Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Marvin Gaye in Ostend, Belgium and other things

There are certain songs one remembers the moment one heard. In 1973, lying in the bath in London, I heard Walk On the Wild Side by Lou Reed on my boyfriend's pea green transistor radio. Indelible moment. The same goes for Marvin Gaye's Sexual Healing, which I heard in 1983 on a fashion designer's mixtape in New Delhi, while working on a clothing collection. Boom, it got me me right in the hormones. What a song! Still thrills me, decades later. 

Sexual Healing

Marvin Gaye's singing has been a part of my life since my teens with his marvelous Heard It Through the Grapevine.

A couple of months ago I learned a little about Marvin Gaye's really hard life. Read a bit of his biography online. What suffering he went through! 

At the lowest point in his life until then, he took an unlikely refuge in a small seaside town on the Belgian Coast, called Ostend. 

"By the early 80s, like soul itself, Marvin Gaye had fractured into a million pieces. He was washed up, drugged out, underselling, overweight, mid-divorce and promoting an album Motown hadn’t even bothered to let him finish. Belgian concert promoter Freddy Cousaert met Gaye in London, a bloated wreck, and took it upon himself to improve the lot of the fallen star. Gaye would later say he “didn’t even know where Belgium was”, but that he “left it to the hand of God”. The hand of God, it seems, fancied a waffle. Gaye boarded the Southampton Ferry in the spring of 1981 with his son Frankie, heading to the sleepy fishing town of Ostend to be guests of Cousaert, staying in his house, and joining his family."

Richard Olivier's Marvin Gaye: Transit Ostend, a documentary made of Gaye's time there shows him soberly revelling in the incongruity of his surroundings, staring out over the grey waters as if they were an aquatic mirror of his melancholy, strolling along the King Albert I promenade where he took an apartment, singing the Lord's Prayer inside a church, even visiting a fisherman's bar (long since torn down) and attempting to play darts with the locals. Gaye talked of Ostend in terms of a retreat, a penance - two years earlier, he had attempted suicide by cocaine overdose in Hawaii. In Ostend, however, he professed to be living a cleaner, even monastic life, purging his past sins with plenty of jogging, sea air and even forsaking sex.

Remember Marvin from Daniel Elbel on Vimeo.

Barely 18 months after quitting Ostend, Gaye, stricken by cocaine-induced paranoia, tormented by the push and pull between his good faith and bad habits, was shot dead by his bible-bashing father, in a probable act of subconscious suicide. Although it's assumed he always intended to return to the fatal dazzle of LA, the truth is, he was in two minds - just weeks before leaving, he bought a 21-room manor outside the city. Ostend could have been his salvation.

Magical Rings With Secret Compartments Inspired By Famous Novels by the lord of the rings, Theo Fennell

Every couple of months I need to see this video of the Georgian National Ballet rehearsal. The troupe is called Sukhishvilli. 
It's one of the most exciting dance performances I've seen, ever. 

A FaceBook video of some marvelous mechanical kites, made by a Chinese artisan, Zhang. A KickStarter video about the same man, whose kites are not just charming but marvelous works of art and ingenuity.

Ooh, such an intriguing title, The Flight of the Shadow. 

A few lovely book covers.

An animated chart of 42 North American butterflies

Selene by Albert Aublet

 (French, 1851–1938)
An addictively fun game, Line Square Dot. Try to get the dot into the box by making the dot bounce off lines

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