2014 Personalities and Obituary

In 2014 Culture I looked at some figures which attracted a lot of people from all genres. Their strangeness might have pulled a lot of attraction by the press, but also their professionalism should be remembered for 2014. In the spotlight were Stromae, Paul Van Haver who gained international attention and looked as stepped out of some Flemish cartoons. Thomas “Tom” Neuwirth the Austrian recording artist and drag queen better know under his stage name  Conchita Wurst, managed to become a loudspeaker for those who according many do have a gender problem. The controversial was also invited at the European Parliament and the United Nations Office in Vienna, Austria’s capital.

That old and new can smoothly work together and give new fire to old boxes proved Lady Gaga and legendary jazz crooner Tony Bennett, who perhaps might becoming a little bit to old to perform on stage for so many minutes.

Born to a sharecropping family in the segregated South, Anna Mae Bullock and her elder sister were abandoned by their sparring parents early on. After her grandmother’s death, she eventually moved to St. Louis, Missouri to reunite with her mother. This opened up a whole new world of R&B nightclubs to the precocious 16-year-old. Called up to sing on-stage with Ike Turner‘s Kings of Rhythm in 1956, she displayed a natural talent for performing which the band leader was keen to develop. Soon, Anna Mae’s aspirations of a nursing career were forgotten and she began to hang around with the group. When the singer booked to record “A Fool in Love” failed to turn up for the session, Ike drafted in Anna Mae to provide the vocal with the intention of removing it later. However, once he heard her spine-tingling performance of the song, he soon changed his plans. He changed her name to Tina Turner and when the record became a hit, Tina became a permanent fixture in Ike’s band and his quest for international stardom. One thing led to another: they were married in Mexico between the births of Tina’s two sons – the first a result of an earlier relationship with a musician, the second with Ike. {Tina Turner Biography}

This grand lady now for one weekend got Berlin turned into the Tina Turner capital of the world for a fan party in honour of Tina Turner’s 75th birthday.



English: South African Paralympic runner Oscar...

South African Paralympic runner Oscar Pistorius (born 22 November 1986), taking part in the Landsmót ungmennafélags Íslands in Kópavogur, Iceland, the largest sporting event in Iceland which is held every three years. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The South African sprint runner with both legs amputated below the knee when he was 11 months old, has competed in events for single below-knee amputees and for able-bodied athletes, but got to run a totally different race in 2014.
The “Fastest Man on No Legs,” also known as the Blade runner” who made history at the London 2012 Olympics, played the lead role in a more tragic tale that began in the early hours of Valentine’s Day 2013 when his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp, was shot death.
The Pistorius family and Oscar’s management company have been inundated with messages of support and condolences for Oscar and for the family of Reeva Steenkamp from all over the world.
For many, he was an example of what could be achieved through a potent mix of determination, positivity and skill, but know he got a blow in the nice picture people had of him.
Besides the five-year prison term for culpable homicide, the athlete was also given a three-year sentence, suspended for five years, on a weapons charge stemming from an incident in which he discharged a loaded firearm in a restaurant.
A spokesman for the National Prosecuting Authority told reporters outside court:

“Our argument was that [Pistorius] should have been convicted of murder, and then would have been sentenced to a minimum sentence of 15 years. That is, of course, what we would like to happen. It isn’t about winning – it’s about justice.”

“Mad” Frankie Fraser English key member of feared London gangs in the 1960s, taking part in turf wars in the city and being associated with gangsters the Kray twins, who was certified insane while at Durham Prison and spent 42 years in prison for numerous violent offences, died from complication of an operation to help him with the leg problem he had since 1980 but had become worse.
Even at 89 he had caused trouble and in June 2013 was served with an anti-social behaviour order (ASBO) by police after a row with another resident. For years he was considered the most dangerous gangster of Great Britain.
After he had to be put in a coma after attempts to operate the fracture and was left to die switching off the machine, the family claimed the fracture could have been spotted earlier, reducing his pain.


Belgium experienced in 2013 the largest decline in the number of asylum applications in the EU, but this trend did not confirm in 2014.  The international situation is too confused for that, said one from the cabinet of the Secretary of State for Asylum and Migration Maggie De Block. This Maggie Celine Louise De Block, (born 28 April 1962) is one person who can not be overlooked for 2014. As Mega Maggie she conquered many hearts after she had made the most dreaded job, no politician ever wanted, the big light for handling the illegal immigrants. In December 2012, she became the vice-chair of the Open Vld party and without taking a leaf before her mouth she managed to pull lots of voters back again to the liberal party.
Her remarkable leap in the political pop polls could be because she remains calm in both good and bad news.

“People see that progress is being made and it gets better,”

said the Minister, who now has become Minister for Health and Social Affairs in the Federal Government Michel I.

