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April 2009

THE ESSENTIAL MONTHLY FOR ALL AMERICANS

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THE AMERICAN • APRIL 2009 • Issue 672

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

SUGARLAND “The music is the sex”

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COUNTING CROWS Prepare for Summer, it’s

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The American Issue 672 – April 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 +44 (0)1747 830520 sabrina.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 ©2009 Blue Edge Publishing Ltd. Printed by The Westdale Press Ltd 70 Portmanmoor Road, Industrial Estate, East Moors, Cardiff CF24 5HB Main cover image: Sugarland. Inset: Ryan Howard of the Philadelphia Phillies (Photo © Elsa/Getty Images).

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his month The American is determined to find reasons to be cheerful. Smile and the world smiles with you, cry and you cry alone, and all that sort of thing. It’s Spring. It’s Easter. It’ll soon be Mothers Day. You’ll find a reason that suits you, if you look hard enough. I have a feeling that the financial squeeze/crunch/collapse, while being immensely tough on those who have lost a job or a home, might spark a communal coming together, a feeling of community and mutual help. The sort of thing that small towns in the Mid West are so good at. The sort of thing that Britain used to have – they called it the Dunkirk spirit, or the spirit of the Blitz, named after two deeply depressing periods for the British early during World War II when backbone and a sense of humor saved the day.. Let’s all spread a little bit of light in these dark days. And if the features, ideas for days out, restaurant reviews, NHL, MLB, BBL and NFL coverage and the chance to win Counting Crows tickets in this issue of The American help, we’ll consider it job done. Enjoy your magazine. Michael Burland, Editor

SOME OF THIS MONTH’S CONTRIBUTORS

Jay Webster is a senior editor for ESPN America, the American sports network. Based in Dublin, Ireland, he brings an international eye to Baseball writing.

Estelle Lovatt is an arts correspondent, journalist and broadcaster. A British citizen, she is married to American journalist Charlie Woolf.

Bob Pickens is a former editor of The American and has been an expat in the UK for 25 years. This month he gives the IRS a cheer – really!.

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 672 • April 2009

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News The Americans are coming... to win Crufts. A multi-million dollar improvement scheme at JFK. And Ambassador Tuttle says farewell.

11 Diary Dates American artists, a US skydiving team and some weird British traditions... would you believe Hare Pie Scrambling and Bottle Kicking? 13 Music Meet Kristian Bush from Sugarland, the Grammy winning country [or are they?] duo 17 Competition Counting Crows are back - win tickets with The American

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20 As I Was Saying... Expats are coming under IRS scrutiny, but so are stay-at-homes, says Bob Pickens 22 Shakespeare Found A family heirloom has been found to be a lost portrait of William Shakespeare, possibly the only one painted in his lifetime 24 Surviving Troubled Times Psychological survival strategies

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The American

25 The Magnificent NHS Carol Gould experiences a medical miracle 26 Coffee Break Take a break with our fun pages 28 Wining & Dining The best rib-eye in Britain, and the close-to-perfect River Café. Praise indeed from Virginia

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33 Arts Distracting, Delightful and Disturbing. Cece and Estelle look at the UK arts scene – and the letter D in art 40 Vicky Myron The best-selling author tells Virginia about Dewey the library cat

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41 Theater Jarlath interviews Niamh Cusack, star of Dancing with Lughnasa 46 Politics The British establishment seems confused about the ‘special relationship’ 50 Drive Time Cars and concepts from Italy, Britain and America, plus a baby Airstream available here 54 Sports The subtleties of the NHL trade deadline, a look ahead to the NFL draft, and Major League Baseball is finally back

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60 American Organizations Your comprehensive guide 64 Paw Talk Rebel has pussy cat problems

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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

Citizen Services Blog Helps US Citizens’ Wedding Plans

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he US Embassy in London has redesigned the website of the American Citizen Services department of its Consular Section to be clearer, more comprehensive and friendlier. The ACS section provides information and assistance to US citizens in the United Kingdom. ACS consists of Special Consular Services, the Passport & Citizenship Unit, and the Federal Benefits Unit. The website now has a blog, at http://london.usembassy.gov/americanservices/, which has easy to find sections on Federal Benefits (Social Security, Disability, Veterans, etc), IRS, Passports, US Citizenship, UK Immigration, Cultural Events and Special Consular Services. In the latter, many of the frequently asked questions that ACS receives – and some not-so-frequently asked ones – are answered, saving American citizens a long wait on the premium-priced telephone line. One such is this enquiry from an American citizen who is having trouble arranging a wedding in Britain. Our vicar has requested a letter from the embassy in order to marry us

Q

: I’m getting married in the U.K. and in order to have the wedding in the parish church, the vicar

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requires a letter from the U.S. embassy stating that the U.K. marriage will be recognized in the U.S. I have directed to the vicar to your website regarding marriage: http://www.usembassy.org. uk/cons_new/acs/scs/marriage_and_ civil_partnerships.html This site states: “In general, regardless of nationality or religion of the persons married, marriages legally performed in the United Kingdom are also legally valid in the United States.” However, the vicar still requires a letter from the embassy stating the marriage will be recognized. Is it possible for the embassy to send a letter on embassy letterhead stating (as the website does) that our marriage will be recognized?

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: Unfortunately, the Embassy is unable to provide the letter you require. Although the Church of England’s website states that some diocese may ask a foreign national to obtain from the relevant embassy or consulate a letter saying their marriage will be recognized, U.S. Diplomatic and Consular officers and U.S. Ambassadors cannot issue any official certificate with respect to marriage laws, nor can they make any official certification about the status or eligibility to marry of persons residing in the United States

who propose to be married abroad, or about the laws of the United States or of any of the fifty States or Territories about eligibility for marriage or the solemnization of a marriage. You might consider directing your vicar to the U.S. Department of State’s Foreign Affairs Manual (FAM), which contains language regarding the role of Consular Officers in marriages of U.S. citizens abroad. Specifically, 7 FAM Exhibit 1454 states that: In general, marriages which are legally performed and valid abroad are also legally valid in the United States. Inquiries regarding the validity of a marriage abroad should be directed to the attorney general of the state in the United States where the parties to the marriage live. Other queries recently answered on the blog include: The Home Office has my passport and I need to fly back to the US for an emergency - can the Embassy help me?; How do I enforce child support payments between the US and UK?; and How Can I Get A Criminal Record Check from the U.S.? Helpful advice on the blog includes: The Federal Trade Commission warning consumers about economic stimulus scams; Advice about Taxis and Minicabs in London and Redeeming US Savings Bonds. ★


L.CROFT-ELLIOTT/THE KENNEL CLUB PICTURE LIBRARY

The American

American Dog Wins Crufts

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harmin, a Sealyham Terrier from Chester County, Pa., has won one of the most prestigious awards in the dog world by being named best in show at Crufts. His owner, Margery Good, said she was “very excited and very pleased” to have won. Ms. Good added, in a BBC interview, “He’s such a special dog. He is my best buddy. He proved himself tonight and made every step just right.” It was a positive story to come out of a difficult event for the organisers. The RSPCA (Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals) and main sponsor Pedigree pet foods pulled out of the show after a BBC documentary made allegations of breeding malpractice in the show dog industry. The BBC suspended its own coverage of the event after it broadcast the documentary. Four year old Charmin, is a Sealyham, a breed not as well known as some, but in the first half of the 20th century, Sealyhams were very popular, owned by Gary Cooper, Cary Grant, Humphrey Bogart, Richard Burton and Alfred Hitchcock among others.

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Spitfire Makes Record Breaking Price

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Spitfire, one of the most famous and iconic fighter aircraft of the Second World War – and possibly of all time – is to go on sale at the RAF Museum, Hendon, London, April 20th. This will be the second Spitfire that auction house Bonhams has offered within just seven months. Last September the auction house sold a non-airworthy 1945 Supermarine Spitfire, a bubble canopy MK XVI, considered by collectors as being less desirable, for a record price of over US$2.1m. The Spitfire being sold this month, built by Vickers-Supermarine and powered by a Rolls-Royce Merlin engine, is estimated at $2.2 million, despite the financial crisis. It is airworthy and a rare and more useable two-seater version, the first airworthy two-seater Spitfire to be offered at public auction for over twenty years. It is worth noting that the price of a two-seater Spitfire after WWII was just £5,200. Originally a single-seater it has been painstakingly restored to airworthiness over a five-year period

and converted to the two-seat trainer variant as a freshly-completed ‘zero-hours’ ground-up restoration. ‘SM520’, the airplane’s original RAF serial number, was built by the British Vickers-Armstrong company in 1944 and delivered to the Royal Air Force’s No 33 Maintenance Unit at Lyneham, Wiltshire. In 1948 it was sold to the South African Air Force. In the 1970s it was discovered in a Cape Town scrap yard from which it was rescued. The plane’s UK civilian registration is now ‘G-ILDA’.


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… for a healthy attractive smile Dr. Robert S. Wright DDS, MS, Cert Pros (California) American Dentistry in London • Regis House 49 Beaumont Street • London W1G 6DN 020 7486 0203 www.americandentistryinlondon.com

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The American

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 QUILTING BEE Tuesdays, April 7, 14, 21, 28, noon - 4pm KIDS STUFF: FOLK ART FIGURES Thursday April 9, 1 - 4pm KIDS STUFF: BUNNY TRAIL Follow the trail to find the secret password and win a chocolate egg! Saturday April 11 - Monday 13, 12 noon - 5pm KIDS STUFF - TRINKET TREASURE BOXES Thursday April 16, 1 - 4pm SUNDAY @ CLAVERTON: BAYOU SECO Focusing on Cajun music from Louisiana, this dynamic duo also cover traditional songs played on fiddle, guitar, banjo, accordion, harmonica and mandolin. Sunday April 19, 2pm

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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Improvements at JFK

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elays at JFK Airport will be addressed with a $376.3 million investment in the second phase of the NY/NJ Port Authority’s JFK Delay Reduction Program. One of the longest commercial airport runways in the United States, JFK’s Runway 13-31, which measures more than 2 ¾ miles in length and handles more than half of all flight departures, will be reconstructed and widened. The projects will support 2,500 jobs. Work will begin in June and is scheduled to be completed 120 days later in 2011. The delay reduction element includes improvements to taxiways and easier access from taxiways to terminal gates, saving time on the ground for passengers. Six inches of runway asphalt will be milled off and 18 inches of concrete, which has a lifespan of up to five times more than asphalt, will be laid saving an estimated $500 million long-term. The runway will be widened from 150 to 200 feet to accommodate the world’s largest commercial aircraft. Taxiway intersections will be widened and new runway lighting, electrical infrastructure and navigational aids will be installed. The work will use enough concrete to pave every NFL field to a depth of two-feet and enough asphalt to equal the weight of six Titanics.

Square Dancing UK Style

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he British Association of American Square Dance Clubs has a new website: www.uksquaredancing.com (moved from www.squaredancing.co.uk). The BAASDC comprises about 160 square dance clubs, many of which provide teaching facilities from complete novices up to more experienced dancers who would like to participate in the Mainstream, Plus, Advanced & Challenge programs. Whether you would like to keep up, or take up, this American tradition while you are in the UK, give them a call. You may also be interested in joining GSI-UK, a new British branch of the US foundation, Grand Square Incorporated (now known as Grand Square International). GSI-UK is organising its first caller school, which will be held in St. Ives, Cambridgeshire in July. Handy for the USAF bases in East Anglia, the course will be organised by Walt Burr who is stationed at RAF Lakenheath. GSI sponsored a caller school in May 2007, also in St. Ives, which provided free places for up to 40 students and 38 took part from various parts of Europe. Contact www.gsi-england.co.uk, Burr2@sdcaller.co.uk or 01280-816940.


The American

Urgent FVAP Advisory: Illinois Ballot

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Britain’s Tallest Spire Turns Red for Comic Relief

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alisbury Cathedral took part in Comic Relief ’s Red Nose Day fundraiser by turning its 404ft soaring spire, the tallest in the UK, red each night from March 9 through 13. The Dean of Salisbury, the Very Revd June Osborne, said that she hoped that everyone who saw the ‘red nosed’ Cathedral would be reminded of the comic relief message and encouraged to do something special to raise money for the charity. “We’re very pleased to be taking an active role to support Comic Relief and be in a position to use our profile and sheer size to help. We are

one of a number of iconic buildings in different parts of the country invited to ‘paint the town red’ to help raise awareness for the charity and its important work of addressing global poverty and injustice – aspirations which match those of the Cathedral. Some of the projects Comic Relief sponsors are based in the Sudan, a country the Salisbury diocese has worked hard for many years to support,” she said Pupils and staff at Salisbury Cathedral School raised money for the charity, as did people and businesses across Britain.

British Nationality Applicants Face Fee Increases

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f you are thinking of applying for British citizenship, you should take the Citizenship test before April 6 to avoid a price hike, warns Claudia Dyer, the editor of How to Pass the Life in the UK Test, a book published by consumer group Which?. From 6 April 2009, the cost of applying for naturalisation will increase from £655 to £720 for individuals, and from £735 to £850 for joint applications. Charges for registration and for children applying for British citizenship will also increase. All applicants should take the Life in the UK Test before applying for naturalisation. “At a time when every penny counts, taking the Life in the UK Test in the next couple of weeks could help you save around £65, or over £100 for a joint application. If you have decided to make the UK your home, act soon before the fees increase,” said Ms Dyer.

embers of the US Uniformed Services, their family members and citizens residing abroad may vote in US elections if they are properly registered and request a ballot. To determine your legal residence and eligibility to vote, click on http:// fvap.gov/reference/about-elect-officials/index.html and then on “United States House of Representatives.” You should request a ballot by completing and submitting a registration and ballot request, Federal Post Card Application (FPCA), SF-76, as soon as possible, if you have not done so already in calendar year 2009. The online version of the FPCA is available from the FVAP website by clicking on the appropriate citizen at www.fvap.gov. The FPCA may be submitted by fax or email in addition to regular mail. Citizens may also reach the FVAP toll-free from 67 countries using the toll-free numbers listed on the FVAP website. On Tuesday, April 7, 2009 Illinois will hold a special general election to fill the 5th district seat vacated by Representative Rahm Emanuel. The Cook County Clerk or the Chicago Board of Elections must receive the request for absentee ballot not later than Friday, March 27, 2009. Voters who are Illinois residents from the 5th District, who requested and received a ballot for the Federal General election on November 4, 2008 will automatically receive the special general election ballot, and need not take any further action. For State specific information on your precinct, candidates, elections, and voting see www.elections.il.gov. The candidates running for Representative of District 5 are: Mike Quigley, Democratic Party; Rosanna Pulido, Republican Party; Matt Reichel, Green Party.




The American

Barack Obama signs American Recovery and Reinvestment Act PETE SOUZA, WHITE HOUSE US EMBASSY, LONDON

American Recovery and Reinvestment Act: Your Say

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n February 18, President Obama signed the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA ) into law. This is the recovery plan aimed at creating or saving three and half million American jobs, providing tax cuts for working and middle-class families, and investing in health care and clean energy. On March 6, the President and Attorney General Holder announced that $2 billion from the Act would be released to improve the criminal justice system. The ARRA is a controversial plan, and one that many people both inside and outwith government will want to keep a close eye on. Mr Obama has acted on that wish, and he has stated that “Accountability begins with you”. To this end, the administration has created Recovery.gov, a new website where citizens can track “every dollar spent and every job created”. You can follow recovery work in your own state, or by government agency. Reporting started March 3. Citizens are invited to “weigh in with comments and questions” and submit personal stories about how they are struggling to make ends meet. You can read stories from across the country at http:// my.barackobama.com/yourstories

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Ambassador’s Farewell Message

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mbassador Robert Holmes Tuttle left post on February 6, 2009, after nearly four years representing the United States here. Here is his Farewell Message. For the past three and a half years, I have had the great honor of serving my country as the U.S. Ambassador to the Court of St. James’s. It has been an unparalleled experience that my wife, Maria, and I will cherish forever. As my tenure as Ambassador comes to a close in the first week of February, I am grateful for the opportunities I had to travel all over the United Kingdom, experiencing the great depth and variety of the links that bind us. Maria and I have welcomed over 25,000 people to the Ambassador’s residence at Winfield House. I am thankful to the countless British people who taught me so much and who took us into their hearts. I leave knowing this bilateral relationship remains essential to peace and prosperity around the

world. In his recent conversation with Prime Minister Brown, President Obama pledged to strengthen “the special relationship.” That relationship is more than just a phrase; it is based on a vast network of personal and business connections. More than 40,000 British and American students crossed the Atlantic to study last year. Four and a half million British travelers visited the U.S., while an almost equal number of Americans visited the UK. Our soldiers fight together; our scientists innovate together; our musicians, actors and directors create together. The relationship will endure, not because we always agree, but because we know that, on the major global challenges, we are on the same side and heading in the same direction. Together, we are the heart of a transatlantic engine of liberal democracy - powered by shared values, shared aspirations. I am grateful to have been given the opportunity to play a role in sustaining this great British-American alliance.


