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A Great Lady – Maya Angelou passes
She won acclaim for her first autobiographical memoir ‘I know why the caged bird sings‘ as it narrated her life between the ages of 3 and 17. A further six autobiographies also achieved a large and appreciative audience as they covered different parts of her life.
She began working with Malcom X in 1965 and after his assassination began working with Martin Luther King. She was devastated by King’s death and was encouraged to begin writing her memoirs.
In 1993 she was invited to write and deliver a poem for Bill Clinton’s presidential inauguration and when Barack Obama was elected president she declared: “We are growing up beyond the idiocies of racism and sexism”.
Obama would honour her with a Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2011 and quoted her words, “History, despite its wrenching pain, cannot be unlived, but if faced with courage, need not be lived again.”
A truly great woman that connected with countless people across race, gender and class… and always with such graciousness. “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”
Previously on TheJudge13:
March 12th 2013 – Lewis: Expressions of angst, or ‘seeing the light’
Lewis the angry
Has Lewis morphed once more? During the 2011 season Hamilton appeared to be an individual consumed by rage and petulance. The starkest of a number incidents that year was when he appeared to lose control of his emotions and common sense during the Monaco GP.
After dominating the first two qualifying sessions on the Saturday, Lewis fastest time Q3 was chalked off because he cut through the chicane. To add to his misery, he was twice penalized during the race following incidents with Massa and Maldonado in which Hamilton tried highly risky overtaking moves that led to inevitable collisions.
After the chequered flag an angry Hamilton blurted “Out of six races, I’ve been to the stewards five times. It’s a joke. It’s an absolute frickin’ joke. It’s just ridiculous. These drivers are absolutely frickin’ ridiculous. Just stupid.” Then he uttered the infamous phrase that dominated Lewis’ year, “Maybe it’s because I’m black” – an ill advised reference to a catchphrase from comedian Ali G.
Martin Whitmarsh had to mop up behind Lewis and speaking to the media he informed us, “Immediately after the race he was very down, and during a post-race TV interview he made a poor joke about his penalties that referenced Ali G. However, I’m pleased to say that he chose to return to the track a little while later to speak to the stewards about the joke. They accepted his explanation.”
Later, a calmer Hamilton apologised and explained his return to the stewards, “It was a bit of a joke, which wasn’t funny at the time. I made them aware that when emotions are high, and it’s very intense at the end of those kind of races, you don’t always say the right thing, and the joke [the reference to his colour] didn’t come at the most appropriate time.”
The remainder of 2011 saw Lewis have a number of ‘run ins’, the most memorable being with Felipe Massa and Pastor Maldonado. However there were signs Lewis was developing a new outlook on life for 2012.
I commented on a fan’s forum early last season that maybe Lewis had imbibed some happy juice – jesting maybe Ron Dennis had fitted some Bang & Olufsen BeoLab 5’s to his MP4-27 and was looping the Madness hit, “I like driving in my car” over and over again.
It appeared the turning point arrived before the penultimate race of 2011 in Abu Dhabi when Lewis bared his soul to the press. “For me, there’s not a lot of people that really understand the issues that I’ve had this year and the problems that I’ve been going through, which I’ve been going through for the last two years.
It’s very difficult…I just can’t comment on them because it’s not really the place or time to do so.
But Jenson’s done a great job to get things in the right place. He’s got his dad there, who is there at every single race. He’s got his management there; he’s got his friends; he’s got his girlfriend there all the time. He’s in a really, really happy [place]…he’s got a great bubble around him which he’s very happy with and, with that, he’s able to just go out and perform without any worries on his mind.
I did have that at one point, but I lost that bubble and I don’t have that around me at the moment. But I’m working on having that for the future, as I think the conscious and subconscious part of your mind is very important in this business.
It is a priority for me to create that atmosphere around myself, because it’s a happy bubble where you are happy with your friends and family and the people you love most. It’s just a big positive bubble. Every time I arrive (at a race) I feel positive, but at some races I’m less positive, and less happy. So that’s something I’m definitely going to try and correct before next season starts.”
