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The Wired Sculptures by Ivan Lovatt

Ivan, Andy, and Soup
Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band

Ivan Lovatt was born in Kenya and then came to live in the UK. For the past 6 years he contributed, as a professional sculptor, his works to private collections, corporations and public exhibitions. His most famous pieces are made of chicken wire: “by layering, twisting and shaping this very ordinary medium Ivan creates both abstract and realistic representations, which are tactile, appealing to the viewer to touch.  As Ivan’s skills developed and evolved he was drawn to figurative work, and Ivan began a series of portraits of famous people which candidly demonstrates his superior level of craftsmanship and attention to detail“. 


Michael Jackson

You can visit Ivan’s official website, while here is a small selection of his portraits of famous people. Most of them are instantly recognisable; it seems that Ivan is experimenting more with the medium than the form. However, his portraits of The Beatles and John Lennon reminded me of a series of photographs by an Italian photographer Enzo Rafazzini who was once offered to participate in a project illustrating The Beatles’ lyrics. Rafazzini chose When I’m Sixty-Four


Enzo Rafazzini
Enzo Rafazzini

In the post, though, I’m using The Beatles’ Come Together. I thought the rhythm suits all the images quite nicely. 

Enzo Rafazzini


Enzo Rafazzini

A Stockport Auction Sells John Lennon’s Tooth for GBP19,500

The trend of obsession with celebrities limbs and other body parts continues this year with the sale of a tooth that belonged to John Lennon. The lovely town of Stockport on the border of Greater Manchester and Cheshire counties held an auction where one of the items was Lennon’s molar: it was given by the Beatle himself to his housekeeper in the 1960s.

Back in 2009 an Italian astronomer and scientist Galileo made the news when his tooth and “missing finger” were found in a jar. Now it is the famous musician’s tooth. The bidder, Michael Zuk, a dentist, was bidding by phone to secure himself the lot. He will now pay £19,500 ($30,000) for this highly coveted item.

According to Karen Fairweather from Omega Auctions who managed the sell-up of Alan McGee’s collection, the molar is “rather gruesome, yellowy, browny with a cavity“. Dr Zuk, from Canada, is now going to add the item to his personal collection of celebrity teeth, with which he occasionally tours.

To quote The Hollywood Reporter, “the author of Confessions of a Former Cosmetic Dentist, a tell-all of sorts about celebrity teeth, Zuk now plans to display his prize in his office and eventually take it on a tooth tour of other practices and dental schools“.

So, folks, if you can imagine yourself reaching worldwide fame, think twice before asking someone to dispose of your cut nails, teeth, hairs, and such like. You never know in whose collection it ends up.


John Lennon’s 71st Birthday, Paul McCartney’s Wedding, and Charles Register’s Band

Chuck & The Dirty Dog, Moscow, July 2011

In Chelyabinsk (that’s a city in Southern Ural in Russia) they are celebrating John Lennon’s 71st birthday on October 10. Paul McCartney is tying the knot this weekend with his fiancee, Nancy. And now that I’ve recovered access to my computer, I want to share one of the two posts about a wonderful man I came to meet in Moscow. I think some of you might even know him. His name is Charles, he’s American, and has for years been practising chiropractic. Charles has been living in Moscow since 1992, and previously lived in the Arabic part of Israel; as a result, he speaks Russian, Arabic, and his native English.

Chuck & The Dirty Dog, Moscow, July 2011

He was born under the sign of Aquarius, so this already may have to do with how and what shaped his outlook. I’ve met him twice, once to attend his rehearsal, another time to do the interview, and both times I felt immensely happy to have known the person who loves what he’s doing. He loves to help people; and when he’s tired, he loves to sing. He occasionally performs with his band, and the point is that unlike many of us he ENJOYS himself. He doesn’t walk the streets with lofty ideas, neither does he winge about sitting in the office doing the job he hates. He was lucky to have found the occupation that he wanted to dedicate himself to early on in life, and then he relenltlessly pursued it.