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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 Street Art in Bristol RWA: Royal West of England Academy, Queen’s Road, Clifton, Bristol BS8 1PX Bristol has been a big player on the global graffiti scene since the early eighties, spawning many of its most notorious and talented protagonists. The RWA invites some of the most prominent artists in the city to adorn its galleries in their own inimitable way, showcasing the depth of creativity and challenging expectations of this ubiquitous and often misunderstood art form. www.rwa.org.uk to May 2 Bumblebees Natural History Museum, Akeman Street, Tring, Hertfordshire HP23 6AP Bumblebees are one of our most well–loved insects. Come along to this family exhibition to find out how important bumblebees are for human life. See specimens from around the world and learn about British bees in danger and how you can help our fuzzy friends. Bees pollinate most of our crops, so looking after them is a necessity, not just a nicety. www.nhm.ac.uk 020 7942 6171 to July 12 London Philharmonic Orchestra, feat. American pianist Nicholas Angelich Royal Festival Hall, London Angelich plays Brahms Piano Concerto 2 and Tchaikovsky Symphony 5 www.lpo.co.uk April 1

Easter Across the UK Easter is the oldest and most important Christian Festival, celebrating the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. It is a time for holidays, festivals, giving chocolate Easter eggs and other celebrations many of which have pagan roots. Check local media for details. April 12 (Easter Sunday) American artists at Milton Keynes Gallery 900 Midsummer Boulevard, Central Milton Keynes MK9 3QA Detroit–born James Lee Byars (1932–1997) was one of the C20th most unusual and elusive artists, a dandy, magician and visionary in constant search for perfection. A retrospective is currently on view in Bern, Switzerland and the Milton Keynes Gallery show will present a selection of his sculptures, works on paper, installations and performance documentation. A version of the exhibition will tour to the Museum of Contemporary Art, Detroit, in Autumn 2009. www.mk–g.org (0)1908 676900 April 4 onwards Down at the Farm Houghton–le–Spring, Durham Through the Easter school holidays, New arrivals include chicks, ducklings and piglets, and children can bottle– feed the adorable newborn lambs. Easter activities include Easter egg throwing and rolling competitions,

Team Airspeed, back from the US to defend their crown

Bodyflight World Challenge Clapham, Bedfordshire The World’s largest indoor skydiving wind tunnel hosts the 4th event which has been dubbed “The most significant international competition for skydivers ever held in the UK”. The team to beat, as ever, is Team Airspeed, the American national Formation Skydiving team - they have won gold at the last 4 World Challenges and will be back again this year to defend their title. They will be appearing alongside five other teams from the United States including Team Future, a children’s skydiving team competing at the highest level. www.bodyflight.co.uk/news/ April 04 to April 05

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The American

an Easter panto, sheep racing, face painting and Easter egg hunts and trails. www.downatthefarm.co.uk 0191 584 1873 April 4 onwards

Wild Fowl by Hermann Heinzel

Indian & Other Birds Recent works by Hermann Heinzel Indar Pasricha Contemporary Arts, 22 Connaught Street, W2 Solo exhibition of paintings by Hermann Heinzel, the leading international ornithological artist. The exhibition will feature 30 large works that have not been seen before including watercolours, drawings and a rare oil painting by the artist of a lappet vulture, with prices starting at £3,000. The name Hermann Heinzel will be well–known to all bird enthusiasts, as he has painted the majority of birds seen throughout India, Europe, North Africa, the Middle East, the Galapagos and North America. He has been rightly been called the heir to James Audubon. Highlights include a portrait of a Lammergeier (Bearded Vulture), caught in it’s eyrie on a mountain ledge; one of Heinzel’s rare oil paintings. The majority of his works are in watercolour, and include such studies as a family of flamingoes on their nest and Jungle Fowl seen in the Jungle. Heinzel’s work can be found in collections internationally such as the Museum of Natural History in Bonn, the Museum of Napa County, USA, and that of the late Duke of Bedford. www.ipcontemporary.com info@ ipfa.co.uk info@ipfa.co.uk March 17 to April 04

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The Churchill Lecture Series Churchill Museum and Cabinet War Rooms, Clive Steps, King Charles Street, London SW1 Churchill the Unsinkable Politician: Gary Sheffield puts the spotlight on Churchill’s period in office as Minister of Munitions. 6.30pm cwr.iwm.org.uk April 7 Benjamin Franklin and the Great Wall of China Benjamin Franklin House, 36 Craven Street, London WC2N 5NF Doctor Dave Wang from St John’s University will talk discuss how Benjamin Franklin became connected with what is now one of the wonders of the world. 7pm £5/£3.50 www.benjaminfranklinhouse.org info@benjaminfranklinhouse.org April 9 World Marble Championships Greyhound Pub, Tinsley Green, Crawley, West Sussex Marbles have been played on Tinsley Green for hundreds of years. The tradition is said to date back to the time of Queen Elizabeth I when two men from Surrey and Sussex competed for the hand of a maiden. After being judged equal in all the imprtant sports of the day, including archery and wrestling, they came up with a novel solution and the fate of the young lady was decided by a game of marbles. The modern World Marble Championships date back to the 1930s. Teams from around world including the US take part. www.marblemuseum.org marblesam@hotmail.com 01403 730 602 April 10

Bottle Kicking and Hare Pie Scramble Hallaton, Leicestershire In 1770 the Rector of Hallaton was allotted a piece of land on condition that he provided two hare pies, two dozen loaves of bread and a quantity of ale, which had to be scrambled for in public. The custom still survives today. On Easter Monday, a large hare pie is baked and paraded through Hallaton. Slices are cut, blessed and distributed at St Michael’s Church. The parade moves to the top of Hare Pie bank where the Bottle Kicking match takes place. Two teams kick and manhandle three bottles (actually wooden barrels) trying to get them across goals, two streams a mile apart. Rough and tumble stuff. 0116 225 4000 April 13 World Coal Carrying Contest Gawthorpe, Ossett, West Yorkshire Held every Easter Monday this race involves men carrying (110lb of coal over an uphill course a mile long Ladies race over the same route as the men, but carry 44 lb. Dates back to 1963 when a local coal merchant and the president of the Maypole Committee were enjoying a pint together. A friend burst into the pub and bet that he could race them with a bag of coal on their backs. www.gawthorpe.ndo.co.uk/coal.htm, susanwalshaw2@aol.com 01403 730 602 April 13 How Georgian Britain’s Worst Husband Met His Match Benjamin Franklin House, 36 Craven Street, London WC2N 5NF Wendy Moore talks about her new book on the sensational story of Mary Eleanor Bowes, Countess of Strathmore. Tricked into a second marriage by an Irish fortune–hunter, Bowes was kept a virtual prisoner in her own home, with her meals, her dress, and even her conversation strictly controlled by her husband.


The American

After eight years, she finally managed to escape... The tale scandalized C18th Britain and provides a fascinating example of the role of the popular press of the day. 1pm £5/£3.50 www.benjaminfranklinhouse.org info@benjaminfranklinhouse.org April 20 John Cage: Europera 5 Cochrane Theatre, Southampton Row, London WC1B 4AP A rare opportunity to hear a late theatre piece by Cage. 020 7269 1606 April 20 Shakespeare’s Globe Summer Season Shakespeare’s Globe, Bankside, London SE1 9DT The Globe’s 2009 season ‘Young Hearts’ opens on Shakespeare’s birthday, 23 April. The plays will be Romeo and Juliet, As You Like It, Troilus and Cressida and a revival of Dominic Dromgoole’s 2007 production of Love’’s Labour’s Lost, prior to a North American tour in the fall. There will also be new work including the Globe’s first full–scale Greek drama, Euripedes’ Helen; A New World, marking the 200th anniversary of the death of Thomas Paine, by Trevor Griffiths and the return of Ché Walker’s explosive tale of contemporary London, The Frontline. During the summer, two new small– scale productions, The Comedy of Errors and A Midsummer Night’s Dream, will visit beautiful outdoor venues across the UK, reviving the old Globe principle of outdoor playing. www.shakespeares–globe.org 020 7902 1492 April 23 to October 10 Pam Skelton: Dwelling in the Space of Conspiracy ICIA Art Space 2, Bath University Campus Artist Skelton and researcher Achim Heinrich uncovered a dossier on the once secret ‘conspiracy dwellings’ in

April events at Glastonbury Abbey Glastonbury, Somerset, BA6 9EL April 10th – May 8th Glastonbury Art Group, Art Exhibition in the Museum. 12th – 19th Children’s Easter Trail and Treasure Hunt. Follow the Easter Saints trail, find out who has been connected with Glastonbury through the centuries and win a prize. 25th Journeying – Acapella Group singing in the Abbots Kitchen at 2.45pm. 26th John Dalton, Harpist, playing and telling stories of the harp at 2.30pm in the Abbots Kitchen. www.glastonburyabbey.com francis.thyer@glastonburyabbey.com 01458 832267 April 10 to May 08

Erfurt, a city in the former German Democratic Republic (GDR). These safe houses were used for clandestine meetings between German Secret Police (the Stasi) and their informers. Using video, photography and mapping, Skelton retraces the spy network, constructing an unsettling portrait of a city with 483 spy cells for monitoring citizens in the last decade of the GDR. Admission free. www.bath.ac.uk/icia/events/ April 29, 6.30pm-8.30pm. Artist’s Talk: 7pm-8pm. Then to June 5, 10am-5pm.

Icebreaker Komedia, Bath Icebreaker is one of the most exciting and eclectic ensembles in the UK. They make frequent visits to the USA, appearing at the Lincoln Center Festival and Carnegie Hall. This concert includes a rare opportunity to hear their version of Philip Glass’s epic early work, Music with Changing Parts – alongside one of Michael Nyman’s most effervescent early scores, Think Slow, Act Fast. www.komedia.co.uk/bath 01225 86777 April 30, 8pm

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UK University launches Beatles course

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he Fab Four are at the centre of another innovation in Britain, an MA degree course on the subject of The Beatles. The one year masters degree is believed to be the first of its kind in the world (although there are Elvis Presley courses elsewhere). It will be offered as a full time or part time course and will require a dissertation. It will also cover the history of Liverpool, popular music in general, how “social and musical issues” fed into the Merseybeat and Beatles sounds, and its effect on society during and since the 1960s. People who knew and worked with The Beatles are expected to contribute to the course as guest lecturers. The university’s senior lecturer in popular music Mike Brocken said, “There have been over 8,000 books about The Beatles but there has never been serious academic study. The Beatles influenced so much of society, not just with their music, but also with fashion from their collar-less jackets to their psychedelic clothes.” It was only right Liverpool hosted the course, he added. Dr Brocken said he expected the course to be as popular with overseas scholars as to British students because of the lasting appeal of The Beatles. “This Beatles MA is expected to attract a great deal of attention, not just locally but nationally, and we have already had inquires from abroad, particularly the USA.”

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The Beatles pose in the sea at Miami Beach during their US tour, February 15th, 1964 PHOTO BY POPPERFOTO/GETTY IMAGES)

Beatles Getty exhibition O

n March 12, the Getty Images Gallery opened a permanent new photographic exhibition space at the Movieum of London in County Hall, situated opposite the Houses of Parliament. It will feature rare and unseen images of the “Fab Four”, from famous photographers including Robert Whitaker, who accompanied John, Paul, George and Ringo on their 1966 Far Eastern Tour. The launch of the collection marks the 40th Anniversary since the Beatles played their last live performance on the rooftop of the Apple Building at 3 Savile Row. The images span from 1963 to 1970 and include shots from the filming of Help and A Hard Day’s Night, as well as candid behind the scenes pictures of the Beatles on tour. Framed and unframed prints from the show will be available to buy from the Movieum Gallery. As well as the photo exhibition, there will also be a selection of Beatles memorabilia on show, including one of John Lennon’s very own Rickenbacker guitars donated by Pete Waterman OBE. The Movieum of London is an interactive movie museum dedicated to unseen behind-the-scenes film stills, scripts, sets, props and costumes from some of the world’s most loved movies which opened in February 2008. Its Chairman, Jonathan Sands, said: “We are enormously proud to be working with the world renowned Getty Images Gallery, To be celebrating our first anniversary with The Beatles On Film exhibition is a dream come true and the number of people wanting to participate has been fantastic. Apart from the stunning unseen photographic images, a highlight was definitely being offered the John Lennon Rickenbacker by Pete Waterman – what an amazing offer, the fans will love it! The last year has proved that The Movieum is a great family destination and also a serious centre for educating and entertaining the public through film, theatre and music. What better way to celebrate than with the Fab Four!” The opening night of the exhibition was attended by featured photographer Robert Whitaker, and Welsh actor Victor Spinetti, who featured in the classic Beatles films A Hard Day’s Night, Help! and Magical Mystery Tour.


The American

Radiohead Special Edition

O Metallica support Record Store Day

UKI shops sign up for Record Store Day

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ndependent retailers in the UK and Ireland have joined an American phenomenon whose goal is nothing less than saving the existence of the physical record store. Yes, in these days of downloads and file sharing there are some indie record outlets left! And Record Store Day aims to let the world know they do. Record Store Day was conceived by Chris Brown, and was founded in 2007 by a group of retailers including Eric Levin of Atlanta’s Criminal Records and Music Monitor Network’s chief executive Michael Kurtz. Participating stores have to be a physical retailer whose product line consists of at least 50% music retail, whose company is not publicly traded and whose ownership is at least 70% located in the state of operation. The organizers say “We’re dealing with real, live, physical, indie record stores – not online retailers or corporate behemoths”. Bands have released special vinyl and CD records in honor of the initiative This year they will include a series of seven-inch vinyl from Rhino, featuring names such as The

Smiths and MC5, and an exclusive mix from Wooden Shjips. Planned festivities include performances, cook-outs, body painting, meet & greets with artists, parades, DJs spinning records and more. Metallica officially kicked off Record Store Day at Rasputin Music in San Francisco on April 19, 2008 and Record Store Day is now celebrated the second Saturday every April. Stores in Belgium, Italy, British Columbia, and Japan are due to join this year’s Record Store Day.

n March 23, EMI is releasing a strictly limited Special Collectors Edition of Radiohead’s albums The Bends, OK Computer and Pablo Honey. They’ve gone to town on these releases. Each double CD features the original album, alongside a second disc containing rarities, radio sessions and live versions of the tracks. And each album is accompanied by a DVD featuring promotional videos, TV performances from the BBC’s Top Of The Pops and Later… with Jools Holland programs and extensive live performances. If they’re not already sold out by the time you read this (the release date is when The American hits the streets) then this is a must-buy.

Record Store Day organizer Eric Levin with singer Janelle Monae

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LIVE AND KICKING

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ld is the new new, as the trend grows for bands to reform ands make big bucks playing live and selling spin-off DVDs, broadcast rights, merchandise, corporate sponsorship etc. Van Halen, Genesis and The Police have all reformed. Smashing Pumpkins, Sugarcubes, Dinosaur Jr and My Bloody Valentine too. Spinal Tap are reforming for a 30 date US tour (yay!). Michael Jackson and his face have reformed and will be playing 10, no 19, no 50 dates at London’s O2 arena. Rumors that the Glenn Miller Band is to reform cannot be discounted. Enough of that. Here are some more gigs that will be worth booking for.

T in the Park Attracts Killers, Kings and Snow Proving that indie bands can be massive too, the biggest festival in Scotland has announced its headliners. Festival director Geoff Ellis says, “We’ve taken four of the biggest names in the world as headliners, added recent Grammy and Brit Award winners along with some of the hottest international talent from across the globe and brought you the beginnings of the line up for T In The Park 2009.” Kings Of Leon, The Killers, Snow Patrol and Blur will be joined by Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Keane, Franz Ferdinand, Razorlight, Elbow, Katy Perry, Pendulum, Peter Doherty and White Lies. An eclectic and frankly fascinating mix. “With a world renowned audience, it’s no wonder our early bird allocation of tickets sold out in under a day” added Ellis.

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Dave Matthews Band Extra UK Dates

At last the Dave Matthews Band are getting as big over here as they are back home – they’ve sold 35 million album sales and 15 million concert tickets worldwide and were recently named top-drawing American band in the world by Billboard magazine. Due to public demand DMB will play three headline shows - at London’s Brixton Academy on June 25th and 26th, followed by June 29th at Wolverhampton Civic Hall. These will seem small shows for the band who will also play to a sold out crowd with Bruce Springsteen at Hard Rock Calling in London’s Hyde Park on June 28th. The band will launch an extensive tour in April 2009 to promote their new album.

Neil Young Headlines Saturday Hard Rock Calling On the subject of Hard Rock Calling, the headliner for the Saturday, June 27th, is Neil Young, appearing with his full touring band. Special guests will be the luscious harmonies of nu-beardies Fleet Foxes, Ben Harper & his new outfit Relentless7, the suddenly-omnipresent Seasick Steve and The Pretenders. More artists will be announced soon. Chrissie Hynde, Pretenders singer, said: “We would play a garden shed to be on a bill with Neil Young but Hyde Park – summer – with ‘The Loner’? This is what makes a thousand hours on tour buses all worthwhile. This is why people get in bands.” It’s a mutual thing – Young inducted Chrissie Hynde

into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2005, calling her “a rock and roll woman…who’s going to be rocking till she drops”.

Black Stone Cherry to support Nickelback Straight outta Edmonton, Kentucky, Black Stone Cherry will support Nickelback at six UK arena shows in May. Black Stone Cherry headlined their own UK tour last December, getting great reviews from those who like their Southern boogie laced with harmonies. The bands play: May 22nd MEN Arena; 23rd Glasgow SECC; 25th Newcastle Metro Arena; 26th Birmingham NIA; 28th London O2 Arena and 29th Sheffield Arena.


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WIN ONE OF TWO PAIRS OF TICKETS TO

COUNTING CROWS LIVE AT WEMBLEY ARENA! (SUPPORTED BY THE HOLD STEADY)

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in one of two pairs of tickets to see Counting Crows at Wembley Arena on May 14 by answering this question – all correct answers will go into a draw. QUESTION: Counting Crows’ first hit was Mr. Jones. But who had a hit in 1972 with Me and Mrs. Jones? A Billy Paul B Billy Joel C Paul Simon

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ounting Crows return to UK & Ireland following a sold out headline show at London’s O2 Wireless festival in 2008. The American has two pairs of tickets to giveaway, courtesy of Wembley Arena Counting Crows, having sold over 20 million records world-wide, make a welcome return to the UK & Ireland in May. The tour will take the band across 12 cities with their fifth studio album, ‘Saturday Nights & Sunday Mornings’. Counting Crows first hit the mainstream with their critically acclaimed debut release, ‘August & Everything After’ in 1993 which went on to sell 7 million copies. The band’s influences include Van Morrison, Nirvana and Bob Dylan. Since then they too have influenced other artists including Panic At The Disco, who covered the song, ‘Round Here’. Counting Crow’s DIY and grass roots attitude has kept the band grounded to what’s most important to them; their music and fans. Previous albums include Recovering the Satellites (1996); Across A Wire: Live in NY (1998); This Desert Life (1999) and Hard Candy (2002) which featured the band’s Top 10 cover of Joni Mitchell’s “Big Yellow Taxi”.  The band also had a number 1 US hit with the song “Accidentally In Love,” featured on the Shrek 2 soundtrack.

Send your answer with your name, address, daytime telephone number and email address (optional) to reach us by mid-day, April 30, 2009. Email it to theamerican@blueedge.co.uk with COUNTING CROWS COMPETITION in the subject line. Or send a postcard to: COUNTING CROWS COMPETITION, The American, Old Byre House, Millbrook Lane, East Knoyle, Salisbury SP3 6AW, UK. Tickets are for the May 14 performance. You must be 18 years old or over to enter this competition. Only one entry per person per draw. The editor’s decision is final. Counting Crows were forced to postpone their UK tour in December 2008 due to unexpected personal and work commitments in the USA. All correct entrants to The American’s November 2008 competition will automatically go into this draw.

