We were notified the day before. He was tired, he had returned from Valencia, he had had two meetings and he would still have time to wait until the visit. I thought about going home. I’ve seen many celebrities from afar, after all, but then I told myself, if only to tell my friends, I’m staying. We went down to the loading and unloading area, where the boxes with the works of art come and go. His head of security arrived first, in a Maserati. I pointed it out to the director of the museum: “Look, Manolo, a Maserati.” He has no idea about cars, and he asked me with an amazed, boyish expression, “Is that a good car?” “It’s a very expensive car,” I answered, calculating, “€200,000, plus insurance.” (When we see an expensive car, middle-class people always think about insurance.) “The artwork we could buy with that,” we both sighed.
The reception committee consisted of Manolo, me, the deputy director of the museum, the chief of staff, the head of security and Madrid’s director of culture, who had arranged the visit. The man from the Maserati, a hefty Italian with square shoulders and an attitude, wanted to see the entrances and exits. We showed him around, and he took photos that he sent to other bodyguards. We waited and waited. Someone commented that the Italian had been a mercenary in some wars. We looked at him askance. He frightened us even more, although his tattoos seemed more like they came from a club than a war. We kept waiting. They were late. We didn’t know exactly who would come. The Stones in general. The wait sent me back three decades, when I worked as a performer and transportation coordinator for the artists that Gay Mercader brought to give concerts in Spain. I remembered the stress in airports, in hotels, in stadiums, doing exactly that: waiting for the musicians and shepherding them, behaving like an 18-year-old mother to gentlemen my father’s age, praying that the musicians and the chauffeurs would all arrive on time. That was in the mid eighties, more or less when the Reina Sofía Museum which now housed us, was founded.
Finally, a black Mercedes arrived. It stopped, and a bodyguard ceremoniously opened the door. Ronnie Wood got out with his wife. We took them to the second floor. He looked at Guernica. Everyone wants to see Guernica, just like all of us wanted to see the Stones up close. He took out his cell phone, a small and simple model, and took lots of photos of the images of Picasso’s studio. I remembered that Wood paints. I mentioned it to him. “You are an artist yourself.” He was proud, and he showed us his paintings on his phone, including his own version of Guernica. Everything interested Wood. He asked questions. He was kind and cheerful. The director showed him other rooms, including Miró and Dalí. Then we were warned that another Stone was coming. I rushed down the stairs, back to the hangar. Wood mentioned that his twins were waiting at the hotel. “Family dinner,” he said, and left. Back on the dock, I started to get nervous. I had gone back in time again. I was 13 years old, writing in my diary: “Mick Jagger is the most handsome man alive. Mick Jagger is hot.” When I should have been studying, I spent hours listening to his records and looking at his photos. I would go to the movie studios to see the reruns of Performance, the Nicolas Roeg film that Jagger shot in 1970. I would leave the filthy neighborhood cinema with that intoxicating sensation of beauty and platonic infatuation, the awakening of tat frightening erotic desire that is safe because it is attainable.
Another black Mercedes pulled up. A typically brusque bodyguard-butler-assistant jumped out, agile as a jaguar, but left the door ajar. The passenger was not ready to exit. We, the museum crew, ready to say hello, froze for moments of uncertainty, my slow 57-year-old heart beating as if it were 13. At last the door opened. He stepped out with his smile and his unmistakable haircut. The bodyguard-butler scolded us for not wearing masks. Hee strictly forbade accompanying him without one. I apologized and said I’d stay outside. My sad face moved the man, and he produced a mask out of nowhere. Now masked, we got in the freight elevator. The director, with his indefatigable enthusiasm, explained to Jagger the Civil War, the avant-garde movements, the universal exhibition of 1937, the Spanish Republic. I stayed in the background, but at one point, Jagger looked at me and started talking about a book he was reading, an essay on contemporary art and whether it should have political relevance or go back to being art for art’s sake. I asked him about the author. He couldn’t remember because he reads on his Kindle and, as happens to all of us, he doesn’t see the cover. “On tour you can’t carry books.” He looked at the works in the rooms with curiosity, in no hurry to finish the visit.
