Showing posts with label Art. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Art. Show all posts

Monday, February 5, 2024

Margaret Key Volunteer Award

I've been thinking of writing a Christmas story.  When I was little, this really remarkable woman gathered artistically leaning people at church to craft Christian-themed ornaments for a giant tree that would sit in the sanctuary at Galloway Memorial.  Her name was Margaret Kea, and she was always especially kind to me.  She was the one who encouraged me to make a painting to enter the Jackson Arts Festival.  I painted a tiger using the grid method to copy a photograph.  It won first place in my age group, but in all the putting together and taking part in the Arts Festival, the painting was lost, but I was given the ribbon.  

Part of my research for the story led me to find this article from 1988, where Mrs. Kea was given an award recognizing her volunteer work at Mississippi Methodist Rehab Center.  Many articles mentioned her being involved in arts oriented things, but I found this story, by Rebecca Hood-Adams, particularly revealing of her character.

I'm always learning things I don't know.  In this article, she mentions that there was a skating rink at the Livingston Park by the Zoo.  In all my studies about the Zoo, this is the first I've heard of a skating rink.


REBECCA HOOD-ADAMS Columnist The Clarion-Ledger Aug 28, 1988 

One Mississippian gets paid for time in blessings shared A walk in the park led Margaret Kea to the halls of Mississippi Methodist Rehabilitation Center, where she helps others stand tall. ; Eight years ago, Mrs. Kea encountered Peggy Bowland. Both women were walking for exercise, and as they fell in step, they found common ground. 

"We became each other's psychiatrist," Mrs.Kea says of her friend who died this past spring. "We'd talk about whatever was on our hearts as; we walked together." ; 

They exchanged histories with Mrs. Kea, 67, '. Reminiscing about her girlhood in Jackson. "It was like a small town then," she says. "We never locked our doors, and we spoke to everybody on the street. We knew everyone by name." 

Mrs. Kea recalls her Claiborne Street home in a town "so quiet at night that you could hear the lion roar from the zoo all the way to our, house." 

Sweet childhood memories 

There were jaunts to the Jitney to buy Banana Kisses, two for a penny. Afternoons at the skating rink in Livingston Park, where the big pipe organ filled the air with music. Evenings when the gang gathered at her home to make fudge and dance on hardwood floors.

Life in Jackson between the Depression and World War II was filled with simple pleasures. "On Saturday night we'd park the car on Capitol Street and watch the people come and go," Mrs. Kea says.

 Graduation from Central High School. A year at Belhaven College. A job as a telephone operator and then as a secretary with Mississippi Power & Light Co. 

The post-war boom brought change. A girlfriend arranged a blind date between Margaret Bridgers and Luther Kea, an agent for the Internal Revenue Service. "I was kind of leery at first," she remembers. But a six-month courtship grew into a 40-year marriage.

Life was not always easy for the young matron. She lost an infant son and then remained childless for five years. "I'd been praying so hard for a baby," Mrs. Kea says. "Finally, I got down on my knees one night and told the Lord that I'd never ask for a child again, that I'd accept his will." That's the month she became pregnant with Chip, 31, now a Port Gibson accountant.

The years flew by. Cub Scout den mother. President of the PTA. Sunday school teacher at Galloway Memorial United Methodist Church. Along the way, Margaret Kea broke her leg and vowed that if she ever got off crutches, she'd help somebody else.

"But I got busy and didn't do it," she says, remembering how she shared this need to aid others with her walking buddy. Peggy Bowland encouraged her and together they volunteered at Methodist Rehab. "A friend had told me that there were boys out there that couldn't even wipe a tear from their eyes," Mrs. Kea says. "That jerked something in me." 

But Margaret Kea has not found her Thursdays at Methodist depressing. "It's a place of courage and determination and hope," she says. "Patients establish deep friendships with everyone. Then when they finally are able to take that first step or lift a fork, there's a whole cheering section rooting for them."

Little deeds, big results 

Mrs. Kea's volunteer hours are spent in quiet service. She reads to patients, writes letters for them. Mostly she loves.

"My favorite thing is to just sit down beside somebody, put my arms around them and let them know they're cared for. I don't get paid, but I sure get blessed in return."

"Margaret offers spiritual strength and guidance to help patients through the long rehabilitation process," says Nellie Paul Farr, director of volunteer services at Methodist Rehabilitation Center. "She's not always recognized because her deeds of kindness are quietly given."

That will change Sept. 14 when Margaret Kea is one of 10 honorees at Goodwill Industries' 1988 Volunteer Activists Awards Luncheon.  She was tapped for her service at Methodist, although she could just as readily have been honored for her work with the Community Stewpot or Lakeland Nursing Home. And four Jackson women who've met for 12 years in Margaret Kea's home for weekly prayer already have had an opportunity to repay some of the spiritual strength she has lent them.

Two years ago Mrs. Kea developed cancer, the same disease that claimed her friend Peggy Bowland's life. 

"My prayer circle nursed me through like they were my own daughters," Mrs. Kea says. "You know, we're made strong by adversity. And you have to continually keep a problem in order to keep humble."

Courageous advice from One Mississippian whose heart is as brave as the lion roaring through Margaret Kea's memories. Are you One Mississippian who volunteers at least one hour per month to make Mississippi a better place? Send your name, address and telephone number in a stamped, self-addressed envelope to Rebecca Howl-Adams, The Clarion-Ledger, P.O. Box 40, Jackson, Miss., 39205.

You will be sent a One Mississippian button. Rebecca Hood-Adams' columns appear Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Sunday.

Thursday, February 1, 2024

Okra in the Pants

 I've seen this painting making the rounds today and really wanted to know more about it.  It looks like a medieval painting, but it's not.  Its title is "Okra Smugglers" by Henryk Fantazos, who painted it in 2007.  Born in Eastern Europe in 1947, he now lives and works in North Carolina.

Wednesday, January 31, 2024

Derailed Story

Sometimes, I lose control of my stories.  Earlier today, I tried to write down how this girl once spent several minutes slapping and punching me because I didn't keep my eyes closed during an intimate moment.  It was supposed to be funny.  At least it was unusual.  Along the way, I wrote down how I'd never hit a girl, which is almost true in that I've never raised my hand in anger like that, but there was that time in fifth grade when I mistakenly tried to wrestle a girl because I thought she was another one of the boys.   

Once I did that, the whole piece became about how bad that mistake made me feel, which it did, and whatever point I had that was funny evaporated like a vampire in the sun, and the longer the story got, the less it worked.  It wasn't funny anymore.  It wasn't anything, just an ambling mess.  