Celebrating Wembley Arena’s 50th year of live music

BOX OFFICE 0844 815 0815 www.wembleyarena.co.uk 17


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Sugar Babes TA The British don’t know you as well as they should. Are you making any special efforts to reach them? KB Well, we’re touring in March. And I played a lot in Europe in my previous band, Billy Pilgrim. We opened for Melissa Etheridge for three years. Our first show in Europe was in Royal Albert Hall. It was beautiful! But the more we ask around Nashville, the more we find out that very few country acts come to tour Europe. We tried to figure out why, maybe nobody knows how. Mostly it’s that country is supported by a very evolved radio network in the States. There are close to 3,000 country radio stations in the US. The closest format is talk radio at 900. Hip hop and R&B only have maybe 400 stations. So you can see how far reaching country music is in America. But there is really no country music outlet in Europe. TA That’s true, it’s very specialised over here. There are people who know it and really love it, like in Scotland, around Glasgow and the west of Scotland, there’s a hard core of people who love country. Ireland too. But they tend to be little pockets of people who dress up as cowboys at the weekend. KB That’s interesting, because in the States, country music is no longer a life-

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Kristian Bush from double Grammy-winning sugarland, the country music duo that are ripping up the charts and the rule books, talks to Michael Burland about playing country music in Europe – it’s ‘the fever and the fervour’ style, it’s no longer about the boots and hats, it’s more about where the singersongwriter resides. There’s no other place to go find new singer-songwriters in the United States. Every once in a while you get a John Mayer or somebody like that, but there’s no other format that encourages them. TA Country covers such a wide variety of music now, as well. KB Yes, all the way form Bluegrass to what Jennifer and I do, which is some sort of roots rock. TA You are in the country music genre, if there is such a thing, but even in your own music you have some pop sounding tunes, some anthemic songs, and Jennifer has worked with people like Bon Jovi. Where do you see yourselves fitting in on the spectrum?

KB Well, I think the things that make us country are our inclination to write songs about the human condition and Jennifer’s accent. Without those two things I’m not quite sure that people would consider us country. Which is really wonderful for us, because most of the criticism of pop-country comes from people who say, “You know, that [insert name here] record really sounds like a rock record”, because the singers aren’t very country. Bands and singers like that have to put fiddles and pedal steels in their songs. Instrumentwise they have to make it sound country. But instrumentally we don’t have to do that, because it’s just the way that Jennifer naturally talks. TA So the roots of the music come from you as people, rather than imposing a style on the music? KB We flip it a little bit on its head. We can get away with playing a song that


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might be inspired by U2 or Coldplay, and it ends up being a country song because we are singing it. TA There’s an element of that with Robert Plant and Alison Krauss. She’s very much a country girl. Although you couldn’t call Plant country. KB But when you listen to that record of theirs [Raising Sand] it’s extremely roots. It’s very much rooted in original R&B. TA That’s so true. Many people don’t know that Robert Plant had a side band doing 50s style R&B stuff, called the Honeydrippers. KB I know it! TA Rootsy country music came to Britain way back in 1988 when there was a very low key tour, called Route 88 as opposed to Route 66, that played very small venues, back rooms of music pubs and the like, but with Dwight Yoakam and kd lang among the artists. You’re coming across to Europe soon [Sugarland’s first European tour traveled to 7 different countries throughout the month of March]. Why did you decide to start the tour on the Army and Navy bases in Italy?

fervour, the way that music intertwines into the lives of people in Great Britain and Germany and France and Italy and Spain. Music is a part of their lives. It’s inspirational to play music there, because you’re so appreciated for just… being there. There’s so much apathy in the US about a performance. It’s kinda like, ‘entertain me’ is the default emotional setting. TA That’s a shame. I always heard it was the other way round, that British audiences would clap politely where American ones would go crazy. Has it changed? KB I think so, especially when it’s something you don’t know. TA Are British audiences more open to outside influences? KB Especially for what we do. We love to entertain. I mean we love it! We want you to go home after a show of ours and remember it as something you want to tell your kids and grandkids about. You were there. At that show!

TA Jennifer has been busy, singing at the Inauguration and on other people’s records. Will you do any side projects? KB Sugarland is a wonderful creative outlet. We only augment it when we get invited or we get a wild hare. This is what we do, but we support each other in anything we get interested in. If I want to do a soundtrack, or she wants to do a duet. TA Sugarland is your home. KB Absolutely. TA Last question, are you and Jennifer an item? KB No! But it’s a common question. We think that if we were in a relationship it might just ruin the music. TA The music is the love. KB Yeah. The music is the sex. TA Well that’s a good quote to finish on. H

KB Beside the fact that there are probably a lot of guys who would like to hear from us? They don’t get a lot of entertainment! [laughs] Actually, military bases are a great way to pay for your plane tickets! TA And then you can spread out from those guys that know you and the music, to introduce it to a new audience. KB Absolutely. I’ve had some of my best experiences as a performer when I was in Europe. I don’t know, it’s the fever and the

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The American

As I was saying... From behind a mountain of tax forms, Bob Pickens gives one cheer for the IRS

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ell, we should have known it was coming. There were plenty of signs that American taxpayers abroad might be coming under a bit of extra scrutiny last summer, when the US Senate announced its finding that some $100 billion in tax revenue is lost each year through offshore tax evasion by US taxpayers. Shortly after that, the Internal Revenue Service began putting pressure on the UBS bank in Switzerland to release details of the many American taxpayers who had been using the bank’s wealth management services. The bank wasn’t too keen to comply, and sought the traditional refuge behind the nation’s banking secrecy laws, which are as complex as the innards of a Patek Philippe Sky Moon Tourbillon. Once the bank had gone for that age-old tactic, the IRS responded by indicating it was ready to play hardball. An IRS investigation team had amassed a heap of sound evidence incriminating UBS representatives of activities specifically intended to enable their clients to avoid the scrutiny of the American tax authorities, and it could use that evidence to inflict a crippling punishment on USB’s considerable presence in the US financial services industry. The general global financial meltdown that has occurred since then, and in particular the recent revelations of just how crooked some high-profile people running investment services have been, provided further momentum to the US agency’s investigation, and just

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You don’t have to be an expat to come under the IRS’s offshore tax evasion lens – you could live in Palm Beach, FL  Christopher Ziemnowicz

as the first edelweiss shoots began to poke through the snowdrifts all hell broke loose.

IRS Inspection on UBS

Now the word is that the IRS is pushing for an inspection of the files on as many as 52,000 accounts held by US taxpayers at UBS, of which 32,000 were said to contain cash with the rest holding securities. By mid-February the parking apron at Geneva Airport was becoming crowded with the private jets of those who’d arrived to join the run on the bank. And you don’t have to be a Bernard Madoff or Allen Stanford to come under the IRS microscope as it gains momentum. According to

the “John Doe summons” submitted in the US District Court in Miami “United States taxpayers, who at any time during the years ended December 31, 2002 through December 31, 2007, had signature or other authority (including authority to withdraw funds; to make investment decisions; to receive account statements, trade confirmations, or other account information; or to receive advice or solicitations) with respect to any financial accounts maintained at, monitored by or managed through any office in Switzerland of UBS AG or its subsidiaries or affiliates (1) did not have in its possession Forms W-9 executed by such United States taxpayers, and (2) had not filed timely and accurate Forms 1099


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naming such United States taxpayers and reporting to United States taxing authorities all payments made to such United States taxpayers.” The initial agreement between the self-declared world’s largest manager of other peoples’ money and the IRS is for the bank to cough up about $780 million in fines and owed money, as well as around 250 names of clients being sought by the US authorities. It’s going to be a long time before overseas Americans use UBS again, or for that matter, before UBS wants to see another American darken their main entrance. And with those sort of eye watering figures emerging as no more than the IRS’s first half-Nelson on USB, you just know we can expect other overseas or offshore banks providing similar services to US taxpayers to quickly give way under the pressure, and probably tag us all as personae non-grata.

Finger-pointing

I’ll bet my bottom dollar (after taxes) that as this thing continues to unfold, there will be a mass finger-pointing at Americans living overseas by those who, in their blissful ignorance, reckon that about the only reasons Americans live abroad is a) because the military or the State Department sends them there, or b) they’re avoiding taxes. I’ve heard it plenty of times from people who are just too dumb to be capable of understanding that there might be another reason for a person living abroad; unfortunately, over the 30 years I’ve lived outside the US, I’ve also heard of a few Washington politicians doing the same thing. Goes down well in their constituencies, where the dummies live. Trouble is, the majority of the people alleged to be hiding their

It’s going to be a long time before overseas Americans use UBS again, or for that matter, before UBS wants to see another American darken their main entrance. money from Uncle Sam in the Department of Justice documents released to the public so far appear to be domiciled in the United States. In fact, the Justice Department’s documents report an estimated 3,800 trips were made to the US by UBS associates to advise their clients on how to evade paying the taxes – and the documents say that was only the actual visits they can put a finger on; the number of faxes, e-mails and phone calls that crossed the Atlantic to those clients is inestimable. No surprise, perhaps, that the John Doe summons was filed in a court just a couple of hours drive from Palm Beach. That’s the East Coast sunspot with a high-season population of around 30,000, where the mean price of a detached house is just under $2,112,000, where there are two Rolls Royce dealers (one of which specializes in renting Rollers and other fine European motorcars to the seasonal residents), where the median age of residents is 66.6 (interesting number, that), and where are located the occasional homes of luminaries such as Mr. Madoff, the Barney and Hutton families (who gave their names to financial services

Switzerland’s UBS bank has been pressured to give up US citizens’ details

institutions that have been in some of the less pleasant recent headlines), and Conrad Black (prior to taking up his current residence at the Coleman Federal Correctional Complex in nearby Orlando). It’s not my intention to tar all winter residents of Palm Beach, FL, with the same brush of being too clever with their taxable income. I’m sure there are at least one or two who duly file a full and unembellished 1040 every other year. What difference would it make, to make accusations about those people or the inhabitants of any other affluent American retreat, anyway? None; those of us who have lived overseas for a while know only too well that the Stateside fiddlers are, for the most part, well out of the sightlines of the general public. It will be expats that the great American public accuse and at whom legislators in Washington will point to as being the usual suspects when the question

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raised is “who hides their income in Swiss bank accounts?”. Sure, there are culprits among us, and some of them will be lassoed in the UBS roundup, but thank goodness US Department of Justice Tax Division attorneys Kevin Downing and Michael Ben’Ary, and Assistant US Attorney Jeff rey Neiman, and a team of special agents from the Internal Revenue Service know that it’s a crime which doesn’t really base itself on geographical residence. Other than accountants, a few lawyers, and other expats and their spouses, I think I could count on my fingers the number of people I’ve met who were aware that US citizens living overseas were obliged to file tax reports to Uncle Sam every year. I’ve encountered more a few newly-arrived, usually quite young, Americans living overseas who didn’t realize that. It’s just something that people assume: not living in the US means not having to pay US taxes, and not having to pay US taxes means you don’t have to report in to Uncle Sam. In that ignorant assumption lies the root of the problem about us being generally, and so unfairly, assumed to be tax-dodgers. Usually about this time of year, my relations with the IRS are generally unpleasant, soured by forms so complicated it requires two pints of Maalox and the assistance of a £250-an-hour accountant to fill them out; the dining room table is covered with half a Guatemalan rainforest worth of tax forms and booklets, and I can’t understand why three days spent Stateside for a relative’s funeral has disqualified me from overseas status. I am unpleasant to anyone who dares to speak to me. I do this every year to fulfill my tax obligations. The IRS should give out Purple Hearts. But for once, as this April 15 nears, I’m not so grumpy. I’m actually cheering the IRS and the way it’s showing that tax-dodging is not the sole function of overseas Americans. H

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CourtesytheshakespeareBirthplaCetrust

Family Heirloom is Lost Shakespeare Portrait If you had an old painting in the attic, wouldn’t it be cool to find it was of the Bard of Avon? Above: Shakespeare’s birthplace, in historic Stratford-upon-Avon

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portrait of William Shakespeare, almost certainly the only authentic image of Shakespeare made from life, has been discovered in a private collection, says Professor Stanley Wells, one of the world’s leading experts on Shakespearian studies. The painting hung in the Irish home of the Cobbe family for centuries, although it was not realised who the subject was. It was inherited by Alec Cobbe, whose heirlooms were transferred into a trust. In 2006 Alec visited the National Portrait Gallery exhibition ‘Searching for Shakespeare’ where he saw a painting that now hangs in the Folger Shakespeare Library, Washington. This had been accepted as a life portrait of the playwright until some 70 years ago, but fell from grace when it was found to have been altered. Mr Cobbe realised that this was a copy of the painting in his family collection. Mark Broch, curator of the Cobbe Collection, has researched the picture for the


The American

last three years and Professor Wells believes that it is the prime version of the portrait. The Cobbe family inherited it through their cousin’s marriage to the great granddaughter of Shakespeare’s only literary patron, Henry Wriothesley, the 3rd Earl of Southampton. Several other early copies of the Cobbe portrait have been found, three with independent traditions as portraits of Shakespeare. In two cases the traditions date back to within living memory of the poet, providing compelling evidence that Shakespeare was indeed the sitter. The Cobbe portrait was also inscribed with a quotation from the Classical writer, Horace, taken from an ode addressed to a playwright. The original and its copies are now being investigated together as a group for the very first time, with x-ray examination, tree ring dating and infra-red reflectography. Professor Wells, Chairman of The Shakespeare Birthplace Trust, said today: “The identification of this portrait marks a major development in the history of Shakespearian portraiture. Up to now, only two images [an engraving published in the First Folio of 1623 and a portrait bust in Holy Trinity Church, Stratford-upon-Avon] have been widely accepted as genuine likenesses of Shakespeare. Both are dull. This new portrait is a very fine painting. The evidence that it represents Shakespeare and that is was done from life, though it is circumstantial, is in my view overwhelming, I feel in little doubt that this is a portrait of Shakespeare, done from life and commissioned by the Earl of Southampton.” The Cobbe portrait will go on show at The Shakespeare Birthplace Trust in Stratford-upon-Avon from 23 April, Shakespeare’s birthday.

Join Shakespeare’s Birthday Party

Four days of celebrations from April 23rd to 26th will feature spectacle, pageantry, music and an international parade across Stratford-upon-Avon. Stratford’s streets will be thronged by musicians in costume, circus performers and wandering Shake-

spearian actors. The Saturday afternoon will see locals and visitors responding to The Great Shakespearian Birthday Party Challenge, when locals, visitors and businesses celebrate The Bard’s birthday in all manner of creative ways, perhaps a private Elizabethan dinner party or a ‘men in Shakespearian costume’ soccer match. More details can be found on www.shakespeare. org.uk/birthday.html The Shakespeare Birthday Celebrations run alongside the Stratford Poetry Festival, the Stratford Literary Festival and the Spring Sounds International Music Festival (Orchestra of the Swan). H

The lost portrait

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The American

Surviving Troubled Times “Y

ou cannot fix the economic crisis but you can survive. The following tips for those at both ends of the financial spectrum can help your psychological survival,” writes Nancy Schlossberg, professor emerita at the University of Maryland and author of Revitalizing Retirement: Reshaping Your Identity, Relationships and Purpose. With car dealerships closing at breakneck speed, Sue, a top salesperson making over six figures, realized that her financial survival depended on facing reality and making plans. She wrote: “I am going to work for Publix Super Market. I have many years of management experience and plan on working to get back up to management level – even though I will start at the checkout counter.” Larry, a roofer who owned his own company, also saw the writing on the wall. His clients were not paying their bills and his work was drying up. He searched and located a larger company that would survive in these economically troubled times – a company that repaired roofs at places like the Smithsonian and the White House. These optimistic stories do not make up for the over 11.1 million unemployed in the U.S. who are on the brink of financial disaster. I continue to hear, “We cannot pay our mortgage and it looks like foreclosure is ahead of us;” “It’s like an out of body experience. I cannot believe it is happening to me;” “I just cancelled my surgery, since it was elective.” Whether you are a millionaire (probably losing 30 to 40 percent of your assets), or a construction worker

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unable to find work, you are facing the same common enemy. You cannot fix the economic crisis but you can survive. The following tips for those at both ends of the financial spectrum can help your psychological survival. Take “For Now Jobs” today; dream about tomorrow’s career. This is the time to think about short-term goals like eating and survival and longterm goals like positioning yourself for a productive future. Jan Alston, Career Advisor at the Women’s Resource Center of Sarasota County, advises clients to take “For Now Jobs” in order to survive these bad times at the same time planning for a future dream job. This might be the time to return to school and get training for the future. Maintain A Strong Psychological Portfolio. McCain and Palin used Joe, the ersatz plumber, to illustrate what ordinary people need. I know Jim, an actual policeman, whose life after retirement provides clues to what leads to happiness. Deflated when he retired from his demanding but rewarding career, he told me, “I turned in my gun and badge and that was that.” In other words, his Psychological Portfolio - his Identity, Relationships

with colleagues, and Purpose - were diminished. To replace these, he moved into hotel management and once again regained his Identity and Purpose as he formed new Relationships. Change Your Perspective From Money to Mattering. The economic downturn provides the opportunity to rethink how much money you need to live and be happy. Assuming you are not at the poverty level, the biggest challenge is realizing that money isn’t necessarily the answer to happiness. In fact, it is about everyone’s need to feel appreciated, noticed, depended upon - that you count in others’ lives. If you are fired and cannot reach the unemployment office to register for benefits, if you do not qualify for benefits because of some technicality, you will feel you do not matter to the larger community. If this happens to you, it is critical that you call attention through letters to the editor, calls to talk radio, blogs pointing out the many ways the larger community has undercut you and others. But when you are shown appreciation, respond to that too. Mattering matters. H


The American

Carol Gould’s opinion pieces about what’s good and bad about living in Britain continue with her experience of the NHS