In a hallway I asked him about the concert the next day. “It sold out in minutes,” I said, referring to the cheap tickets, without adding that I knew firsthand because I was one of the thousands who had lined up virtually and was left without tickets. He replied, “in a stadium there is always room for more people,” with a mischievous smile. I smiled and kept quiet, while he explained that the Madrid concert was the first of the European tour and that the first concert is very important because–I dared to complete his sentence–”it sets the tone.” “Exactly, it sets the tone,” he replied. We moved through the rooms, but there were already fewer of us because the rough butler had expelled three of our colleagues. “Too many people, too close.” Although we were in our own house, we complied. Manolo, the director, improvised, and after Guernica, he decided to take him to see Cubism. First, though, he showed him the Ángeles Santos’s “A World” and Ponce de León piece that had decorated a movie theater. “Ah, cinemas,” he said, “used to be as sumptuous as palaces.” He seemed comfortable among the paintings and sculptures. Halfway through the visit, he asked us if it was our day off, because the museum was closed. He apologized for keeping us at dinner time. We lied, of course, and told him that we were there not because of him, but because we were working.
We went through the late nineteenth century halls. He stared at the projection of the Lumière factory, and he told us that as a child he liked to watch people leave the factories. We agreed that the movement of crowds has something theatrical about it. In the same room we showed him the photos of trades, the primitive photographer’s attempt to portray the working class. He recalled how in his childhood each street vendor, like the woman who sold lavender, had a characteristic call. He seemed to enjoy talking about that remote world. He told us about a Francis Bacon exhibition he saw in London at the Royal Academy and another on Futurism in New York. He was interested in the poster for Jack Johnson’s fight against Arthur Cravan. He told us that he had just seen a very good documentary about Muhammad Ali by Ken Burns, that he is a classic, old-fashioned documentary filmmaker, but that the documentary is fantastic and that Muhammad Ali used Jack Johnson’s scream for his fights because Jack Johnson had suffered a lot of discrimination. He laughed when he saw that the poster said “Jack Johnson black 100 kilos Arthur Cravan white 101 kilos,” as if the skin of each one had to be explained to the Spaniards of 1916.
He remembered the first concert in Spain in 1976 in Barcelona, six months after Franco died. He remembered the people and the excitement. He knew that some of his covers and records had been censored. It was similar when they first played in the East after the fall of the Soviet Union, he said. I wanted to ask him about the concert in Havana, but I was in a hurry. When we entered George Grosz’s room, he said that he had had one of the artist’s pieces, but that an ex-girlfriend took it from his house. Where is that drawing now? he wondered. He knew about the Commune of Paris and he was interested in what we told him, but I wasn’t able to explain much. It was hard for me to talk to him. I looked at his pale blue-green eyes; I listened to that voice that I had heard so many times on the records speak to me now with sweetness, with sympathy. Later that night, when I spoke with my friend Raquel, with whom I had shared my adoration for him, she told me, “he is a seducer.” It’s true, but how could I have imagined, in my blue-curtained childhood bedroom, that one day I would get what I wanted so much? She and I were transported back there, reading together the biography that recounted his infatuation with Marianne Faithfull, an ugly duckling who at 15 turned beautiful overnight. Why wouldn’t that happen to me? I wondered, feeling that if I were only beautiful, things would be better, because everything would be possible.
But we were not in 1978. We were in 2022, and I was 57 years old, which I forgot when Mick Jagger spoke to me. I listened to him smiling, happy behind my mask, not daring to tell him anything I was thinking, not even explaining who Durruti was when he looked curiously at the poster of his death mask and the images of his massive funeral. I remembered other matters that linked me to him, those choruses I sang in playback when I was on a TV show for Bill Wyman at 16 years old: “Come back Suzanne, come back Suzanna, baby baby please come back.” I didn’t say a word about myself, as if the conversation weren’t a conversation, just a way to pay a debt, a tribute for the times he made me feel good. Does Mick Jagger, the person, also feel that he is not perceived as an individual, but as a container of dreams? Does he know that he is seen only as a mirror that reflects an image of ourselves in another time? Is he resigned to being erased by his excessive exposure, by the wear and tear of a constant connection with the intimacy and the unconscious of others? Or does he still aspire to be a person, not an atmospheric phenomenon hopelessly seen from afar like the yellow moon on a summer night? I looked at him and listened to him, and I knew that he was not a long-lost beloved family member with whom I had finally reunited, but rather a vessel of fine porcelain–a vessel where the rest of us deposit our desires and thoughts. Does he regret that he is rarely seen for what he really is?