Belgium lost some great politicians in 2014.
“The Plumber” but also “The Minesweeper” who did not mind that the common hard working saving people lost a lot of money by the bank frauds, left this earth, not able to take the money he earned from working for the ones who stole from us. His political connections helped Dexia’s bad bank to secure funding guarantees of up to €90 billion provided primarily by the Belgian government, but at the cost of the Belgians and all simple shareholders of Dexia. (In 2012, Dexia Belgium became Belfius.

Jean-Luc Dehaene (7 August 1940 – 15 May 2014), giant of Belgian politics and Premier, 1992-1999

Jean-Luc Dehaene (7 August 1940 – 15 May 2014), giant of Belgian politics and Premier, 1992-1999

Jean-Luc Dehaene who gained his first ministerial appointment in 1981 had to solve a lot of problems ministerial wise but also emotionally, like the Dutroux scandal and the Dioxin Affair. The Belgian politician held a mandate as MEP for the Flemish Christian-democrats (CD&V) in the outgoing European Parliament. He was also on UEFA’s financial fair play regulatory body.
In March, he was hospitalised and treated for cancer. After a period of revalidation, he returned to the public stage in April, conducting several interviews in national press and on television. On 15 May 2014, Dehaene died after a fall while holidaying in Quimper in France. In the aftermath of his death, he received tributes from the incumbent Belgian Prime Minister Elio Di Rupo who described him as an “exceptional statesman”.

Chabert (first from the left) in April 1975

An other Christen-Democratisch en Vlaams (Christian Democratic and Flemish; CD&V) great politician Belgium lost was Jozef P. A. “Jos” Chabert (16 March 1933 – 9 April 2014)

After La Bel VlaWa Vaudeville, sooner than expected a new government was formed in Belgium and got the youngest prime minister in its young history: Charles Michel.

Minister of Defense Sharon (right) and Caspar Weinberger, 1982

Arik, אַריק, Ariel Sharon, who played a key role in the War of Attrition and the the Yom Kippur War, after a stroke on January 4, 2006, remained in a permanent vegetative state until his death in January 2014. It was Israeli founding father David Ben-Gurion who gave the platoon commander the name “Sharon.”

Sharon became leader of the Likud party of which he resigned as head of Likud in 2005, and dissolved parliament to form a new centrist party called Kadima (“Forward”)

Pierre (Piet) Van Eeckhaut (1939–2014) Belgisch advocaat en politicus voor sp.a. - Belgian lawyer and politician for sp.a.

Pierre (Piet) Van Eeckhaut (1939–2014) Belgisch advocaat en politicus voor sp.a. – Belgian lawyer and politician for sp.a.

On the first of July lawyer Piet Van Eeckhaut who was known for several high-profile lawsuits and was politically active for the socialist party died. He came in 1970 in the Ghent city council and in 1976 for the then BSP (Belgian Socialist Party) mandatory of Education and Tourism in Ghent. In 1984, Van Eeckhaut became leader for the SP in the East Flanders provincial council and between 1994 and 2006 he was provincial chairman.

Eduard Sjervarnadze / Eduard Shevardnadze (ედუარდ შევარდნაძე, Eduard Amvrosiyevich Shevardnadze) (1928–2014) Georgian politician and diplomat who served as First Secretary of the Georgian Communist Party (GPC), the de facto leader of Soviet Georgia from 1972 to 1985 and as Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Soviet Union from 1985 to 1991

Eduard Sjervarnadze / Eduard Shevardnadze (ედუარდ შევარდნაძე, Eduard Amvrosiyevich Shevardnadze) (1928–2014) Georgian politician and diplomat who served as First Secretary of the Georgian Communist Party (GPC), the de facto leader of Soviet Georgia from 1972 to 1985 and as Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Soviet Union from 1985 to 1991

Six days later Eduard Sjervarnadze saw the light going out. He had started his political career in the late 1940s as a leading member of his local Komsomol organisation and was later appointed its Second Secretary, then its First Secretary. He should be remembered as one of the major figures of our age for steering the Soviet Union in from the cold during his five and a half years as Mikhail Gorbachev’s foreign minister, from 1985 onwards. After the end of the Soviet Union, he became the leader of his native Georgia, now an independent country, and took a brave stand. In the autumn of 1993, he stood in the middle of a brutal battle in Sukhumi in an effort to defend Georgia’s sovereignty against Abkhazian separatists. After the Rose Revolution street protests about disputed election results, he was forced to resign. However, his good name was later tarnished amid allegations of corruption involving him and his family but he could not hide his disappointment and his sense of failure both in Georgia, and also in the collapse of the dreams for a brave new world throughout the territory of the former Soviet Union.

It was already as Soviet foreign minister that he looked for a better relationship with the US and its western allies. His overtures to the West gave meaning and substance to perestroika, the principle of restructuring. He probably understood far earlier than Gorbachev that perestroika, once unleashed, could not be used merely to dabble with reform of the communist system. For him Gorbachev was too conservative to make the intellectual leap away from communism, and therefore he jumped ship, gave up his beloved foreign ministry and eventually became the first major Soviet figure to resign from the Communist party, in 1990.