What makes Lewis tick?
Martin Whitmarsh had previously suggested his impressions of Hamilton were that he was too hard on himself and Lewis concurred. “That’s the way I do it. I’ve not really got much to be happy about this year to be honest. I’ve had a couple of half decent races and then the rest have been fairly disappointing from my own personal feeling of performance.
I’ve had a couple of races where I’ve excelled and then the rest of them have been so-so. I look through the whole year and look at my results — fourth, fourth, fourth, fifth, sixth, eighth, wherever it is – and one or two seconds and firsts there.
For me, that’s just massive under-achievement from my own personal view. And I am hard on myself. I’ve always been a very hard individual and definitely probably too hard on myself, but that’s just the way I am. I’m working on trying to be less hard on myself but I take it personally because this is my life. I race with my heart, this is everything to me.”
It may be that Lewis’ next comment reveals his raison d’être – it’s a result of being programmed since he was a small child. All the attention and acclaim he received at an early age was probably derived from this. “It [winning] would make a big difference. If I was able to have a clean two races without seeing the stewards and without having a penalty, and on top of that winning, I think it would be beautiful. It would be really nice”.
There have been many child protégés who claim they only felt the drive of a parent to succeed at the expense of being loved for who they are.
A fresh start
During the winter break, Lewis and Nicole appeared to resolve their differences and spend some time together away from the F1 and showbiz media and Lewis shortly after committed to work with children’s charity UNICEF.
In 2012, Lewis was to suffer a number of on track body blows, many not of his making. The most memorable was the fuel shortage that robbed him of the pole and probable race win in Barcelona. Yet through difficult circumstances he remained sanguine and philosophical, stating following the teams fueling error in Spain, “we win as a team and we lose as a team“.
Martin Brundle commented in Monaco, 1 year on from Lewis’ outburst, ‘I watch him very closely from beside the track and from the commentary box I see him in the paddock, you chat away to him and I do sense a much calmer Lewis,‘ said Brundle.
‘That is reflected in his driving. I think he had nine penalties last year but now you see him doing charity work for UNICEF with the kids and you just sense a much more mature Lewis.‘
Yet the problem Lewis had throughout 2012 was that he couldn’t shake Button – both on and off the track. I wrote last month that it appeared Jenson had done a similar job on Hamilton as Olivier Panis did to Jacques Villeneuve. As world champion and with his manager Craig Pollock as team boss, BAR was Jacques team – as McLaren belonged to Lewis.
For both world champions the introduction of a supposed inferior team mate wrought havoc with their stature within the team. Olivier Panis and Jenson button were quickly observed to be the opposite of the emotional Hamilton and Villeneuve and crew members from both sides of the garage gravitated towards the ‘new boys’ in preference over the team’s senior driver.
The Bubble explodes
The moment this niggle for Lewis became apparent was in the ‘tweet of tweets’. Angry with himself, his set up and the team, Lewis posted telemetry information on twitter the night before the Belgium Grand Prix. So once again we were exposed to the ‘tortured Hamilton’ and Jenson’s speed in qualification appeared to tip him over the edge.
The writing was on the wall for both McLaren and Lewis. Ron Dennis called him out in Canada stating Lewis would have to accept a pay cut, and Lewis and his new management team XIX decided the corporate restrictions of the Woking based team were too oppressive and it was time for a change.
Lewis somewhat humiliated by his misuse of social media disappeared from twitter, claiming later he’d lost his phone – which in itself must have been somewhat embarrassing for the team sponsor Vodafone.
However, recent evidence suggests Lewis dealt well with the wrench of leaving his McLaren family and joining Mercedes. He told SKY in an interview last weekend that he felt the difference between the teams was, “It’s now nice to be somewhere where you’re really wanted.”
Lewis still Lewis
Yet still the emotive Lewis is apparent. We had in clear view during an interview he gave during Barcelona week 1 a deflated Lewis who claimed getting into Q3 would be the target for him and his new team. A week later a rejuvenated Hamilton was discussing winning races and even the 2013 WDC was not impossible.
