Tuesday, June 24, 2008


Plumpynut is a high protein and high energy peanut-based paste in a foil wrapper. It tastes slightly sweeter than peanut butter. It is categorized by the WHO as a Ready-to-Use Therapeutic Food (RUTF).

Plumpynut requires no preparation or special supervision, making it easy to deploy in difficult conditions. Plumpynut is very difficult to over eat and keeps even after opening. It has a 2 year shelf life when unopened. The product was inspired by the popular Nutella spread. It is manufactured by Nutriset, a French company, that specializes in making food supplements for relief work in their factory near Rouen in northern France. The ingredients are: peanut paste, vegetable oil, milk powder, powdered sugar, vitamins and minerals, combined in a foil pouch. Each pack provides 500 Calories.

Plumpynut contains vitamins A, B-complex, C, D, E and K, and minerals calcium, phosphorus, potassium, magnesium, zinc, copper, iron, iodine, sodium, and selenium.

Monday, June 23, 2008



Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Poetry in prison

Part One

When you made your mark
By Roland Fellows

When slipped out his
Cold and still electric body the
Steely hesitant scraping of your mark
The sudden taste of batteries in
His mouth and mine.
I remember a time when he was not afraid to say that he loved me
I remember when he recognized
This fear.
First he tried it on
A glove, a baseball mitt
Then he swallowed it
And it sunk to the bottom or is still yet sinking
And then he shunned all his love for me
The solid undeniable thump of his
Flesh meeting pavement as you looked one
Last time
And scurried away as frightened as he
When you made your mark

My boy, Raymond, Raymond Boyd Fel…he hated that name. Raymond Boyd! He told me that it had always been an embarrassment to him and surely I must have hated him to have so permanently affixed it to him. Raymond Boyd Fellows. I’m not ashamed. I will admit it. Believe you me...there was a time when I could not. My boy, he could make me feel real...dumb…stupid even. Like no one else ever could. And he knew it too. He could turn his hate in on me and I would subsequently make it my own. I’ve ground the sharpest tips of my teeth down on this very fact. He always had the power. And he knew it. How could a father hate his own son? How could a son hate his own father? It, is the only thing left..the only thing that I still hold. It is permanent. My son’s hatred for me.
I was a fool, with my “sins of the father shit!” He was 25 years-old before he could even tell me the truth. What a fool I was! A fucking fool! You know, when a father learns that his son is a...homosexual, it is like a slap to his face. I don't care who you are or what you are, an actual slap to the face. You know that you’ve done your very best to bring him up. You brought him up in the church and he knows the path to salvation, the road to righteousness. Raymond, my boy, he knew. But instead of offering him help, instead of extending to him, in his time of need, my own flesh and blood, a guiding, loving arm to bring him back to Jesus...I shuttered, and I shirked, and I gave way to human weakness and sought refuge in the word of God. And then I used the word of God so that I could, so that I would, not have to accept the truth.

His name was Thomas Caroline. He was born in the city of Paragould, in Greene County, Arkansas. His father worked for the railroad years before and his mother was somewhat of a celebrity in the county, known for her fine, award-winning embroidery. Thomas, it turns out was an average, not altogether exceptional boy who spent most of his days, in the summer, and in the winter, reading The Bible. The Saint Louis and Iron Mountain Railroad, later to be known as the Missouri Pacific, employed his father until he was injured grievously in an inexcusably neglectful event forcing his father to seek subsistence from the state. His father festered without solace and in the end took his own life, leaving Thomas and his mother alone, together.
I suppose in some…ways, he and Raymond…had…that in common. Raymond was a very devout young Christian. He had a very, very, fiercely sincere heart and the lord was his one and constant love. I, understand, that Mr. Caroline led a similarly, sincere, life with the lord, both, washed in the blood of the lamb.
I had no use for it. To me, poetry was a thing of man. A concoction, a crafty concoction. Say what you mean I always told him. I always tried to be straightforward, and saw no reason why any man should hide behind words. Make a fact of it I say. Raymond would try, I recall now, many years before, to read to me, to try and coax a common bond from words, between us, words that only irritated me and left him staring coldly with those black eyes of his. Many times I heard distinct mumblings from his lips, though no specific consternation or disapproval could be discerned. But I felt it, full on and without fuss, his utter disgust in my lack of intellectual fortitude.
I nearly lost my footing that Saturday morning, nearly falling on the kitchen tiles. I nearly put my hand on the open flame reaching to the stove for balance. A half-page spread, of a picture, of him, holding out a scrawled on piece of paper, holding a book. This, Mr. Thomas Caroline it appeared had “won” some sort of community writing contest. He did not smile. He stood, in the picture, in one hand a book, which did not look unfamiliar to me, the other holding up the paper. I could see, although the newspaper was in black and white, the shape of some sort of ribbon. “Blue,” I thought. A blue ribbon.
The Cummins Unit, formerly known as Cummins State Farm is a 16,000 acre correctional facility located 28 miles south of Pine Bluff, off Highway 65 near the town of Grady in Lincoln County, Arkansas. It first opened in 1902 and has a capacity of 1725 inmates. Cummins Unit housed Arkansas’s death row until 1986, when it was transferred to the new Maximum Security Unit. And it was now to be the final stop for my son’s killer.


Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Landford Wilson

Lanford Wilson (born on April 13, 1937 in Lebanon, Missouri) is an American playwright. As an openly gay man, his work has featured many gay themes and characters.

