Elton John starts years-long final tour

Staff & Wire Reports

Elton John performs in concert during the opening night of his "Farewell Yellow Brick Road World Tour" at the PPL Center on Saturday, Sept. 8, 2018, in Allentown, Pa. (Photo by Owen Sweeney/Invision/AP)

Elton John performs in concert during the opening night of his "Farewell Yellow Brick Road World Tour" at the PPL Center on Saturday, Sept. 8, 2018, in Allentown, Pa. (Photo by Owen Sweeney/Invision/AP)

Elton John performs in concert during the opening night of his "Farewell Yellow Brick Road World Tour" at the PPL Center on Saturday, Sept. 8, 2018, in Allentown, Pa. (Photo by Owen Sweeney/Invision/AP)

Elton John performs in concert during the opening night of his "Farewell Yellow Brick Road World Tour" at the PPL Center on Saturday, Sept. 8, 2018, in Allentown, Pa. (Photo by Owen Sweeney/Invision/AP)

A confident Elton John kicks off farewell tour with flair


AP Music Writer

Wednesday, September 12

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — After 90 minutes of nonstop singing and piano playing — which had the audience on their feet and desperately waiting for more — Elton John returned to the stage dramatically, and epic.

There was the sound of loud thunderstorms, dark blue, smoky lights surrounding the arena, and a grand, candle-lit chandelier on the large screen — all while music in the vein of Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” played in the background.

A strong light beamed from the ceiling to John’s piano as if he were Batman. After all, his performance was heroic.

The Rocket Man, who kicked off his Farewell Yellow Brick Road Tour about 60 miles from Philadelphia on Saturday, sang like a confident, electrified pro in the City of Brotherly Love on Tuesday. It was the second show on his 300-date tour set to reach five continents, stretching into 2021. He will retire from the road after the shows.

John’s custom Gucci blazer was covered with pink flowers and green stems — which matched his pink shoes and green glasses with rhinestones — when he emerged to sing again, as his piano smoothly moved from one end of the stage to the center.

His performance throughout the night was so rousing that concertgoers, ranging from thirty-somethings to people about John’s age (he’s 71), reacted in various ways: Some recorded every moment with their cellphones like anxious teenagers, while others danced without a care, yelled every lyric and played the air-piano. Others calmly took in the energy from their seats — after all, it was a school/work night.

The nearly three-hour concert began with “Bennie and the Jets,” as John pounded away at the piano and took in a long applause at the song’s end. He was backed by an equally talented six-member band at the Wells Fargo Center and said Tuesday’s show marked an anniversary: he first played in Philadelphia on Sept. 11, 1970.

“There’s been one common denominator throughout (my musical) journey — you guys out there,” he said to the fans. “You bought the singles, the albums, the 8-track, the cassette, the CD, the DVD, the merchandise, but most of all, you bought the tickets to the shows.”

“You have no idea how much I love to play live,” he continued. “Ten years ago, if you said I would be doing a farewell tour, I would have said you put acid in my drink.”

The Oscar, Grammy and Tony winner performed two dozen songs, including classics like “Your Song,” ”Tiny Dancer,” ”Rocket Man,” ”Saturday Night’s Alright (for Fighting),” ”Candle In the Wind” and “I’m Still Standing.”

He wore a black tailcoat blazer with shiny gold lines and red glasses with rhinestones. The earring in his right ear would put even a fancy wedding ring to shame.

John didn’t speak much throughout the night — quickly jumping from song to song. He did give a shout-out to Bernie Taupin, his writing partner of 50 years who was sitting in the audience. When he sang “Border Song,” which was covered by Aretha Franklin, John said he wanted to honor those who had a profound impact on his life, including musicians, politicians, athletes and everyday people. The Queen of Soul, Nelson Mandela, Nina Simone and Stephen Hawking were among the famous faces that appeared on the screen. A photo of John and his grandmother closed the performance.

The performer also highlighted the success of his Elton John AIDS Foundation, saying he started the organization after getting sober in 1990 and realizing he “hadn’t done enough to address the AIDS epidemic during its terrifying rise in the 1980s.”