He was not a big man but of small build, with a whiff of white hair he had a certain charm over him. With his easy smile, perhaps lacking the Gorbachovian charisma, he more than made up for it with charm, warmth, humour and acute intellect.

Shevardnadze spent his last years living quietly at his mansion house in the outskirts of Tbilisi. As his health deteriorated, his involvement in public life became much reduced. After a long illness, he died at the age of 86 on 7 July 2014.

Having a responsibility to the public

In the year 2014 Belgium lost three important figures who really did know very well their responsibility to the public. First we saw the Big Dame leaving these pastures, whilst the last few moths it must have been terrible for her to see how the Belgian government treated that what she loved so much and that what she had tried to establish for the country.

Jeanne Brabants (25 January 1920 – 2 January 2014) Belgian dancer, choreographer, teacher and founder of the Royal Ballet of Flanders.

Jeanne Brabants (25 January 1920 – 2 January 2014) Belgian dancer, choreographer, teacher and founder of the Royal Ballet-school in Antwerp and the Royal Ballet of Flanders.

A real Antwerp lass, Jeanne Brabants (25 January 1920 – 2 January 2014) was responsible for a great Flemish Balletgeneration. In 1941 she created her own dance-school and company. In 1951 her school could become incorporated in the Flemish Opera and later was taken into the city education-program, later to receive the title Royal Ballet-school.

She was responsible for creating a lot of dancers who found their way in the world of dance. They and the company where more appreciated abroad than in the own little country. Thanks to Jeanne Brabants the Royal Ballet of Flanders has become the international company Belgians should be proud of.

She designed some 200 choreographies of which it is unbelievable that the company does not keep that repertoire alive. she managed to bring Belgian dancers to be appreciated over the whole world, having them given also the opportunity to study under internationally recognized people? She as well as many of her pupils achieved numerous international awards.
Jeanne Brabants died on 2 January 2014, aged 93, in her hometown of Antwerp.

General Manager Lena De Meerleer.

‘She will always be remembered for her professionalisme, strength and vision. She will live on in the hearts of all the dancers who were part of the Royal Ballet, the School of Ballet and all the other danceschools and companies for which she was a source of inspiration.

Jan Hoet (1936-2014)Jan Hoet, the Belgian founder of SMAK (Stedelijk Museum voor Actuele Kunst or Municipal Museum for Contemporary Art) in Ghent, Belgium, one of the five legs sawn off under the table culture of Ghent. The others being Gerard Mortier, Luc De Vos, Karel Dierickx and Walter De Buck.

Originally,” The Sea “ was going to be the final part of a trilogy, say ‘the three-testament” by Jan Hoet. When Jan Hoet had returned to Belgium after his five-year directorship of the MARTa Museum in Herford (Germany), he had set in 2012 with co-curator Hans Martens, the exhibition “Saint John” in the Saint Bavo Cathedral in Ghent.

With “Chambres d’Amis,” an innovative exhibition he organized in Ghent in 1986, it became clear for the international press that this man not only wanted to bring art to the public and vice versa, he did manage to get people from all layers of the population to come and look at art and appreciate it. His visions of what is art and what is kitsch could have strange twists and not everybody would always agree with his remarks. sometimes, not taking a leaf before his mouth, he could give some rude remarks in front of an artist about his or her work.

After he curated Documenta IX in Kassel in 1992, presenting several hundred works by 190 artists from nearly 40 countries, he managed several important exhibitions all over the world.

Like Madame Jeanne was a mother for dance, Hoet could be called the father for visual art in this century and the sympathetic Gerard Alfons August Mortier the father of music.

GerardMortierBaron Mortier (25 November 1943 – 8 March 2014) really renewed the musical scene in many countries as a Belgian opera director and administrator of Flemish origin. He pursued apprenticeships in opera administration under Christoph von Dohnányi in Frankfurt and Rolf Liebermann in Paris and worked for the Flanders Festival from 1968 to 1972. As the general director of La Monnaie (De Munt) in Brussels from 1981 to 1991 he provided new blood and a new life to the company. After his general directorship of the Salzburg Festival from 1991 to 2001 he founded the  Ruhrtriennale arts festival in Germany, leading it from 2002 to 2004.

Those three personalties proved where their heart was and how they loved their art-form and placed several discoveries on the world-map.

Shirley Temple, the dimpled, curly-haired child star who sang, danced, sobbed and grinned her way into the hearts of Depression-era moviegoers, died in 2014 at the age of 85.

Shirley Temple, the dimpled, curly-haired child star who sang, danced, sobbed and grinned her way into the hearts of Depression-era moviegoers, died in 2014 at the age of 85.

