Alberto Korda

In the early years Korda was most interested in fashion because it allowed him to pursue his two favorite things, photography and beautiful women. Korda became Cuba’s premiere fashion photographer. Korda disliked artificial lighting he said it was “a travesty of reality” and only used natural light in his studio….  “My main aim was to meet women”, he once confessed. His second wife, Natalia (Norka) Menendez, was a well known Cuban fashion model.


The Pogues And The Dubliners – The Irish Rover

Was anyone ever uglier than Shane McGowan?  Not criticizing, just saying.

MacGowan claims to have been introduced to alcohol and cigarettes by his aunt on the promise he would not worship the devil. In a 2007 interview with the Daily Mirror he told a reporter: “I was actually four when I started drinking. I just remember that Ribena turned into stout and I developed an immediate love for it.” MacGowan says he tried whiskey when he was 10 and continued to drink heavily thereafter.

The wikipedia page on Shane no longer claims, as it once did, that his dental troubles were at least partially due to attempting to eat a vinyl record of “Sgt. Pepper” while on LSD.

Sister Nancy

Russell-Myers is married to her longtime sweetheart of over twenty years. They reside with the rest of her family in New Jersey, where she works as an accountant at a bank.[citation needed]

This song is a good way to remember the population of Jamaica (actually just shy of “3 million,” says wikipedia (2,868,380 is their 2011 estimate))

Sundown (Gordon Lightfoot), 1974

There are rumours that “Sundown” was inspired by his then girlfriend, Cathy Smith, later more infamously known for her involvement in the death of John Belushi. Lightfoot has commented in interviews that she was “the one woman in my life who most hurt me.”

More, from Cathy Smith’s wikipedia page:

Catherine Evelyn Smith (born Catherine Evelyn Smith, 1948 in Hamilton, Ontario) is an occasional backup singer, rock star girlfriend, “groupie” and drug dealer, who served 15 months in the California state prison system for injecting John Belushi with a fatal dose of heroin and cocaine in 1982…

…Smith became an employee and then mistress of Canadian singer-songwriter Gordon Lightfoot in the early to mid-1970s. At one point, she even drove their tour bus. Smith sang backup on Lightfoot’s song “High and Dry” which was on the Sundown album. She apparently sang more backup on the album but Lightfoot mixed most of it out.

By several accounts, the Smith-Lightfoot affair was volatile and illustrated in the lyrics of “Sundown”, Lightfoot’s Number One hit and most financially lucrative song. It reflects the dark feelings Lightfoot was experiencing at the time. Drinking too much and married to another woman, he on one occasion broke Smith’s cheekbone in a fight. Lightfoot has stated of his three-year relationship with Smith, “I was sometimes crazy with jealousy”.

Picture of Cathy Smith, from this amazing website:

Once, on a bus between Vancouver and Whitehorse, I heard a woman tell the story of how Gordon Lightfoot kissed her one time.

The Atlantic encourages us to start “Remembering Project Gemini”

Will do! That there is the same Intrepid that’s docked in the Hudson River, seen here some twenty years after surviving two crashes from kamikazes.

St. Bridget of Sweden, from an altarpiece in Salem, Södermanland, restored digitally.

Coup in Mali, 3

I thought this writing, in the NY Times by Lydia Polgreen, is good, concise, and informative.

The Tuaregs are a nomadic people who live largely in the Sahara, spanning Niger, Mali, Algeria and Libya. For centuries they plied caravan routes across the desert, but colonial borders turned them into citizens of several nations. In the 1960s and 1990s, Tuareg rebellions erupted in the Sahara, seeking autonomy or independence. Violence flared again in 2007 in Niger, where Tuareg rebels seeking to wrest control of the country’s rich uranium deposits mounted a rebellion.

It allowed me to understand how complicated the Tuareg situation must be.  More:

Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi, Libya’s former leader, supported Tuareg rebellions in Mali and Niger over several decades, and analysts in the region say the current uprising is closely linked to the fall of Colonel Qaddafi, whose weapons are suspected of playing a major role in the Malian rebels’ success.

