To go on display! But back in Massachusetts. Is is worth a trip?
The original object was exhibited by P.T. Barnum in Barnum’s American Museum in New York in 1842 and then disappeared. It was assumed that it had been destroyed in one of Barnum’s many fires that destroyed his collections…
There is controversy today on whether the Fiji mermaid actually disappeared in the fire or not. Many claim to have the original exhibit, but Harvard University’s Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology, has the most proof that their exhibit is the actual original. It does not look completely the same, but it does have the same flat nose and bared teeth. The thought that the fires could have altered the appearance of the mermaid are reason for it not looking completely like it did in Barnum’s possession.
Well, if I can’t make it to Cambridge I can always make my own:
A guide to constructing a Fiji mermaid appeared in the November 2009 issue of Fortean Times magazine, in an article written by special effects expert and stop-motion animator Alan Friswell. Rather than building the figure with fish and monkey parts, Friswell used papier mache and modelling putty, sealed with wallpaper paste, and with doll’s hair glued to the scalp.
I thought the UK Remain camp would win in the Brexit vote, because I could remember following the 1995 Quebec separation referendum. (What teen boy isn’t mesmerized by Canadian politics?) Canadian Tanya Krywiak remembers:
It was a night many will never forget. Twenty years ago, on Monday, October 30, 1995,citizens across Quebec went to the polls to decide the future of their province — and Canada.
The 1995 Quebec vote seems like an apt analogy to Brexit. Really close, emotional, a kind of impractical vote that came to pass due to political posturing. And then:
An astounding 93.5 per cent of those eligible turned up to vote either yes or no to sovereignty. At 10:20 p.m., the “no” side was declared the winner with 50.58 per cent.
Quebec voted, just barely, to remain in Canada.
At the time the narrow win for No was partly chalked up to the huge Unity rally and similar rallies across Canada:
The Unity Rally was a rally held on October 27, 1995, in downtown Montreal, where an estimated 100,000 Canadians from in and outside Quebec came to celebrate a united Canada, and plead with Quebecers to vote “No” in the Quebec independence referendum, 1995 (held three days after the rally). Held at the Place du Canada, it was Canada’s biggest political rally until 2012.
Highlighting the celebrate a united Canada part. Because maybe that’s what the Remain people in the UK failed to do.
The Canadian Unity Rally was a celebration, it was for something, even just a feeling and a song. It countered an emotional argument with an emotional argument.
There was something exciting and satisfying about exiting the EU. Did the Remain people offer anything to celebrate?
In fairness there’s not a ton there. I mean the EU’s flag sucks:
There’s no good song, either. (There’s the “Anthem of Europe” I guess).
Compare that to the 1995 Unity rally. From the NY Times:
150,000 Rally To Ask Quebec Not to Secede
By CLYDE H. FARNSWORTH
Published: October 28, 1995
MONTREAL, Oct. 27— In an eruption of national pride, tens of thousands of Canadians poured into Montreal from across Canada today to call for unity and to urge Quebec to remain part of their country.
At the Place du Canada in downtown Montreal, a crowd estimated at 150,000 waved the maple leaf flag of Canada and the fleurs-de-lis flag of Quebec and sang the national anthem, hoping to convince the Quebecers to vote No on Monday in their referendum on whether their province should secede from Canada.
Take this to the most visceral level. In the Trump vs. Hillary election, if you’re undecided, which side feels more emotionally satisfying?
Voting for Obama was emotionally satisfying, a celebration:
Role Play: you are Hillary’s top advisor (or Hillary herself). How do make a vote for Hillary feel like something more emotionally satisfying than anti-Trump? A celebration of what’s best about the USA?
Feel like she did a decent job of this with the help of both Obamas at the DNC:
Traveling across the South Island of New Zealand by train, I was trying to work out for myself how big exactly the country is.
With the help of OverlapMaps, here’s a comparison of New Zealand to California:
The total land area of New Zealand, says Google, is 103,483 mi²
In US state terms, that makes it just smaller than Colorado, at 104,185 mi².
Colorado has about 1 million more people.
Colorado: 5.356 million (2014)
New Zealand: 4.5 million
Pop wise New Zealand is about the size of Kentucky or Louisiana.
The folks at Brilliant Maps do fantastic work in this field. Here are some of my favorites:
US in China by population:
And The Circle:
Here’s one more for you, from OverlandMaps:
Australia’s population is 23.13 million or so, so it’s about three million people bigger than Florida (20.2 mill) and smaller than Texas (27.46 mill). Whole lotta room down there. About as many people as Illinois and Pennsylvania put together, in a land area (2.97 million square miles) that’s about as big as 51 Illinoises.
Gauguin placed this painting on consignment at the exhibition at a price of 1,500 francs, the highest price he assigned and shared by only one other painting, but had no takers.
Gaugin didn’t always crush it with his titles (Study of A Nude, etc) but sometimes he nailed it. Here is Where Are You Going?
(sometimes less interestingly called Woman Holding A Fruit)
Of course best of all, Where Do We Come From? What Are We? Where Are We Going? at the good ol’ Boston MFA.
Charles Moricetwo years later tried to raise a public subscription to purchase the painting for the nation. To assist this endeavour, Gauguin wrote a detailed description of the work concluding with the messianic remark that he spoke in parables: “Seeing they see not, hearing they hear not”. The subscription nevertheless failed.