He was raised in the Ozarks until, as a teenager, he moved to California to live with his father, from whom his mother had been long divorced. He began his career as a playwright in the early 1960s at the Caffe Cino in Greenwich Village with one-act plays such as Ludlow Fair, Home Free, and The Madness of Lady Bright. He soon moved to off-Broadway with Balm in Gilead in 1965 and The Rimers of Eldritch in 1965. Wilson was a founding member of the Circle Repertory Company, (better known as Circle Rep) which began in 1969.

Many of his plays were first presented there, with long standing directorial collaborative partner Marshall W. Mason, including Hot L Baltimore, which won the New York Drama Critics' Circle Award, the Outer Critics Circle Award, and the Obie Award, and Fifth of July, which later had a successful production on Broadway. Wilson's 1979 play, Talley's Folly won the Pulitzer Prize for drama.

Fifth of July, Talley's Folly, and Talley and Son are all part of the Talley trilogy cycle of plays, revolving around the Talley family of Lebanon, Missouri.

In 2004, Wilson became a member of the American Academy for Arts and Letters.

In addition to writing plays, Wilson has written the texts for several twentieth century operas, including at least two collaborations with composer Lee Hoiby: Summer and Smoke (1971) and This is the Rill Speaking (1992).


* Ludlow Fair
* Home Free
* The Madness of Lady Bright
* Balm in Gilead (1965)
* The Rimers of Eldritch (1965)
* The Gingham Dog (1968)
* Lemon Sky (1970)
* Serenading Louie (1970)
* Hot L Baltimore (1973)
* The Mound Builders (1975)
* Fifth of July (1979)
* Talley's Folly (1979)
* A Tale Told (1981, later revised and renamed "Talley & Son")
* Angels Fall (1983)
* Burn This (1987)
* Redwood Curtain (1993)
* Sympathetic Magic (1998)
* Book of Days (2000)
* Rain Dance
* Wandering

Boys and Sondheim, a singularly most fabulous phenomonon

Monday, June 16, 2008

Universal Declaration of Human Rights


Whereas recognition of the inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family is the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world,

Whereas disregard and contempt for human rights have resulted in barbarous acts which have outraged the conscience of mankind, and the advent of a world in which human beings shall enjoy freedom of speech and belief and freedom from fear and want has been proclaimed as the highest aspiration of the common people,

Whereas it is essential, if man is not to be compelled to have recourse, as a last resort, to rebellion against tyranny and oppression, that human rights should be protected by the rule of law,

Whereas it is essential to promote the development of friendly relations between nations,

Whereas the peoples of the United Nations have in the Charter reaffirmed their faith in fundamental human rights, in the dignity and worth of the human person and in the equal rights of men and women and have determined to promote social progress and better standards of life in larger freedom,

Whereas Member States have pledged themselves to achieve, in cooperation with the United Nations, the promotion of universal respect for and observance of human rights and fundamental freedoms,

Whereas a common understanding of these rights and freedoms is of the greatest importance for the full realization of this pledge,

Now, therefore,
The General Assembly


This Universal Declaration of Human Rights

as a common standard of achievement for all peoples and all nations, to the end that every individual and every organ of society, keeping this Declaration constantly in mind, shall strive by teaching and education to promote respect for these rights and freedoms and by progressive measures, national and international, to secure their universal and effective recognition and observance, both among the peoples of Member States themselves and among the peoples of territories under their jurisdiction.

Article I

All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.

Article 2

Everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration, without distinction of any kind, such as race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status.

Furthermore, no distinction shall be made on the basis of the political, jurisdictional or international status of the country or territory to which a person belongs, whether it be independent, trust, non-self-governing or under any other limitation of sovereignty.

Article 3

Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person.

Article 4

No one shall be held in slavery or servitude; slavery and the slave trade shall be prohibited in all their forms.

Article 5

No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.

Article 6

Everyone has the right to recognition everywhere as a person before the law.

Article 7

All are equal before the law and are entitled without any discrimination to equal protection of the law. All are entitled to equal protection against any discrimination in violation of this Declaration and against any incitement to such discrimination.

Article 8

Everyone has the right to an effective remedy by the competent national tribunals for acts violating the fundamental rights granted him by the constitution or by law.

Article 9

No one shall be subjected to arbitrary arrest, detention or exile.

Article 10

Everyone is entitled in full equality to a fair and public hearing by an independent and impartial tribunal, in the determination of his rights and obligations and of any criminal charge against him.

Article 11

(1) Everyone charged with a penal offence has the right to be presumed innocent until proved guilty according to law in a public trial at which he has had all the guarantees necessary for his defence.

(2) No one shall be held guilty of any penal offence on account of any act or omission which did not constitute a penal offence, under national or international law, at the time when it was committed. Nor shall a heavier penalty be imposed than the one that was applicable at the time the penal offence was committed.

Article 12

No one shall be subjected to arbitrary interference with his privacy, family, home or correspondence, nor to attacks upon his honour and reputation. Everyone has the right to the protection of the law against such interference or attacks.

Article 13

(1) Everyone has the right to freedom of movement and residence within the borders of each State.

(2) Everyone has the right to leave any country, including his own, and to return to his country.

Article 14

(1) Everyone has the right to seek and to enjoy in other countries asylum from persecution.

