Thursday, September 13, 2018

Spanish government to spearhead efforts to find Civil War victims


By NATALIA JUNQUERA
Spain’s Justice Minister Dolores Delgado on Wednesday announced that the government will spearhead the search for people who went missing under the regime of Spanish dictator Francisco Franco, and whose bodies are still lying in mass graves and by roadsides. Until now, this recovery effort had been a private initiative led by relatives and volunteers.
The Socialist Party (PSOE) government will also create an official census of victims of the Civil War (1936-1939) and the subsequent dictatorship, which ended with Franco’s death in 1975.
Privatizing the exhumations was a policy that was doomed to have poor results
PABLO DE GREIFF, EX-UN RAPPORTEUR
The Pedro Sánchez administration additionally wants to reform existing historical memory legislation to cancel rulings that were handed down by Francoist courts, and to create a truth commission. Officials are also considering outlawing associations that “glorify Francoism,” such as the Franco Foundation.
“It is not acceptable that people who are over 90 years old are in despair thinking that they will never recover their parents’ remains, or are faced with a ‘no’ from a judge or an arbitrary decision made by a local government,” said Minister Dolores Delgado on Wednesday in Congress. “It is unacceptable for Spain to continue to be the second country after Cambodia with the largest number of missing people.”
There are still more than 1,200 mass graves left to open in Spain, according to a map available at the Justice Ministry.
During the administration of PSOE Prime Minister José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero, which passed the Historical Memory Law in 2007, the executive gave grants to victims’ associations to help fund their search for mass graves with help from hired professionals. When Mariano Rajoy of the Popular Party (PP) came to power, this funding was slashed and the graves were opened thanks to donations from Norwegian electricians’ unions, prize money from the United States, and orders issued by courts in Argentina, 10,000 kilometers from the scene of the crimes.

FRANCO FOUNDATION

The Spanish government is also considering ways of outlawing “associations or organizations that glorify Francoism.” The National Francisco Franco Foundation, which lays fresh flowers on the dictator’s grave every day of the year, keeps archival material and publishes online articles praising Franco and minimizing the harsh repression that followed the war, and which the historian Paul Preston has described as “the Spanish Holocaust.” One of the options is to include “glorifying Francoism” in the criminal code, and another is to amend existing association and foundation laws. The Franco Foundation has not received state funds for years, but its members get tax breaks.
The new PSOE administration now wants to lead all the steps of the process through a newly created agency that will answer to the Justice Ministry. Authorities said they will draft a national plan to locate missing persons and will enlist experts in the fields of archeology, law and forensic medicine, as well as representatives from victims’ associations.
As for the victim census, it will be Spain’s first. Until then, the closest thing continues to be a list drawn up by former investigating Judge Baltasar Garzón, who began probing Franco-era crimes before being disbarred for 11 years in 2012.
At her congressional appearance, Minister Delgado mentioned a “damning” report by the United Nations rapporteur Pablo de Greiff, who visited Spain in 2014 and lamented that Franco’s victims were being ignored by the Spanish state.
“I think this is wonderful news,” said De Greiff, who left his UN position a month ago. “Privatizing the exhumations was a policy that was doomed to have poor results. These are difficult processes: Argentina and Chile have achieved great things, but 30 years later than they thought. This should be a state policy, it benefits everyone.” El País, 12.07.18

Monday, September 10, 2018

Boy Erased_coming soon

Boy Erased tells the story of Jared (Lucas Hedges), the son of a Baptist pastor in a small American town, who is forcibly outed to his parents (Nicole Kidman and Russell Crowe) at age 19. Jared is faced with an ultimatum: attend a church-supported gay conversion "therapy" program – or be permanently exiled and shunned by his family, friends, and faith. In cinemas on February 1st.

Wednesday, September 05, 2018

Español en inglés, inglés en español

Por CARLOS MARTÍN GAEBLER
Instituto de Idiomas, Universidad de Sevilla

He desarrollado mi carrera profesional enseñando inglés y español como segunda lengua. Mi experiencia me ha permitido identificar los vasos comunicantes (y muchas veces también contaminantes) entre ambas lenguas. Por ello, considero necesario divulgar estas interferencias, aunque no desde una posición purista, sino con el propósito de reivindicar un español bien usado y un inglés bien hablado. Esta reflexión filológica pretende ser un instrumento útil, entre otros, para educadores y enseñantes, periodistas de prensa, radio, televisión o internet, blogueros, redactores de libros de estilo, traductores simultáneos o de textos, o emprendedores/as que se aprestan a nombrar su nueva empresa. En definitiva, va dirigida a quienes aspiran a hablar y escribir español con propiedad, y/o a aquellos hispanohablantes que aspiran a mejorar su dominio del latín de nuestro tiempo, sin interferencias.