“Never in my wildest dreams would I have imagined how far it would grow,” he said of the foundation, which John said has raised $400 million and reached 100 million people.

“And if there’s one thing I learned in my life, it’s about the extraordinary healing power of love and compassion and caring.”

He closed the concert with “Goodbye to Yellow Brick Road,” this time in a robe and heart-shaped glasses. John took off the robe to reveal his tracksuit, ascending into a secret-like door above the stage. Just like a superhero.

Drexel to Host Special Screening of THELONIOUS MONK: STRAIGHT, NO CHASER

Evening to Include Post-Screening Panel Discussion with Local Jazz Experts

As part of Columbus’ celebration of the 100th anniversary of the Harlem Renaissance, the Drexel Theatre will present a special screening of Thelonious Monk: Straight, No Chaser on Thursday, September 27. Released in 1988, the 90-minute documentary chronicles the life of legendary jazz pianist and composer Thelonious Monk (1917-82) and features live performances by Monk and his group as well as posthumous interviews with friends and family.

Immediately following the screening, Friends of the Drexel will host a panel discussion and moderated audience Q&A about Thelonious Monk and how the Harlem Renaissance shaped his evolution as an artist. Panelists will include Bob Breithaupt, professor of music at Capital University; composer and musician Linda Dachtyl; and Dr. Jack Marchbanks, co-host of WCBE’s “Jazz Sunday,” producer, and independent writer.

Friends of the Drexel presents Thelonious Monk: Straight, No Chaser at the Drexel Theatre (2254 E. Main St.) on Thursday, September 27, at 7 pm. Tickets are $10 ($8 for Drexel members, $5 for students) and can be purchased at www.drexel.net. Ticket includes admission to the screening and post-screening panel discussion.

This event is made possible through the generous support of the Dreiseszun Family Foundation.

About Thelonious Sphere Monk (1917-82)

Monk had a unique improvisational style and made numerous contributions to the standard jazz repertoire, including “‘Round Midnight,” “Blue Monk,” “Straight, No Chaser,” “Ruby, My Dear,” “In Walked Bud,” and “Well, You Needn’t.” He is the second-most-recorded jazz composer after Duke Ellington, and one of only five jazz musicians to have been featured on the cover of Time magazine. He was posthumously awarded a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 1993, and a special Pulitzer Prize for “a body of distinguished and innovative musical composition that has had a significant and enduring impact on the evolution of jazz” in 2006.

About Thelonious Monk: Straight, No Chaser

Created after a large archive of footage was discovered in the 1980s, the film was executive produced by Clint Eastwood through his own production company. In 2017, the film was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant.”

About the Panelists

Bob Breithaupt is professor of music and department chair of performance studies at Capital University, and one of today’s foremost leaders in percussion education. He has developed one of the most recognized undergraduate percussion programs in the US, producing students who are successful in performing, teaching, and the music industry.

Linda Dachtyl is a keyboard performer, composer, and formally adjunct music instructor at Kenyon College and Ohio Wesleyan University. Her playing experience includes the jazz, blues, rock, and classical music genres.

Dr. Jack Marchbanks is the longtime co-host of the weekly music program “Jazz Sunday” on WCBE-FM. He has served on the board of trustees of the Lincoln Theatre Association since 2013 and helps produce and present the Lincoln’s “Community Conversation” series. He holds a doctoral degree in American contemporary history from Ohio University. African-American history, social justice, and the music of the African Diaspora have been his lifelong areas of study and advocacy.


About the Drexel Theatre

For generations, the Drexel Theatre has been central Ohio’s first source for independent film and the best of Hollywood and international cinema, striving to specialize in simply the best films from around the world.

About Friends of the Drexel, Inc.

Established in late 2009 by a group of committed community leaders and arts patrons, Friends of the Drexel, Inc. is an independent, not-for-profit organization dedicated to a more creative and prosperous future for the Drexel Theatre. Its mission is to secure and sustain the future of the historic Drexel Theatre as a distinctive cultural asset to Bexley and the greater Columbus community. It envisions the Drexel as a sustainable provider of unique arts content as well as a vibrant community meeting place that preserves the charm and eclectic, neighborhood film-going experience in a warm and inviting, yet technologically-advanced, facility.