(2) This right may not be invoked in the case of prosecutions genuinely arising from non-political crimes or from acts contrary to the purposes and principles of the United Nations.

Article 15

(1) Everyone has the right to a nationality.

(2) No one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his nationality nor denied the right to change his nationality.

Article 16

(1) Men and women of full age, without any limitation due to race, nationality or religion, have the right to marry and to found a family. They are entitled to equal rights as to marriage, during marriage and at its dissolution.

(2) Marriage shall be entered into only with the free and full consent of the intending spouses.

(3) The family is the natural and fundamental group unit of society and is entitled to protection by society and the State.

Article 17

(1) Everyone has the right to own property alone as well as in association with others.

(2) No one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his property.

Article 18

Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship and observance.

Article 19

Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.

Article 20

(1) Everyone has the right to freedom of peaceful assembly and association.

(2) No one may be compelled to belong to an association.

Article 21

(1) Everyone has the right to take part in the government of his country, directly or through freely chosen representatives.

(2) Everyone has the right to equal access to public service in his country.

(3) The will of the people shall be the basis of the authority of government; this will shall be expressed in periodic and genuine elections which shall be by universal and equal suffrage and shall be held by secret vote or by equivalent free voting procedures.

Article 22

Everyone, as a member of society, has the right to social security and is entitled to realization, through national effort and international co-operation and in accordance with the organization and resources of each State, of the economic, social and cultural rights indispensable for his dignity and the free development of his personality.

Article 23

(1) Everyone has the right to work, to free choice of employment, to just and favourable conditions of work and to protection against unemployment.

(2) Everyone, without any discrimination, has the right to equal pay for equal work.

(3) Everyone who works has the right to just and favourable remuneration ensuring for himself and his family an existence worthy of human dignity, and supplemented, if necessary, by other means of social protection.

(4) Everyone has the right to form and to join trade unions for the protection of his interests.

Article 24

Everyone has the right to rest and leisure, including reasonable limitation of working hours and periodic holidays with pay.

Article 25

(1) Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services, and the right to security in the event of unemployment, sickness, disability, widowhood, old age or other lack of livelihood in circumstances beyond his control.

(2) Motherhood and childhood are entitled to special care and assistance. All children, whether born in or out of wedlock, shall enjoy the same social protection.

Article 26

(1) Everyone has the right to education. Education shall be free, at least in the elementary and fundamental stages. Elementary education shall be compulsory. Technical and professional education shall be made generally available and higher education shall be equally accessible to all on the basis of merit.

(2) Education shall be directed to the full development of the human personality and to the strengthening of respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms. It shall promote understanding, tolerance and friendship among all nations, racial or religious groups, and shall further the activities of the United Nations for the maintenance of peace.

(3) Parents have a prior right to choose the kind of education that shall be given to their children.

Article 27

(1) Everyone has the right freely to participate in the cultural life of the community, to enjoy the arts and to share in scientific advancement and its benefits.

(2) Everyone has the right to the protection of the moral and material interests resulting from any scientific, literary or artistic production of which he is the author.

Article 28

Everyone is entitled to a social and international order in which the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration can be fully realized.

Article 29

(1) Everyone has duties to the community in which alone the free and full development of his personality is possible.

(2) In the exercise of his rights and freedoms, everyone shall be subject only to such limitations as are determined by law solely for the purpose of securing due recognition and respect for the rights and freedoms of others and of meeting the just requirements of morality, public order and the general welfare in a democratic society.

(3) These rights and freedoms may in no case be exercised contrary to the purposes and principles of the United Nations.

Article 30

Nothing in this Declaration may be interpreted as implying for any State, group or person any right to engage in any activity or to perform any act aimed at the destruction of any of the rights and freedoms set forth herein.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

John Hartford

It's knowin' that your door is always open
And your path is free to walk
That makes me tend to leave my sleepin' bag
Rolled up and stashed behind your couch
And it's knowin' I'm not shackled
By forgotten words and bonds
And the ink stains that have dried upon some line
That keeps you in the back roads
By the rivers of my memory
That keeps you ever gentle on my mind

It's not clingin' to the rocks and ivy
Planted on their columns now that bind me
Or something that somebody said because
They thought we fit together walkin'
It's just knowing that the world
Will not be cursing or forgiving
When I walk along some railroad track and find
That you're movin' on the back roads
By the rivers of my memory
And for hours you're just gentle on my mind

Though the wheat fields and the clothes lines
And the junkyards and the highways come between us
And some other woman's cryin' to her mother
'cause she turned and I was gone
I still might run in silence
Tears of joy might stain my face
And the summer sun might burn me till I'm blind
But not to where I cannot see
You walkin' on the back roads
By the rivers flowin' gentle on my mind

I dip my cup of soup back from a gurglin' cracklin' cauldron
In some train yard
My beard a rustlin' coal pile
And a dirty hat pulled low across my face
Through cupped hands 'round a tin can
I pretend to hold you to my breast and find
That you're waitin' from the back roads
By the rivers of my memory
Ever smilin', ever gentle on my mind

John Harford (he would change his name to Hartford later in life at the behest of Chet Atkins) was born on December 30, 1937 in New York City to parents Dr. Carl and Mary Harford. He spent his childhood in St. Louis, Missouri. There he was exposed to the influence that would shape much of his career and music, the Mississippi River. From the time he got his first job on the river, at age 16, Hartford was on, around, or singing about the river.