Anyway, because this is the time for music, here are two recordings, a video on YouTube found by Vassily, and my edited extracts from Charles’s rehearsal. Charles performs as Chuck, accompanied by The Dirty Dog band. Photographs are by Kirill Kuzmin.

Other posts (in Russian): On chiropractic and the life of Americans in Russia and A Doctor in Moscow. One more article is coming up at chuma3.livejournal.com.


Stand by Me – John Lennon, Johnny Hallyday, and Adriano Celentano

I love discovering versions of well-known songs in different languages. Here are three absolutely different versions, not only in that one is in English, another is in French, and the third is in Italian. The tonality varies from gentle and romantic (Celentano), through humourous and rock’n’roll (Lennon), to passionate and riveting (Hallyday). To top it all, there is an Italian cover by Sylvie Vartan. Under the cut are French and Italian versions: the French is closest to the original. The Italian song is a prayer that someone would find God.

Italian version: 

Pregherò per te
Che hai la notte nel cuor,
E se tu lo vorrai, crederai.
io lo so perché
Tu la fede non hai,
Ma se tu lo vorrai, crederai.

Non devi odiare il sole
Perché tu non puoi vederlo, ma c’è.
Ora splende su di noi, su di noi.
Dal castello del silenzio
Egli vede anche te,
E già sento che anche tu lo vedrai.

Egli sa che lo vedrai
Solo con gli occhi miei,
Ed il mondo, la sua luce riavrà.

Io t’amo, t’amo, t’amo, o-o-oh!
Questo è il primo segno che da
La tua fede nel Signor,
Nel Signor, nel Signor.

Io t’amo, t’amo, t’amo, o-o-oh!
Questo è il primo segno che da
La tua fede nel Signor, nel Signor.
La fede è il più bel dono
Che il Signore ci da
Per vedere lui e allòr
Tu vedrai, tu vedrai, tu vedrai

French version: 

Quand la nuit revient
Comme un voile sombre et tendre
Quand ton corps vient s’étendre
Je suis bien

Je ne crains plus rien
J’ai mon cœur sur tes mains
Je te crie ouais dans la nuit
Reste ici

Je t’en prie, je t’en supplie
Reste ici
Oh ! Reste avec moi
Ne pars pas reste là
Reste avec moi

Quand le monde se plaint
Quand les hommes se déchirent
Rien qu’un mot, un sourire
Et je suis bien

Je pourrais pleurer
Comme un gosse à Noël
Sur le ciel, sur ma vie
Reste ici

Imagine: The Impact of One Life

Had John Lennon not been walking home on that fateful December night, he’d have turned 70 today. For his fans all over the world he is turning 70 anyway. We’ve been ridden of the necessity to see him age, to disappoint us in something, just as well as we’ve had to walk it alone, with “Imagine” playing in our heads. Most importantly, for those of us who strive to be better than we are, Lennon will always be an example of how to make it, of how to become a worldwide music and peace figure.

John Lennon in video, Citroen stand,
Moscow Design Week, October 2010
His life, however, provided more impact and inspiration than the person who had led could even fathom. And I wonder if Lennon would smile, irony hidden in his eyes, upon entering the Moscow Manege that welcomed the exhibition l’ART DE VIVRE à LA FRANÇAISE. For the first thing he’d see would be the Citroen stand (Citroen was the official sponsor of the Moscow Design Week 2010), with the presentation accompanied by two videos, one with Marylin Monroe, another with John Lennon. Both iconic figures had something important to tell us: be yourself.
Perhaps, this is what makes celebrated artists, dead or alive, so attractive: they are (or were) themselves. They led their lives in that particularly painful way of following one’s own mind. As a result, we admire them. But do we try and follow their example? Do we want to be ourselves as badly as they did?

Amsterdam Bed-In 40 Years On: Memories and Reflections

They say that Twitter helps you find ideas. With regards to this post, Twitter helped me find the most of it… starting with a reminder about the famous Amsterdam bed-in at the Hilton Hotel staged by John Lennon and Yoko Ono between 25 and 31 of March, 1969. Although a seasoned Beatlomaniac myself, I have forgotten about the 40th anniversary. But then someone reminded me of it.

It was Joel Warady from Chicago with whom I share both professional activity (marketing, see Joel Warady Group website) and the passion for the Grand Four from Liverpool. His first tweet was a mere mention of the 40th anniversary, but he also mentioned that at The Hilton Hotel in Amsterdam there was a plaque on the room’s door. I was curious, so I asked if one could actually see the room. Joel’s answer was positive… and next I was asking him if he would be willing to answer a few questions. The Q&A exchange happened at Facebook, so in a nutshell here is an example of harnessing the potential of some Social Networks to do the work.

So, off to Joel 🙂 And many thanks to him for agreeing to answer the questions.

Joel Warady: This was the room where John asked for peace…

JD: Let’s start with your visit to Amsterdam. Did you deliberately choose to stay at The Hilton?

JW: I tend to go to Amsterdam for work purposes, and in 2007 I decided to stay at The Hilton. I didn’t actually think that it was there that John and Yoko had staged their bed-in. But once I arrived, I recognised it straight away and asked some questions. The front desk person was the one who confirmed it, and told me that if I wanted to see the room, the General Manager would be happy to show it to me.

JD: You mentioned there was a plaque at the room commemorating the bed-in. So, you got to see it – what was the impression?

JW: I did have a chance to see the room. I saw it many times before in the clips, but it was still very inspiring to physically be there. It was very cool, it felt historical, but also a bit sad. I was thinking that this was the room where John asked for peace, but then remembering that he was shot in an act of violence… it really got to me.

JD: Do you remember your reaction to the news on December 8, 1980?

JW: When I first heard that John was killed, I was in my car, driving in the suburbs of Chicago. Ironically, I was selling life insurance at the time, and when I heard he had been killed, I pulled off the road, and cried.

JD: John seems to be an important figure for you… am I right?

JW: John’s humour was always what made me smile the most. While I enjoyed his singing, his personality was what made it for me.

JS: And what about the Beatles, then? I notice on Facebook you list them among your favourite artists.

JW: Beatles did mean a lot for me. I’m old enough to remember their US introduction, but still young enough to introduce their music to younger coworkers. Even today when I hear certain Beatles songs, I tear up thinking of when I first heard the song. It also saddens me to hear John’s and George’s voices on certain songs, knowing that they both are gone.

JS: Do you have a favourite song?

JW: This would be a tough one! Obviously, there are so many… but if I have to choose one, it is ‘If I Fell‘ from A Hard Day’s Night album.

JS: As everyone knows, we the fans love going to our stars’ concerts, visiting the places where they lived or worked, collect memorabilia. What about yourself – have you seen the Beatles perform? Or went to Penny Lane, perhaps?

JW: Well, here is what really sad: although I’ve been to the UK over 70 times, I still didn’t get to visit Liverpool or Abbey Road. I do keep promising myself to do so, of course. At the same time, I have visited the site in Soho where they had their store. The same goes for those sites in London where I know they used to be in their early days, I love going there. I’ve never seen them live, but a few years ago I went to see Paul in concert, and that was awe-inspiring. Seriously, it was one of the best concerts I’ve ever attended.

