Saturday, April 21, 2018

Tens of thousands expected to attend as Los Angeles Times Festival of Books kicks off By Brittny Mejia

Tens of thousands of people are expected to attend this weekend's Los Angeles Times Festival of Books, the largest event of its kind in the country. The 23rd annual festival, which celebrates reading and storytelling, got underway at 10 a.m. Saturday at the USC campus near downtown L.A. Authors participating in this year's event include Junot Díaz, Reza Aslan, Maria Shriver and Leslie Odom Jr. In addition to the author panels, there are hundreds of booths showcasing the things that make L.A. a great literary city. Campus eateries are open, and food trucks parked at four locations. There is also music, cooking demonstrations and other activities. More than 150,000 people attended last year's event. Novak, an Orange County resident, has been coming to the festival off and on for 10 years. "We're big readers, so we love seeing all the booksellers and what they have on sale," Novak said. "But we also love the opportunity to hear the writers come and talk about their latest books and hear them talk with other writers." Los Angeles Times

Le Big Mac: Emmanuel Macron’s rise and rise By Lara Marlowe

Photo Credit: French President Emmanuel Macron
President Emmanuel Macron likes to convince people. In manner and method, he is unlike his predecessors. Nicolas Sarkozy cajoled and bullied. François Hollande just gave up. Macron fixes interlocutors with his intense blue stare and builds a Cartesian argument. If that doesn’t work, he starts over, patiently, but with determination. The past week has tested the young president’s powers of persuasion. Early in the hours of April 14th, Macron used his constitutional power as commander in chief for the first time, joining the US and Britain in launching cruise missiles against three chemical weapons installations in Syria. The goal, Macron said later, was to convince Bashar al Assad and Vladimir Putin that the international community was more than a “nice” and “weak” body they could push around. In a further exercise in persuasion, Macron volunteered for a combative, 2½ hour live television interview on Sunday night, during which he made the surprising claim that, “Ten days ago, President Trump said the US would pull out of Syria. We convinced him it was necessary to stay for the duration.” The White House later issued a statement saying Trump’s view had not changed, and the French president made an embarrassing climbdown on Monday, claiming he “never said” the US or France would remain militarily engaged in Syria for the long term. Perhaps Macron, whose nickname is “Jupiter”, is threatened by hubris, the sin of pride that afflicted Greek gods. The rest of the week was one long attempt to convince Europeans and the French of the rightness of his positions. Macron – who has become the de facto leader of Europe – received the heads of the three Baltic states who have teamed up with five other northern EU countries, including the Netherlands and Ireland, to thwart his efforts to further integrate the euro zone. Then, before a more sympathetic audience at the EU parliament in Strasbourg, Macron pleaded with proponents of liberal democracy to wake up and oppose the populist authoritarians who deny European values. Macron then travelled to Berlin in yet another effort to enlist German chancellor Angela Merkel’s support for his European reform agenda. On Monday, Macron will go to Washington for a three-day state visit, the first of Trump’s presidential term. Although the two men have clashed on climate change, the Iran nuclear accord, trade protectionism and the rise of Eurosceptical populism, Trump appears to have been charmed by the young president, who says Franco-American co-operation is crucial in the fight against terrorism. The Irish Times

Smyths Toys to buy Toys R Us in Germany, Austria and Switzerland By Mark Paul

Photo Credit: The Irish Times
Mayo family-owned retailing group will almost double in size, adding a further 90 stores to its network

Smyths Toys, the Mayo family-owned retailing group, will almost double in size after agreeing to a huge deal to buy rival, Toys R Us, in Germany, Austria and Switzerland. The deal will add a further 90 stores to the group’s network of 110 outlets which are located in Ireland and, mostly, the UK. Smyths, which already had group sales estimated at about €600 million, is now among the largest specialist toys retailers in Europe. Smyths is now targeting further European expansion. The Irish Times

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Caruso - Luciano Pavarotti & Lucio Dalla

Photo Credit: Luciano Pavarotti & Lucio Dalla

"Caruso" is a song written by Italian singer-songwriter Lucio Dalla in 1986. It is dedicated to Enrico Caruso, an Italian tenor. Following Lucio Dalla's death, the song entered the Italian Singles Chart, peaking at number two for two consecutive weeks. The single was also certified platinum by the Federation of the Italian Music Industry. Wikipedia

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Austrian Max Hollein new head of New York's Met

Photo Credit: Deutsche Welle/Städel Museum
A year-long search for the next director of New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art has come to an end; Vienna-born art historian and former head of prestigious museums in Frankfurt, Max Hollein, has been chosen.