An other strong character which did not make the end of 2014 was Shirley Temple, known in her private life as Shirley Temple Black,  born on April 23, 1928, in Santa Monica, California. She was the daughter of Gertrude Amelia Temple (née Krieger), a homemaker, and George Francis Temple, a bank employee. The family was of English, German and Dutch ancestry. Though she retired completely from films in 1950 at the age of 22, lots of later generations came to like her characters she played in the 50 earlier films.

Temple, America’s top box-office draw from 1935 to 1938, was the recipient of numerous awards and honours including the Kennedy Center Honors and a Screen Actors Guild Life Achievement Award. She ranks 18th on the American Film Institute‘s list of the greatest female American screen legends of all time.

In 1999, the American Film Institute ranking of the top 50 screen legends ranked Temple at No. 18 among the 25 actresses. She appeared in scores of moving pictures and kept children singing On the Good Ship Lollipop for generations.

Temple was credited with helping save 20th Century Fox from bankruptcy with films such as Curly Top and The Littlest Rebel. She even had a drink named after her, an appropriately sweet and innocent cocktail of ginger ale and grenadine, topped with a maraschino cherry.

Shirley Temple may be one of the best examples of a child star who left the entertainment industry completely and made a successful life.

Shirley Temple may be one of the best examples of a child star who left the entertainment industry completely and made a successful life.

Following her venture into television, Temple became active in the Republican Party in California and got her start in foreign service after her failed run for Congress in 1967. After her first Ambassadorship to Ghana she took on several roles as ambassador for the United States and for United Nations.

A family statement said

“We salute her for a life of remarkable achievements as an actor, as a diplomat, and most importantly as our beloved mother, grandmother, great-grandmother, and adored wife for fifty-five years of the late and much missed Charles Alden Black,”

Not making the Summer

The American country-influenced rock and roll singers, known for steel-string guitar and close harmony singing Everly Brothers had to say farewell to the youngest Phillip “Phil” Everly (January 19, 1939 – January 3, 2014) ten years after a compilation titled Country Classics was released.

The obnoxious, poetry-writing anarchist Rick in The Young Ones and the loud-mouthed and lecherous Lord Flashheart in BBC comedy series Blackadder was silenced on June 9. Stephen Fry, who appeared with Rik Mayall in Blackadder, described his co-star as “an authentic comedy genius and a prince among men,” adding he was “simply distraught” at the news.

The Young Ones

The Young Ones saw Mayall playing a poetry-writing, Cliff Richard-loving student called Rick

Rik Mayall when he came performing with his new-found comedy partner Adrian ‘Ade’ Edmondson who he’d met at at Manchester University drama department, his big break was at London’s Comedy Store under the guise of 20th Century Coyote.

Coyote, formed in the summer of 1978, went on to play at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe and was subsequently broadcast on BBC Radio 4.

His double act with Edmondson included the extreme, violent slapstick of The Dangerous Brothers – a forerunner of their later, hugely successful TV show Bottom.

Autumn time

Robin McLaurin Williams the American actor and comedian which most would know as a funny figure, started as a stand-up comedian in San Francisco and Los Angeles in the mid-1970s and is credited with leading San Francisco’s comedy renaissance. Lots fo young people would know him as Mork from Happy Days (1974) and the subsequent spin-off Mork & Mindy (1978) but he is mostly remembered as Mrs. Doubtfire.

Mrs Doubtfire Blue Wolf Productions,  20th Century Fox Theatrical release poster

Mrs Doubtfire Blue Wolf Productions, 20th Century Fox Theatrical release poster

Most interesting films with him are The World According to Garp (1982), Good Morning, Vietnam (1987), Dead Poets Society (1989), Awakenings (1990), The Fisher King (1991), a voice role in the Disney animated musical fantasy Aladdin (1992), Good Will Hunting (1997), One Hour Photo (2002), Hook (1991), Mrs. Doubtfire (1993), Jumanji (1995), The Birdcage (1996), and the fantasy adventure-comedy Night at the Museum (2006).

As an effective dramatic actor he received an Academy Award for Best Actor in a Supporting Role in Good Will Hunting (1997).

Williams won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for his performance as Dr. Sean Maguire in Good Will Hunting. He also received two Emmy Awards, six Golden Globe Awards, two Screen Actors Guild Awards, and five Grammy Awards throughout his career. You would think everything went all right for this successful actor, but appearances are deceptive. The man took his own life on August 11, 2014 at his home in Paradise Cay, California.

Joan Rivers 2010 - David Shankbone.jpg

Joan Rivers in 2010

An other “intuitively funny person alive” to leave this earth was Joan Rivers, Joan Alexandra Molinsky, the American actress, comedian, writer, producer, and television host noted for her often controversial comedic persona — where she was alternately self-deprecating or sharply acerbic, especially toward celebrities and politicians. The Joan Rivers Show (1989-1993) delivered her a Daytime Emmy for Outstanding Talk Show Host.

With her daughter Melissa Rivers she presented the reality series Joan & Melissa: Joan Knows Best? (2011-2014). Rivers and daughter Melissa were contestants in 2009 on the second Celebrity Apprentice. Throughout the season, each celebrity raised money for a charity of his or her choice; Rivers selected God’s Love We Deliver.