You can read about Geoff Dyer’s frustrating experiences with these paintings and Gaugin and Tahiti in:
I was bummed I missed that dude at the Melbourne Writers’ Festival, bet we could’ve had some laughs.
In New Zealand I got invited to participate in the Great New Zealand Crime Debate, which was a blast. I was on a team with Christchurch lawyer Kathryn Dalziel and sociologist Jarrod Gilbert, who got badly beaten several times while writing this book:
My job it turned out was to roast the members of the other team, namely New Zealand broadcaster Paula Penfold (who was lovely and a good sport):
Anyway, afterwards they had the Ngiao Marsh Crime Awards. Who was Ngiao Marsh?
She was a New Zealand writer of detective stories, mostly starring Roderick Alleyn. Some of the covers of her books are great:
Marsh never married and had no children. She enjoyed close companionships with women, including her lifelong friend Sylvia Fox, but denied being lesbian, according to biographer Joanne Drayton. ‘I think Ngaio Marsh wanted the freedom of being who she was in a world, especially in a New Zealand that was still very conformist in its judgments of what constituted ‘decent jokers, good Sheilas, and ‘weirdos’’,’ Roy Vaughan wrote after meeting her on a P&O Liner.
It sounds like her mysteries, which revolve around poison on darts and that kind of thing, are exactly what Raymond Chandler was ranting against in his essay “The Simple Art Of Murder“:
This, the classic detective story, has learned nothing and forgotten nothing. It is the story you will find almost any week in the big shiny magazines, handsomely illustrated, and paying due deference to virginal love and the right kind of luxury goods. Perhaps the tempo has become a trifle faster, and the dialogue a little more glib. There are more frozen daiquiris and stingers ordered, and fewer glasses of crusty old port; more clothes by Vogue, and décors by the House Beautiful, more chic, but not more truth. We spend more time in Miami hotels and Cape Cod summer colonies and go not so often down by the old gray sundial in the Elizabethan garden. But fundamentally it is the same careful grouping of suspects, the same utterly incomprehensible trick of how somebody stabbed Mrs. Pottington Postlethwaite III with the solid platinum poignard just as she flatted on the top note of the Bell Song from Lakmé in the presence of fifteen ill-assorted guests; the same ingenue in fur-trimmed pajamas screaming in the night to make the company pop in and out of doors and ball up the timetable; the same moody silence next day as they sit around sipping Singapore slings and sneering at each other, while the flat-feet crawl to and fro under the Persian rugs, with their derby hats on.
Chandler calls for something a little harder edged:
The realist in murder writes of a world in which gangsters can rule nations and almost rule cities, in which hotels and apartment houses and celebrated restaurants are owned by men who made their money out of brothels, in which a screen star can be the fingerman for a mob, and the nice man down the hall is a boss of the numbers racket; a world where a judge with a cellar full of bootleg liquor can send a man to jail for having a pint in his pocket, where the mayor of your town may have condoned murder as an instrument of moneymaking, where no man can walk down a dark street in safety because law and order are things we talk about but refrain from practising; a world where you may witness a hold-up in broad daylight and see who did it, but you will fade quickly back into the crowd rather than tell anyone, because the hold-up men may have friends with long guns, or the police may not like your testimony, and in any case the shyster for the defense will be allowed to abuse and vilify you in open court, before a jury of selected morons, without any but the most perfunctory interference from a political judge.
It is not a very fragrant world, but it is the world you live in, and certain writers with tough minds and a cool spirit of detachment can make very interesting and even amusing patterns out of it. It is not funny that a man should be killed, but it is sometimes funny that he should be killed for so little, and that his death should be the coin of what we call civilization. All this still is not quite enough.
In everything that can be called art there is a quality of redemption. It may be pure tragedy, if it is high tragedy, and it may be pity and irony, and it may be the raucous laughter of the strong man. But down these mean streets a man must go who is not himself mean, who is neither tarnished nor afraid. The detective in this kind of story must be such a man. He is the hero, he is everything. He must be a complete man and a common man and yet an unusual man. He must be, to use a rather weathered phrase, a man of honor, by instinct, by inevitability, without thought of it, and certainly without saying it. He must be the best man in his world and a good enough man for any world. I do not care much about his private life; he is neither a eunuch nor a satyr; I think he might seduce a duchess and I am quite sure he would not spoil a virgin; if he is a man of honor in one thing, he is that in all things. He is a relatively poor man, or he would not be a detective at all. He is a common man or he could not go among common people. He has a sense of character, or he would not know his job. He will take no man’s money dishonestly and no man’s insolence without a due and dispassionate revenge. He is a lonely man and his pride is that you will treat him as a proud man or be very sorry you ever saw him. He talks as the man of his age talks, that is, with rude wit, a lively sense of the grotesque, a disgust for sham, and a contempt for pettiness. The story is his adventure in search of a hidden truth, and it would be no adventure if it did not happen to a man fit for adventure. He has a range of awareness that startles you, but it belongs to him by right, because it belongs to the world he lives in.
If there were enough like him, I think the world would be a very safe place to live in, and yet not too dull to be worth living in.
Wow. The world’s big enough for both kinds of mystery I guess.
This year’s award was won by Paul Cleave:
For his book Trust No One: