Sunday, June 17, 2018
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Tuesday, June 12, 2018
Singer handing Russian leader PR coup by performing at opening ceremony, say critics
NOTE FROM THISSMALLPLANET: Putin critic Bill Browder points out:
NOTE FROM THISSMALLPLANET: Putin critic Bill Browder points out:
In addition to legitimizing Putin by performing at the World Cup, @robbiewilliams performed for Russian oligarchs Alisher Usmanov and Roman Abramovich in Russia in the past
Robbie Williams has been accused of selling his soul to the “dictator” Vladimir Putin after it emerged he will be performing in Russia for the football World Cup.
The singer will headline Thursday’s opening ceremony, which will be attended by the Russian president prior to the tournament’s first game, between Russia and Saudi Arabia.
Politicians and campaigners criticised the move and urged him to follow the lead of the royal family, as well as government ministers, and refrain from attending the event in protest against Russia’s alleged involvement in the Skripal poisoning.
The head of the global Magnitsky justice campaign, Bill Browder, a former client of the anti-corruption lawyer who was beaten to death while in police custody in Moscow in 2009, tweeted: “There’s lots of ways to make money Robbie Williams, but selling your soul to a dictator shouldn’t be one of them. Shame on you.”
“This message is on behalf of Sergei Magnitsky, Boris Nemtsov, Anna Politkovskaya, Natalia Estimirova, victims of MH17, 10,000 dead Ukrainian soldiers.”
The Labour MP Stephen Doughty said: “It is surprising and disappointing to hear that such a great British artist as Robbie Williams, who has been an ally of human rights campaigns and the LGBT+ community, has apparently agreed to be paid by Russia and Fifa to sing at the World Cup opener.”
“At a time when Russian jets are bombing civilians in Syria, the Russian state is poisoning people on the streets of Britain, as well as persecuting LGBT+ people in Chechnya and elsewhere – let alone attempting to undermine our democracies – I can only assume Robbie will be speaking out on these issues alongside his performance?”
John Woodcock MP, who sits on the home affairs committee, also condemned the former Take That member, who will be paid hundreds of thousands of pounds for the brief appearance.
“We all want to support the England team but Robbie Williams is handing Vladimir Putin a PR coup by performing at the thuggish pariah’s opening ceremony just months after Russia carried out a chemical weapons attack on English soil,” he said.
“I understand why the national team felt they should go and compete but no patriotic public figure should be giving a thumbs up to Russia by acting in this way. Even at this late stage, I really hope Robbie will reconsider and pull out.”
In a statement released by Fifa, the world governing body of football, Williams invited football and music fans to “party with us in Russia … for an unforgettable show.
“I’m so happy and excited to be going back to Russia for such a unique performance. I’ve done a lot in my career, and opening the Fifa World Cup to 80,000 football fans in the stadium and many millions all over the world is a boyhood dream.”
Williams will be accompanied by the Russian soprano Aida Garifullina for the the musical extravaganza. The two-time World Cup winner with Brazil, Ronaldo, will also take part in the ceremony, in an as-yet unspecified role.
A spokesman for Williams said the celebrity did not wish to offer comment. According to the Sunday Times rich list, Williams is worth £165m.
This will not be his first Russian performance. Earlier this year, the singer performed at a St Petersburg party to celebrate 25 years of MegaFon, a Russian mobile phone company controlled by Alisher Usmanov, the Uzbek-born Russian billionaire and Arsenal shareholder.
In 2014, he allegedly performed to a group of Putin’s inner circle at the request of the Chelsea owner, Roman Abramovich.
Vladislav Surkov, who planned Russia’s intervention in Ukraine and is understood to be one of Putin’s closest advisers, was personally invited to the party by Abramovich. Williams was later photographed with Surkov’s wife, Natalya Dubovitskaya.
Two years later, Williams released Party Like a Russian. In the song, he romanticised capital flight from Russia and sang: “It takes a certain kind of man with a certain reputation to alleviate the cash from a whole entire nation,” and “Subcontract disputes to some brutes in Louboutin … Act highfalutin’ while my boys put the boots in.”
I was a big fan of The Jon Spencer Blues Explosion in the mid/late 90's, so it's nice to catch up with the lead singer, just in time for his solo debut album; coming out this Fall. Here's the lead single "Do The Trash Can". It rocks.
Originally it was Vadge Moore, drummer for Test Subjects and The Dwarves, who recommended The Blues Explosion to me. I heard "Bellbottoms" and have been hooked ever since.
I'll never forget them taking the stage at Irving Plaza with beards and a theremin...
Looking forward to seeing what else Jon has to offer; as a solo artist.
Wasn't aware until just now that "Bellbottoms" was used in a key scene at the beginning of Baby Driver. Hats off to the musical supervisor, who also used "Hocus Pocus" by Focus and other interesting musical choices most effectively...
Monday, June 11, 2018
I’ll try this again: in thinking about the deaths of Bourdain and Spade, I made a post earlier today about suicide and mental health. Some comments felt I was being unsympathetic towards the mentally ill or suicidal, so I’d like to rephrase and provide more context for what I was trying to say.
During a period a few years ago when I was dangerously and actively suicidal, my respect for my loved ones and my knowledge of the pain I would cause them was, truly and with no overstatement, the only effective thought I had at my disposal to prevent myself from acting.
I was not saying suicide is selfish in my post. I don’t believe that. I can’t know firsthand another’s interiority, and I also have never had personal experience with a friend or loved one suffering from a truly debilitating psychological disorder. I was not speaking for all who struggle with mental health, just relaying my own lessons and conclusions following years of unwanted destructive mental activity, consistent therapy, medication, and active concerted effort towards self knowledge and education.
The reason it makes me uncomfortable to see suicide lionized is because suicide has been an at-many-times daily part of my psychic reality, even still. It follows me around. When artists are made legends through suicide, I know that some segment of the impressionable population internalizes this as justification for the act. I know this because I have overcome this exact delusion.
It makes me uncomfortable being more explicit, but some of the feedback made me feel the need... I am definitely unqualified to discuss the mental health of others, but it follows that so too is anyone else unqualified to judge my psychic reality and assume that this has not been an unwelcome and pernicious facet of my own lived experience, one that I’ve devoted much effort and resources towards addressing. I can say I took a break between albums to “go back to school” in interviews, but that isn’t the whole story.
I have nothing but empathy for anyone struggling, and I really hope people get the help they need, and that we all make ourselves available to those close to us who need us.
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