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The Costa Concordia ran aground off the Italian coast in 2012, killing 32 people. Its captain was accused of manslaughter and abandoning the 4,200 passengers and crew on the night of the wreck. (AFP/Getty Images)

Captains Uncourageous: Abandoning Ship Long Seen As A Crime

Apr 18, 2014

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Family members of passengers on a South Korean ferry that sank look at lists of survivors on Wednesday.

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Alan Greenblatt

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Cowardice comes in many forms, but there's a special sense of shame reserved for captains who abandon ship.

South Korean prosecutors on Friday sought an arrest warrant for Capt. Lee joon-Seok, who was one of the first to flee from the ferry as it sank on Wednesday.

"I can't lift my face before the passengers and family members of those missing," Lee told reporters on Thursday.

The incident came two years after Francesco Schettino, the captain of the wrecked cruise ship Costa Concordia, was charged with manslaughter and abandoning ship — charges he denies. The ship ran aground off the Italian coast in 2012, killing 32 people.

Has the old idea that captains should not abandon ship itself been abandoned?

"I'm kind of flummoxed that a master of a passenger ship anywhere in the world would not understand his obligation extends until that last person is safely off the ship," says Craig Allen, director of the Arctic Law & Policy Institute at the University of Washington.

The Victorian notion that a captain should actually go down with the ship has become archaic. But his or her responsibility extends to executing the evacuation plan that all passenger ships are required to have and practice.

"It comes from the tradition that the captain has ultimate responsibility and should put the care of others ahead of his own well-being in the discharge of his duties," says David Winkler, program director with the Naval Historical Foundation.

Women And Children First

In the middle of the 19th century, there were a number of incidents in which ships foundered and captains and their crews were either celebrated for leading the rescue or reviled for saving themselves while passengers drowned.

One of the most famous involved the HMS Birkenhead, which wrecked off the coast of South Africa in 1852 while transporting British troops to war.

"The captain called the men to attention," says William Fowler, a maritime historian at Northeastern University. "They were to stand at attention on the sinking ship until the women and children — their wives and children — were led off the boats."

The moment was immortalized by Rudyard Kipling as the "Birkenhead drill." Reinforced when Capt. Edward Smith went down with the Titanic, the notion that a captain must stay with his ship became part of folklore.

"A lot of this is candidly still more lore than law," says Miller Shealy, a maritime law professor at the Charleston School of Law.

A Breach Of Duty

In the U.S., case law indicates that a ship's master must be the last person to leave and make all reasonable efforts to save everyone and everything on it.

"It is not just unseemly for a captain to leave a ship," Shealy says. "In Anglo-American law, you would lose your license and make yourself liable."

After Capt. Chesley "Sully" Sullenberger crash-landed a flight in the Hudson River in 2009, he twice walked the plane to make sure no one was left onboard before leaving himself.

International standards for sea captains vary. Often, as in the case of Schettino, charges are brought based not on dereliction of maritime duty but for offenses that might pertain on land as well, such as negligence and manslaughter.

In 1991, Capt. Yiannis Avranas not only abandoned the Greek cruise ship Oceanos after it suffered an explosion off the coast of South Africa but cut ahead of an elderly passenger to be hoisted aloft by a helicopter.

"If the master is simply looking out for himself or herself, you've breached your duty both legally and morally, to your ship, your crew and your passengers," says Allen, the University of Washington law professor.

Part Of The Culture

In last year's Star Trek Into Darkness, the bad guy taunts Captain Kirk by saying, "No ship should go down without her captain."

The image of a captain staying with a sinking vessel has recurred again and again, in literature and real life. It remains so potent because of the almost mythic authority invested in ship captains, Allen suggests.

At sea, there's no question about who's in charge, so there's no doubt who is responsible for safety.

"His duty as the highest authority available short of God himself was to make sure his crew was safe before he left the ship," says Craig Symonds, a retired Naval Academy historian.

The sense that captains are beyond the law — that they are the law, or at least they were, during the age of sail — is why they make such great bad guys.

"When they go bad, they're evil," Shealy says.

Think of Bligh, or Queeg, or the autocratic captains who drive many of the novels and stories of Herman Melville.

In Moby-Dick, Captain Ahab sets off to hunt the whale, leaving the capable Starbuck in charge. When his "death-glorious ship" sinks, Ahab mourns that he's been denied the "pride" of having gone down with her.

"Ahab is a great example in the sense that he knows a captain should go down with his ship," says Wyn Kelley, a Melville scholar at MIT. "He deeply regrets not being with his crew."

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Cover to Modern American Music ... Period! The Criteria Sessions (Omnivore Recordings)

Why Metallica's Bassist Is Producing A Jazz Documentary

by Adam Ragusea
Apr 18, 2014 (Georgia Public Broadcasting)

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The late virtuoso bassist Jaco Pastorius enjoyed only a relatively brief career, but was influential to musicians across genres. Robert Trujillo of Metallica is funding a Jaco Pastorius documentary and a new archival album.

