Monthly Archives: October 2020

October 11

Piaf and Cocteau: Les Enfants Terribles

When I write I disturb. When I make a film I disturb. When I paint I disturb. When I exhibit my paintings I disturb, and I disturb if I don’t. I have a knack for disturbing. (Jean Cocteau, Diary of an Unknown) On the 11th of October 1963, a French poet, novelist, designer, playwright, artist, […]

October 10

Racism in Opera: Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess

On the 10th of October 1935, George Gershwin’s opera Porgy and Bess opened in the Alvin Theatre on Broadway, New York. A few years earlier, Singer Al Jolson attempted to musicalise the story starring as a comic blackface Porgy, his minstrel shows, an unacceptable racist concept nowadays. The Broadway opening was unprecedented in U.S. history due to […]

October 09

Che Guevara’s Revolution in Pop Culture

On the 9th of October 1967 Che Guevara, an Argentinian Marxist revolutionary, and allegedly one of the most famous revolutionaries in the world, was executed. The execution took place in a little Bolivian village, La Higuera, which since then has become a pilgrimage destination for numerous Che Guevara followers. The use of the word ‘pilgrimage’ […]

October 08

Can and Should Manners be Taught?

On the 8th of October 1952, American socialite-journalist Amy Vanderbilt’s Complete Book of Etiquette was first published . Most of us wish to be seen as well-mannered. However, acknowledging the existence of a set of rules which would dictate how to behave has largely become a derided, old-fashioned subject. Things were different in the 1950s. Vanderbilt’s 800-page tome set the standard […]

October 07

Edgar Allan Poe: Death in a Gutter

On the 7th of October 1849 Edgar Allan Poe died in Baltimore, America. He was one of the world’s most renowned crime and horror writers, credited also with inventing the detective and science fiction genres. Poe was the first Victorian writer who had an ambition to earn a living from writing. Judging by the final outcome of his life, he […]

October 06

Bette Davis: Bring the Bitch Back!

On the 6th of October 1989, actress Bette Davies died of breast cancer at the age of 81 in the American Hospital in Neuilly-sur-Seine, France. On her Hollywood tombstone, the inscription reads: She did it the hard way, summing up a woman’s lifetime of struggle for perfection but also survival. Most of this struggle was by […]

October 05

‘Love Me Do’ and the Hormonal Storm of the 1960s

On the 5th of October 1962, The Beatles’ first single ‘Love Me Do’ was released. The release of the song triumphantly marks the beginning of one of the most fascinating phenomena in the history of popular music – the ‘Beatlemania’.  On the 5th of October 1962, after few years of ups and downs, The Beatles were officially […]

October 04

Mount Rushmore: Personal Ambition to National Heritage

On the 4th of October 1927, Gutzon Borglum (1867-1941) began sculpting Mount Rushmore, a long project which ended unfinished in 1941, the year of the artist’s death. Borglum was a Danish-American  sculptor, son of a bigamist Mormon father who started off as a woodcarver, then moved with Gutzon’s aunt to New York to train as […]

October 03

Ginsberg’s Howl Versus American Censorship

On the 3rd of October 1957 Allen Ginsberg’s ‘Howl and Other Poems‘ was ruled not obscene. ‘Howl and Other Poems’ by Allen Ginsberg polarised American society of the 1950s. On one side of the barricade placed themselves bohemian writers and poets of the Beat Generation, to whom transgression of social standards and taboos became an axis of […]

October 02

Duchamp and the Dadaist Gender Offensive

On the 2nd of October 1968, artist Marcel Duchamp died in Neuilly-sur-Seine, France. His Rouen grave was engraved with the humorously defiant epitaph “Besides, it’s always the others who die!”. In death, as in life, he remained a master of sarcasm and controversy. A puzzling development in his career occurred in 1920, when Duchamp started adopting a […]