The Conversation

How Les Moonves got to leave CBS on his own terms while others in #MeToo miscreant club got canned

September 12, 2018


Elizabeth C. Tippett

Associate Professor, School of Law, University of Oregon

Disclosure statement

Elizabeth C. Tippett does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organization that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond their academic appointment.


University of Oregon provides funding as a member of The Conversation US.

On Sept. 9, CBS Chairman Les Moonves resigned, following accusations by 12 women of harassment and assault.

His departure, however, has not followed the script of other executives publicly shamed over harassment allegations and thrown out onto the curb.

Unlike television hosts Matt Lauer or Charlie Rose, he kept his job for several weeks after The New Yorker published the first of two articles on his alleged transgressions, which contained accounts from six accusers. Lauer and Rose were fired within days.

Moonves was also able to negotiate an exit package with a number of face-saving provisions, including the opportunity to resign, a temporary non-disparagement clause, and confidentiality of the results of the CBS internal investigation currently underway.

He also retains the theoretical, if unlikely, possibility of receiving a portion of his more than US$180 million severance package, pending the outcome of that investigation.

Why was Moonves allowed to stick around and leave on his own terms, when so many others were unceremoniously dumped? CBS – which could have easily stuck to the script – isn’t saying.

But I have a different theory, based on the timing of the deal and the contracts involved, where Moonves was used as a shield in an unrelated power play. If true, it reveals how #MeToo has become more than just a movement in the corridors of corporate power.

Firing Moonves for ‘cause’

Back in July, when The New Yorker published its first story, the CBS board would have been within its rights to fire Moonves based on harassment allegations from two former CBS employees, as well as a job candidate he reportedly assaulted during a pitch meeting.

Under CBS’s employment contract with Moonves, the company could have fired Moonves for “cause” with no severance package or settlement. The definition of “cause” included a “willful and material violation of any company policy,” including the harassment policy, that proved harmful to the company.

As a former employment lawyer, I don’t think CBS’ lawyers would have had trouble finding language in the harassment policy to support a “cause” determination. Prohibited conduct includes “threaten(ing) or engag(ing) in retaliation after an overture or inappropriate conduct is rejected,” “a pattern of unwanted advances” and “unwanted touching.”

In other words, Moonves could have been fired summarily in July, just as CBS didn’t hesitate to end the career of one of his employees, Charlie Rose, back in November.

Given the taint surrounding men accused of this kind of behavior ever since #MeToo became a household word in October, why did CBS keep him around?

It’s possible directors on the CBS board didn’t consider the initial allegations sufficient to warrant termination. However, I would attribute their hesitation in part to an unrelated lawsuit – and their hope that Moonves could be a useful bargaining chip.

Moonves v. Redstone

For the last six months, CBS has been caught up in a lawsuit with its majority shareholder, National Amusements. That company is owned by 95-year-old business magnate Sumner Redstone and now run by his daughter Shari.

The lawsuit centers around a disagreement over the Redstones’ wish to merge CBS with Viacom, another company they own.

Moonves and a faction of the CBS board tried to thwart the Redstones by voting to dilute their powerful Class A shares, which give them control of the network. CBS basically proposed giving Class B investors the same voting rights.

This was like resolving a fight over the executive bathroom by giving keys to everyone at the company. Technically, you’re not taking anything away. Except that you’ve transformed it into a regular bathroom.

Both sides sued over this coup-by-dilution, and the trial was scheduled to start Oct. 3. As the parties engaged in settlement talks, the stakes were high. But it also gave Moonves some unexpected leverage.

Settling scores

Negotiation scholars note that bargaining power comes from your own ability to walk away from a deal. And your ability to make life painful for those on the other side of the table if they don’t agree to your terms.

Although some directors on the board were so loyal to Moonves that they were apparently indifferent to the allegations, even independent board members may have faced a difficult choice. CBS needed the pretense of keeping Moonves in order to negotiate a favorable settlement deal with the Redstones. Moonves was likely to be an important witness at trial.

If CBS fired him before settling with the Redstones, he might not cooperate in court. That would erode CBS’ trial prospects and thus its bargaining position with Redstone.