When I paint or draw, I usually try to capture something my eye actually saw, which keeps me on track.  Writing is only like that when you answer an essay question in school.  With free writing, you sometimes start out trying to bake a chicken and end up with broiled oysters.  The process, at least the way I do it, takes its own course, and you're just there trying to scribble it all down.

Art is a collaboration between the conscious and unconscious mind.  While my story wasn't particularly good, it became an interesting opportunity to examine my creative process. Maybe one day I'll return to that story's funny side, or maybe I'll never think of it again.  That part doesn't matter.  What does matter is that I had an idea, and I put it on paper, and it became whatever it needed to become.       

Sunday, January 21, 2024

Addams Family Mansion

 Charles Addams and his wife before College Hall, the structure at the University of Pennsylvania that inspired the mansion seen in the Addams Family cartoons.  Known as a "ladies' man," Addams married several beautiful women, none of whom were murdered.  

Tuesday, January 9, 2024

Landon Talks. A Lot


A teacher at the Laurel Magnet School of the Arts and former winner of the Mississippi Educator of the Year, Landon Bryant is the creator of the insanely popular channel LANDONTTALKSALOT, where he discusses the fine details of Southern Culture in a way that reminds anyone from here of being here.  

He's on the advisory board of the Lauren Rogers Museum in Laurel.  A 2014 BA graduate from the University of Southern Mississippi, His wife Kate is a painter and journalist, also living in Laurel.

With the success of Ben and Erin Napier's "Home Town" on cable TV and now the sensation surrounding Landon, the renaissance of Lauel is unmistakable like a firework at night.

Laurel was one of the first locations of the Office Supply Company outside of Jackson.  It's there that my Uncle Boyd met Alexander and Elizabeth Chisholm who involved him in the career of Lyontine Price.  On my many trips eastward to Laurel, I soon became enchanted with its picturesque downtown and the old homes off the square.  

Landon's videos have a hypnotic quality to them.  They invoke a feeling for your own childhood in your own hometown and a memory for people long moved onto another plane.  

Fresh out of college, Landon and Kate's first apartment with their baby burned to the ground with all their belongings.  Local fundraisers helped them get back on their feet without any hint of the massive success coming their way.  

Landon Talks A lot -- Youtube

Landon Talks A Lot -- Instagram

Landon Talks A Lot -- Tic Tok

The Coolest Kate -- Instagram

Katelyn Bryant -- Facebook

Monday, January 8, 2024

A New Perspective On The Academy

 Some of the best students of literature and history I ever met were electricians and plumbers in the daytime.  Some of the best carpenters and electricians I ever met were lawyers, doctors, and accountants in the daytime.

For forty years, I've advocated that Millsaps could work with Hinds Community College to offer joint degrees.  That way, your sons or daughters could get a degree in modern language and plumbing, history and carpentry, theater and cattle science.  So far, precisely zero people have taken up my idea.

You spend four years in college.  It costs a great amount of money.  The best thing we can do for these young people is to help them create a framework they can hang their life on, recognizing that their brains go in many different directions, and sometimes what they're best at isn't what they're best at making money with.

Can you imagine how useful a person with a theater and carpentry degree or a theater and electrician's degree could be for theater artists?

William Tuttle

 Every artist has a very recognizable style.  William Tuttlel was responsible for some of the most remarkable prosthetic makeups in film (prior to Planet of the Apes). Here are two examples of his work.  Eye of the Beholder, an episode of The Twilight Zone, and a Morlock from The Time Machine.  

Saturday, August 26, 2023

The Van Cliburn Concert

 In 1978 I was fifteen years old.  It was the first year I ever fully experienced the darkness inside me.  My family fought through an extraordinarily difficult 1977 and survived.  Things were looking up, but my outlook on life lost any hint of sunshine for the first time.

My father was the chairman of the Mississippi Arts Festival, an event designed to raise money and awareness of the proposed art center attached to what was then called the City Auditorium.  My father’s favorite appreciation of art was listening to Hee Haw on channel 12.  He was a big promoter of the idea of bringing arts and culture to Jackson, but he wasn’t the type to spend much time at the opera.

The featured performer for the 1978 Mississippi Arts Festival was Van Cliburn, the celebrated pianist from Shreveport, Louisiana.  He was to give a performance at the City Auditorium and attend a gala reception afterward at the Governor’s Mansion.  My mother wanted very much to attend.  Although he helped arrange the event, my father would have never survived a two-hour classical piano concert awake, and he didn’t much care for that governor, and that governor didn’t much care for him.

My oldest brother had just returned home and was under both legal and medical advice not to go out at night.  My middle brother saw nothing remotely cool in a concert by a guy who looked like Jerry Lee Lewis in a tuxedo.  Having deeply loved the previous Beverly Sills concert, I was anxious for my mother to ask me.  She decided I was old enough, not only for the concert but for the reception afterward.

We had dress circle tickets purchased in the name of The Office Supply Company.  I didn’t have a tuxedo, but I did have a navy blue suit and a red tie.  The concert was fascinating.  Van Cliburn moves like he was animated by Walt Disney.  I was attentive and wrapped in attention the entire concert.

After the concert, Mother asked if I thought we could park behind the Office Supply Company and walk to the Governor’s Mansion.  Since she was the one with the impractical shoes and the one driving, so I figured it was best just to do whatever she suggested.

Inside the Governor’s Mansion, I recognized many faces from church and our neighborhood.  Dick Wilson and Lester Senter stood next to Dick’s father, Baxter.  Bill Goodman had a drink and asked my mother, “Where’s Jim?” with a smirk.  My father’s actual location at home watching television wasn’t a mystery to anyone.  I’m sure there were lots of husbands who wished they’d made the same deal.  

Sunday night in April, the Governor’s mansion was prolific with flowers.  The Governor and his wife stood to the right of Van Cliburn, shaking the hands of those willing to wait in line.  Cliff Finch had hair not unlike Donald Trump.  Both an unnatural color and an unnatural shape.  Deeply tanned, he convinced Mississippi farmers and workers that he was one of them by carrying a lunch box.  He was not.  His wife looked like she’d taken enough pills that we could have performed minor surgery on her without complaint.  We later learned that was most likely the case.  At fifteen, I was already pretty well-versed in the ritual of shaking hands.  This wasn’t my first governor.  

My mother began to work the room.  These were her people, and there was an open bar.  “I want to look at the paintings,” I said as a way of announcing that I was going off on my own.  More than anything, I just wasn’t in the mood for a grown-up party or any kind of party, even though I really loved the concert.  

I found my way into a room to the side of where they had the staging area set up for the party.  It seemed to be used for storage.  In a couple of years, Elise Winter completely remodeled and restored the Governor’s Mansion.  Rumors and tales of the damage they found left by the Finch administration passed around Jackson for years.