Lewis began tweeting this year again; only this time it is beautiful banalities of life rather than his confused relationship with Jenson. We’ve heard of his delight in the hip hop music recordings he has produced, of his new found love – Roscoe the dog; and how he and his girlfriend drove a Zonda from Barcelona to Italy one night during testing for ‘just pizza’.
This has created suspicion amongst some that Lewis has ‘seen the light’, found God, Allah or some kind of spiritual guide. Much of this idea is rooted in Hamilton’s comments made to the assembled press in Barcelona when he revealed he had ‘prayed’ for Adrian Sutil when news was breaking that the German may get the Force India drive.
Lewis has also been tweeting about ‘tats’ and for those of you not common with the vernacular, this refers to body art or tattoos. Until recently we’ve merely observed the markings on his hands and arms on TV and in the press. However last week Lewis did a photo shoot for ‘Men’s Journal’ with the photographer Alan Clarke and the result is the title picture you see above.
The sign of the cross would appear to accentuate the thought Lewis has found God even further. Yet the reality of this picture may be in the words across his shoulders rather than the image of the cross.
The Damascus light
Maya Angelou, American author and poet wrote the poem “Still I rise”. She was a friend of Martin Luther King and Malcolm X and has received over 30 honorary doctorates, 3 Grammy awards and was called upon to read her poem “”On the Pulse of Morning”, at President Bill Clinton’s inauguration in January 1993.
Maya is an internationally respected spokesperson of Black people and women and her works are considered a defense of Black culture. Editor of Newsweek and the New York Post, Elsie B Washington, hailed Angelou as ‘the black woman’s poet laureate’.
Lewis is wearing as ‘a cross of suffering’ in indelible ink a poem about black women who despite every kind of humiliation survive. The author of this verse challenges in each stanza the very stereotypes to which America has subjected black women since the days of slavery.
Further there is an in-your-face tone to the rhetorical questions asked. “Does my sassiness upset you?” “Does my haughtiness offend you?” “Does my sexiness upset you?” The writer is demanding a debate through the successive phrases which lead to the poem’s inspirational conclusion. “Out of the huts of history’s shame… I rise. Up from a past that’s rooted in pain… I rise. I’m a black ocean, leaping and wide, welling and swelling, I bear in the tide… I rise.
Many have chosen to support a cause or follow an ideal, but to engrave on your body the words of another and therefore declare them to be your identity – would be more akin to a martyr’s sacrifice of commitment.
The question Lewis poses for us is as follows. Is he just a petulant infant whose angst is perpetually seeking affirmation in self made drama and attention; or has this tortured soul identified his existential state and aligned himself with true meaning and purpose – ‘seeing the light’ and now at ease with who he is?
Here is Maya Angelou’s full penned version of – ‘Still I Rise’
You may write me down in history
with your bitter, twisted lies,
you may trod me in the very dirt
But still, like dust, I’ll rise.
Does my sassiness upset you?
Why are you beset with gloom?
‘Cause I walk like I’ve got oil wells
pumping in my living room.
Just like moons and like suns,
with the certainty of tides,
just like hopes springing high,
still I’ll rise.
Did you want to see me broken?
Bowed head and lowered eyes?
Shoulders falling down like teardrops.
Weakened by my soulful cries.
Does my haughtiness offend you?
Don’t you take it awful hard
‘Cause I laugh like I’ve got gold mines
Diggin’ in my own back yard.
You may shoot me with your words,
You may cut me with your eyes,
You may kill me with your hatefulness,
But still, like air, I’ll rise.
Does my sexiness upset you?
Does it come as a surprise
That I dance like I’ve got diamonds
At the meeting of my thighs?
Out of the huts of history’s shame
Up from a past that’s rooted in pain
I’m a black ocean, leaping and wide,
Welling and swelling I bear in the tide.
Leaving behind nights of terror and fear
Into a daybreak that’s wondrously clear
Bringing the gifts that my ancestors gave,
I am the dream and the hope of the slave.