Español en inglés. Si bien los hablantes de español somos capaces de adoptar palabras del inglés españolizándolas (gol, pádel, cúter) y de producir híbridos imaginativos (puenting, balconing), por regla general, somos poco respetuosos con nuestro propio idioma. A menudo se anuncia o denomina un producto o servicio en inglés (pero pronunciado en español) con el propósito de abrillantarlo, porque así los consumidores lo percibirán como más moderno o innovador, y, de paso, se reduce el sistema de fonemas de los hablantes, pues se fosilizan pronunciaciones erróneas muy difíciles de erradicar después. Denominar un producto en inglés parece otorgarle un cierto valor añadido a los oídos de los consumidores. El complejo de inferioridad funciona así: al no percibir el hablante la lengua materna como algo propio, como parte de su patrimonio, ni sabe ni puede usarla con propiedad. Quienes abusan de anglicismos parecen querer disimular su rudimentario nivel de inglés. Alex Grijelmo confirma que muchos anglicismos superfluos se usan por este complejo de inferioridad, al creer que mencionar algo por su nombre en inglés es más prestigioso, lo que, en su opinión, supone una derrota intelectual de la lengua española.

Ejemplo de interferencia léxica
El léxico se anglicaniza (SE REPARAN TABLES [Se reparan tabletas], un talent [o concurso de talentos] en TVE, un torneo Pádel Promise [o de promesas del pádel], un kit de picoteo, la Málaga Education Week, o el Sevilla Bike Center). De repente, resulta pedante pedir que no te desentrañen una historia, y has de hacerte entender con un no me hagas espóiler, en un claro ejemplo de empobrecimiento idiomático. En español no se capturan imágenes sino que se captan, ni se implementan medidas, sino que se implantan. Si el español ha sido capaz de generar el compuesto micromecenazgo para denominar el concepto de "crowdfunding", usémoslo pues. 


¿Por qué no denominarlo también Centro de Bicicletas de Sevilla?
Por otro lado, se adopta a veces la sintaxis inglesa (Mineralia’s, Leyendo Lorca, NO VIOLENCIA MACHISTA [Violencia machista NO], ¿Es usted un nomófobo? [¿Es usted nomófobo?]). A veces, llevada al extremo para conseguir nuevos usuarios de un servicio: “Genial. Pide tu taxi por la app. Mytaxi. La Taxi App,” con el posesivo inglés pronunciado en español /mitaksi/, y la sintaxis inglesa (taxi app) en lugar de “la aplicación del taxi”. Con todo, el español ha demostrado tener una cierta capacidad generativa de nuevo léxico: rapero, grafitero, bloguero, ochentero, armarizado, conspiranoico, guglear, y pronto diremos instagrameros y youtuberos, y se escribirán así, y sin cursiva.

Ejemplo de interferencia sintáctica
El grupo hotelero español Nuevos Hoteles o Grupo NH, como se denominaba en un principio, ha pasado a pronunciarse /ene ache ótels grup/, en el más puro espanglish, al transformarse en una empresa global. En sus mensajes grabados, la palabra hotels la pronuncian mal, sin h y la hacen llana, pronunciando con mayor intensidad la primera sílaba, cuando es aguda, tanto en inglés como en español, que la acentúan ambos prosódicamente en la última sílaba. Esta es una de las palabras que más les cuesta pronunciar a los estudiantes españoles de inglés, que cometen una y otra vez el mismo doble error. Seguro que a ninguna cadena francesa de hoteles se le ocurriría denominarse en inglés. Igualmente, la veterana empresa valenciana de muebles de diseño Andreu, ha pasado a llamarse Andreu World para competir en el mercado global. Todo por la pasta.

