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Belgium Gives Back To Congo The Only Thing Left Of Its National Hero, Patrice Lumumba: A Tooth

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In 1884 Belgium became the metropolis of the colossus that is now the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), a colonization process that culminated in an assassination and the whim of a drunken police officer.

On January 17, 1961, Prime Minister Patrice Emery Lumumba, overthrown by a coup d’état promoted by Belgium and the CIA – which maintained that he had ties to communism – was executed in a forest in the eastern region of Katanga. However, the plan to completely erase any trace of the crime by dissolving the body in sulfuric acid did not quite work. A Belgian gendarme, Gérard Soete, who was completely drunk, pulled two teeth from the corpse “as a hunting trophy,” as he confessed in 1999. One of those two teeth, the only thing that remains of Lumumba, arrived on Wednesday by plane in a coffin to Congo. The coffin will now travel the country on a journey that will culminate in its burial on June 30, the 62nd anniversary of the independence of the DRC, in a mausoleum in Kinshasa.

The return of this dental piece is “a relief” for the family and “for the Congolese people” who “will finally be able to mourn,” explains Jean-Jacques Lumumba, great-nephew of the deposed leader, by telephone from Paris. But that gesture, more than half a century after the assassination, is “insufficient.” “It is necessary for the justice system to clarify this heinous crime and thus end impunity in Congo.”

The restitution of the only remains of Patrice Lumumba by the Belgian federal prosecutor, Frédéric Van Leeuw, on Monday in Brussels is part of Belgium’s attempt to heal the wounds of a colonization process that dragged between five and 10 million to their death, out of a population of 20 million, according to various studies. They died from slavery, forced labor and disease; from torments such as the amputation of hands and feet and experiments such as the one that blinded Congolese people who had been injected with arsenic.

However, the desire to turn this page of history has been coming up against Belgian authorities’ refusal to apologize unequivocally. The reason, according to media outlets such as the Belgian newspaper Sudinfo, is that a clear apology could “cost Belgium billions” in potential lawsuits against the state, if the latter were to assume full responsibility for such atrocious events. Jean-Jacques Lumumba confirms that, in 2011, his family filed a lawsuit for war crimes in a Brussels court, still unsubstantiated. In it, the Belgian state is accused of “having participated in a plot” to eliminate the Congolese leader. The prime minister’s great-nephew also alludes to another one of the limits on Belgium’s will to repair the atrocities of colonization: it “still has not declassified numerous documents” about the assassination.

The Belgian authorities have limited themselves to recognizing a “moral responsibility” in the abuses of the colonial period, including the Lumumba crime. That expression was used by Prime Minister Alexander de Croo on Monday during the delivery ceremony of the tooth, in which he juggled apologizing and at the same time describing Belgium’s role as that of a passive witness. “It is possible that the Belgian ministers, diplomats, officials or military did not have the intention of having Patrice Lumumba assassinated, no evidence has been found to prove it […] They preferred not to see. They decided not to act,” he said.

King Philippe of Belgium, who visited the DRC in early June, expressed himself in similar terms. In a letter to the Congolese president, Félix Tshisekedi, the monarch stressed his “regret” for colonization, but did not apologize. Nor did he take Lumumba’s tooth with him to give it to the family, as he was expected to do. The sovereign did return another much less controversial looted object: a Congolese mask that until now was exhibited in the Royal Museum of Central Africa in Tervuren.

Numerous investigators have argued that Belgium’s role in Lumumba’s crime was not that of a mere accessory. In Congo: The Epic History of a People, David van Reybrouck reflects how Brussels and the US bought a traitor to seize power from Lumumba, who was criticized for his lack of meekness and his alleged communist tendencies. That traitor was the Congolese chief of staff, Joseph-Désiré Mobutu, who would go on to become the dictator of Congo between 1965 and 1997.

Overthrown after Mobutu’s coup d’état, Lumumba was handed over by Belgium to the Katanga authorities, who had already threatened to kill him. Brussels had also bought officials in that region to force its secession from the independent Congo and continue plundering its minerals. The pilots who flew Lumumba to Katanga were Belgian; the members of the firing squad were Congolese, but the order to shoot was given by a Belgian officer. And Gendarme Soete, the drunken officer who pulled out the tooth, was Belgian.