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Adam Ragusea

It seems an unlikely match.

In one corner, you have Metallica's Robert Trujillo. The most popular heavy metal bassist alive, he prowls beast-like across arena stages, rumbling guts with the low B on the 5-string instrument he slings to one side like a battle ax.

In the other, there's the cult favorite fretless player Jaco Pastorius. Physically slight, manic depressive and dead almost 30 years, his long fingers danced and darted across the instrument's neck on his self-titled 1976 debut — regarded as one of the best jazz bass albums ever.

The two never spoke. Yet Pastorius has posthumously become Trujillo's partner in business and music.

A lifelong fan, Trujillo has spent much of his time since Metallica's last album cycle shepherding and personally bankrolling new Pastorius projects. A documentary film, simply titled Jaco, is slated for release in November. And an album of never-before released Pastorius material, Modern American Music . . . Period! The Criteria Session, comes out Saturday on Omnivore Recordings. Both the movie and the album are official releases of Record Store Day this weekend.

The Criteria Session release came unexpectedly from a lunch meeting Trujillo had with Pastorius' eldest son Johnny, Record Store Day co-founder Michael Kurtz and Omnivore Recordings co-founder Cheryl Pawelski.

"We're talking about, 'Oh, you know, it'd be great if there was some music that could be released,'" Trujillo says. "And Johnny says, 'Oh yeah, you know, we got the original acetate from the Criteria sessions.' And it was like, what?"

The sessions at Miami's Criteria Studio generated Pastorius' 1974 demo recordings for his legendary debut. Many of his signature phrases and techniques can be heard coalescing into compositions. Some of those compositions have become standard repertoire among elite electric bass players of all styles. He was only 22 years old at the time.

"It's Jaco, just full of fire and with amazing creative spirit," Trujillo says. "It's amazing that someone could play with that precision and that feel, ranging from the funk to the dynamic melodic voice that he had through his instrument, at a young age."

Trujillo, who will turn 50 this year, says his love of Pastorius shouldn't come as a surprise. He studied jazz at the Dick Grove School of Music in Los Angeles in the mid-1980s before going on to play with his punk-influenced bands Infectious Grooves and Suicidal Tendencies — "always driven by the funk, though," he adds.

And Pastorius is often referred to as "the punk of jazz," Trujillo says. "If Slayer is playing somewhere, and the time is right, I think Jaco would have been the first one to jump in the slam pit."

Pastorius' career plunged into decline over the last few years of his life, marred by substance abuse, mental illness and estrangement from his family. He fell into a coma and died following an altercation with a bouncer at a Miami-area club in 1987.

Johnny Pastorius, the bassist's son, says his family is delighted by Trujillo's advocacy.

"For us to have him as the flag-bearer and the spokesman for anything new with our father is ... I mean, you couldn't ever ask for anything more," Pastorius says. "Robert and my father, I think, had a destiny to meet in the end."

Copyright 2014 Georgia Public Broadcasting. To see more, visit http://www.gpb.org/.

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Cheo Feliciano at the opening of The Fania All Stars 2013 world tour in San Juan, Puerto Rico. (LatinContent/Getty Images)

Salsa Legend Cheo Feliciano Dies

by Jasmine Garsd
Apr 18, 2014 (Georgia Public Broadcasting)

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The late virtuoso bassist Jaco Pastorius enjoyed only a relatively brief career, but was influential to musicians across genres. Robert Trujillo of Metallica is funding a Jaco Pastorius documentary and a new archival album.

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Jasmine Garsd

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Three days of mourning have been declared in Puerto Rico following the death of salsa great Cheo Feliciano in a car accident there early Thursday. The singer was 78. "His music embodied the rhythm of Puerto Ricans living in New York City," U.S. Rep. Nydia Velazquez (D-NY) said in a statement, "and his lyrics helped tell our collective story."

José Luis Feliciano Vega was born in 1935 to a working class family in the southern Puerto Rican city of Ponce. At 17 the family joined the massive Puerto Rican diaspora of the 1950s, and moved to New York. That's where Cheo started to train with the big Latin dance orchestras and develop the sound that would make him an icon in both New York and Puerto Rico.

On October 5th, 1957 he married his wife — and music. In the morning, he wed Puerto Rican dancer Socorro "Coco" Prieto León, whom he remained with for the rest of his life. That night he made his first appearance with the popular Joe Cuba Sextet. Legend has it that after a performance that lasted about six hours, Feliciano was finally allowed to go on his honeymoon.

Feliciano's velvety rich baritone was unusual for a Latin singer, and made him one of the most recognizable voices of the era. But as his star rose, his addiction to heroin intensified. He eventually returned to the island and became homeless.

Following rehabilitation, Feliciano came back to music full force in 1972. He joined the legendary Fania record label. Cheo, his first solo album, broke all sales records in the Latin music market, making him the label's new star. The album includes the iconic song "Anacaona."