The Magnificent National Health Service i

nmid-novembermyclosefriendmil rangtotellmeshewasfeelingodd. shewashouse-sittingforafriendand saidshehadeatensomefreshly-baked sodabreadfromanewpatisseriein stJohn’swoodandhadbeguntofeel ill.whensheworsenedibegantothink thatthebreadhadbeendestinedfora litvinenko-esqueexile,hersymptoms weresosevere.ondaytwoshetold meshewasrivenwithfeverandchills; itoldheritwas‘flubutshesaidshe wouldseeahomeopath. irangthefollowingday;therewas noreply.icalledagainandtheson oftheownerofthehouseanswered herphone:shewasinhospital.“the doctorssayitis50-50.sheisonlife support.” istoppedeverythingandwentto stmary’s,ahugeteachinghospital wherealexanderFlemingdiscovered penicillin.allowedintotheintensive Careunitbyayoungandcharming doctorwheniexplainediwasaclose friend,whatgreetedmewasascene fromahorrorfilm.milwasattached toeverymachineincreation.shewas thecolourofDeath.herkidneyshad shutdownandshewasondialysis.like mostpeoplewhohaveneverexperiencedcatastrophicmedicaleventsi

hadneverseenadialysismachineand rememberutteringasortof“auwgh!” sound.sherequiredcloseto100%oxygen,wasonaventilatorandattached toinnumerabletubesandneedles.i wentintoshock.eventhesightofmy motherinintensiveCarebeforeher deathhadnotpreparedmeforthis. allthewhilethevastunithummed away,thegood-naturednursesand youthfulattendingpatientafterpatient invariousstagesofnear-demise. milwasincriticalcondition.shehad pneumoniaandpossiblylegionnaire’s Diseasecomplicatedbytherenal failure.“thisisasbadasitgets”said onewearynurse.thephysiotherapist saidthatifmilsurviveditwouldbe“six monthstoayear”beforeshecouldbea normal,functioningindividual. mil’sconditionremainedgrave andthoughshehadbeenstabilised bytheiCuherfamilyandihadbegun totalkaboutfuneralarrangements. overtheweeksscoresofspecialists, warddoctors,nursesandphysiotherapiststendedmil’scase.thiswas thenationalhealthserviceatits magnificentbest.neveroncewasanyonepesteredformoneyorinsurance forms.shehadtohaveatracheotomy thedayafterherbirthday(thesweet

nursesremindedthevisitorsofthis), wasbeingmonitoredforamultitude ofissuesandhadcomethroughseptic shockbuttheroadtorecoverywasstill anarduousone. Fast-forward:itisnowmid-march 2009andmilhasbeenonanouting courtesyofthenhs:avisittosoho! soonshewillbeabletohaveherown “bedsit”flatsupervisedbyavisiting nurse,regularphysiotherapy,three mealsandafternoonteaeachday.i havebornewitnesstothe1948nhs promiseofcare‘fromthecradletothe grave.’milisnowfarfromhergrave. ihavewatchedamiracleunfoldas dozensofmodestlypaidbututterly devotedandprofessionmedicalpractitionerslabouredtobringmyfriend backfromthebrink,everyaspectof lifesupportadministeredwithmeticulouscare.intheusmil’smountain ofdrugs,equipmentsupport,tubes, disposablesandgallonsofintravenous feedsandJevityliquidfoodplusplain oldman-andwoman-hourswould havecostover$1millionbynow. GodBlessthenhs.ifFDrhad livedhewouldhaveseenthepostwarBritishmodelandbroughtitto theusa.perhaps2009willseethis becomeareality. H

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The American

Coffee Break

We had great feedback from our Oscars quiz last month, so here’s another batch of film questions for you to puzzle over.

COFFEE BREAK QUIZ

7 What are the first names of The Blues Brothers?

QUESTIONS

8 What was the name of the Tonto’s horse in The Lone Ranger?

1 In the film Breakfast at Tiffanys, what is the name of Audrey Hepburn’s character’s cat ?

4 In which film would you find the character of Caledon ‘Cal’ Hockley?

2 In the Wizard Of Oz, what is Dorothy’s surname?

5 The children’s TV character Prince Adam of Eternia is better known by what name?

3 Which cast member of The Magnificent Seven had a scene from the film enacted at his wedding during filming?

6 Mickey Mouse is named after the son of Walt Disney’s girlfriend, who later went on to be a famous film actor. Who is he?

9 Who wrote the plays Ghosts and A Doll’s House, both later filmed? 10 Which cartoon characters name is Italian for ‘pine eye’? 11 Which actor is the last surviving actor of The Magnificent Seven? 12 Which famous female character of TV and films was played by a male when she first appeared in 1943? 13 Which name links a Batman villain played by Christopher Walken and a character played by Mike Myers? 14 What were the first names of Riggs and Murtaugh in the Lethal Weapon films? 15 In the film Cannonball Run what was the name of the super-hero played by Dom DeLuise? 16 Charles Fleischer voiced the title character in which 1988 film? 17 Which film character has been played by Jack Lord, Cec Linder, Rik Van Nutter, Norman Burton, David Hedison, John Terry, David Hedison and Jeffrey Wright? Coffee Break Quiz Answers 1 Cat; 2 Gale; 3 Yul Brynner; 4 Titanic; 5 He-Man; 6 Mickey Rooney; 7 Jake and Elwood; 8 Scout; 9 Henrik Ibsen; 10 Pinocchio; 11 Robert Vaughn; 12 Lassie; 13 Shrek 14 Martin (Riggs) and Roger (Murtaugh) 15 Captain Chaos; 16 Who Framed Roger Rabbit? 17 Felix Leiter (a character in James Bond films)

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The American

April 1, 1826 - Samuel Morey (born in Hebron, Connecticut) patents the internal combustion engine.

It happened one... April

April 2, 1513 - Juan Ponce de Leon sets foot on Florida becoming the first European known to do so. April 3, 1860 - The first successful United States Pony Express run from Saint Joseph, Missouri to Sacramento, California begins.

April 4, 1818 - The United States Congress adopts the flag of the United States with 13 red and white stripes and one star for each state (then 20). April 5, 1949 - Fireside Theater debuts on television.

April 6, 1793 - During the French Revolution, the Committee of Public Safety becomes the executive organ of the republic, and the period known as the Reign of Terror begins. April 7, 1795 - France adopts the metre as the basic measure of length.

April 8, 1893 - The first recorded college basketball game occurs in Beaver Falls, Pennsylvania.

April 9, 2002 - The funeral of Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother at Westminster Abbey.

April 10, 1925 - The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald is first published in New York City, by Charles Scribner’s Sons. April 11, 1905 - Albert Einstein reveals his Special Theory of Relativity.

April 12, 1981 - The first launch of a Space Shuttle: Columbia launches on the STS-1 mission. April 13, 1796 - The first elephant ever seen in the United States arrives from India.

President Lincoln’s assassination, 1865

April 14, 1865 - U.S. President Abraham Lincoln is shot in Ford’s Theatre by John Wilkes Booth. April 15, 1865 - Abraham Lincoln dies after being shot the previous evening by John Wilkes Booth. Andrew Johnson is then sworn in as the 17th President of the United States. April 16, 1943 - Dr. Albert Hofmann discovers the psychedelic effects of LSD.

April 17, 1492 - Spain and Christopher Columbus sign a contract for him to sail to Asia to get spices. The rest, as they say, is history! April 18, 1923 - Yankee Stadium, “The House that Ruth Built”, opens.

April 19, 1587 - Francis Drake sinks the Spanish fleet in Cádiz harbor. April 20, 1912 - Opening day for baseball stadiums Tiger Stadium in Detroit, Michigan, and Fenway Park in Boston, Massachusetts.

April 21, 753 BC - Romulus and Remus found Rome (according to tradition).

April 22, 1889 - The Land Run of 1889. At high noon, thousands rush

to claim land. Within hours the cities of Oklahoma City and Guthrie are formed with populations of at least 10,000. April 23, 1348 - The founding of the Order of the Garter by King Edward III of England is announced on St George’s Day. April 24, 1184 BC - Greeks enter Troy using the Trojan Horse (another traditional date). April 25, 1901 - New York becomes the first U.S. state to require automobile license plates. April 26, 1607 - English colonists of the Jamestown settlement make landfall at Cape Henry, Virginia. April 27, 1749 - First performance of Handel’s Fireworks Music in Green Park, London. April 28, 1952 - Occupied Japan: The United States occupation of Japan ends. April 29, 1968 - The controversial musical Hair opens on Broadway. April 30, 1900 - Casey Jones dies in a train wreck in Vaughn, Mississippi, while trying to make up time on the Cannonball Express.

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The American

Dining Out At

GOODMAN M

y prejudice may be showing, but if there is any better rib eye steak in the UK than the USDA Prime Beef Rib-Eye (400 g) being served in Goodman, neither Maxine Howe in 40 years of living in London or myself have tasted it. Not only was it big, but it was thick, which meant when I asked for medium rare it came to me exactly that way. Yes, even giving Maxine a large piece to taste, it was still too much for me to eat and I asked for a doggie bag. Hey, I come from a long line of Scots and Dutch settlers and you can’t expect me to waste meat as delicious as that rib eye. At £27 it isn’t cheap, but to find a decent steak anywhere similar in the UK it could be far more. This was rib eye at New York best and it’s hard to believe it’s a Russian owned chain we were eating in.

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Reviewed by Virginia E Schultz

But, let’s start from the beginning. It was a cold and crisp Wednesday evening and I was fortunate enough to find a parking place in front of the restaurant. Not a good sign in this day of credit crunch, I thought when I entered. Rest assured, an hour later every table in the rear room where we were eating was taken, as was the front part of the restaurant. As we waited to be served, Maxine and I discussed the decor and style. Late 1930s I decided, more forties she argued, with its wooden tables and black and white contemporary photos lining the dark walls. In such a setting, we decided we had to have a cocktail. Our lovely bartender came up trumps. In fact, when Maxine mentioned Pink Lady which he never heard of, he looked it up on internet and on his return knew more about

the drink and origin than we did. Pink Lady, however, he suggested was too sweet and we settled on a Manhattan and a Martini. Perfect! A waiter soon came with a platter of raw meat for our inspection. The American rib eye and New York strip steak thickly veined with fat and 120 days grain fed possibly wasn’t as good a health choice as the grass fed UK Angus dry aged 120 days in house, but since I mainly survive on fish at home and Maxine has been on a strict diet for several weeks, we decided the heck with dietary restrictions and go American. Both grilled medium rare, please. As her first course, Maxine had oysters Rockerfeller (£8.50) and I, out of curiosity, the mushroom ‘unravioli’ tinted lightly with truffle and chive oil (£6.50). Quite frankly, if the Russians got the recipe from Rockerfeller, he must have been annoyed at them because the oysters were too small, the spinach too, or forget it as Maxine said and I’ll order the dish in New York next time I visit. Ah, but the ‘unravioli’ was straight out of our favourite restaurant in Verona. What more can I say?


Now came the steaks cooked exactly as we ordered. No complaints about the New York strip, but the USDA prime rib eye is just about as perfect as any steak could be. Grilled over a special charcoal fired grill to the exact level of doneness, it was the best rib eye Maxine and I have had the pleasure to enjoy in the UK. As for the twice fried chips, order them as they are mouth watering tasty. I am not all that fond of desserts, especially after a hearty meal. However, the carmelized apple tart with cinnamon ice cream was about as good as I had in a one star French restaurant recently. The cheese cake, sadly, didn’t have that kind of semisour taste a really good cheese cake has, and needed more sugar, cream and forget adding gelatine, please. We also tasted the iced peanut butter parfait with raspberry sorbet which needed slightly more peanut butter in the parfait. All desserts are £6.00. Service was, to use my favourite word of the moment, impeccable. The world-wide wine list had a selection of interesting globetrotting wines at reasonable prices by glass and bottles under thirty pounds. Maxine and I definitely plan to return for a Goodman burger with chips and salad for lunch in the very near future. Goodman’s, named in honour of clarinettist Benny Goodman’s Jewish-Russian heritage, may be a chain of Russian eating places, but there is nothing production line about this restaurant just off Regent Street. “The Russians are coming” could be a battle cry once again if they decided to open a restaurant in New York in the future. H

25 Maddox Street, London W1S 1HQ 020 7499 3766 www.goodmanrestaurants.com

Osteria dell’Angolo Reviewed by Virginia E Schultz

C

laudio Pulze, the proprietor of Osteria dell’Angolo has opened as many restaurants as Sir Terence Conran, both have over 50. The difference inside is style, suggested Jennifer Atterbury, an interior designer, who was with me that cold Monday evening. Gazing around, I had to agree. Pulze’s restaurants, notably Zefferano, have a continental atmosphere, while in Conran’s one feels as if one has strolled onto the stage of a modern play. Style or not, both men have a love of fine dining and their restaurants are not ordinary chain establishments. Pulze’s latest, Osteria dell’Angolo, located a short walk from Parliament, certainly follows this trend. The atmosphere inside is semi-formal, yet relaxing. Almost every table was filled the night we were there, mainly with men, although several couples arrived close to nine. The lounge bar area has a men’s club feeling, but located along the front window, it would not be a place to secretly rendezvous with a lover or a spy. It would be better to sit near the windowed kitchen in the rear of the restaurant where journalists and private eyes would be distracted by the action going on behind the glass. The menu is in Italian with English translation beneath. Dishes from other areas are shown, but the food is mainly Tuscan, chef Michele Brogi’s home region. Although not textbook Italian, the dishes are not too adventurous. To me, Italian restaurants aren’t for new ideas, but a place to relax and enjoy food. Jennifer started with warm octopus with capers and buffalo dressing (£8.50). I decided on hand cut meats (£8.50) with a new season Italian dressing that they should sell by the bottle. Of course, we had to have pasta and Jennifer’s ravioli with burrata cheese and duck sauce (£9.00) was a bolt

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The American

of flavour in the mouth. My risotto with vegetables (£7.75) came looking as if it should be pictured on the front of a food magazine and was as delicious in taste as appearance. After the genius of the pasta dishes, I’m afraid I was let down by the main course. My neck of lamb, apple sauce, braised onions and lemons (£17.50) was far too rich for me. Jennifer, however, wasn’t quite in agreement, although she did say she preferred her calves shank with bone marrow and garlic flavoured mashed potatoes. Our head waiter, who knew me from a tasting dinner I went to several years before, insisted we had a selection of cheese (£8.50). As a cheese addict, I couldn’t resist and thankfully, I didn’t. Cheese is sometimes best forgotten in Italian restaurants but not that evening. The Blu del moncenisio made with cow’s milk and a tint of goat’s milk and aged for two to three months was pure magic on the palate. Having eaten long and well, dessert was almost difficult to comprehend. Still, we both managed to finish ours down to the last scraping. Osteria is where one goes for great Italian wine. Thanks to our sommelier, we had wonderful wines for each of our dishes, most affordable, unless you choose the Barolo 1986 Bartolo Marcarcello which will set you back £931. Service is more than efficient and helpful and thankfully the tables are far enough apart so that you can have a conversation without anyone sharing your conversation. H

47 Marsham Street, Westminster, London SW1P 3DR. Tel. 020 3268 1077 Email: osteriadellangolo@btconnect.com

Cheyne Walk Brasserie Ladies Luncheon Club Calling all Chelsea ladies. The Cheyne Walk Brasserie is starting a Luncheon Club in April with an interesting programme of events to interest, inspire and entertain you. Once a month there will be a talk and presentation in the Salon followed by an informal and friendly lunch downstairs in the restaurant. Subjects will include: Hot tips and latest ideas in Interior Design and Home Projects; The Season’s best Hats, Bags, Shoes... those essential recession-proof ‘must haves’; Chefs’ specials – learn how to produce some of the Brasserie’s tasty French classics; Death by Chocolate; Beauty – the feel good factors. You can get involved by calling Helene Roy at 020 7960 4143 or register at www.cheynewalkbrasserie.com/luncheonclub.php

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W

hen I was growing up, the owners of an Italian grocery store lived next door to me. I was a tall, skinny child and the mother who ran the house did her best to put some “fat on your bones so some man will look at you” as she would tell me. With a mother whose table settings could have been photographed for a gourmet magazine but whose food was best forgotten, I managed to sneak in supper there at least twice a week. Unusually for her age and background, Mama as I called her, was an experimental cook and some of the food she served was not what one might call classic Italian. On Saturdays my father would often take her with him to the farmer’s market and I would watch fascinated as she talked to the Amish farmers in a mixture of Italian and English while they responded in a blend of German and English. Considering both had strong accents in English, I don’t know how they understood each other. Later that week, she would design a dish that my father described as part Italian opera and part German symphony. I’m not exactly certain why I thought of her when I enjoyed dinner recently at The River Cafe with friends from Puerto Rico, Shirley and Ivan Rodriquez. Perhaps it’s because like Mama, the owner-chefs Rose Gray and Ruth Rogers have always insisted on the pure quality of their food and ingredients since they first opened in 1987. In the many times I’ve eaten there, and the first experience was two weeks after they opened, I can’t remember having a meal that wasn’t close to perfect. Among the four cook books I keep in my kitchen for handy reference, there is always one of Gray and Roger’s. The decor has changed since a fire in 2008 – they now have an open


The American

Dining Out At

Reviewed by Virginia E. Schultz kitchen with fireplace – but perhaps because Gray and Rogers realize their customers wouldn’t like a vast change, the restaurant doesn’t look all that different from before. There is a private dining room where children can now watch films while their parents dine and a cheese store to age their cheeses like fine wine, but close your eyes and open them quickly and you almost think you’re in the same restaurant you were in before the fire. Now, as in the beginning, the decor avoids fashion - as does the menu. There are no foams or emulsions, no mixture of strange ingredients or ‘cutting-edge food’ whatever that means. Nor is it the simple stodgy food served in Italian restaurants when I was young which consisted of pasta, or spaghetti as we then called it, covered with a soupy tomato sauce and lots of dried parmesan cheese heavily sprinkled on top. It’s difficult to say of the many times I’ve dined at The River Cafe in the past twenty odd years which dish I’ve enjoyed the most. If anyone

serves better prosciutto I’ve yet to find it in London. But River Café’s dishes are not elaborate. The chargrilled wild sea bass strewn with salsa Verdi, porcini, radicchio and sage (£30.00) may have considerable finesse, but not one that couldn’t be done in one’s own kitchen by an above average cook. The chargrilled, marinated leg of lamb with spinach parmigiani (£34.00) might be more difficult but still not impossible...or so one likes to believe. And that’s what I like about the restaurant. Whether it’s linguine with fresh crab, parsley and lemon (£14.00) or pork shoulder cooked in milk with lemon zest (£28.00) the ingredients don’t overwhelm the main components. There is talent in their kitchens, their three star desserts are proof of this. Is it expensive? Terribly! Main courses start around twenty eight pounds and go up and up. A three course meal with wine will take a hunk of cash from your credit

account as I learned more than once after dining there. But as both Gray and Rogers have pointed out in numerous articles, fresh herbs, fish and meat purchased from responsible suppliers doesn’t come cheap. They also pay their staff better than average, but that isn’t the only reason enthusiasm reigns in the kitchen. During the time the restaurant was going under renovation, most of their staff, who continued to be paid thanks to insurance, went on trips to study about everything from cheese to learning how fish is caught and later sold in the market. With the current economic problems, I can no longer dine there as often as I might like, which is why I shall start using their cookbooks more often. Now, if only I can find similar fresh ingredients. Anyone want to share an allotment? H