The 4th of  September she died and appeared posthumously with other female comedians in the documentary Makers: Women in Comedy, which premiered on PBS in October 2014

By her distinctive voice and sultry looks she will be remembered by many as a “femme fatal”, named the 20th greatest actress of the 20th century by the American Film Institute and received an Academy Honorary Award from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences “in recognition of her central place in the Golden Age of motion pictures.”

Lauren Bacall (1924–2014) born Betty Joan Perske to Polish middle class Jewish parents first wanted to be a dancer, but later, she became enthralled with acting. She switched gears to head into that field and studied at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in New York after high school, which enabled her to make her first steps on the professional stage in some off-Broadway productions. Crowned Miss Greenwich Village in 1942, Bacall made her stage debut in George S. Kaufman’s Franklin Street in Washington.

Bacall in her first moving pictures, To Have and Have Not with Humphrey Bogart, 1944

Bacall in her first moving pictures, To Have and Have Not with Humphrey Bogart, 1944

Because of her beauty she had not to worry about interest in her figure and appeared on the cover of Harper’s Bazaar, one of the most popular magazines in the US. This made that she was spotted by the wife of famed director Howard Hawks who arranged with her husband to have Lauren take a screen test, which got her the part of Marie Browning in To Have and Have Not (1944), a thriller opposite the great Humphrey Bogart, when she was just 19 years old. This not only set the tone for a fabulous career but also one of Hollywood’s greatest love stories (after he had left his third wife, actress  Mayo Methot, she married Bogart in 1945). It was also the first of several Bogie-Bacall films.

Lauren Bacall Femme fatale

Lauren Bacall Femme fatale

We may remember her from  The Big Sleep (1946) which laid the foundation for her status as an icon of film noir, Dark Passage (1947), Key Largo (1948), How to Marry a Millionaire (1953), The Cobweb (1955), Blood Alley (1955), Written on the Wind (1956), The Gift of Love (1958),  North West Frontier (1959),  Murder on the Orient Express (1974), The Fan (1981), Mr. North (1988). After Misery (1990), in 1990, and several made for television films, Lauren appeared in 1996’s My Fellow Americans (1996) and her performance in The Mirror Has Two Faces (1996) earned her a Golden Globe Award and an Academy Award nomination.

Cropped screenshot of Marilyn Monroe, Betty Gr...

Cropped screenshot of Marilyn Monroe, Betty Grable and Lauren Bacall in the trailer for the film How to Marry a Millionaire (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

On stage she was renown for Cactus Flower (1965), Applause (the musical version of the film All About Eve) (1970), and Woman of the Year (1981). She won Tony Awards for her performances in the latter two. For her work in the Chicago theatre, Bacall won the Sarah Siddons Award in 1972 and again in 1984. In 1976, with John Wayne, with whom she had already worked in Blood Alley (1955) she co-starred in his last picture, The Shootist. The two became friends, despite significant political differences between them.  The 12th of August she left the living with the pictorial remembrances.

Lauren Bacall screenshots

Lauren Bacall screenshots

Not making 2015

Dalziel and Pascoe

Warren Clarke, left, with Colin Buchanan in Dalziel and Pascoe (2001). He described his character as a ‘chauvinist pig’. Photograph: John Rogers/ BBC

Black Adder the Third (1987) PosterAn actor of immense presence and considerable versatility who turned his wide-shouldered, robust appearance and lived-in, hangdog facial features into an asset, mostly be remembered for Superintendant Andy Dalziel in TV’s Dalziel and Pascoe (1996) (61 episodes between 1996 and 2007) and the pig-fixated Regency period industrialist in Black Adder the Third (1987) Lancashire-born Warren Clarke died in his sleep at the age of 67 on November the 12th.

Warren Clarke, on left, in A Clockwork Orange (Rex Features)

In 1971, he secured a film part, as the vicious thug Dim, wearing red lipstick and a bowler hat, in Stanley Kubrick’s A Clockwork Orange, starring Malcolm McDowell.

I found him great in John Mortimer’s adaptation of I Claudius (Queen’s theatre, 1972) as Caligula and in the Anthony Shaffer play Murderer at the Garrick theatre (1975).   He also presented a very good Josiah Beaumont in The Onedin Line (1978).

The last role he completed before his death was as Charles Poldark in the BBC’s revival of the 1970s television drama Poldark.

Luc De Vos many times joking about praying and religion

A man whose attitude I did not like at all and who did not mind, still after his death to make jokes about religion and to mock at Jesus and God, on very big screens at the remembrance meetings, after he died of acute organ failure on the 29 November 2014 in his working apartment in Ghent, was the lead singer of the Dutch-language alternative rock formation Gorki and as a guest in too many Flemish television shows.