His early musical influences came from the broadcasts of the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville, and included Earl Scruggs, nominal inventor of the three-finger bluegrass style of banjo playing. Hartford said often that the first time he heard Earl Scruggs pick the banjo changed his life. By age 13, Hartford was an accomplished old-time fiddler and banjo player, and he soon learned to play guitar and mandolin as well. Hartford formed his first bluegrass band while still in high school at John Burroughs School. After high school he enrolled at Washington University, completed 4 years of a commercial arts program and dropped out to focus on his music, however he did later receive a degree in 1960. He immersed himself in the local music scene, working as a DJ, playing in bands, and occasionally recording singles for local labels. In 1965, he moved to Nashville, the center of the country music industry. In 1966, he signed with RCA Victor, and produced his first album, Looks at Life, in the same year.

In 1967, Hartford's second album Earthwords & Music spawned his first major hit, "Gentle On My Mind." His recording of the song was only a modest success, but it caught the notice of Glen Campbell, who recorded his own version, which gave the song much wider publication. At the 1968 Grammies, the song netted four awards, two of which went to Hartford; just as importantly, it became one of the most widely recorded country songs of all time, and the royalties it brought in allowed Hartford great financial independence; Hartford would later say that the song bought his freedom.[1] As his popularity grew, he moved to the West Coast, where he became a regular on the "Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour"; other television appearances followed, as did recording appearances with several major country artists. The success on "SmoBro" was enough that Hartford was offered the lead role in a TV detective series but he turned it down to move back to Nashville and concentrate on his music. He also was a regular on Campbell's and Johnny Cash's television shows.


During the years 1968-1970, Hartford recorded four more albums for RCA: The Love Album, Housing Project, John Hartford, and Iron Mountain Depot. In 1971, He moved over to Warner Bros. Records, where he was given more freedom to record in his untraditional style. There, fronting a band that included Vassar Clements, Tut Taylor and Norman Blake, he recorded several albums that set the tone of his later career, including the acclaimed Aereo-Plain and Morning Bugle. Of the former, Sam Bush said "Without Aereo-Plain (and the Aereo-Plain band), there would be no newgrass music."[2]

Switching several years later to the Flying Fish label, Hartford continued to participate in the experimentation with nontraditional country and bluegrass styles that he and artists such as Bush were engaging in at the time. Among his recordings were two albums in 1977 and 1980 with Doug and Rodney Dillard from The Dillards, with Bush as a backing musician, and featuring a diversity of songs that included "Boogie On Reggae Woman" and "Yakety Yak".[3]

Hartford's Grammy-winning Mark Twang features Hartford playing solo, reminiscent of his live solo performances playing the fiddle, guitar, banjo, and amplified plywood for tapping his feet. At the same time, he developed a stage show, which toured in various forms from the mid 1970s until shortly before his death.

Hartford went on to change labels several more times during his career; in 1991, he inaugurated his own Small Dog a'Barkin' label. Later in the 1990s, he switched again, to the Rounder label. On that label and a number of smaller labels, he recorded a number of idiosyncratic records, many of which harkened back to earlier forms of folk and country music. Among them was the 1999 album, Retrograss, recorded with Mike Seeger and David Grisman, offering bluegrass takes on such songs as "(Sittin' on) the Dock of the Bay", "Maybellene", "When I'm Sixty-Four" and "Maggie's Farm".

He recorded several songs for the soundtrack to the movie O Brother, Where Art Thou, winning another Grammy for his performance, and made his final tour in 2001 with the Down from the Mountain tour that grew out of that movie and its accompanying album. While performing in Texas in April that year, he found he could no longer control his hands due to a more than 20 year bout with non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma and his career was finished.

Though Hartford is considered a co-founder in the newgrass movement, he remained deeply attached to traditional music as well. His last band and last few albums reflect his love for pre-bluegrass old-time music. According to an interview with Don Swain, he described his love for the rare and nearly forgotten fiddle tunes of the Appalachians and Missouri foothills.

The dichotomy is one of the most attractive characteristics of Hartford, that while he was on the leading edge of expanding the boundaries of traditional music, he remained deeply connected to the roots of American folk music as well.


The culture of the Mississippi River and its steamboats captivated Hartford from an early age. He said that it would have been his life's work "but music got in the way," so he intertwined them whenever possible. In the '70s, Hartford earned his steamboat pilot's license, which he used to keep close to the river he loved; for many years, he worked as a pilot on the steamboat Julia Belle Swain during the summers. He also worked as a towboat pilot on the Mississippi, Illinois, and Tennessee rivers.

During his later years, he came back to the river every summer. "Working as a pilot is a labor of love," he said. "After a while, it becomes a metaphor for a whole lot of things, and I find for some mysterious reason that if I stay in touch with it, things seem to work out all right." His home in Madison, Tennessee was situated on a bend of the Cumberland River and built to simulate the view from a steamboat deck.

An accomplished fiddler and banjo player, Hartford was simultaneously an innovative voice on the country scene and a thrilling reminder of a vanished era. Along with his own compositions, such as Long Hot Summer Days and Kentucky Pool, Hartford was a voluminous repository of old river songs, calls, and stories. He could spend hours talking about the glory days of steamboating or demonstrating the lead calls that the river's most famous chronicler took as his name, "Mark Twain" (or "two fathoms"). Hartford was also the author of Steamboat in a Cornfield, a children's book that recounts the true story of the Ohio River steamboat The Virginia and its somewhat comical beaching in a cornfield.
Final years

At the time of his death, Hartford was also working on the biography of the blind fiddler Ed Haley. Hartford's album Wild Hog in the Red Bush is a collection of Haley's tunes. Hartford also provided narration for several of Ken Burns' documentaries.