Ejemplo de interferencia léxica y fonética
Inglés en español. Si tenemos en cuenta que el inglés crece a un ritmo de diez nuevos vocablos diarios, esto nos puede dar una idea de cuánto debemos aplicarnos nosotros para hacer crecer también nuestra lengua y generar nuevos términos adecuados para denominar las nuevas realidades. Sostiene Javier Marías que Internet provoca pereza mental a la hora de usar la lengua con propiedad, y que tendemos a usar el primer término que se nos ocurre, sin mayor procesamiento ni discriminación léxica. Tal es el caso de bullying (cuya segunda sílaba algunos pronuncian como bullicio) o running (cuya primera sílaba otros pronuncian como rulo). Siempre se ha dicho matonismo, y siempre se ha salido a correr. Si ya nuestras abuelas decían ponible, nosotros no necesitamos decir wearable. Esta contaminación léxica se da, además, porque en la sociedad digital el número de lectores disminuye inexorablemente conforme aumenta el número de espectadores audiovisuales.

Por un lado, el calco literal de la sintaxis española provoca un uso incorrecto de la inglesa. Se trata de errores de ida y vuelta. Ejemplo de esta sintaxis españolizada es deducir que, porque se omita el artículo en español, debe omitirse también en inglés: al escribir “en USA” en lugar de “en EEUU”, algunos hablantes españoles de inglés acaban diciendo “in USA” en lugar de “in the USA”. Hay eslóganes erróneos por doquier que calcan literalmente la sintaxis española: Everybody Should Be Feminist (Everybody Should Be a Feminist), BECAUSE I AM DEMOCRAT (Because I Am a Democrat), BECAUSE IS MY RIGHT (Because It Is My Right).

Ejemplo de sintaxis espanglish
Un caso revelador de contaminación sintáctica espanglish es el siguiente: en inglés parking y camping son gerundios, pero no sustantivos. Sin embargo, ambos verbos se usan como sustantivos en español aunque no lo sean en inglés. El error de ida y vuelta se produce cuando el usuario español los usa como sustantivos en inglés, ignorando que esta lengua usa las expresiones car park/parking lot y campsite para referirse respectivamente a aparcamiento o cámping, provocando un error constante: finding a *parking/camping [finding a car park/ a campsite].

Por otro lado, la pronunciación españolizada de palabras inglesas hace que algunos hablantes utilicen fonemas ajenos al inglés al utilizar esta lengua, que, a la hora de aprender a hablarla, son muy difíciles de corregir (celebrity, city, walker). Se tiende a pronunciar el inglés en español debido al reducido abanico fonético del castellano, circunstancia agravada por no subtitular las ficciones fílmicas, ni las declaraciones orales en los noticieros, pues el locutor traduce simultáneamente impidiendo escuchar el audio original. Durante años los españoles se perdieron la oportunidad de disfrutar de la brillante oratoria de los Obama. Javier Marías tilda de pedantes a quienes “abrazan con papanatismo cualquier término inglés como si fuera una novedad absoluta, y como si antes de que ellos descubrieran el vocablo en esa lengua, lo denominado por él jamás hubiera existido en ningún sitio. La mitad de las veces estos inglesajos están mal utilizados (o pronunciados)”.

¿Por qué no mejor "Disfrute del Mercado de San Bernardo", o un rótulo bilingüe?
Los publicistas españoles, los periodistas deportivos, los traductores de manuales de instrucciones o los divulgadores de modas estéticas, estos últimos personas harto influyentes (ven cómo no hay por qué designarlas en inglés) prestan un flaco servicio al idioma y nos lo ponen difícil a los profesores de inglés, ya que en dichos ámbitos se abusa de términos prestados. Alex Grijelmo abunda en esta idea al señalar que “a los periodistas y a los empresarios [españoles] de hoy les gusta más el gregarismo de repetir una fórmula en inglés [el anglicismo] que el vanguardismo de inventar un término en español que se comprenda a la primera. Dejemos en manos de los psicólogos la tarea de estudiar si eso tendrá algo que ver con la falta de personalidad, con una actitud conformista a favor de la corriente o con el miedo a imaginar, a crear, a rebelarse”.

En resumen, leer poco equivale a desconocer la riqueza léxica del español, y a ser proclive a usar términos del inglés por la pereza para crear nuevos vocablos en español. Sin embargo, se hace más país usando la lengua como es debido que colgando banderas de los balcones. Por la misma razón, introducir españoladas cuando nos expresamos en inglés denota una pobreza idiomática que debemos evitar como hablantes en la sociedad global. cmg2018

Monday, September 03, 2018

Paintings That Describe Everything Wrong with the World Today

Polish artist Pawel Kuczynski creates satyrical paintings filled with thought-provoking messages about the world today. From politics and war to social media and screen addiction, Pawel's work covers a wide range of issues. He is widely considered to be one of the most influential contemporary artists in his genre and has received more than 100 awards and distinctions. Check out some of his best works below. A few of them might be hard to decode, which in my opinion, makes them even more compelling.