At several concerts people went mad and after his death people in Ghent did like crazy telling they have lost with Walter de Buck that year the greatest figure of Ghent. Around 15,000 people assembled outside on the Saint Peter’s Square as the church was full.

With his bands Gorky/Gorki, he had 3 singles and 12 albums in the Flemish charts (the album charts only start in 1995, i.e. after his first albums were released). This included 5 top ten albums.

Not only songs rolled out of his pen. He wrote columns for, among others, Flemish radio station Studio Brussel and the Ghent city magazine Zone 09/ and several books [the most recent Paddenkoppenland (Toadheadsland)].

Posthumous he received the  Lifetime Achievement Award.

Zanger Walter De Buck overleden

Walter De Buck with the other icon from Ghent Luc De Vos, both died in 2014. Photo: Belga


As the third important figure from Ghent to die in 2014 Walter De Buck (13 July 1934 – 21 December 2014) the Flemish folk-singer and founder of the modern Gentse Feesten focused later in his life on his sculptural work.

Generations of Ghent have heard him perform and ‘t Vliegerke has even become an unofficial anthem of the city Ghent in Gents.”Mee mijne vlieger en zijne steert, hij goat omhuuge, ‘t es ‘t ziene weerd”. What on the square before the church of St. Jacob started with a few hundred visitors grew into an annual cultural festival for the masses. “‘t Seef liet zijn vlieger op, van tsoepe, tsoepe, tsoepe”. Other songs that were very popular “Ach Rosalie, ach Rosalie, ach Rosalie mijnen bon amie”. “Mee koevoet es beter dan boelie, maar madame de predikant heeft liever nen end saucie.”

Walter De Buck was one of the three W’s, along with Wannes Van de Velde and William Vermandere. In the dialects from Ghent, Antwerp and West Flemish they have put the Flemish folk on the map. Wannes and William were frequent and welcome guests on stage at St. Jacobs. It would be indeed Wannes Van de Velde, who together with Walter De Buck revived forgotten songs treasures by Charles Waeri. Already in 1970 – the very beginning of the Gentse feesten – they organized a Charles Waeri evening. “Zijde gij kwoad op mij, ge zij gij toch mijn loetse, ja mijn loetse dat zijde gij.”

Rabbi Harold M. Schulweis in 1998 at the Valley Beth Shalom synagogue in Encino, Calif., where he led the congregation.

Harold M. Schulweis, an influential rabbi and theologian who focused his sermons, books and social activism on connecting the Jewish community with the wider world — and vice versa — died on Dec. 18 at his home in Reseda, Calif. He was 89. The cause was heart disease, said Rabbi Edward Feinstein, who succeeded Rabbi Schulweis as the leader of the Valley Beth Shalom synagogue in Encino, Calif.

In December 2014 Rabbi Harold Schulweis, regarded as the most influential synagogue leader of his generation, died at his home after a long struggle with heart disease.
Schulweis enrolled in the Jewish Theological Seminary, where he studied under Mordecai Kaplan and Abraham Joshua Heschel. Schulweis also studied philosophy at New York University, where he met his wife Malkah. He received a doctorate in theology from the Pacific School of Religion. He

transformed his synagogue into a living laboratory of social activism and creative spiritual life, introducing innovations that became staples for Jewish congregations across North America

according to his friend and successor as senior rabbi at the Conservative Valley Beth Shalom Synagogue (VBS) Rabbi Ed Feinstein.

Under his leadership the Conservative Valley Beth Shalom (VBS) in Encino grew to become the largest Conservative congregation in the Western United States. He also launched a para-professional Counseling Center within VBS, offering psychological and family support to the synagogue members and the wider communities. Each of these innovations has been replicated in congregations nationwide.

Schulweis’ core philosophy first took form in 1966, when he met a young math instructor at Berkeley who shared the story of his family’s rescue from the Nazis by a German Christian family. The family had never been recognized or thanked by the Jewish community. Thousands of rescuers, Schulweis learned, lived in poverty, receiving neither recognition nor aid. In response, he founded the Institute for Righteous Acts, which would become, in 1986, the Jewish Foundation for the Righteous (jfr.org), recognizing, celebrating and supporting thousands of Christians who rescued Jews during the Holocaust. Schulweis was profiled on “60 Minutes” for his unique vision, locating moral heroism in the darkest of historical moments. {Rabbi Harold M. Schulweis, ‘Rabbi of Rabbis’ and world-renowned Jewish leader, dies at 89}

In the mid-1980s he helped found Mazon, an organization to combat hunger in the United States and Israel that asks affluent Jewish families celebrating bar mitzvahs, bat mitzvahs, weddings and other life milestones to donate 3 percent of the cost of the celebration to help feed the needy.

In 2004, Schulweis delivered a sermon at VBS on the Jewish high holidays calling for a Jewish response to genocide. He challenged the congregation:

“We took an oath, “Never again!” Was this vow to protect only Jews from the curse of genocide? God forbid that our children and grandchildren ask of us, ‘Where was the synagogue during Rwanda, when genocide took place and eight hundred thousand people were slaughtered in one hundred days?’”

