Dear TI-501pupils,

A brief note just to let you know that our mid-term test has been pushed back to next week.

See you in class. Do lots of revising, anyway.



Routemaster: an enduring London love affair

Final designs for London’s “new Routemaster bus” have been unveiled but why do we continue to try to recreate the past?

The new bus is expected to be on the capital’s roads by 2012

It was in 1956, the year of the Suez crisis and Elvis Presley’s first UK hit, that the Routemaster, with its hop-on, hop-off platform and a conductor, began to replace the capital’s electric trolleybuses.

It was considerably ahead of its time. Built by AEC in Southall and Park Royal, it was largely designed by a man with an intimate understanding of the job it had to do, the then LT vehicle engineering manager, Colin Curtis.

It had semi-automatic transmission, power steering, supple suspension and still carries more passengers than most modern buses, despite its lighter, aluminium construction. Crucially, perhaps, it was simple to maintain and cheap to run.

Global success

But in 1970, London Transport declared: “By the end of the decade, every London Transport bus will be operated by one man…”

Throughout the 1970s, new double-decker models aimed at dispensing with conductors came into service.

Hundreds of Routemasters were sold to other operators around Britain and the world.

But when the new London buses were beset by severe mechanical problems and many had to be withdrawn, the city’s remaining Routemasters were granted a stay of execution.

In 1994, they survived privatisation and in the new Millennium, 600 of them, only a few dozen of them owned by London Transport, were still trundling through the streets of London.


In December 2005 the Routemaster was finally withdrawn from general service but it is still used on two heritage routes in London.

The new buses

In July 2008 a competition was launched by London Mayor Boris Johnson to design a new Routemaster bus for the capital – it attracted 700 entries.

Warwickshire-based sports car maker Aston Martin, along with architects Foster and Partners, won the £25,000 prize jointly with Wiltshire bus maker Capoco Design.

The contract for the design and build of the new bus for London was awarded to Wrightbus in January 2010 and contains some design elements of the competition winning bid. However, Foster and Partners are not involved in the Wrightbus deal.

Wrightbus engineers are working on a static mock up of the bus to be completed later this year, with the first prototype to be delivered late next year.

The new buses will enter service from early 2012.

Ecobici: Official Bike Sharing Program Launched in Mexico City

Paula Alvarado
Transportation / Bikes
February 23, 2010

Image: Ecobici’s Facebook page.

Although the city already had a private bike-sharing program, the government of the Mexican capital has recently launched the official Ecobici. The initial phase includes 85 stations across the city and over 1,000 bikes. More inside.It was about time the city launched this program, which was announced a while ago but took much public work to improve bike infrastructure.

Since last February 17, the system is up and running. Its goal is to reduce the number of vehicles that go through the city everyday (over 5 million), while recovering public space, reducing pollution, and improving life quality.

As mentioned, the initial phase includes 1,000 bikes in 85 stations (although so far only 50 stations are fully functional), which can be taken for 30 minutes a trip with an annual cost of 300 pesos (about 23 US dollars). Registration is all made online through the system’s website.

Stations are located at about 300 meters from each other, in areas like colonias Cuauhtémoc, Juárez,Roma Norte, Hipódromo Condesa and Condesa. It is expected that about 24 thousand people will make use of the system.

As you can see from the photos, the official Mexican take on bike-sharing is very similar to those of Barcelona and DC (btw, why are all of the bikes red?). After only a few days of its launch, about 1,000 people have already registered to the system, according to Milenio.

If You Can’t Trust Your Own Father? The Tragic Death of Marvin Gaye

Father, Father. We don’t need to escalate. War is not the answer. For only love can conquer hate.  (from Marvin Gaye’s song “What’s Going On?”)

Named after his Pentecostal preacher father, Marvin Gay Sr. (the “e” was added later when he began his recording career), Gaye began his singing life in church. His smooth yet strong voice helped raise the spirits of his fellow parishioners.