The Significance of the Amsterdam Bed-In

The 40th anniversary of the Bed-In (commemorated in The Ballad of John and Yoko) was highlighted in the media, as well as marked by a special exhibition organised by Yoko Ono and The John Lennon Estate. The exhibition at The Hilton this year showcased John’s art work, posthumously fulfilling his dream to achieve recognition as a visual artist. On a personal note, I own what must be one of those collections of coloured prints that Yoko produced to popularise John’s work. To quote John Lennon Arts Projects,

Lennon’s style as an artist has been written about extensively, and consisted of two main techniques: quick sketching and the art of sumi ink drawing, which involves the use of a fine sable brush with very black ink and water. This Oriental art technique leaves very little room for error; the consistency of the water and ink has to be carefully controlled, and the brushstrokes must suit the consistency of the ink. Quick sketching was also well suited to Lennon, as he could draw extremely fast; many of his quick sketches were made in one continuous movement in which he did not lift his pencil from the paper, thereby creating an entire complex image with a single line.

Of course, for all of us who in one way or another were influenced by Lennon’s work, and by The Beatles in general, there will be those who are more or less immune to their charms. Michael Archer of The Guardian, for instance, attempts to explain the significance of the bed-in, but ends up speculating more about the phonetic similarity between Lennon’s “peace” and Ono’s “piece”, as she called her own artwork (now, of course, “piece” as a term has been so much appropriated by artists and art critics alike, it is probably impossible to appreciate the 1969 pun in its own terms). He also puts the bed-in in the context of the Vietnam war and compares it to the Grosvenor Square demonstration of 1968. What he forgets to mention, however, that 1968 was generally the year of protests (May’68 in Paris was fittingly commemorated in Bertolucci’s Dreamers); these happened in many countries, and the Vietnam war wasn’t the only cause. Lennon wasn’t too idealistic, after all, and certainly didn’t expect the world leaders to stop fighting to watch him and Yoko possibly having sex. The bed-in was an attempt to seize the moment, to get the world come to the Amsterdam Hilton and to “give peace a chance”. To quote one of the commentators on Archer’s article:

I was in NYC the night John Lennon was shot. Driving by the Dakota the next day on the way out of town was one of the saddest experiences in my life. In some ways, it has seemed to me that that day was a turning point in our civilisation and that everything went downhill since then… I still miss John Lennon for his music also, of course, but the world today could certainly use more of his wit, wisdom, and sarcasm. A special thanks to Yoko for keeping John’s memory alive…

P.S. I was hoping to add more “value” to Joel’s interview, as I found a video on YouTube (a Social Media channel, by the way) of Hans Schiffers, a Dutch journalist, interviewing Hans Boskamp at The Hilton Hotel. The video went online in February 2009. I tried to connect with Hans via YouTube mail, but was far less successful. My attempts at securing help of other Dutch speakers I knew, sadly, failed, but the readers of this post who know Dutch are very welcome to participate. You can leave comments or email me with the transcript. Either way, it will be quoted, and a full credit will be given to you.

You can also view a series of bed-in clips at Mojo4Music.

The Use of Religious Symbols (Saki, The Easter Egg)

The symbols of our religious festivals aren’t as innocent as we’d like them to be. Recently the State Russian Museum in St Petersburg exhibited the works by Yuri Khrzhanovsky, a Russian artist. One of the paintings was “The Ode to Joy”, which depicts two extraterrestrial characters, one of whom is playing a guitar. If you look closer at the image, you’ll see that the guitar is made of a Cross and a Wreath. The Cross is also repeated in the painting itself, and the picture has been criticised by one of the museum’s researchers as “the ode to blasphemy”. I suppose here in the West the story of “blasphemous” Christian images that had some grains of truth in them is age-old, and one only has to remember the immortal saying by John Lennon, that Beatles were more popular than Jesus. Bearing in mind the present crisis in religious mores, he couldn’t be more right, even if it came at a cost at the time.

Speaking of Easter Eggs, they were an inspiration to some, like Peter Carl Fabergé. There is a Wikipedia article about the awesome Easter Eggs he produced for the Russian Imperial Family, with information about almost all of them. Many of the eggs are now on display at the Kremlin Armoury, and if you’re planning a visit to Russia, absolutely include a trip there (consider the Kremlin as the Russian analogue to the Tower, especially because there is also a Diamond Fund, which only rivals the British Royal Jewellery Collection at the White Tower).