New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art announced Tuesday that it had named a new director. In August 2018, Max Hollein, originally from Austria, will take over the reins of the largest art museum in the US, with a collection of over 2 million artworks tracing 5,000 years of art history. Hollein currently serves as director and chief executive of the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, which comprises the de Young Museum and the Legion of Honor. Prior to that, he was director and CEO of three of Germany's most prestigious art institutions, including the Städel Museum, the Schirn Kunsthalle and the Liebieghaus, all in Frankfurt. 

A gifted leader
The Met noted in a press statement that Hollein had been elected at a meeting of the Board of Trustees as he "has demonstrated exceptional skill at building collections, diversifying audiences, and broadening institutional development." During his tenure at Frankfurt's Städel, the museum had notably doubled its exhibition space. At the same time, Hollein oversaw the development of digital strategies and evidenced an uncanny ability at managing exhibitions and collections of artworks spanning centuries, even millennia.

"Max is a gifted leader and is exceptionally well qualified to serve as our next director," said Dan Weiss, the Met's president and CEO. "I am confident that ours will be a strong and fruitful partnership, and that Max will help advance the Met's role as a global leader for culture and the arts."

An appointment during difficult times
Hollein's appointment is the first in 60 years that did not come from within the museum's internal ranks. The 10th person to occupy the Met's top post, Hollein succeeds Thomas Campbell, a British tapestries expert, who had been in the role since 2009. He enters the position in a difficult era; the Met, which has some seven million visitors each year, has had to cut costs and curb hiring after running a $10 million deficit during the 2016-17 fiscal year. Most recently, the museum made headlines for its decision to charge an admission fee for visitors from outside New York state. Previously, the museum's entrance fee was a suggested donation only. ct/eg (AFP, kna) DW-Deutsche Welle