Thames Wharf, Rainville Road, London W6 9HA. Tel. 020 7386 4200 info@rivercafe.co.uk 31


The American

Cellar Talk Libations by Virginia E. Schultz

American Reds for the White House

T

here have been a number of articles in British newspapers and magazines in the UK on which wines President Obama should choose to serve in the White House, but all of the selections have been foreign wines. With the exception of a special occasion, the President will have to offer American wines, which the UK media have overlooked. It’s the reason I recently gathered together three male and three female friends to taste and judge eight American red wines. I didn’t ask only experts, but those I knew who enjoy wine and at the same time would be honest in their appraisal. With the exception of one wine which I had put aside for almost thirty years, the wines were those I could buy in local wine shops and supermarkets. The cheapest two were under five pounds, the most expensive slightly over fifty pounds. My last and possibly most prestigious wine cannot be easily found except in the cellars of a few collectors and possibly on internet. What the price is, I have no idea. On my judging panel were Sue and Rodney Gillette, Mickey and Gregory Bowden, Nelly Pateras, Tim Hall and myself as moderator. Gregory, who has given me wonderful advice about wine over the years, recommended I start with the two cheapest wines rather than the most expensive I mistakenly wanted to do. The first wine, Robert Mondavi Woodbridge Shiraz 2006 had rather mixed comments. Rodney found it too

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acid, Tim, an everyday wine, Mickey and Sue, the same, Nelly disliked it, and Gregory felt it was rather one dimensional. The Beringer Stone Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon 2005 got better reviews. Rodney described it as fruity, but far better than Mondavi, Tim said it was better on the finish, Mickey better in quality, Nelly agreed it was far more drinkable, Sue far softer at the finish and Gregory agreed with Tim – a better made wine. Beringer won by seven hands. Next was Ravenswood Lodi 2004 Old Vine Zinfandel. Old vine zinfandel, I might add, should have vines between 50 to 80 years old. Tim remarked he could tell it was American and although he enjoyed it, this wasn’t his favourite zinfandel, Mickey found it quite high in alcohol, Nelly was betwixt and between, Sue enjoyed it, and Gregory found it a great American speciality with soft ripe tannins, quite high in alcohol, but delightful too and both Rodney and I agreed with him. I matched the Ravenswood against Parducci Petite Sirah 2004 which frankly, was a disappointment, especially to those of us who had appreciated Parducci wines in the past. Petite Sirah, by the way, has nothing to do with Syrah grapes. We then tasted Cline Cashmere 2007 which is made from Grenache, Syrah and Mourvedre grapes. I made a mistake by not opening the bottle earlier and it most definitely needed another few years before it should be drunk. Rodney found it had a good

nose and gave it a yes as did Sue and Nelly, Mickey declared it was delicious like cashmere, Tim, slightly jagged because of age, but the best wine we tasted so far, and Gregory that, although the wine was too young, it had no hard edges and should eventually evolve into a superb Rhone Ranger. There was enough wine left in the bottle to share with a friend the next day and it was superb. Definitely one for the White House Cellar. H 

TO BE CONTINUED NEXT MONTH ...

WINE OF THE MONTH: ARIZONA STRONGHOLD

Nachise Cochise County 2007 $20.00 Syrah, Grenache and Petite Syrah grapes blend together as smoothly as Frank Sinatra singing “My Way”. The perfect wine for President Obama to serve when entertaining a certain senator from Arizona. Quite an impressive wine which should be drunk before 2012.


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.

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”

FULLY AIR CONDITIONED • PRIVATE CAR PARK

– David Billington, Hello Magazine

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The American

THEATER REVIEW

Enjoy By Alan Bennett Gielgud Theatre, Shaftesbury Ave, London

A

lan Bennett, riding high on the huge international success of The History Boys, has in the past few years has attained the status of a national treasure in Britain. He has a huge and devoted following and they certainly won’t be disappointed by this revival of his 1980 comedy Enjoy. Back then, it starred Joan Plowright and Colin Blakely and it flopped badly. Despite the current Bennett love-in however it remains a weak script, redeemed only by a duo of great performances. All the Bennett trademarks are present – laconic wit and wry observations on the vagaries of modern life from the mouths of Yorkshire folk who generally “av no truck with no nonsense”. His wonderful ear for dialogue and his sympathy, particularly for the female characters is to the fore. Enjoy is set in Leeds in 1980 but could have been 20 or 30 years earlier when you first set eyes on Janet Bird’s recreation of the cosy dolls house back-to-back home of retired couple Wilfred (David Troughton) and Connie (Alison Steadman). Their neighbourhood is being demolished in the tide of urban regeneration and

nobby clark

by Jarlath O’Connell

they are being moved to a maisonette in the suburbs. They are visited by a mysterious ‘sociologist’ from the Council who asks them, in writing, if she might observe them silently for the last few weeks before the move. This sets in train a comedy of social embarrassment in front of the guest, who is more than she seems. Bennett has always been at his best as a miniaturist, for example in his acclaimed series of monologues Talking Heads, where he cleverly mines his characters’ self delusions and lays bare the dynamics of families. His portrait of a marriage here owes much to his own parents. Alison Steadman brings a wonderful feistiness to Connie, who is mistress of all she surveys, even if it is only a back-to-back. For those who have marvelled at this glamorous actress in the past, it is sobering to see her graduate with ease to granny perm, pinny and slippers. Troughton also excels as the bitter and deluded Wilfred. Having disowned their only son for being gay he deludes himself that his shrewish daughter Linda is a jet setting “personal secretary” when she is revealed to be something quite other.

The play is at its best when it explores this private world. Bennett never judges. In a moving moment Wilf talks about his thwarted desire to hold his young son’s hand when they used to go out for walks. The smothering hold of the mother on the boy prevented this as she drove a wedge between them, with typically tragic results. Enjoy ultimately disappoints, though, when, in the second act, it lurches from ‘kitchen sink’ drama to broad, even surreal farce, a switch of tone it cannot sustain. The audience’s sympathy goes out the window when next door’s battleaxe, Mrs Clegg, appears and she and Connie proceed to strip Wilf, thinking he is dead, and find themselves having to contend with his troublesome erection. The bald crudity on display here will come as a shock to those who only know Bennett’s gentler side and it now all seems rather juvenile and forced. Rather like putting a Carry On movie in the middle of a Talking Heads monologue. His early plays are now getting revived because of his name recognition and none of them really match the quality either of his stunning work for television or his later successes such as The History Boys or The Lady in the Van. Go see it for Alison Steadman though.

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CECE’S CHOICE

Cece Mills picks her Arts and Exhibitions for April and continues her alphabetical look at art forms. “Making money is art and working is art and good business is the best art.” – Andy Warhol

A Continuous Line: Ben Nicholson in England Tate St Ives Until 3rd May Ben Nicholson has been widely recognised as having had more impact and influence on the development of abstract art in Britain than any other artist. This exhibition is the first large show of his major works for about 14 years, and focuses on his years Ben Nicholson (1894 – 1982), Mousehole, Oil and pencil on canvas, 46.5 x 58.5cm British Council, © Angela Verren Taunt 2008.

Right: Shah ‘Abbas, watercolour attributed to Bishn Das, Mughal India, c.1618. This small portrait shows the importance of the relationship between Persia and Iran and was produced by one of the court artists of the Mughal Emperor Jahangir. © The Trustees of the British Museum

spent in England (he lived in Switzerland from 1958 to 1971). You will be able to see his Landscapes painted in the late 1920s, abstract and landscapes created in St Ives during the Second World War, and the Cubist work he completed between 1945 and 1958 before going to Switzerland.

Shah ‘Abbas: The Remaking of Iran British Museum, Reading Room Until 14th June Shah ‘Abbas was Shah of Iran from 1587 to 1629 AD during the Safavid Dynasty, and was probably the most influential of kings Iran ever had. He was also a great military leader, builder and restorer of many of the country’s monuments, a diplomat forging good relations with Europe, and the instigator for the commission of many works of art and architecture. The exhibition brings all these skills together and illustrates the wonderful things that the Shah made possible, from luxurious carpets, Chinese porcelains and fabulous illustrated manuscripts, to paintings, metalwork and silks. There is also work from the famous calligrapher Ali Riza ‘Abbasi. The exhibition follows two exploring Empire and power throughout the world – The First Emperor of China, and Hadrian exhibitions.

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Walter Sickert, La Guiseppina Against A Map of Venice, 1903, oil on canvas, 508 x 406 mm © estAte of WAlter r. siCKert. All rights reserVeD, DACs 2008

Sickert in Venice dulwich Picture gallery 4th March until 31st May Since we are also featuring an exhibition of Whistler’s etchings, it seems appropriate to tell you about Sickert, who was a pupil of Whistler. He was a friend of Degas and Manet, and is generally known to be one of the most important British artists of his time. From 1895 Sickert visited Venice, inspiring him to some fabulous work, not only of the beautiful Venetian architecture, but experimental work with figures and interiors. He became very adept at creating mysterious interior scenes with people which caused the imagination to work furiously as the viewer wondered what was going on.

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The Gainsborough Packet Baltic centre for contemporary Art, Newcastle Until 10th May

PhotogrAPher: nigel DAVison/2tone CreAtiVe PhotogrAPhy Courtesy of the Artist, BAltiC Centre for ConteMPorAry Art AnD 176

Matt Stokes has based this collection of music, lyrics and film on the life of an ordinary man called John Burdikin, who lived in Newcastle upon Tyne in the 1800s. In fact all his work was based on one letter written by this man, and follows his life and adventures.

Northern Lights: Swedish Landscapes from the National Museum, Stockholm Barber Institute of Fine Arts, Birmingham • Until 31st May I am a great fan of Swedish art and have been known to write about certain Swedish artists in this very column! This exceptional exhibition is made up of 19th century landscape paintings from the National Museum in Stockholm, from 20 Swedish painters. The beauty and drama of the Swedish landscape is brilliantly depicted in these romantic and atmospheric pictures.


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Christine Wong Yap - Breathe chinese Arts centre, Manchester Until 1st May I doubt if many readers are familiar with the Chinese Arts Centre in Manchester, but this is an exciting venue which shows exciting talent. Christine Wong Yap lives in Oakland, California, and has exhibited widely in the USA. Yap’s work is all about optimism and pessimism, something we can all identify with. She considers that pessimism is essentially mundane and material, while optimism is more mystical,

representing an almost supernatural experience. Yap converts her ideas into installation, sculptures, drawings and photography, as well as something called multiples, exploring the ideas of optimism and pessimism. Alongside this Yap will be working in residence at the Art Centre, exploring the history and culture of Manchester, the North West, the history of coal mining in the region and the identities of the Chinese communities in the area. You can read all about her research in her blog on cwongyap.wordpress.com.

Art News in April 2008 an iron key was sold at sotheby’s Arts of the islamic World auction for £9.2 million. ouch! Was it really worth that? Apparently not. the key, which was believed to have been made in the 12th century for the door of the holy Kaaba in Mecca, has now been exposed as fake. the key has been returned to its original owner and the £9.2 million transaction cancelled. experts from the British Museum, the V & A and the Ashmolean in oxford, all agreed that the key was not genuine and that the Kufic inscription on the key was incorrect. Crumbs!

James McNeill Whistler, ‘Weary’, 1863, drypoint. © the hunteriAn MuseuM AnD Art gAllery , uniVersity of glAsgoW

Whistler: The Gentle Art of Making Etchings hunterian Art gallery, glasgow Until 30th May The Hunterian Museum at Glasgow University is home to the world famous collection of Whistler’s work. Not just his art, but his tools, etching equipment, copper plates and plenty of archive material. This exhibition is part of a five year project to create an online documentation of Whistler’s etchings, and shows the processes from start to finish, giving us a brilliant idea of the etching methods and techniques. The finished etchings provide valuable insights into history and fashion

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Looking at:

Design, Daguerreotype and Decollage D Examples of engineering in design (from top): Falkirk Wheel; Museum of Modern Art, Rio di Janiero; detail of Terminal 5 Heathrow

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esign is something that is everywhere. Every man made object that you see anywhere was designed by someone, or perhaps nowadays, by something! From buildings to light fittings, clothing to websites, they all started with a drawing or design. The name infers the process of developing a plan for an end product. Indeed, this term could be used for us humans and our lives, as well

as every object or ‘thing’ in existence. Much is being made of Darwin at the moment, and he shows us that nature has designed creatures and plants to exist most efficiently, each in their own environment. In general, there is a common structure for the process of design. This is the constraints of the object being designed, and can be narrowed down to those constraints that can be accommodated


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and those that cannot. Cost, colour, size and materials are all constraints that can be varied, while perhaps strength and safety are not. Geddit! As an art form, design is the beginning of the journey of an object, building, item of clothing etc towards becoming a work of art. If you want to find out more, try watching the brilliant programme on BBC2 – Richard Hammond’s Engineering, 7pm on Mondays – a real taste of design in engineering.

W.S. Hartshorn, Daguerreotype of Edgar Allan Poe, taken at Providence, Rhode Island, November 9th, 1848 Photograph taken in 1904 by C.T. Tatman

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ext this month is the mysterious art of Decollage. Now this is something relatively unusual. In essence, it is the opposite of collage. Collage is an image built up out of many bits of existing images. Decollage is actually when bits are torn or cut away from an existing image. The word means ‘take-off’. Works made like this often resemble ancient frescos or paintings which have had bits worn or broken away. The most obvious examples of decollage are of the ‘torn poster’ variety, where advertising posters have been torn to remove great chunks of the image but still retain the essence of the meaning the poster is trying to communicate. This style of art became popular as a medium in about 1949 probably by Mimmo Rotella, and coincided intentionally with the emergence of coloured advertising posters.

F Mimmo Rotella, Scotch brand, 1960, décollage su carta,146x114cm Fondazione Marconi, Milano

inally this month, Daguerreotype. Louis Daguerre developed this method of photography which was the first of its kind not to involve endless hours of exposure. Obviously this was a great boon to photographers, enabling the art to become commercially viable. Daguerre was an artist and chemist and invented the process Daguerreotype in 1839, which coincided with the announcement of William Fox Talbot’s invention. The process is exceedingly complex and I won’t go into it here, but it allows no reproduction of the picture – a one off. The process was popular in the United States but did not take off in the UK mainly because the man who bought the British patent in 1841, a Richard Beard, did not want to share his fortune! H

Next Month, Looking At: Etching and Enamelling 37


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harles Saatchi has brought art from Iraq, Iran, Syria, Lebanon and Palestine for his latest exhibition, ‘Unveiled: New Art from the Middle East’. After 500 years of Islamic artistic tradition (calligraphy and rugs) and the restrictive codes of Sharia law, today’s artist is open to abstraction, colour, form, narrative relationships and humour. What surprises, more than the superb artworks themselves, is how these previously unseen artists delight in bullying America, which allows them free-expression and individualism as an alternative to Saddam’s handcuffs and Ahmadinejad’s anti-art feelings. Many of these gifted artists are now in the States, safe from Middle Eastern political and religious oppression. Some have only been allowed to show their work now, for the first time, and this exhibition is dominated by females. Having chosen to live in ‘Land of the Free’, why do they attack their saviour the United States? Iranian-American, Sata Rahbar’s ‘Flag #19 Memories Without Recollection’, has the US flag constructed from Persian textiles and hanging upsidedown, an insult to the Stars and Stripes and Americans themselves. This ragged flag is worn-out with suicidal bullet belts. In Shadi Ghadirian’s photographs, ‘Like Everyday Series’, women under burkhas have their faces replaced by kitchen utensils. Reinventing themselves from the stereotype to the empowered, their one-dimensional monotone black chador is replaced with Westernised floral prints. Shirin Fakhim’s primitively coarse life-size ‘Tehran Prostitute’ sculptures reveal public attitudes about sex. Kitsch sex-dolls – sewn from stockings and melon-padded bras – are stuffed into over-stretched lace underwear. Kader Attia’s, ‘Ghost’, 240 aluminium foil sculptures of praying Muslim wom-

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Saatchi Exhibition has Anti-American Flavour Reviewed by Estelle Lovatt en, made from vacant cocoons of silver foil, are not real as people. Their bodies are shells, hollow of self, person or chi. Created from a throw-away domestic material, the shiny-rich seductive foodwrap questions religion, and fast-food consumerism. Some artists consider 9/11 a sculptural Happening; two Minimalistic totems razed to rubble. Diana Al-Hadid, a Syrian-American, slips back time in memorial in her inverted tower, The Tower of Infinite Problems, while Tala Madani’s cartoon ‘Tower Reflection’, painted in fashionable Gitmo-orange, is of the interior of a 9/11 aeroplane targeting the Twin Towers. Wafa Hourani’s ‘Qalandia 2067’, is a walk-through mixed media installation, with a cacophony of Arab music. Witness the cultural, political and economic instability of war-ravaged relationships. Under the gaze of Yasser Arafat, this apocalyptic scenario for the West Bank checkpoint crossing, 100 years after the 1967 six day war, is a futuristic Palestinian ‘kibbutz’ peppered with Israeli flags and American brands.

Above: Kader Attia, Ghost, 2007 Courtesy the Saatchi Gallery, London, ©Kader Attia, 2009

Not allowed to work until she moved to America, Nadia Ayari’s ‘Right of Return’ illustrates Palestinian prisoners released from an Israeli jail, witnessed by a girl growing up to be a suicide bomber. These artists should look to America’s Andrew Wyeth, Grant Wood or Grandma Moses as sources of inspiration: the artist living and painting the American Dream. Instead, Ahmed Alsoudani’s rooster stands in for America’s national emblem the Bald Eagle, insulting America’s superpower status. It seems these artists find diversity desirable, and welcome independence, liberty, freedom, democracy and liberalism… so long as it’s not American. ‘Unveiled: New Art from the Middle East’, which runs at the Saatchi Gallery, London SW3 until 6th May, is not Goya’s Disasters of War or Picasso’s Guernica. But, interesting and thought provoking, it is to be congratulated. H ‘Unveiled: New Art from the Middle East’ is at the Saatchi Gallery, London SW3 until 6th May.