As I walked parallel to him, I looked at his skin, his blond eyelashes, his lips. I told myself, “he’s an English gentleman, like so many others.” But this English gentleman had the eyes and the smile of that other time, just as I had suddenly become a girl who discovered that men were beautiful and had something that made one want to be close to them. Very close. Forty-odd years later, walking through the halls of a museum, all that had happened between 1978 and an afternoon in May 2022 had ceased to matter. It no longer existed. All the deaths, the absences, the disappointments, the violence suffered, the sadness, the wrong decisions, the damage done and received, the mistakes, the boredom, were erased. The minutes with Mick Jagger seemed to belong just to the two of us, to the strange intimacy between his music, his youthful portraits pasted on my notebooks and my distant memories, now so alive, so fresh, of being 13 years old, before anything has happened, before being kissed, before leaving home and school.
On the way out, as we crossed the cloister and left Man Ray’s metronome behind, he told me that once he called Man Ray on the phone to ask him to do a record cover. The artist was already a very old man, and there was no way to convince him. Since he was in no hurry to leave, because he likes art and chatting about it, he couldn’t resist the temptation to go into Picasso’s “Lady in Blue” room. On the other side of the wall, there was a group on a private visit, but he was not in the least disturbed. He listened calmly to Manolo’s explanation about the portrait of a prostitute. He wanted to take a photo. Manolo watched the group and whispered to me, “if they knew who is on the other side of the partition…” But they were focused on their own guide, and who is going to suspect that Mick Jagger is two meters from you? We got to the elevator. While we waited, he placed his foot on a railing and reached down to tie his shoelaces. The colored socks looked good on him, as did the electric blue pants and the shirt with little printed figures, open over a T-shirt of the best cotton. I looked at him again. Yes, it was him. It was Mick Jagger.
Everything had started again: the pure, sweet joy of innocence had returned.
Egypt: Excavating the archives of the man who uncovered Tutankhamun’s tomb | Culture
It is rare to travel north in search of Tutankhamun. The young Pharaoh’s tomb is actually to the south, in Luxor, Egypt, as is his mummy, while the vast majority of artefacts buried with him – the famous “wonderful things” that include treasures such as the gold mask – have traditionally had their home at the Egyptian Museum in Cairo. But there is another treasure linked to Tutankhamun, less glittering but also fascinating, in the shape of the archives of the late Howard Carter, the archaeologist who discovered the tomb.
The documents compiled by Carter include maps and plans, detailed records of the thousands of artefacts – 5,300 to be exact, photographs, drawings, slides and both personal and excavation diaries, as well as other materials, such as private letters, telegrams and press clippings, all of which give the discovery context and are an exceptional source of information.
Donated to the center for Egyptology at Oxford University’s Griffith Institute by Carter’s favorite niece and heir, Phyllis Walker who died in 1977, the collection is now the subject of a timely exhibition at Oxford’s Bodleian Library, with additional material from other sources such as the Metropolitan Museum in New York.
Open until February 5, 2023, Tutankhamun: Excavating the Archive, invites visitors to “see beyond” the golden treasures of the young Pharaoh and explore the complexity of the discovery as it unfolded. A celebratory centenary exhibition, it recalls the moment on November 26, 1922, when Carter and his sponsor Lord Carnarvon looked into the tomb for the first time, breaking a seal that had held for over 3,000 years and beginning the excavation of the only untouched ancient Egyptian royal burial site to be found in the Valley of the Kings.
The exhibition features Carter’s first written mention of the find in one of the Lett’s Indian and Colonial Rough Diary pocket notebooks he used to record his activities during the eight months he spent each year in Egypt: “First steps of tomb found,” he scrawled in pencil, conveying irrepressible enthusiasm. The entry takes up the entire page for Saturday, November 4, 1922. It was the fourth day into the last sponsored excavation, as Lord Carnarvon had finally decided to stop paying for the concessionary rights to the Valley of the Kings.