Over time, Gaye became interested in the idea of being a professional singer. He eventually embarked on an incredibly successful journey.

The first stop on his trek to stardom was with a musical group called Harvey and the Moonglows. He recorded several tracks with the band when, in 1961, he caught the attention of Berry Gordy. The musical svengali signed Gaye to his legendary R&B record label, Motown Records. Gaye would go on to record numerous top-selling hits such as “How Sweet It Is (To Be Loved By You),” “You’re All I Need To Get By” and “I Heard It Through The Grapevine.”

In just a matter of years, Marvin Gaye had become a star.

By 1968, unfortunately, Gaye experienced the first of many tragedies. While on stage in Cleveland, Ohio, his singing partner, 26-year-old Tammi Terrell, passed out. She had been stricken with a deadly brain tumor and literally died on stage, in Gaye’s arms. Though their relationship was strictly platonic, Gaye felt an immense love for Terrell and was devastated by her untimely death.

Marvin Gaye & Tammi Terrell

To escape his pain, he moved to London and went into seclusion. Eventually, Motown and Gordy came calling and reminded Gaye of his contractual obligation to release new material.

He responded with his first entirely self-penned and self-produced album,What’s Going On?

At first, the executives at Motown rejected Gaye’s submission. They finally relented, however, and What’s Going On? went on to become the best-selling Marvin Gaye album, as well as Motown’s best-selling record of all time.

Gaye’s concept album dissected the ills of modern society — racial strife, environmental issues and war — and turned them into the most powerful, heartfelt music of his career. The title track, “Mercy Mercy Me (The Ecology),” and “Inner City Blues (Make Me Wanna Holler)” would open the eyes of an entire generation with their dire pleas for the world to take better care of itself.

His heartflet music would open the eyes of an entire generation with its dire pleas for the world to take better care of itself.

Taking care of himself was another story.

After Terrell’s death, Gaye went on a live performance hiatus. During that time, he became addicted to numerous drugs. His favorite was cocaine. Once, while visiting Maui, Gaye tried to kill himself by swallowing an entire ounce of pure cocaine.

By the 1980s, Gaye had kicked his addiction to drugs, dealt with two divorces, and begun to get his career back on track. After cleaning up, he returned to the studio for the first time in years and recorded the supercharged, modern hit “Sexual Healing.” The song and album quickly rose to the top of the Billboardcharts. Marvin Gaye was back in business.

To capitalize on his creative and chart-topping rebirth, CBS, his new record label, decided that Marvin should get out on the road to promote the album. Thus began a year-long tour playing a gig almost every night.

It was not long before he was exhausted, so he turned again to drugs.

The combination of drug abuse and exhaustion led to a severe state of paranoia for Gaye. He began to believe he was going to be shot. As a result, he hired four police bodyguards to stand on stage during his performances for protection.

Luckily, Gaye made it to the end of the Sexual Healing tour with no major catastrophes. He did, however, remain exhausted.

Despite his lethargic state, Gaye was required to release another album with CBS. His tour manager, Andre White, told him to get some rest, preferably back in Europe, before he began a new recording session. Gaye insisted on staying in Los Angeles with his ailing mother. Although White did not approve of Gaye’s decision, he relented: “At least your mother and father won’t shoot you,” White said.

Gaye moved in with his parents in an old Victorian mansion in South Central Los Angeles that he bought for them in the 1970s. His stay there was not pleasant.

Gaye’s relationship with his father had always been less than stellar. Indeed, it was downright brutal. When Marvin Jr. was young, his father used to beat him viciously. Marvin Jr. claimed his father had beaten him so badly he had bruises over his entire body.

For whatever reason, Marvin Jr. never seemed to measure up in his father’s eyes. Many believe it stemmed from his leaving the world of the church for success in the secular music business. Marvin’s mother said the hatred began before then. She believed Marvin Sr. did not ever want his son to be born.