I recognized a girl standing by a window as the governor’s daughter.  She was something like two years older than me and held a glass of chilled white wine.  “Do you want one?” she asked.  I was pretty sure she wasn’t supposed to have one, and I was absolutely sure I wasn’t supposed to.  I’d snuck alcohol from parties before, but considering the guest list at this one, I was under some pressure to be good.  She sounded like this was maybe her third glass that night.

“What’s your name?” She asked.  Her hair was unnaturally blonde and sculpted with aquanet and a blow dryer.  Her voice had a cadence that told me we weren’t from the same tribe.

“Alexander,”  I said.  I did that sometimes when I didn’t want to have to explain that my name was Boyd with a “D” and not just “Boy.”  I still do it sometimes.

“Did you go to that thing?” She asked, gesturing toward the Auditorium.  

“Yeah, my dad was a sponsor,”  I said.

“That’s not my kind of music.”  She said and gripped the back of my arm.  “You’re so big.”  She said.  I’d heard that before.  “I can get you a glass of wine or a beer if you want it.”  She said, demonstrating her power and connections.

“Can’t, I’m in training,”  I said.  It was mostly a lie, but if she hadn’t figured out I was just fifteen, I didn’t want to be the one to spoil her delusion.  

Glancing left and right, she moved her hand around to the front of my arm and squeezed my bicep.  Then she leaned in and kissed me.  I could feel her tongue brush against the tip of the cupid’s bow on my top lip.  This, too, felt like a show of power and connections.

I pulled back.  “I’ve got to go check on my ride,”  I said.  Saying that my ride was my mother wasn’t cool, so I left that part out.  After I found my mother, I never saw the governor’s daughter the rest of the night and never spoke to her again the rest of my life.

There were stories about her career at Ole Miss, but I’m sure she was a pretty nice girl.   A few glasses of wine and a really boring party can lead a girl to silly mistakes.  

I didn’t feel like I’d been kissed by a pretty girl at all.  I felt really dark and misunderstood.  I felt like if she had any idea who I was or what I was like, she never would have kissed me.  Sometimes, it’s a lot easier to kiss a stranger.  I experienced that a few times.  It’d be another year before I felt like I had a handle on this being around girls thing.  So much had to happen before that.  Some of it was really dark and painful.  I wasn’t really ready for what life would become.  I’d had a taste of it.  Some of my friends had lost a parent, and I was just beginning to realize that I’d lost my brother, or at least lost the person he was before he got sick.  

Van Cliburn’s career would continue to rise, but I would always associate it with something entirely different.  His was the music that played when I went through one of life’s more difficult doors.  Hiding a pretty girl in one of the rooms didn’t make things much better.

Monday, July 31, 2023

I know Victoria's Secret Too

 In her song “I Know Victoria’s Secret,” singer Jax reveals that Victoria’s secret is that she was made up by an old man living in Ohio.  She’s right, but there’s more to it than that.  

Victoria’s Secret was invented by a man named Roy Raymond, who tried shopping for foundation garments at stores like Sears and found the experience inadequate.  Underwear for both men and women was produced by the same companies that produced them for the troops in WWII and sold them in packs of three, mostly in white, but sometimes prints or pastels for women.  Raymond was aware that the most successful clothing mail-order catalog that wasn’t Sears was Fredrick’s of Hollywood.  He had the idea to do the same thing, but less trashy and in a better location than West Hollywood.  Not knowing much about California, he picked Palo Alto for his first store and produced his first catalog with two sigs (16 pages) and a cover, which immediately sold out.

In the late 1970s, Les Wexner studied the growing patterns of young women shopping in the new phenomenon of suburban malls.  He combined that with the fashion sense he gleaned from the more popular women’s fashion magazines and found low-cost producers to make similar items priced for middle-class young women, with the result being The Limited, which by 1980 was almost entirely located in suburban malls.

Wexner was much better with money than Raymond, and in 1982, offered to buy out a bankrupt Raymond and add Victoria’s Secret to Limited Brands.  With the deal completed, Wexner was the unchallenged “King of Malls” and remained so until total sales in malls started falling off in the new century.

Jax’s song suggests Wexner might have been creepy.  He might have been, but not in an Aqualung sort of way as the song suggests, but in more of a Merchant of Venice sort of way.  He’s not eyeing little girls with bad intent, but he is making an awful lot of money.  

I’ve heard people read the long “I am a jew” speech from Shylock, suggesting that Shylock might have been a sympathetic character, and Shakespeare might have been sympathetic to Jews.  He was not.  Like a lot of Shakespeare’s work, you really need to read the whole play.

Wexner was responsible for a lot of things.  Among them are the move to women sexualizing their bodies at a much younger age, even younger than the “flapper” movement in the 20s.  He promoted an unrealistic body image that lead to an epidemic of eating disorders.  Between the fast food business and the fashion business, Americans have whiplash with regard to how they should feel about food.  

Wexler was also one of the first to move most of his production to Asian sweatshops with lax or no rules regarding child labor, so you ended up with a situation where pacific islander twelve-year-olds were manufacturing clothes sold to American sixteen-year-olds, who had to hide them from her father and change clothes in the car before going out to meet her friends.  

He did all this to make money, and he did make money—lots of it.  I think it’s important to do what Jax does and reveal how these things happen, so you don’t end up with young people who all they really know about the people marketing to them that “it’s cool” or not.  It’s an awful lot more complicated than just cool or not, and maybe songs like this are the best way to get the message to teenagers who really don’t have much time for us.

Friday, July 21, 2023

What Motivates Amanda

It's my hope that I can show you more than I tell you in my book, but since these are imaginary people, I have to decide what to tell you before I show it.  Although my characters are all imaginary, they all have qualities and histories that match people I've known in real life, but none of them have the same combination of qualities and histories as people I've known in real life.  It's kind of fun to say, "What if they're like John but with a father like Mary and a smoking habit like Tom?"   

Some of the faculty and administration do have pretty close to a one-to-one correlation with real-life people, like George Harmon and Lance Goss.  I even include Frank Hanes just so I can give him a happier ending.  None of them are exactly one-to-one, but they'll be recognizable.  None of the students or their parents match up with any living person in every aspect.  They're all amalgamations.  They're all imaginary and not meant to be taken as my opinion of any real person.

 Amanda Moore is eighteen.  At 5'8" she considers herself tall for a girl.  She'd much rather be six inches shorter.  She has light brown hair, with tremendous hazel eyes, and a few acne scars that aren't nearly as noticeable as she believes they are.  Most would say she was pretty, but she practices not looking friendly or approachable.  Her looks get her attention, and she knows how to work that, but her looks give her very little satisfaction or confidence.  