Haas delays F1 debut until 2016 – report (GMM)
It appears Gene Haas will not have a formula one team on next year’s grid. As recently as last week, it was reported that the Nascar team co-owner’s ‘plan A’ was to debut with a Gunther Steiner-led, North Carolina-based F1 team in 2015. At the same time, Haas was trying to put together a 200-strong workforce.
“There are many interested parties,” a source told Auto Motor und Sport last week, “but we can only hire people when we know who our engine partner is.”
At the Indianapolis 500 last weekend, Haas told motorsport.com that plans to use Ferrari technology are on track. “We haven’t exactly signed a formal contract (with Ferrari) but we’re pretty close,” he said. And he met with likely chassis maker Dallara during the Indianapolis visit. “They all can do it, they all want to do it, they’re all very interested in helping us,” said Haas.
He hinted, however, that time is running out to be ready for 2015. “I think they are looking at it as a good long-time partnership but it just comes down to you have to order things and it takes time to order things and get things scheduled. It just seems that it’s taking longer to accomplish what we wanted to do than we thought,” Haas added.
The latest news is that Haas has apparently now decided to target a 2016 debut rather than rush onto next year’s grid.
“It’s already June,” he said, “so it’s just seven months away and the timing issues are starting to get real crazy.”
Alonso is better driver than Raikkonen
Felipe Massa is generally recognised as a ‘nice guy’. Bitterly unlucky that fortune turned on him in 2008 – he showed a level of sportsmanship, after being World Champion for barely 30 seconds, which left people around the word applauding him.
In 2010, almost a year to the day that he suffered a career threatening accident, he was told by the Ferrari team to move over for the faster Fernando Alonso. In the team’s interest – the correct move; but for fans around the world a complete travesty. The spectacular fallout of this transmission coloured any balanced view of the subsequent relationship between the two drivers and a re-scripting of every Ferrari decision ever since.
Allied to this was Ferrari keeping Massa at the team for year after year and the public voices would swing between keeping the poor little man, to get rid of him – he’s hopeless. All the time the subtle insinuation was that Alonso wasn’t so fearsome a competitor it was just Ferrari needed a whipping boy…
However, the irony is, Massa is not surprised Kimi Raikkonen is struggling this season. Having been partnered with Michael Schumacher, Kimi Raikkonen and Fernando Alonso he is in a unique position to comment.
Schumacher was “amazing. In fact Fernando and Michael are on the same level, in the race maybe Fernando see things more clearly. But it is no surprise Raikkonen struggles. To beat Fernando, you car has to be perfectly suited to your style, because if everything is not 100 per cent right, it is impossible to beat him.
Raikkonen is maybe not quite as good as Alonso. In 2007 he was champion, but until Monza I was ahead of him. Unfortunately, in our team we had an agreement that Monza would decide who is the number 1, and I was ahead of Kimi when I had a problem with my car. In 2008 I was in front of him and also up until my accident in Hungary in 2009. Nevertheless, Kimi is world champion, and I’m not.”
Massa insisted he had no regrets about losing his Ferrari seat and moving to Williams. “Looking back now I am even glad that Ferrari did not want me because it opened the way for coming to Williams. I’m pretty relaxed, motivated and the team respects me. You know, sometimes a change is good. At Ferrari the pressure is huge – if you are not winning, you have a big load on your shoulders. You try to use it as positive energy but you are constantly tense. Here at Williams I think only about the racing, which is better.”
It would seem that the – not repeated by the media/ fans – debacle of being told by the Williams team: “Valtteri is quicker than you” in Malaysia has not left any long lasting nightmares for this popular man.
Red Bull: Vettel drives a Ferrari and Marko issues ultimatum to Renault
There are several stories afoot in the Red Bull camp, which doesn’t surprise. Their engine partner Renault have lost their mojo and built a pup. On top of that the reigning world champion is sorely lacking track time. The difference in experience with driving the RB10 between Vettel and Ricciardo measures in days rather than hours, because the German’s car insists on nomming its own innards at every opportunity. For the winner of the last four titles history repeats itself.