But Saki painted a rather gruesome story in The Easter Egg, which you can read in full if you follow the link. In the story the egg was used to carry out a terrorist attack, and it certainly reads as a rather humorous story, thanks to Saki’s style.

“It was distinctly hard lines for Lady Barbara, who came of good fighting stock, and was one of the bravest women of her generation, that her son should be so undisguisedly a coward. Whatever good qualities Lester Slaggby may have possessed, and he was in some respects charming, courage could certainly never he imputed to him. As a child he had suffered from childish timidity, as a boy from unboyish funk, and as a youth he had exchanged unreasoning fears for others which were more formidable from the fact of having a carefully thought-out basis. He was frankly afraid of animals, nervous with firearms, and never crossed the Channel without mentally comparing the numerical proportion of lifebelts to passengers. On horseback he seemed to require as many hands as a Hindu god, at least four for clutching the reins, and two more for patting the horse soothingly on the neck. Lady Barbara no longer pretended not to see her son’s prevailing weakness, with her usual courage she faced the knowledge of it squarely, and, mother-like, loved him none the less.”

It all changed on the day when the Easter Egg was to be presented:

“The next moment Lester was running, running faster than any of those present had ever seen a man run, and–he was not running away. For that stray fraction of his life some unwonted impulse beset him, some hint of the stock he came from, and he ran unflinchingly towards danger. He stooped and clutched at the Easter egg as one tries to scoop up the ball in Rugby football.”

So, a Cross for a guitar, and an Easter Egg for a terrorist attack. Not that we thought that religion was all about peace, did we?

From Blogger to Julia

As I told Richard when we chatted on Radio Manchester, I wasn’t keen on blogging initially. At first, I was totally against the idea, then in late July 2006 I began to contemplate on it (it must’ve been Futuresonic influence). Eventually I saw myself one August night signing up for an account. I’ve chosen Blogger because I had a Google email, so it made sense. And I’ve been generally happy with the service, bearing in mind that I’ve never blogged before. The only thing I find difficult to get my head round is the multiple changes, which may not be the changes after all, but which put a non-hack on alert.

When I was signing up people were advised to sign up for Blogger in Beta, which I did. Now I note that ‘Beta’ sign is crossed out, and I’m reading that we’ve got a fantastic ‘Blogger’ instead. To say that I’m confused is to say nothing, really. Add to this the whole Christmas fever and attempts to manage the list of presentees, and here you go. From what I’ve seen in the new Blogger tour, I’m signed up for the right version of software, and my only hope is that the guys at Blogger have some pity for poor journos, authors and non-hacks and don’t make us switch to something else. That’s our unanimous Christmas wish, and I’m sure all agree.

This Friday I’m hoping to get to this John Lennon Imagine charity gig at RNCM, on which Mancubist blogged some time ago. Which means I’m going to stay up at work until at least 6.30pm. But like I said previously, I’ve been once to Lennon’s commemorative gig in Moscow, so I’m keen to compare my impressions with what they’ll do in Machester. If you see a girl in round specs, it’s probably going to be me.

And – to answer the question someone has been asking to a search engine – Julia is not a Russian name. To be honest, whoever asks exactly what my Russian name is, usually says next that it’s a very nice name. I do agree, but when I was coming over to England in 2003 I reckoned I’d have just enough trouble helping people to spell my surname correctly. I thought I’d do a lot of good to everyone if I use the English equivalent to my Russian name. Besides, I’ve always been translating my name into English.

Believe it or not, most of the times when I say that my name is ‘Julia’, people hear either ‘Julie’ or ‘Julianne’. Whilst doing a radio programme, I have had a plenty of chances to listen to myself pronouncing my name, and as far as I’m concerned it sounds ‘Julia’. Nevertheless, my effort to solve possible problems didn’t bring the desired fruit, as in addition to helping to spell my surname I also have to explain, exactly what my name is.