Other parts of her personality get in the way of her education.  Without that, she'd make a remarkable lawyer one day.  If she had any confidence, she could do just about anything, but despite the attitude she projects, she has none.  She's always done well in school because she was usually the brightest one in the class, but now that she's in a school full of kids who were the brightest ones in class, she's lost her seat at the table.  

Amanda is from Pascagoula, between Camille and Katrina, and before gulf coast gambling.  She's the only child of her mother, who was the second wife of her father, who now lives with his third wife, who is twenty years younger than him.  She has three half-brothers and sisters, including the four-year-old, that now gets all her father's love.  At four, he's decided that this will be the big strong son he always wanted, even though he's only four and still eats his boogers.

A modern psychologist would diagnose Amanda with Histrionic personality disorder.  Amanada's only ever seen one psychologist, a marriage and family counselor, ordered by the court when her mother sued her father for more support.  Since then, Amanda has refused to see any "head shrinkers," even after she started cutting her arms and thighs at fifteen.  Her mother, who is never sober after five o'clock, accepts Amanda's promise to "get help at school," even though her school counselor isn't a psychologist.  She's not even a counselor.  She's a nice Christian lady her private academy hired because she had an education degree and the right political attitude.  

Amanda has been experimenting with sex and drugs since she was fifteen.  A pretty girl can always get free drugs.  Sex gets her attention but never warmth, passion, compassion, or companionship.  Sex sometimes gets her better drugs and more of them.  

Amanda chose Marsh for college because her father and grandfather went there.  Her mother sees it as a chance for a new beginning, away from those nasty boys who she knew were leading her precious only child down the wrong paths.  Her mother went to community college.  She was her father's secretary before she became his mistress and would have probably remained his mistress had she not confronted Amanda's Father's first wife with a tremendous pregnant belly and some bad news.   Her father's first and second wives are now pretty good friends who mix a drink and call each other on the phone to talk about how much they hate the third wife and her stupid son.

Marsh College could be a fresh start and a new beginning for Amanda.  Her life could be very different, but she doesn't want that.  She wants more of what she had in Pascagoula, only this time with smarter boys, better drugs, and nobody to talk her ear off if she comes home four hours late.  

I'm trying to figure out ways that Amanda can eventually find happiness and peace later in life.  With all my characters, I'm telling the story of the moment but showing glimpses of both their past and their future.   That's kind of the point.  College isn't a destination.  It's a transitory point between the future and the past, even for the people who work there.  I'd like to say that what happens in the book is a painful moment that passes, and life becomes better; I just don't know how I'm going to do that just yet.  I'm not going to leave Amanda in the state she's in, though.  These are my creations, and I do have a fondness for all of them.  

Amanda will come off like a bitch, and somebody you don't want to be around.  It's my hope to show that she really never had a chance.  The cards were stacked against her.  Bradley tries really hard to find some good in her, but he's looking in the wrong places.  His attitude comes from an unstated belief that women are always good at heart, and men are always bad at heart, and someone like him has to mediate a safe place between them.  That's kind of the premise of being a gentleman, a myth Bradley believes more than he believes anything else and tries to apply in his life, but never with the results he hopes for.  People are never good or bad.  Their choices might be, but they themselves aren't.  Everybody tries to do good, even if they're wrong about what good is.

Amanda and Bradley, and Laurel aren't real, but I want to make them feel real.  That's one of the reasons why I'm setting them in a place that's very real, so real that some of my readers will recognize even the trees and the hills.  I'm not promising solutions to social problems.  This is just a story about people.  These are just observations about things that are in all people.  I'm not strong enough to shape a solution to what happens in the world, but I can maybe tell you about it.  I hope readers will see something they can sympathize with and understand in both the nicest and the meanest characters.  

Thursday, July 13, 2023

Defending My Novel

While I haven't actually been asked to do this, I'm constantly trying to defend my novel, at least to myself.  Why is it worth writing?  Why is it worth reading?  Is this worth doing?

In a college, you have all these different communities; there are the students, the faculty, the administration, the staff, the alumni, and the larger community of the city and the state that aren't in the college.  In a small school, something that happens to just a few people ends up felt by all of these different communities in different ways.

When I was a freshman, there was a woman who said she was raped by several boys, then she recanted, then she recanted again.  It was a pretty devastating thing, and I don't think anybody on any side was ever satisfied with the outcome.  My idea was to take that incident, but just that incident, change all the people involved in it, change the victim, change the accused, change the motivations, change the Greek organizations, change how and when it happened, but keep this idea of how having this really big thing hanging in the background is reflected differently in all of the communities, and maybe keep the time of year when it happened.  

In a story like this, there are a lot of social issues involved.  Issues of gender and class and justice, I'm even going to bring issues of race into it that weren't part of the actual events, but I don't want it to be a book about issues; I want it to be a book about people, about characters, not even the people involved in the main action, but all the people who try to live their lives while this goes on around them.  My two main characters have very different opinions about what happened and how to deal with it, and in the end, they arrive at very different places.  

I want to include ideas about mental health and what motivates people, and what impact actions have on their state of mind and sense of self.  

Although this will be a fictional story about a fictional place and fictional people, if you were ever at Millsaps, you'll recognize a lot of ghosts and memories.  If you were at Millsaps in the '80s, it will feel like a memory, even though it's not.  I tend to think of it that they filmed a movie of my novel and used Millsaps as the location.  

I think it's important that this takes place in the early Eighties because that's when traditional college students in the South were the first in their region, and often in their family, who never knew a segregated education system.  While I don't intend to deal with that directly, I do want to keep the notion that this is a new generation and a new chance at something different in our larger culture.  We were the children of the civil rights movement.  That much is very clear to me.  

Behind all that, there are the troubles in Ireland in a school where most of the students have Irish roots.  There's Reagan and Reaganomics and all the social changes that came with the Republican revolution.  We were also the first MTV to go to college.  There ended up not being many after us, so being MTV consumers at its inception ended up making us pretty unique.  

Because more of my training is in Theatre than in literature, I'm using the classical dramatic elements to build my story around. Point of inciting interest,  exposition, rising action, climax, falling action, resolution, and denouement.  I don't think I'm ready to do stream-of-consciousness or non-linear formats yet.  

I hope that I'll end up with something worth reading.  I hope I'll be able to create characters you are interested in and care about what happens to them, even if you don't agree with their actions.  I'm not out to expose anyone or beat a drum about any of the issues in the story, but to maybe show how these issues play out in a character's life and motivation.  People going off to college think they know everything, but reality soon hits them, and sometimes they find themselves in the middle of a storm.  My story is about people who find themselves in a storm, then find their way back out again.