At the same time, Moonves’ contract was also a pain point for the Redstones.

That’s because Moonves’ contract also had a provision known as a “golden parachute” clause. A golden parachute entitles an executive to a massive payout if certain changes are made to the company.

The golden parachute allowed Moonves to resign and receive a monstrous $182 million exit package – for a “good reason” resignation – if the Redstones wanted to change the composition of the board or force the company into a merger.

In other words, even if the Redstones won the lawsuit and kept their controlling stake, they wouldn’t be able to make big changes without enriching Moonves. This would be the pain – a controlling stake that can’t actually be wielded without awarding your adversary a mountain of cash.

So, I believe the swing votes on the CBS board sat on their hands in August – even as they confidentially learned of an attempted cover-up by Moonves. They wanted that settlement with Redstone before cutting Moonves loose.

The #MeToo movement presents a curveball

Moonves likely used this time to negotiate his own exit.

But the #MeToo movement wasn’t done. On Sept. 9, The New Yorker published fresh accusations against Moonves, and his options dwindled.

His settlement package mostly consists of CBS promising to do things it was willing to do anyway. Keep matters secret. Let the internal investigation run its course. Donate $20 million to the #MeToo movement to rebuild its reputation.

The high stakes game of chicken with Redstone had crumbled. CBS really could no longer credibly say it wanted Moonves to stay.

Hours later, CBS announced both the settlement of the lawsuit and Moonves’ departure.

What it means

This isn’t the first time, and probably won’t be the last, that the #MeToo movement collided with other business interests – for better or for worse.

Harvey Weinstein’s victims may have decided to go public against him last year at least in part because his power in the industry was already on the decline. While #MeToo revelations fueled the leadership shakeup at Nike earlier this year, they apparently gained added force through an unrelated corporate power struggle.

Like any social movement that resides in the workplace, #MeToo can be attractive to competing business interests within an organization. For example, in the 1970s and 1980s, human resources departments capitalized on civil rights laws to cement their internal status and expertise, as sociologists Frank Dobbin and Lauren Edelman have documented.

For the #MeToo movement, the Moonves story is a partial victory, clouded by the board’s delay and his face-saving exit. But in a way, that’s okay. Business is messy. And the #MeToo movement is still very much at the table.

South Africa’s Blombos cave is home to the earliest drawing by a human

September 12, 2018


Christopher Henshilwood

Professor of Evolutionary Studies, Professor of African Prehistory, University of Bergen

Karen Loise van Niekerk

Principal Investigator, SapienCE – Centre for Early Sapiens Behaviour, University of Bergen

Disclosure statement

Christopher Henshilwood receives funding from his DST/NRF SARChI Chair at Wits University, as well as through a Research Council of Norway Centre of Excellence grant, Centre for Early Sapiens Behaviour (SapienCE) at the University of Bergen, Norway.

Karen Loise van Niekerk does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organization that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond their academic appointment.

Scientists working in Blombos Cave in South Africa’s southern Cape region have made a discovery that changes our understanding of when our human ancestors started expressing themselves through drawings. They’ve found a 73 000-year-old cross-hatched drawing on a silcrete (stone) flake. It was made with an ochre crayon. The Conversation Africa asked Professor Christopher Henshilwood, who leads the team that made the discovery, about its significance.

What does the drawing your team found look like?

It consists of a set of six straight sub-parallel lines crossed obliquely by three slightly curved lines. One line partially overlaps the edge of a flake scar. This suggests it was made after that flake became detached. The abrupt termination of all lines on the fragment edges indicates that the pattern originally extended over a larger surface.

So the pattern was probably more complex and structured in its entirety than in this truncated form.

This has shifted our thinking about when human ancestors started drawing. What was the earliest known drawing found before this?

The earliest known engraving, a zig-zag pattern incised on a fresh water shell from Trinil, Java, was found in layers dated to 540 000 years ago. In terms of drawings, a recent article proposed that painted representations in three caves of the Iberian Peninsula were 64,000 years old – this would mean they were produced by Neanderthals. So the drawing on the Blombos silcrete flake is the oldest drawing by Homo sapiens ever found.