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Josep Maria Trigo, Astronomer: ‘If A Comet Is Coming, It Doesn’t Matter Where We Take Shelter’

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Astronomer Josep Maria Trigo.
Astronomer Josep Maria Trigo.Albert Garcia

The Spanish astronomer Josep Maria Trigo, 52, is passionate about planetary defense, meaning the science and technology dedicated to preventing a space rock from handing us the same fate as the dinosaurs. Much of his passion is derived from the fact that he believes we are not prepared and that the population lacks information. Hence, his recent publication The Earth in Danger (Universitat de Barcelona Edicions), which warns about the risks he has been investigating as a researcher at the Institute of Space Sciences (CSIC) and the Institut d’Estudis Espacials de Catalunya.

Question. Is the Earth in danger?

Answer. We are exposed. But we have become accustomed to sensationalist headlines which are never accurate. Both the media and the scientists fail to explain the risk of impact in terms the general public can understand. When an asteroid approaches, typically, a news story crops up informing us that we could be hit, when we won’t be. However, small asteroids the size of the Chelyabinsk asteroid are out there and there could be one tomorrow. We’re not yet familiar with most of these objects measuring 10 to 20 meters and even up to 100 meters. Our current understanding is that large impacts will certainly not take place, but we are detecting a greater flux of impacts from 10 or 20 meter objects than was expected. We are discovering that these fragile bodies that break apart and pass close to Earth in an extremely close encounter can fall into Earth’s gravity well and, and if fragmented, fly off into very different orbits. Then the objects return to Earth at the same time. In the short and medium term, the danger comes from this type of object. That would explain, for example, how the asteroid Duende [discovered from Granada] grazed the artificial satellites the same day as Chelyabinsk [a meteor that entered the Earth’s atmosphere over the Ural mountains in Russia in 2013] took place. And although the orbits do not coincide at all, many of us think there is a correlation.

Q. And where do scientists come up short?

A. Scientists sometimes do not explain clearly enough that they are small bodies that are changing their orbits. The main mistake is to make people believe that we are well acquainted with the orbits of objects, when in fact we are obtaining information on orbits with an average level of precision. And when they come round again, we correct this. A clear example is Apophis, an asteroid that has been in the limelight but an impact from which has now been ruled out. This has to be explained to the public: when they are near-Earth asteroids, we do not do a continuous follow-up and there is a very important slant. I think the way we should explain this to the public is that we scientists have discovered this asteroid that will pass at such and such a distance and these objects are going to be tracked, and you can find more information on such and such websites. People should know that the media predicting impacts are not serious media.

Q. Are you more concerned about the ones that can produce a scare, like Chelyabinsk?

A. In Chelyabinsk, there were more than 1,500 wounded and that could have been avoided. If the same thing happens in a city like Madrid, Barcelona or New York, we could be talking about tens or hundreds of thousands of people injured. The risk is also the result of our ignorance. I mean, you see a huge fireball and you stand there looking at it. You have to inform people; you have to tell them that if you stay there, you will get severely burned. This is the kind of information that the media should be giving us, rather than telling us the sky is going to come crashing down.

If you see a huge fireball and you stand there looking at it, you will get severely burned

Q. What is the scenario that worries you most?

A. For me in particular, the asteroid 2015 TB145 made me shudder. It was an extinct, dark, 600-meter, extremely fast comet, discovered with three weeks to spare, which passed slightly farther from us than the Moon. And I think there may be quite a few more such objects. Jupiter plays a very important protective role in relation to Earth, with respect to perhaps the most dangerous impacts, which would be those of very non-concentric objects that are highly charged with energy. I am referring mainly to comets with very non-concentric orbits, that go beyond Jupiter’s orbit. These are extinct comets that come close to Earth perhaps every three, four or five years, and we don’t really see them because they’re tremendously dark. The 2015 TB 145 was a monster threatening at least regional-scale devastation. These are the ones that perhaps we should be most concerned about, because we are not acquainted with all of them. They are so obscure and non-concentric that there could be more.

Q. With an unlimited budget, how would you organize planetary defense?

A. With an array of telescopes in the Earth’s orbit working in the infrared range, where you see more than just reflected light, and you’re not bothered as much by stars and other background objects. It would be ideal to have an array of telescopes monitoring the sky to make the tracking more concrete. The key is always to have a solid prediction of when the impact is going to take place. Being acquainted with their movement, being able to study how they evolve, and extending that observation over months: that would provide a great deal of information on those processes that we are most in the dark about. Regarding Earth, I would install more radio telescopes the size of the one inaugurated in China. And of course, also, address the issue with space missions.