Tuesday, July 4, 2023

Writing for my Love

It’s been about a year since I started letting the world read my daily journals or significant parts of them.  I began writing them forty-five years ago, or more, then one day, when I was still too weak to sit up in bed, I thought, “I really should let people know I”m alive,” and started posting extensive excerpts from my journal on Facebook.  

It’s been a fascinating process.  The response has been truly overwhelming.  Having kept all this hidden for so long, I had no idea I could get anyone to read me unless I wrote about big things like dinosaurs and spaceships, like some of my idols.  

Earlier today, the question arose about what the women in my life thought of my writing.  The answer is pretty simple: they didn’t know anything about it.  Some knew I was doing it, but since I said it was my journal, and none of them knew how to find things on my computer, none were ever read.  

I’d only ever planned for there to be one woman in my life.  Instead, there were like twelve.  I think part of the problem was that I was never very honest with them, not nearly as honest as I am with the people who read my blogs.  I think that was a vital mistake.  Even if being more honest wouldn’t have kept any of them in my life, it was still the moral thing to do.  

I always tried to project that I was a counter to whatever challenges were in their life. No matter how storm-ravaged their existence, I was indomitable and immutable, and I could form an impenetrable barrier between them and whatever was hurting them. That’s a lie, of course. I could keep it up for a while, but not forever, and let’s be honest, once the storm passed, it made me obsolete.  Maybe, if I’d shown them the things I write in the hours when the sun struggles over the horizon, it would have opened up a new era of understanding.  Maybe I would have proved more valuable in the long run.

There was one woman; her name means “honey” in an ancient tongue.  She was the only woman I ever courted who knew me from work.  Not from Missco or the ABoyd Company, but from my real work, in this instance, theater and painting.  We played chess and drank coffee and discussed many things.  I don’t know that giving her access to my journals would have changed the trajectory of our lives, but I would have deeply valued her perspective on what I wrote.  I’m really a bit angry with myself, now that I think of it.  

She had the voice of an angel.  Her hands were tender, and her eyes shown brighter than the moon, but I missed having such a brilliant critic and soundboard available before the ink dried on my copy.  We were so horribly star-crossed, I don’t think anything could have made us end up together, but imagine what a difference learning that other people wanted to read my words would have made if I had trusted her to read them.

There’s another woman.  I write about her often.  She had a gigantic smile and bushels of blonde hair, and the world would have thought she was the most cheerful person in it while she was flaying the skin from her own bones in secret and doing whatever she could to numb the pain from it.

That was almost forty years ago, but even now, I feel genuine pangs of guilt for not clearing a path out of the tangled morass of rose thorns she surrounded herself in.  Saving her wasn’t my job, but it was the only thing I wanted to do, and it’s still the one thing I wish I had accomplished that I didn’t.  People tell me all the time that this wasn’t my responsibility and what happened to her wasn’t my fault, but no, that’s a scar that I’ll carry on my back until the day they close my eyes for good.

My plan was to show her that I was stronger than anything that happened to her, stronger than anything she might do to herself, and all she had to do was be calm and let me pull her out of the cutting weeds that grew around her.  That failed. It failed utterly.  

Maybe, if I’d shown her my words, maybe if I’d let her see that I saw and felt the same darkness, the same cold and isolation that she felt, that maybe we could have made a connection there, and maybe somehow knowing she wasn’t alone in what she was feeling might have made her hold on to herself long enough to climb out of the hole she was in.  

I’m aware that I’m describing a scenario where I might have found a way to succeed at something I failed at, and not a scenario where someone from my past would have wanted to stick around and be someone in my present, but it’s really hard to twist my mind to thoughts of what I need.  I don’t think that’s going to change.  At least, in this one instance, the world would have been just a little better if I’d won this battle I fought for somebody other than myself.  

Although I’ve had all these other people playing that role in my life, there’s just the one woman I ever really loved.  We met as children, young enough that we got to see each other’s body change and grow tall.  

Her hands were slender and strong.  Her eyes were the deepest brown, like staring into your coffee and seeing the world reflected in it.  She took my arm many times and escorted me whenever there was a fine thing I had to attend, but I never once tried to express to her how special she was to me.   Asking her might mean she’d reject me, and as long as I didn’t ask, I could always tell myself, “It might have.”  Fifty years later, “it might have” means nothing to anyone but me.

The funny thing is, she studied literature.  While it’s not what she ended up doing for a living, it’s something that was dear to her and important to her.  Imagine what might have happened if I had said, “Hi, these are my words.  I’d really like to know what you think of them.”  Imagine the impact of arranging a meeting between the thing I loved the most and the girl I loved the most.  It was impossible, of course.  I wasn’t willing to show my words to those who didn’t matter; showing them to someone who did matter would have been such a huge risk.  I would have fainted from the anticipation.  

Some of my former dance partners read my words here. Sometimes they ask questions and clarifications of a point. I haven’t yet gotten into trouble for revealing something I shouldn’t have. I try to be sensitive.  I have been scolded for not saying this or that twenty years ago.  That’s to be expected.  I do choose my words differently, knowing someone might read them.  That’s also to be expected, but I try to retain the candor I had when I was writing for myself.  

If I could tell a younger version of me something, I’d tell him to be honest. Trust that people want to see the truth. You can’t be strong enough to heal the world. Its enemies are stronger than your arms, no matter how strong you make them.   You hide this precious thing every day, thinking the world has no interest in it.  You’re wrong; your words are what the world made you for.  

Thursday, June 22, 2023

Miss Eudora's Typewriter

If you visit Eudora Welty's house and museum, you can see some of her typewriters.  How a writer writes is very important, especially for writers of her generation.  Through his business connections, her father could procure quite good typewriters for her for most of her life, both new and secondhand.  

When Miss Eudora was writing, there were only three places in Jackson where one could purchase typing paper or legal pads.  The Office Supply Company was down the street from her father's office, so I've always amused myself that some of her novels began life as a box of blank typing paper sitting on a shelf in my uncle's store.  I even confirmed once that Mr. Welty had an account, although what he purchased was long since lost to history.

Eudora Welty was most likely taught to type in high school.  Most women in her generation were, in case they'd have to get a job one day, and typing or teaching was about the only jobs available to most girls.  Businesses needed typists too.  Every letter, every statement, and every invoice had to be hand typed in the days before computers.  One of the reasons banks and insurance companies had such large buildings was to house secretarial pools of typing women.

Faulkner had a typewriter but didn't write with it.  He preferred writing longhand so he could see and feel the shape of his words.  There weren't many things in Faulkner's life that he treated with love and care, but his words were among them.

When I was a younger man, I traveled to Hollywood in the summers hoping to live there someday.  I even gave it a shot a couple of times, but living outside of Mississippi never took hold.  In those summers, I made friends with Forrest J Ackerman, the previous editor of Famous Monsters of Filmland magazine and the inventor of Vampirella.  