For three years father and son fought with each other. It began to take its toll on Marvin Jr. To deal with the pain and aggravation, he started using cocaine again. Oftentimes, he contemplated suicide. He would also, purposefully, confront his father just to irritate him.

On March 31, 1984, Marvin’s mother and father got into a meaningless argument over a utility bill. The argument ended almost as soon as it began. The following day, April 1, 1984, they resumed the argument

This time, Marvin Jr. jumped in. Marvin Sr. began to yell at his son. Marvin Jr. allegedly punched his father. Marvin Sr. retreated into his bedroom, picked up a gun out of his dresser, and returned to Marvin Jr.’s room. Marvin Sr. held the gun up towards Marvin Jr., his own son, and pulled the trigger.

Marvin Jr. did not even flinch as the first bullet hit him directly in the shoulder. When Marvin Sr. saw no reaction from Marvin Jr., he shot him again, squarely in the chest.

The Reverend Marvin Pentz Gay Sr. – Marvin Gaye’s father

Marvin Gaye Jr. slumped over on the floor in his bedroom of his parents’ house. He was dead. He would have been 45 years old the next day.

Marvin Gay Sr. was arrested and convicted of killing son. The 70-year-old father was originally charged with murder but was allowed to plea-bargain to a six-year suspended sentence. He eventually died in an Inglewood retirement center in 1998.

Source: Discovery Channel/Investigation Discovery/Hollywood Crimes

Marvin Gaye is shot and killed by his own father

Apr 1, 1984:

At the peak of his career, Marvin Gaye was the Prince of Motown—the soulful voice behind hits as wide-ranging as “How Sweet It Is (To Be Loved By You)” and “Mercy Mercy Me (The Ecology).” Like his label-mate Stevie Wonder, Gaye both epitomized and outgrew the crowd-pleasing sound that made Motown famous. Over the course of his roughly 25-year recording career, he moved successfully from upbeat pop to “message” music to satin-sheet soul, combining elements of Smokey Robinson, Bob Dylan and Barry White into one complicated and sometimes contradictory package. But as the critic Michael Eric Dyson put it, the man who “chased away the demons of millions…with his heavenly sound and divine art” was chased by demons of his own throughout his life. That life came to a tragic end on this day 1984, when Marvin Gaye was shot and killed by his own father one day short of his 45th birthday.

Photo: Getty/Michael Ochs Archives

If the physical cause of Marvin Gaye’s death was straightforward—”Gunshot wound to chest perforating heart, lung and liver,” according to the Los Angeles County Coroner—the events that led to it were much more tangled. On the one hand, there was the longstanding conflict with his father dating back to childhood. Marvin Gay, Sr., (the “e” was added by his son for his stage name) was a preacher in the Hebrew Pentecostal Church and a proponent of a strict moral code he enforced brutally with his four children. He was also, by all accounts, a hard-drinking cross-dresser who personally embodied a rather complicated model of morality. By some reports, Marvin Sr. harbored significant envy over his son’s tremendous success, and Marvin Jr. clearly harbored unresolved feelings toward his abusive father.

Those feelings spilled out for the final time in the Los Angeles home of Marvin Gay, Sr., and his wife Alberta. Their son the international recording star had moved into his parents’ home in late 1983 at a low point in his struggle with depression, debt and cocaine abuse. Only one year removed from his first Grammy win and from a triumphant return to the pop charts with “Sexual Healing,” Marvin Gaye was in horrible physical, psychological and financial shape, and now he found himself living in the same house as the man who must have been at the root of many of his struggles.

After an argument between father and son escalated into a physical fight on the morning of April 1, 1984, Alberta Gay was trying to calm her son in his bedroom when Marvin Sr. took a revolver given to him by Marvin Jr. and shot him three times in his chest. Marvin Gaye’s brother, Frankie, who lived next door, and who held the legendary singer during his final minutes, later wrote in his memoir that Marvin Gaye’s final, disturbing statement was, “I got what I wanted….I couldn’t do it myself, so I made him do it.”

Source: The History Channel