Category Archives: Uncategorized

RIP Kenzō Takada (1939 – 2020)

Kenzō Takada was a Japanese fashion designer. He was, with Yamamoto, the most famous Japanese fashion designer of the 1980s.

Some of my best friends are in fashion. The fashion and arts scene always threw the best parties here in Antwerp, as I suppose, they do anywhere around the world.

Of all the arts, fashion probably is at the same time the most vacuous and the most embodied of the arts; the most ephemeral and the most ‘out there’.

RIP Quino (1932 – 2020)

Quino was an Argentine cartoonist best-known for his satirical comic strip Mafalda which ran from 1964 to 1973.


Mafalda is a 6-year-old girl. On the one hand she is a real child who hates soup and loves pancakes. Yet, at the same time she is very much concerned with humanity and world peace. An political episode of Mafalda that is often cited is the one with the ‘south-up map orientation’.

Umberto Eco wrote a piece on Mafalda when she made her book debut in Italy with Mafalda la contestataria (1968), ‘Mafalda the rebel’.

In the same period, she is also on the cover of another Italian book, Libro dei bambini terribili per adulti masochisti, (Book of Terrible Children for Masochistic Adults), also from 1968.

“Paris sleeps in the arms of the Seine”

Following the death of Juliette Gréco, I watched the 1951 French film Sous le ciel de Paris by Julien Duvivier.

 Sous le ciel de Paris 

It’s undervalued film. It begins with an exhilarating fly-over of Paris by night, topped with a voice-over mentioning all these souls in the city for which fate has a thing or two in store.

The ensuing action takes place over a period of 24 hours while many of the participants lives intermingle, making it an early example of hyperlink cinema.

RIP Juliette Gréco (1927 – 2020)

Juliette Gréco was a French actress and singer. 

She first appeared on my radar in 2010 in the Gainsbourg movie Gainsbourg: A Heroic Life where she is played by Anna Mouglalis.

The scene from Gainsbourg: A Heroic Life in which Gainsbourg meets Gréco and plays for her “La Javanaise”.

Below the song “L’Accordéon” (1962) in which she plays her own black-clad body as an instrument. Very French and sensual.

While cycling to work, it dawned upon me that “L’Accordéon” reminded me of the Mary Poppins song “Chim Chim Cher-ee” (1964).

RIP Michael Lonsdale (1931 – 2020)

Michael Lonsdale was a British-French actor who mainly worked in France, one of my favorite actors. He played in many films, though rarely as the protagonist. He turned 89.

Final scene from the French 1976 ‘Bartleby’ adaptation

In the English-speaking world, he was known for his role as the villain Hugo Drax in the James Bond film Moonraker, and for his appearances in The Day of the Jackal and The Remains of the Day.

As a character actor with a penetrating gaze, he can be admired in auteur films such as Le fantôme de la liberté (1974) by Luis Buñuel, Glissements progressifs du plaisir (1974) by Alain Robbe-Grillet and the unforgettable 5×2 (2004) by François Ozon.

I would like to take this rather sinister opportunity to highlight the story “Bartleby” (1853) by Herman “Moby Dick” Melville. That short story was adapted for film four times, and in the 1976 French version, Lonsdale plays the bailiff.

The hero in “Bartleby” is called Bartleby. He is a clerk who is recruited at a law firm to copy documents, but soon after his arrival at the firm refuses an assignment with the legendary words “I would prefer not to”. From then on, Bartleby the clerk basically refuses everything, which means that he refuses to live.

This hero is reminiscent of other impossible, frustrated novel characters such as the nameless hero in Dostoevsky’s Notes from the Underground (1864) and Julien Sorel in Stendhal’s The Red and the Black (1830).

In the clip, Lonsdale visits Bartleby in prison where he urges the latter to make a last effort to live. In vain. We see Bartleby die while standing up.

RIP Shere Hite (1942 – 2020)

Shere Hite (1942 – 2020) was a American-born German sex educator and feminist. Her sexological work focused primarily on female sexuality.

She is best-known for her book The Hite Report on Female Sexuality (1976) which is in several ways a successor to Masters and Johnson’s Human Sexual Response (1966) and Kinsey’s Sexual Behavior in the Human Female (1953).

In this book, she permanently devaluated the coitus in favour of more attention for the clitoris.

She is the last great feminist. Perhaps only equalled by Camille Paglia (born 1947). Nancy Friday (1933 – 2017) is another famous feminist of that generation.

RIP Toots ‘Maytal’ Hibbert (1942 – 2020)

“Funky Kingston” (1972)

Toots Hibbert was a Jamaican singer and songwriter, leader for the band Toots & the Maytals. He is best-known for such songs as “54-46 That’s My Number” (1968), “Pressure Drop” (1970) and “Funky Kingston” (1972).

Hibbert was one of the first artists to use the word “reggae” in 1968’s “Do the Reggay”.