visa requirements, passport and Certificates of Good Conduct. Be good! Enjoy your magazine.

Michael Burland, Editor

SOME OF THIS MONTH’S CONTRIBUTORS

Jay Webster works for ESPN America, the American sports network. Jay brings his expert eye to bear on March Madness.

Jarlath O’Connell is one of the UK’s best theatre reviewers and an Olivier Award judge. This month he interviews American actress Lesli Margherita about her role in Zorro.

Cece Mills and knows the British arts scene – she is a talented artist too – and selects the best arts events for you.

Don’t forget to check out The American online at www.theamerican.co.uk The entire contents of The American and www.theamerican.co.uk are protected by copyright and no part of it may be reproduced without written permission of the publishers. Whilst every effort is made to ensure that the information in The American is accurate, the editor and publishers cannot accept responsibility for any errors or omissions. The views and comments of contributors are not necessarily those of the publishers.

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The American

In This Issue.. The American • Issue 671 • March 2009

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News New UK visa requirements – avoid a ban on re-entering Britain

10 Diary Dates A major new co–production by the ENO and the Metropolitan Opera, New York of John Adams’ new Doctor Atomic

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13 Music Album reviews, the best concerts, the sad death of two punk progenitors and an interview with a great new singer 22 As I Was Saying... The rebuilding beginning in America will also extend to our community, and it’s up to the Embassy to help it happen, says Bob Pickens

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22 Miracle on the Hudson Could the miraculous escape of the plane that landed in the Hudson have been helped by Captain Sullenberger’s psychology training? 26 What’s So Good About Living In Britain? Carol Gould follows up last month’s list of liabilities – and so does one of our readers 28 Profile: American Expats in Britain This month, the Parish Priest of Farm Street Church, Mayfair

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The American

29 Web Safety Online shopping and dating advice 30 Welsh Borders The place for historians, with Hereford Cathedral, Tintern Abbey, and Offa’s Dyke 32 Coffee Break Take a break with our fun pages 34 Wining & Dining Three great restaurant suggestions, and some great advice on eating healthily while saving money

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40 Arts Britain has more, and more varied, art exhibitions than almost anywhere. Cece’s Choice is your guide

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46 Reviews Gay fumblings, teenage pregnancy and generalised adolescent angst. Just a regular day at school in Frank Wedekind’s Spring Awakening, 50 Drive Time Uber trucks conquer the South Pole – and Dorset – in our motoring coverage this month. And Chevy, if they survive, have come up with a fuel-efficient winner 54 Sports March Madness preview, Russian domination in the NHL, and Keonta Howell leads the Guildford Heat back to the BBL Trophy final

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60 American Organizations Your comprehensive guide 64 Paw Talk A dog is for life, but some people haven’t got the message 3


The American

A KC-135 Stratotanker, similar to the one that lost its wing part

Origin of Species Released In Digital Format

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copy of the first edition of Charles Darwin’s On the Origin of Species has been released in digital format by the University of Oxford. It marks the 200th anniversary of Darwin’s birth and the 150th anniversary of the publication of his world shaking book, and is part of a collaboration between the University’s Bodleian Library and online giant Google. Published in 1859 by John Murray, On the Origin of Species encapsulated Darwin’s ideas about evolution. His theories, built up over many years after his famous expedition on HMS Beagle, were controversial at that time and, to some, remain so to this day. It has been called the most important single work in science. Only 1,250 copies were printed, of which just 1,170 were for sale. All were sold on the day of publication, so first editions are very rare. The University of Oxford owns three original copies of the first edition and the digitized copy is one of these. The book is can be seen at http://books.google.com/book s?vid=OXFORD:301043408 and the whole text of the book can be searched in full.

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Panel Missing From USAF Stratotanker

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small metal panel was discovered to be missing from the left wing of a 100th Air Refueling Wing KC-135 Stratotanker when the aircraft landed on February 4. The aircraft had just safely completed a routine refueling mission. The missing section measures 1 ft by 3 ft and there are no specific hazards reported to be associated with it. The Stratotanker was traveling in the RAF Mildenhall circuit pattern and the missing panel is most likely to be found within an area to the south of the Base or aligned with the runway. The 100th Air Refueling Wing would be grateful if any member of the public who finds the panel could contact the 100th ARW Public Affairs office on 01638-542654 or the local authorities.

IRS Office: Exchange Rates

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t is time to begin preparing U.S. Federal tax returns, it may be useful to have some exchange rates for 2008 as the IRS requires that all income be reported in U.S. dollar equivalents. Please note that there is NO official exchange rate. Taxpayers should use the rate that best reflects the transactions reported on their return. Yearly averages are provided for the convenience of the taxpayer. However, if there were a few foreign transactions on certain days/months, it may be preferable to use the exchange rate for that particular time frame. Additional exchange rates may be found at www.fms.treas.gov/intn.html Two yearly averages that may be useful: 1 US Dollar = 0.54491 British Pound Sterling 1 US Dollar = 0.68341 Euro


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The American Museum in Britain The American Museum in Britain takes you on a journey through the history of America, from its early settlers to the 20th century. Enjoy traditional American music concerts, kids’ activities, Living History Events, the grounds, great food, the textiles, quilts and map collections, and much more. It’s the only museum of Americana outside the United States.

THIS MONTH AMERICAN HERITAGE: Visit the new permanent Exhibition, which tells the stories of the Founding Fathers, Native Americans and the Civil War, bringing the development of America and its culture to life with bright and tactile exhibits! AMERICAN BEAUTY: Art from Craft in 19th century America The museum re-opens with American Beauty, which brings ‘centre stage’ over one hundred star pieces from the museum’s world-renowned folk art collection. Interest in folk art – especially the American tradition – is on the rise. Its democratic celebration of the ‘everyman’ is infectious and joyous. Illustrating the democratic ideals of the new republic and the ingenuity of its inhabitants, this art was made “of the people, by the people, for the people”. From Saturday March 14

Open 12.00-5.00pm. Closed Mondays except Bank Holidays and month of August Claverton Manor near Bath. 01225 460503 www.americanmuseum.org

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Create an Inspirational Voting Slogan

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oting is your constitutional right! Now you can inspire others to vote in the 2009 Voting Slogan Contest. The April 9 deadline is fast approaching, so enter now. The Voting Slogan Contest is a biennial contest sponsored by the Federal Voting Assistance Program to promote the democratic process among military members, their families and U.S. citizens worldwide. The contest winner and runners-up will feel the satisfaction of knowing that their slogan is helping improve voter awareness. They will win a certificate of recognition from the Department for their contribution to this important endeavor. Participating is easy. Just create a simple slogan. There is no limit

to the number of entries you may submit, but each should be submitted separately. Send with your full name, branch of service (if military), mailing address, daytime telephone number, fax number (include all country/city codes or DSN prefixes) and e-mail address: E-mail slogan@fvap.ncr.gov, text only (attachments are deleted), or fax (703) 696-1352 or DSN 426-1352 (see www.fvap.gov for international toll-free fax numbers), mail Federal Voting Assistance Program, Attn: Voting Slogan Contest, 1155 Defense, Pentagon, Washington DC 20301-1155 (type or print on regular letter size paper, one slogan per page with contact information on each page).

Crossing the Atlantic the Other Way

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ritish citizens eligible to travel to the United States on the Visa Waiver Program (VWP) are now required to register on line with the Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) prior to boarding the airplane. On January 12, 2009, ESTA became mandatory for all nationals and citizens of VWP countries, including the United Kingdom. Holders of U.S. visas do not need to register with ESTA. ESTA is free and run by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) at https://esta.cbp.dhs.gov The information that travelers provide is the same that they usually complete on the I-94W forms on board the plane. ESTA is replacing those forms.


The American

Passport Renewal: Ensure a Great Spring Break

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aster break is just around the corner. One of the most popular travel periods in the United Kingdom, it’s a good time to visit family in the United States or just do some exploring closer to home. But, before you book the tickets, check the expiration dates of your family’s passports. Renewing passports early can save you both time and expense. Remember, all American citizens must enter and exit the United States on a valid U.S. passport. For more information on renewing passports for adults and children, please see: http://www. usembassy.org.uk/cons_new/acs/passports/renindex.html.

Important Changes to UK Visa Regulations for US Citizens

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he UK government’s Border Agency (UKBA) is in the process of implementing a new five-tier visa regulation system. Information on the new, points-based system, and transitional arrangements for American citizens and dependents already in the UK, can be found at www.ukba.homeoffice.gov.uk. The site also includes vital information on sponsorship licenses, which must be obtained by companies and individuals intending to employ American citizens as well as educational establishments, even for short-term study abroad programs. Students and prospective students who intend to stay longer than six months, and those coming for less than six months but who wish to work while studying, are required to obtain a student or prospective

student visa in advance of traveling to the United Kingdom. Failure to do so will result in the student or prospective student being refused entry to the United Kingdom. Students may apply on line at: www.ukvisas.gov.uk/en/ howtoapply/infs/. Even charity workers and religious workers performing unpaid duties must obtain a visa prior to traveling to the UK. It is the traveler’s personal responsibility to ensure that he/she has the appropriate permission to enter the UK. The U.S. Embassy cannot intervene with any application, secure entry on behalf of American citizens who arrive without a required visa, or interfere with or influence the decisions of UK immigration authorities. If you are denied entry, you may also face a 10-year ban from re-entering the UK.

Obtaining a Certificate of Good Conduct

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“certificate of good conduct” is proof that a person lacks a criminal record. While the Embassy cannot provide criminal records information, U.S. citizens seeking to obtain proof of their lack of criminal record can contact the local police department where they last resided in the United States. Or submit a written request for an FBI records check to the Criminal Justice Information Services Division of the FBI (www.fbi.gov), with proof of identity including name, date and place of birth and a set of roll-inked fingerprint impressions, plus a certified check or money order for the processing fee. The U.S. Embassy in London does not provide fingerprinting services. U.S. citizens can obtain fingerprint cards from local police departments in the United States or contact the National Fingerprint Centre at New Scotland Yard for assistance (http:// www.met.police.uk/scd/specialist_ units/fingerpint_services.htm).

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The American AMERICAN EMBASSY IN THE UNITED KINGDOM Switchboard: +44 (0)20 7499 9000 Visa Information (£1.20/min): 09042 450100 Mon-Fri 8.00am – 8.00pm, Sat 10.00am – 4.00pm Passport Unit (American Citizen Services): +44 (0)20 7894 0563 24hr assistance for genuine emergencies: +44 (0)20 7499 9000

Embassy News www.usembassy.org.uk

Worldwide Warning from Embassy

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he full Worldwide Caution message, complete with specific advice for those intending to travel to the Middle East, North Africa, East Africa or South and Central Asia, can be read at http:// london.usembassy.gov/cons_new/ warden_messages/warden_message_ 02feb09.html The United States Embassy has released an updated Worldwide Cau- tion with important information on the continuing threat of terrorist actions and violence against Americans and interests throughout the world. In some countries, the worldwide recession has contributed to political and economic instability and social unrest. The armed conflict between Israeli forces and Hamas in Gaza, which began in December 2008, raised tensions and sparked demonstrations throughout the world. U.S. citizens and others were killed in recent terrorist attacks in India and Pakistan. American citizens are reminded to maintain a high level of vigilance and to take appropriate steps to increase their security awareness. The Department of State remains concerned about the continued threat of terrorist attacks, demonstrations, and other violent actions against U.S. citizens and interests overseas. Americans are reminded that demonstrations and rioting can occur with little

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or no warning. Current information suggests that al-Qaida and affiliated organizations continue to plan ter- rorist attacks against U.S. interests in multiple regions, including Europe, Asia, Africa, and the Middle East. These attacks may employ a wide variety of tactics including suicide operations, assassinations, kidnappings, hijackings, and bombings. The September 2006 attack on the U.S. Embassy in Syria and the March 2006 bombing near the U.S. Consulate in Karachi, Pakistan illustrate the continuing desire of extremists to strike American targets. Extremists may elect to use conventional or non-conventional weapons, and target both official and private interests. Examples of such targets include high-profile sporting events, residential areas, business offices, hotels, clubs, restaurants, places of worship, schools, public areas, and locales where Americans gather in large numbers, including during holidays. Terrorists attacked two hotels, a railway station, restaurant, hospital, and other locations in Mumbai, India, frequented by Westerners on November 26, 2008. Over 100 persons are believed to have been killed, including six Americans, and hundreds were injured. On September 20, terrorists bombed the Islamabad Marriott Hotel

killing two U.S. Department of Defense employees and one Department of State contractor, Embassy News whose remains are still unaccounted for. One private American sustained minor injuries. On March 15, 2008, a bomb at a restaurant in Islamabad, Pakistan, killed two and injured twelve, includ- ing five Americans. Also on March 15, two bombs exploded at a hotel in southern Thailand, killing two and injuring thirteen. Americans are reminded of the potential for terrorists to attack public transportation systems. Bombs exploded near city buses in Tripoli, Lebanon, on August 13 and September 29, 2008, killing twenty-one people. Other examples include anti-personnel mine detonations on buses in June 2008 in Sri Lanka, terrorist attacks on trains in India in 2006, the July 2005 London Underground bombings, and the March 2004 train attacks in Madrid. Extremists also may select aviation and maritime services as possible targets, such as the August 2006 plot against aircraft in London, or the December 2006 bomb at Madrid Interna- tional Airport. In June 2007, a vehicle was driven into the main terminal at Glasgow International Airport and burst into flames, but the bomb failed to detonate. ★


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The American

Diary Dates

Your Guide To The Month Ahead

Get your event listed in The American – call the editor on +44 (0)1747 830520, or email details to editor@theamerican.co.uk Doctor Atomic London Coliseum, St. Martin’s Lane, Trafalgar Square, London A major new co–production, ENO and the Metropolitan Opera, New York, present John Adams’ (Nixon in China) powerful new work on the creation of the atomic bomb and the human relationships behind it. Adam’s profoundly beautiful Doctor Atomic focuses on the moral dilemmas of J. Robert Oppenheimer as he becomes ‘the destroyer of worlds’ (as quoted

from Gandhi’s translation of the Bhagavad Gita). www.eno.org/doctoratomic 0871 911 0200 to March 20 The Right Man? Assessing the Bush Presidency British Library Conference Centre Symposium exploring George Bush’s legacy and the historical significance of his presidency. Presented in cooperation with the Institute for the

Study of the Americas, University of London. http://americas.sas.ac.uk March 2 East Various Venues, East London A six day festival curated by the Mayor of London (!) celebrating the rich creative mix of East London. Features more than 300 events covering performance, art, history, fashion and design, film and food. It takes place across three main hubs including Hackney, Stratford, and Central East (The City, Shoreditch, Hoxton, Whitechapel and Spitalfields). Highlights: Do Something Different Weekend; Le Corbusier, The Art of Architecture (Barbican Art Gallery); BBC Symphony Orchestra’s Total Immersion: Iannis Xenakis Composer Day; Boy Blue Entertainment’s Pied Piper (Barbican Theatre); and Jerry Dammers Spatial A.K.A. Orchestra present a Tribute to Sun Ra (Barbican Hall). www.visitlondon.com/events/east/ March 5 to March 10 Feast East Linton, Cambridgeshire Tastes of Anglia’s annual food and drink festival, over 80 producers from the East of England showcasing the best of what the region has to offer, Cookery Theatre and the finest chefs from the region using local ingredients. www.feasteast.co.uk March 6 to March 7

Darwin Natural History Museum, Cromwell Road, London SW7 5BD Discover more about Charles Darwin the man and the revolutionary theory that changed out understanding of the world and our place within it. The picture shows the new Darwin Centre at the Natural History Museum. www.nhm.ac.uk 020 7942 5000 to April 19

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Junior League of London’s 2nd Annual London Spree Various Venues, London Shop with a cause! Purchase a London Spree card for £30 and you will enjoy 20% off when you shop at an exclusive list of retailers, restaurants and service providers. The £30 donation funds the JLL’s charitable mission. The 20% saving is their way of saying thank you. www.jll.org.uk jrleague@jll.org.uk 020 7499 8159 March 6 to March 15


The American

Into The Little Hill by George Benjamin Down by the Greenwood Side by Harrison Birtwistle Howard Assembly Room at Opera North, Leeds A new staging of this double bill that includes a landmark in the development of contemporary music theatre, Birtwistle’s boisterous Down By The Greenwood Side (1969). It is paired with Benjamin’s Into the Little Hill, which was hailed as a classic at its premier in 2006 and retells the story of the Pied Piper in a chilling and disturbing way. www.howardassemblyroom.co.uk 0844 848 2717 March 7 to March 8 Classic Relief Royal Festival Hall, Southbank Centre, London and Bridgewater Hall, Manchester Can Classical Music be funny? Are there belly laughs in Beethoven and chuckles in Tchaikovsky? Yes, say a group of the world’s greatest musicians who are coming together for two extraordinary concerts. They include Rainer Hersch and The Philharmonia Orchestra, Alfred Brendel, Nicola Benedetti, Evelyn Glennie, Paul Lewis, Piers Lane, Jennifer Pike and Loré Lixenberg. London 0871 663 2500 www.southbankcentre.co.uk. Manchester 0161 907 9000 www.bridgewater–hall.co.uk London: March 07 and Manchester: March 13 Prospects for the new U.S. administration British Library Conference Centre The annual debate of the Academy of the Social Sciences. A transatlantic panel considers the question: ‘What can social science do for the new president of the USA?’ with Professors George Edwards (Texas A&M University & Oxford), Andrew Rudalevige (Dickinson College), Rob Singh (London), Dilys Hill (Southampton) and Jenel Virden (Hull).