When Vettel joined the main team in 2009 he had the majority or technical failures in 2009 and 2010 before the bad luck swung heavily towards Mark Webber’s side of the garage. That they ended up roughly fifty-fifty after five seasons together will be little consolation to both of them.
Rumours soon surfaced that Vettel threw a tantrum after getting out of his car in Monaco. The cynic in me says: “What took you so long?”, but according to the German he didn’t yell at any team members, contrary to what was rumoured. It is hard to say which is true, but the truth is probably somewhere in between. It would be almost surreal if a four time world champion would just shrug off the endless string of mechanical maladies. But at least he voiced his opinion behind closed doors, unlike some, I’m told.
Just days after the worst 100th Grand Prix any driver had in a long time, the German showed up at Red Bull’s own track in Spielberg that will host the returning Austrian Grand Prix in three and a half weeks. He was joined by Red Bull’s outspoken motorsports consultant Dr. Helmut Marko and his former boss at Toro Rosso, Gerhard Berger.
As part of the filming for a documentary called “The Return of F1”, Berger drove around the track in one of his former cars – the Ferrari 88C, with which he prevented a complete McLaren sweep in 1988. Vettel joined the festivities in a Red Bull RB8.
They later switched the cars, prompting Marko to have a verbal dig at the Scuderia. The Austrian was quoted as saying. “See, Vettel has finally driven a Ferrari, so they may just as well stop dreaming about signing him.”
The quip comes on the back of rumours that Ferrari is pulling all the stops out in their attempt to pry Adrian Newey away from Red Bull. According to the Italian media they have offered him a whooping 20 million dollars salary, complete authority in design decisions, an own personal sportscar project as well as inclusion in a Le Mans project. The Scuderia seems desperate enough as there is only one way out of their long slump. They need a better designer and there is only Newey, as the 2nd to 20th best designers have all been signed up by Mercedes.
Marko being Marko didn’t stop there. He also had a few words of encouragement for their current engine supplier Renault, urging them to come up with something useful until F1 arrives at Spielberg. “We will decide our next engine partner at the time of the Austrian Grand Prix,” he told Germany’s Sport-Bild and delivered a very subtle hint. “Volkswagen uses engine technology in several categories that are not too different from F1’s engine formula.”
Could that be a clear hint? Considering that the story was pitched by Sport Bild, one has to take it with the proverbial pinch of salt, but there have been signs in the past that Volkswagen is no longer content sitting on the side-lines. They were part of the manufacturers committee that worked out the current Indycar engine rules, they cream the lot in WRC using straight-four 1.6l turbo’s and the Porsche 919 at LeMans is a V4 2.0l hybrid, not too dissimilar to the F1 engine concept.
As a major backer of VW’s WRC onslaught and also sponsoring Mark Webber’s Porsche ride Red Bull already have close commercial ties to the Volkswagen Group and Marko had made it clear that they are not interested in a Honda deal. RB won’t be content being a mere customer.
Would it make sense for VW to enter F1? The answer is a clear yes. No German manufacturer will be happy to see Mercedes in the spotlight. The last time the Mercedes engines were the clear class of the field was in the late nineties and it didn’t take long for BMW to arrive.
Volkswagen has a boot-load of brands to choose from. Volkswagen, Seat, Skoda, Bentley, Lamborghini, Bugatti, Audi, Porsche, Ducati, Scania (now that would be hilarious) and M.A.N. Coming in as Audi or Lambo would most likely be the best options.
It will be interesting to see if it was mere posturing from the sometimes brash Doctor or if there is some substance to his statement.
Lewis Hamilton tells it like it is…. Or…
It was bound to happen. In the best traditions of the British press, a story has emerged in ‘The Telegraph’ about Lewis Hamilton and Stevenage his home town and the need to ‘remember his roots’.
In a recent interview Hamilton compared his upbringing to that of his team-mate’s when asked about his hunger to win. Of course, the media grasped the only contentious line from the piece and sprayed it around in print, the internet and social media.