Hartford was given a star on the St. Louis Walk of Fame.

From the 1980s onwards, Hartford struggled with non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma. On June 4, 2001 at Centennial Medical Center in Nashville, at age 63, he died of the disease.

In honor of his work, he was given a posthumous Lifetime Achievement award by the Americana Music Association in September 2005.


Hartford recorded more than 30 albums, ranging across a broad spectrum of styles--from the traditional country of his early RCA recordings, to the new and experimental sound of his early newgrass recordings, to the traditional folk style to which he often returned later in his life. Hartford's albums also vary widely in formality, from the stately and orderly Annual Waltz to the rougher and less cut recordings that typified many of his later albums.

Aereo-Plain and Morning Bugle are often considered to be Hartford's most influential work, coming as they did at the very beginning of a period in which artists such as Hartford and the New Grass Revival, led by Sam Bush, would create a new form of country music, blending their country backgrounds with influences from a number of other sources. His later years saw a number of live albums, as well as recordings that explored the repertoire of old-time folk music. He sketched the cover art for some of his mid-career albums, drawing with both hands simultaneously.

Hartford is remembered as an influential and pioneering artist. Never bound by the limitations of one genre, he recorded wherever his interests led him. Performing and recording until his illness rendered him incapable of continuing, Hartford contributed a vast and unique body of work to the library of American music.


* 1967 Earthwords And Music
* 1967 Looks At Life
* 1968 The Love Album
* 1968 Housing Project
* 1968 Gentle On My Mind
* 1969 John Hartford
* 1970 Iron Mountain Depot
* 1971 Aereo-Plain
* 1972 Morning Bugle
* 1976 Nobody Knows What You Do
* 1976 Mark Twang
* 1977 Dillard-Hartford-Dillard
* 1977 All In The Name Of Love
* 1978 Headin' Down Into The Mystery Below
* 1979 Slumberin' On The Cumberland
* 1980 You And Me At Home
* 1980 Permanent Wave
* 1981 Catalogue
* 1984 Gum Tree Canoe
* 1987 Clements, Hartford, Holland
* 1987 Annual Waltz
* 1987 Me Oh My, How the Time Does Fly
* 1989 Down on the River
* 1991 Hartford and Hartford
* 1991 Cadillac Rag
* 1992 Goin' Back to Dixie
* 1994 The Walls We Bounce Off Of
* 1994 Old Sport
* 1995 The Fun of Open Discussion
* 1996 No End of Love
* 1996 Wild Hog In The Red Brush
* 1998 The Bullies Have All Gone to Rest (accreditato a Jim Wood e John Hartford)
* 1998 The Speed of the Old Long Bow
* 1999 Retrograss
* 1999 Good Old Boys

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Jean Nouvel

Jean Nouvel (born 12 August 1945) is a French architect. Nouvel studied at the École des Beaux-Arts in Paris and was a founding member of Mars 1976 and Syndicat de l'Architecture. He has obtained a number of prestigious distinctions over the course of his career, including the Aga Khan Award for Architecture (technically, the prize was awarded for the Institut du Monde Arabe which Nouvel designed), the Wolf Prize in Arts in 2005 and the Pritzker Prize in 2008. A number of museums and architectural centres have presented retrospectives of his work.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Robert Gober

Robert Gober is an American sculptor, who was born in Wallingford, Connecticut, September 12, 1954. He studied at Middlebury College, Vermont and the Tyler School of Art in Rome. He lives and works in New York City. He is best known for his sculptures, but also has made photographs, prints, and drawings and has curated exhibitions. He has had exhibitions of his work in Europe, North America and Japan. One of his most well known series of works was of sculptures of sinks. He has made many sculptures of everyday objects, showing familiar things as well as strange ones.

His work is often related to domestic and familiar objects such as sinks, doors, and legs, and has themes of nature, sexuality, religion, and politics. The sculptures are meticulously handcrafted, even when they appear to just be a re-creation of a common sink.

His work is in many museum collections, including the Whitney Museum of American Art, The Museum of Modern Art, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, The Menil Collection and the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden. He represented the United States at the 2001 Venice Biennale and has had several one-person museum exhibitions including at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, the Jeu de Paume, Paris, and Dia Center for the Arts, New York. His work has also been included in five Whitney Biennials. In 2007 there was a retrospective exhibition of his work at the Schaulager in Basel. The exhibition was accompanied by a comprehensive book of his sculptures entitled Robert Gober. Sculptures and Installations 1979-2007.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Somebody Loves Me by Jack Chick

Zaha Hadid

Zaha Hadid was born October 31, 1950 in Baghdad, Iraq. She received a degree in mathematics from the American University of Beirut before moving to study at the Architectural Association School of Architecture in London. After graduating she worked with her former teachers, Rem Koolhaas and Elia Zenghelis at the Office for Metropolitan Architecture, becoming a partner in 1977. It was with Koolhaas that she met Peter Rice who gave her support and encouragement early on, at a time when her work seemed difficult to build. In 1980 she established her own London-based practice. During the 1980s she also taught at the Architectural Association. She has also taught at prestigious institutions around the world; she held the Kenzo Tange Chair at the Graduate School of Design, Harvard University, the Sullivan Chair at the University of Illinois School of Architecture in Chicago, guest professorships at the Hochschule für Bildende Künste in Hamburg, the Knolton School of Architecture, at the Ohio State University, the Masters Studio at Columbia University, New York and the Eero Saarinen Visiting Professor of Architectural Design at Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut. In addition, she was made Honorary Member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters and Fellow of the American Institute of Architects. She is currently Professor at the University of Applied Arts Vienna in Austria.

