The wires are alive with the news that Bill Murray is in Ireland to play golf. He will hack his way through courses such as Druids Glen, Rosapenna and Ballybunion for a YouTube series called The Links Life.
The format has been with us since those pro-celebrity golf things in the 1970s when Bruce Forsyth and Telly Savalas joshed about the weather in Gleneagles. Supported by Tourism Ireland and Fáilte Ireland, the project seeks to flog our bunkers and semi-roughs to the good burghers of Boulder and Beijing. Good luck to it.
We can guess what Murray gets from the project. A friend of the old country for a long time – he played the then-young Cat Laughs comedy festival in Kilkenny a quarter of a century ago – the actor will enjoy a free holiday attacking a sport he enjoys. If you have any worries about his swing, check out his beautiful drive at the Kawaguchiko Country Club in Sofia Coppola’s Lost in Translation. There are worse ways of spending the late summer.
Bill Murray travels the world in crumpled clothes that nobody else would match together. Nobody much cares who he is dating. None of the hoopla seems to impress him
What do the makers get from Murray? Plenty. Now 70, Bill Murray has managed the not-inconsiderable feat of remaining fashionable for half a century. He worked his way through Chicago’s prestigious Second City improvisational group in the early 1970s before gaining mainstream fame with Saturday Night Live in the middle of that decade. He achieved a further jump up the ladder in hit movies such as Caddyshack, in 1980, and the massive Ghostbusters, in 1984. In recent decades he has moved towards a more-upmarket school of nonconformity with directors such as Wes Anderson and Jim Jarmusch.
Were there an annual Buster Keaton Award for deadpan then Murray would surely have dominated it as Rafael Nadal dominates the French Open. What really secures his enduring cool, however, is the notion that he exists outside the celebrity machine. He travels the world in crumpled clothes that nobody else would match together. Nobody much cares who he is dating. None of the hoopla seems to impress him.
From what we can judge this is not any sort of act. He apparently does not have an agent or manager. If you want to pass him a script you have to phone his own number and leave a message. It has been reported that this creaky system caused him to miss out on roles in films such as Monsters Inc and Who Framed Roger Rabbit. Does he care? If you miss out on Bill that’s your problem, not his.
His reputation for being a tad difficult does little to dispel this perceived oddball status. A few years ago the Guardian dug out a quote on his behaviour from Harvey Weinstein, which, given the source, now reads somewhat unfortunately. “Being a Murray-ite is a religion, where you can behave as badly as you want to people, and they still love you,” the notorious producer said in 2014. “I used to feel guilty about behaving badly, and then I met Bill, and it feels so much better.”
To be fair, most of the stories concerning Murray – an alleged falling out with Chevy Chase, further alleged tensions with Richard Dreyfuss – date from decades ago. The man whom Dan Aykroyd labelled the Murricane seems to have matured into a less volatile eccentric. “I remember a friend said to me a while back, ‘You have a reputation,’” he commented recently. “And I said, ‘What?’ And he said, ‘Yeah, you have a reputation of being difficult to work with.’ But I only got that reputation from people I didn’t like working with, or people who didn’t know how to work, or what work is. Jim, Wes and Sofia, they know what it is to work, and they understand how you’re supposed to treat people.”
That mention of Jim Jarmusch, Wes Anderson and Sofia Coppola helps define his current place in the entertainment ecosystem. In the very funny Quick Change from 1990 – still his only feature as director – Murray, playing a bank robber in circus disguise, is asked, “What the hell kind of clown are you?” Murray shifts not a muscle in his face as he replies, “The crying on the inside kind, I guess.” Well, quite.
He was never easy on the red carpet. He has never been a hearty joker. It was recently reported that, in his early days on stage, he was saved from suicide by a glance of Jules Adolphe Breton’s painting The Song of the Lark at the Art Institute of Chicago. Following the failure in 1984 of The Razor’s Edge, an adaptation of the W Somerset Maugham novel that he wrote himself, Murray, still hot from Ghostbusters, moved away from acting to study philosophy at the Sorbonne University in Paris and didn’t return to film for four years. That is the sort of independent thinking that appeals to directors such as Jarmusch, Anderson and Coppola. That determination to plough his own quiet furrow has kept him relevant and kept him in style.
Do not let his YouTube jaunt fool you into thinking he is sliding into semi-retirement. He has signed on for the next Wes Anderson film and will reprise his role as Peter Venkman for the imminent Ghostbusters: Afterlife. We may have the young peasant girl in The Song of the Lark to thank for his creative longevity.
‘Well, there’s a girl who doesn’t have a lot of prospects,” he recalls thinking. “But the sun is coming up anyway, and she’s got another chance at it.’ So I think that gave me some sort of feeling that I, too, am a person and get another chance every day the sun comes up.”