“I come from a not-great place in Stevenage and lived on a couch in my dad’s apartment – and Nico grew up in Monaco with jets and hotels and boats and all these kinds of things – so the hunger is different.”
Stevenage Borough Council have offered their opinion about his ‘derogatory‘ statement, “I can’t see how he can say such things about the place where he grew up,” councillor Phillip Bibby said. “He needs to remember his roots. His comments are unfair”.
Another added that there was no need for Lewis to be “so derogatory in his comments” while Sharon Taylor, the council’s leader added: “Of course we are very proud of Lewis – he’s an incredible example of what people from Stevenage can do. But it would be better if he could speak up for the place he comes from. We would love to talk to him about promoting the town.”
And yet, anyone who has had the honour of visiting Stevenage, as this writer has, will know that Lewis was guarded with the choice of words he should have used. Whilst it is frankly absurd to believe these councillors posses any more than a few brain cells to rub together – it is even more startlingly that they took offence when being compared to Monaco – the glitziest Formula One venue.
The irony is that by Hamilton mentioning Stevenage he has shown that he is fully aware of his roots and in 2012 Hamilton had the honour of carrying the Olympic torch and carried it through part of neighbouring Luton – another hell hole of a town – as it was the closest point of the route to his place of birth.
Further investigation has revealed an article that appeared in ‘The Guardian’ newspaper on the Tuesday following his title victory in 2008 and it illustrates the power of the media to distort facts for their agendas.
It had been “plastered across tabloid spreads and 24-hour news channels in unflattering pub-light close up..” By Monday lunchtime “Stevenage looked rather gloomy as it faces the first day of the rest of its life… the deep grey of lunchtime Stevenage…”
Jo, a Stevenage-raised mum of two said, “It’s not like he won the X-Factor or something. But really, if he had they’d have a massive party here. It seems a bit low key.” Sarah, 21 who went to the same school as Hamilton added: “No, we are proud of him. We are…. I suppose” and in a local pub a middle-aged old lady pointed out helpfully that “Martin, he’s our local eccentric bless him, he was wearing a Union Jack earlier on, top hat and he’d dressed his little dog up.”
Even the deputy head of his former school offered a statement which revealed that “we are very pleased for him” but also pointed out “We have so many former students who are making such an impact on the world…” Tragically the statement didn’t offer any names…
Team says Honda not planning to buy McLaren (GMM)
McLaren on Thursday denied reports Honda is looking at buying into the Woking based team. Rumours in Japan this week said the Japanese carmaker, returning to formula one next year as McLaren’s works engine supplier, might also be contemplating buying the 50 per cent team share currently held by the Bahrain-owned Mumtalakat company.
Initially, a team source played down the speculation by saying any transfer of shares would have to be agreed to by McLaren’s other co-owners, Ron Dennis and Mansour Ojjeh. And a McLaren spokesman told us on Thursday: “Contrary to recent media reports, Honda has informed us that it has no intention to buy into McLaren. All of Honda’s focus is on the development of its new formula one power unit,” he added.
Good week in court for Ecclestone (GMM)
Bernie Ecclestone has had a heartening couple of days in court this week. The latest witness to appear in Munich for F1 chief executive’s bribery trial was a former colleague of the jailed Gerhard Gribkowsky. Gribkowsky’s credibility is a crucial element of the proceedings, as the former BayernLB risk officer was jailed for receiving Ecclestone’s $44 million, allegedly as a bribe to influence the sale of F1’s commercial rights.
A BayernLB colleague, however, described some of what Gribkowsky routinely said as coming from “the fantasy world”. DPA news agency said the witness worked closely on F1 matters with Gribkowsky. The witness recalled a dinner at which Gribkowsky apparently declared: “I feel as though he (Ecclestone) sees me as an adopted son and wants to groom me as his formula one successor”.
Another Gribkowsky tale told of an Ecclestone suitcase filled with $20 million, although subsequent calculations showed that it is impossible to fit that amount of cash in a suitcase. The BayernLB colleague explained: “Dr Gribkowsky sometimes had days when he told such things. These were the days that I had to switch off.”