A winner of many international competitions, theoretically influential and groundbreaking, a number of Hadid's winning designs were initially never built: notably, The Peak Club in Hong Kong (1983) and the Cardiff Bay Opera House in Wales (1994). In 2002 Hadid won the international design competition to design Singapore's one-north masterplan. In 2005, her design won the competition for the new city casino of Basel, Switzerland. In 2004 Hadid became the first female recipient of the Pritzker Architecture Prize, architecture's equivalent of the Nobel Prize. Previously, she had been awarded a CBE for services to architecture. She is a member of the editorial board of the Encyclopædia Britannica. In 2006, Hadid was honoured with a retrospective spanning her entire work at the Guggenheim Museum in New York. In that year she also received an Honorary Degree from the American University of Beirut.

Thursday, June 5, 2008


Part One

Feeling pretty useless, worthless right now. Thought I would try to write something. Writing this without the slightest idea of what to write. Then, I remember this, something I wrote when I thought I had something to write about. It is called, Michael.

Thursday afternoon.
The southern California sun is undeniable.
If one could see from beneath a shroud?
I’m in the back of the van with keyboard and cello, somewhere in Orange County, beneath the Orange Curtain as they say. I get a call from an old friend. But I miss it so I have to listen to his message.
I don’t have a chance to call him until I get back home to San Francisco.
I call Michael. His father’s had a series of heart attacks and is on life support. Michael sounds somewhat upset. He manages to tell me what’s happened and then falls apart at the end.
I tell him I will call him the next day. He and his sister are trying to figure out what happens next. What to do. The next day I call him and they’re still trying to figure it out.
At the end of our conversation, he seems to falter again, becoming even weepy. I don’t know what to say to him, so I say goodbye.
Two days later I get the call. He and his sister sat in the room with him as the nurses and attendants removed all of the equipment. It was 5:30 in the afternoon. The sun was just barely receding, loaming around the tops of the mountains. He and his sister sat in the room until 9:30 the next morning, when suddenly, their father ceased to exist. He lay there, a silent memory, becoming smaller and smaller and then seemingly tucked away.
I talk to Michael until it seems he is finished. We talk about old friends and how we used to get into fights. Go looking for fights. Girls. Boys. He says that it’s to be a traditional Jewish funeral. I’ve never been and I immediately think about the wooden coffin. The yarmulke. I think about my own father. I’m pretty broke so I can’t really afford to go back down to So Cal. I feel shitty about it. Michael offers to pay for a flight. In the end, he and his sister talk me into it. I feel badly because I don’t want to be a burden on them, especially at this time in their lives. Quietly Michael whispers into the receiver, “hey! If it means anything, my dad left me a shit load of cash.” I say, perhaps overly so, “really? That’s awesome.” Michael says, “I’d rather have my dad.” I feel shittier now. We agree that I will fly down for the funeral and he will drive me back to S.F. He needs to take a drive and get away from it all he says.

I wrote this exactly one week ago today.

Micheal got up early this morning while I was still asleep, the sun not yet up, and drove back home.

I had every intention of writing a story that might be funny. Sad…and funny. I was sure that in writing what I considered then to be prologue, by story’s end, would wind up being, in the very least, “messy.” Sad, funny…and messy. I was convinced, that once Micheal and I got to San Francisco, it would be one endless taxicab ride to the strip clubs where he would, as he would put it, “get laid.” I would pay the entrance fees and watch an “international” parade of debutantes; bad, bad girls flashing their tits and plotting, conjuring up ways to make their daddies smile, paternal and otherwise. He’d spend close to two thousand dollars on couch dances and maybe a good hard rub, only in the end to fall deeper into a black vortex of shame, hatred and regret. In my story, I’d concocted what could only be called over-embellishment, when late one night, Michael and I would score some ecstasy and really, “bare our souls” to each other. We always had, I don’t know why it should have changed over the years, done these things. How many late nights I’d spent with him arguing anything and nothing at all, marveling in each other’s uneducated intellects. How many times I’d recall, staring at the top of his shining bald scalp, all the cruel, fucked up things my father had said about, “The Jews!”

In truth, there were only a couple instances that might be found to be of any humorous bent.