The exhibition goes into the details of the sensational find and how it developed for better and worse, with recognition of the fact that Carter and Carnarvon lied in order to smuggle several small objects out of Egypt. It also explains how the discovery coincided with the proclamation of Egypt’s independence from Britain and the change in the country’s policy regarding its antiquities; and it mentions the infamous “curse” associated with the tomb. Significantly, it acknowledges the shortcomings of European colonial archaeology during that era and hails the essential role of the overlooked Egyptian professionals and laborers in the investigation.
The Egyptians, including many child laborers, appear in numerous photos of the excavation without being identified, reducing them to little more than exotic extras. They were rarely mentioned, and their role was underestimated in official reports. Now, archival research “is making it possible to restore the Egyptians’ role in the excavations,” and to “address the error.”
Donkeys instead of cabs
The exhibition also flags up the neglected role of the women who participated in the venture, such as Minnie, the wife of photographer Harry Burton, author of the famous photos of the excavation, who helped her husband and kept a personal diary that is a valuable source of information. In one passage, she recalls the excitement of visiting the tomb while it was being emptied and how Carter sent a donkey to fetch her home like someone might send a cab.
Coming to Oxford with the sole purpose of seeking out Tutankhamun lends the city an incongruous air of Egypt, even if arriving by bus rather than donkey. The kites spotted en route over the English countryside bring to mind the birds that fly over the pristine skies of Luxor, which are represented in pharaonic temples and tombs as divine creatures. These same birds are also present in Carter’s paintings, such as the 1895 watercolor of a falcon in the chapel of Anubis in the temple of Hatshepsut at Deir el-Bahari. Carter was an excellent draughtsman who came to archaeology precisely because of his artistic ability.
The Bodleian exhibition occupies the treasury room of the library and is small, like Tutankhamun’s tomb, but equally full of documentary wealth, though it requires immersion and the determination of an archaeologist to extract the information from the 20-odd showcases fittingly shrouded in gloom and mystery.
In a preamble, data is given on the reign of the young Pharaoh. For example, it is emphasized that his death was unexpected, and his burial consequently improvised, which explains many of its unusual characteristics. It is also mentions that the tomb remained substantially intact despite being visited by thieves shortly after first being sealed – they did not gain access to the mummy and the tomb was again rearranged and resealed so that what Carter encountered was virtually untouched. While it is written on a vaulting that the body of Tutankhamun is still in the sarcophagus, it was, in fact, removed from the stone coffin years ago and is exhibited in the same enclosure, but in a modern heated urn installed in the antechamber.
Obsession with the tomb
The tour begins with the climax of the discovery noted in Carter’s diary, before delving into the background of the discoverer himself, who was a complex personality who never married and had no children. A photo shows him at the age of 19, the same age as Tutankhamun when he died. An 1892 letter from the great Egyptologist Flinders Petrie, who took him to Egypt, offers this insight: “His interest is in painting and natural history (…) He is of no use to me as an excavator.”
There is then a space dedicated to “the long search” – a period that began after a proclamation in 1913 by excavation sponsor Theodore Davis that the Valley is exhausted; enter Carnarvon, who hired Carter, as he was obsessed with the idea that there was still a tomb to be found. It is thrilling to actually see a map drawn by Carter’s own hand with the excavations between 1917 and 1922, when the tomb was not yet located, lying concealed beneath the remains of the ancient workers’ huts from the neighboring tomb of Ramses VI. And then, the great moment of the discovery and the first actual foray into the tomb, around four o’clock in the afternoon on November 26, by Carter, Carnarvon, his daughter and several others.
A page from Carter’s excavation diary contains the account of that Great Moment in his own handwriting. The hole in the door, the candle inserted, and Carnarvon asking: “Can you see anything?” The answer, Carter noted, was not the famous “yes, wonderful things” which he later claimed in subsequent records, but the less dramatic “yes, it’s wonderful.”
It was the beginning of an amazing scientific adventure that would last until December 1932, the 10 years it took to empty the tomb. Carnarvon died on April 5, 1923, without seeing the opening of the sarcophagus and the mummy of Tutankhamun, which was not examined until November 11, 1925. A letter from Carter to Egyptologist Alan Gardiner describes some of the emblematic artefacts observed in the antechamber: carts, beds with strange animal shapes, two life-size figures of guardians… “So far, it is Tutankhamun,” he writes.