Q. Missions like DART, which is going to hit an asteroid?

A. This binary system that will intercept DART is a good example of the type of asteroids that reach us: Didymo is almost 780 meters and Dimorfo 160 meters, so they have the kind of dimensions that can worry us. To be able to study those two objects closely is a breakthrough, because the solution depends on the characteristics of each body. We have investigated asteroids like Ryugu and Bennu.

And those missions are key to mitigating any future risk of impact. In the case of Bennu, it has been shown to have a very low consistency on the surface, and to be more fragile than the wet sand that dries out when you build a sand castle on the beach. And these are good examples of the technological scientific challenge you face when you want to deflect an asteroid. Because sure, superficially it’s very fragile, but what’s inside? You could use a monolithic block, but of what dimensions? Such thin, porous material, which cushions any impact, indicates that this may not be the best solution.

We would have to consider other alternatives, but they involve knowledge decades in advance of the body’s orbit. You have to know that 50 years from now you have an asteroid that is heading for you so you can develop a mission that would have to be a collective mission of all the space agencies in unison. We are talking, obviously, about creating a monster that would stand next to the asteroid or land on it and alter its trajectory. Thanks to these missions that bring back asteroid samples, we are learning a lot more about their properties, which is very challenging, because they are not properties that we are familiar with.

The obscure extinct comets are the ones we should be most concerned about, because we are not acquainted with all of them

Q. Do you think there would be global unity in the face of a dangerous comet?

A. I think it would work well. I am convinced. There are clear examples that space agencies are working in continuous collaboration, and what happened in Russia has demonstrated that. A comet is very improbable; it could be a billion years away. But if it happens, faced with a challenge of that magnitude, it is clear that either we do it together, as one, or we don’t do it at all. Because it is not feasible for a single space agency to organize an impact mitigation process of that nature – whether it is a ship loaded with missiles or whatever you need to deal with such a monster. It has to be coordinated among the different agencies. We would need to seek alternatives, and maybe even set up two or three parallel options.

Q. It would take years of preparation.

A. With a small asteroid, no. Maybe with a mission like DART, which is fully robotic, it would go direct to its target. Having such a robot could be very useful for the future. But realistically, we would have to know the orbit of the asteroid years in advance. And we have major obstacles to overcome before we get there: we don’t have tracking programs from space that would allow us to improve our knowledge of the orbits. We lack radio telescopes to find out what these objects are really like. We have a long way to go. We have convinced the UN to implement Asteroid Day every year to raise awareness that we need to stay alert and expand our knowledge of these targets.

Q. And if we see a flare in the air, don’t stop to take a selfie.

A. It is important that the public is made aware that this is a latent danger. I try to stress that we rely on the historical record of humanity, but it is hugely biased. We don’t know of many incidents like this that have taken place in the past. Because our ancestors, faced with a Tunguska-type disruption, interpreted it in many other ways. And they certainly believed that it was divine intervention.

Q. Marian apparitions that were actually asteroids?

A. It has even been proposed that scripture’s Sodom and Gomorrah disasters were actually caused by an air burst. It may be that many of the occasions when it was believed the fire was raining down from the sky could have been an event like that. Recently, it was discovered that there are materials from what is thought to have been such an air burst in the Chilean desert. And in the Libyan desert, evidence was also found of an impact, or an air burst, as occurred at Tunguska. In these cases, when the fireballs hit the ground, everything is incinerated and the materials melted, leaving no evidence. This is another example of the bias that such an event can have.

Q. So maybe we have miscalculated the probabilities?

A. The impact risk has multiple heads, like Hydra. One is a direct impact with a Chicxulub-type asteroid, a 12-kilometer asteroid associated with the extinction of the dinosaurs. Another may be a Tunguska-style, which produces a shock wave and scatters trees over 2,000 square kilometers of taiga, which are incinerated when the fireball strikes. And others fall halfway between the two: objects of hundreds of meters that perhaps cause craters, because they are fragile, but that incinerate everything, triggering change on a regional scale. Sources of danger that perhaps we underestimate.

Q. Do you have nightmares about asteroids?

A. No, I’m quite relaxed in that sense. I enjoy studying them a lot, but I prefer not to think about those things. Because if it is discovered that a comet is coming, which is in effect a real chemical bomb, it doesn’t matter where we take shelter. We would face a global winter of unknown dimensions: weeks, months, years. So, why worry? Let’s hope it won’t happen for a long time, at least for thousands of years, by which time we will have small colonies on the Moon or Mars to ensure the survival of the species. It is a latent danger: if a large object were to hit us, it would completely wipe out our civilization.