Getting drunk with his family, who, in the past, have been pretty much tea-totaling “re-formed” Jews. I hadn’t seen his sister in at least ten years. She and her husband, a year before had undergone gastric bi-pass surgeries, and were now basking in their new lives of thinness. Truth be told, his sister scared the shit out of me when she showed up that first night. I could not believe what I was seeing. For a useful bit of comparative thought, though I usually shutter at such derisive and unimaginative measures, just imagine, a stick next to a tree, and you will begin to imagine the magnitude of my reaction to her startling wait loss and undeniable transformation. We’re all sitting around in the back yard of his sister’s newly financed, “dream back yard,” complete with swimming Jacuzzi and water falls, when I find myself altogether suddenly engrossed in a slightly inebriated conversation with his sister’s husband about Calvin and his years at Bob Jones University. That reads as if Calvin attended this notoriously “flat headed” school. Never my intention. But the wine, straight from the central valley I’m told by his sister, continued to pour. Tongues waggled, toes twittled, a few toasts to the dearly departed. Silence. And then more silence.


The Rabbi recited the 23rd Psalm, first in Hebrew and then in English. But not the standard King James Version, no, it was of a decidedly more modern translation. So, those in attendance, who thought it necessary or perhaps even required to recite aloud, found themselves accidentally mumbling like a teenage girl who thinks she knows the words to a popular song, at times lost. I felt stupid in my disposable yarmulke. Now and then, someone would look up and then peripherally for some sort of assurance. Blessed Assurance I believe is what they call it. For once, I felt like my father’s son.
An old lady chorus group, which called themselves The Angels Choir, sang an old diddy called, “Always. “ I don’t know if it was the song or the sad drooping lilac’s singing, bound to grace, inescapably, but I did cry. But every single one of them saw right through me. They did not see my tears. I do not know why I think they would. They saw right through me and out past the stain glassed windows whose normal depictions of The Stations of The Cross were now covered with simple and plainly painted clay Stars of David. The coffin was wood, covered with strangely bright orange and red lilies. Too bright, I thought.

Part Two

And then I found out, apparently, on the morning of the funeral, that I was to be one of the poll bearers. This was fine. I’d never done it before. I figured, why not, if not just for the experience. And it WOULD have been just fine, just fine. If, that morning, if upon waking, before anyone told me of my entailed duties, I hadn’t smoked three whole joints!

When the hearse arrived I was summoned by the funeral director to hither come, so I hithered accordingly. He was a pock marked little man with skin the color of pale yellow cheese. He wore tinted aviator glasses and his cheap shirt was at least one size too big. His collar looked comical and if you looked too closely you might see some small speck of dried blood just on the crease. I thought it really strange to be suddenly carrying the remains of a beloved family member, of a beloved friend, along with five other men, none of whom I’d ever even met. A quick perusal saw one extremely tall bald man, a well-dressed, youngish black guy behind me, and a thin man with salt and pepper hair in a very bad suit, navy blue, behind the black guy. Then across the way, standing with the tall guy were two guys whom I cannot for whatever reason recall at all. We were quickly, one might call it, “on-the-job-training,” instructed as to what to do next. Whilst this was happening, in an unexplainable attempt to avoid eye contact with the others, I looked over and saw a rather large mound of dirt, covered with a green astro-turph tarpaulin, and next to it, a most undeniable hole. There was shining, chrome…stainless steel, metal scaffolding stationed around the perimeter of said hole, and beneath it, framing the rough edges, were long wooden planks. Then I saw the rabbi, and not just the rabbi, but another guy who it turned out was the director and caretaker of this specific Jewish part of the cemetery, now both standing on the boards, as if to test their strength. And these were not large men. In fact, they were quite small. The boards sprung up and down with a certain comical BOING! I surmised further that from where I was standing, I would be forced to carry the casket with my left hand. I thought I’d take a quick survey of these nameless strangers to try and find out who would like to switch with me since I was no southpaw. But buy then it was much too late. The funeral director, bony hand like a bleached poplar branch outstretched, swung open the back of the hearse, reached in and unscrewed a stainless steel latch that bracketed the casket to the hearse floor. We were told to stand with our carrying arms inward and to face forward. This was easy enough I thought, although once the weight of the thing was separated from the horizontal bracing of the hearse it became considerably heavier. I felt suddenly very week. Why didn’t I get on the right side! I would surely drop the damned thing and then no amount of cleverness could explain everyone’s subsequent horror. But by then we were halfway to the grave. As we approached, suddenly I realized that the mound of freshly unearthed soil was piled much too closely to the actual grave. We were less than three feet away when suddenly I froze. All eyes were on us. I realized then, that we were to walk up and onto the boards. This just couldn’t be. We would surely snap the wooden planks into, causing the whole thing to collapse, and subsequently we would all land somehow less than respectfully square in the middle of irretrievable and repugnant regret. Standing dead still now, only a few feet from the grave, suddenly the funeral director gave a motion for us to change positions. And then, as if trained professionals, somehow all six of us did just that, and suddenly found ourselves facing one another, staring dead into each other’s eyes, all twelve of our hands bone white, now bracing the coffin. Once we got to the edge of the grave, I heard someone say, “Step up and onto the boards.” I turned to the funeral director whose lips were tightly pursed and seemingly stained purple. Next, holding tightly to the casket, all six of us turned our bodies sideways and slowly proceeded to navigate, inch by inch, across the boards. I felt sort of silly walking this way, and if not for sheer necessity, I might have even found it all quite humorous, like those racy black and white cartoons from the 30’s depicting black faced vaudevillians doing voodoo dances and singing about Alabama or The Devil in Ole Black Joe. Once the weight of not just the tall bald man, the young black guy, the two aforesaid and hitherto anonymous men, the guy with the salt and pepper hair in less than attractive attire, myself and the casket were completely, that is, the full weight, on the planks, I felt them, the planks, suddenly give, slightly. This was it! I panicked! But just as my stomach sank and I swallowed real hard, we somehow continued on and across the length of the grave, finally making it all the way across. And then leaning clumsily forward, the six of us held our breath as we let go of the casket, letting it fall onto the straps which miraculously caught it and held it in place, taking the burden from us. The six of us disappeared into the crowd never to see each other again.

