Dutch pelican keeps flying


This is a white pelican video from Hungary.

The great white pelican, which was first spotted in Oegstgeest in the Netherlands, later near Sassenheim, has moved on to the Elsgeest polder near Voorhout.

The bird seems to have escaped from Artis zoo in Amsterdam.

Gene McDaniels, US anti-war songwriter, dies


This video says about itself:

Compared To What

The song was recorded in 1969 by pianist Les McCann and saxophonist Eddie Harris for their album, Swiss Movement, recorded live at the Montreux Jazz Festival.

By Hiram Lee in the USA:

Gene McDaniels, soul singer and songwriter, dead at 76

30 August 2011

Singer and songwriter Gene McDaniels died July 29 at the age of 76. McDaniels is perhaps best-known for having composed the protest song “Compared to What,” made famous by jazz musicians Les McCann and Eddie Harris, and the R&B standard “Feel Like Makin’ Love,” recorded by numerous performers, most notably Roberta Flack. He was a talented composer and an even more impressive singer. …

As interesting as much of it was, McDaniels’ early pop music only hinted at what he was capable of. By the late 1960s, his music would undergo a dramatic change as he embraced radical politics and began to experiment with a fusion of jazz, soul and rock.

This dramatic change of direction was certainly not exclusive to McDaniels. The experience of civil rights struggles and the anti-Vietnam war protest movement, of the immense social crisis then underway, had a radicalizing effect on many musicians and artists of the period. One began to see works in which popular musicians took up significant social and political themes for the first time—Marvin Gaye’s What’s Going On being a prime example. But even for those artists who did not create explicitly political works, one felt a musical complacency being challenged.

McDaniels’ best work of the late 1960s and early 1970s came to life with a new confidence and ambition that would have been unthinkable without the social upheavals of that period.

In 1969, jazz musicians McCann and Harris recorded “Compared to What,” a hard-driving, soul-jazz composition by McDaniels, and the first to give a sense of his new direction. The song articulated McDaniels’ disgust with the Vietnam War. McCann’s gruff voice sang the angry lyrics:

“The President, he’s got his war
Folks don’t know just what it’s for
Nobody gives us rhyme or reason
Have one doubt, they call it treason”

Recorded live at the Montreux Jazz Festival, the audible excitement of the audience only made the recording that much more powerful.

McDaniels’ 1971 album Headless Heroes of the Apocalypse is most representative of his work from this period. The album has become something of a cult classic, particularly for a younger generation of listeners who were first introduced to the recording by the many hip hop artists who sampled it.

Listening to Headless Heroes, one is struck by its audacity. McDaniels is trying and taking on everything. There are songs about racism, colonialism, consumerism, as well as a few gospel-tinged parables, and even a tribute to Rolling Stones frontman Mick Jagger. In some ways the album is a mess, far too eclectic. But there are inspired moments.

Among the more interesting songs is “Headless Heroes,” in which McDaniels sings of his disgust with the forces who foster and exploit racial and national divisions, using ordinary people as “pawns in the master game.” In one remarkable moment, he sings, “Get it together and see what’s happening!”

“Susan Jane,” the amusing but not unsympathetic story of a middle class hippie girl, “beautifully insane, standing barefoot in the middle of the muddy road” provides the album with one of its gentler and more delightful moments.

Songwriter Nick Ashford who, along with his wife Valerie Simpson, wrote several significant hits for Motown records in the late 1960s, has died at age 70: here.

Prolific songwriter Jerry Leiber dead at 78: here.

Bands like Odd Future and Iceage are sparking debate about why musicians should take racism and sexism seriously: here.

Rare lichen discovery on Texel


Usnea flavocardiaTranslated from Rense Haveman and Iris de Ronde in the Netherlands:

Usnea flavocardia lichen comeback

Monday, August 29, 2011

During the inventory of the vegetation on the military training ground Joost Dourleinkazerne on Texel in a young dune grassland 19 specimens of the lichen Usnea flavocardia, which was presumed to be extinct, have been found. The find was extra special because the lichen was found on the ground. Normally it grows on tree branches and trunks.

Usnea flavocardia in the last one hundred years had been found only once before, in 1991 in a swamp in Soerendonk in North Brabant province. Usnea flavocardia had also been seen a few times in the first decade of the twentieth century.

The part of the training area where this rarity is found is not used by the military. It consists of very young dunes, which grew after 1995 on the Hors, the broad sandbar on the south side of Texel. Nature can develop here freely. Besides the pioneer grasslands, where Usnea flavocardia grows, very species rich wet dune valleys are present as well. By the action of wind and water there are all sorts of valuable transitions between wet and dry, sweet and salty habitats, in which many plants and animals feel at home.

See also here.

The surprisingly toxic world of lichens: here.

September 2011: Home to some of Britain’s rarest plants, the sand dune is finally becoming the focus of a pioneering three-year conservation project: here.