Thursday, December 15, 2016

Dead Horse Bay Assemblage Playground

"In 1926, much of the salt marsh surrounding Dead Horse Bay and the rest of Barren Island were pumped with sand from Jamaica Bay. This raised the land to 16 feet above the high tide mark and connected the islands to each other, and the mainland of Brooklyn, in order to create Floyd Bennett Field as New York City's first municipal airport. The entire area, including the historic airfield, are now managed by the National Park Service as part of the Jamaica Bay Unit of the Gateway National Recreation Area
Today, school groups are taken to Dead Horse Bay on a regular basis to walk the Millstone trail, seine for a variety of fishes, and learn about the natural and cultural history of the area. Its shores are also a popular sport fishing spot, and home to a marina operating in Deep Creek as a National Park Service concession. Today one can find a large array of glass bottles and pieces of broken glass on the beach, along with old shoes and construction materials, many from the landfill which is now leaking. It is a popular place to collect strange decorative materials for artists and crafters." Wikipedia

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Doris Lessing: Reluctant Heroine

"Doris Lessing was out shopping for groceries when the Nobel Prize announcement came. Arriving home to a gathering of reporters, she exclaimed, "Oh Christ! "I've won all the prizes in Europe, every bloody one, so I'm delighted to win them all. It's a royal flush."She titled her Nobel Lecture On Not Winning the Nobel Prize and used it to draw attention to global inequality of opportunity and to explore changing attitudes to storytelling and literature. The lecture was later published in a limited edition to raise money for children made vulnerable by HIV/AIDS. Her final book, Alfred & Emily appeared in 2008.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Epic of Everest 1924 Silent Film

'Filming in brutally harsh conditions with a hand-cranked camera, Captain John Noel captured images of breathtaking beauty & considerable historic significance. The film is also among the earliest filmed records of life in Tibet & features sequences at Phari Dzong (Pagri), Shekar Dzong (Xegar) & Rongbuk monastery. But what resonates so deeply is Noel’s ability to frame the vulnerability, isolation & courage of people persevering in one of the world’s harshest landscapes.'

The restoration by the BFI National Archive has transformed the quality of the surviving elements of the film & reintroduced the original color tints & tones. Revealed by the restoration, few images in cinema are as epic, or moving, as the final shots of a blood red sunset over the Himalayas.'

For me, this film is an amazing meditation & should elicit profound gratitude to Noel for his courage to follow as far as possible the ultimately doomed Hillary/Irvine assent, but more importantly, early footage of the indigenous Tibetan people. This is an early British film & may not be the most politically correct, but it does speak to a population of Sherpa's & their families who have made Everest their home for centuries.

Sunday, November 29, 2015

The Lost Generation

The term stems from a remark made by Gertrude Stein to Ernest Hemingway, “You are all a lost generation.” Hemingway used it as an epigraph to The Sun Also Rises (1926), a novel that captures the attitudes of a hard-drinking, fast-living set of disillusioned young expatriates in postwar Paris.

'As the publication of Joyce’s Ulysses suggested in 1922, the Parisian cultural scene was more permissive of literature which confronted established mores & codes of behavior. Culturally as well as morally, Paris in the 1920s remained one of the most exciting, sophisticated cities in the world. Capital of the avant-garde in all its forms including, Modernists, Cubists, Dadaists, Futurists, Expressionists & Surrealists. These were the years of Picasso & Modigliani, Braque & Duchamp, Stravinski, Satie, Diaghilev & Cocteau. Radical developments in the visual & performing arts were mirrored in the Continental literature of the time, from the surrealist shock tactics of André Bréton & Guillaume Apollinaire, to the textual experimentation of Joyce and Beckett. It was into this vibrant, inspiring foment of idea & innovation that the self-imposed exiles of America’s “Lost Generation” flung themselves. Young radicals like Ernest Hemingway, Hart Crane & Ezra Pound & a little later on, Henry Miller & Anais Nin, published some of their most powerful & controversial works in the city.
On the face of it the sobriquet of “Lost Generation” seems an odd collective description for a group of writers & artists who were among the brightest flowering of American literary talent yet to emerge on the international stage, yet depicted this generation as characterised by doomed youth, hedonism, uncompromising creativity & wounded—both literally & metaphorically—by the experience of war. To varying degrees, these virtues and vices were to be found in the life-story of nearly every member of the Lost Generation. Aside from their wild lifestyles, though, what is most striking is the astonishing range, depth & influence of work produced by this community of American expatriates in Paris'

'Midnight in Paris' is a modern day retrospective on The Lost Generation as Woody Allen perceives it. Worth the watch.