Burton’s photos displayed in the exhibition are “the most famous archaeological images ever taken,” and these, together with the drawings of the different rooms of the tomb and the artefacts as they were discovered transport us to the key moments of the discovery. The exhibition also explains the conservation challenges faced by the archaeologists and the solutions they came up with to preserve the objects. Then there is documentation of the complex system of rails used to transport the tomb’s contents in wagons to the river to be shipped to the museum.
Particularly moving is a large portrait of an anonymous Egyptian boy photographed in 1927 by Burton wearing one of Tutankhamun’s necklaces, demonstrating how it would have been worn. Years later, Hussein Abd el Rasul, a member of the local Qurna family, identified himself as the sitter. The exhibition points out that “many stories have been told about the image and who the boy was and his role in the excavation.”
A group of Egyptian schoolchildren stopped in front of the photo the other day listening very attentively to the explanations of their teachers. Despite the lack of recognition for the Egyptians who worked on the tomb’s excavation, some names have nevertheless been salvaged thanks to the gratitude Carter expressed in his writings, such as the name of the foreman, Ahmed Gerigar and his colleagues Gad Hassan, Hussein Abu Awad and Hussein Ahmed Said.
Besides criticizing the patronizing attitude toward the Egyptians involved in the excavation, the exhibition flags up the pursuit of profit, especially Lord Carnarvon’s. It suggests that the origin of the famous curse on those tampering with the tomb mentioned in a delightful yellowed telegram in 1923 to “Carter Tutankhamun Thebes” from Dublin warning that if trouble continues he must reseal the tomb, was partly revenge by certain media angered by the aristocratic Carnarvon’s exclusive contract with The Times.
Curses and criticism aside, public excitement at the find was such during the 1920s that it inspired a boardgame and a rash of songs. Meanwhile, the archive, which continues to be enriched and has been digitized for open access (www.griffith.ox.ac.uk), is invaluable to the study of the tomb’s material, a work that Carter left unfinished.
For those whose appetite for “wonderful things” is not yet sated, the Ashmolean Museum close by houses an extraordinary collection of Egyptian antiquities, such as the large statues of the god of fertility Min who appears excited at the sight of a sensual bust of Antinous, Hadrian’s lover who drowned in the Nile; an impressive stone head of a crocodile; the precious coffins and the mummy of the Theban priest Djed-djehuty-iuef-ankh and the Amarna pieces, which are closely linked to Tutankhamun as they represent his family, Akhenaten, Nefertiti and the princesses, as well as to people and places he saw during his lifetime. The ostraca collection compiled by Gardiner, who collaborated with Carter, is also on display there.
Hollywood: They have it all, and take it on the road, too: These are the luxury RVs of the stars | Culture
RVs have long been considered a fairly modest means of travel, an option that combines transportation and accommodation and that allows you to enjoy a more affordable vacation – bearing in mind that the comforts that they offer have little or nothing to do with those of a five-star hotel. However, this image has evolved in recent years, and the alternative of touring the world with your house in tow is gaining more and more followers, including some movie and music stars. Some use them for tourism and others to move between cities while they promote something or as a dressing room during shootings or tours, but they all have a few things in common: their enormous dimensions, their luxurious amenities and their million-dollar price tags.
At the beginning of July, all the details of Dolly Parton’s mansion on wheels were released. More than an RV, this one is a bus. Dubbed Suite 1986, it is 45 feet long and Dolly has traveled more than 300,000 miles and visited more than 60 American cities in it. It houses all kinds of luxuries and personal belongings of the country music star — a display case for her wigs, a wide bed with pink velvet sheets, or a Parisian-inspired dressing table, among other things — and it is available to rent from $10,000, with a two night minimum stay. The Dollybus is part of the hotel complexes offered under the Dollywood label, the universe created in her image and likeness, which also includes a theme park inspired by Disney’s Hollywood Studios in Florida, numerous hotels and spas and a water park.
Another celebrity who likes to have a traveling home is Jennifer Lopez. The Bronx Diva owns a 1,200-square-feet trailer that is valued at $2 million and, like Parton’s, is also available to rent, for between $400 and $850 a night, when the singer is not using it. Its name is Baby Girl and, judging by the pictures, it has it all: in two spacious floors you can find amenities like a huge leather sofa, furniture made from materials like granite or marble, and all kinds of image and audio technologies, including everything from large TVs to state-of-the-art audio setups. An exclusive design by Anderson Mobile Estates, an American company specializing in this type of high-end vehicle, completely customizable to the customer’s taste.