Saturday, September 01, 2018

Big Brother is watching (from China):

Photo: Gilles Sabrie/The New York Times/Laif 2018

The Pitfalls of Late-night Snacking

By ANNABEL O'CONNOR
The New York Times, August 10th 2018

Nutrition scientists have long debated the best diet for optimal health. But now some experts believe that it’s not just what we eat that’s critical for good health, but when we eat it. A growing body of research suggests that our bodies function optimally when we align our eating patterns with our circadian rhythms, the innate 24-hour cycles that tell our bodies when to wake up, when to eat and when to fall asleep. Studies show that chronically disrupting this rhythm — by eating late meals or nibbling on midnight snacks, for example — could be a recipe for weight gain and metabolic trouble. 

That is the premise of a new book, “The Circadian Code,” by Satchin Panda, a professor at the Salk Institute and an expert on circadian rhythms. Dr. Panda argues that people improve their metabolic health when they eat their meals in a daily 8- to 10-hour window, taking their first bite of food in the morning and their last bite early in the evening. 

This approach, known as early timerestricted feeding, stems from the idea that human metabolism follows a daily rhythm, with our hormones, enzymes and digestive systems primed for food intake in the morning and afternoon. Many people, however, eat from roughly the time they wake up until shortly before they go to bed. Dr. Panda has found in his research that the average person eats over a 15-hour or longer period each day, starting with something like milk and coffee shortly after rising and ending with a glass of wine, a late-night meal or a handful of chips, nuts or some other snack shortly before bed. 

That pattern of eating, he says, conflicts with our biological rhythms. Scientists have long known that the human body has a master clock in the brain, located in the hypothalamus, that governs our sleep-wake cycles in response to bright-light exposure. A couple of decades ago, researchers discovered that there is not just one clock in the body but a 

collection of them. Every organ has an internal clock that governs its daily cycle of activity. During the day, the pancreas increases its production of the hormone insulin, which controls blood sugar levels, and then slows it down at night. The gut has a clock that regulates the daily ebb and flow of enzymes, the absorption of nutrients and the removal of waste. The communities of trillions of bacteria that comprise the microbiomes in our guts operate on a daily rhythm as well. These daily rhythms are so ingrained that they are programmed in our DNA: Studies show that in every organ, thousands of genes switch on and switch off at roughly the same time every day. 

“We’ve inhabited this planet for thousands of years, and while many things have changed, there has always been one constant: Every single day the sun rises and at night it falls,” Dr. Panda said. “We’re designed to have 24-hour rhythms in our physiology and metabolism. These rhythms exist because, just like our brains need to go to sleep each night to repair, reset and rejuvenate, every organ needs to have down time to repair and reset as well.” 

Most of the evidence in humans suggests that consuming the bulk of your food earlier in the day is better for your health, said Dr. Courtney Peterson, an assistant professor in the department of nutrition sciences at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. Dozens of studies demonstrate that blood sugar control is best in the morning and at its worst in the evening. We burn more calories and digest food more efficiently in the morning as well. 

At night, the lack of sunlight prompts the brain to release melatonin, which prepares us for sleep. Eating late in the evening sends a conflicting signal to the clocks in the rest of the body that it’s still daytime, Dr. Peterson said. “If you’re constantly eating at a time of day when you’re not getting brightlight exposure, then the different clock systems become out of sync,” she said. “It’s like one clock is in the time zone of Japan and the other is in the U.S. It gives your metabolism conflicting signals about whether to rev up or rev down.” Most people know what happens when we disrupt the central clock in our brains by flying across multiple time zones or burning the midnight oil: Fatigue, jet lag and brain fog set in. Eating at the wrong time of day places similar strain on the organs involved in digestion, forcing them to work when they are programmed to be dormant, which can increase the risk of disease, said Paolo Sassone-Corsi, the director of the Center for Epigenetics and Metabolism at the University of California, Irvine. “It’s well known that by changing or disrupting our normal daily cycles, you increase your risk of many pathologies,” said Dr. Sassone-Corsi, who recently published a paper on the interplay between nutrition, metabolism and circadian rhythms. 