You describe it as a “drawing” – how can you be sure it wasn’t just a random series of scratches?

The presence of similar cross-hatched patterns engraved on ochre fragments found in the same archaeological level and older levels suggests the pattern in question was reproduced with different techniques on different media.

This is what we would expect to find in a society with a symbolic system embedded in different categories of artefacts. It’s also worth noting that patterns drawn on a stone are less durable than those engraved on an ochre fragment and may not survive transport. This may indicate that comparable signs were produced in different contexts, possibly for different purposes.

Is there any reason to think the pattern is an artwork?

We would be hesitant to call it “art”. It is definitely an abstract design; it almost certainly had some meaning to the maker and probably formed a part of the common symbolic system understood by other people in this group. It’s also evidence of early humans’ ability to store information outside of the human brain.

Does it tell us anything else about the people who made it? And do we know which group they belonged to on our ancestral tree?

The drawing was made by Homo sapiens – people like us, who were our ancient direct ancestors. They were hunter-gatherers who lived in groups of between 20 and 40 people.

The discovery adds to our existing understanding of Homo sapiens in Africa. They were behaviourally modern: they behaved essentially like us. They were able to produce and use symbolic material culture to mediate their behaviour, just like we do now. They also had syntactic language – essential for conveying symbolic meaning within and across groups of hunter gatherers who were present in southern Africa at that time.

Blombos Cave is a really significant archaeological site. Can you explain why?

Blombos Cave is situated 50 m from the Indian Ocean, elevated at 35 m above sea level and 300 km east of Cape Town. It’s very small – just 55m². It was used as a temporary living site by hunter gatherer groups; they’d spend a week or two there at a time before moving on.

The archaeological layer in which the Blombos drawing was discovered has also yielded other indicators of symbolic thinking. These include shell beads covered with ochre and, more importantly, pieces of ochres engraved with abstract patterns. Some of these engravings closely resemble the one drawn on the silcrete flake.

In older layers at Blombos Cave, dated at 100 000 years, they also discovered a complete toolkit consisting of two abalone shells filled with an ochre rich substance – a red paint – and all the artefacts associated with making it including seal bone used to add fat to the mixture. This discovery proves that our early ancestors could also make paint by 100 000 years ago.

Engraved ochre slabs with various designs, including cross-hatched patterns, were also found in these older layers.

Elton John performs in concert during the opening night of his "Farewell Yellow Brick Road World Tour" at the PPL Center on Saturday, Sept. 8, 2018, in Allentown, Pa. (Photo by Owen Sweeney/Invision/AP)
https://www.sunburynews.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/48/2018/09/web1_121362881-c1a4ae3206f84a69bcfaf3e38caefeb9.jpgElton John performs in concert during the opening night of his "Farewell Yellow Brick Road World Tour" at the PPL Center on Saturday, Sept. 8, 2018, in Allentown, Pa. (Photo by Owen Sweeney/Invision/AP)

Elton John performs in concert during the opening night of his "Farewell Yellow Brick Road World Tour" at the PPL Center on Saturday, Sept. 8, 2018, in Allentown, Pa. (Photo by Owen Sweeney/Invision/AP)
https://www.sunburynews.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/48/2018/09/web1_121362881-920708803c90443a9bb2da033795e912.jpgElton John performs in concert during the opening night of his "Farewell Yellow Brick Road World Tour" at the PPL Center on Saturday, Sept. 8, 2018, in Allentown, Pa. (Photo by Owen Sweeney/Invision/AP)

Elton John performs in concert during the opening night of his "Farewell Yellow Brick Road World Tour" at the PPL Center on Saturday, Sept. 8, 2018, in Allentown, Pa. (Photo by Owen Sweeney/Invision/AP)
https://www.sunburynews.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/48/2018/09/web1_121362881-0d5167a3b9fb412985f5a41efee36914.jpgElton John performs in concert during the opening night of his "Farewell Yellow Brick Road World Tour" at the PPL Center on Saturday, Sept. 8, 2018, in Allentown, Pa. (Photo by Owen Sweeney/Invision/AP)

Staff & Wire Reports