Friday, June 12, 2015

Beatrice Wood, Potter, Died at 105 years!

"Beatrice Wood was an important contemporary artist, craft person and writer. Her life ran the course of the 20th century and included many of the figures that shaped it. Ultimately, her genius was in the marriage of wide-ranging influences in her work. The spirit of Dadaism, impact of Modernism, embrace of Eastern philosophy, influence of folk art and even the ornament of ethnic jewelry were all combined in her ceramics. Her work reveals a mastery of form, combined with a preference for the naïveté of folk art. Ultimately, it is impossible to separate her life experiences from the work she created, as she truly mastered the art of a life."

Tuesday, February 17, 2015


 Mike Meyers "Disfarmer" (1884-1959) was an eccentric photographer from Heber Springs, Arkansas who during the depression era needed a way to make money. The average cotton farmer made about $.75 a day for ten hours of work, yet on a Saturday they would come in to town & plunk down $.25 cents for a portrait with family, friends or even a glamour shot to send off to a boyfriend in the war. Children were terrified of him & the look of surprise on most of their faces was a reaction to Disfarmer who during the lengthy sitting period would suddenly ring a bell. They may have become alert during the lengthy sitting process, but also reacted with shock. Folks kept coming however to mark an occasion & he would make more in one day then they could hope to make in a few weeks or even months.

'Disfarmer's died in 1959 & a local named Joe Albright bought the Disfarmer studio from estate executors. As he & his sons picked through the abandoned studio, they found thousands of dollars hidden away in film plate boxes. The true bonanza was the discovery of more than 3,000 glass plate negatives. In 1974, professional photographer Peter Miller & his wife moved to Heber Springs to publish a weekly newspaper, The Arkansas Sun. When The Sun ran a main page feature called, "Some Day My Prints Will Come," featuring old family photographs submitted by readers, Albright submitted some of Disfarmer's work. Miller purchased the collection of negatives from Albright & forwarded copies to Julia Scully, editor of 'Modern Photography' magazine. Scully recognized the unique qualities of the photographs & since then has worked to bring Disfarmer's portraits into public view.'

The rising value of the prints caused profound changes to the Heber Springs Community when a 'scavenger hunt' ensued. Everyone began digging through old family photos trying to find a 'Disfarmer', & when they did, a print was made & the original handed back with $500, $1000, or more for each print! Of course some wouldn't part with them, but the rest started to have some extra money for business & pleasure. A recent Documentary named Disfarmer, tells the story of the man, the town & how lives changed. Fascinating.

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Vivien Maier : The Elusive Nanny/Photographer


A new documentary on the late Vivian Maier, (1926-2009) is about an eccentric nanny who secretly took over 100,000 photographs that were hidden in storage lockers & discovered decades later. She is now known as one of the 20th century’s greatest photographers.

Vivian never should have been a nanny, but during the time she was living, a single woman needed to make a living. Her photographs were urgent, raw, sad, gruesome, engaging, humorous & humorless. Above all they was REAL.

Vivian was tall, wounded, militant & explosive. Not the ideal nanny, as her charges would reveal towards the end of this documentary. In fact she was a woman wound up like a top, ( it was suspected she suffered sexual trauma as a child.) Perhaps this was why her photography felt like more of an obsession then a hobby & why she horded unprocessed film in canisters like the stacks of unread newspapers that warped the floor in her bedroom.

Did she mean for her storage unit to be invaded & bought by the man who made her famous? Probably not. The beauty of her work is still a sight to behold & the emotional content jarring.

"Vivian Maier, proud native of France and Chicago resident for the last 50 years died peacefully on Monday. Second mother to John, Lane and Matthew. A free and kindred spirit who magically touched the lives of all who knew her. Always ready to give her advice, opinion or a helping hand." The Chicago Tribune.