In 2012, Dr. Panda and his colleagues at the Salk Institute took genetically identical mice and split them into two groups. One had round-the-clock access to high-fat, high-sugar food. The other ate the same food but in an eight-hour daily window. Despite both groups’ consuming the same amount of calories, the mice that ate whenever they wanted got fat and sick while the mice on the timerestricted regimen did not: They were protected from obesity, fatty liver and metabolic disease. 

While studies suggest that eating earlier in the day is optimal for metabolic health, it does not necessarily mean that you should skip dinner. It might, however, make sense to eat relatively light dinners. One group of researchers in Israel found in studies that overweight adults lost more weight and had greater improvements in blood sugar, insulin and cardiovascular risk factors when they ate a large breakfast, modest lunch and small dinner compared to the opposite: A small breakfast and a large dinner. Dr. Peterson said it confirms an age-old adage: Eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince and dinner like a pauper.

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Afraid? Weak? Egotistical? Attack!

By CHARLES M. BLOW
The New York Times, August 1st, 2018

It is simply not healthy for the country to have a president stuck perpetually in attack mode, fighting enemies real and imagined, pushing a toxic agenda that mixes the exaltation of grievance and the grinding of axes.
The president’s recent rallies have come to resemble orgies for Donald Trump’s ego, spaces in which he can receive endless, unmeasured adulation and in which the crowds can gather for a revival of an anger that registers as near-religious. They can experience a communal affirmation that they are not alone in their intolerance, outrage and regression.
At these moments, the preacher and the pious share a spiritual moment of darkness.
Such was the case again this week at a Trump rally in Florida, at which his supporters aggressively heckled and harassed the free press that Trump incessantly brands with the false descriptor of “fake news.”
In fact, there is no such thing as fake news. If something isn’t true, it isn’t news. Opinions, like mine here, are also not news, even if printed in a newspaper or broadcast by a news station. There may be news in such opinions, but the vehicle is by definition subjective and a reflection of the writer’s or speaker’s worldview.

This “fake news” nonsense isn’t really about the dissemination of false information. If it were, the administration could demand a correction and would receive one from any reputable news outlet.
No, Trump has made a perversion of the word “fake,” particularly among his most ardent supporters, so that it has come to mean news stories he doesn’t like, commentary that is unflattering to him and inadequate coverage of what he views as positive news about him and his administration.
Trump doesn’t want a free press; he wants free propaganda.
He gets it from his friends at Fox News, but that isn’t enough. This wannabe authoritarian needs two scoops. So he uses the power of the presidency to produce his own propaganda, to invent facts and twist news.
This seems to work mostly among his own Republican base, but for him that’s the point. The entire Trump presidency is about repayment to the most devout: the white nationalists, the Christian nationalists, the ethnonationalists.
They believe that America was founded as a white, Christian nation and should be governed as one. They pine over lost culture and lost heritage. They rage against blossoming minority groups and immigrants.

This is a Republican base governed by fear, and it has found its perfect apostle in Trump — a man who sells fear, gorges on it, bathes in it.
Trump and his base are like two mirrors facing each other.
Trump has killed the traditional Republican Party and raised and animated in its corpse a soulless, mindless monstrosity, loyal only to him. The moderating forces in the party have either been sidelined or subdued.
Trump, feeling both unassailable among the poltroons who are Republican lawmakers and buoyed by his spellbound base, has moved further and further into his own alternate universe and away from acceptable norms and conventions.
He is attacking the Robert Mueller investigation as a “witch hunt.”
He is attacking the FBI as a whole.
He is attacking our international allies.
He is attacking celebrities and athletes.
He is attacking immigrants.
He is attacking the press.
He is attacking the truth.
He does none of this because he is brave and strong, but rather precisely because he isn’t. His attacks are a compensatory disguise for his own fear and insecurity.
Trump is weak. Very weak. Unbelievably weak. But he knows now that his weakness is bolstered by the incredible power of the presidency and the overwhelming economic and military power of the country.

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Studio 54: 'The Best Party of Your Life'


By Vincent Dowd
BBC World Service, 26 April 2012

It's 35 years since Studio 54 opened in New York. It quickly became the best known nightclub in America, riding the wave of 1970s dance music and newly found personal freedom. It made vast amounts of money for its two young owners. But after three years the party came crashing to a halt.