Feliciano went on to be one of the most beloved and respected figures in Latin music, collaborating with likes of Carlos Santana. Feliciano's hits include the love ballad "Una en un Millón" and "Contigo Aprendí." He was influential to a generation of younger salseros, including Panamanian singer-singwriter Rubén Blades, who has said he modeled a lot of his own music after Cheo's. Feliciano won a Latin Grammy lifetime achievement award in 2008.

As news of Feliciano's death Thursday morning made headlines, musicians from across the world expressed their grief. Fellow salsero Willie Colon tweeted: "Cheo mi pana, que dolor siento. Siempre sera uno de mis heroes" (Cheo my friend, what pain I feel. You shall always be one of my heroes).

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John Turturro plays a gigolo -- and Woody Allen is his pimp -- in the new Fading Gigolo. (Millennium Entertainment)

Loneliness And Longing — And Woody Allen — In 'Fading Gigolo'

Apr 18, 2014 (Georgia Public Broadcasting)

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The late virtuoso bassist Jaco Pastorius enjoyed only a relatively brief career, but was influential to musicians across genres. Robert Trujillo of Metallica is funding a Jaco Pastorius documentary and a new archival album.

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Bob Mondello

With his long face and hangdog appearance, actor John Turturro is no one's idea of a matinee idol — not even his own — so he raised a lot of eyebrows when he cast himself as the title character in Fading Gigolo. Even more when he cast Woody Allen as his pimp. So it may come as a relief when things don't go as wrong with what turns out to be a surprisingly sweet little dramedy as they might have.

The film begins in an Upper West Side rare books emporium with a going-out-of-business sign in its window. Head clerk Fioravante (Turturro), who also works as a florist, is packing up the shelves as the bookstore's soon-to-be-ex-proprietor, Murray (Allen) chatters away about a conversation he'd overheard between his dermatologist (Sharon Stone) and her friend (Sofia Vergara) about the possibility of arranging a menage-a-trois. They'd asked Murray if he knew an appropriate stud, and he says he responded, "yeah, but it'll cost you a thousand bucks."

To Fioravante's astonishment, Murray caps the story by adding, "I was thinking of you."

Now, with these actors, this qualifies as a gag premise — maybe even one that makes you gag a little — but credit the script with understanding that. Fioravante protests that he's hardly a beautiful man, and rejects the idea out of hand. But without the income from the bookstore, both he and Murray could use need the money, so when the take-charge-but-clearly-skittish dermatologist hesitantly reaffirms her interest, Fioravante decides what the hell.

He shows up with orchids and, because he's nervous, a deadpan conversational manner that charms his customer. Things go well enough that she includes a tip with his fee, a fact that leads Murray to note hopefully that waitresses pool tips and split them.

Now, if this has you thinking "male fantasy on steroids," you're not wrong. But John Turturro, who wrote and directed Fading Gigolo in addition to starring in it, is less concerned with the story's sex-farce potential, than in its gentler, character-centric possibilities. In fact, he's conceived the promised menage-a-trois as a kind of anticlimax — one he builds to with more nuanced stories about, say, Murray's domestic situation with an African-American mom (Tonya Pinkins) and four kids, and about "shomrim" officer Dovi (Liev Schreiber) who patrols Brooklyn for a neighborhood-watch group that works with the NYPD and rabbinical courts. And bringing these disparate threads together is a grieving Hasidic widow (Vanessa Paradis) who becomes the innocent heart of Fading Gigolo when Murray introduces her to Fioravante, not for sex, but because widowhood has pulled her so utterly away from the world.

Turturro's direction owes a little something to Spike Lee, and a lot to Woody Allen, who reportedly had a hand in helping refine the script — certainly his own lines sound as if he's simply riffing in character. Together they succeed in keeping the mood light, even as the filmmaker is gently tugging the plot in other directions — to look at loneliness, and longing, and heartbreak.

These are precisely the sort of things that, if you think about it, you'd expect to find in a film about a gigolo, though perhaps not a film with as much charm and sweetness as Fading Gigolo.

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Brett Dennen. (Courtesy of the artist)

Brett Dennen On World Cafe

Apr 18, 2014 (WXPN-FM)

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The late virtuoso bassist Jaco Pastorius enjoyed only a relatively brief career, but was influential to musicians across genres. Robert Trujillo of Metallica is funding a Jaco Pastorius documentary and a new archival album.

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The red-haired, California-based singer-songwriter Brett Dennen has come a long way since 2005, when he gave shy, barefoot solo performances around the release of his first album. Now on his fifth, Smoke and Mirrors, he has not only written more outward-looking songs, but he also presents them with a band in a more commercially viable way.

We'll discuss all that and Brett's life-long love of the Sierra Nevada mountains in our session in front of a World Cafe Live audience.

Copyright 2014 WXPN-FM. To see more, visit http://www.xpn.org/.

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