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Taking the Con out of Conceptual Art

by Estelle Lovatt

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imes are changing, both politically and artistically. In Government, old order is voted out; in art Conceptualism is worn-out. With George W Bush, art moved towards ‘temporary sculpture’. Artists remembered 9/11 as a ‘sculptural’ event, with two Giacomettitall, Judd-shiny minimal ‘sculptures’ razed to the ground. Similarly Obama brings revolutions in art A new web-based community for creators and lovers of contemporary figurative art, believes badly made tat – posing as Conceptual art – is giving art a bad name. And as traditional art skills are lost amid cries of ‘my child could do that!’

Suzie Zamit, Life Size Head, plaster

Go Figurative believes the birth of Neo-Figurative Figurescaping is the new figurative art. Formed and championed by Sally Perry (previously at Disney’s ESPN STAR Sports, Turner Broadcasting and CNN) and Janine Collins (a solicitor formerly at American law firm White & Case), Go Figurative provides “an accessible website platform, http://gofigurative.com, for figurative artists – sculptors, painters, photographers and print makers – to form collectives with like minded professional artists, buyers, art critics and art historians and showcase their artwork to a buying market. Perry and Collins advocate “talented figurative artists, available for new commissions including portraiture for individuals, families or organisations, sculpture to mark a significant rite of passage, or a painting to embody an organisation’s core values and ethos.” Providing advice, Go Figurative Advocates are experienced artists, art critics and historians, who respect the value and importance of figurative work.” Now we’re in financial collapse and recession, consider what we learnt from the Great Depression of the 1930s. When money is limited people find distraction and calm in art. Wall Street opened the art world to new talent and ideas. The Depression was a chance for artists to make

Keren Luchtenstein, Big Gloves

worthy, affordable, intelligent art as the public demanded something creatively more solid, easier to understand. Now we demand bona fide artists demonstrating skill, ability, aesthetic value and judgement. Remember, most art from Egyptian idealization to Classical sculpture, the Realism of Courbet and Manet, and most forms of contemporary modern art are, by definition, figurative. As Picasso said, “There is no abstract art. You must always start with something.” The response from figurative artists has been significant. Many do not have websites, and even those that do lack the traffic to be able to create significant awareness. Perry adds, “The artists I have spoken with have responded well to the idea of community based website focussed purely on figurative art. They like the idea of having a platform dedicated to the work which has references to reality at its core”. Perry and Collins are busy recruiting talent to showcase on the site and artists can register their interest on the site or by calling +44 (0) 20 8905 5872. As art overtly and unreservedly signals the politics of its time, can we have good figurative art by talented artists? To reference an Obamaism, “Yes we can!” H

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Vicki Myron Virginia E Schultz interviews the author of dewey, the surprise ‘pet lit’ hit

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icki Myron looked like a breath of spring in her pale suit compared to my heavy wool coat and boots. “It takes a blizzard with snow covering cars and trucks and temperatures falling below zero before we close up in Iowa,” she admitted with a smile when we discussed the snowstorm that shut down London recently. “A snowstorm where I come from can be so severe it can cover a car or truck and people die inside or from exposure to the cold when they attempt to find help.” Vicki was in London on a book tour promoting Dewey, the story of the half frozen kitten she found in the metal book drop of the Public Library in Spencer, Iowa on January 18, 1988 and who spent the next nineteen years welcoming and charming visitors. When Dewey died in 2006, his obituary ran in over 250 newspapers including The New York Times. A year later Dewey made more news when library director Vicki Myron and co-author Brett Witter were paid $1.2 million for the publishing rights for his story. “At the beginning felines were used to control the rats in libraries,” Vicki told me, “But there is something cozy and warm about reading a book with a cat curled up beside you and in many libraries they soon became more than rat catchers.” The book is not only about Dewey Readmore Books (his official

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name), but Vicki as well. She was born on a farm south of Moneta, Iowa, which no longer exists today. Her father’s family were staunch Baptists who frowned on dancing but Verlyn, Vicki’s father, was the youngest in the family and was spoiled. As a young man he would visit the Friday-night dances at the Roof Garden, a resort on Lake Okoboji. It was there he met her mother, Marie, whose Catholic family were French by way of Montreal. Mixed marriages were frowned upon and they had to run away to Minnesota to be married. Life was tough and the farm Verlyn inherited had few comforts. There was no indoor plumbing and until Vicki was ten the family used an outhouse. Despite the lack of luxury, she recalls the childhood she shared with her brothers and sisters as happy. Verlyn had to sell his 160 acres to a commercial conglomerate. There wasn’t money for college and after high school Vicki moved to Mankato, Minnesota where she eventually married and had a daughter. Her daughter’s birth was not easy. Harder still was living with an alcoholic husband.

Perhaps it was the toughness gained as a farmer’s daughter, but despite being physically unwell and a single mother on relief, she managed to get her bachelor’s degree from Mankato State College and her master’s from Emporia State University. In 1982 she returned to Spencer, Iowa to work in the public library and became director in 1987, a position she held for twenty-five years. Dewey’s unexpected arrival helped her plans to make the library more friendly and warm. His frolics as well as his intuition inspired the citizens of Spencer and as his fame grew, won the hearts of people all over the world. Throughout his nineteen years, Dewey was both a companion and beacon of hope to Vicki. As she said, since he couldn’t write the story of his life, she, with Brett, had to do it for him. Since her retirement, Vicki hasn’t stopped moving. She recently married, there are plans for a children’s book, and she will be involved as a consultant in the forthcoming film on Dewey starring, not her lookalike Jody Foster, but one of her favourite actresses Meryl Streep. H


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The American Songbook Comes to London New York cabaret star Jeff Harnar tells Jarlath O’Connell about his residency at Pizza on the Park and a season of some of the top names from the New York cabaret world.

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eff harnar is a man on a mission – to bring the elegance of new york’s famous supper clubs to a british audience. his venue will be the Pizza on the Park in knightsbridge, a classy neighbourhood. to make the season accessible to a wide audience the cover price will be just £25. Unheard of in new york’s cabaret world. an award winning cabaret and concert performer, harnar has a devotion to the ‘Great american Songbook’,

a tradition which set the template for today’s pop songs. the term is never precisely defined, but usually refers to that period in american popular culture, from the teens to the 60s, when the likes of Cole Porter, rodgers and hart, harold arlen and Johnny Mercer were writing the music which became the soundtrack for people’s lives and who left a legacy of “standards”. harnar, 50, was born in Manhattan beach, California, which he says

“predisposed me to live in Manhattan” and has performed all over the world, appearing in new york at Feinstein’s at the regency, the new Metropolitan Club and the holy-of-holies for cabaret people, the Oak room of the fabled algonquin hotel. last spring he brought over a half dozen cabaret stars, including the legendary Julie Wilson, to the tiny Jermyn St theatre in london where audiences were given a taste of this quintessen-

THE PERFORMERS Following Jeff into Pizza on the Park will be the return of liliane Montevecchi. the French bombshell’s resume includes being a prima ballerina, starring with (and dating) elvis in King Creole, being a member of the Folies bergere and winning a tony for Nine. Following her will be: STEVE ROSS (to 4 april) – singing the songs of alan Jay lerner. TONY DeSARE (7-18 april) – a rising young star who harnar calls “the real deal, he reminded me of the first time I heard Michael buble” KIT SULLIVAN (21 april-2 May) – established star presenting “All the Things You Are, the songs of Jerome kern”. PAULA WEST (5-16 May) – young West Coast performer, new to london, presenting a diverse programme of everything from Stephen Foster to bob Dylan. MAUREEN McGOVERN (19-30 May) – ’70s pop star who will explore folk and soft rock – from Joni Mitchell and James taylor to Jimmy Webb. ANDREA MARCOVICCI (pictured) (2-13 June) – doyenne of the algonquin hotel will present her acclaimed show of rodgers & hart. MAUDE MAGGART (16-27 June) – a newcomer who says harnar has “a timbre to her voice like an old gramophone but who spans the decades with her programme”.

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tially new york art form. after that success he’s expanding the venture. Pizza on the Park already has a reputation as a jazz club but harnar, launching his 7 nights a week season, aims to firmly establish it in supper club mode. “I’ve been very pleased” he says “to hear that the Pizza on the Park hierarchy understand that the venue needs to be branded differently”. Instead of the jazz club format, a 45 minute set followed by an hour break for dinner then another set going on late into the evening, harnar is taking his cue from the famous Café Carlyle in new york with a single 70 minute show starting at 7.45. On Friday and Saturday there is a second show with a different audience at 10.30. “We wanted to find a format that will work for the music lover and we learned at Jermyn St that people are happy to follow West end show times”. “the long interval also tended to kill the momentum” he adds. “all the performers in the season have put shows together with a beginning, middle and end. all are quite contemplative and a straight 70 minutes will produce the cathartic emotional experience that a good cabaret performer can create.” I asked about the image problem that cabaret has had in the Uk, where it brings to mind butlins holiday camps and bad cruise liner entertainments. “yes it’s a challenge for cabaret to be understood and appreciated over here, cabaret has more pejorative connotations here than in new york”. there, artists like andrea Marcovicci and Steve ross (who appear this Season) devote their whole careers to the art form and legends like barbara Cook, elaine Stritch and the late bobby Short and eartha kitt have taken it to new heights. It is treated as a proper art form and seriously reviewed by papers like the New York Times. here it falls between two stools, jazz and musical theatre. harnar however is confident

that if people come and hear his eight performers they will be struck by the diversity of voices and material and have their eyes opened to the potential of the form. “the culture here is not that different really”, he adds. “With the internet people can access all kinds of music easily. the great thing is that with cabaret everyone can get really plugged-in to an art form that is at its best with just 70 to 100 people in the room. It’s a boutique art form. that is what makes it special”. harnar is bringing over the best and his message for Pizza on the Park audiences is “trust our taste. If you come to the american Songbook in london you will regularly find an artist of a certain calibre”. he is also keen to flag the artists booked for the summer and fall seasons he is already planning. “We’ve got tony winner Christine ebersole (42nd Street, Grey Gardens), karen akers, alison Jiear and some composer/performers such as Stephen Schwarz (Godspell, Pippin, Wicked) and Gerard kenny. to paraphrase eartha kitt on englishmen – the art of cabaret “needs time”. harnar represents a tradition where artists respect and perfect the form and as he says “there is a lot more to it than being able to sing”. “What you do between the songs is very important. In fact it is the most important part because if you are not compelling enough between the songs and if you don’t capture imaginations and hearts of the audience then the thing just becomes a recital”. ★

The American Songbook in London Season is at Pizza on the Park,11-13 Knightsbridge, London SW1X 7LY from March 3 to June 27, 2009 www.americansongbookinlondon.com

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Dancing with Niamh Jarlath O’Connell interviews Niamh Cusack, star of Dancing at Lughnasa

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Manuel Harlan

he play is about yearning. We all yearn for something and these women are up against it in so many ways” says Niamh Cusack about Brian Friel’s modern masterpiece Dancing at Lughnasa, in which she currently stars at Kevin Spacey’s Old Vic Theatre in London. “Courage is an incredibly compelling thing and having the courage to live as much as you can is all embracing” she goes on, explaining the success of a play which has struck a chord internationally and has been Friel’s biggest hit. Set in his usual, imagined, rural Donegal village of Ballybeg, it recounts the story five unmarried Mundy sisters

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during one glorious summer in the 1930s. ‘Lughnasa’ refers to the pagan harvest festival (to the God ‘Lugh’) that was still celebrated in rural Ireland up to that time, despite the stranglehold of a puritanical Catholic Church. Recently returned home to join the five, still single, sisters is their Uncle Jack, who was a priest in a leper colony in Uganda and is recovering from malaria and suffering from both memory loss and culture shock. As the summer unfolds they accommodate to their honoured guest and receive a visit from the feckless Gerry, who has fathered a child with one of the sisters, out of wedlock – not an easy scenario for

1930s Donegal. Promising to marry her he eventually departs to fight with the International Brigade in the Spanish Civil War. Niamh who despite a long and successful television career in the UK, with hit shows like Heartbeat and A&E, is herself famous for being one of another group of sisters – the Cusacks, Ireland’s Redgraves. Indeed she and Sinead and Sorcha gave in to the inevitable and famously played Chekhov’s The Three Sisters at the Gate Theatre in Dublin and at the Royal Court. Surprisingly it’s the first time she has played in this modern Irish classic. Older sister Sorcha did the play in the West End run. “I’ve always wanted to be in a Brian Friel play and Maggie is a character I really warmed to”, she says about the joker of the family whom she portrays. The play received its premiere at the Abbey Theatre in Dublin 1990. It transferred quickly to the National Theatre in London and then to the West End and to Broadway, receiving a clean sweep of prizes along the way (Evening Standard, Olivier and Tony Awards). It was later successfully filmed with Meryl Streep in the lead. One imagines that some enterprising producer must have missed a trick nearly 20 years ago when it premiered, by not casting Sinead, Sorcha, Niamh and half sister Catherine (also an actress) as the Mundys. Given that at the time they were in Three Sisters together, one suspects they felt it might be one casting gimmick too far. “When I was younger I wanted to shake it off” says Niamh about the dynasty question. “But Cyril was a


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Niamh Cusack, in rehearsal for Dancing at Lughnasa

great, great actor as was my mother” (Maureen kiely), she adds. her father Cyril was much loved in Ireland and a dominating force in theatre, film and television there up until his death in 1993. “I am proud of my Irish identity and go home a lot,” says niamh. “Over here I am definitely regarded as Irish, despite being here 30 years”. She is married to Irish actor, Finbar lynch, who also happens to play Father Jack in this production, a rare opportunity for them to work together. Finbar had great success in theatre and tV in Ireland in the 80s before making the move to london and met niamh on the famous joint three Sisters. he himself went on to make a splash in a much acclaimed trevor nunn production of A Midsummer’s Night Dream, which toured internationally and was tony nominated for tennessee William’s “lost” play Not About Nightingales. niamh, who has yet to work in new york, loved her time there with him “I would really love to do broadway” she says “but it was great for a while to be the wife in the apartment on Central Park”. She arrived in london nearly thirty

years ago to study the flute at the royal academy of Music but soon switched to the family business, acting. there are brothers too in the clan but they’re not too far from the ‘greasepaint’ either. younger brother Padraig “is head of touring for the national theatre and commutes from Cork and oldest brother Paul is a successful drama producer/director at rte in Dublin,” says niamh. the acting dynasty continues into the next generation with Sam Irons, who is the son of Sinead Cusack and her husband Jeremy Irons. Indeed Sinead will be the next Cusack to play the Old Vic because in May she will star in Sam Mendes production of The Cherry Orchard there. that production is currently playing to sold out houses at brooklyn academy of Music (baM) in new york and marks the beginning of an exciting star studded new joint venture, the bridge Project, between kevin Spacey’s Old Vic, Sam Mendes’ neal St Productions and baM. Despite television successes such as Fallen Angel, The Last Detective, State of Mind, The World of Peter Rabbit and Friends (as well as Heartbeat and A&E) theatre remains close to niamh’s heart.

“For the first ten years I only did theatre and there is nothing like telling a story to a live audience. a tV crew can be fab to work with but for an actor it can often be less of an experience as it is such a director’s medium”. Following on from kevin Spacey’s success with The Norman Conquests in the round at the Old Vic, Director anna Mackmin’s continues this configuration for this revival. “Doing it in the round will make if very fresh experience and brings a whole new dimension to it, particularly for those who are new to the piece” she says. the revival came about because of Mackmin’s desire to do the piece. “anna felt really strongly about it as a play about family and the power of memory” and not having seen the original productions she should bring a freshness to it. “We have a fantastic set and Paule Constable’s lighting will be add a really powerful ingredient,” she says, whetting our appetite. the other major innovation of the production is the casting of Irish songstress andrea Corr as the spurned sister Christine. Corr, who with her brother and sisters in Celtic pop/rock group the Corrs, became one of pop music’s biggest international acts in the late ’90s, had done a few films but never treaded the boards. how is she doing? “She is a bit like blotting paper she soaks it all up,” says niamh. “andrea is really eager to learn. She has this inner confidence and a great instinct and I think audiences will love her,” she adds. the production also benefited by a rare visit from the playwright himself. “We had brian Friel in for a couple days last week and were blessed and graced by his presence. We are very fortunate”, she adds. ★ Dancing at Lughnasa is at The Old Vic Theatre, The Cut, London SE1. Tel: 0870 0606628 www.oldvictheatre.com

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The American

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’ll be honest with you – sometimes it is a struggle to decide what to write about in this column. Not because I haven’t got much to say, you understand (those who have been following for some time are well aware that I have plenty of opinions to divulge on most matters… and not just within my political remit) [it’s true – ed]; but more because by the time I’ve sent my copy in, something else exciting has happened in the political fray, overshadowing my original theme.

Leila Deen douses Lord Mandelson, but is this the right way to get publicity?  Plane Stupid

It’s a Free Country

Just don’t dress up as a superhero or throw custard over politicians, says Jo ‘Catwoman’ Cole

However, there’s one thing in Westminster that’s never going to go away and that is the political protestor. On my first morning working in the House of Commons (all those moons ago, when I still had a sense of awe for our democratic system and no visible wrinkles around my eyes) I was alarmed to have my coffee confiscated by the security guards at the scanning machine. I was upset by this for two reasons; first, it seemed to me that in order to look like a ‘real worker’, I should arrive to work in a smart suit and a cup of bought coffee and I was eager to look the part and; second, despite the first point, I wasn’t actually being paid and so £1.50 seemed like an awful lot to have thrown away by a policeman. Still, I consoled myself that it was important to have tight security. Which is why I was so surprised when, less than four hours into my job, a man dressed as Batman had managed to break into the House of Commons and scale Big Ben with a large banner.