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Chicago Mass Shooting: Who Is The Person Of Interest In Custody?

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A 22-year-old man has been taken into custody as a person of interest in the mass shooting that killed at least six people in Chicago. The shooting took place on Monday, July 4, during an Independence Day parade in Highland Park, an affluent community of 300,000 in the north of the city.

The shooter allegedly opened fire from the top of a building, just 10 minutes after the parade began. At least six people were killed in the attack, and another 26 were wounded. The ages of the injured range from eight to 85. One of the people killed was a Mexican citizen, according to Roberto Velasco, Mexico’s director for North American affairs.

The parade was cancelled as authorities launched a wide-scale manhunt for the shooter, who was described as “armed and very dangerous.” The person of interest was identified as Robert E. Crimo III, a young man who fled the area in a gray utility vehicle.

At a press conference on Monday night, authorities said Crimo was spotted by a North Chicago officer who attempted a traffic stop. Crimo led officers on a brief chase before being stopped. “The subject was taken into custody without incident,” Highland Park police Chief Lou Jogmen said. “This doesn’t necessarily mean this is over, but we are certainly encouraged that we have a person of interest.” Lake County Sheriff Sgt. Christopher Covelli described the attack as “very random, very intentional.”

Witnesses at the parade described terrifying scenes as the shooter fired into the crowd. “All of a sudden, the crowd which was closer to the crime scene started running in a stampede fashion,” Miles Zaremski told NPR. “I see blood on the cement, and I see individuals in pools of blood.”

Another bystander, Elyssa Kaufman, who is a digital producer at CBS Chicago, said her family got on the ground and quickly ran to their car in a nearby parking garage. “Everyone was running, hiding and screaming,” she said. “It was extremely terrifying. It was very scary. We are very fortunate, we got out very quickly.”

The crowd fled the shooting, leaving behind folding chairs, parasols and abandoned baby strollers. The scene resembled a war zone, one witness told local radio station WBBM. The police immediately went to the scene, equipped with a K9 unit, to search for the gunman. At the site, they found a rifle and ammunition.

The shooting comes in the wake of the massacres in Buffalo and Uvalde, Texas. The recent spate of killings has reignited debate on gun control in the United States. In the wake of the tragedies, the US passed a bipartisan gun legislation that imposes tougher checks on young buyers and encourages states to remove guns from people considered a threat. The US Supreme Court, however, recently upheld the rights of gun owners to carry a loaded weapon in public.

Gun violence often spikes in the summer months. In Chicago, nine people died from gunshot wounds during the July 4 long holiday weekend, and 48 more were injured in shootings. Last year, in the same period, 19 people were killed and more than 100 wounded as a result of gun violence. An estimated 40,000 people die from gun violence in the US every year, including suicide victims.

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A-Ha: How Three Guys Who Can’t Stand Each Other Survived The Biggest Pop Song Of The ‘80s

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How do you survive the premature success of an exceptional song? Not well, judging by what is stated in A-ha: The Movie, the 2021 documentary about the Norwegian pop band. If there’s one thing the group members have in common – aside from a less-than-laughable tendency to insult each other – it’s that all three of them hate Take on me.

For the band’s lead singer, Morten Harket, it’s become an ordeal to be asked to play Take on me night after night. The group is forced to repeat it over and over again, but they feel that it’s “not necessarily among the best songs.” It’s just one of many memories from a far-off era that isn’t coming back.

The guitarist, Paul Waaktaar-Savoy – much more resigned than his bandmates – understands that the song “is part of the sentimental memory of several generations,” and therefore no longer belongs to its authors. “It doesn’t even matter what we may feel about Take on me… it’s a tribute to our fans. They stood by us, and one of the few things they ask in return is that we play that particular song.”

The Golden Age of Pop overshadowed by a supernova

As for Magne Furuholmen, the group’s keyboard player – and rumored to be the leader behind the scenes – has a compelling reason to loathe his signature song: “[It’s] a light so bright that [it] obscures the rest of our songs.” Furuholmen talks about tracks that only the band’s most stalwart fans will remember at this point, such as Stay on These Roads, The Sun Always Shines on TV, The Blood that Moves the Body, and Cast in Steel. Magne describes them, with relaxed immodesty, as “symphonic pop masterpieces.” He is pained to see them overshadowed by their younger sister, a song that is “peculiar, kind of brilliant in its own way,” but one that casts too much light.

