Arts Diary

Chuck D of Public Enemy once said that hip-hop was like CNN for the streets. It hasn't been the case for a while - in fact, much of it today is pretty apolitical. But could that be about to change? Maybe, if the London-based MC Braintax has anything to do with it. His new album, Panorama, is hot stuff. Take the single "The Grip Again (A Day in the Life of a Suicide Bomber)", which gives voice to a Palestinian whose house has been shelled. It opens with the MP George Galloway saying that the problem of the Middle East is the "injustice visited on the Palestinian people, paid for, organised and armed by the United States of America" and also talks a lot about the Six Day War, which must be a first for rap. "I'm not brainwashed, just prepared to be a martyr," the lyric goes on. "Young fire-starter/And the world won't act./Detonate my body,/Take some dignity back." Could cause quite a storm.

David Hockney made a rare public appearance to launch the National Portrait Gallery's fabulous exhibition of 50 years of his work. But is that the ill wind of jealousy I hear blowing around his fabulous 1968 picture of the art collectors Fred and Marcia Weisman? Sandy Nairne, director of the NPG, let slip that the Weismans' son, who donated the painting to the Art Institute of Chicago, "can't believe he gave it away". Will he want it back, we wonder? The ever-modest Hockney was on relaxed form at the event, which was sponsored by the kings of hoodie cool Burberry. Does he ever wear the stuff, he was asked. No, not really, he replied, but added diplomatically: "Years ago I used to buy the raincoats."

Gillian Anderson (left), fresh from her spellbinding performance as Lady Dedlock in the BBC's Bleak House, has apparently optioned Caroline Moorehead's Whitbread-shortlisted biography of the legendary American war reporter Martha Gellhorn.

Gellhorn, in her dazzlingly action-packed life and 60-year career, covered virtually every major conflict of the 20th century. Anderson, naturally, plans to play the journalist.

The director Tom Tykwer (Run, Lola, Run) makes quite a good fist of his screen version of Patrick Süskind's novel Perfume, out later this year. But word from the set is that he was a hard taskmaster. The rising British star Ben Whishaw (pictured above) refers in the press pack to how Tykwer was "slightly manic in his approach", and Dustin Hoffman says he is "a little on the obsessed side". Harsh terms in luvvy diplomacy-speak.

Any do-gooders out there interested in helping to stop nuclear proliferation must, repeat must, catch one of Barbra Streisand's new concert dates. The singer has been saying that she needs the tour to raise money to . . . to help her "fight injustice" and the spread of "evil weapons". If anyone can, Babs can.

Tom Parker Bowles is promoting his book The Year of Eating Dangerously (Ebury Press). In it, he describes getting an erection from eating dog soup: "As I walk, my ego starts to swell, too, engorging into a proud tumescence. I start to imagine a Ready-brek glow emanating from every pore." Nice.

bendowell@btinternet.com

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