The same company built Will Smith’s RV, known as The Heat, which the actor purchased in 2000 to use while filming. It is 55 feet long, has two floors and it is valued at 2.5 million dollars. It includes a projection room with a 100-inch screen and
capacity for thirty people, an ample lounge, a bathroom with sauna, first-rate materials like granite and leather, and technological devices everywhere.
Leonardo DiCaprio’s RV does not fall far behind: it is 52 feet long, with four modules that can be extended to further expand the space. Of course, it includes all the necessary amenities, with eccentric details like two fireplaces and a large recycled glass shower valued at more than $40,000.
Justin Bieber’s RV also has its fair share of eccentricities. In 2020, the Canadian singer purchased for $2.5 million a bus turned luxurious mansion that he takes on his tours and that he himself showed off in the American edition of GQ Magazine. Equipped to the last detail, it offers wonders such as underfloor heating, ceilings with LED lights, a steam shower, and an infrared sauna.
Other celebrities, after years of traveling with their house in tow, have decided to part with theirs. That is the case of Tom Hanks. The legendary actor auctioned off his RV last year: the trailer that was his home during the shooting of movies like Forrest Gump or Apollo 13 was sold for $235,200, an almost trivial figure when compared to those of his colleagues.
Among so much luxury on wheels, Chris Hemsworth’s RV is also surprising for its modest dimensions. It was made by the Australian company Lotus Trooper, and it is equipped for all kinds of terrain. Despite its limited size, it includes things like Italian leather sofas and a designer kitchen; with this vehicle, the actor who brings Thor to life in the Marvel Cinematic Universe likes to enjoy family getaways, as he himself has shown on his social media.
Whether it is to go on road trips or as a place to rest between concerts or shootings, it is clear that the biggest music and movie stars cannot resist the opportunity to take all the comforts of home anywhere they go, preferably in rolling eccentricities that reinvent a concept popularized in the 1960s by the hippie movement – and look more fit for a Transformers movie than for an actual highway.
Writer Salman Rushdie attacked while giving a speech in New York | USA
Indian-born writer Salman Rushdie was attacked on Friday while giving a lecture in Chautauqua County, a town of about 140,000 inhabitants in western New York state. The first images of the event that have been shared on social networks show Rushdie on the floor, being attended by attendees and emergency services.
New York state police announced in a press release that the writer suffered an apparent stab wound to the neck, and was transported by helicopter to an area hospital. His condition is not yet known. An Associated Press reporter witnessed a man storm the stage at the Chautauqua Institution and begin punching or stabbing Rushdie as he was being introduced. The 75-year-old author was pushed or fell to the floor, and the man was restrained. The assailant has been arrested.
Rushdie’s book The Satanic Verses has been banned in Iran since 1988, as many Muslims consider it blasphemous. A year later, on February 14, 1989, Iran’s late leader, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, issued a fatwa calling for Rushdie’s death. The theocratic Iranian regime also offered a reward of more than $3 million for anyone who killed the writer, who holds dual British and US citizenship.
Iran’s government had long since distanced itself from Khomeini’s decree, but anti-Rushdie sentiment has persisted. In 2012, a semi-official Iranian religious foundation raised the reward for Rushdie’s death from $2.8 million to $3.3 million.
Rushdie, an English-language writer and perennial contender for the Nobel Prize in Literature, downplayed that threat then and said there was “no evidence” that people were interested in the reward. That year, Rushdie published a memoir, Joseph Anton, about the fatwa.
The 75-year-old author achieved international fame with the novel Midnight’s Children, which was published in 1980 and won him the Booker Prize, the UK’s most prestigious literary prize, the following year. The book sparked controversy in India for allegedly derogatory remarks towards the then prime minister of the country, Indira Gandhi.
With an overflowing imagination, his style has been compared to the magical realism of Gabriel García Márquez and Carlos Fuentes, among others. He himself has recognized on numerous occasions his important links with Latin American literature. His latest book Quixote (2020) adapts Cervantes’ classic to the situation that the United States under the Donald Trump administration.
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