"On a good night Studio 54 was the best party of your life," says Anthony Haden-Guest, who reported on the club as a journalist throughout its short existence. He says Studio 54 was the right club in the right city at the right time.

Women were thriving in terms of their sexuality and it was also a great time to be gay. There was no stigma inside Studio 54. "Everything was happening at the same moment: there was the woman's movement, the gay movement, ethnic movements of all kinds. The whole place was combustible with energy."

Studio 54 opened just off Broadway in April 1977. The building had originally been a theatre and later a CBS studio.

Steve Rubell and Ian Schrager already had a club in Queens called Enchanted Garden. But 1977 was the year of Saturday Night Fever and disco reigned supreme. The young men were certain that what worked in an outer borough of New York could work in central Manhattan too.

Celebrities by the dozen flocked to Studio 54 and long lines of would-be clubbers queued outside hoping to be admitted. Most would-be clubbers never got past the doormen at Studio 54 who were looking for the right mix of people - especially those with high energy.

"There was always a ton of people outside waiting to get in - people from all walks of life," says Myra Scheer, an early fan who later became Rubell's assistant. "Most never got in, but if you caught the eye of Steve or of (doorman) Marc Benecke suddenly a path opened up. "Beyond the velvet rope was what I used to call the Corridor of Joy. It had ornate chandeliers and everybody there was screaming with joy that they got in. You could hear the pulsating music as you walked through and then you turned left and there was this dance floor. Everybody on that floor had the energy of being a radiant star."

Benecke can still recall how desperate people were to enter the club. "At one point you could buy maps which claimed to show how to get in through tunnels up from the subway system. It was crazy. Naturally people tried good old-fashioned bribery but that didn't work. Then I'd say to them they should go and buy the exact same jacket I was wearing - forgive me but I was only a teen at the time. And they'd go to Bloomingdale's and buy it and still they wouldn't get in."

"But if you were just dressing up in costume to get through the door, it showed you probably weren't the right person. We were looking for people with high energy," he says.
Looking great did not guarantee entry. "What we really wanted was the mix."

Haden-Guest says owner Steve Rubell had a sense for who ought to be on the dance floor on a specific night. "Every time was different. It was like a salad bowl - they might let in some straight-looking kids from Harvard, but then they'd also want a bunch of drag queens or whatever. Often it was surprisingly relaxed."

Celebrities from every walk of life could be found at Studio 54, including the former first lady of Canada Margaret Trudeau.

He said it would be impossible to run the club's VIP room today when a photo taken on phone can be spread around the world in an instant. But the VIPs were photographed and often. The list is long and included Calvin Klein, Truman Capote, Liza Minnelli, Robert Mapplethorpe, Elizabeth Taylor and Andy Warhol. Other regulars are perhaps more surprising: Benecke recalls the classical pianist Vladimir Horowitz turning up regularly with his wife Wanda. "He always wore ear-plugs. He hated the music but he loved watching the people."

Scheer recalls Andy Warhol saying the club was a dictatorship at the door but a democracy inside. "There was no A-List or B-List or C-List. We came after the pill arrived and before Aids had a name. Women were thriving in terms of their sexuality and it was also a great time to be gay. There was no stigma inside Studio 54."

The club soon had a reputation as a place where physical intimacy needn't be limited to the dance floor. Benecke insists the sexual free-for-all has been exaggerated.
"They had a place called the Rubber Room upstairs. You would go up there and sure there might be couples having sex - but only one or two."

Haden-Guest was a regular visitor to what some assumed was a non-stop Bacchanalia of sex and drugs. But he thinks the amount of drugs taken has been overstated. "I had a wonderful time in disco culture but drugs played an extremely minor part. I think most people were just there to dance and have a good time."

The club's sudden end had less to do with public morality than with the fact that huge amounts of cash had gone undeclared for tax purposes. In 1980 Rubell and Schrager were sentenced to jail.

Attempts were made to revive the Studio 54 brand but the party was over. Steve Rubell died in 1989 and today, at 65, Ian Schrager is a successful hotel owner.

Looking back, Benecke wonders if the club's heyday had already passed when it closed. "The tax problems certainly speeded up the demise. But as a society we were changing into Punk and New Wave right after that. So Studio 54 would have had to change a lot to carry on at the same level of success."

Last year Studio 54 Radio launched on satellite in the US. It plays the hits of the disco era and Benecke and Scheer have a show discussing the old days. "It's like we have Class of 54 Reunions," says Scheer. "Because we went to the coolest high school. Modern kids spend so much time texting or tweeting or getting on YouTube. But we were in the moment. We were really there."