Followed by a wine reception. www. bl.uk/eccles/events.html March 9 Economics Debate The English–Speaking Union This house believes in a liberal immigration policy. In association with the IEA. www.esu.org centre@esu.org 020 7529 1550 March 11 The Churchill Lecture Series Churchill Museum and Cabinet War Rooms, Clive Steps, King Charles Street, London SW1 Alison Holmes (Pierre Keller Fellow, Transatlantic Studies at Yale University and columnist in The American magazine) discusses three ‘iconic relationships’ between US/UK heads of state. Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher, the progressive Third Way of Bill Clinton and Tony Blair and the shared trials of war that bonded George Bush and Tony Blair. http://cwr.iwm.org.uk March 12, 2009 The Lightning Conductor: Benjamin Franklin Benjamin Franklin House, 36 Craven Street, London Public Lecture: Ben Franklin was famous for his work on electricity, including his famous and dangerous kite and key experiment. Alice Kershaw discusses Franklin’s fascinating invention and the relationship between this and his role as a political lightning conductor during the American Revolution. 1p.m. www.benjaminfranklinhouse.org info@benjaminfranklinhouse.org March 16 Hermann Heinzel: Indian and Other Birds Indar Pasricha Fine Arts, 22 Connaught Street Heinzel is highly collected in the USA and exhibited in the Museum of Natural History in Napa County. This selection

Fort William Mountain Festival Fort William, Scotland The best of the best in the fields of climbing, kayaking, and skiing and much more are flocking to the Fort William Mountain Festival. Includes the most inspiring mountain films from around the world, and an expanded programme of daily mountain skills workshops for children and adults. www.mountainfestival.co.uk info@mountainfestival.co.uk 01397 700 001 March 06 to March 14

are of birds that can be seen in India. www.ipfa.co.uk 020 7724 9541 March 17 to April 4 Booze on the Ouse St Neots, Cambridgeshire Festival run by the Campaign for Real Ale. Taste locally produced beer, learn about the campaign and chat to staff about beer brewing and pubs. With over 40 beers to taste it is highly recommended that you take advantage of the choice of accommodation available in the town! www.huntscamra.org.uk 01590 612345 March 19 to March 21

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The American

www.wigmore-hall.org.uk 020 7935 2141 March 23 Shaping America: Franklin and the Constitution Benjamin Franklin House, 36 Craven Street, London Franklin rose from a modest, working class background to become the most famous American of his day, one of America’s first, and most enduring, symbols of the principle that all men are created equal. Lady Joan Reid, discusses Franklin’s involvement in the principles that continue to shape America today. 6.30p.m. www.benjaminfranklinhouse.org info@benjaminfranklinhouse.org March 25

Race Retro Stoneleigh Park, Coventry Three day international historic motorsport show, live racing, famous drivers and celebrity guests, displays of racing cars and motorcycles, motorsport memorabilia and indoor bike trials. www.raceretro.com info@livepromotions.co.uk 01775 768661 March 13 to March 15 Up Helly Aa Brae, Shetland Islands The last Up Helly Aa Viking Festival of the season, enjoy the torch–lit procession and all night ceilidh. www.visitscotland.com March 20 OOHRAH! by Bekah Brunstteter The Finborough Theatre, London The European premiere of Oohrah!, by New York Old Vic New Voices writer Bekah Brunstetter, twice Advertisement

HERITAGE GUIDE National Trust Guide, tutor, 2 degrees, will take adults and children to castles, museums etc. in London and the South East. Small fee. 01323-729699, 07737-294028, email: upperton4@tiscali.co.uk

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winner of the Samuel French Theatre Festival. Directed by Georgina Guy, Brunstetter’s play sheds light on the military’s psychological effects on an American family living in Fayetteville, North Carolina, a town recently voted the most pro–military in America by a TIME Magazine poll. www.finboroughtheatre.co.uk 0844 847 1652 March 22 to April 6

World Pooh Sticks Championship Days Lock, Little Wittenham, Nr Abingdon, Oxfordshire When Winnie the Pooh and Christopher Robin first dropped sticks from a bridge into a stream and rushed to the other side to see which came out first, who’d have imagined it would start a tradition? In the 26th Annual World Pooh Sticks Championships organised by the Rotary Club of Oxford Spires, individuals and teams drop sticks from the two bridges at the lock. In aid of the RNLI and Rotary charities. 12 midday. www.pooh-sticks.com 01844 351549 March 29

Nelly Akopian-Tamarina 36 Wigmore Street, London The Russian pianist makes a return to London with an atmospheric programme of middle–European mood scenes by Schubert, Janacek and Chopin. Censored in Russia for more than a decade, AkopianTamarina played in the UK, the United States and Europe but has revisited Russia in recent years to give concerts at the Bolshoi Hall of the Moscow Conservatoire and also in Kiev.

John Cage was all the rage British Library Conference Centre Composer, writer and lecturer Peter Dickinson discusses the work and influence of John Cage (1912–1992), the pioneer American experimental composer. He first met Cage in 1960 and in 1987 he made a BBC Radio 3 documentary that became the basis of his book Cage Talk: Dialogues with and about John Cage. http://www.bl.uk/eccles/ March 30


The American

Teenagers prefer music to sex

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Boys Choir Signs Deal After Inauguration

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n a tale worthy of a Frank Capra movie, a Kenyan youth choir signed a recording deal with the largest record company in the world, Universal Music, in a very unusual situation. They were in the transit lounge at London Heathrow Airport, making their way back home from their performance in Barack Obama’s inauguration celebrations. The Boys Choir of Kenya were the only international choir to take part in Barack Obama’s inauguration and represented the President’s father’s homeland at the historic event. They happened to be on tour in the US during the presidential election, and it has been suggested that their powerful performances helped to direct people towards Obama. Their wide-ranging repertoire runs from traditional Masai and Samburu chants to contemporary pieces from around Africa. Universal Music’s A&R Manager, Tom Lewis said, “The choir have already taken the US by storm. Their

sound is amazing and when I saw them on YouTube, I knew they could light up the world. You can’t help but smile when you hear them sing.” Lewis received a call from a music industry source tipping him off about the spectacular performance the choir gave in Washington D.C. and, after seeing a clip of them on YouTube, he knew quick action was needed. Within 48 hours he had finalised a contract and met them off their plane when they transferred in London between Washington D.C. and Nairobi. The boys are now label mates of Amy Winehouse, U2 and The Rolling Stones. Dickson Steiner, Managing Director of Universal Classics and Jazz, said, “The music of this choir will bring the spirit and hope of Africa to the entire world.” The record deal means more to the choir than perhaps it would to a regular band. The choir raises money to pay for school fees for its members, and several orphans have also found the choir to be their home.

ixty per cent of 16-24 year olds would rather be without sex for a week than go without music, according to a survey of 1,000 British 15-24 year-olds by Marrakesh Records and Human Capital. The amount increased to 70 per cent for 16-19 year olds. The survey points out how important music is to young people. It highlights their changing attitudes to online music downloads and how much they are willing to pay for them. Not a lot in some cases. 70 per cent of the 15-24 age group said they do not feel guilty downloading music illegally. An average of 43 per cent of music owned and enjoyed by the sample has not been paid for - 49 per cent for 15-19 year olds. The average amount that the survey’s sample bvelieve is fair to pay for a CD album is just £6.58. But for a download album the figure drops to just £3.91. For download singles the average is only 39p.

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The American

Stooges, Cramps Lynchpins Dead Two crucial figures in American underground rock music have passed away within a short time of each other. Both helped create unique sounds of their instantly identifiable alternative rock bands. While neither may have reached the commercial success of more mainstream bands, both were undoubtedly hugely influential to thousands of other acts that followed.

Lux Interior

Ron Asheton

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ux Interior, founder and front man of The Cramps, died on February 4th, aged 62 in Los Angeles. Born in 1946 in Stow, Ohio, he had been suffering from a heart condition. The origins of the groundbreaking group are slightly lost in the mists of time, some claiming they started in 1973 then moved to New York City in 1975. Other versions of the story say that they formed in 1976. Whichever is true, The Cramps were formed by Lux, whose real name was Erick Lee Purkhiser, and his wife, guitarist Poison Ivy Rorschach (Kristy Wallace). Always together, they mixed rockabilly, glam, garage and punk with a B-movie and horror film feel into what they called psychobilly. The Cramps had many line up changes, but the overall sound of voice, two guitars (Bryan Gregory and Kid Congo Powers being notable guitarists alongside Ivy), usually no bass, and drums remained. Although they only bothered the charts once, with Bikini Girls With Machine Guns, audiences who saw them did not forget them.

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on Asheton (pictured left, with Iggy and Scott), founder member of the Stooges, was found dead at his home in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Police were reported as saying that the 60 year old had been dead for several days before he was found. He is believed to have died of a heart attack. Although identified with Detroit, Asheton was born in Washington DC. He formed the Stooges in 1967 with his brother Scott on drums, bassist Dave Alexander and vocalist Iggy Pop. In 1968 they were signed to Elektra Records, with their eponymous debut album following in 1969. A statement from the Stooges’ management said that they do not know if the Stooges will carry on after Ron’s death, as he was “irreplaceable”. The statement reads, “We are shocked and shaken by the news of Ron’s death. He was a great friend, brother, musician, trooper. Irreplaceable. He will be missed. For all that knew him behind the façade of Mr Cool & Quirky, he was a kind-hearted, genuine, warm person who always believed that people meant well even if they did not. As a musician Ron was The Guitar God, idol to follow and inspire others. That is how he will be remembered by people who had a great pleasure to work with him, learn from him and share good and bad times with him.” This ignores the fact that Iggy did indeed replace and even sack Asheton, several times, during their fractured career. Outside The Stooges, Asheton played with the several bands. After Ron and Scott played with J. Mascis (of Dinosaur Jr.) and Mike Watt (Minutemen) performing Stooges songs many of which Ron had co-written, The Stooges reformed in 2003. In 2007 an album of new material, The Weirdness, was recorded at Abbey Road Studios in London, followed by a well received Glastonbury festival date. This year, The Stooges received their seventh nomination to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. It was announced a few days after Ron Asheton’s death that they had failed to win enough votes to be inducted. However Ron lived to see the respect he earned from musicians and fans throughout the rock world.


The American

Mandy Patinkin in Concert Duke of York’s Theatre London • Reviewed by Jarlath O’Connell

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ello, my name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die”. Remember the swashbuckler in The Princess Bride? That’s Mandy and that’s a line he can’t live down. A Tony and Emmy winner and a living legend on Broadway, where he created roles in Evita, Sunday in the Park With George, The Secret Garden and The Wild Party, he and pianist friend Paul Ford have crafted a second career out of concerts of mainly stage material. Their latest recently received a rapturous reception from his many cult fans in London. The show was certainly one for the connoisseur. You had to know your theatre and you had to know your history of the Great American Songbook, as Mandy doesn’t do explanations and with no song list in the programme you were on your own. The casual visitor to the show might have wondered what the fuss was about and if they were expecting “Friday Night is Music Night” they were in for a shock. On a bare stage and dressed just in a black T-shirt, slacks and trainers he gave a two hour recital, which had more in common with a Lieder recital at Wigmore Hall than some cabaret “turn”. Many people find his over emphatic style, which often borders on gurning, together with his rather distinctive vocal mannerisms, rather too much to bear. However, compared with most of the bland purveyors of show tunes these days, he is a revelation. His energy, his passion and his dry wit make for a great

Compared with most of the bland purveyors of show tunes these days, he is a revelation. His energy, passion and dry wit make for a great night. night of theatre and if it is a Lieder recital, it’s one that rocks. The only point in singing the standards is to draw out their greatness by treating them simply, which Barbara Cook does or, if you are brave enough, you can try to bend a note or re-emphasise a line so that the listener feels like they are hearing the song for the very first time. This is quite a skill and on Atchinson, Topeka and the Santa Fe, Mammy, You’ve Got To Be Carefully Taught and I’ll Be Seeing You he certainly pulled it off. He excelled too with Sondheim, with whom Mandy has a particular affinity, and his versions of Someone is Waiting, Joanna and Sorry, Grateful were peerless. His is a singular talent. Blessed with an astonishing vocal range from baritone to counter tenor (and everything in between), pristine diction and an actor’s instinct with a line, he makes the oldest of old war horses come alive. The programme also included Mandy’s trademark Yiddish

numbers and his shtick take on White Christmas and Maria brought a bit of Noo Yawk to St Martin’s Lane. He is also quintessentially American. He gives it all he’s got, he doesn’t apologise and doesn’t do humble. His patriotism got an airing too in a rather bizarre decision to deliver the Gettysburg Address and God Bless America. While these jarred a little, here in the land of irony and understatement, he has the chutzpah to get away with it. After his long-time collaborator, Ford, was stricken with appendicitis, he found an excellent last-minute replacement in Ben Toth, a brilliant young pianist, who was fearless in accompanying a singer who is known for taking songs off on long journeys of self discovery. Having recently withdrawn from the TV series Criminal Minds as he also did from the hit show Chicago Hope, Mandy is again focusing on his stage and concert work and should not be missed the next time he hits town.

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PHOTO: CRAIG O’NEILL

The American

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yle Lovett and Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billie, lead names in Americana, or alt.country, or whatever catch-all title you use, are making rare visits to the UK. Lovett (above), ‘the thinking man’s cowboy’, comes from a great tradition of Texan songwriters. He came to prominence in the 1980s with wry, intelligent, often humorous songs incorporating rock, western swing, jazz and folk about love, life and heartbreak that also led to comparisons with Randy Newman. Lovett plays his only date in England at the South Bank Centre, London on March 21, 2009 as part of a European tour. From the next generation of Americana, Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billie (Will Oldham, who also performs and records as Palace and Palace Music) constantly undermines attempts to pigeonhole him. Expect the unexpected – or maybe not! – when Bonnie plays the Southbank Centre on April 20 for a one-off gig featuring songs from his new album Beware! (released March 16 on Domino).

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Springsteen to Headline Hard Rock Calling

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ruce Springsteen and the E Street Band have been signed to head up Hard Rock Calling, the two-day festival in Hyde Park, London. It will be Springsteen’s first festival appearance outside of the United States. The Dave Matthews Band are the main support act and The Gaslight Anthem, from the Boss’s home state of New Jersey are also confirmed for the Sunday, June 28th. The line up for Saturday 27th has yet to be announced.

Sugarlands

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he double-Grammy winning country duo that are making huge waves among traditional country fans as well a much wider audience are making their first major trip to Britain. Kristian Bush and Jennifer Nettles are also nominated for two Academy of Country Music Awards, Top Vocal Duo and Vocal Event of the Year. They’re the biggest-selling country duo in America and Jennifer performed at Obama’s inauguration with James Taylor This is your chance to see them in intimate venues – next time over they will be in much bigger halls. Dates are: March 16th London, Shepherds Bush Empire; 18th Glasgow, ABC;

KATE POWERS

Americana at the Southbank Centre

LIVE AND KICKING

20th Belfast, Waterfront; 21st Letterkenny, Mount Errigal, Northern Ireland; 22nd Thurles, Premier Hall, Ireland.


The American

WIN TICKETS ANSWER THE FOLLOWING QUESTION TO WIN TICKETS QUESTION: Mickey Mouse was The Sorcerer’s Apprentice in which Disney movie? A B C

DISNEY LIVE! PRESENTS

MICKEY’S MAGIC SHOW At Wembley Arena, March 27th, 28th and 29th Disney Live! presents Mickey’s Magic Show features the special magic from legendary Disney films, performed live, right before your eyes: Cinderella’s rags turn into a beautiful ball gown in a split second; Aladdin’s Princess Jasmine levitates into the air; and the enchanted dancing brooms in Fantasia help sweep Minnie off her feet. The Master Magician himself – Mickey Mouse – performs astonishing illusions along with Cinderella’s Fairy Godmother and Alice in Wonderland’s Mad Hatter. The magic is complimented by appearances from Disney princesses Belle and Snow White and Mickey’s pals from Toontown - Minnie, Donald, Daisy and Goofy. Famed illusionists Brad Ross and Fred Moore and illusion designer Jim Steinmeyer, who has worked with David Copperfield, Lance Burton and Siegfried & Roy, have created the illusions. Brad adds another dimension to the show as he brings children up on stage to assist in the magic. Whether it’s making a Magician’s Apprentice tissue paper hat or inspecting a trunk for “The Fastest Escape in the World,” children in the audience have the opportunity to become part of the show. Amidst a show jam-packed with surprises and spectacle, audiences learn to find the magic inside as they take part in a revolutionary blend of captivating magic.

Mickey’s Birthday Party Steamboat Willie Fantasia

To win 4 tickets, send your answer with your name, address, daytime telephone number and email address (optional) to reach us by 12 midday, Friday, March 20, 2009. Email theamerican@blueedge.co.uk with DISNEY COMPETITION in the subject line. Or send a postcard to: DISNEY COMPETITION, The American, Old Byre House, Millbrook Lane, East Knoyle, Salisbury SP3 6AW, UK. 4 tickets can be won for each of these shows: March 27th at 3pm and 6pm. March 28th at 6pm. You must be 18 years old or over to enter this competition. All correct answers will go into a draw. Only one entry per person per draw. The editor’s decision is final. To buy tickets, go to Wembley Arena’s website or call the Box Office.

CELEBRATING WEMBLEY ARENA’S 50th YEAR OF LIVE MUSIC

BOX OFFICE 0844 815 0815 www.wembleyarena.co.uk

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The American

Live Nation and Ticketmaster to Merge

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ive Nation, the world’s largest concert promoter, and ticket vendor were in the final stages of negotiations regarding a merger, reported various sources including Reuters as The American went to press. However, competition issues may stop the deal. The two companies have a long history of working together, involving a ticketing deal in the U.S. which ended recently and a similar arrangement in the UK which expires at the end of 2009. The U..S. deal was ended by Live Nation, but the arrival of a new CEO at Ticketmaster seems have led to a rethink. Neither Live Nation nor Ticketmaster is making further comment.. The Senate Judiciary Committee’s antitrust subcommittee is in the process of holding hearings on the merger. The problem appears to be that many independent promoters use Ticketmaster for selling seats. It is believed by many that a merger of the major ticket seller with the world’s largest promoter, Live Nation would hurt the independents. Music Week reported that Dante Ferando, owner of the Black Cat rock bar in Washington, said the merger would hurt his ability to compete. “Your ticket sales include your entire list of customers, names, addresses, zip codes, and how many tickets you sold to a certain band, and how many tickets you sold,” he said. “Suddenly Live Nation has access to your ticket information. That’s not the kind of stuff that you want to hand to your competition on a silver platter.”