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Like most Brits, I’d consider myself an advocate of freedom of thought and speech but to me protestors who carry out gimmicks like this take it a step too far. Recently, a protestor from an environmental lobbying group threw green custard into the face of the Business Secretary, Peter Mandelson, as he left Number 10 Downing Street in Carlton House Terrace, London SW1. “What a waste of time, it’s such a stupid way to campaign”, my colleague argued – until I pointed out that the only reason the two of us were discussing it was the very fact that it was headlining every news channel in the prime breakfast slot. So, I’m not arguing that it’s not effective as a way of getting seen. What I am arguing is that it’s the wrong way to be seen. It doesn’t matter how much you disagree with a politician, no person going about their daily job deserves the fear of being attacked – whether it’s by some harmless green custard or something worse. And what does the protestor achieve by pulling such

an act? They want their ‘voice’ heard – Check. They want people to hear about their campaign – Check. They want politicians to base their policy on their views and take their campaign seriously – No Check! That’s where I have a problem with barmy protestors (yes, barmy; contact me and tell me how you’re not!). Throwing custard over the Business Secretary to let him know your views on the Government’s environmental position is not going to persuade him that you’re a serious organisation who he should turn to when he formulates Government policy. It’s simply going to get you some 15 minute media coverage followed by a swift arrest. The UK’s a free country, so if you want to dress up as a superhero, show up Parliament’s lax security, throw desserts over politicians and generally act like a fool to get some press coverage, please go ahead. Just don’t expect this method of ‘campaigning’ to actually work. H


The American

The Special Relationship is Dead... I

t seems clear that if the special relationship didn’t exist, it would have to be invented – though perhaps not by the UK Ambassador to Washington. In the days prior to the election last November we were treated to the always interesting spectacle of a UK Ambassador’s memo leaking to the press. Last July, Sir Nigel Sheinwald, the current inhabitant of Massachusetts Avenue for Her Majesty’s Government, was less than overenthusiastic about then-candidate Obama – even by British standards of understatement. Words such as ‘elitist’ and ‘uninspiring’ stood out to the press reporting the story. Unfortunately, this was adding insult to injury given that it followed on the heels of a transatlantic language problem during the Prime Minister’s visit in April. The Ambassador, like so many of his predecessors, was quoted as saying that he had banned the use of the phrase ‘the special relationship’ from the Embassy. The only problem was, he was briefing the press on this finer point of UK diplomatic language at the same time the Prime Minister was chatting with President Bush in the Rose Garden in glowing terms

…Long Live the Special Relationship, says Alison Holmes about the longevity and enduring quality of: the ‘special relationship’. If now-President Obama took offense we will probably never know as his new Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, is certainly a special friend of the British. Despite an over-full agenda she managed to ensure that her young friend from the golden days of the Third Way, and now all grown up to be UK Foreign Secretary, David Miliband, was able to hustle in the door just in front of the German Foreign Minister. Most Americans didn’t catch this subtlety as it merited almost no coverage in the US, but the delicate positioning was not lost on the British press who were pleased that ‘their man’ got in first. And both the principals duly intoned the magic phrase ‘special relationship’ several times over the pot of transatlantic issues for the benefit of the gathered media. The fact that neither side can whole-heartedly agree whether the relationship is, in fact, ‘special’ seems to belong in the long tradition of British farce with players going on and off stage blissfully unaware

of what others may be doing. The Americans fare no better. Their body language at one moment is that of the adoring admirer, the next they fumble for the name of their supposed paramour. On another level, there are serious and chronic issues on which the two countries agree and work together tirelessly through the range of bilateral, international and global organizations. The problem seems to be that the ‘special relationship’, however defined, is based on both fickle personal chemistry and fundamental national interests. There may be another explanation for the behaviour of our transatlantic leaders as hinted at in Miliband’s welcome at the State Department. We are so busy cataloguing the ever faster pace of the technology and the ever closer links of interdependence that we fail to notice that, over the past 25 years both the US and UK have enjoyed the most stable period of leadership for over a century. Since World War II, not including Obama (whose record we can hardly count yet) or FDR, the US has had eleven Presidents. Four of

The Special Relationship: Past Presidents & Prime Ministers Margaret Thatcher (1979-1990) Ronald Reagan (1981-1989) 48

John Major (1990-1998) George HW Bush (1989-1993)


The American

these served two full terms: Presidents Eisenhower, Reagan, Clinton and Bush. Two more served nearly two terms: Presidents Truman, who took over after FDR and was then reelected to a full term, and Nixon, who served nearly two full terms before his resignation. That is over half of the Presidents since WWII. Looking at the period since the Cold War and starting with President Reagan the number of two-termers rises to three of the four. Given that only 20% of all American Presidents have served two full terms, this seems significant. In fact, to find such a concentrated period of single-party, single-handed leadership in the United States you have to go back to the founding of the country. The two-term George Washington was spelled by the one-term John

Adams and followed by a series of two-term Presidents, among them some of those we consider to be ‘founding fathers’: Thomas Jefferson, James Madison and James Monroe. Monroe was spelled by John Quincy Adams, only to be followed by the two-term Andrew Jackson. That represents nearly 50 years of American history. The UK record is also surprisingly consistent. Immediately after WWII there were six years under Clement Attlee followed by eleven years of Conservative rule, and while the 60’s and 70’s were a period of regular hand off, the post Cold War pattern is the same as the US. Despite American term limits and British vagaries over election dates, the personalities involved in transatlantic relations have been remarkably constant. In fact, there have only

Tony Blair (1997-2007) Bill Clinton (1993-2001)

George W Bush (2001-2009)

been three Prime Ministers and four Presidents over the past quarter of a century. Moreover, their terms have overlapped almost exactly. Why is this relevant to the special relationship? There is the oft-lauded common history, language and culture or the ‘history of the English speaking peoples’ as Winston Churchill framed it, but the enduring feature – at least of post Cold War UK/US relations – and a reason its leaders may view themselves as ‘closest allies’ and ‘special’ to one another – may simply be they know each other so well. Hillary Clinton and David Miliband do not start from a blank slate in the sense of personal chemistry, nor in terms of state interest, because they know each other’s mind and each other’s national interests in each issue on the list. Over the past 25 years we have been witness to the outcomes of the processes of a shrinking world and fundamental changes in the way our economic, political, and social worlds operate – and sometimes collide. It seems clear that the foundations of the ever renewing special relationship will be based on the ability of our leaders to continue to stand together on the forward edge of the transformation of our world. Ambassador Sheinwald may ban the use of the phrase and President Obama may not polish up his relationship with Gordon Brown at the upcoming gathering of the G20 in London, but the special relationship cannot be banned or ignored because even as one phase dies, another rises up to carry on. It is based on more than diplomatic words and first person through the door, it is based on ongoing interests and the proof of deeds. The Special Relationship is dead. Long live the Special Relationship. H

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The American

Barbie hits 50 in a 500

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arbie, the most famous doll in the world, celebrated her 50th birthday on March 9 with an absolutely fabulous pink Fiat 500. The special, one-off show car is based on the small car that leaves drivers and onlookers with a big grin and is doing Fiat a lot of good, financially and image-wise. This one was designed and built in a partnership between Fiat’s Style Centre (Centro Stile) and Barbie’s family (the toy maker Mattel), to mark five decades of the internationally-known fashion icon. The bright pink Cinquecento transported a real-life ‘Barbie’ model through the streets of fashionable Milan, driven by an equally life-like ‘Ken’. She arrived at Milan’s exclusive La Rinascente department store, while German pop band Nena played live songs from the last 50 years. The special city car’s gleaming paintwork was designed to resembles Barbie’s nail varnish, the seats are upholstered in soft, silver laminated Alcantara suede-alike, the floor mats have been enhanced with natural silk yarn and there are lip glosses in brilliant colours stored in the glove compartment and crystals sparkle on interior bezels, hubcaps, window mouldings and the roof-mounted aerial. All of this will have been noticed by our lady readers. Gentlemen, the Fiat 500 is the thing on the left of the picture.

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New Airstream Bambi launched at the National Boat, Caravan and Outdoor Show

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t’s not every day that The American’s Drive Time section covers a product launched at the National Boat, Caravan & Outdoor Show, nor one without an engine. But this is the exception – it’s the European debut of an American design icon! The original Airstream trailer was designed by Wally Byam over 75 years ago. The Bambi’s design is regarded so highly that a 1963 model was recently on display at MoMA, the Museum of Modern Art in New York. Over sixty five percent of all Airstreams ever made are still in use today and of 400 US trailer companies active in 1936, Airstream is the only survivor. It’s still an American operation, with American jobs in Jackson Center, Ohio. The new model is the Bambi 422, ideal for traveling on European roads (a lot narrower than in the Airstream’s home) with American style. All Airstreams are easy to tow due to their aerodynamic shape, low centre of gravity and anti-sway hitch devices. However the Bambi 422, weighing just 1320kg loaded,

means that you do not need to own an Escalade to tow one. Ordinary European family cars like the VW Golf Diesel 2.0 and BMW 330i are more than capable of hauling one. “When you’re towing the Bambi, getting there seems almost effortless. It’s one of our lightest Airstreams ever, allowing it to be towed efficiently by most midsize cars, with outstanding fuel efficiency,” says Stuart Hicks, Airstream’s Director of European Sales and Marketing And you don’t have to give up too much convenience to use a Bambi 422. A smart floor plan maximizes space to include a spacious L-shaped lounge, mid-galley and end wash room including a shower cubicle suitable for six-footers and a vacuum flush toilet. Airstream (the company) says that Airstreams (the trailers) are loved the world over, because Airstreams do what only the best designs do… put a smile on your face each and every time you see or use one. And you know what? I think they’re right.


The American

Baby Range Rover Nears Decision

Chrysler’s Future is Electric T

he ENVI-powered range of electric vehicles aims to turn the world’s perception of Chryslers, Dodges and Jeeps on its head. Out goes the ‘gas guzzling monster’ image of American cars and (particularly) off road vehicles. In comes the environmentally sensitive… big, brash American automobile. And why not. Many people, and not just in the US, like that image, and the practicality that large size and tough A/T tires allow. At the Geneva Motor Show Chrysler gave the European premieres of the Chrysler 200C EV concept vehicle and Dodge Circuit EV prototype. They join the new Jeep Patriot EV and the updated Chrysler Town & Country EV and Jeep Wrangler Unlimited EV,

showing the company’s commitment to developing and bringing to market a broad array of electric vehicles. Chrysler’s Michael Manley said “We’ve made electric vehicles the primary path to developing clean vehicles for all our product lines. We will produce at least one of these vehicles for North American markets in 2010 and for European markets after 2010.” The Chrysler 200C EV offers 40 miles of all-electric range, but a full 400-mile total driving range with electric enhancement of its internal combustion engine. The all-electric Dodge Circuit EV sports car boasts a range of 150 to 200 miles with zero gasoline consumption and zero tailpipe emissions.

Five Cylinders For Audi TT RS

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iving in the past, or powering back to the future? In a move that could be a glorious return to its sporting roots, Audi is once again producing a five cylinder engine for one of its sports cars. The Audi TT RS has been unveiled at the Geneva Auto Show. Its turbocharged 2.5-litre engine produces well above 300PS. Powerful five cylinder gasoline engines have a great history at Audi. Remember the Quattro, the original one with the capital ‘Q’? A road going variant of the short wheelbase rally Quattro was one of the most exciting cars this writer has ever driven. While the TT RS will not be as visceral or raw edged as that 5 pot Audi, it should be a great drive and a lot more usable day to day.

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t’s good and bad news time at Land Rover. The bad news? The iconic British car manufacturer has had to approach the British government with the begging bowl, asking for money. The good news? They got it, and it has come in the shape of a grant offer of up to £27 million ($51m) which it will put toward the expected £400 million cost of developing and producing of an all-new car. It is separate from the government’s £2.3 billion automotive assistance programme. Even better news is that the car will be based on Land Rover’s LRX Concept vehicle, first shown at the Detroit Show last year. This is expected to be the smallest, lightest and most efficient vehicle the company has ever produced, while delivering, as Phil Popham, Land Rover’s MD says, Range Rover levels of quality, drivability and performance in a more compact, more sustainable, package. Lord Mandelson, the UK business secretary, said: “The government is fully committed to supporting the UK automotive industry as it moves to a lower-carbon future. This project aims to design and build a greener car in the UK, safeguarding vital skills and technology.” Reactions to the LRX concept have been positive. The final decision on whether the project will go ahead will be taken later this year.

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The American

Roadtest:

Nissan Murano The original Murano was a hard act to follow, but Nissan have driven their crossover upmarket while keeping its cutting edge style

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If you’re a petrolhead rather than a diesel devotee, this on-road SUV is a good choice

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hen Nissan brought out the Murano in 2003 they didn’t originally plan to sell it in the UK, but the car was received so well in the United States that the company quickly reengineered it and launched it in the UK too. Despite being a sleek, well-equipped, sophisticated 4x4 crossover, it has never sold in massive numbers here, for two main reasons. Firstly, it is a sleek, sophisticated 4x4 crossover – many British SUV buyers tend to err on the side of manly, butch, ‘proper’ 4x4s. Secondly, and more importantly, Murano has never been available with a diesel engine, a virtual prerequisite for 4x4 sales in the UK. Having said that, the 3.5 liter V6 engine is very smooth and pushes the heavyweight (5100 lb) along with decent urge through its CVT gearbox and electronic four-wheel drive system, and the combined cycle consumption figure of 25.9mpg is not too bad especially with the criminal price differential between gasoline (ludicrous) and diesel (extortionate). Blame Gordon Brown.

Nissan has suffered from badge snobbery in the UK, but the black Murano with its big rims and privacy glass stayed the right side of bling and was well received wherever we went. It was a classy place to be while we were getting wherever we went, too. Nissan Executive VP Carlos Tavares reckons the 2009 Murano now has a ‘club lounge’ interior. It certainly boasts a power operated tailgate, remote-fold and power-raise rear seats (electric front seats are a given) and rear and side parking cameras, although which airlines offer these refinements in club class is not explained. With all this electrical help it really is simplicity itself to change the configuration of the seats to lug large items about, especially with the powered tailgate too. The original Murano helped pioneer rear view cameras but the new Nissan Murano goes one step further with a kerb camera mounted within the passenger door mirror. The leather and aluminium decor is a definite notch up from the Mark 1 Murano. Maybe not to the ‘luxury saloon standard’ that the press kit claims, but definitely a class act. If the worst came to the worst, Murano is safe place to be too. The 2009 model has earned a Top Safety Pick award from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety in the US. Of nine mid-sized SUV models, IIHS found the Murano to be the best overall performer in front, side and rear crash test evaluations. The Murano was also one of only two mid-sized SUVs to earn a ‘good’ rating (the highest the IIHS awards) for protection against whiplash injury in rear-end crashes. The new Murano clearly descends from the previous model. Most people would struggle


The American

to spot the differences, although every body panel is new. The most obvious changes are to the nose and tail. Horizontal rear lamp pods that blend across the car replace the previous vertical light stacks. The one-model Murano range costs £32,795 or £33,295 (virtually the only option is to choose between a large two-part sunroof or the slightly more expensive roof-mounted DVD). If I had to recommend, I’d go for the DVD – it keeps the kids amused and aftermarket ones can be messy looking as well as being very ‘nickable’. All Muranos get 18 inch alloy wheels, Nissan’s consistently excellent Birdview DVD satellite navigation, rear privacy glass, bi-xenon headlamps, cruise control and a premium Bose audio system with an in-dash six-disc CD player and an MP3 player socket. Nissan’s Intelligent Key system allows easy keylessaccess, although we did discover a flaw when we swopped drivers and one of us (OK, me) jumped out to dash into a shop. So far so good, but my partner was left driving the Murano with no key to lock or unlock it with. Overall, if you’re in the market for a tall, tough, classy, spacious, exclusive vehicle that can carry large loads but not go too far from the asphalt, and you don’t want or need a diesel plant, you’re looking at a very strong contender. ★

Electronic aids including keyless entry and starting, large DVD screen and reversing cameras add to the upmarket ambience in the 2009 Murano

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WINDING UP

MLB’09

for

By Jay Webster

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PHILADELPHIA – OCTOBER 29: Ryan Madson of the Philadelphia Phillies throws a pitch against the Tampa Bay Rays during the continuation of game five of the 2008 MLB World Series. PHOTO BY DOUG PENSINGER/GETTY IMAGES

oo much of the focus in the world of baseball over the ‘hot stove’ winter months has revolved around the seedier side of the game. Word that Alex Rodriguez tested positive for steroids in 2003 leaked out, and the wounds supposedly healed by the Mitchell Report were suddenly wide open once again. It was an especially bitter revelation because of the fact that A-Rod was seen by many as being the one player who could bring the game out of the shadow of the steroid era. Here was a player so good he didn’t need steroids. Here was a player who was going to kick Barry Bonds’ tainted home run record to the curb. A-Rod would lead us from the darkness and make it all better. But then news broke that Rodriguez’s name was on a list of 104 players who tested positive for performance enhancing drugs in 2003, a year in which he won baseball’s Most Valuable Player award while playing for the Texas Rangers. The test results were supposed to remain secret, and Rodriguez had strenuously denied using performance enhancing drugs in the past. But word of the positive result leaked in February, and suddenly A-Rod was tainted with the same brush as Bonds, Mark Maguire, Roger Clemens, and the game of baseball


The American

itself over the past decade or so. So now we start over again, in a sense, to rebuild America’s game. And a new season offers a clean slate, free from artificial performance enhancers, at least according to Commissioner Bud Selig. But turns out A-Rod will be watching from the sidelines after undergoing hip surgery that will keep him out until at least May. The Yankees went on a prodigious spending spree in the offseason. A year after inking Rodriguez to a 10-year, $275 million contract, the Yanks committed another $400 million to sign pitchers CC Sabathia and A.J. Burnett and first baseman Mark Teixeira. Clearly mind-boggling numbers, but with the team moving into a brand-new Yankee Stadium this season singularly designed to generate revenue, the Steinbrenner family, who own the team, clearly felt they could and needed to bring the top free agents to the Bronx. Whether throwing so much money around works, particularly in today’s economy and a season after missing the playoffs completely, remains to be seen. Which brings us to the other big story coming into the new season. Other than the Yankees, teams around baseball tightened their belts, and the free agent market tilted towards the owners. Pay cuts were the order of the day for previous big earners such Bobby Abreu, Jason Giambi and John Smoltz. Even Manny Ramirez, arguably the game’s best hitter, couldn’t get his asking price of four years and $100 million, and ended up signing the only offer on the table to return to the Dodgers for ‘only’ two years and $45 million. So who are the teams to watch this year? Well, the AL East remains the most competitive division in baseball,

and while the Yankees opened the wallets, some feel that the Red Sox did a better job of addressing their needs in the off season. They added Smoltz, Brad Penny, Takashi Saito and Rocco Baldelli. Those players all have the chance to contribute, or to spend the season on the DL, but at a combined $12.5 million, the chance is worth taking. And the Sox didn’t lose any of the main cogs of a team that went to the playoffs last year. Of course the biggest story on the field in baseball last season was undoubtedly the Tampa Bay Rays. They came out of nowhere with a payroll less than A-Rod’s yearly salary and shocked everyone by reaching the World Series. The Rays are stocked with great young talent, such as third baseman Evan Longoria, centerfielder B.J. Upton and pitcher Scott Kazmir. And while the Rays gave slugger Pat Burrell $14 million to come to Florida, Tampa Bay’s payroll still comes in at 29th in the league at just over $42 million. Reason enough in

