April 19. Patriots Day.

Worth remembering that the American Revolution started when the federal government sent troops to take away people’s guns and ammunition.

More men from Needham died on April 19, 1775, I believe, than from any other town except Lexington:

The detail in that footnote!  What she remembers, the old blind woman: how many of the soldiers had thrown away their coats!  It was under the will of this venerable lady that he first received a legacy!

History gets so much more interesting when you get into how do we know this?  what is the source?  who claims this?  who saw it happen?

The Needham Public Library.

Amos Doolittle wasn’t there but he showed up a few weeks later:

My favorite book on this topic is:

Tourtellot is really kind of funny when he rips into his least favorite patriot, vain old John Hancock:

that illustration up top from:

a British book – is there a pro-Redcoat bias?


Twins Seven Seven

screen-shot-2016-12-28-at-12-52-57-pmvia Tyler Cowen I learn about Nigerian artist Prince Twins Seven Seven

or more formally Prince Taiwo Olaniyi Wyewale-Toyeje Oyekale Osuntoki.  He received his nickname because he was the only surviving child from seven distinct sets of twins.

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He came to the United States in the late 1980s and settled in the Philadelphia area, although he traveled abroad frequently. His life entered a turbulent period, filled with drinking and gambling, he said. Destitute, he found work as a parking-lot attendant for Material Culture, a large Philadelphia store that sells antiquities, furnishings and carpets.

When the owner learned that Prince Twins Seven-Seven was an artist, he had him decorate the store’s wrapping paper. Later, he was given a small room to use as a studio.

from his obituary

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SUNDAY TAKES!

Here are some takes and items for your Sunday enjoyment!

The coach on Netflix doc series Last Chance U:

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The most compelling, complex character on “TV” right now


Sales:

In an old folder of articles I found this one, about Peter Thiel’s Zero To One

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Thiel and his ideas are interesting to me.  I’m open to the Vali/OwenE take that he might just be a kinda smart guy who got lucky and thinks he’s a genius.  He definitely should not be on the Supreme Court.

I loved Zero To One, but Thiel’s support for Trump makes him seem like a much darker and more troubling figure than I felt he was when I was reading it.

Two interesting points in the article that had new meaning in light of Thiel being a Trump guy:

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Is that something like what Trump did (old grouchy white men?  white American nationalists?  you’d think they’d be served by a lot of political competitors but maybe there was a hole in the market)?  What about this?:

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Unfortunately, Trump is good at sales and Hillary Clinton is kind of bad at sales.

Sometimes this campaign we get a reminder of how good at sales Bill Clinton is.  Here is Bill talking about the Clinton Foundation.  This clip is used by GOP and conservative sites as I guess kind of scummy because Clinton compares himself to Robin Hood:

Maybe comparing yourself to Robin Hood is a little much, but when I hear Bill explain the Clinton Foundation as asking for money from people who have a lot of it and giving it to people who don’t have any, it makes it sound a lot better.

Does anyone effectively refute the claim that almost 10 million more people in more than 70 countries have access to life-saving medicines through the Clinton Health Access Initiative?


Silence Of The Lambs

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Not topical or relevant at all but for forever I’ve had in my phone a bunch of screenshots of this movie, one of the most gripping movies ever.  Saw it on TV some months ago and was struck by how much of it is just a closeup of a person’s face.  How unsettling/compelling!

Baltimore can be quite a fun town if you have the right guide

Baltimore can be quite a fun town if you have the right guide

This guy:

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This jumped out at me

In a not otherwise “sexy” article about English literary critic William Empson’s book The Face Of The Buddha:

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William Empson:

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Millennials

Enjoyed the caption on this one, from National Geographic’s Instagram:

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Mediocrities

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Thomas Frank, profiled in the Politico 50 list:

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Frank went to University of Kansas, University of Virginia, and University of Chicago.  Can he be trusted?


Doing some reading about AquAdvantage salmon, a genetically modified animal

Am I ugly?

    Am I ugly?

A growth hormone-regulating gene from a Pacific Chinook salmon, with a promoter from an ocean pout, was added to the Atlantic salmon’s 40,000 genes. This gene enables it to grow year-round instead of only during spring and summer. The purpose of the modifications is to increase the speed at which the fish grows without affecting its ultimate size or other qualities. The fish grows to market size in 16 to 18 months rather than three years.

Asked Anonymous Investor to take a look at the financials of the AquaBounty company.

I haven’t looked into the science, but if their salmon is all that they claim, AquaBounty should have a big pricing advantage. Because their fish grow so much faster than a normal salmon, they should be much cheaper to produce, and sell — undercutting their competitors.