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ALBUMS THEOF MONTH Abstract Man Tom Fuller Band Redcap Records

Hmmm. First reaction to an album usually boils down to “well, it sounds like Band X crossed with Band Y. It’s good / no good [delete where applicable] – which means I like / don’t like the elements it brings from other sources. It’s not so easy with Tom Fuller. He throws so many influences into the pot that it should be a complete mess, and yet manages to make something very much his own. The first three tracks exemplify this. Radio Man, the album opener, is Strawberry Fields era Beatles if they’d been born in California ten years later. Lollipop Guild is a 60s bubblegum record mixed with bits of Crowded House, a fairground organ, Cheap Trick and the Electric Light Orchestra. I know, I know – but it works. And if Loudon Wainwright III sang psychedelic vaudeville tunes with a stoned band and a righteous church choir it might sound like Sunglass Wardrobe. It’s not all knockabout wackiness. The last song is played straight, Franklin Street cools you down with acoustic picking and slide National steel. But overall the album sounds like Fuller is having a ball mixing crazy colours form his pop palette. It took a couple of hearings to get into the swing of it, but Abstract Man has become a bit of an office favourite as we discover new gewgaws and baubles hiding in every track. It makes us laugh – in a good way! Lollipop Guild is released as a single in the UK on March 16th and the album on the 23rd.

Jeb Loy Nichols

Parish Bar

Jeb Loy Nichols Compass Records I love it! Another unclassifiable artist. Jeb Loy’s voice is all country swamp rock. But there can be few country boys who would take their namesake classic song Just a Country Boy and mash it up with a hip hop/ drum & bass backing, while I’m Blue and I’m Lonesome Too is roots folk Americana with a Jamaican dancehall groove. The Wyoming-born Missouri-raised farm boy’s folks moved to Austin, Texas, when he was that impressionable age of fourteen where he saw Funkadelic, Bob Marley, George Jones, The Ramones and – most exciting of all – The Sex Pistols. At seventeen he moved to New York. And now he lives on a farm in Wales. Experimental southern soul world music? Take a listen and make up your own category for the uncategorisable Jeb Loy Nichols.


The American

The Company You Keep Alison Brown Compass Records

Compass has some very impressive, individualistic artists, not so surprising when you know that the label’s boss and Jeb Loy Nichols’ labelmate is Alison Brown. She couldn’t be more different from him in some ways, but is just as intriguing. On The Company You Keep, Brown’s music is Scottish/Celtic folk, bluegrass and jazz mixed more or less equally. So far so interesting – and it does sound by turns beautiful, haunting, and devil-may-care ceilidh – but add to this mix the fact that the lead instrument is the humble banjo and a whole different feel is achieved. In fact, bluegrass aficionados will know that Brown’s first break came when Alison Krauss recruited her in 1989 to join her band Union Station. Without the banjo, the virtuoso playing on the album would be impressive and well worth a listen. With it, the whole thing keeps its feet on the ground, tracing much modern music’s roots back to folk traditions.

Untold Truths

Kevin Costner and Modern West Republic Records/Universal Records South Something usually goes horribly wrong when actors and musicians start thinking they can master each others’ trade. But for every Mick Jagger in Ned Kelly, or Madonna in… anything, there is a Tom Waits or a Juliette Lewis. When the direction goes from Hollywood to the music world it comes down to dropping actorly affectations. Music is a much more direct

medium. An audience can tell when a singer is ‘performing’ a song rather than delivering it straight from the heart. To a great extent Kevin Costner achieves this. That’s because he was in a band way before he hit the silver screen. Untold Truths is fairly standard issue rocky country, slickly produced, but engagingly sung and Costner’s passion shines through. Check out Down in Nogales. This is no mere vanity project.

Fundamental Darkness Nico’s Alchemy Dirty Dog Records

Are you missing the glory days of hard rock? Not the experimental, ‘what is it supposed to sound like’ era of early Sabbath and Cream, but the ‘OK, we have the template, let’s push this thing as far as we can’ time of Van Halen and Rainbow. Let Italian Nico Tamburella take you back there with a Strat, a whammy bar and a grimace. There’s no doubting his attitude or his affection for the genre. Starting in a Hendrix, Blackmore and Van Halen covers band he made his way to Los Angeles and was nearly signed by Capitol Records, but his personal life took a dive and he jumped ship ending up in London. A new band was built around another Italian expat, Candido, and the new wave of hard rock got a shot in the arm. There’s no particular standout number on Fundamental Darkness, but the title track crystallises the experience. If you caught British band The Darkness, Nico’s Alchemy is similar, but a whole lot better. If nothing else, for now it’s chance to see a band very much like Deep Purple or Van Halen close up in a small venue.

Reissue of the Month The Band & Music From Big Pink The Band Capitol Records

The Band appeared like lost gold prospectors, into a day-glo psychedelic world and changed the direction of music. The tales of how everyone from the Beatles to Clapton threw out acid fuelled whimsy for a return to the roots of rock, and how Robertson, Hudson, Helm, Danko and Manuel followed up their stints as backing bands for Ronnie Hawkins and Bob Dylan by locking themselves in to the big pink house in upstate New York with Dylan to produce something extraordinary, are well known. There’s too much to say, to say it here. But the big news is that Capitol have re-released “audiophile” 12 inch LPs pressed on 180 gram heavyweight ‘virgin’ vinyl, complete with the original packaging & artwork. They are allanalogue affairs cut from the original analogue master tapes. Side One of Music From Big Pink kicks off with Tears of Rage and closes with The Weight. Flip over (oh the joy of vinyl) to find Long Black Veil, Chest Fever, and I Shall Be Released. Now imagine the effect of Across The Great Divide, Rag Mama Rag. The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down and Up On Cripple Creek on those who had been listening to Sergeant Pepper. And that was just side one of The Band, their majestic self-titled album. Do yourself a favour and get these albums, which encapsulated everything worthwhile about Americana 20 years before the word was coined.

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The American

Soaring Melody

The American tries to catch new talent as they are catching the wave of success. Melody Gardot is all set to be very successful, very soon.

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elody Gardot is a young jazz/blues singer with a heck of a future, although it looked at one time as if that was something she would not have. We reviewed her album My One and Only Thrill in January and took the opportunity to talk by telephone to her on what has become, for her, a rare day off. She’s been touring her particular brand of nouvelle-jazz pretty extensively, so where did we find her? Maui! What a great place to chill out after a busy tour, I suggested. Yes, Melody said, it’s beautiful - and it’s cheaper than LA too! Britain’s television audience first saw Melody on Jools Holland’s essential-viewing BBC show, Later, where her striking look was backed up with some

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“There are certain sounds I can’t hear. It dictates the type of music. I rarely have a drummer who uses sticks, I prefer brushes” captivating music played with just double bass, mute trumpet and some light percussion, garnished with some beautifully enunciated scat singing. The sound was intense but oh so quiet. The lack of volume in her performance is a result of a terrible bicycle accident Melody suffered when she was nineteen. Hit by a car , she was left using a cane and sensitive to light and noise. So what made her choose a career that involves extensive traveling and standing on a stage under arc lights in front of amplifiers? The pull of the music, the one thing that helped her recover from her accident, melody told me. Her first recordings were made during this dark period. Just voice and acoustic guitar, they were released as a mini-album, Some Lessons, which Melody now doesn’t consider an album, just “Five or six songs recorded in my bedroom, more sketches than a record”. But they were recognised by discerning listeners and the industry. “It was beautiful that it was embraced,” she says. “My musical style is a natural progression from the songs. I write the songs then look for a sound that fits the music, rather than writing to a

genre. The musicians fall naturally into the groove. There are certain sounds I can’t hear. It dictates the type of music. I rarely have a drummer who uses sticks, I prefer brushes,” Melody explains. The result is a soft but strong sound, using the clarinet and muted trumpet that she loves. Her website explains that she doesn’t think of herself as disabled. “Think of how many people you know who can paint well. Of those people who cannot paint at all, then are they not “disabled” as painters? The very word is self-demoting. I see myself in this way: I am able to do some things and unable to do others. That’s all. The technicalities are just as important as you make them. All you need to know is why I need the things you see me with, as most people do not need them: ‘Citizen Cane’ for stability and balance, Dark Glasses for photosensitivity, Earplugs for severe hyperacusis/ tinnitus and Nice Shoes – What can I say, I like my shoes...” Melody comes from Philadelphia, but hers is not recognizably a Philly sound. What was her background? “I had a piano teacher from age nine and learned quickly. I started playing


The American

in piano bars when I was a teenager, but it was just a hobby. I played covers, Mamas and Papas, Billy Joel, Fiona Apple, Duke Ellington, Radiohead – I love Fake Plastic Trees and Karma Police! I liken it to doodling – I like drawing cartoons, but I wouldn’t do it as a job.” When Melody was first trying to get a record contract she was pushed by labels to co-write with more experienced songwriters but she rebelled. “I thought of music like painting. A painter wouldn’t share their work” she bridles. There was only one person she could work on songs with, Jesse Harris, the Grammy ward winning singer, musician and songwriter who is best known for his collaborations with Norah Jones. Melody used him as her ‘radar’, checking his reactions to her tunes. They co-wrote two numbers. Another important contributor to the Gardot sound is Larry Klein, producer of My One and Only Thrill. It’s important to have someone who can meet you half way. Larry is so intelligent and wise,” say Melody. She wasn’t convinced before she met Larry. “But when we met, the first question I asked him was, How many women have you worked with?. He said, well there was Joni Mitchell. OK, that was it!” And it worked well. Touring is progressing well too. Melody was over in Britain in November 2007 and has fond memories of a gig she played with the BBC Orchestra at the Royal Festival Hall in London. “It was my first time with an orchestra. It was awesome, but there was no room to improvise like with my band.” Two days later she recorded an episode of the TV series Live from Abbey Road with Herbie Hancock. Quite a visit. ★

Melody is playing at the Union Chapel, London on Wednesday March 11 2009. 21


The American

As I was saying... Snow in Britain, the new U.S. President’s plans and the recession all add up to one thing – new facilities in the new London Embassy, says Bob Pickens

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good portion of my formative years was spent in places where winter meant coping with a cold climate. Sometimes it would snow quite a bit and transportation became a challenge – it might be several days before the snowplows got by the house out at the farm. Four-wheel drive was a necessity, not a luxury. When we lived in town we just forgot about using the car and walked to wherever we had to go until the streets were cleared. That was possible because in our town there was a collective effort to battle the elements. All able-bodied people were responsible for clearing any new-fallen snow from the sidewalk in front of their property and the walk up to their front door within a reasonable period of time. If you weren’t able-bodied you could usually depend on your neighbors to scoop up your portion of the sidewalk, and there were plenty of kids roaming around with snow shovels who’d happily finish off the footpath to your door for four bits. I don’t recall whether it was social convention or public law, but I do know for certain that you could find yourself in an awful lot of trouble, including a possible negligence lawsuit, for not clearing those pathways, especially if someone (usually the postman) slipped and fell on a section you hadn’t cleared. At the very least the neighbors would consider you a social degenerate if you didn’t

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A few inches of snow and Britain stops.

participate in the effort to make the sidewalks passable. Few wanted to risk prosecution, or being shunned by their neighbors, so sidewalks were usually pretty clear within a few hours of any substantial snow.

Unnecessarily scary snow

In my suburban Surrey town, a week after we had 12 inches of the white stuff, most of the sidewalks remain uncleared. As the result of countless pedestrians who have passed by en route to the sledding hill at the end of our road, packing and re-packing the snow underfoot, it has now turned into sheet ice. The sidewalks are far more treacherous than when the snow first fell and going down

Photo: Adam Smith

to the corner shop to get my Sunday paper was scary. Unnecessarily scary. 15 minutes of shovelling a week ago would have made things much more convenient and safer for everyone. Now, I can’t be too harsh on my fellow residents, because it’s not that often snow falls in such quantity here. Perhaps they couldn’t anticipate the consequences of their inaction. However, the young lad at No. 11 twisted his ankle on the ice the other day and was hauled off to casualty, and I’ll bet there’s a few bruised butts up and down our street whose owners are saying the pavement should be cleared better when the snow next falls. I wonder though, whether they are expecting the local council


The American

to send along a crew with salt, grit, shovels and brooms, or whether they would be prepared to pitch in themselves. What is this analogy, for that’s what it is, driving toward? It’s that if we American expatriates were to each contribute a bit of time and effort into improving our lot then perhaps we would be less likely to find ourselves falling on our behinds when it comes to issues that have a considerable impact on our wellbeing. In the process, we might be able to do something that somehow, across all the miles, contributes to making our country a better place. That is not to belittle or ignore the good work being done by a number of organizations that provide the social capital of our expatriate community. From women’s clubs, to chambers of commerce, to political organizations and school PTOs, there are literally hundreds of groups that do good things on our behalf. They bring us in contact with each other, provide support for those of us in need, and many argue our case to the government. Each one, you could say, is clearing that stretch of sidewalk in front of their property, and some are even scooping a bit of next door’s sidewalk in the process. Unlike the snow, where you can see the physical results of your labor and check that you have created a link between your efforts and the work done by your neighbor, it’s not so easy to see whether the efforts of one expat group has made the link with another to form a complete network, or indeed whether some organizations have been scooping the same stretch of sidewalk. And it can be difficult motivating someone to be community minded when the only picture they have of that community is one of lots of separate groups

doing their own thing, without any kind of connecting network. Bear with me, folks, I’m getting to my point. It is not a new idea, but it is one whose time has, I think, finally come, and requires action. In the next few months, about the time I head Stateside to see my two new twin granddaughters, I expect the US authorities to have put up yellow diamond warning signs in every international airport, seaport, border crossing – maybe even as a necklace around the Statue of Liberty’s neck – saying “Works in Progress.” From the news reports emanating from the US, change isn’t coming anymore; it’s arrived and starting to take shape. And like the man said, if we’re going to make that change happen then this is no time for idle hands.

Time for WPA2

There’s a great deal of speculation that we are about to see a second, Roosevelt-style Works Progress Administration as one of the principal tools for getting through the global recession. Having spent the first 14 years of my life in the poorest state in the Union, where in the late 1950s and early 60s the best highways and bridges, post offices and police stations, power stations, dams, civic centers, city halls, hospitals, and parks to be found in the state all had WPA plaques, I have a hard time finding fault with the idea. Every time I go back home I am amazed at the wonderful new projects that have been completed (many of them for the public though not with public money); and at the same time I find it amazing how many public buildings and public services have been allowed to deteriorate, how many bridges have had to be closed, how many potholes I have to dodge, and

FDR’s Works Progress Administration helped get us through the Depression Photo: Library of Congress

how many county courthouses have become so weatherworn they’ve lost the dignity that each should possess as the focal structure of their district. The notion that some kind of WPA2 might remedy a substantial portion of these problems had crossed my mind long before we went into economic recession. A few weeks ago our new President said: “Everywhere we look, there is work to be done. The state of the economy calls for action, bold and swift, and we will act – not only to create new jobs, but to lay a new foundation for growth. We will build the roads and bridges, the electric grids and digital lines that feed our commerce and bind us together. We will restore science to its rightful place, and wield technology’s wonders to raise health care’s quality and lower its cost. We will harness the sun and the winds and the soil to fuel our cars and run our factories.

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The American

And we will transform our schools and colleges and universities to meet the demands of a new age. All this we can do. And all this we will do.” Now, I would humbly add this to the President’s inaugural address: that what we can contribute to the betterment of our country should not be based solely on the physical fruits of our labor, that as important as the new bridges, civic centers and schools that are to come is the means by which we will join together to build them, and that the participation in that effort should be the responsibility of every American, regardless of their race, religion and creed, yes of course – but also regardless of their location. We have wonderful groups and organizations in our overseas community, and they cater to many needs, but look among them all and you will find we have no public forum at which they can all come together, on a regular and timely basis, to represent their members, to hear the representations of others, and to debate the issues affecting, and responsibilities required of, the American expatriate community in Great Britain. We need such a forum, and in the spirit of laying “a new foundation for growth” there is no better time than now to establish one.

New embassy , new opportunity

The movement for change in America is the first catalyst for establishing such “town meetings.” And the construction of a new US embassy building is the second. It should not – it must not – be without the provision of facilities in which such meetings could take place. We have come to accept the truth that the business exhibitions, reference library, and auditorium for hosting cultural events (all of

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Battersea Power Station in South London, the new embassy’s next door neighbor Photo: Oxyman

which were at Grosvenor Square just two decades ago) can no longer be available to the public because the security precautions required today were not envisioned when that building was constructed. It is equally true that the embassy was never intended to be a diplomatic Bastille and the present lack of a facility for the common, legitimate use of the expatriate community is a temporary situation. A fortress sealed from its citizens is not the status quo of a fully functioning American embassy, though a generation of diplomats and public living with the current precautions has almost led us to expect it to be so. But not quite. There are still a few people who, though fully aware of the need for security against the most determined enemy, have also seen the considerable good that those activities once did for our commerce, culture and community. I count myself among them, and will not accept that the State Department

does not have the reason or ability to create a viable alternative for resurrecting those same activities in the future embassy building. Give us the facility in which to conduct town meetings, to bring our community together for a common purpose, and I believe the rebuilding that is beginning in America will also extend to our community in Britain. And if you don’t believe me, then listen to the inaugural words of our new President: “What is required of us now is a new era of responsibility – a recognition, on the part of every American, that we have duties to ourselves, our nation, and the world, duties that we do not grudgingly accept but rather seize gladly, firm in the knowledge that there is nothing so satisfying to the spirit, so defining of our character, than giving our all to a difficult task. “This is the price and the promise of citizenship.” H


The American

Miracle on the Hudson Helped By Psychology Above left: Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger Accepts American Flag Honor from Congressman Jerry McNerney Flight 1549 being lifted form the icy River Hudson PHOTO: SPYROPK

P

ilot Chesley B. Sullenberger has been hailed a hero after his incredible emergency landing of US Airways Flight 1549 on the Hudson River. But raw courage was not the only factor. Experts at the Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology, an international group of more than 7,200 psychologists, believe that other factors played a role in the safe landing. As well as being a top notch pilot, Captain Sullenberger holds a Master’s of Science degree in industrial psychology from Purdue University. He is also president and CEO of Safety Reliability Methods, Inc., whose services include applying safety and reliability methods in a variety of fields. Assistant professor Terry von Thaden, who teaches Accident Investigation and Analysis, Crew Resource Management and Aviation Psychology courses at the at Illinois Universitys Institute of Aviation flight school, believes that Captain Sullenberger’s

industrial psychology training helped him land the stricken plane safely. “People who study emergencies, behavior and workplace safety are really cognizant of looking at emergencies in terms of all of the things that can go wrong,” she said. “When things go right most of the time you can get into the habit of things going right. Pilots who study emergencies are really ready for them. They’re less complacent.” Diane Damos, a Ph.D. in aviation psychology from Illinois U. and president of Damos Aviation Services in Gurnee, Illinois, which helps with all aspects of pilot hiring, credits much of Sullenberger’s success with the fact that he is the product of an American air system that is the safest in the world. His military jet flying background was also a factor, she said, as military pilots undergo extremely rigorous training, perhaps the finest in the world. “We have an incredibly safe air

PHOTO: INGRID TAYLAR

system in this country and pilots must undergo rigorous training that includes physical and intelligence testing that meets rigid safety standards,” Damos said. “Major air carriers have their pilots undergo this training every six months.” This also extends to those who work on the planes, she added. “The mechanics keep planes in top condition and mechanical failures are at very low levels.”