PHILADELPHIA – OCTOBER 26: Ryan Howard of the Philadelphia Phillies hits a three-run home run against Andy Sonnanstine of the Tampa Bay Rays during game four of the 2008 MLB World Series. PHOTO BY ELSA/GETTY IMAGES

itself to pull for the upstarts to repeat last year’s success. With the tough economic times and cloud of steroids still lingering, it is great to finally return the focus where it should be: on the field. One thing is guaranteed, it will be a season to see what unfolds. Play Ball! ★

Jay Webster is a senior website editor at ESPN America

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The American

LESS is MORE

at this year’s NHL trade deadline

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ess is more – especially when it comes to this year’s NHL trade deadline. By the time the clocks struck three in New York, only one first-round player had switched jerseys – despite the slew of rumours that had been percolating around many marquis players, including Ilya Kovalchuk, Marian Gaborik, Martin St. Louis, Chris Pronger, and Jay Bouwmeester, all of whom stayed put. The trading auction turned out to be all fizzle and no sizzle, with six teams – the Detroit Red Wings, the Washington Capitals, the Montreal Canadiens, the Minnesota Wild, the Vancouver Canucks, and the Nashville Predators – opting to do nothing at all. Standing pat might’ve been the name of the game for some teams in the league, but for the Calgary Flames and the Anaheim Ducks, the trade deadline was all about purchasing instant success and filling holes left by injuries and the upcoming free-agency date. The Flames orchestrated the only quote-unquote blockbuster deal of the day, picking up first-line centreman Olli Jokinen from the Phoenix Coyotes in exchange for the fleet-footed – but consistently inconsistent – Matthew Lombardi, the yet-to-ripen forward Brandon Prust, and a first-round draft pick. The Flames also added defenceman Jordan Leopold, a second-tier blue-liner who arrived from the Colorado Avalanche by way of Ryan Wilson, Lawrence Nycholat, and a second-round pick.

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by Jeremy Lanaway The Flames went into the day with their focus on the first or second round of the playoffs, and came out with their eyes on the prize. And if the team’s deadline dealings prove to be flops – always a possibility – at least Jokinen is going to get his first taste of the postseason. His dubious distinction of having played in more regular-season games without appearing in a single playoff match (780 in total – more than any other player in the history of the league) will soon become a thing of the past.

Anaheim proactive

The Ducks stayed busy throughout the day, waxing proactive instead of reactive in an attempt to prevent their roster from turning into Swiss cheese in the off-season, as eleven of their players had been fated to become unrestricted free agents in the summer. The Ducks added depth to their blue-line in the form of Ryan Whitney, acquired from the Pittsburgh Penguins in exchange for Chris Kunitz and Eric Tangradi, and James Wisniewski, acquired from the Chicago Black Hawks in exchange for Samuel Pahlsson, whose salary had become a burden. They also inked deals for upstarts Erik Christensen, Petteri Nokelainen, Nick Bonino, and Timo Pielmeier, giving the team a potent mix of experience

Ryan Whitney’s may not be headline gold, but he was blue-line depth with the postseason in sight. PHOTO ©ANAHEIM DUCKS

and promise. Not only do the Ducks have a bright future, they also have a legitimate design on this year’s postseason championship. The Flames’ and Ducks’ main offices might’ve been abuzz during the deadline, but most of the other teams around the league took the quiet approach, leaving experts and fans alike to wonder why. The answer is simple – when you factor in the desolate landscape of the world’s economy. Most teams were hesitant to spend money that they may not have in the next two seasons, after the NHL’s salary cap drops yet again. ‘It’s a different climate because we’re not different from what’s going on in the world, not knowing what’s going to happen the year after next year,’ explained Flames GM Darryl Sutter. ‘I don’t think you’ve seen any long-term deals today. Are there any with one or two years remaining on contracts? Probably not.’ Sutter’s analysis is spot-on. The majority of deadline moves indeed involved players whose contracts were set to expire in the off-season. Most teams simply didn’t want to commit their bankroll to salaries that could


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well land them in financial quicksand in the not-too-distant future. The calm on trade deadline day didn’t surprise Toronto Maple Leafs GM Brian Burke. ‘I think everyone’s scared to death of the 2010-11 season,’ he said. ‘My sense is that teams – and I know I am – are scared to death of 2010-11, as far as committing a lot of money to lock up guys.’ The status quo mentality of the trade deadline has placed an even stronger emphasis on this season’s entry draft. The fact of the matter is that if teams want to improve, they’re going to have to draft well, so most GMs held onto their first-round tickets as tightly as possible. The buyyour-own-success era of the NHL has officially been put to bed. ‘I don’t think anybody was anxious to give up first-round picks for players,’ commented New York Rangers GM Glen Sather. ‘They’re hard to get. If you’re going to try and keep your organization’s head above water, you’ve got to be able to keep those first-rounders. It’s as simple as that.’ It wasn’t all quiet on the trading front. In total, 22 deals were inked (down from 25 last season), the dealings involving a record-setting 47 players. However, missing from these numbers was the ‘wow’ factor of seasons past – the don’t-changethe-channel headlines and the bigger-than-big names of the league’s elite players. The anti-climax of this year’s trade deadline might not have appealed to sports channels providing full-day coverage or fans waiting for their team to make the big deal that would take them to the next level, but given the state of the economy, it made the most sense. Have big-time trades become extinct? For now, maybe, but GMs will always have a touch of the gambler in them, so it’s a safe bet that they’ll be back. ★

Eagles Soar in Guildford to Take BBL Trophy from Heat By Richard L Gale

T

he Newcastle Eagles claimed the British Basketball League Trophy for a third time March 15, defeating defending champions Guildford Heat 83-71. The Eagles won the Trophy in the ‘04-’05 and ‘05-’06 seasons before losing the final the past two years. The oft-used phrase ‘game of two halves’ applied perfectly as the Heat controlled much of the first, overcoming a brief opening deficit to Newcastle and establishing a 21-17 lead at the end of the first quarter. The Heat continued to play with confidence in the second period, taking a 42-39 lead into the break. However, the third quarter belonged to Newcastle, 23-12, converting the second – and final – lead change of the game into a 59-47 lead late in the period. The Heat again started to shave the difference halfway through the final stanza, but the Eagles rode their lead to victory. Houston-born player Trey Moore led the Eagles with 28 points and was named the game’s MVP. Moore, who only joined Newcastle this year, after losing out to the Eagles four years ago while with Chester, looked emotional when selected for the award. Eagles player-coach Fab Flournoy praised the 33-year old point guard: “Trey had a fantastic basketball game, and is having a fantastic year. We had opportunities to sign him and it didn’t happen, but then finally it did. Even though he and Lynard Stewart have been one year, two years with me it seems like they’ve been a perfect fit.”

Keonta Howell’s game-high 30 points for the Heat could not help Guildford retain the BBL Trophy PHOTO: GARY BAKER

The American’s regular correspondent Keonta Howell sunk 30 points for the Heat, leading all players. Commented Heat coach Paul James: “We started well. Keonta had a fantastic game. We got it back to four points, but all credit to Newcastle, they deserved the win.” The Heat entered the game looking for a fairytale ending after its financial disquiet last month. Guildford will now turn their attentions to qualification for the league Playoffs, where they are defending champions. ★

57


The American

80 players to watch in April’s NFL Draft

QUARTERBACKS Great interviews and a stellar performance at the combine may have promoted Mark Sanchez (USC) ahead of Georgia’s Matthew Stafford in the eyes of some scouts, but the latter remains the QB with the longer resumé. The 6-6 250 build of Kansas State’s Josh Freeman and the athleticism of West Virginia’ Pat White make them the other two day one QBs. White was written off by some as a fast (4.4) running back convert until he showed a genuine NFL arm at the combine. Others: Nate Davis (Ball State); Graham Harrell (Texas Tech); John Parker Wilson (Alabama).

RUNNING BACKS Georgia back Knowshon Moreno’s easy running style makes him the consensus top back, but Chris ‘Beanie’ Wells (Ohio State, 6-1 237) could satisfy teams looking for size, if last year’s niggling injuries don’t factor in. Sean McCoy (Pitt) is another likely first rounder, having played in an NFL-style offense. The success of so many of last year’s rookie RBs may depress the market for high selections. Others: Shonn Greene (Iowa); Javon Ringer (Michigan State); Don Brown (UConn). Cedric Peerman (Virginia) could be a day two steal.

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With the next generation of NFL players arriving this month, Richard L Gale offers a crib sheet of potential day one names IMAGE: BAYLOR ATHLETICS

Baylor’s Jason Smith is the kind of player who can turn a team’s fortunes around

WIDE RECEIVERS The ’09 WR vintage could be as good as ’08’s RBs crop Michael Crabtree (Texas Tech) remains the no.1 receiver despite a foot injury that has hindered workouts. Darius Hayward-Bey (Maryland) is another 6-3 option on the rise, while Percy Harvin (Florida) brings flash and dash in a 5-11 frame. Missouri’s Jeremy Maclin pulled in over 100 catches last season, while Juaquin Iglesias of Oklahoma showed a talent for drivesustaining catches. The quality is deep for teams that didn’t use free agency. Others: Hakeem Hicks (North Carolina); Kenny Britt (Rutgers). Sleeper: Austin Collie (BYU).

TIGHT ENDS Brandon Pettitgrew of Oklahoma State is the consensus top TE, but Shawn Nelson (Southern Miss) may also trouble round one. Missouri’s Chase Coffman is a big pure receiver at 6-6. Others: Jared Cook (South Carolina); James Casey (Rice). Travis Beckum (Wisconsin) is cooling fast.

OFFENSIVE TACKLES Nothing rebuilds an offense quicker than a franchise left tackle. Baylor’s Jason Smith looks to be a sure thing and he and Virginia’s Eugene Monroe will contend as the top lineman selected. Andre Smith’s disappearing act at the combine and will have some teams nervous about the weighty Alabaman. Michael Oher (Ole Miss) has drawn mixed reviews, but could sneak ahead of Andre Smith on draft day. Others: Will Beatty (UConn); Ebon Britton (Arizona).

INTERIOR LINEMEN Alex Mack (Cal) is likely the first center selected, with Oklahoma’s Duke Robinson the top guard on the board. Max Unger of Oregon conjures the most disagreement – is he a tackle or center? The big bodies include 6-7 386 guard Herman Johnson (LSU) and Oklahoma’s 6-8 337 Phil Loadholt who projects at either guard or tackle. Also: Eric Wood (Louisville).


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DEFENSIVE TACKLES Boston College’s BJ Raji is one of the draft’s headline prospects, a certain top 5 selection. Evander ‘Ziggy’ Hood (Missouri) won some admirers during Senior Bowl practices and has the height to excite scouts. Perria Jerry (Ole Miss) is a lighter option, but another probable first rounder. The second round could be rich at DT. Others: Ron Brace (Boston College); Fili Moala (USC); Sen’Derrick Marks (Auburn – DE/DT).

DEFENSIVE ENDS Florida State’s Everette Brown looks to be a high selection as a DE/LB edge rusher. Aaron Maybin (Penn State) and Tyson Jackson (LSU) are later options in the same vein. Brian Orakpo ( Texas) will also be an early DE selection. Jarron Gilbert (San Jose State) and Michael Johnson (Georgia Tech) offer tall alternatives at 6-6 and 6-7 respectively. Connor Barwin of Cincinnati muscled into the conversation with a good combine so that, with the DE/DTs and DE/LBs included, teams may downplay the priority of a DE selection this year. Also: Robert Ayers (Tennessee).

INSIDE LINEBACKERS There are two clear names at inside linebacker: James Laurinaitis (Penn State) and Rey Maualuga (USC), and they’ve held first-round tags for a while. However, Maualuga figures as the better athlete, while Laurinaitis football smarts may last to the second round. There is a precipitous drop-off to the rest of the ILBs, which may provoke some trading of picks. Others: Darry Beckwith (LSU); Scott McKillop (Pitt); Frantz Joseph (Florida Atlantic).

OUTSIDE LINEBACKERS Wake Forest’s Aaron Curry should go within the first 40 minutes of the draft and could be gone in the first 10. Aside from the OLB options already

mentioned under DEs, former Trojans Brian Cushing and Clay Matthews could both be first round selections. Northern Illinois’ Larry English may be another DE-LB crossover, but with a lighter price tag. Another position convert could be 6-3 230-lb DB Nic Harris of Oklahoma, a strong safety who was already beginning the transition during Senior bowl week. Some have also spoken of Kevin Ellison (another Trojan) as a convert from strong safety, but that may be more of a project.

SAFETIES NFL teams could pass on this year’s crop of safeties until late in the first round or early in the second, but the talent is there for a late day one run starting with Eugene Chung (Oregon) at free safety or Louis Delmas (Western Michigan) at strong safety. 6-2 215 Chip Vaughn (Wake Forest) figures to go around the same time, as will another big framed player, 6-1 230 William Moore of Missouri. Mississippi State’s smaller Derek Pegues is more of a small corner and a possible draft day faller, yet is an explosive player who could still be a year one wonder. Also: Rashad Johnson (Alabama).

CORNERBACKS Cornerback is always a busy market, and there are plenty of prospects to keep teams happy. The top tier include Malcolm Jenkins (Ohio State), Vontae Davis (Illinois) and SeanSmith (Utah). Jenkins and Smith may also be viewed as free safeties, but high selection will be based on a future at corner. Davis boasts good speed, but Smith may be the fast riser here. DJ Moore (Vanderbilt) is a shade off the top three, but could sneak into the first round, as could Alphonso Smith (Wake Forest). Others: Asher Allen (Georgia), Darius Butler (UConn), Coye Francies (San Jose State), Jairus Byrd (Oregon).

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Classifieds 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 ROOM TO LET KENSINGTON W8 Mature professional lodger sought for period flat (American owned) near High Street Kensington, London. Lovely double bedroom with fireplace, TV; bathroom with shower, use of kitchen; excellent access to transport, shops. £175 per week. Mon-Fri preferred. 0779-605-7812 box7439@theamerican.co.uk

WANTED: SPORTS WRITERS With the baseball season about to start, and five months of high profile golf ahead of us, The American is seeking a keen follower of each to contribute articles and opinion through the summer months, both online and in print. Experienced writers and enthusiastic first timers are equally welcome to apply. Contact our sports editor at richardg@blueedge.co.uk TO ADVERTISE IN THE AMERICAN’S CLASSIFIEDS SECTION, PLEASE CONTACT SABRINA SULLY ON

01747 830520

59


The American

Tail End

Paw Talk, or My Life as a Dog in London. By Rebel… And Lotus, the Persian Cat

I

had no choice this month except to add Lotus or I might have ended up with my eyes scratched out. It all started when Lotus overheard (a polite way of saying while she was eavesdropping) She-WhoMust-Be-Obeyed-Usually and her mistress discussing library cats during a visit at her house a few days ago. “Of course, there won’t be any library dogs,” she informs me smugly. “We only need a litter box for our needs, where you need to be walked rain, shine, snow or sleet.” There wasn’t much I could do except growl under my breath, but still I couldn’t help but be interested. So, together (our paws do make it difficult to use the keys on my lap top) we typed in www.librarycats. com and to my amazement as of September 21, 2007, there were 508 library cats listed in the States and 47 in England and that isn’t counting the rest of the world. Of the cats in the States, 34 were permanent residents, 25 had statues of cats, 4 vertical cats, 2 stuffed lions, 1 stuffed Siberian tiger, 1 stuffed Cheetah and 1 ghost cat. Looking as if she just had roast rat for dinner, Lotus gives me a Cheshire smile. “Do you know one of Hollywood’s most talented movie stars is going to be in a movie about Dewey, one of the most famous library cats in the States?” I blink my brown eyes innocently at her. “Kate Winslet?” Lotus looks

64

at me as if I had just grown cat’s whiskers. “No, Meryl Streep.” The problem is, arguing with Lotus when she’s wrong is difficult enough, but when she’s right, it’s impossible. Documentaries, she informs me, have been made on them and Reggie, a library cat in Sauk, Minnesota inspired librarian Phyliss Lahti to found The Library Cat Society in 1987. In fact, in our research we discovered dozens of cats who have reigned supreme in libraries. According to one web site, www. ironfrog.com/catsmap one of the few places without library cats are the Middle East and South America. There is a documentary on library cats by Gary Roma who explores the lifestyle of cats who roam the book cases, curl up on laps and sleep in circulation desks. On one site we clicked on, Squeakers, Wesleyan’s Library Cat, who was in residence from 1985 until her death in 2008, gave us a run down on what she did personally. Lotus was so fascinated she was ready to run out and join the local library as their resident cat until I reminded her they were expected to work and not lie in a golden cage and dine on free range chicken and wild salmon. Now, I got to give credit where

credit is due. Library cats do inspire reading. There have been some unprofessional problems created by a few but they seem to be in the minority. Job responsibilities vary from rodents control, counselling, purveyor of book reviews and companionship. The majority of libraries with cats have over a ninety percent rating from their patrons. In short, although it’s hard for me to admit, modern library working cats have played an important role in efforts to increase literacy awareness. Hmm...now if they were to film the articles I’ve written over the years I wonder who would play me? Maybe Cate Blanchett. I do like her regal style. “Regal style! I mean, honestly, Rebel, since when does any canine have regal style? As for me, Kiera Knightley, of course.” – Lotus ★


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