Among those moved to answer the rabbi’s challenge was attorney Janice Kamenir-Reznik, who assumed the role of founding president of the Jewish World Watch (JewishWorldWatch.org), now a coalition of Jewish organizations dedicated to raising awareness and mobilizing resources in response to the on-going genocide in Darfur, Congo, and around the world. JWW has grown into the largest anti-genocide grassroots organization in the world, a coalition of some 70 synagogues, churches, schools and other groups with some 30,000 to 40,000 donors.

Schulweis’ challenge, and Kamenir-Reznik’s friendship with the rabbi,

“has transformed my life and has changed my philosophy of what it means to be a Jew,”

she said.

“Nothing I have done in my life has been more meaningful and has had a larger impact.”

Among the numerous awards and honors Schulweis was bestowed are the Israel Prime Minister’s Medal, United Synagogue Social Action Award, and Los Angeles County’s John Allen Buggs Humanitarian Award, as well as honorary doctorate degrees from the Hebrew Union College and the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College.

High-minded and high-achieving as he was, Rabbi Schulweis had a common touch and enjoyed a good laugh. In 1991 he was an adviser for an episode of “The Simpsons” in which Krusty, the television clown admired by young Bart, reveals he is a Jew (né Krustofsky) who was scorned by his rabbi father (voiced by Jackie Mason). In the end, Bart effects a reconciliation, and after a tearful hug in front of a live audience on Krusty’s show, Rabbi Krustofsky squishes a pie in his son’s face.

“I thought it had a Jewish resonance to it,”

Rabbi Schulweis said afterward about the episode, as reported in “The Gospel According to the Simpsons: The Spiritual Life of the World’s Most Animated Family” (2001), by Mark I. Pinsky. The show’s writers, he said,

“have a Yiddish spark in them.” {Harold M. Schulweis, Progressive Rabbi, Is Dead at 89; NYT December 26, 2014, on page B11 }

The year of a bloody outbreak

2014 is the year an outbreak turned into an epidemic, powered by the very progress that has paved roads and raised cities and lifted millions out of poverty. This time it reached crowded slums in Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone; it travelled to Nigeria and Mali, to Spain, Germany and the U.S. It struck doctors and nurses in unprecedented numbers, wiping out a public-health infrastructure that was weak in the first place.

Hundreds of volunteers were willing to risk their lives to help others. The people in the field, special forces of Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF),  Christian medical-relief workers of Samaritan’s Purse and many others from all over the world fought side by side with local doctors and nurses, ambulance drivers and burial teams to relieve the pain and to avoid the horrible disease spreading more. Many doctors and nurses left their safe home to go through a devastating experience.

2014 saw a test-case of the world’s ability to respond to potential pandemics, and it did not go well.

It exposed corruption in African governments along with complacency in Western capitals and jealousy among competing bureaucrats. It triggered mistrust from Monrovia to Manhattan. Each week brought new puzzles. How do you secure a country, beyond taking passengers’ temperatures at the airport? Who has the power to order citizens to stay home, to post a guard outside their door? What will it take to develop treatments for diseases largely confined to poor nations, even as this Ebola outbreak had taken far more lives by mid-October than all the earlier ones combined?

the magazine Time could tell.

Dr. Jerry Brown

Dr. Jerry Brown, 46, medical director at the Eternal Love Winning Africa Hospital, Monrovia, Liberia: “I always had the fear of myself or one of my staff getting infected, and what would become of me thereafter.”

The rescuers who came back to Europe or the United States, but had the virus in them, made it clear that many hospitals could not handle this kind of disease and that we should be very careful about it. It also showed how panick can bring people to rediculous precautions. When a nurse in Spain contracted Ebola from a priest, Spanish authorities killed her dog as a precaution, while #VamosAMorirTodos (We’re all going to die) trended on Twitter. Guests at a hotel in Macedonia were trapped in their rooms for days after a British guest got sick and died. Turned out to have nothing to do with Ebola.

Once again we could see how people do not want to listen properly and are more concerned about their own little ‘I’ or ‘Me’. In many countries we could see irrational responses and got even people in Holland buying ebola safety clothes, making the price going up and making it more expensive for those who really needed it.

Just when the world needed more medical volunteers, the price of serving soared. When nurse Kaci Hickox, returning from a stint with MSF in Sierra Leone with no symptoms and a negative blood test, was quarantined in a tent in Newark, N.J., by a combustible governor, it forced a reckoning.

“It is crazy we are spending so much time having this debate about how to safely monitor people coming back from Ebola-endemic countries,”

said Hickox,

“when the one thing we can do to protect the population is to stop the outbreak in West Africa.”

Ebola virus does not pass through the air; transmission requires direct contact with the body fluids of symptomatic patients.