But after all, I love my name for its versatility, for the fact that it’s spelt and pronounced differently in different European languages. I do like being a chameleon, I must admit. The name itself is of Latin origin, and I will never forget this dialogue with my Latin tutor in Moscow.

Tutor: I note your name is Julia.
Me: Yes.
Tutor: Your parents must’ve named you after Julius Ceasar.
Me: I don’ think they remembered him.

John Lennon


Yes, it’s yet another anniversary. There is nothing to say, as no words would express everything we feel on this day every year. For me as the fan of both The Beatles and John Lennon it was difficult to gradually realise that this man is no longer here, and that I’ve only got as much as he’d written/drawn/sung/acted, etc., that there will be no more. In fact, there hadn’t been any more for a long while before I even discovered his music.

My history of attending music venues was strangely linked to Lennon and The Beatles. The first *serious* music venue that I attended was a concert dedicated to Paul McCartney’s 50th anniversary. It took place in Moscow, there was no Macca, but before the concert we were treated to a screening of Let It Be. In 1997, when I just entered the University, I saw an announcement on the board about the celebration of John Lennon’s birthday in one of Moscow’s clubs. I went with a few friends. His songs were mixed with some modern performances, of which my memories are still very vivid.

There is his official website, as well as many good fansites across the web. There was recently an appeal to make December 8th The Day of Peace. I think for many people it has already been such for 26 years now (and perhaps even before then) and will remain such for as long as the memory lives. The idea, in the end, is not about commemorating either John Lennon, or peace. It is about making peace happen. And on that there is no-one better to quote, than Lennon himself:

If everyone demanded peace instead of another television set, then there’d be peace.
Sad, but true. As indeed many of Lennon’s songs. I have decided to put up a YouTube video of one of his classics of The Beatles’ period. In part, it is because I did not want to be ‘conventional’ and go for Imagine, which is totally predictable on this occasion. In part, however, I have chosen this song for its utter dramatism in both lyrics and music and – its poignancy. 

…Won’t You Please, Please…

… exactly, HELP ME! Under the workload this is the song that comes to mind, and I found this rare video on YouTube (thanks to modcentric, whose blog you can read). On modcentric’s account on YouTube there is also a wonderful video of the Awesome Four eating fish&chips, while also singing I Feel Fine. The video is called The Beatles Fish & Chips Intertel Video.

Back to HELP, my Irish neighbour, a musician, always says that this song affected him a lot in his youth because it sounded very sincere. As for me, I was introduced to The Beatles by my father, who was (and still is) a huge fan of Paul McCartney. The introduction took place in about 1990, when I didn’t know English half as well as I do now. The first two albums he gave me to listen to were recorded on an audio cassette, A Hard Day’s Night on side A, and Let It Be on side B. And I vividly recall trying to log the lyrics of the song I Me Mine, literally pressing my ear against the tape recorder. Like I said, I knew very little English then, which is why I couldn’t make out most of the song.

Of course, I listened to a lot of music during my school years, but The Beatles have had the decisive influence. I was the best pupil in my year, and everyone thought I spent days and nights studying. Little did they know that I used to do away with my homework as quickly as possible, sometimes even forgetting about it and leaving it until late in the evening. What I did instead was turning the tape recorder on as soon as I’d get home from school. There is no wonder therefore that I knew all Beatles’ albums by heart by the time I went to the University.

However, my favourite Beatle has always been John Lennon. I loved his talent, his music, his lyrics, his appearance, and that has never had anything to do with the fact that I was born on December 9, 1980. [My looking all over Moscow for round specs did, though]. I do regret slightly that Imagine has become so popular because, I think, people occasionally begin to take it as a commonplace. And, yes, there is a lot of idealism about Lennon, but now and again I find myself thinking things many people would not share. So, in his words, ‘you may say I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one‘.

Anyway, enjoy the movie, and I’ll get back to my work…

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