New York City a hero too

Professor von Thaden said, “It’s actually not just what the pilot or crew did,” said. “It’s where they did it. If this had happened anywhere else, the response might have been entirely different. But New York’s first response system is highly trained; you’re talking about a response system that has ferries trained and ready for things like this. After they saw the plane land, the Staten Island Ferry and other boats went right out there to pick up passengers.” ★

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PHOTO: CHRIS CHRISTODOULOU

The American

e v o L

I s g n i h n i T a t i r B t u o b A

positives e m o s h it w gs Britain’s failin t s in a g a t s ’s bla bestHalalTandoorirestaurantin p last month

llows u

fo Carol Gould

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fterlivingthroughtheFebruary ‘blizzard’thatfoundtheentire countryshutdownaftereightinches ofsnow(partoftheendearingcharm oftheBritsthattheyloveabreak wheneverchancepermits)itistime formetocompilealistofthingsI loveaboutBritainafterthirty-three yearshere.AsIamafoodieyouwill notethatmymajorfavouritesare cuisine-related.ButAmericanslove toeatandyouneedtoknowabout DeliciousTh  ingsBritish.

Food

Rose and violet creams: darkormilk chocolate,afragrantsweetrarely foundintheUSA.Th  ebestare inHarrods;theymaketheirown delectablebrand. Wagamama: achainof‘soupkitchen’ Anglo-Japaneserestaurantswith

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interesting,varieddishes.Cheap, cheerful,noisyandfun. Bread sauce: canbemadefrom scratchbut‘bought’onesbyKnorr orColmansarealsogorgeous.A creamysidedishtoeatwithpoultry orgame. Black pudding: abreakfastsidedish inNorthernEnglandandScotland. Madefromblood,ithasahard consistencyandtastesdivine. Haggis: sheepheart,liverandlungs spicedupandservedlikeasausage. Afternoon tea: stillservedinmany hotelsandhigh-enddepartment stores:fingersandwichesincluding thefamouscucumberones;scones withDevonclottedcreamandjam, finishedoffwithlittlepastries.Try EarlGreytea. Scottish shortbread cookies; After Eight Mints; Maltesers; Marmite (ayeast-basedspread,gorgeouson melbatoasts)andIndian food.Th  e

LondonisAkash,500Edgware RoadW2.

Places and events

The BBC Proms: aseriesofconcerts fromJulytoSeptemberatthe RoyalAlbertHallbroadcaston Radio3andoccasionallyontelevision(thecalamitousdumbingdownofTVhascurtailedanything thoughttoresemble’culture.‘).Th  e ‘promenaders’standandchantin auniquelyeccentricEnglishway. Th  eLastNightofthePromsisa nationallytelevisedevent;youcan alsoattendanoutdoorLastNight inLondon’sHydeParkandother cities. The Edinburgh Festival:acultural extravaganzathatrunsfromend JulytoearlySeptember;theFringe Th  eatreFestivalisoftenthebirthplaceofinternationally-acclaimed hits.Ifyouplantogo,bookaroom orapartmentNOWoryouwill


The American

findyourselfsleepingroughin whatcanbeacoldScotland! Glyndebourne:asummeropera festivaltowhichyoucannotget ticketsunlessyouknowawell-connectedBrit.Findone!Dressupin formalwearandgoonaspecial train;eatapicniconthegrasseven ifitisfreezingcoldandpouring withrain. The Cenotaph: tryattendingthis movingceremonyinNovember tocommemoratewarheroes.Her MajestytheQueenleadstheRoyal Family,politiciansandclergyin layingwreathesinWhitehall. Britainalwaysobservesanational silenceattheeleventhhouron11 NovembertorememberArmistice Day. The Queen’s Garden Parties and Trooping the Colour: youknow itissummerbecauseHerMajesty hoststhegreatandthegood,as wellasordinaryfolk,toaseriesof palacegardenparties.

Other stuff

IlovethefactthatBritainhasbeen rabies-freeforacentury.Ilovediningcarswith‘Yes,madam’serverson trains;CricketatLord’s;BigBen; BBC‘Newsnight;‘‘QuestionTime;’ RadioFour(itbecomestheWorld Serviceatnightandisa24-hour cornucopiaofsuperbprogramming unrivalledanywhereintheworld); BurnsNight;LewesBonfireNight; theOxford-CambridgeBoatrace; Wimbledon;PrimeMinister’sQuestionTime;Britishrabbis(despitethe tinysizeoftheshyandretiringJewishcommunitytheirleadersbecome nationalradioandTVtreasures,like LionelBlue,SirJonathanSacksand BaronessJuliaNeuberger.)  Final thought: Book that Prom ticket now!

! y l l a e r , K O s i n i a Brit Carol Gould’s article last month on what drives her crazy about Britain certainly got a reaction. Doctor Alan Berson, another long term expat responds…

A

s always, I enjoyed the February 2009 edition of The American. But as a resident of Great Britain for 51 years, having come here to study for my PhD at the University of London in 1957 at the age of 26, (no medals for guessing my age), I must say I’m appalled at many of Carol Gould’s ‘top tips for newcomers’.

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There is a big campaign to get free tap water in London now (rather than pay for the bottled stuff ), and I now have no trouble in getting it promptly anywhere – except perhaps the most expensive restaurants (which I don’t frequent), where all they want is your money. As for not being off ered coff ee until the end of the meal: this is not a custom known in Britain, nor in fact on most of the

European continent. In fact, when I grew up in America, I don’t recall the practice either! I mainly agree about access for the handicapped at most underground and train stations, and this is true in all too many countries. I almost always smile at people when I catch their eye, and almost invariably I get the same response. Perhaps they think I’m not dangerous! Or loony? I don’t use many taxis, but I rarely get other than a friendly response. And the same is true on buses. Invariably I say ‘Good morning’ or ‘Good afternoon’ when getting on a bus, and in the vast majority of cases I get a friendly response in kind, and indeed they seem grateful that someone treats them as human beings.

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The American

5

It is absolute nonsense that Brits hate being talked to. Often people are trying to read or rest, and then of course you wouldn’t intrude. I have met many delightful Brits on train trips (try working on a crossword puzzle and enlist your neighbours – it is great fun!) You have to learn how to suss out people’s willingness to converse and be sensitive to subtle responses. I would never try to intrude on a group of three people engaged on a private conversation, unless they happened to invite my comments (which does happen sometimes!). As for expecting to fi nd the same foods as home, well, when I travel to Spain or France, I will never enter a restaurant that promises to supply fi sh and chips or a Sunday roast “like in England”. I “go local” for new fl avours and foods. ‘Though I must confess I would love to be able to get a bottle of grape jelly! I believe the National Health Service is one of the greatest privileges of being resident in Britain, and get incensed when I hear Americans condemning it as “socialised medicine”. It is free at the point of use, but we do pay for it through our taxes. What a relief it is to be able to access it when needed, though of course the service may vary from hospital to hospital, as indeed is true in America or anywhere else. I also reject this blanket condemnation of British physicians. Again there are good and bad and in my own family I know some who have had horrible experiences with doctors in America, though they pay for it!

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But don’t ask me to comment on how everything came to a halt this past week, after six inches of snow fell on London ... H

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Profile

An occasional series about of influential and interesting American expats who live in Britain. Compiled by Virginia E. Schultz

Name: Fr. William Pearsall SJ Occupation: ParishPriestofFarmStreetChurch, Mayfair Favorite restaurant and five guests, living or dead, you’d invite to join you there:  Th  eLuckySpot,NorthAudley Street.I’dinvitePopeBenedict, AntoniaFraser,KelseyGrammer, StephenHoughandJamesBoswell Which person living or dead do you admire the most? JesusChrist

What is your greatest extravagance? Diningout

Who has been the biggest influence in your life? JesusChrist

What is your biggest regret? Notbeingamissionary

If you had lived before, who do you wish you were and why? Mozart,becauseImissedouton beingspoiledasachildandalways wantedtobeaprodigy What is your most treasured possession...Not a human being? Myvowcross Who are your favorite writers? Th  omasMannandEvelynWaugh Name three favorite films. WithnailandI,GroundhogDayand AManforAllSeasons

Do you ever lie...And why? Itrynotto If someone played you in a film, which actor would you want it to be? SpencerTracy Who’s been the guiding force in your life? JesusChrist What is your motto in life? Th  eGoldenRule Favorite sandwich? ToastedClubH


The American

T

he classifieds ads website Craigslist, set up by Craig  Newmark fourteen years ago in the San Francisco Bay area, has always seen itself as a community. Nowadays that community numbers millions of people. Craigslist is aware of the potential dangers and pitfalls that await the unwary online and has come up with Ten Commandments of  Web Safety to help avoid online scams and fraud and stay safe when meeting someone in person after finding them online.

TEN COMMANDMENTS OF WEB SAFETY

The Five Commandments for Personal Safety

Five Commandments for Avoiding Online Scams and Fraud 1. Deal Locally With Folks That You Can Meet In Person Follow this one simple rule and you will avoid 99% of the scam attempts on Craigslist and similar sites. 2. Never Wire Funds Via Western Union Or Any Other Wire Service Anyone who asks you to do so is a scammer. 3. Never Give Out Personal Financial Information Never give out your bank account number, National Insurance number or details of your eBay or Paypal account.

4. Beware Of Forged Bankers Drafts And Money Orders Banks will cash them and then hold you responsible when the fake is discovered weeks later. So, don’t release goods until your bank has confirmed that you can withdraw funds safely on the draft or money order. 5. Beware Of Fraudulent Escrow Services Know that only a scammer will “guarantee” your transaction. A legitimate escrow service is one that retains money during a purchase until the goods are safely in the hands of the buyer. However, there are now many fake escrow services operating on the Web,  set up to defraud buyers.

“The overwhelming majority of Craigslist users are trustworthy and well-intentioned”, says Jim Buckmaster, CEO of Craigslist. “With billions of human interactions facilitated through Craigslist, the incidence of violent crime has been extremely low.” Nevertheless, says Buckmaster, it’s very important to take the same common sense precautions online as you would offline. When meeting someone for the first time, remember to: 1. Insist on a public meeting place, like a café 2. Consider having a friend accompany you 3. Tell a friend or family member where you’re going 4. Take your mobile phone along 5. Trust your instincts H

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The American

Destination: Welsh Borders

Hereford and Hay On Wye Mary Bailey takes a trip around the Welsh and English border area, a scene of tranquility and culture very different to its bloody past

V

ery suitably known as ‘Hereford The Green’, this English county which borders Wales is a perfect place to greet the Spring. Thinly populated and rural across a few market towns, villages and hamlets it yields, at the same time, a host of things to do. It is bounded by the Malvern Hills, the Forest of Dean and the Black Mountains of Wales. The bowl between is farm and orchard land with fields full of nonchalant looking sheep. Be careful if you have a dog with you for these same sheep have the law of Damage to Sheep firmly on their side, particularly during lambing time, and there is nothing nonchalant about the farmers. We mention this because walking

is an great local activity with maps readily available at Information Centres along with all necessary information on fishing, climbing, canoeing on the Wye, archery and rare breed centres. This is the place for historians. Hereford Cathedral, now dedicated to the martyrdom of King Ethelbert has stood on the same site since Saxon times, serving its community for over 1200 years. It has the peace and serenity that such places always yield. It is the home of the Mappa Mundi, the oldest, surviving complete world map of the medieval ages, displayed alongside the Chained Library with manuscripts dating from the 8th century. The churches in the

villages around this green county are old, some Norman, and worth a look. As you are near Wales, choral music and concerts generally are excellent. No one knows why the Welsh sing so beautifully, but they do, even at a Rugby Football Match! Another worthwhile detour is south along the Wye to the glorious remains of Tintern Abbey, founded in 1131 but brought to an abrupt end by Henry VIII’s dissolution of the monasteries. Just as today, the lead was stolen from the roof – along with everything else owned by the wealthy abbey. Be sure to cross the border, just into Powys, Wales, to visit Hay On Wye, known internationally as the

Above: A great area for outdoor activities – canoeing on the Wye. Left: Tintern Abbey, whose peace and quiet belie the area’s violent past

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The American

Beautiful Hereford Cathedral, home to the Mappa Mundi

Town of Books. Richard Booth opened his first second hand bookshop here in 1961 and pursued his dream to create the largest secondhand and antiquarian book centre in the world ... and he succeeded! He was awarded the MBE from the Queen in 2004 for his services to tourism. Hay is a unique town with a mass of narrow, ancient streets and excellent small shops of all kinds, a market, a ruined castle and over thirty book outlets. From Hay you can walk Offa’s Dyke, now a path tracing the defensive earthwork built by King Offa in the 8th century, running the length of Wales. Or take the Wye Valley Walk along the river’s glorious meandering valley. In ancient times there were constant battles along the borders and there are still signs of the disputes between the treacherous and murderous lords, kings and patriots. They could be violent on a personal note too. If you disliked your wife’s cousin it would not be considered unseemly to lock him up in one of your castles and starve him to death.

Everything is more civilised here now and the local people are very friendly and charming. Early summer there is the Guardian Hay Festival. Founded by Norman Florence in 1988 it has become, according to the New York Times, ‘The most prestigious festival in the English speaking world’. Famous speakers including writers and politicians like President Clinton provide

endless first class entertainment. Dates for 2009 are 21st to 31st May. You will not find large or very grand hotels in this area but guest house accommodation is good, nearly always with en suite bathrooms. It is all in the guide books but if you want a quick idea, and I am not especially promoting these, try theseven-stars.co.uk or www.hay-on-wye.co.uk/belmont. ★

The Honest Bookshop in Hay on Wye – just leave 50p in the honesty box

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The American

Coffee Break COFFEE BREAK QUIZ QUESTIONS 1 Who was the first non-human to win an Oscar? 2 In which film did Whoopi Goldberg win an Oscar playing the character of Oda May? 3 How old was Tatum O’Neal when she received the Best Supporting Actress Oscar for the film Paper Moon?

4 What western won the best picture Oscar in 1993? 5 What is the only silent film to win the Best Picture award at the Oscars? 6 How many best director Oscars did Stanley Kubrick win? 7 Tom Hanks won Best Actor in 1995 for his performance in what film?

We’re all basking in the reflected glory of the Academy Award winners, the glamour of the red carpet, the drama and tears of the speeches… So let’s wallow in some Oscars history with a special Oscars Quiz.

8 Who became the first African American to win the best actor award, when he did so at the 1964 Oscars? 9 And who was the first AfricanAmerican to win the best actress Oscar? 10 In 1961, which actress became the first to win an Oscar for acting in a non-English film? 11 Which Oscar winner was born with the name Cherilyn La Pierre? 12 Which 1984 film about the life of a famous composer, won an Oscar for best film? 13 Which 1974 sequel won six Oscars? 14 Which two actors won Oscars playing Vito Corleone in two different Godfather films? 15 Which British animation studio received 6 consecutive Oscar nominations for Best Short Animated Film? 20 Which 1959 film made won 11 Oscars? Answers below Coffee Break Quiz Answers 1. Mickey Mouse ; 2. Ghost; 3. Ten; 4. Unforgiven; 5. Wings; 6. None; 6. Forrest Gump; 8. Sidney Poitier; 9. Halle Berry; 10. Sophia Loren; 11. Cher; 12. Amadeus; 13. The Godfather: Part II; 14. Marlon Brando (in The Godfather) and Robert De Niro (in The Godfather Part II); 15. Aardman Animation; Ben Hur.

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The American

It happened one... March March, 1, 1692 - Sarah Good, Sarah Osborne and Tituba are brought before local magistrates in Salem Village, Massachusetts, beginning the Salem witch trials. March, 2, 1949 - Captain James Gallagher lands his B-50 Superfortress Lucky Lady II in Fort Worth, Texas after completing the first non-stop around-the-world airplane flight March, 3, 1931 - The United States officially adopts The Star-Spangled Banner as its national anthem. March, 4, 1681 - Charles II of England grants a land charter to William Penn for the area that will later become Pennsylvania. March, 5, 1976 - The British pound falls below $2 US for the first time. March, 6, 1951 - The trial of Ethel and Julius Rosenberg begins. March, 7, 1876 - Alexander Graham Bell is granted a patent for the telephone. March, 8, 1775 - Thomas Paine’s African Slavery in America is published, the first article in the U.S. calling for the emancipation of all slaves. March, 9, 1959 - The Barbie doll debuts. March, 10, 1804 - Louisiana Purchase: a formal ceremony is conducted in St. Louis to transfer ownership of Louisiana Territory from France to the U.S. March, 11, 1993 - Janet Reno becomes the first female Attorney General of the United States. March, 12, 1912 - The Girl Guides (later renamed the Girl Scouts of the USA) are founded in the U.S.