Furuholmen recalls that A-ha has a solid track record, with 10 studio albums, and that business greats like Kanye West, Radiohead, Noel Gallagher, Chris Martin and even Leonard Cohen have paid them respect. Clearly, the band is not a one-hit wonder, yet the shadow cast by its most famous song is so long that it’s impossible to ignore.

Take on me was released in the UK in October of 1984. The first version (you can listen here) went unnoticed, but the group, aware of its potential, commissioned a remix from Alan Tarney, producer to legendary singer Cliff Richard. The new version appeared on A-ha’s debut album, Hunting High and Low, and was released as a single in September of 1985, accompanied with a video made by Anglo-Irish filmmaker Steve Barron.

If the keyboard riff that served as the basis for the song was unforgettable from the first listen, what about Barron’s video? This masterpiece of rotoscoping – an animation technique involving the frame-by-frame tracing of the images of a real film with a machine, now in disuse, called a rotoscope – told a very simple story. A woman, played by British model and actress Bunty Bailey, was attracted to the scribbled version of Morten Harket, the protagonist of a vintage aesthetic comic book. Harket, in one of the most iconic images of the early 1980s, invited her into his world by holding out his hand from the depths of an illustration. After just a few seconds of romantic connection, a waitress crumpled up the comic in which the pair of lovers had found refuge… the black-and-white universe began to crumble. In the end, in a finale inspired by Ken Russell’s 1980 film Altered States, Bailey and Harket managed to escape from their crumpled paper prison and continue their love story as flesh-and-blood beings.

Morten Harket, Paal Waaktaar and Magne Furuholm posing for a photo shoot in 1986.
Morten Harket, Paal Waaktaar and Magne Furuholm posing for a photo shoot in 1986.ullstein bild (ullstein bild via Getty Images)

The three-minute-long fantasy was filmed in a cafe and soundstage in South West London. Barron’s team spent four months transforming more than 3,000 live-action frames into a minimalist alternate universe. Even today, it is still a delight to watch.

In the fall of 1985, the then-almighty MTV bet big on the music video. For the first time since The Wild Boys by Duran Duran, a video clip produced in the UK could compete with Michael Jackson’s Thriller or Billie Jean. Against the lavish opulence of those big-budget productions, Take on me triumphed thanks to a simple idea executed with precision and good taste, using a combination of neat visual effects and fine craftsmanship.

Beyond the music video

If you ask Barron, he’ll tell you that it was the video that made the song… and, for that matter, the band’s budding career. There are solid reasons that would support this thesis. For instance, 37 years later, Take on me is one of the most viewed video clips in history. On YouTube alone, it already exceeds 1.3 billion views, consolidating it as one of the four most-played songs of the 20th century, along with Nirvana’s Smells like Teen Spirit, Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody and Sweet Child o’ Mine by Guns N’ Roses.

Furthermore, the song went to number one on the US singles charts, coinciding with the premiere of the video. In the medium-term, it would reach the top of the charts in 36 countries, including all of Western Europe… with the exceptions of Spain, France and, curiously, the United Kingdom, the place of residence of the singers, where it peaked at number two. Only The power of love, by Jennifer Rush, surpassed it.

The charismatico Morten Harket, the singer and a teen idol in the 1980s, during a concert in 2005.
The charismatico Morten Harket, the singer and a teen idol in the 1980s, during a concert in 2005.Kurt Vinion (WireImage)

It’s hard to imagine that Hunting high and low, the debut album of a trio of unknown Norwegians, could have sold tens of millions of copies without MTV. However, as cultural journalist Jenny Valentish notes, “it wouldn’t be fair to give all the credit to Barron’s video.” The song had its own virtues, starting with the “magical” keyboard line that speaks of “youth, innocence and zest for life.” There are just a couple of notes, but in them is “the essence of everything that the band had that was peculiar and genuine.”

Furuholmen and Waaktaar-Savoy already had that riff in their repertoire in the late 1970s, when they started playing together in a school band named Bridges. Schoolmates in Oslo, they were playing Doors covers and had already concocted a little instrumental piece, The juicy fruit song, which included that brilliant keyboard intro. Furuholmen explains that Bridges was a band that “dreamed about making it big and had all sorts of wacky guys pass through it, but when push came to shove, it always ended up being me and Paul playing in a garage, with a couple of half-baked songs, a guitar, a bass and no singer.”