Uncle Forry's life was in the waning years.  He'd lost his wife.  It'd been many years since his magazine shut down.  When he was a magazine editor, Forry was a literary agent for hopeful science fiction writers.  His most notorious client was L Ron Hubbard, who wrote very sort of standard Sci-Fi for the fifties.  His books were light on science but heavy on post-war social commentary.  Most were pretty bad.  Forry did not represent Hubbard's book Dianetics, which was an effort to replace psychology, which became Hubbard's obsession and, ultimately, a religious cult.  

One day, Forry introduced me to a man at lunch, saying, "This is Ray Bradbury.  He writes sometimes."  

Ackerman and Bradbury had been childhood friends and were considered co-founders of the Los Angeles Science Fiction Forum.  Ackerman had been Bradbury's agent, but after Fahrenheit 451, his publisher demanded Bradbury get a more well-placed agent. Ackerman didn't seem to take offense, and they remained the closest of friends until their very last days.  

 As a young writer, Bradbury didn't have a typewriter of his own.  In the basement of the library, you could put coins in a machine and get an hour's worth of electricity on one of their electric typewriters.  Descending with a box of his own paper, Bradbury wrote all of Fahrenheit 451 this way, spending time between pages and looking at the books in the library for inspiration.

Compared to his other novels, there wasn't very much science in Fahrenheit 451, but he hit on cultural memes that resonated deeply in American culture, especially counterculture.  After Fahrenheit 451, he was able to afford his own typewriter, an IBM selectric.  He'd have other typewriters along the way, but he favored the selectric.  Stephen King suggested a word processor for him, which Bradbury got, but never really produced anything of note on it.

Ray Bradbury was who I wanted to be.  His advice for young writers was to produce one thousand words a day.  In his method of writing, that's slightly less than three pages.  You're not really a writer if you don't write.  I've been producing between a thousand and two thousand words a day for forty-five years now.  At first on my mother's portable typewriter, then later on, different forms of computer word processors.  I've only allowed anyone to see what I write for the last two years.  That's another story.

The way that Welty, Faulkner, and Bradbury wrote was like making multiple interactions of a carving, making changes and improvements between them, and ultimately only showing the world the final copy.  It's a pretty tedious way to write.  You end up typing or writing over the same sentence several times.  With word processing, there's just one draft that you're constantly massaging and improving.  

It's possible that the multiple draft method of writing produces a better result.  Typing the same sentence over and over again can make you either commit to it or change it.  Most people don't do it.  It's time-consuming, and it keeps you from the more interesting part of making new sentences.  

I really don't know what my writing will produce.  I'd like to think I can produce seven or eight books in the next ten years.  I have pretty good writing discipline and can sometimes write things that produce emotion; what remains to be seen is if I can bring all these pieces together into something larger.  I love Ray Bradbury, but I've been to his office, and he's not a very organized person.   I don't think I can do what he did, but I think I can match his output, maybe even exceed it for a while.

Friday, June 2, 2023

What's In The Box?

A lot of people find things they don't understand are intimidating.  It's a natural reaction.  If you don't know what's in a box labeled "X," it could be anything.  It could be a puppy, it could be a chocolate cake, but it could also be a tiger or a diamond-back rattlesnake.  Until you open the box, you don't know.   Some people find the chance that it might be a rattlesnake much more important than the chance that it might be a chocolate cake, so they presume this box labeled "X" is a threat and act like it.

I think that may be part of what's happening with some of the hate we're seeing lately with transgenderism.  For most of us, me included, the experience of transgenderism is utterly alien and quite far from our daily experience.  We make our physical gender part of our identity, and even people who understand that identity is a construct find it very difficult to see beyond it.   

Over the last fifteen years, a lot of LGBTQ people and their allies have been operating under the presumption that if they raise the awareness of gay and trans people, it will make the larger public more accepting of them.  The idea being that if we open the box and show the contents, people will see it's not a threat.  In many cases, that's worked.  It worked on me.

Some people are so concerned about the possible threat in the box that they don't want to look, even if it's open.  Efforts to raise the awareness of LGBTQ people and normalize their presence make some people feel threatened, like this thing they're afraid of is growing and being "forced down their throat," which is exactly the opposite of the original intent to show that LGBTQ people aren't anything to be afraid of or concerned about.

It's really hard to cross the lines of culture, sexuality, and identity.  These ideas become the core of how people define themselves, and far too many people don't feel confident enough of their own place in society to be accepting of people who are different.  Anytime you see somebody with a chip on their shoulder, jealously guarding their spot in the world, it's a pretty good bet they're going to have trouble with bigotry.  

It's particularly painful to see people who themselves were once marginalized because of their culture or race, or religion participate in the hate and rejection of LGBTQ people.  You'd think they would be the first to recognize this syndrome in other people, and most are, but some become even more reactionary, almost as if their seat at the table will be taken away if they allow someone different to sit next to them.   

This is one of those situations where I don't really know the solution.  I think there's some merit to staying the course and continuing to raise the profile of differently-sexualized people and continue to try and educate people that they are not a threat in any way.  There's going to be pushback.  The slate at the last session of the Mississippi Legislature is a pretty good example of push-back.  Recent political pressure to shut down the LGBTQ clinic at the University of Mississippi Medical Center is another example.  

All I can suggest is, don't respond to hate with hate.  Be firm but understanding.  Fear of the unknown is legitimate; continuing to try and make known the unknown is still the best course.  Maybe cut back on some of these basic cable shows exploiting the lives of teenage transgender people and focus more on the experience of adults.  A lot of people are responding with near violence to the idea of trans people participating in sexed sports.  It's actually a pretty rare event, but concern over it has exploded.  Maybe there's some merit to trying to understand and cooperate with these fears, even though it's really very rare.

Reaching out to people who don't fit the larger cultural patterns isn't a hill most people want to fight on.  It makes people wonder why you can't just go along to get along.  This is something Jesus specifically shows us to do, though.  There's a reason why he made a tax collector his disciple.  There's a reason why he told the parable of the Samaritan.  It's incredibly liberating for your own mind to take these lessons to heart and make them part of your life.  Living without fear of other people is one of the greatest gifts you can I've yourself.  

Thursday, June 1, 2023

Bogart and the Anti-Hero

In 1935, a young actor named Humphrey Bogart (his real name) got his first starring role on Broadway in a play called "Petrified Forest" with costar Leslie Howard at the Broadhurst Theater.  Lance Goss directed the play at Millsaps several times, with the last one in the 90s with Paul Hough as Duke Mantee.  It would be Bogar's last major role on stage.