March, 13, 1986 - Microsoft has its Initial public offering. March, 14, 1964 - A jury in Dallas, Texas find Jack Ruby guilty of killing Lee Harvey Oswald, assassin of John F. Kennedy. March, 15, 1493 - Christopher Columbus returns to Spain after his first trip to the Americas. March, 16, 1621 - Samoset, a Mohegan, visits the settlers of Plymouth Colony and greets them, “Welcome, Englishmen! My name is Samoset.” March, 17, 1337 - Edward, the Black Prince is made Duke of Cornwall, the first Duchy made in England. March, 18, 1850 - American Express is founded by Henry Wells and William Fargo. March, 19, 1863 - The SS Georgiana, the most powerful Confederate cruiser, is destroyed on her maiden voyage with a cargo then valued at over $1m. The wreck was discovered on the same date, exactly 102 years later by teenage diver E. Lee Spence. March, 20, 1952 - The US Senate ratifies a peace treaty with Japan. March, 21, 1952 - Alan Freed presents the Moondog Coronation Ball, the first rock and roll concert, in Cleveland, Ohio. Fire authorities shut down the concert after the first song, due to overcrowding. March, 22, 1622 - Jamestown massacre: Algonquian Indians kill 347

English settlers around Jamestown, Virginia, a third of the colony’s population. March, 23, 1775 - American Revolutionary War: Patrick Henry delivers his famous speech -”give me liberty or give me death” at St. John’s Church in Richmond, Virginia. March, 24, 1958 - Elvis Presley is officially inducted into the US Army. March, 25, 1634 - The first settlers arrive in Maryland. March, 26, 1839 - The first Henley Royal Regatta, a major event in the British summer season. March, 27, 1794 - The United States Government establishes a permanent navy and authorizes the building of six frigates. March, 28, 1979 - The Three Mile Island nuclear accident in Pennsylvania. March, 29, 1886 - Dr. John Pemberton brews the first batch of Coca-Cola in a backyard in Atlanta, Georgia. March, 30, 1867 - The United States purchases Alaska for $7.2 million, about 2 cent/acre. Newspapers call it Seward’s Folly, after Secretary of State William H. Seward. March, 31, 1889 - The Eiffel Tower is inaugurated.

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The American

Tighten your belt Cutting dollars from your food budget can be a healthy option

W

e don’t want to harp on too much about the current financial faux pas, but with many people trying to tighten their belts both physically and fiscally, Tennessee Tech University nutrition professor Cathy Hix-Cunningham offers 10 tips for selecting foods that are healthy and inexpensive. Perhaps tightening your belt can be a good thing, you can eat healthily on a constrained budget while dropping a dress or trouser size. “Americans already spend a lower percentage of their disposable incomes than people of any other country on food,” says HixCunningham. “That’s because our fertile land, technology and other resources make us efficient in food production. But during tougher economic times, we can still eat well for less cost. The key is to depend more on the plant world for our sources of protein and fiber. From a health stand-point, our diet is probably healthiest if we’re at least partial vegetarians, and that’s usually an inexpensive alternative as well.” Hix-Cunningham’s tips have a scientific background, ensuring you keep up essential nutrients while you shrink your grocery bill.

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Make a bean dish for the main course several nights a week Beans are versatile. They come in many varieties and can be used in dishes ranging from hummus and other dips to soups and stews or chili and casseroles. Dried and canned beans can be purchased at most groceries, and canned beans are especially economical. Canned beans are tremendously convenient because the amount of electricity and energy needed to prepare them is greatly reduced,” Hix-Cunningham says. Drink more water “You can limit the amount of sugary and alcoholic beverages you consume without having to give up flavor by purchasing flavored drink mixes to add to your water.” Don’t neglect dairy foods Milk is rich in calcium and vitamin D, and gallon for gallon, it costs less than bottled water, so it’s important for people young and old to include dairy in their diet. Even people who are lactose intolerant can usually eat cheese, and it doesn’t have to be a gourmet brand. The more inexpensive or generic brands pack as much nutritional value as the gourmet cheese brands do.

Whole grain products have flavor, texture and trace minerals that the processed versions don’t have. For the difference in cost, that makes the whole grain products healthier and more filling. Eat more sweet potatoes Sweet potatoes are high in fiber and vitamin A. For the calories and cost of sweet potatoes, few foods are as nutritious. Add onion to main dishes or serve them grilled as a side item “Onions are rich in vitamin A, and they make a wonderful side item when they’re grilled with margarine and seasoned with salt. Become a container gardener Chives and many other herbs are inexpensive and easy to grow in small containers. That makes it easy to have fresh herbs available even with limited space lie an apartment balcony or kitchen window sill. Some fruits and vegetables can also be grown in containers or limited space. Tomatoes are probably the most nutritious food, but greens are the most inexpensive food that can be grown in very little space.

Eat more dried fruits Dried fruits like raisins and prunes offer lots of nutrients in a small serving, and the drying process gives them added iron.

Always consider the healthiest methods for food preparation No matter what food items are included in a diet, they are healthiest when they’re prepared by baking, boiling, broiling, simmering or stewing.

Choose whole grain pasta and rice instead of the processed versions

Compare costs between fresh and frozen fruits and vegetables. H


The American

Sophie’s S

ophie’s did not remind me of a New York Steakhouse. To me it was more like a pub that had expanded. To begin with, the people were more casually dressed and there was less yelling at some friend as they entered the large room from the freezing cold outside. Noise there is, however. Every table was full and we were told there could be a fifteen minute wait before one was available. Actually, it was twenty-five. Fortunately, my actress friend Maxine Howe and I were enjoying our most satisfying cocktails and didn’t notice. Maxine had the Champagne Mojito (£8.50), Bacardi, fresh lime juice, sugar, mint leaves topped with champagne while I sipped away on a Jaded Lady (£4.95), Finlandia Vodka, passion fruit and gomme syrup, topped with champagne. Both delicious! Tables are close together, but we were fortunate to have one in a corner next to a couple in their early twenties who weren’t shy about showing their feelings for each other. Ah youth! Envy settled over me momentarily, but fortunately the beautiful waitress arrived with the menu and I concentrated on it rather

STEAKHOUSE AND BAR

than memories of my youth. Maxine started with Mushrooms with Rocket and Goat’s Cheese on brioche (£5.95). Quite nice, she assured me after one taste. Perhaps it was the couple next to me reviving memories of yesterday, but for a moment I almost ordered the traditional prawn cocktail (£7.50) before common sense set in and I had the Baby Spinach Salad (£5.25) instead. It was a wise choice. The spinach fresh, the bacon crisp, the avocado ripened to perfection and only a touch of vinaigrette as I had requested. Next to us the couple stopped canoodling as their huge 27 oz porterhouse steak (£34.95) arrived. It must have been delicious because he dug into it with the same enthusiasm he had been showing her. Men! Still, she didn’t hold back herself. Maxine had ordered the 24 oz Cote de Boeuf rare (£28.50) and guess what, it came that way. I debated between chicken slow roasted on the rotisserie rather than steak for health sake, but, temptation once again won out and I had the 8 oz Fillet (£21.50). Their meat our waitress told us has been naturally

Reviewed by Virginia E Schultz raised in Scotland and Northern Ireland and dry aged for 28 days. My medium rare steak arrived just as requested and was quite good, but for carnivorous indulgence, the Cote de Boeuf won the day. Still, it took more of an appetite than Maxine had and some of it went home in a doggy bag. Everything was served with a choice of thick chips or baked potato and béarnaise or House Sauce. After the high protein, low carbohydrate cave man meal Maxine and I decided to end with a sticky toffee pudding a la mode...shared. Lovely! Service was impeccable. Waiting time, however, can be long. It’s the perfect place to go before or after being at the Fulham Cinema a five minute walk away for a burger (£8.95) or fish and chips (£12.50). And maybe a cold glass of beer or, in my case, a classic Martini. One last note... there are no reservations. First come, first served so be prepared to wait.

313 Fulham Road, London SW10 9QH 020 7352 0088 www.sophiessteakhouse.com

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The American

SUSHINHO I

n the late nineteen eighties, I spent three months in Rio with my late husband, who was acting as a consulting engineer. One day we were invited for lunch at the home of his Brazilian assistant, a tall handsome black man who, having attended boarding school and MIT in Massachusetts spoke English with a strong Kennedy-like accent. On the arrival at his house, we were greeted by a tiny brunette of Japanese origin and then introduced to her Japanese parents who, despite being born in Brazil, spoke not a word of Brazilian. That evening at dinner was my first introduction to the fusion of Brazilian and Japanese food. The 165 Japanese families who arrived in the port of Santos near Sao Paulo on 18 June 1908 made a significant influence in the diet of many Brazilians, especially in Sao Paulo where there are any number of sushi and sashimi restaurants that are as good and even better than the ones in San Francisco and New York. But it was the fusion of the Japanese and Brazilian dishes that I enjoyed the most while I was there and why I was looking forward to dining at Sushinho (pronounced su-sheen-yo) recently. . Sushinho, the creation of Oliver Giradet, was possibly inspired by Nobu the Peruvian-Japanese favourite

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restaurant of the many “it” people here in London. I love Nobu except for their phenomenal prices and I was pleased to hear of another restaurant that mixed Japanese and Latin American together that might not ruin my eating-out budget for the next six months. Entering with Nelly Pateras a little after seven thirty that evening, the restaurant was already buzzing with a Chelsea crowd of beautiful young people and a few, like myself, of a certain age. The decor is dark, rugged and mysterious, the perfect setting for a modern Somerset Maugham tale. Accordingly we ordered a lime sakerinha (a caipirinha with a sake base) that was so delicious I might have ordered a second if I hadn’t been driving. We started with a sushi platter and sushi, both a colourful combination of Brazil and Japan. Next I had the Wasabi prawns that were delicately horseradish tangy without being overwhelming. Nelly decided to test the tuna foie gras out of curiosity which after one bite received her thumbs up. I then chose steak which I’m afraid was a mistake. Tough, chewy and I took most of it home in a doggy bag. Nelly’s sea bass was exactly the way she asked for it to be cooked...simple, flavourful, with the subtle taste of sunshine and sea in each and every bite.

by Virginia E. Schultz During the evening, we had the pleasure of meeting Carlos Maia, the head chef, from Brazil. He has experience in Brazilian as well as Japanese restaurants and it is reflected in the various dishes we ate that evening. In addition to the restaurant, there is a bar downstairs which offers exotic cocktails as well as samba music. Although we went overboard that evening, we could have eaten for a lot less had we stuck to the sushi and sashimi menu. Service was impeccable and our waitress extremely helpful. But then, the menu is confusing and we needed her advice. Any complaint? I’m not sure I like the decor. Brazil has some fantastic artists and I’d like to see a few of them colouring the too-dark walls. Still, I knew I’d go back and did a few weeks later after seeing a film at the theatre close by. Fortunately, I was recognized and we managed to get a table. Thankfully, my friends found the food as good as I said and the four of us samba danced from the restaurant to our waiting taxi a little after midnight.

Mon-Sun: 12 noon to 4 pm 6 pm- Midnight. 312 King’s Road, London SW3 5UH 020 7349 7496


La Capanna For the finest Italian dining experience in the most picturesque of settings, perfect for that romantic dinner for two, a family celebration or business entertainment.

L Table d’Hôte, 2 courses only £16.95 La Capanna Special Menu, 2 courses only £29.95 Sunday Lunch, 3 courses only £24.95 Children’s Menu – £12.00 48 High Street, Cobham, Surrey

01932 862121

Book your table online on our website: www.lacapanna.co.uk Business account customers and party bookings are welcome. All major credit cards accepted.

FULLY AIR CONDITIONED • PRIVATE CAR PARK

a Capanna, now celebrating its 30th year, was built from an old farm house discovered in the Sussex countryside, which has been rebuilt behind the facade of an equally old 17th century cottage at the end of Cobham high street. The result is a large and spacious rustic restaurant, boasting a wealth of exposed beams and high ceilings, enjoying a relaxed and comfortable atmosphere where you will be well looked after. Enjoy eating al fresco in the lovely riverside Italian Garden. The restaurant also prides itself on catering for large parties such as weddings or birthdays. The food at La Capanna is prepared with singular taste and imagination by head chef Matthew Crook. The antipasto specials trolley, which is brought to your table, has a varied and unique selection of Italian starters that are complimented by a comprehensive a la carte menu. La Capanna offers the best of whatever is in season, and its selection of fresh fish and seafood, meat, and game is second to none.

“La Capanna must boast the prettiest interior of any restaurant I have ever dined in” – David Billington, Hello Magazine

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GAUCHO I

SLOANE AVENUE

t was a cold, windy and rainy night when Maxine Howe and I wined and dined at Gaucho on Sloane Avenue. Entering the recently refurbished restaurant with its black and white cowhide interior of this Argentine chain is an experience in itself. It was as if we stepped back into Buenos Aires 1930 and I almost expected some handsome Gaucho to swing me onto a dance floor to do a tango. Having lived in Argentina for four years, I am prejudiced when it comes to their beef. Several times I had the pleasure of visiting a friend’s estancia (ranch) and observing the Gauchos as they worked. The cattle roamed the green pampas oblivious to everything including a rather nervous me on my Argentine pony and several ostriches disdainfully strutting among them. Evenings we’d sit around a huge open fire and watch our host as he helped barbecue

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beef that was so delicious I can still recall the taste. My favourite cut was churrasco lomo, a piece of melt in the mouth filet cooked medium rare while my husband preferred the Bife Ancho (rib eye) burnt black on the outside and blood rare inside. Afterwards, our friend would put a record on his ancient record player and teach me to dance the tango. And so it was that memories lingered in my mind as I sipped a glass of Bianchi “Las Paredes” Argentine sparkling wine (£5.45) and studied the menu. Of course, we had to have Empanadas, traditional savoury pastries (£4.50 for two), and a Chorizo sausage (£7.50). I preferred the ground beef empanada to the corn, pepper and basil and might suggest they have a plain cheese minus the ham on the menu as well. There are three sizes of beef. 225g, 300g, and 400g. Unless you

by Virginia E. Schultz

have a massive appetite I’d stick to the middle one. Max, at my suggestion, had the Bife De Lomo (filet) 300g and me the Bife de Ancho (Rib Eye)300g. For months I’ve been ordering rib eye in various restaurants which were good but that’s about it. But now think beef grown on natural grasslands, hung properly and then shipped to the UK in perfect condition and well, what can I say? I was back in Argentina on that estancia and listening to a Gaucho playing soft tango music on his guitar while I dining under the stars with good friends. Max’s filet was also excellent, cooked rare as she preferred. Not that either piece of meat was inexpensive. Her filet was £28 and my rib eye £17.50… but my memories were at least free. I might add, I had rather more beef than I could chew and yes, I confess, I asked for a doggie bag


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which they provided without a lift of eyebrow. And I mustn’t forget the hand-cut chips (£2.75) that were perfectly crisp and tasty to the bite. As for dessert, I am not that fond of cheese cake, but I plan to return some afternoon for tea and a piece of their dulche de leche cheese cake. Try it, please, you won’t go wrong.. The wine list is filled with excellent Argentine reds and white at prices that run from about £22 a bottle or £6 a glass and up, up, and up. Malbec is the favourite grape in Argentina and I did notice they had one of my favourite Argentine wines Magdalena Toso Malbec 2005/06 at £135 a bottle. Since bonuses are a bit rare this year, it might be better to stick to one of the lower priced Tempranillos or Malbecs or you might need a huge overdraft when your bill arrives. Head chef Fernando Trocca, who oversees the restaurants and menu of the various Gaucho restaurants, was there that evening and we talked about Argentina, of course. It turned out his wife went to the same private girls’ school, Northlands, my youngest daughter attended when we lived in Argentina. H

89 Sloane Avenue, London SW3 3DX 020 7584 9901 www.gauchorestaurants.co.uk

Cellar Talk Libations by Virginia E. Schultz

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Alsace Wines

erve an Alsace wine to guests and at least half of them believe it’s a German wine. One of the reasons for this is that both grow the same grapes and are in a similar shaped bottle. Same grapes, perhaps, but the winemaker in Alsace makes their wine quite differently from their German equivalent. With the Riesling grape, for example, the winemaker in Alsace ferments all the sugar in the grapes while the German winemaker adds a small amount of naturally sweetened unfermented grape juice. Another is the alcohol content. Wine from Alsace has 11 to 12 per cent alcohol while the German have 8 to 9 per cent. The four grapes grown in Alsace are Riesling, Gewurztraminer, Pinot Blanc and Pinot Gris. The wine labelling is different from other French regions in that it labels the wine by varietal. All wines are made from the grape on the label and not a drop of any other grape is added. After a number of years of exceptional wines in Alsace, 2006 has been disappointing. With a two week period of rain at harvest time there was a sudden spread of rot which affected much of the quality and the vintage has delivered fewer bottles than in previous years. Botrytis is usually coveted in Alsace for it helps produce a unique late harvest and dessert style wines vebdages tarduves, but this year was different in that it spread far more rapidly and growers had to rush to harvest their grapes. Producers who waited in hopes the rain would stop ended up with wine that are light on the palate. There are exceptions, but most 2006 Alsace wines should not be put aside unlike the previous vintages since 2000. My favourite Alsace is the Riesling, although Gewurztraminer runs a close second. At a Japanese restaurant recently I had a wonderful Trimbach Riesling with the sushi, but prefer the richer more floral Gewurztraminer with the lightly smoked grilled salmon I had at a friend’s a few days later. H

WINE OF THE MONTH: Meo-Camuzet Richebourg 1996 – Exceptionally Expensive The first time I tasted this Richebourg was in the lovely Alsace village of Riquewihr, whose buildings date from the 15th and 16th century. Friends and I shared this bottle recently and it was as complex and wonderful as we all remembered. Layers after layers of elegance that ended on a long finish and our sighs.

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s America’s only complete collection of presidential portraits outside the White House, the ‘America’s Presidents’ portraits exhibition at the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery, Washington, DC, is a must-visit. A magnificent new portrait now hangs in the jewel in the crown of Washington’s many great museums. That of former-President George W. Bush. The oil on canvas portrait, painted by Robert Anderson, shows Bush relaxed, at ease and smiling, seemingly unfazed by eight years of political

George Bush unveils his portrait at the National Portrait Gallery.

Smithsonian Institution

Presidential Portraits Unveiled By Estelle Lovatt

tumult. Bush wanted painter Anderson - a Yale University classmate of the former president’s - to give him a more informal look for his official likeness. It is very good. As Bush says, “It actually looks like me! You did a fabulous job.” Anderson, a professional portraitist based in Darien, Connecticut who trained at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, painted the portrait to engage viewers with the president in a “personal and conversational manner,” placing him sat forward and low, on a comfy lounge sofa. A portrait of the previous first lady Laura Bush is on view in the NPG’s New Arrivals exhibition. Aleksander Titovets, a native Russian painter who lives in El Paso, Texas, was selected by the White House to paint Laura Bush’s portrait, in oil on canvas. Titovets trained at the St. Petersburg State University College of Fine Arts and is inspired by Russia as well as the landscape of the Southwest. The portrait depicts the former first lady, a literacy advocate and former librarian, holding a book, about to

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immerse herself in it. How appropriate, bearing in mind her passion for books and reading; a reminder for the viewer of her early childhood development initiative ‘Ready to Read, Ready to Learn’. The background depicts a favourite spot in the private quarters of the White House. In contrast, Shepard Fairey’s iconic Portrait of Barack Obama came to symbolize the historic 2008 campaign. Los Angeles-based graphic designer and street artist Fairey created the initial illustration of Barack Obama in midJanuary last year. It soon became one of the most memorable, highly collectable, images from the election. Obama’s face is heroic, glancing upwards. Albeit embracing a popculture feel, the surface patterning in Fairey’s original 6ft high, hand-finished mixed-media collage, stencil and acrylic on paper, is elegant. Warholian in its household appeal, with Fairey’s slogan caption, “Hope”, and in the hues of the Stars and Stripes, Fairey dismisses colour and race for the unification of all Americans. “I wanted to make an art piece of Barack Obama,” said Fairey, “Because I

thought an iconic portrait of him could symbolize and amplify the importance of his mission… Barack is the rare candidate who is simultaneously dignified, intellectual, and presidential, without losing his good-natured humanity.” H

Barack Obama by Shepard Fairey © Shepard Fairey/ObeyGiant.com


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CECE’S CHOICE

Cece Mills picks her arts and Exhibitions for March and continues her alphabetical look at art forms. “The artist is a receptacle for emotions that come from all over the place; from the sky, from the earth, from a scrap of paper, from a passing shape, from a spiders web.” – Picasso

Sculpture Asta Groting Sculpture Henry Moore Institute, Leeds Until 26th April Groting studied at the Dusseldorf Academy in the 1980s. She is a talented sculptor who stretches the boundaries of sculpture, using Joseph Beuys as her inspiration. She explores the visible and invisible parts of the human body, and their connections. Using a bizarre range of media – from pearls to polystyrene – she always manages to create something entirely different. Her glass sculptures of human entrails caused a stir twenty years ago. Who knows what this unusual artist will come up with this time!

Art News Entropa, the enormous artwork celebrating the Czech Republic’s presidency of the European Union, which was supposedly created by artists from the 27 member states, was actually entirely created by controversial Czech artist David Cerny. He invented the names of the artists, and depicted all the member states in somewhat derogatory terms. Britain was significantly left out of the piece completely, while Italy is depicted entirely as a football pitch. Others were more biting – a hint of a swastika for Germany, and Romania as a Dracula theme park. Cerny, famous for his pink Soviet tank which got him arrested for hooliganism, claims he just “enjoys pissing people off.”! Don’t forget the Affordable Art Fair, Battersea Park, London, which runs from Thursday 12th March to Sunday 15th March. 120 galleries exhibiting, and all art under £3,000. Open 11am to 6pm.

Asta Groting, Acker [Soil], 2007, Epoxy resin, 60 x 200 x 210 cm Courtesy GalerIe martIn Janda, vIenna . © daCs 2009

Colin See-Paynton, Parliament of Owls royal Cornwall museum

Woodcut Of a Feather: An Avian Alphabet – Colin See-Paynton Royal Cornwall Museum, Truro Ends 7th March

I bet it is a long time – if ever – that you were able to bring back those wonderfully romantic-sounding collective nouns to mind. Here is a fabulous way of re-familiarising yourself with the complete A to Z of collective nouns illustrated by the skilled and painstakingly detailed woodcuts of Colin See-Paynton. From the wellknown ‘Gaggle of Geese’ to the lesser known ‘Zephyr of Longtailed Titmice’, these heavenly black and white, textural and atmospheric woodcuts of birds are brilliant. See-Paynton obviously has a deep love of birds and nature as well as a fine understanding of their anatomy and habits. He lives in the heart of the Welsh countryside, is self-taught as an engraver, and has produced the most stunning book, Air and Water, featuring his complete collection of fish and fowl engravings from 1984 to 2004.

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Painting

Van Dyck and Britain Tate Britain Until 17th May

Fatal Attraction: Diana and Actaeon – The Forbidden Gaze Compton Verney, Warwickshire 21st March to 31st May You are probably familiar with the story of Actaeon in Ovid’s Metamorphoses. He blunders upon poor Diana having a bath, so the bashful Goddess turns him into a stag and he then meets an untimely end at the jaws of his own hounds. The story has provided inspiration for many artists through the years. This exhibition, mixing paintings, drawings, prints and other works, not only explores the cruel twists of the story, but the development of the female nude throughout the centuries. Interpretations over time show up the different takes on the story and different attitudes to the human body. The Forbidden Gaze follows the changes from the position of the female body representing a figure of chastity towards its present position as one of provocation and desire. It also investigates the cruelty of the fate of the relatively harmless and innocent Actaeon.

Glenn Brown, The Real Thing 2000 © Glenn Brown

Glenn Brown Tate Liverpool Until 10th May A wonderfully sci-fi feel to this retrospective of the wacky painter Glenn Brown’s work. Brown takes his inspiration from all sorts of artists, from Dali to Rembrandt. Transformation of familiar sights through innovative brush-strokes, colour changes and alteration in size, makes us confused about what we see.

Jan Brueghel the Elder (1568 – 1625), Diana and Actaeon c.1595, Oil on copper, 26.6 x 36.2 cm. Johnny van Haeften Ltd., London

17th century painter Van Dyck, the Flemish Baroque artist, was the main court painter for King Charles I in 1632. Van Dyck specialised in, and indeed was known to re-invent, portrait painting in Britain. He was also a master in watercolours and etching. Through his pictures we can enjoy the rich silks and fabrics of the period, the lavishness of the Court and get a fine idea of what life was like in Stuart Britain. King Charles I was an avid collector of art and bought a large number of Van Dyck’s paintings before the artist was ensconced as the official court painter. Van Dyck ended up painting about 40 portraits of the King, 30 of the Queen, and countless more of various courtiers. His portraiture was relaxed and elegant, with his subjects set against lush backgrounds in particularly casual attitudes, creating a new and interesting style. He was also very clever at flattering the somewhat vertically challenged King! Van Dyck was boyhood friends with Jan Brueghel the younger, and was taught by Rubens. John Hayls, Portrait of a Lady and a Boy, with Pan,1655-9. © Tate

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Hughie O’Donoghue, Blue Crucifixion, 1993-2003, Oil on Linen, 330.2 x 823 Collection Irish Museum of Modern Art, Permanent Loan, American Ireland Fund

Modern Art Hughie O’Donoghue: Recent Paintings and Selected Works from the American Ireland Fund Donation Irish Museum of Modern Art March 3rd to May 17th This collection of 39 works by the leading British artist Hughie O’Donoghue is the gift of an anonymous American collector. The works include a series of paintings of the Passion, which was commissioned by the American collector. Inspired and encouraged by the works of Tintoretto and Barnett Newman’s Stations of the Cross in Washington, O’Donoghue spent over ten years working on this commission. The result – 25 huge paintings, including Blue Crucifixion, pictured here. O’Donoghue’s work has also been inspired by letters sent home by his father from the Front during the Second World War.

Huang Xu October Gallery, London WC1 Until 18th April We all have moments of horror at the supermarket check-out concerning the millions of plastic bags used daily all over the world – don’t we? Well, did you know that China alone uses about 3 billion bags a day? Most of these inevitably end up on the rubbish heap contributing to the massive plastic pollution problem in China, and evident to the world in the run up to the Olympics. Huang Xu’s work takes this detritus and changes it into something ethereal and beautiful, more like the rich silks of Imperial China than mounds of plastic – also highlighting the point that in days gone by, China exported silks across the world, now it imports plastic waste. Xu captures the grace and lightness of his materials in huge C prints. He takes the plastic and digitally remodels it using state of the art equipment to produce airy and flimsy images full of light and space. Stunning.

Fragments 1, 50×100 cm or 122×244cm. Rice Paper Chromophotograph. Image Courtesy of October Gallery, London.

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Looking at:

Calligraphy, Cameo Carving and Cave Painting C alligraphy comes from the Greek words kallos: beauty and graphe: writing. Writing has long been an art form, indeed the first Roman alphabet appeared in BC 600. The skill was preserved by the monasteries after the Roman Empire fell. Every culture and country has its own symbols and style of writing, and without going into details of all the different scripts and derivations of these scripts, it is enough to say that religion has a great influence over calligraphy. Almost all religious material involved calligraphy, not only on ‘paper’ (palm leaves or bark – paper did not appear until the 13th century), but also on monuments, seals and stonework. Religious or holy books, illuminated bibles and other books give us a wonderful insight into the complexities of writing. For example, the famous Book of Kells, a manuscript of the four Gospels held at Trinity College, Dublin, was created by Columban monks about 800 AD. It is a testament to the devotion and meticulous skills in calligraphy of those monks, with it’s beautifully illuminated pages and designs.

Unknown artist, The Khludov psalter, 857-865, Parchment, ink, cinnabar, gold painting, tempera, wood and leather, © The State Historical Museum, Moscow

Just as skilled and intricate is the ancient art of cameo carving, usually to make jewels or decorate vessels. The characteristic of cameo carving is that it is a positive relief (raised), so that the area around the image is carved away. Cameos are carved out of stone, shell, agate and glass, and sometimes the image is carved and then set on a different coloured background for contrast. The art of cameo carving dates back to Roman times, and has been through many periods of revival. The subject depicted in these cameos was usually a character from Greek or Roman mythology, or portraits of rulers, bigwigs or influential characters. Often these were given to favoured members of the royal household as presents. Shell was not used for making cameos until the 15th century, and the common type of shell to use would have been a mussel or cowry. These types of cameo became very popular as souvenirs in the 1800s for those privileged folk

Fragment of 19th century Japanese calligraphy, MaruyamaShijo School Copyright the Trustees of the British Museum.

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Pendant inset with cameo; onyx; head of Hercules; enamelled gold pendant setting with diamonds and pearls. CoPyrIGht the trustees of the BrItIsh museum.

who embarked on their Grand tours. Queen victoria popularised the fashion of cameos carved in seashells, and since then have usually been worn by women. as far back as 15,000 BC petroglyphs – figures carved into rock (see later on in this article about cave paintings) were used to communicate information and mark events. the carving of cameos evolved to depict and mark ethnic or moral status, to signify their faith or make a statement about their allegiance. Greek and roman cameo carvings featured, as I mentioned, images of gods and goddesses, and stories from mythology. later they evolved to depict real life heroes or rulers. used on armour, helmets, breastplates, sword handles and even plates and goblets, the cameo would identify ownership. Pope Paul II was a great cameo collector – indeed he wore so many in the form of rings that he could barely move his fingers and hands, which led to him catching a chill and ultimately to his death. napoleon too was entranced by cameos and even founded a school in Paris to teach the art of cameo carving.

A cave painting, similar to those in Lascaux, at Altamira in Spain Photo By ramessos

By far the most ancient and mysterious art form of all this month is the incredible art of cave painting. to give you an example, lascaux is probably the best known of all french Palaeolithic limestone caves in the Pyrenees. It was discovered in 1940 by four teenagers, who were messing about in the woods, as boys do. they discovered a bole made by a fallen tree, got into it and then fell into the most magnificent cave formation, whose walls were covered by glorious paintings. red cows, yellow horses, black stags – all there for well over 17,000 years! due to the extensive damage caused by millions of keen visitors in the 1950s, mainly due to excess carbon dioxide causing the growth of algae and moss which destroyed the paintings, the french decided to close the cave system in 1963. however, you can still see the most amazing replica of certain halls within the cave system, and their paintings, at lascaux II near the original cave. It is thought that these ancient works of art were not merely to decorate Palaeolithic man’s living space, especially since often these caves were not lived in, but were probably ways of communication, or education, or even part of ritual in religious or other significant ceremonies undertaken by prehistoric man. the paintings were executed using red and yellow ochres, hematite, manganese oxide and charcoal, and often included carved lines. they usually featured animals and sometimes hand prints. the earliest findings of cave paintings are thought to be in namibia and date to 25,000BC. not bad! ★

Next Month, Looking At: DESIGN, DECOLLAGE and DAGUERREOTYPE 45


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Hunter S. Thompson:

An Insider’s View of Deranged, Depraved, Drugged out Brilliance by Jay Cowan

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s many (more?) people know Hunter S. Thompson by reputation as have read his sparkling, over-the-top, brilliant, anti-establishment, unique prose. Even those who have read Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail ’72 or Hell’s Angels: A Strange and Terrible Saga, have their own image of the man. A drug addled, wild-eyed mayhem-creator who somehow found the time to scrawl down his memoirs as he careered around the States on a mission to out-do his previous adventures. Of course it was not all like that. Jay Cowan was a friend of Thompson. A writer himself, contributing articles to magazines including newsday and Sports Illustrated, he also became a caretaker at Thompson’s near Aspen, Colorado. He first met him after he found out his girlfriend had been babysitting for Thompson. When driving her home, she said, Thompson “drives with one hand because he always has a drink in the other one.” Cowan fleshes out the man behind the public debauchery, with unexpected observations that he hated Monty Python (and all English humour) and resented Garry Trudeau’s Doonesbury character Duke, which he felt was based on him. Being around Thompson so much gives Cowan an unusually close look at a sometimes very private person and adds to the enjoyment of Thompson’s prodigious output.

Published April 2009, Lyons Press, hardcover, £14.99

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Book Reviews by Michael Burland

America, Empire of Liberty by David Reynolds

“O

would some power the giftie gie us, to see ourselves as others see us” wrote Robert Burns, and sometimes it takes an outsider to see objectively what we may have missed or misconstrued about ourselves. You may have tuned in to the BBC Radio 4 series – also called America, Empire of Liberty – in which David Reynolds reads extracts from his major new history. Reynolds is British, the Professor of International History at Cambridge University. He has taught American history there and in Nebraska, Harvard and Oklahoma, for more than thirty years. America, Empire of Liberty is a full, vivid telling of the American story. Reynolds is an academic but the text is not dry, illuminated by a multitude of quotes from the great and the good, Presidents from Washington to Bush II and Obama, as well as ordinary folk. Reynolds describes the book as a personal history. He does not shirk from highlighting some of the more negative aspects of US history, but finds it overall epic and uplifting. Penguin, hardback, £30.00

Liberal Fascism:

The Secret History of the Left from Mussolini to the Politics of Meaning by Jonah Goldberg

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verything you know about fascism is wrong, asserts Goldberg in his introduction. He spends some pages investigating and explaining the meaning of the word and how it has been co-opted to mean anything right wing or involving state violence. His conclusion is that fascism is a phenomenon of the left, not the right. Progressive minded people, especially in the 1920s, were, he says, comfortable with many ideas that would today be equated with fascism. The racist Nazi and Fascist parties that took over Germany and Italy created an image of fascism that drove many away, but the imposition of state control over private matters such as health and behaviour is also fascist. Goldberg tracks ‘liberal fascism’ through the administrations of Woodrow Wilson, FDR, Kennedy up to date. This is a thought provoking book, surprisingly funny in places, that may ruffle feathers rather than pandering to existing views on the left or the right. Penguin, paperback, £9.99


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THEATER REVIEWS

Spring Awakening

by Jarlath O’Connell

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bortion, rape, suicide, masturbation, bullying, gay fumblings, teenage pregnancy and generalised adolescent angst. Just a regular day at high school for the teens in Frank Wedekind’s 1891 play Spring Awakening. High School the Musical it ain’t. But it is a musical. Combining German romanticism, American indie-rock and Brechtian staging, Americans Duncan Sheik and Steven Sater have turned Wedekind’s controversial masterpiece into a thrilling new musical using a folk infused rock score. It will be one of the highlights of the year on the London stage. It receives its UK premiere at the Lyric after a phenomenal reception on Broadway, where it cleaned up at the Tonys and even won a Grammy. Expectations were high for the London transfer and David Farr at the Lyric has wisely imported the key creative team. A year long talent search has uncovered an amazingly talented group of young British actors, most of whom are making their professional stage debuts. Michael Mayer recreates his Broadway staging by putting the small band and some of the audience members on the stage and incorporating a spare environmental design with stunning lighting effects. In an inspired move he got legendary, African-American, choreographer, Bill T Jones, to do the movement and he has brought a raw physicality to the piece, rarely seen in musicals. The freshness of Spring Awakening blows away the cobwebs of more conventional shows and the singing, in particular, is first class. This young cast sing in clear, natural voices which are totally unpolluted by stage school or X-Factor affectations.

Musical by Duncan Sheik and Steven Sater, Lyric Theatre Hammersmith

The only weak spot of the piece is perhaps the music itself, which makes a wonderful splash in the first act but fails to develop it further in the second. The directness of songs such as My Junk and Totally F***ed though, wonderfully capture the frustration and anguish of youth. All the songs are interior monologues, perfect for teenagers as everyone is a rock star in the privacy of their own bedroom. When the characters burst into song they pull out hand mics and throw some rock star shapes Susan Hilferty’s costumes incorporate the latest, trendiest footwear to offset the rather staid school uniforms and this neatly encapsulates how the creative team appreciates that an adaptation must live in both the period in which it is set and in the period in which it is performed if it is to speak to a contemporary audience. The night I went, a very young contemporary audience was lapping it up. The juxtaposition of 19th century play with contemporary pop idiom is clever as this play must speak to young people. It was, after all, fired by Wedekind’s own rage at how adult society demonised, victimised and ultimately brutalised the young. It is a plea for understanding and compas-

sion across the generation gap and it is no co-incidence to read that Sater was inspired to adapt the piece following the Columbine School massacre. In an astonishing ensemble Charlotte Wakefield stands out as the unfortunate Wendla. She draws out her vulnerability, her aching desire to “feel something”, her righteous anger at how her school friend is regularly brutalised and her longing for Melchior, which eventually leads to her doom. She opens the show with the powerful Mama Who Bore Me and despite her frail frame, commands the stage. Aneurin Barnard has all the Byronic charisma required for the brilliant young Melchior and Iwan Rheon shines as the tragic Moritz, punished for not living up to the highest of standards. In a clever move all the adult characters are played by just two actors; Sian Thomas and Richard Cordery, who succeed wonderfully in delineating a gallery of monsters. A pop-rock musical exploring the inchoate yearnings of youth might not seem a particularly attractive proposition for a night out, particularly if you’re over 21, however it has an energy and a passion which leaves the competition in the shade. H

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Lesli Margherita Jarlath O’Connell meets the American star of the hit Gypsy Kings musical Zorro

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argherita, it’s Italian, like the pizza, I’m not Spanish at all”, exclaims Lesli Margherita star of Zorro The Musical thereby shattering my illusions. “All these Spanish tourists come round to the stage door to see me and I have to say “no habla Espanol”, I feel such a fraud”. “Are you channelling Chita or Rita” I asked? “That’s a great compliment. Chita Rivera is an idol of mine and I love them both” she says. Lesli, who hails from San Francisco, is currently wowing audiences with her sassy star turn as Gypsy Queen, Inez, in the musical version of Zorro, the Gypsy Kings musical. She is the only American to be kept in the show from its inception in sunny

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California to a “freezing” UK regional tour last winter to its present home on London’s Charing Cross Rd, where it has broken box office records for the highest ever weekly take at the Garrick Theatre. The success of the piece has taken many by surprise. Catalogue musicals of pop hits have a patchy record with the public and usually get a thumbs down from the critics even if most are carefully designed to be totally critic proof. Zorro however is more than a jukebox show. The Gypsy Kings have collaborated with co-composer, adapter and orchestrator, John Cameron, for two years to create the music for it. With new lyrics by Stephen Clark, they have rewritten and adapted three

of their world renowned songs for the show, to bring their unique style of rumba flamenca to the West End stage. The show is also helped by being based on a classic tale. Zorro first appeared in a 1919 story by a journalist called Johnston McCulley. Set in early 19th century California he introduced Don Diego, a Spanish nobleman who disguised himself in a mask and cape to defend the people from the tyranny of various villains and corrupt officials. The movie star Douglas Fairbanks confirmed the legend when he made the part his own in a number of lavish Hollywood swashbucklers. Since then there have been numerous incarnations of “the masked one” in film and TV, from the sublime (Antonio Banderas) to the ridiculous (George Hamilton). In London the part is played with great camp gusto by Matt Rawle. His nemesis Ramon is played by Adam Levy and Emma Williams is the lovely Luisa who, like Lois Lane, doesn’t realise that the superhero is right under her nose. So, it’s classic stuff and Lesli completes the quartet as the fiery Gypsy Queen. A performer since childhood and with a strong background in musical theatre, television, film and voice over animation in LA, Lesli came to the attention of Director, Christopher Renshaw, when he was trying out the piece in San Francisco three years ago.


The American

Renshaw, who is English, moved from a background in opera to become one of the big names in international musicals with major hits such as The King and I, Taboo and We Will Rock You under his belt and he gives the show a real dynamism with lots of broad comedy and scintillating sword fights. The Gypsy Kings, it turns out, are one of the most successful bands in history and France’s biggest musical expert. yes, they’re French! Playing a modern take on music derived from their gypsy traditions they have performed to sell out audiences in major cities around the world. To what does Lesli attribute success of the show? “There’s nothing like it” she says and “the audience’s response to familiar tunes such as ‘Bamboleo’ is amazing”. Did she think it would work? “At first, not at all” she replies “Everyone warned me that London audiences are not going to stand and they’ll be quiet and so after those first previews I cried with relief”. It’s been standing ovations ever since. The Olivier nominations are out and Zorro has 5 nominations including Best Musical and Best Performance in a Supporting Role in a Musical for Lesli. The show and Lesli have also been nominated for a number of ‘What’s On Stage Theatre Goers Choice Awards’. So how has the bubbly Californian coped with her first London winter? “I’ve been more ill here than I’ve ever been in my whole life” she laughs explaining the flu that went round the company before Christmas. As for London? “For me to walk was strange, as we drive everywhere in LA and the tube was a shock, but now I feel like a native”. Between the tour and the London opening she went back to the States to get married and so, understandably, is now missing her new husband and “my dog”. This is remedied by fairly fre-

Los Angelean Lesli Margherita (centre) stars as Inez

quent visits from the former; however she is keen to get back to them both, despite enjoying fulfilling a lifelong ambition to perform in London. Unusually for an American musical theatre performer making a splash here she, has never worked in new york. “I’ve never wanted to live there” she says candidly. noting however that the Great White Way is the mecca for all musical theatre performers she says “Of course I would love to take something I created to new york” and has hopes of being part of any Broadway transfer. Following its UK success, productions are underway for Japan, Australia and the US. She is committed to life in California however. “In LA I can do everything which is why I love it. There is a huge community there which people don’t realise and so many celebrities who do a little theatre to keep up their chops”. Her last production was Damn Yankees directed by Jason Alexander and prior to that her LA and national tour credits include Aida, Kiss Me Kate, Man of La Mancha, Anything Goes and West Side Story. Starting dance classes at four, by ten she was performing in Annie in San Francisco. Her big move to new york

was derailed however by a starring role in the show Fame LA, Kenny Ortega’s creation which “sadly didn’t take off like his later High School Musical” she says. She has also had a number of guest or recurring roles in the TV shows Charmed, NYPD Blue (filmed in LA) and The District and had an interesting role in an unusual project for Steven Spielberg called On the Lot. “It was half reality, half not, about the search for a movie director and I was hired to play one of the actors who get to perform in each of the short films which the rookie directors must complete”. It was done for Fox and she was thrilled to be working for her hero. “I’m a huge sci-fi nerd and grew up adoring ET”. She also loved the invisibility tricks in Zorro, created for the show by Paul Kieve. “He was so patient with Matt and me” she says. “On opening night I was more anxious about that trick than anything else. That worried me and I prayed the ‘Z’ of fire which starts the show would also work”. “Let’s face it”, she adds, with a glint in her eye, “If it ended up as the legend of “El 7” the show was finished”! H

Zorro continues at the Garrick Theatre until March 14. 49


The American

The American’s editorial team prepares to go down to the shops during England’s recent two inches of snow

Toyota Trucks Conquer Pole

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oyota’s Hilux pick up truck became famous on BBC TV’s Top Gear car show as ‘the car they couldn’t kill’, despite a series of assaults including being left on the top of an apartment block that was blown up and being immersed in the ocean. The presenters later drove a properly prepared new model to the magnetic North pole, beating a more appropriate team of husky sled dogs. Now the mighty Hilux has done it again. A squad of Hilux Double Cabs were called up as support vehicles for the Amundsen Omega3 South Pole Race, a 483mile skiing challenge celebrating the historic rival expeditions of polar explorers Roald Amundsen and Robert Falcon Scott. Compared to snowcats, they proved to be much faster, used less fuel and carried more passengers. CO2 emissions were lower too. They still managed to tow custombuilt trailers with loads of up to 2.5 tonnes and even had a system to melt snow while on the move, using heat from the engine. Handy for a cup of tea when they got there!

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Hey Sparky! T

imes are tough most places right now, and nowhere more than the U.S. automobile marketplace. Chevrolet are pinning their hopes on a car that is about as un-American as you could imagine. Not in a political way, rather a global mini car that will push the idea of small, light vehicles in the United States. As Troy Clarke, GM’s North American president, said when the Chevrolet Spark was unveiled at the Detroit Auto Show, “The decision to add the Spark to Chevrolet’s North American portfolio reflects the brand’s commitment to being a fuel efficiency leader in the industry. The Spark will add great style, roominess and versatility to the segment of extremely fuel-efficient small cars” The five-door Spark, to be built in Korea starting later this year, borrows many design elements from the well-received Beat concept car seen at motor shows around the globe over the past two years. It deliberately aims to break with traditions. It certainly achieves that goal with its looks, appearing almost like a wacky Citroen rather than a dreary Daewoo/Chevy. Additionally, it will be sold in the UK and Europe in 2010, a year before it goes to the United States.

New Prius for Europe

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he third generation of Toyota’s hybrid Prius, revealed at North American International Auto Show in Detroit, will be available in the UK this summer. Built on an all-new platform it gives better handling, stability and safety. It is still a hybrid, running on its petrol engine, electric motor, or a combination of both. The internal combustion component is a larger, 1.8-litre VVT-i petrol unit. The Hybrid Synergy Drive system is re-engineered to be smaller and lighter. Fuel economy and emissions are both improved. The styling is slightly sportier, and aerodynamic performance, headroom and luggage space are improved. A spectacular drag coefficient figure of 0.25 is the lowest of any mass produced car in the world. European model specifications will be announced at the Geneva motor show this month.


The American

U-Tag – The Digital Dog Tag by Ian Kerr

Breakfast at Goodwood H

istoric Goodwood Motor Circuit in West Sussex is the motor racing venue that combines British culture, English eccentricity and the world’s best classic racing and sporting vehicles – cars, bikes and even planes. Over the past few years it has added a fun series of themed events, the Goodwood Breakfast Club. Usually held on the first Sunday of the month, they can be enjoyed by visitors and participated in by owners of any of the themed vehicles. This year’s dates are: March 1: ‘Mini Mayhem – for all Small Sporting Runabouts’, the original Mini to hot hatches, plus sporting light aircraft. April 5: ‘Fabulous Family Favourites’. Practical collector’s cars for all the family, plus four-seater aircraft. May 3: ‘Everything But The Car’. Motorcycles, scooters, three-wheelers, campers, buses, trucks, off-roaders and aircraft – nothing is too bizarre! June 7: ‘Supercar Sunday – the Ultimate Performance Machines’. Ultimate performance cars and exotic superbikes, plus aerobatic aircraft. June 28: ‘Performance Car Legends

– post-1970 Driver’s Cars’. Sports and GT cars from the 1970s to the present day. August 2: ‘Soft Top Sunday – a Taste of the British Summer‘. August 30: ‘Thoroughbred Sunday – the Quintessential pre-1966 Classic Car and Motorcycle’. October 4: ‘Maserati Magnifica’ and other Italian collector’s vehicles, plus Continental aircraft. November 1: ‘Souped-up Sunday’ with hot rods, custom cars, contemporary urban cruisers and home-built aircraft. December 6: ‘Breakfast Club Christmas Cracker’.

Goodwood’s Festival of Speed, July 3-5, celebrates motor racing by thrashing irreplaceable cars and bikes up a narrow hillclimb (Lord March’s driveway) edged with flint walls. Joyous madness. This year’s theme is ‘True Grit – Epic Feats of Endurance’, racing heroes who overcame physical, mental and mechanical barriers in their quest for glory. Alongside will be celebrations of Bugatti, Audi and Morgan, all 100 this year, 50 years of Minis and the Daytona Speedway, plus 60 years of the Motorcycle World Championship and the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

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otorcycling can be dangerous. Training and protective clothing help when it goes wrong, but now there is a gadget that may be just as important as the best crash helmet or leathers, especially if you travel abroad a lot or suffer from an existing medical condition. Designed by ex-SAS (British special forces) soldiers, U-Tag (www. utagice.com) combines old principles with new technology. It is available in either a dog tag necklace or a credit card that fits in your wallet and features a small, foldable USB drive. If you are unconscious, medical personnel can access important medical history and contact details, loaded by you from your computer. You can give as much or as little information as you want. A series of national flags comes up when the device is plugged in. Foreign doctors click on their flag and everything is translated into their language. There’s a private section too. On mine I have saved my passport and credit card details and important telephone numbers. The whole process took less than fifteen minutes. Now each time I go out I know that should I end up in a position of needing help, that thanks to a sticker on the side of my helmet, medical personal will know all about me and who to contact.

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The American

The Ultimate

Tonka Toy A pick up to impress, reviewed by Sabrina Sully

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admit I didn’t intend to be the reviewer on this having taken one look and thinking ‘that’s too big for me, it looks really good, but it’s not my style’. But the best paid plans of mice and men… I had a sudden emergency journey in foul conditions and the Mitsubishi L200 was in the office car park. How surprised you can be! The Mitsubishi has been a very popular pickup in the UK. The company approached Tom Walkinshaw, renowned for seriously tweaking cars for performance and good looking styling, to produce this, the diesel ‘Walkinshaw Performance’ Special Edition. It is one good looking beast with grunt. The styling is Dakar Rallyinspired and based on the Animal specification double cab variation, for

Mitsubishi L200 Walkinshaw which read large wheels, large shiny bars and bits everywhere including massive twin tail pipes, and some radical handling, performance and comfort upgrades. Our test truck was dazzling in ‘Starlight Silver’ (it’s also available in the photo-shoot vehicle’s Cosmos Black as well as Graphite Grey, Aztec Red and Sapphire Blue, with metallic and pearlescent paint). It had most desirable widgets and luxuries: 20” Equinox alloys, luxury leather seats, DVD satnav with 7” screen, cruise control, a good sound system with CD auto-changer, Bluetooth, stainless steel filler cap, tailgate cover and door handle covers

Performance specialist Walkinshaw add their magic to the L200

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and shiny chequerplate lining to the body of the truckbed. We also had the upgrade kit with a completely revised sports rear suspension that also reduces road noise (rubber performance suspension bushes to chassis and Koni performance dampers, if you must), increased axle control, a stainless steel twin-tailpipe exhaust and an anti-corrosion protection system. It can also come with a Rallitronic engine upgrade which boosts the 2.5-litre turbo diesel engine to 166bhp, but is optional – the standard engine emits less than 225g/km of CO2 but the tuned version goes over the limit up to the next, more expensive, road tax level. To be honest, I felt self-conscious at first driving this beefy vehicle. It’s more ‘van meets 4x4 rally car’ than a regular car drive. I was surprised to find the gears light enough and definitely rally geared, although the shift lever is a little long. Probably because I was in a huge hurry, and there were floods and running water on the main A roads during our week with the truck, my gear shift arm ached after one trip, as it needed more muscle than my computer mouse (I usually drive an auto shift).


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No problems at all for the Walkinshaw L200 Pick Up though. The self-consciousness eased as I didn’t see anyone laughing, but instead a lot of wistful looks from men driving ‘ordinary’ cars, and no drivers – male or female – tried any wonderful ‘no signal or reason’ manoeuvres. This truck commands respect. As far as larger lorry and van drivers were concerned, I’d immediately joined their club, and they were proud to have me join. Not a vehicle to cut up in any way, in fact everybody gave me a wide berth, which was a good job as this is a long and quite wide vehicle. However, I coped with rush hour city traffic and was amazed at the number of young guys taking pictures of it [or maybe you, Sabrina? – ed] with their mobile phones. It was very comfortable

too, both in the back and the front, although the usual double cab problem of sitting bolt upright in the rear seats has not been solved and is only really OK for children or short journeys. I began to enjoy climbing up into it, not least for the stir it created and the respect it engendered on every trip, especially at the spots where people usually try to barge in. It delivers a reasonable 31.7 mpg (larger British gallons) but for my usage, the truck bed although useful for collecting large Christmas trees was less practical than a trunk. The grocery shopping gets wet, although you can get various hardtop options. This Tonka Toy with its superb looks is probably the ultimate pick up, a practical work horse, as well as a performance SUV with outstanding

ride and handling characteristics. I could imagine taking this down tracks through forests, wearing a designer lumberjack shirt. My builder fell in love with it, took lots of pictures, rang his friends to come and look at it, and I gather put it on his Wish List to Santa, although it’ll take the elves a year or so to make it! Pricing from £21,499 for a Walkinshaw Performance Double Cab manual (without Rallitronic) to £22,799 for the automatic (with Rallitronic). Metallic and pearlescent paint is £300 extra. The Walkinshaw Performance sports suspension and exhaust upgrade (Innovation of the Year Award winner from 4x4 and MPV Driver 2008) kit is available from the Walkinshaw Performance Group for £2,595 plus VAT. H

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The American

March Madness Jay Webster previews the basketball bonanza

Stephen Curry #30 of the Davidson Wildcats drives during the game against the North Carolina State Wolfpack at Time Warner Cable Arena on December 6, 2008 in Charlotte, North Carolina. PHOTO: STREETER LECKA/GETTy IMAGES

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very year in March an event so crazy they call it Madness takes place. It’s a frenzy of pressurepacked action. It takes place over three weeks, and it’s so crazy that March can’t even contain it. It finishes in April. Officially it’s known as the NCAA Men’s College Basketball Tournament. But we know it as March Madness, aka the Big Dance. College football is cursed by the bane of the Bowl Championship Series. year after year debate rages over who is the true champion of the gridirons. A blindfolded dart thrower would be about as effective at choosing a champion. Just this year, there were four teams with a legitimate claim as the number one team in the country at the end of it all. Florida beat back Oklahoma in the title game, but Utah went undefeated, and Texas and USC looked

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as good as anyone in the country. The BCS settles things with computers and polls, and we are left with the feeling that there must be a better way. Thankfully there is a better way, and we can wash that bad taste away with a sport that gets it right. With a format that makes sure there is no doubt, college basketball is a breath of fresh air in comparison. By taking the best 65 teams in the country, lining them up and letting them slug it out until only one team is left standing, college basketball puts the champ back in championship. In college football the battle during the regular season is to win every game and give yourself a chance to be invited to the BCS title game. But as Utah showed this year, winning all your games is no guarantee. The college basketball season is a different animal. With substantially

more teams and games, losses don’t have the same gravitas. And with a field of 65 teams, there is no real chance that a team good enough to win it all will be overlooked. Simply making the field is enough to give yourself a shot. The real battle for the best teams through the college basketball season is not just to qualify, but to gain one of the four coveted number one regional seeds. A top seeding means lesser competition in the early rounds, and theoretically an easier road to the Final Four. It also brings the prestige and pressure of standing on top of the mountain with 15 other teams waiting to knock you off. This regular season has seen a revolving door atop the polls. At the beginning of the season many pundits were ready to hand North Carolina the title. The Tar Heels were the first preseason consensus No. 1 team in the history of the coaches’ poll. They returned seven of their top eight scorers from a team that went to last year’s Final Four – including AP Player of the year Tyler Hansbrough – and added three of the top high school recruits in the country. After winning their first 13 games, they went out and lost twice in the same week in early January. Suddenly No. 1 was more curse than blessing. Pittsburgh, Wake Forest, Duke and Connecticut all took their turns at the top in quick succession. So who are the top teams heading into March? Certainly North Carolina must be reckoned with, despite the mid-season hiccup. They are too deep


The American Hasheem Thabeet #34 of the Connecticut Huskies shoots the ball while defended by Terrence Jennings #23 of the Louisville Cardinals during a Big East Conference game February 2, 2009. PHOTO: ANDy LyONS/GETTy IMAGES

Hasheem Thabeet has the ability and the length to absolutely own the paint, particularly on the defensive end of the court. and talented not to make a run. But they also showed they are beatable. Within the Atlantic Coast Conference the Tar Heels have competition from their hated rivals Duke. Hall of Fame coach Mike Krzyzewski’s team may not have the superstars of their Tobacco Road neighbors, but they get the job done with clutch shooting and stout defense. After downing both Duke and North Carolina and reaching number one, Wake Forest quickly lost two games to fall off the pace, but they will also be a factor coming out of the ACC. While the ACC is good, the Big East Conference might just be better top to bottom. With four top-10 teams, there’s little doubt that the Big East will make an impact on the tournament brackets come seeding time. Connecticut leads the way with a revved up backcourt of guards Jerome Dyson and A.J. Price, while 7ft-3in center Hasheem Thabeet provides a huge inside presence. The Tanzanian native is a raw talent at 21 years old, but he has the ability and the length to absolutely own the paint, particularly on the defensive end of the court. His physical tools will land him in the NBA soon, but he’ll first leave his impact on the Tourney come March in a year that lacks the type of one-anddone super freshmen of the last few years (Greg Oden, Michael Beasley, O.J. Mayo, et al).

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The American

It’s the likes of Hansbrough, Thabeet and Oklahoma’s Blake Griffin who will leave their mark on this year’s tournament: players who stayed in college for the extra year to improve their skills and make a run at a title. Blake in particular looks like he made a good decision to stay in school. He was lost in the crowd last year with the likes of Beasley and Mayo, but has set himself up to be the top pick in this year’s NBA Draft with monster numbers for the Sooners. He has also anchored an Oklahoma team that has torn through the Big 12 and stated their case for a number one seed in March. Another player who stayed in school is Davidson’s Stephen Curry. Curry made himself a household name with his performance in last year’s tournament. Son of former NBA sharpshooting journeyman Dell Curry, Stephen was overlooked by the big programs when he entered college because of his slight frame. But last season he led the Wildcats on a magical run to the Elite Eight, where they fell to eventual champion Kansas by just two points, and wowed everyone with his feathery touch from

The Tar Heels were the first preseason consensus No.1 team in the history of the coaches poll Tyler Hansbrough #50 of the North Carolina Tar Heels looks to make a move on Trevor Booker #35 of the Clemson Tigers during the game on January 21, 2009. PHOTO By KEVIN C. COX/GETTy IMAGES

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long range and unshakable composure. This year Curry leads the country in scoring, and will hopefully lead his team to another inspiring run in March with his boyish charm and his unrelenting determination. None of the teams or players above will fly under the radar this year. But as every year, there is sure to be a team that comes out of nowhere to make a run deep into March. More than anything, that might be what makes March Madness so compelling. The top seeded teams get no byes. They must go out and beat the lower seeded teams, which means the little guy

always has a chance. The upset is the spice that flavors the March stew, so to speak. It’s what makes the whole affair so enticing, and keeps a nation glued to the edge of its seat. This year figures to be no different. The big boys will all be there for sure, but Cinderella is sure to put in an appearance at the Big Dance. We’ll be waiting. H

Jay Webster is a senior website editor at ESPN America


The American

Transition Game

The credit crunch can’t stop Guildford’s trophy march in Keonta Howell’s latest diary entry

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oing into our February game against Everton, we’d won 10 out of 11 games. A win would have given us a boost and we’d have been right back in the running to win the league. Unfortunately, we lost that opportunity. The game was a tough one between two evenly-matched teams. We played a good first half, but they got the momentum going into the second half and we didn’t ever recover. Our most recent game was against the Plymouth Raiders who had beaten us three times, all really close. This was a two-game semi-final series for the BBL Trophy. With the Final being at the Guildford Spectrum, it would have been terrible to watch two other teams play for it on our home court! Plymouth was the team that eliminated us from the BBL Cup, and the Heat had just been placed in administration [see below], so we had all the motivation a team could need going into the games. I had to focus and not let them take me out of my game – a lot of teams have been playing me a little tighter and denying me the ball because I’ve been playing well. In Plymouth, I scored 30 points as we beat them 97-76. Returning to The Spectrum, we booked our tickets, 90-85. On Super Bowl night, I couldn’t have been happier. That same day we beat the Scottish Rocks at the Spectrum, so to celebrate, we invited some people to our house to watch the game and have some drinks. My teammates Daniel Sandell (who played high school and college basketball in the US

and lived in Phoenix) and E. J. Harrison were cheering for the Cardinals. Chad McKnight and I were rooting for the Steelers. It was exciting – almost felt like I was back home for a minute. The next day, we woke up to about five inches of snow and found ourselves stuck in the house. Lucky for me, I had nothing to do because about 6 o’clock I got really sick. I hadn’t been this sick since I was about 14. It was a terrible night, and I passed out leaving the restroom at 5 in the morning. The same night three of my teammates were also sick, plus our equipment manager. I guess it was something that hit us all at the same time. Finally, my team has been going through some tough times, financially, losing our main sponsor and forcing the team into administration. The season has been saved by a very nice person [local businessman Alan McClafferty, MD of John Dennis Coachbuilders] who bought the name and took care of the necessary things to keep the team going. When the players first heard about the problems, we were shocked and even a little upset. We had to make some tough choices on whether we wanted to continue playing here or find something different. But we all decided to stick with the Heat and finish what we started. I have worked so hard to get back to contending, so I certainly didn’t want to let that go to waste. And if nothing else, I am just going to use this as motivation every time I step on the court. H

Above: Keonta goes for the basket against Everton. Keonta has scored 353 points in his first 18 games with the Heat (19.6 ppg), leading the team. Keonta’s average of 36.5 minutes per game is 5th in the league. photo: Gary Baker

BBL TROPHY FINAL March 15, 3.30pm Guildford Spectrum

Guildford Heat v Newcastle Eagles for more information, visit www.bbl.org.uk or www.guildfordheat.com

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f you were born before, during, or shortly after the Cold War, you’re no doubt familiar with former Secretary of Defence James Forrestal’s ominous caution: ‘The Russians are coming! The Russians are coming!’ It’s been sixty years since Forrestal bellowed this infamous declaration in a fit of doomed paranoia, and guess what – the Russians have finally come! To the NHL, that is. It’s true that Russians have played in the league for generations, but they’ve never dominated the points

Right: Alexander Ovechkin, leading the league in goals. IMAGE COURTESy OF MITCHELL LAyTON / WASHINGTON CAPITALS.

(respectively) in the 2004 NHL entry draft, the answer would probably make mention of Metallurg Magnitogorsk, arguably Russia’s most prominent hockey program. After establishing themselves as budding superstars in the Russian Superleague, they

HOW DO YOU SAY

‘DOMINATE’ IN RUSSIAN?

ladder as they do this season. In fact, three out of the NHL’s top five players hail from the Motherland: the Pittsburgh Penguins’ top-ranked Evgeni Malkin with 80 points (24 goals and 56 assists), the Washington Capitals’ third-ranked Alexander Ovechkin with 70 points (37 goals and 33 assists), and the Detroit Red Wings’ fourth-ranked Pavel Datsyuk with 68 points (24 goals and 44 assists). Ovechkin’s goals are enough to hoist him to the top spot in goal scoring, and Malkin’s assists are enough to give him the lead in helpers. So what’s the secret to Russia’s success? If you asked Malkin and Ovechkin, former teammates on a number of national teams and drafted second and first overall

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by Jeremy Lanaway

stepped into the NHL – and commenced to light it up. Malkin became the first player since the NHL’s inaugural season in 1918 to score a goal in each of his first six games. He went on to tally points in fifteen straight starts, taking over the record for the longest points streak by a Russian-born player. The rookie ended up netting 85 points in 78 games in the 2006–07 season, and then improved upon this feat by notching 106 points in 82 matches in the season to follow, leading the Penguins on the long march to the Stanley Cup finals, amassing 22 points in 20 games along the way, feats more than worthy enough

to earn him the Calder Memorial Trophy as rookie of the year. Nor is Ovechkin’s trophy case short on hardware. During his rookie season, he totalled 106 points, becoming the highest-scoring Russian rookie in history. More impressively, last year, his 65-goal, 112-point season earned him all four of the NHL’s top awards – the Art Ross Trophy for accruing the most points, the Maurice ‘Rocket’ Richard Trophy for scoring the most goals, the Lester B. Pearson Award for being the most outstanding player in the league as voted on by the players, and the Hart Memorial Trophy for being the league’s MVP. Not only did he


The American

become the first player in the history of the NHL to win all four major awards, he became the first player to win them in a single season. Ovechkin’s career stats say enough (200 goals and 180 assists in 296 NHL starts – making him the fifthfastest player to reach the 200-goal plateau, behind the likes of Wayne Gretzky, Mike Bossy, Brett Hull, and Mario Lemieux), but there’s more to the bent-nosed, ever-grinning Russian than mere numbers. He’s electric, unloading rubber every times he finds an inch of space in the opposition’s zone (he leads the league in shots, having let loose 50 percent more pucks than his closest rival), never giving his legs a moment’s rest, throwing hits fit for highlight reels (he’s ranked sixth in the league in body checks), and unspooling moves that are beyond the imagination of even his craftiest peers. ‘They don’t know whether he’s going around them, or over them, or through them,’ explained George McPhee, the general manager of the Capitals. If Malkin and Ovechkin epitomise the glitz and glitter of superstardom, their countryman Datsyuk is the perfect picture of subtlety. It would be an understatement to say that Datsyuk entered the league under the radar. In fact, the diminutive centreman was drafted in the sixth round – 171st overall – in the 1998 entry draft, and insiders and fans alike were asking, ‘Pavel who?’ However, it quickly became apparent that the Red Wings’ obscure pick had a rare gift – the ability to play unflawed hockey at both ends of the ice. Since 2001-02, he has worked slowly but surely to become the point-per-game player that he’s been in the last three seasons. He’s won the Frank J. Selke Trophy for being

the league’s most adept defensive forward and the NHL Plus-Minus Award for having the best over-under rating. And more importantly, he has two big fat Stanley Cup rings to show for his efforts. Mere mention of Lord Stanley’s mug is likely to produce a Pavlovian response in Malkin, who hopes to stay on top in the NHL scoring race, but also wants to experience what Datsyuk, using the entire Russian language, would be unable to describe – the feeling of hoisting the Stanley Cup. ‘I’m not going to lie – of course I want to finish first. Why not?’ he admitted. ‘The season is shaping up not too bad for me. I think every player thinks of individual prizes, myself included, but I want to win the Cup.’ Ovechkin, who’s expected to take home the Maurice ‘Rocket’ Richard Trophy again at the season’s end, has his eyes set firmly on the same prize. In fact, not even scoring his 200th career goal could distract him from his mission. ‘I don’t want to talk about my personal stats today,’ he mumbled grumpily post-game, finding it more natural to lament the loss in which his milestone had occurred than to celebrate his personal success. Luckily for Ovechkin, the Capitals are reaping the rewards of their recent renaissance, sitting snugly in third place in the Eastern Conference. The Russians have come, as predicted, and judging by the early and ongoing success of Malkin, Ovechkin, and Datsyuk, they’re going to keep coming, and coming, and coming – for the Stanley Cup in June, and then for the gold medal at the Winter Olympics in Vancouver in early 2010. The Cold War may be a thing of the past, but it seems that nobody’s gotten around to sharing the news with Russian’s dominating troika. H

Rimshots!

Sports silliness by Richard L Gale

This past month, A-Ro(i)d admitting to using banned substances during the 2001-2003 seasons. The previous three years, he hit 125 home runs, the following three years 119. However, from ’01-’03, A-Rod hit 157. A-Rod told ESPN “I’ve proved to myself and to everyone that I don’t need any of that.” ...well, everybody except statisticians, maybe. Also in trouble: Michael Phelps caught on camera either using a bong or else playing a small plastic didgeridoo. After a News of the World exposé, his endorsement deal with Kelloggs was terminated, wasting the opportunity to use the slogan ‘Corn Flakes – the best cure for munchies’. Brett Favre retired – again – this past month. No word yet on who his next team will be. 74 year-old racer James Hylton failed in his bid to qualify for the 43-car Daytona 500. Meanwhile in open-wheel racing, 78 yearold Bernie Ecclestone has yet to announce if he will be making up the numbers for his 20-car Formula One field. Despite becoming the first BBL team to suffer the effects of the credit crunch and go into administration, the Guildford Heat followed the announcement by qualifying for the BBL Trophy Final. Just imagine how dangerous they’d be if they ever went into receivership! Catch Richard’s Sideline column online at www.theamerican.co.uk. Also online, read Arizona resident Sean L Chaplin’s take on the Superbowl, and catch our new Fantasy Focus columnist, John Pedigo.

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The American

Tail End

Paw Talk, or My Life as a Dog in London. Rebel meets a canine victim of the credit crunch.

I

t was five in the morning when Scout, my best Westie friend, heard a fox and began to bark. SheWho-Must-Be-Obeyed-Usually, who had been out until one, wasn’t happy at being wakened that early so I put on my poor-little-me-hangdog-look and didn’t look at her when she fed us. As expected it made her feel guilty and a few minutes later she was walking us in Battersea Park. “She believes that phoney act?” Scout asked. I tried not to look too smug. “Mostly... as long as I don’t pull it too often.” My smugness left when we arrived at the Park. The rain was coming down even harder than when we left the apartment. She-Who-MustBe Obeyed-Usually was covered up with a rain coat and carrying an umbrella, but I had nothing but fur and with my short legs I was half drowned by the puddles. As I was sniffing at a tree, a half grown Irish Wolf Hound came galloping up to me and asked, “May I go home with you, please?” My heart sank. “You’ve been abandoned?” He sniffed tearfully. “I was a Christmas present for a little boy. Everyone loved me at first, but then I grew too big. Last night, while the boy was sleeping, the father brought me here and dumped me. I’ve never been so scared in my life.” “I know my mistress would like to

64

take you home, but we live in an apartment and it’s impossible,” I said sadly. She-Who-Must-BeObeyed-Usually showed up and with one look at the dirty, wet collarless dog knew what had happened. “We’ll take him to Dr. Ram to see if he has any identification,” she told me, “But I’m afraid he’s going to end up in Battersea or with Dog Trust.” Sadly, the four of us walked back to the car. She-Who-Must-BeObeyed-Usually toweled the Wolf Hound down, gave him some water and biscuits and was putting him into our car when a Range Rover screeched to a stop next to us. A little boy about nine and a younger girl jumped out. “Benjie,” the little boy cried, and hugged the Wolf Hound as if he’d never let him go. “We found you.” The woman behind the wheel smiled awkwardly. “Benjie... got away when my husband was walking him last night. When the children found him gone...” She-Who-Must-BeObeyed-Usually was too relieved by this happy ending to criticize. “I’m glad you found him,” was all she said. A Porsche parked next to the Range Rover and a tall, handsome man stepped out. From the way the little boy looked at him, it was obvious he knew exactly what happened. “This lady found Benjie, Daddy,” he said defiantly. “And Mummy said

from now on we’ll walk him so he never gets lost again.” “I’ll be more careful when I walk him next time,” his father promised, then turned to the woman. “I put an ad in the paper to sell the Porsche. It’s more important the children and you are happy.” The man drove off and the woman turned to She-Who-Must-BeObeyed-Usually. “He really is a good man, but he was a vice president of his company and lost his job...” “Times are difficult for many of us right now,” She-Who-MustBe-Obeyed-Usually agreed. “But, good luck.” We watched as the Range Rover drove away, the children happily petting the Wolf Hound. “At least this time there is a happy ending,” Scout told me. I nodded, but didn’t reply, for I knew there were dogs and cats who had been gifts at Christmas being abandoned everywhere. If only people would remember a dog is forever, not just for a few weeks. H


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6 - 15 March 2009

Who are we? The Junior League of London is an organisation of women committed to promoting voluntary service, developing the potential of women and improving communities through the effective action and leadership of trained volunteers. Its purpose is exclusively educational and charitable. How do you buy a London Spree card? Log on to the Junior League of London website at www.jll.org.uk to get all the details. You’ll also find an up-to-the-minute listing of participating shops and news of special in-store events.


March 2009 The American  

The American has been published in Britain since 1976. It is the only monthly magazine / website / community for Americans visiting and livi...

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