Monday, July 09, 2018

The Young Pope_series

The Young Pope review – stunning, thoughtful and visually arresting



Jude Law as the young pontiff
 Jude Law as the young pontiff wrestling with his belief in God. Photograph: ©Gianni Fiorito
Jude Law is excellent as Pius XIII, oscillating between vindictive authoritarian and wounded man-child with surprising charm. A TV review by REBECCA NICHOLSON, The Guardian, December 16, 2016
What a gorgeous and gripping series The Young Pope (Sky Atlantic H) has been. It is not surprising, coming from the director of such visually arresting films as Youth and The Great Beauty, but Oscar-winner Paolo Sorrentino’s first adventure on the small screen has been far more than just a pretty picture. It could have been overwhelmed by its splashy premise: Jude Law is Lenny Belardo, now Pius XIII, an ultra-conservative, manipulative new American pontiff. He has serious doubts about whether he believes in God, drinks Cherry Coke Zero for breakfast and smokes more than the cast of Mad Men combined. But The Young Pope was stunning, thoughtful and dreamlike, and even though key players have been strategically shifted to dioceses around the globe, its well-earned second series can’t come soon enough.
Lenny, or Pius to his Vatican pals, has spent much of the first season establishing just what kind of Holy Father he intends to be. He was anointed on the misguided promise that he would be a pliable looker who might boost the church’s coffers by allowing his handsome image to appear on a few plates in the gift shop. But Lenny is no patsy; his idea of reforming Catholicism has been to crack down on moral transgressions and to channel Daft PunkBanksy and JD Salinger – his own points of reference – by hiding his face from public view, so that everyone can get back to the business of learning how to be Godly again. It is as effective a marketing technique as it is a point of principle.
There was a thriller-like tautness to Gutiérrez’s eventual capture of brazen paedophile Archbishop Kurtwell – and how wonderful that The Young Pope did not shy away from covering child abuse in the church – in New York. Kurtwell tried to destroy Pius’s reputation by releasing his old love letters to the press, but their publication in the New Yorker served to boost his popularity by showing his human side, even if it was against a backdrop of global protests over his stance on abortion. (The image of the naked women, each daubed in blood with a letter from the word BASTARD, is one of many unforgettable scenes, dropped in confidently and casually.) But, eventually, Kurtwell was reeled in and banished to Alaska – a poetic fall from grace for a man once so powerful, if not perhaps the most effective punishment for a habitual paedophile.
Sorrentino has said that it is no coincidence that Pius begins as an ultra-hardline pope in an era where the real pontiff is pursuing a more liberal papacy than his predecessors. What has been fascinating about this series is how well it has demonstrated the subtleties of change and growth. Early on, Pius boots out a cardinal for admitting his homosexuality, and insists it is incompatible with the teachings of the church. But, by the season finale, his greatest ally is Gutiérrez (Javier Cámara, conveying both compassion and pain with just a flicker of his eyes), who tells him his alignment of paedophilia and homosexuality is wrong. Pius admits he may be revising his views. Besides, he has a lot of mummy (and daddy) issues to deal with before he gets on to working out whether he believes in God.
Law has been excellent as Pius, oscillating between vindictive authoritarian and wounded man-child with surprising charm. And so, after his substitute parents leave him – James Cromwell’s Spencer finally dies, and he sends Diane Keaton’s Sister Mary off to work with children in Africa – we end with a road trip to Venice, where Pius hopes he might find those hippy parents who abandoned him and don’t seem to be particularly interested that their son is now the global head of the Catholic church.
In St Mark’s Square, he finally reveals his identity to the assembled crowd. Imagine wondering what the Pope looked like for months, and then finding out he has the face of Law. Sorrentino goes all out for the final scenes, which are as intricate as the Pope’s finest robes. Pius delivers a barnstorming address, then looks at the smiling faces in the crowd through a telescope Gutiérrez picked up at the service station on the way. He sees his parents, older, disappointed, leaving. I was left unsure if it was real or a vision; there is something Sopranos-like in The Young Pope’s ease with a dream sequence. As Pius collapses, we pull back to a wide shot, of the crowd, then of the city, then of the world. It’s so assured, so sumptuous, so well done, that it can absolutely get away with a gesture as grand as this.