But Lydia Polgreen is reporting from Johannesburg, apparently.  Is anyone in towns like Tinzaouaten, which wikipedia tells me was “wrested from control” of the government on Feb. 8, I wondered?  So I went looking for pictures of Tinzaouaten.  I found this person’s flickr stream.  I think she is just an amateur, not a journalist?  Don’t want to post them here as she reserves her rights.  But jeez.

The rebels attacked the town of Niafunké in January.  Ali Farka Toure was born in Niafunke and was the mayor there.  Here is a video of him:

Photo up top is of “Timbuktu Manuscripts.”


I wish SDB were around to talk to me about Hunger Games.  I would definitely be exhausted long before he was even warmed up.

I read 1/2 of the Hunger Games book.  For that half, the book was “better” than the movie because there was much more backstory about Katniss and Peeta.

The book seemed to take place in a real, recognizable world.  I did not feel this way in the movie.  But if the movie were on that level of reality it would be too horrifying to make one billion dollars.

I thought the movie was shot kind of poorly.  The forest never looked awesome enough.  Maybe they should’ve gotten Debra Granik, who directed Winter’s Bone.

My favorite character was the Game Maker.

A complicated villain.

(photo from People Magazine’s website, where it is used to illustrate an article about “Why Wes Bentley’s ‘Hunger Games’ Beard Drew Stares Off Set.” The answer is because “while the beard’s futuristic design certainly fit in with the film’s stylized setting, it was less suited to rural North Carolina, where the cast and crew shot.”)

The Boston Globe’s Big Picture Blog


Los Angeles

Someone tagged this tree.

“Hello Stranger” (1977)

from the heroes at Art Decade I learned of Emmylou Harris and Nicolette Larson covering The Carter Family:

What became of Nicolette Larson, I wonder, whose voice is certainly too pretty for this world?:

Larson died on December 16, 1997 in Los Angeles as a result of complications arising from cerebral edema triggered by liver failure. According to her friend Astrid Young, Larson had been showing symptoms of depression and her fatal seizure “was in no small way related to her chronic use of Valium and Tylenol PM”

(album cover lifted from a French blog)

“In Shark’s life there had been no literary romance.”

In Shark’s life there had been no literary romance. At nineteen he took Katherine Mullock to three dances because she was available.  This started the machine of precedent and he married her because her family and all of the neighbors expected it.  Katherine was not pretty, but she had the firm freshness of a new weed, and the bridling vigor of a young mare.  After her marriage she lost her vigor and her freshness as a flower does once it has received pollen.  Her face sagged, her hips broadened, and she entered into her second destiny, that of work.

In his treatment of her, Shark was neither tender nor cruel.  He governed her with the same gentle inflexibility he used on horses.  Cruelty would have seemed to him as foolish as indulgence.  He never talked to her as to human, never spoke of his hopes or thoughts or failures, of his paper wealth nor of the peach crop.  Katherine would have been puzzled and worried if he had.  Her life was sufficiently complicated without the added burden of another’s thoughts and problems.

Coup In Mali, 2

Had a vague idea that I might go to Dogon country in Mali, ever since I read about it in Lonely Planet’s list of the world’s ten best treks.  Now seems like an especially bad time to go, better stick to the Haute Route.  But still, in my reading, came across this interesting or perhaps stupid discussion of whether the Dogon people have advanced astronomical knowledge.  (My verdict?  WHAT?  Definitely not.)



Moses Shown The Promised Land (1801)

Met’s Artwork of the Day drills it (to use a term frequently thrown around in Rob Lowe’s autobiography) today:

Benjamin West.

The family later moved to Newtown Square, Pennsylvania, where his father was the proprietor of the Square Tavern, still standing in that town.

So it is!  Regrettably it doesn’t look like you can have a drink there anymore.  LAME.