This reminds of the tiny speculative biotech companies I invest in.  There’s no money coming in, only money being burned.  But you’re hoping someday for a big FDA approval that will open sluices of torrential cash.  In this case, the FDA approval has come  But the primary problem (they have a few) is that major buyers like Kroger and Target vowed not to carry the product.  My guess is the company will eventually make inroads, just as Monsanto, Syngenta, etc, have in the past. But it might take a long time. Big money usually wins in the end. And the hippies, as always, will go whining back to their yurts.

AquaBounty is selling for around 64 million dollars.  Not a bad price for a what looks like a pretty decent lottery ticket.

Not sure why AquaBounty only trades in London.  The volume is extremely thin.  This is a stock not on many people’s radar.

I do know that AquaBounty is controlled by Intrexon (the same company trying to battle Zika via their patented breed of mosquitos). They own over 50% of AquaBounty.  Intrexon trades here under the ticker XON. It’s a 3 billion dollar company.  (A year ago it was worth more than 6 billion).  Intrexon does a lot of interesting Monsanto-type things, and the stock is sort of a darling of Wall Street.  But lately doubt has crept into the story.  Intrexon has been slow in providing evidence for many of it’s scientific claims.  The company says they don’t want to divulge their trade secrets by releasing too much data.  Skeptics speculate that they’re not disclosing much, because, they believe, much of the science probably doesn’t work.

Interesting.  Here’s what Intrexon (NYSE: XON) has been up to:

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“I couldn’t be more pleased with the birth of these adorable kittens,” noted Blake Russell, President of ViaGen Pets. “As the largest global provider of genetic preservation services for companion animals, we look forward to expanding the life-enriching connections that people form with their pets. Our goal is to bring this opportunity to all pet owners and their families.”

Sure.  Anonymous Investor adds:

 In the salmon world, AquAdvantage salmon are considered “ugly”. In a test 95% of salmon chose to mate with wild salmon over AquaBounty salmon.

Reginald

American Dad co-showrunner Brian Boyle has a very fine set of glasses with the AD characters on them.

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One fan’s opinion? the show should do more with Reginald.

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Reginald


 The Flemish Giant

Somebody at work mentioned that the biggest kind of rabbit is called a Flemish giant.

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Well worth the image search.


Boston accents:

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A good, clear discussion of an often misunderstood issue from this classicbostonians-2


On the subject of Boston:

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In Australia this kind of coconut frosted cake is known as Boston bun.  Everyone was baffled when I told them I’d never heard of it.

A Boston bun is a large spiced bun with a thick layer of coconut icing, prevalent in Australia and New Zealand. Traditionally the bun contained sieved potato, and modern versions sometimes contain raisins. It is often served sliced, to accompany a cup of tea. The origin of the name is unknown.

In New Zealand they’re often called a Sally Lunn, especially in the North Island


Still reeling

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from good times in Australia.  A bizarro version of the United States, upside down and weirdly (to a USA observer) developed in all kinds of ways.  For instance, Australia people talk about “the deep north” as like a joke on the way we talk about the “deep south.”

Important to remember that on the other side of the equator, you have to flip countries upside down to think about them.  Their south is our north.  If you think about that pointy part of Queensland as Florida, the Northern Territory as Texas, Tasmania as Newfoundland or Nova Scotia, Melbourne as Boston and Sydney as New York, you’re still way off but getting somewhere.

Ok but flip Australia upside down in your mind.

Ok but flip Australia upside down in your mind.

Huge thanks to the many people of New Zealand and Australia who helped me out.  Puts me in mind of this week’s scripture, Matthew 25:35.


Bummed to miss

Had to come back to the USA before the Brisbane Writers’ Festival, so I missed Lionel Shriver of We Need To Talk About Kevin fame apparently light it up with a wild speech about cultural appropriation (attacking what seems to me to be a ridiculous straw man?)

I can’t find a photo of her wearing a sombrero, as she is alleged to have done.  Did she really refer to herself as a “renowned iconoclast”?


Which Australian state library is the best?

I enjoy Melbourne’s State Library of Victoria so much:

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photo by Wiki user Brian Jenkins

I mean how can you not admire that they have Ned Kelly’s armor on display?:

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Some great illustrations on Ned’s wiki page:

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“A strange apparition”: when Kelly appeared out of the mist-shrouded bush, clad in armour, bewildered policemen took him to be a ghost, a bunyip, and “Old Nick himself”.

a bunyip:

bunyip

Let’s take a virtual look at Australia’s other state libraries:

Tasmania:

state-library-of-tasmania

Hmm.

Would a better state library be a step towards helping Tasmania’s insane illiteracy rate?

New South Wales:

Mitchell Library without banners

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Impressive.  Classic if slightly dull exterior, solid interior, I rate it a 9 (out of 11).

Queensland:

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A big swing on the exterior, the interior kind of interesting but also kind of a like a weird mall.  I’ll give it a 7.

Northern Territory:

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No independent library building, it’s housed in the Parliament House which is kind of cool.  DNQ for the rating system.

Western Australia:

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Trash exterior, interior so weird as to be kind of interesting.  8.  

The old version, once housed in Hackett Hall, appears to have been pretty cool:

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South Australia:

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Ok…

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Aw yeah!  11/11.


Short Books

Australia/New Zealand publishing is so good at short books.  I read a bunch of short books while traveling.

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This one began as speech Flanagan gave, focusing on his disgust for the abuses, catastrophes, and inhumanity at Australia’s offshore detention centers for asylum seekers, but also about a general disappointment in political and cultural life:

Conformists par excellence, capable of only agreeing with power however or wherever it manifests itself, they are the ones least capable of dealing with the many new challenges we face precisely because those challenges demand the very qualities the new class lacks: courage, independence of thought and a belief in something larger than its own future.

The new class, understanding only self-interest, believing only in the possibilities of its own cynicism, committed to nothing more than its own perpetuation, seeks to ride the tiger by agreeing with all the tiger’s desires, believing it and not the tiger will endure, until the tiger decides it’s time to feed, as the mining corporations did with Kevin Rudd, as News Limited is now with Julia Gillard.

He goes on about the alternative:

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If I may make a crude summary Flanagan’s argument could be he wishes Australia remembered Matthew 25:35 a little more.

Flanagan and I once shared a publisher, and I’m told his books are masterpieces, especially Narrow Road To The Deep North.

Also good, and more lighthearted if at times equally scorching:

pieper

Here’s a taste, where Pieper is digressing about a dog he adopted:pieper-2

Took a page out of Vali’s book and wrote Mr. Pieper a short and simple fan letter complimenting him on his book.  He wrote a gracious note back.  Gotta do this more often.

I can’t write to the great New Zealand short story writer Katherine Mansfield because she’s dead:

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If I could, I would compliment her on “The Garden Party.”  This story starts out so boring and stodgy and Victorian I really thought I was in for it.  But it pays off.  Spoiler alert this is the last page:

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What life was she couldn’t explain.  No matter.  He quite understood.

Isn’t it, darling?’ said Laurie.


Southbank

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This scene, on Brisbane’s Southbank, really reminded me of this one, in Paris a hundredsome years ago:

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Richard Bell

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Impressed by this massive painting at the Milani Gallery in Brisbane by Australian indigenous artist Richard Bell.

(The price in Australian dollars is 55,000.)

Bell caused controversy in April 2011 after revealing that he selected the winner of the prestigious Sir John Sulman Prize through the toss of a coin.

 


When Will You Marry?

when-will-you-marry

What a title for a painting.  Heard of this Gaugin painting in an article about Qatar’s art scene.  Reportedly some Qataris bought it for $300 mill.  Says Wiki, back in 1893:

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?

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(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.

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Charles Morice (fr) two 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:

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I was bummed I missed that dude at the Melbourne Writers’ Festival, bet we could’ve had some laughs.


Great lost works of art

 

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Let me add to Wikipedia’s list a work by my former roommate Sean Denis Boyland, acryllic (?) on photograph (?), that I’ve crudely approximated above.  Begun and completed in the East Village of Manhattan, or perhaps Chelsea, Massachusetts, possibly in the summer of 2003, the artist bought an enlarged framed photo on the street and painted on it.  The key was the elegance of the brushstroke which I just can’t replicate here.

Anyone who has further remembrance of this work is encouraged to contact Helytimes.

Re: lost artwork, always taken some perverse pleasure that I saw one of the most famous missing paintings ever, Rembrandt’s Storm on The Sea Of Galilee, before it was stolen from Boston’s Gardner Museum in 1990.

storm on the sea of galilee

Discussion question: how much does it matter that the original painting is missing when there are extremely good photographs of it?

Three good losties from Wiki’s gallery:  Van G’s Scheveningen beach in stormy weather, stolen 2003:

Van_Gogh_-_Strand_von_Scheveningen_bei_stürmischen_Wetter.jpeg

and Cezanne’s View of Auvers-sur-Oise, stolen from the Ashmolean during a fireworks show on New Years’ Eve 1999:

View of Auvers

As the thieves ignored other works in the same room, and the stolen Cézanne has not been offered for sale, it is speculated that this was a case of an artwork stolen to order.

And how about Flinck, Landscape with an Obelisk?

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Pigment Collection

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The history of pigments goes back to prehistoric times, but much of what we know about how they relate to the art world comes from Edward Forbes, a historian and director of the Fogg Art Museum at Harvard University from 1909 to 1944. Considered the father of art conservation in the United States, Forbes traveled around the world amassing pigments in order to authenticate classical Italian paintings. Over the years, the Forbes Pigment Collection—as his collection came to be known—grew to more than 2,500 different specimens, each with its own layered backstory on its origin, production, and use.

from this Fast Company article by Diana Budds (great name) about a color library at Harvard.


New Paintings For Barry

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Reuters pool photo

Why did Obama talk in this weird way, and not sitting at the desk?  I dunno, but it looks like he got some new paintings for the Oval Office to replace Childe Hassam.  I learn they are Josephine Hopper’s, on loan from the Whitney:

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Official White House Photo by Chuck Kennedy

Says Whitney curator Dana Miller:

How did you feel when you saw the works installed on the Oval Office wall? Does their new context change the way they read?

There was something pretty wonderful about the way the light was streaming into the Oval Office the day we hung the works, in that it mimicked the lighting in Cobb’s Barn. With Hopper it is so much about the quality of light, and I think the early morning light at that moment echoed what we were seeing in the painting and I remember remarking upon that to Barbi Spieler, Head Registrar for the Permanent Collection, who was there as well. For obvious reasons we don’t often see Hopper paintings in natural light at the Museum.

When I saw the official White House photograph taken by Chuck Kennedy of The President standing in front of the two paintings, I thought it looked like a Hopper composition. Hopper’s urban scenes are often of a solitary figure caught in quiet contemplation, and that’s what the photograph captured. The light in the office and the sense of stillness are very Hopper-esque; the sun even seems to be coming into the office at the precise angle of the sun in the painting. And the back of The President recalls the back of the figure in Hopper’s most famous painting, Nighthawks. I’m guessing Chuck Kennedy knew exactly what he was doing. And of course, it was deeply gratifying to see an image of President Obama so intently focused on the paintings.

The paintings are of Cobb’s Barn in South Truro, Mass. — Cape Cod.  Both Hoppers were like obsessed with Cobb’s Barn, here is Edward:

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Far as I can tell Cobb’s Barn isn’t there anymore.  Bit of a bummer, maybe they should put up a plaque or something.

Josephine Hopper:

Jo Hopper by Robert Henri

That’s her painted by Robert Henri, who loved to paint babes:

Henri_Robert_Salome

Henri was, by this point, at the heart of the group who argued for the depiction of urban life at its toughest and most exuberant. Conservative tastes were necessarily affronted. About Henri’s Salome of 1909, critic Hughes observed: “Her long legs thrust out with strutting sexual arrogance and glint through the over-brushed back veil. It has far more oomph than hundreds of virginal, genteel muses, painted by American academics. He has given it urgency with slashing brush marks and strong tonal contrasts. He’s learned from Winslow Homer, from Édouard Manet, and from the vulgarity of Frans Hals”.

More Helytimes coverage about the Hoppers.

Now, what painting is in the Oval Office may seem meaningless but I gotta tell ya: I like living a country where the President is expected to have some taste and make some choices about putting some cool art on the wall.

Presidents have different art on the wall, but it means something to them.  George W. Bush made a real point of having a bust of Churchill in there.  Obama allegedly returned it, right?  Ted Cruz definitely tells the whole truth about that?

New president, new art.  We can all find American art we like, that’s a great thing about us.  You can bet in the Reagan days they made choices about the art:

Looks like Reagan has The President’s House up there.

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From the “Artwork” section of the Wiki page on Oval Office:

Most presidents have hung a portrait of George Washington – usually the Rembrandt Peale”Porthole” portrait or the Charles Willson Peale three-quarter-length portrait – over the mantel at the north end of the room. A portrait of Andrew Jackson by Thomas Sully hung in Lyndon Johnson’s office, and in Ronald Reagan’s, George H. W. Bush’s and Bill Clinton’s. A portrait of Abraham Lincoln by George Henry Story hung in George W. Bush’s office, and continues in Barack Obama’s. Three landscapes/cityscapes by minor artistsThe City of Washington from Beyond the Navy Yard by George Cooke, Eastport and Passamaquoddy Bay by Victor de Grailly, and The President’s House, a copy after William Henry Bartlett – have adorned the walls in multiple administrations. The Avenue in the Rain by Childe Hassam and Statue of Liberty by Norman Rockwell flanked the Resolute Desk in Bill Clinton’s office, and do the same in Barack Obama’s.

What a slam!  “minor artists”.  The friggin’ President looks at your painting every day and you’re still minor.  These art world guys are tough on each other, I tell ya.

Anyway.

Reader reaction is encouraging me in a White House kick.  Be sure to weigh in to Helytimes if you know any facts about Oval Office art.  Somebody out there knows what Bartlett had up.