The man with Dulux paint in his hair

They tried to fill this missing role as early as 1981, according to Furuholmen, by making an “unrefusable” offer (”come with us and you’ll be the leader of our band”) to the coolest guy they knew, another Norwegian named Morten Harket, who, like them, frequented London hoping to break into the music industry: “He had a great voice, but that was the least of it. “What fascinated us was that white-tinted quiff with Dulux paint and its connection to London’s New Romantic movement.” Harket was allowed into exclusive venues, such as Camden Palace. He was part of the scene, even if he was just a beardless Scandinavian with white paint in his hair. He already had a certain status, so he initially turned down the offer to lead a band with a horrible name, no manager and no set list.

A year later, when, back in Oslo, Furuholmen and Waaktaar-Savoy contacted Harket again, they had a few more songs and had changed their name. Since A-ha sounded much better than Bridges, the singer finally agreed to rehearse with them. Together, they turned The juicy fruit song into a piece with lyrics… very close to what would end up becoming Take on me.

Furuholmen explains that, like good Vikings, they crossed the North Atlantic again in the direction of Great Britain. This time, they were determined to succeed in the scene of extravagance and glamor that they had previously attended as simple spectators. “We made a decision to take things as far as we could commercially and go from being a garage band to pop stardom.”

Opportunity presents itself

The London they found in 1983 was no longer the London of 1981. The leading clubs were moving away from the New Romantic orthodoxy once it had broken into the mainstream, thanks to bands like Spandau Ballet and Duran Duran. A new breed of technopop bands were taking over, reclaiming some of the sass and avant-garde energy of punk.

A-ha fit like a glove in this latest mutation of the new wave. They enlisted the services of an old-school manager, Terry Slater, once a bassist for the Everly Brothers. Slater got them a contract with Warner and, above all, he acted as a tireless guard dog. According to Furuholmen, “[Slater] preserved our innocence, kept us safe from drugs and bad company.”

Years later, they discovered that the savvy manager had banned A-ha’s social and professional circle from taking drugs in their presence. “He had worked with drug-fueled bands like the Sex Pistols and wanted us to stay clean, healthy and focused, to the point that he would threaten to break people’s legs if they took drugs around [us].”

Slater’s influence and the group’s own inclinations explain A-ha’s considerable longevity. They are still together and active almost 40 years after their second landing in London, despite the fact that coexistence within the group began to deteriorate by the end of the 1980s. The band has been dissolved at least three times… but they always get back together.

Just as we were

Today, as the documentary dedicated to A-ha’s long journey shows, very little remains of the friendship that thrived during the group’s early years. In Harket’s words, they are “three skilled professionals condemned to understand each other.” Theirs must already be one of the longest marriages of convenience in pop history. A band built up as a vehicle to reach success as quickly as possible has survived against all odds thanks to the obstinacy of its members, who, as Waaktaar-Savoy explains, travel separately, meet in the studio or on stage and barely talk about anything except what has to do with the band. They know each other well and, to some extent, respect each other. But they can barely stand each other.

That’s one of the most curious questions that A-ha: The Movie raises. To what extent is it logical and healthy for three adults with more-than-healthy checking accounts to insist on keeping a common creative vehicle afloat, for which they seem to feel so little attachment?

The answer, as Furuholmen hinted in an interview with the Financial Times, is that they have found that it is very cold outside A-ha. Fame is addictive; no alternative project has anywhere near the same level of exposure that the band guarantees. And Take on me, together with the dozens of songs that came later, is a legacy to defend and a heritage—financial and sentimental—to preserve.

Furuholmen summarizes the main thing he has learned from life on the road in a handful of sentences in which common sense and the starkest cynicism naturally coexist: “There’s a rock-star handbook that everyone has to follow. It starts with buying Japanese cameras when you’re on your first successful tour and everyone thinks they’re a photographer. If you keep on getting successful you buy flats all over the world. Then you get interested in antiques, because you have to fill the flats up. Then you move on to vintage cars. Eventually, you end up buying a lot of art.”

None of this would have been possible without Take on me. Without the magical riff and the unforgettable video clip, there would be no art to collect, no tours to present Hunting high and low live on its 35th anniversary, and no documentary in which the three members of A-ha exhibit—with some cheek—how badly they get along.

The toll to pay for all of this is sharing the stage with a couple of guys you’d love to lose sight of, in front of people who ask you to play a song you hate night after night. It may not be the most uplifting of stories, but it is the one that the Norwegian band wanted to tell us.

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