Monday, April 9, 2018

My Queerspawn Documentary… 18 Years Later

Photo Credit: Meema Spadola/COLLAGE
In the summer of 2000, a longtime dream of mine came true when my documentary, Our House: a very real documentary about kids with gay & lesbian parents, premiered on national public television. I was thirty years old then, the adult daughter of a lesbian mother. Until that point, the only coverage of gay families was either sensationalized news pieces that tended towards an anxious But the children! How will they manage? tone or shorter videos that worked hard to show that gay and lesbian families were happy families… maybe even happier and better than straight families! (And there was a clear undercurrent of worry about these kids “turning out” gay themselves; and sometimes, sadly, on our side, a denial that that could happen despite the presence of so many wonderful and outspoken Second Gen folks.) I wanted, at long last, to let the kids speak for themselves, even if sometimes it was a little messy. Because I knew the truth. Yes, love makes a family, but also sometimes arguing with your moms makes a family. And I knew that we — the glorious and diverse array of queer families across this country — were more interesting, complicated and real than we’d been given credit for. I wanted us, and in particular queerspawn, to be able to just be real families instead of special families. To be clear, I have met many fabulous, glittery, rainbow queerspawn and their parents in my time, so I’m not disputing that we’re pretty freakin’ awesome — I just dreamed of a day when we didn’t have to be awesome to be accepted. As a queerspawn who had found such a sense of community through COLAGE (including delighting in the in-your-face-ness of the word “queerspawn”), I wanted Our House to provide camaraderie and connection for any kids in the audience who needed it. I kept in mind how I would have felt as a “closeted” eleven-year-old queerspawn had I turned on the television and seen other kids with gay or lesbian parents. (Seriously, that would have blown my mind.) And, on a political level, I also wanted a national audience to hear from the kids, so that people would understand that our families are real and deserve respect, not only socially but legally as well. During the research phase of Our House, COLAGE staff (and queerspawn extraordinaire Stefan Lynch, who coined that term) were instrumental in connecting me to kids all over the country who might participate. I talked to many kids on the phone, met dozens of others in person, and heard stories of pride, fear, fatigue at the feeling of being under a microscope at times, resentment at their families being considered less than, plus all the other kinds of funny, thoughtful, wacky things you hear when you take the time to listen to young people. It was hard to narrow down this large group, but we ended up selecting five families that I hoped represented the diversity of our community, not only racially and ethnically, but in our religious backgrounds, socioeconomic statuses, geographic locations and family structures too. I remain so deeply grateful to the families who trusted my crew and me to tell their stories. The summer that Our House screened on television, I traveled around the country doing community screenings, talking to so many families and kids in places as varied as Durham, NC; Las Vegas; Boise, ID; St. Louis, MO; and also the small town I’d grown up in in Maine. The best feeling was seeing kids’ excitement at spotting some piece of their life or a thought they’d had, right there on the screen. Fast forward 18 years after Our House first aired on public television. I’m gearing up for the first public screening in a long time, where Our House will be shown to an audience in Brooklyn, and I will participate in a Q&A after, along with one of the families from the film. How will Our House be received now? Will it feel hopelessly outdated? How will I feel watching it again in front of a crowd? So much has changed, socially and legally. We have marriage equality nationwide, and we had (at least under President Obama) recognition of our families by a sitting president. There’s a greater presence of our families in mainstream media, and there are so many more public figures who are out about their families. As for me, I’m married, I have a fabulous 10-year-old son (who counts among his friends and schoolmates plenty of queerspawn and never takes for granted that a family is headed by a mother and father), and I don’t make documentaries anymore. (Now, as a postpartum doula and lactation counselor, I premise my practice on the assumption that each family’s situation is unique, and work hard to be a resource for LGBTQ+ families.) And last but not least, all the kids in Our House have grown up and many of them are parents themselves now! And yet, even with all these societal and legal changes, I don’t believe Our House will feel irrelevant. It can be easy to take for granted the broader acceptance of LGBTQ+ families and it can be tempting to believe that everything has changed. But I think of when my son was first starting school here in our Brooklyn neighborhood, and I was filling out the required contact sheet for students’ families. Right there on the page was the prompt to fill out contact info for “mother” and “father.” And I thought of 17-year-old Ry, the daughter of two mothers in NYC, whose interview clip closed Our House: “I wouldn’t say that having lesbian parents is an issue in my life, but I wonder, will it ever just be nothing? You know, where on a form it doesn’t say ‘mother/father’ and it’s kind of like I wait for that day.” When I raised the issue with the school’s administration, I talked about sensitivity to students with LGBTQ+ parents, and also to children with a single parent, a parent who has died, or children being raised by someone other than a parent. They were open to listening and responded positively and quickly. All our school forms now ask for “parent/guardian” contact info. Teachers and staff are working on being more sensitive, inclusive and positive about all types of families in classroom activities and assignments and with how they interact with families. We’re making progress. So, yeah, Ry, I’m also still waiting for that day. But I’m proud of the part that outspoken queerspawn (and yes, Our House) have played in getting closer to that day. Our House will be shown at a free screening in Brooklyn, NY on Thursday April 12 at 6:30pm as a part of Her-story: A Film Series From a Women’s Perspective hosted by First Unitarian Congregational Society in Brooklyn Heights at 48 Monroe Place (Corner of Monroe and Pierrepont). Meema will be participating in a Q&A after the screening, along with some of the members of the NYC family featured in the film. For those who can’t attend the screening, Our House is also available to stream on Amazon. Meema Spadola is a former documentary filmmaker whose work has been broadcast on PBS, HBO and beyond; her short radio pieces can be heard on This American Life; and her autobiographical essay was included in the anthology Out of the Ordinary: Growing Up with Gay, Lesbian and Transgender Parents. She grew up in rural Maine, and her mother came out as a lesbian after her parents separated when she was ten. Meema is now a postpartum doula and lactation counselor living with her family in Brooklyn, NY. COLAGE