Bogart played a few small roles in films, some so small they were uncredited, but in 1936 he returned to Hollywood with a triumphant contract with Warner Brothers and shot "The Petrified Forest," again with Leslie Howard and introducing Bette Davis as Gabby, a role played by Christine Swannie at Millsaps.

Over the next five years, Bogart made almost fifteen films, all variations on the criminal he played in Petrified Forest, including his stint as a crooked lawyer in "Angels with Dirty Faces," and the Science Fiction thriller "The Return of Doctor X."  Bogart never doubted his abilities and fought with Warner Brothers to let him try roles that weren't criminals.  

In 1941, Bogart received the big break he wanted playing a new kind of character, dubbed the "anti-hero" he played the hard-boiled detective in "The Maltese Falcon" based on the hit novel by the same name by  Dashiell Hammett and also introduced Sydney Greenstreet who would act against Bogart again.  

Sam Spade reinvented Bogart as an actor and reinvented the entire genre of crime drama.  There are just a few films you can point to and say, "This changed the direction of the art form,"  "The Maltese Falcon" is one of those.  Again, Bogart would spend the next several films mostly typecast again, this time as the anti-hero detective, but his career was starting to be on his own terms. 

The success of Sam Spade did allow Bogart his first chance to really act against type.  In 1942, a small play called "Everybody Comes to Ricks" was the subject of the rising patriotism and anti-fascism in America as a result of the Pearl Harbor invasion.  Bogart was nominated for the Best Actor Oscar for playing Rick Blaine in "Casablanca."

In 1944, Bogart won the role of Harry "Steve" Morgan in the screen adaptation of Hemmingway's "To Have and To Have Not."  Hemmingway refused to write the script himself, so director Howard Hawks hired Jules Furthman to pen the first script.  Not pleased with the final product, Hawks hired Mississippi novelist William Faulkner to mend the script.  This film is perhaps most notable for introducing a nineteen-year-old Lauren Bacall to the world as Slim.  In his forties, a spark between Bacall and Bogart struck up that became a  Hollywood legend.  Humphrey Bogar and Lauren "Baby" Bacall made an unlikely love affair for the ages.

Bogart went on to play many more anti-heroes, but 1951's "African Queen" with John Houston and Katharine Hepburn, shot on location in Africa, remains one of Bogar's most memorable films.  Bogart finally got his Best Actor statue for playing Charlie Allnut.

In 1955, Bogart released "We're No Angles,"  still playing an anti-hero, but this time a comedy.  Co-starring Aldo Ray, Peter Ustinov, and Basil Rathbone, "We're No Angles" has been one of my Christmas tradition films since I first saw it on TNT in 1980.  

Bogart would make three more films, but a heavy smoker and a heavy drinker, he would die of esophageal cancer in 1957.  

Baby Bacall was thirty-two when Bogart died.  Bogart was fifty-seven.  Bacall bore Bogart two children.  A son named Stephen, named for Bogart's character in "To Have and To Have Not." and a daughter named Leslie Howard for Bogart's co-star and friend.  Hepburn and Spencer Tracy would visit Bogart in his final days.

Bogart and Bacall were both liberal democrats and fiercely anti-fascists.  Like many Hollywood liberals, Bogart was called before the Committee on Unamerican Activities to defend his political viewpoints.  Afterward, he wrote an article entitled "I'm No Communist," defending not only himself but those found in contempt of the hearings.

I've profiled a lot of actors, but Bogart is one of my favorites.  His is a very American story.

Wednesday, May 25, 2022

Mississippi Art The Wolfes and the Lazy Log Lodge

This is a story about memory, and family, and art.  This is a story about Mississippi and happiness and a story about love.

Yesterday my sister sent me a text message that she found a painting and wanted to know if it was of the Raymond Lodge; and included a photo of it.  Immediately I confirmed that it was indeed a painting of the Raymond Lodge and that it had hung in our grandmother's house for many years.  

I believed it was painted by Jackson artist BeBe Wolfe.  My sister texted back a photo of the signature, and it was painted not by BeBe Wolfe but by her mom, Mildred.  All this opened the most beautiful treasury of memories I had stored away, not forgotten but not visited in a long time.

The Raymond Lodge Painting
As Sent By My Sister

The lodge was the Lazy Log Lodge, about five miles east of Raymond, Mississippi.  After World War I, a retired colonel built it, and my uncle Boyd bought it in the fifties.  It was a little over thirty-five acres, with a five-acre lake, and when he bought it, there was the log constructed main house, a caretaker's house, a horse barn, a sheep barn, and a pavilion.  

It was the site of many company and family gatherings.  I learned to ride a horse there and bait a hook there.  I told and heard many ghost stories there, and in the days when I barely got to see my dad because his career was so busy, I could spend time with him there. 

It had a massive brick barbeque that Kelly, the caretaker, once used to cook enough hamburgers to feed the entire St. Andrews eighth and ninth grade.  Some people got two!

Besides the main house being made of logs, I don't know why it was called "lazy log."  The colonel built the house himself with trees cut from the land and four sandstone fireplaces, made from the same sandstone quarried in Hinds County and used at the Jackson Zoo and Smith and Poindexter parks.

The horse barn burned down in the sixties, leaving only a mule cart with a broken axel, and the horses were moved to the sheep barn under the levee.  The pavilion was storm-damaged in the seventies and had to be torn down.  The whole farm was sold in the eighties to finance a project my dad was working on.  

The house and the pavilion were on a hill looking over the lake.  Mrs. Wolfe must have been sitting in the pavilion when she made the painting.  She would have been shaded, but her subject bathed in sunlight.  By the colors, it must have been fall.  Although I wasn't there that day, I can clearly see it in my mind.  I tried to find a photo I'd seen of her painting before to include here, but I couldn't find it.  Maybe it was in a book.  I'll keep looking.

My Grandparents were big fans of the Wolfe's, both from their studio work and their involvement in Millsaps.  I don't know exactly how the painting came to be.  Either they commissioned it from her, or she painted it as a gift.  I've seen other landscapes she made, but I didn't recognize the locations.  From the vantage point of the hill, she couldn't see the levee that created the lake, only the center part of it before smaller hills blocked the rest. 

Across the water in the painting is a medium-sized weeping willow tree.  There were four weeping willow trees around the lake, planted as saplings by the colonel himself.  By the time my dad sold the place, they were massive.  There was pretty good fishing under that willow tree, and it was a great place to water your horse.  One time my Uncle John said we could walk our horses all the way across the lake from there to the other side, and we did!  I was in trouble for getting my pants wet in the lake water, but boy, was it fun.