Shock in Germany after cashier shot dead in Covid mask row
The killing on Saturday evening in the western town of Idar-Oberstein, Rhineland-Palatinate, is believed to be the first in Germany linked to the government’s coronavirus rules.
The row started when the cashier, a student, told the customer to put on a face mask, as required in all German shops. After a brief argument, the man left.
The suspect then returned about an hour and a half later, this time wearing a mask. But as he brought his six-pack of beer to the till, he took off the mask and another discussion ensued.
“The perpetrator then pulled out a revolver and shot him straight in the head,” prosecutor Kai Fuhrmann told reporters on Monday.
The suspect, a 49-year-old German man, walked to a police station the following day to turn himself in. He was arrested and has confessed to the murder.
He told police he felt “cornered” by the coronavirus measures, which he perceived as an “ever-growing infringement on his rights” and he had seen “no other way out”, Fuhrmann said.
Idar-Oberstein mayor Frank Fruehauf called it “an unfathomable, terrible act”, and residents have laid flowers and candles outside the petrol station.
The murder comes just days before Germans head to the polls for a general election on September 26 that will see Chancellor Angela Merkel bow out of politics after 16 years.
Katrin Goering-Eckardt, the parliamentary leader of the Green party, tweeted that she was “deeply shaken” by the killing, which she said was “the cruel result of hatred”.
Agriculture Minister Julia Kloeckner from Merkel’s centre-right CDU party, who hails from the region, said the murder was “shocking”.
The Tagesspiegel newspaper said far-right chat groups on Telegram were applauding the murder, with one user writing “Here we go!!!” while others posted thumbs-up emojis.
Germany has seen repeated protests from anti-mask demonstrators throughout the pandemic, some of them attracting tens of thousands of people.
The Querdenker (Lateral Thinkers) movement has emerged as the loudest voice against the government’s coronavirus curbs and regulations. Its marches have drawn a wide mix of people, including vaccine sceptics, neo-Nazis and members of Germany’s far-right AfD party.
Remains found in Dublin adds intrigue to search for Robert Emmet’s grave
Skeletal remains have been found at one of the locations identified as a possible last resting place of Robert Emmet who was executed on this day in 1803.
The remains were found during an excavation at the back of St Paul’s Church in Stoneybatter in Dublin.
The disappearance of the body of Robert Emmet is one of the great mysteries of Irish history.
Emmet was tried and then hanged for instigating the ill-fated 1803 rebellion. He became a symbol of Irish martyrdom for his speech from the dock in which he concluded: “Let them and me rest in obscurity and peace, and my name remain uninscribed, until other times and other men can do justice to my character. When my country takes her place among the nations of the earth, then, and not till then, let my epitaph be written.”
After he was publicly hanged outside St Catherine’s Church in Thomas Street on September 20th, 1803, his head was displayed to the crowd by the hangman Thomas Galvin. The remains of Emmet’s body was taken to Bully’s Acre in the grounds of what is now the Royal Hospital Kilmainham and buried there.
When some of his friends went to reintern his remains from Bully’s Acre to St Michan’s Church in Church Street, a church associated with the United Irishmen, they found there was no body there, and so began a search which endures to this day.
His great-nephew Dr Thomas Addis Emmet requested an archaeological dig at the family vault in St Peter’s Church in Aungier Street to mark the centenary of Emmet’s death in 1903, but that proved to be unsuccessful.
St Paul’s Church is another contender in the saga of Emmet’s remains. It was the parish church of Kilmainham Gaol’s doctor and effective governor Dr Edward Trevor.
In his book In the Footsteps of Robert Emmet, JJ Reynolds speculated that Trevor removed Emmet’s body and put it in an unmarked grave in the grounds of St Paul’s Church. This was to ensure that his grave would not become a shrine for Irish nationalism.
The church, which was the venue for the consecration of the philosopher George Berkeley as Bishop of Cloyne in 1734, has been converted into the Spade Enterprise Centre, a not-for-profit social enterprise unit.
The land where the skeletal remains were found is being turned into a shared kitchen for small business enterprises in the area.
Archaeologist Franc Miles said burials in the grounds were from 1702 to the 1860s. A extant set of burial records remain, but Emmet, if he really is buried there, would have no record.
Previous exhumations were carried out when the graveyard was closed in 1860s to make way for a school on the site.
“With all the evacuations, we were left with bits and pieces of body. There weren’t many full skeletons,” he said.
Mr Miles said it all the gravemarkers and stones were removed in the 1860s “so all you are left with really are bones.”
Mr Miles said it would be difficult if not impossible to identify Emmet’s remains even if they are buried in the grounds of St Paul’s Church.
His own “educated guess” is that Emmet’s body is still buried somewhere in Bully’s Acre.
As many of his supporters have said over the last two centuries: “Do not look for him. His grave is Ireland.”
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