An alert reader in our LIC office

Points out Tyler Cowen’s review of “Mirror, Mirror,” published here in its entirety.

*Mirror, Mirror* (paging Leo Strauss)

from Marginal Revolution by Tyler Cowen


Not often does Hollywood put out movies romanticizing tyrannicide and the assassination of foreign leaders of friendly countries, in this case India.  Julia Roberts is the wicked Queen, witch, and false pretender, but actually the stand-in for Indira Gandhi, with an uncanny resemblance of look and dress in the final scene (I wonder if anyone told her?).  This movie presents a romanticized and idealized version of how her assassination should have proceeded and should have been processed, namely in a triumphal manner with no reprisals but rather celebration and joyous union and love.  As the plot proceeds, you will find all sorts of markers of Sikh theology, including numerous references to daggers, hair, mirrors, water, immersions, submersions, bodily penetrations, transformations, the temple at Amritsar, dwarves who enlarge themselves, and the notion of woman as princess, among many others; director Tarsem Singh knows this material better than I do (read up on Sikh theology before you go, if you haven’t already).  The silly critics complained that the plot didn’t make sense, but from the half dozen or so reviews I read they didn’t even begin to understand the movie.

Without wishing to take sides on either the politics or the religion, I found this a daring and remarkable film.  The sad thing is that no one is paying attention.

The movie’s trailer is here.


The Jolly Flatboatmen (1846)

George Caleb Bingham was, among other things, the first chief of police in Kansas City.  I’d like to visit his house next time I’m in Arrow Rock, Missouri.

This painting is apparently in the collection of Detroit industrialist Richard Manoogian.  Manoogian’s father was a refugee from the Armenian genocide.  Arriving in America at age 19, he worked as a machinist before founding the Masco Screw Company.

Manoogian’s redesign and production of the Delta faucet, which allowed one-handed use, resulted in best-selling status for the plumbing fixture and generated substantial profits for his business wealth. In 1995 his company had $3 billion dollars in sales and had 38 percent of the domestic market for faucets.

A Delta faucet:

Pacific-Union Club Punch

This is the Pacific-Union Club, at the top of Nob Hill in San Francisco:

Are you going to tell me you can walk by that building and not think, “I want to make their famous punch!”

For a party of ten. Into a large punch-bowl place ten tablespoonfuls of bar sugar and ten tablespoonfuls of freshly squeezed lime or lemon juice. Add two jiggers of Curaçao and dissolve the whole in about a quart of effervescent water. Add two quarts of champagne and one bottle of good cognac. Stir thoroughly, ice, decorate and serve in thin glassware.

READER: be sure to use regular, orange Curacao, not blue curacao, or your punch will be a revolting green color.

That recipe is from William “Cocktail” Boothby’s 1908 book, The World’s Cocktails and How To Make Them.  Let’s take a look at Boothby’s resume, just to make sure he’s for real:

  • Minstrel performer.
  • Bartender in New York, Chicago, Philadelphia, New Orleans, and Kansas City.
  • Bartender at Byron Hot Springs.
  • Bartender (or in his terms “presiding deity”) at Hotel Rafael, San Rafael, California, in “the gay days when Baron von Schroeder was making history over there”.
  • Bartender at the Silver Palace, San Francisco
  • Bartender at the Palace Hotel, San Francisco.
  • Saloon owner.
  • Assemblyman in California in 1895. The 1908 edition of The World’s Drinks & How To Mix Them begins “To the liquor dealers of San Francisco who unanimously assisted in my election to the Legislature by an unprecedented majority.”
  • Soda drink counter supervisor, Olympic Club, during Prohibition
(from wikipedia)

Possible Ancestor?

An alert relation links us to the Southeast Missourian’s history of one Edward Hely, who established a rock-crushing plant in Cape Girardeau in 1902.

Is there anything manlier than crushing rocks?

(photo from The Southeast Missourian)