Veterans of the fabled Dixie Art Colony, Mildred, and Karl Wolfe, settled in Jackson, Mississippi, after World War II.  They started a studio and became a part of the fabric of central Mississippi and especially Millsaps College.  Some years they were the entire art department at Millsaps.  Karl became one of the most famous portrait artists in the state of Mississippi.  Mr. Wolfe's portrait of my uncle Boyd Campbell hung at Mississippi School Supply for many years and now hangs in Millsaps College.  Boyd also had a portrait done by Marie Hull, which was in my mom's house for many years, then my house, and now hangs in my sister's house.  My uncle had the hat trick of Mississippi portrait artists of the 1950s.

For many years, Karl's work overshadowed his wife, but by the 1980s, Mildred became more appreciated for her own work.  Both tended toward impressionism, but I always thought she did more than he.  I can't say that I prefer her paintings to his, but it's close.  She also worked in every other medium I can think of, including Ceramics (which I guess she's the most famous for now) and glass.  

Mrs. Wolfe and my paternal grandmother were friends.  I believe they played bridge together.  I was never invited to those parties.  There was a cluster of little old ladies in Jackson determined to bring arts and letters to our community, and they held Mildred Wolfe and Eudora Welty as proof of Mississippi's worthiness.  Looking back on it now, I guess they got what they wanted.

My grandmother Campbell had some forty-five paintings by Mississippi artists; three were by Mildred Wolfe and possibly two dozen of her ceramic birds.  My sister and aunt have them all now, and they're in good hands.

Signature On
The Raymond Lodge Painting
According to the signature on the Raymond Lodge landscape, I was three years old when Mrs. Wolfe finished it.  My uncle Boyd never lived to see it, but he would have loved it.  I cannot remember a time before this painting existed.

Before my sister's house, the Raymond lodge painting hung in the hallway of my grandparent's St Ann Street house in Bellhaven.  Across from it was the doorway to my Aunt Evelyn's bedroom, which became the guest room.  Visiting them, I saw it there my entire young life.  A well-made painting accomplishes so many things, not the least of which invoking happy memories, which this one did for me.  

I want to thank my sister, my brother, my brother-in-law, BeBe, and Mildred Wolfe for bringing all these memories back to me.

For more information about The Wolfe Studio and Wolfe Porceline Birds please visit their WEBSITE.

Karl and Mildred Wolfe 1950s

Karl and Mildred Wolfe 1950s

Hull Portrait
Campbell-Cooke Home

Wolfe Portrait
Millsaps College

Thursday, May 19, 2022

Ayn Rand and Andrew Ryan

For many years, I studied Ayn Rand's Objectivism pretty closely. I saw her ideas, combined with libertarianism, as the solution to most of our social and economic shortcomings.  

I had help, too. Libertarian commentators like James Randy and Penn Jillette guided me through the process, and I criticized, especially conservatives, who strayed from Rand's precepts. I never really considered the other side of the argument, though. I tend to be a very stubborn person and sometimes suffer from myopia on some issues.

A video game called Bioshock opened my eyes to the full spectrum of what Objectivism really meant. Rapture is The Fountainhead, and the introduction of a science fiction element called "plasmids" makes Rand's utopia unravel in the face of true human nature.

Never let anyone say you can't learn something from a video game.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

I Hate Andy Warhol

I never much cared for Andy Warhol. His contemporaries like Andrew Wyeth and Jackson Pollock did amazing things working with the traditional elements of painting like, form, line, light, color, and texture. Warhol had some mastery of these elements, but no more than the average art student.

The primary element of Warhol's work was culture. By presenting us with a rectangle full of familiar images, he re-contextualized the television experience. Television though, constantly contextualizes itself, so Warhol didn't really add anything.

People are more likely to buy a painting if there's somebody famous in it. Artists have been doing this for thousands of years. You can go down to Jackson Square in New Orleans this very afternoon and find a couple dozen artists doing exactly what Warhol did in that respect.

The art movement attributed to Warhol would have happened without him. The television experience was already producing dozens of artists doing exactly what Warhol did. By the time he retired, there would be thousands. Now that his techniques are fairly easy using a computer, there are millions.

Warhol's fame comes mainly from being at the right place in the right time. The New York art scene has a way of propagating and inflating bullshit to mammoth proportions and Warhol became its beneficiary. His work and his personality made him, effectivly, the Perez Hilton of his day.

I'm glad we live in a world where an artist can become as famous as Andy Warhol; I just wish it'd happen to better artists. My suspicion is that better artists would shun the social situations Warhol thrived on, and since those social situations are probably the biggest part of Warhol's fame, it's probably unlikely that a better artist will ever achieve his level of noteriety, at least in their lifetime.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

100 Years of Magic Drawings

Sometimes artists many years apart have similar ideas.

Below is J. Stuart Blackton's The Enchanted Drawing, produced in 1900


Over one hundred years later, Dutch artist Evelien Lohbeck updates Blackton's idea to incorporate modern technology.

Noteboek from Evelien Lohbeck on Vimeo.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Pop Stars Sing Puccini

Turandot is the fairy tale of a princess who riddles her suitors and if they fail, she beheads them. Calaf uses the power of true love to answer her riddles, but Princess Turandot still rejects him so he offers her a second chance: if she can guess his name by dawn she may still behead him, but if she cannot then she must marry him.

While Calaf waits for Turandot to guess his name, he sings Nessun Dorma, which translates to "None shall sleep tonight" and it is one of the most famous tenor arias ever.
Nessun dorma! Nessun dorma! Tu pure, o Principessa, nella tua fredda stanza, guardi le stelle che tremano d'amore, e di speranza!
None shall sleep! None shall sleep! Even you, O Princess, in your cold bedroom, watch the stars that tremble with love and with hope!

Ma il mio mistero è chiuso in me; il nome mio nessun saprà! No, No! Sulla tua bocca lo dirò quando la luce splenderà!
But my secret is hidden within me; none will know my name! No, no! On your mouth I will say it when the light shines!

Ed il mio bacio scioglierà il silenzio che ti fa mia!
And my kiss will dissolve the silence that makes you mine!

Dilegua, o notte! Tramontate, stelle! Tramontate, stelle! All'alba vincerò! Vincerò! Vincerò!
Vanish, o night! Set, stars! Set, stars! At daybreak I shall win! I shall win! I shall win!
Consider the following recordings of people singing Nessun Dorma. Some we know as opera singers, but others are more famous for other kinds of singing.

Mario Lanza

Link: YouTube

Luciano Pavarotti

Link: YouTube

Aretha Franklin

Link: YouTube

Michael Bolton

Link: YouTube

3 Redneck Tenors

Link: YouTube

Deep Purple (in English)

Link: YouTube

Manowar (Heavy Metal Band)

Link YouTube

Enrico Caruso

Link YouTube

Official Ted Lasso