Many rescuers found horror and hell on earth, places with no clean water, lots of dead people lying next to children who were still alive, feces and blood and vomit mixed in with bleach, like a swamp on the ground when you walk around.

The DBM — the dead-body team, the safe-body-removal team — had to live every day with the fear they might catch the virus, even when they were going through their preventive measures and wearing their protective gears.

Time questions:

Why, in short, was the battle against Ebola left for month after crucial month to a ragged army of volunteers and near volunteers: doctors who wouldn’t quit even as their colleagues fell ill and died; nurses comforting patients while standing in slurries of mud, vomit and feces; ambulance drivers facing down hostile crowds to transport passengers teeming with the virus; investigators tracing chains of infection through slums hot with disease; workers stoically zipping contagious corpses into body bags in the sun; patients meeting death in lonely isolation to protect others from infection?

For Time and many others, like me, it is clear that those people are the real heroes and are the “Person of the Year 2014”.

cover of time magazine person of the year award with various doctors on cover.

Time magazine has named Ebola healthcare workers in West Africa its ‘Person of the Year’ for 2014.



  1. Meet Stromae, the most famous pop star you’ve never heard of
  2. Andy Cohen had Lady Gaga’s urine turned into perfume
  3. Lady Gaga Fosters Peace Between Sparring Fans in Belgium
  4. Lady Gaga Stops Fans From Fighting Mid-Concert—Watch Her Tell Off the Little Monsters!
  5. Who is ‘Blade Runner’ Oscar Pistorius?
  6. Oscar Pistorius may be forced to stay in jail because he has No Ankles for electronic tag
  7. Oscar Pistorius appeal: state can challenge murder acquittal
  8. Mad’ Frankie Fraser’s family to sue hospital ‘for failing to spot fractured leg’ before he died 
  9. Alles over Maggie De Block
  10. Lissez tous sur Maggie De Block
  11. Jean-Luc Dehaene, giant of Belgian politics, dies
  12. Former Belgian PM Dehaene (73) has died
  13. Dutch poet Leo Vroman dies
  14. Leo Tindemans, statesman, 1922-2014
  15. Rik Mayall, star of The Young Ones, dies aged 56
  16. Obituary: Rik Mayall
  17. Rabbi Harold M. Schulweis, ‘Rabbi of Rabbis’ and world-renowned Jewish leader, dies at 89
  18. The Biography of Rabbi Harold M. Schulweis
  19. Funeral Services for Rabbi Harold M. Schulweis — As We Will Always Remember Him — Temple Valley Beth Shalom December 21, 2014
  20. Robin Williams Biography
  21. Lauren Bacall Biography
  22. Lauren Bacall, Star of Hollywood’s Golden Age, Dies at 89
  23. Lauren Bacall, Hollywood’s Icon of Cool, Dies at 89
  24. I was pregnant – and Bogie was just livid, by Lauren Bacall: The late actress tells of her tempestuous and passionate marriage to screen star Humphrey Bogart
  25. Warren Clarke Biography
  26. Warren Clarke dead: Actor dies after ‘short illness’ aged 67
  27. Warren Clarke obituary
  28. Warren Clarke – obituary – The Telegraph
  29. 1989-2014 Het verhaal van Gorki
  30. Alles over overlijden Luc De Vos
  31. Luc De Vos wint postuum Lifetime Achievement Award
  32. Gent neemt afscheid van Walter De Buck
  33. Zanger Walter De Buck overleden
  34. Walter De Buck (1933-2014)
  35. Walter De Buck (1934-2014) – De Redactie
  36. Video Gent neemt afscheid van Walter De Buck
  37. Gent verliest zijn volkszanger
  38. The Ebola Fighters The ones who answered the call
  39. Read the Ebola Doctors’ Stories
  40. The Ebola Nurses’ Stories
  41. The Ebola Caregivers’ Stories
  42. The Ebola Scientists’ Stories
  43. Watch U.S. Ebola Survivors Describe Fighting the Deadly Virus
  44. 2014 Time ‘Person of the Year’ goes to Ebola workers
  45. Time Magazine’s Person of the Year! The Pope – The False Prophet, Bible in the News


Preceding reviews of 2014:

My blogs 2014 in review2014

Politics in the United States of America

2014 Politics all over the world

2014 Human Rights

2014 Health and welfare

2014 Social contacts

2014 To remember our Earth

2014 Economics

2014 Culture

Next: 2014 Religion


About Marcus Ampe

Retired dancer, choreographer, choreologist Founder of the Dance impresario office and archive: Danscontact-Dansarchief plus the Association for Bible scholars, the Lifestyle magazines "Stepping Toes" and "From Guestwriters" and creator of the site "Messiah for all". - Gepensioneerd danser, choreograaf, choreoloog. Stichter van Danscontact-Dansarchief plus van de Vereniging voor Bijbelvorsers, de Lifestyle magazines "Stepping Toes" en "From Guestwriters" en maker van de site "Messiah for all".
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