And then, just as I thought the worst of it was over, just as the rabbi turned the shining silver crank to lower the casket into the grave, everything suddenly stopped. The coffin froze. It would go no further.

Part Three

My name is Michael Blume. I have recently been made an orphan. In the literal sense only I suppose. Can a grown man be called or call himself an orphan? I’m in San Francisco. I guess I’ll be leaving tomorrow morning, early I guess. I think I just got off the bus at the wrong place. I’m on Van Ness and Market. I stand at the bus stop. A green trolley rolls on at a snail’s pace but somehow sounds thunderous from the rails below. The wind is really whipping up a fury. I am a lousy Jew. We used to call it reformed. I guess some still do. I don’t know shit about…Judaism? Is that what it’s called? I’d ask my dear old dad if he was still with me. I’d call him up and I would say, “hey dad! Why is it exactly that I don’t know squat about being a Jew?” He’d mumble something into the receiver, all insulted and shit, and probably hang up on me. Or else he’d make a joke. A really bad one. He’d say, “Son, did you know that we had relatives who died in Auschwitz?” I would pause and say, “No dad! Are you kidding? No I didn’t!” He would pause, chuckling, I can hear his exact chuckle right now, and then he’d say, “yeah! They fell out of the guard tower!” This is the extent of my Judaism! Ah now! Ah shit! Now look at that cunt! I bet she could…oh I just know she could suck a fat nut out of my balls! Just fucking look at her! Fucking whore! Who’s paying your rent honey? I start walking toward downtown, what I think is downtown anyway. I need to buy myself a warmer coat. Leave it up to me to get stuck trying to buy myself a coat in freezing cold San Francisco. And that’s exactly what I’m gonna do too. I will not, I promised myself, I WILL NOT go to the clubs. Besides, it’s freaking Monday afternoon. The hot ones aren’t even working yet. But you can never tell. Most of those places nowadays have a rolling stock of fresh pussy in shifts like a Chrysler plant. I really am a horrible person. Listen to me! My dear old dad would probably be making like a fag dancer turning pirouettes in his cold grave if he could see me now. I’m disgusting! I’m a fucking pig! I'm supposed to be mourning here! In mourning! Whatever the fuck they call it! I don’t even know what they call it! That thing Jews do when someone dies and they rip up their clothes or whatever? What a fucking dick! I guess these days...they don’t rip their clothes up anymore? The rabbi gave my sister and me these little black silk pins to wear in our lapels, had a torn piece of silk ribbon or whatever. And of course I’ve freakin’ lost mine already. Dad would have known what they call it. What a worthless piece of shit I am! I could be walking forever! Geez! Where the hell am I? Fuck it! I call the cabby over. “Mitchell Brothers!” I say without taking a beat. The driver drives on in even less time. The next thing I know I’m in a toilet stall trying to get a rubber on my dick. I put ‘em on just in case I have an accident. Some of these little girls can really get me worked up. This place is famous for it.

The rabbi quickly got to his knees, lowering his head nearer to the coffin, as he briskly waved his hands under the casket feeling blindly into the emptiness for some unforgivable obstruction. Crisscrossing his arms beneath the coffin in a fevered and suddenly panicked motion, he looked like a magician out to prove something or perhaps the rabbi thought someone…or something was…holding up the proceedings…for some reason. Then, there was a short sigh of relief when finally the casket slowly began to move again.

This cunt thinks she’s gonna get every fucking penny in my pockets. Fucking whore! Probably will. Look at her. Can’t be a day over twenty. Bet she knows a trick or two. Next thing I know I’m in a back room. These girls really know how to take care of you. She won’t let me touch her cunt but she’s okay with touching me. Through the jeans of course. She’s got my dick worked up and in my pants. She’s gathering up the fabric around my crotch and I swear she’d put it all up in her filthy hole if she could, jeans and all. Ah gees! This one’s really giving it her Union all today. Ah gees! But it’s too late. All unbeknownst to her, she’s pulled the rubber off my dick and I’m cummin’ in my jeans. FUCK! I walk outside the club, watching myself in the reflection of the brass doors as I take my jacket off and wrap it around my waist so no one can see the cum stains. FUCK!

Back at his sister’s new house I learn the whole story, what actually happened at the graveside. It appears that ten years earlier, when they’d buried their mother, somehow the director of the Jewish cemetery and the people, who do the actual burying, put their mother in the wrong spot. Or…that is…they marked it wrong with the headstone. At any rate, the morning they dug the grave for their father, they found the coffin, that is, the remains of their mother, in the same hole. While his sister retells of the horror, I find myself staring into her fancy waterfall in her new swimming Jacuzzi, suddenly recalling something that happened to my own family years before. My father was downright indignant with the funeral director I remember; as they’d somehow managed to misspell my grandfather’s first name on the headstone. I rest my arm on the table and notice that I’ve managed to get a little sun burned these last few days. Then I recall the face of the rabbi as he attempted to make right a very wrong situation, his face getting redder and redder.