Friday, October 29, 2010

The Lake Isle of Innisfree

I will arise and go now, and go to Innisfree,
And a small cabin build there, of clay and wattles made:
Nine bean-rows will I have there, a hive for the honeybee,
And live alone in the bee-loud glade.
And I shall have some peace there, for peace comes dropping slow,
Dropping from the veils of the morning to where the cricket sings;
There midnight's all a glimmer, and noon a purple glow,
And evening full of the linnet's wings.
I will arise and go now, for always night and day
I hear lake water lapping with low sounds by the shore;
While I stand on the roadway, or on the pavements grey,
I hear it in the deep heart's core.

- William Butler Yeats

Monday, October 4, 2010

How I Learned to Stop Worrying...

I got a call from a friend last night, and the conversation devolved into his fears and anxieties about the frightening decline of civilization. He began to yaw and bend toward how dangerous our times are as compared to the past. Maybe he's right. But as chance would have it, I had found over the weekend a piece of ephemera that I thought at least merited mentioning to him, as a reminder. It's a map of evacuation routes from our city, along with a lot of other instructions, in the event of a nuclear attack. It's dated 1956, and gives a pretty specific idea of where the bombs would fall, with circles indicating the immediate areas of most dire effect. Suffice to say that I live well within the zone that even a namby-pamby 50s-era nuclear bomb would blow clean. All that's just a pretext to show some other thematic images I've gathered over time that also caused bemusement or amusement. For example, a dexterity game where you try to roll the clear capsules into Hiroshima and Nagasaki on a map of Japan. How about a children's toy ring featuring a facsimile of a nuke? Or a dartboard with degrees of success measured by what you destroy, made in Japan, no less. And a panel from a comic book, showing the monster ape problem being neatly solved. In closing, I note that the southern evacuation routes for refugees from nuclear attack are the same roads used by the fleeing citizenry upon the incineration of the city by one William T. Sherman, a few years back when life wasn't as scary as it is today...

Monday, September 20, 2010

The Good Ship Concreteblock

The home overlooking the small private lake was built with identical block and terracotta materials.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Dairy Deluxe

A large sculpture of the ideal Holstein-Friesian dairy cow by the Japanese-American artist Gozo Kawamura, 1923.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Friday, July 2, 2010


Down in Tennessee I used to sit upon the fence
A-wonderin' about the lack of people's common sense

What I didn't then couldn't keep concealed
Was one great big fat watermelon layin' in the field

See that watermelon hangin' on the vine
I wish that watermelon could be mine

The farmer must be careless
Without a lick of sense
Or he wouldn't leave it hangin'
On the vine

Cornbread is sweet
Pork chops are good
Black-eyed peas are mighty, mighty fine
But give me, oh give me
I really wish you would
That watermelon hangin' on the vine

Got a gal who loves me
She always treats me fine
She lets me hug and kiss her all the time
I wish that all her kisses
Could taste half as sweet
As the watermelon hangin' on the vine

Oh kissin' is sweet
Huggin' is good
Cherry lips taste mighty, mighty fine
But give me, oh give me
I really wish you would
That watermelon hangin' on the vine

Well I see that watermelon
So thick, so fat, so fine
What a shame to go leavin' it behind

I know my baby's waitin'
She won't be waitin' long
Now that I got that watermelon off the vine

Oh cornbread is sweet
Pork chops are good
Black-eyed peas are mighty, mighty fine
But I ought to tell you
I really think I should
For lickin' good eatin'
Eat a watermelon hangin' on the vine.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

When Nature Comes Calling

Our cat Jackie on the windowsill, transfixed, this morning.

The object of his attention, sitting on the corner of the deck.

My friend Alex, a genius of birds, says he's probably a juvenile red-shouldered hawk.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Whose World?

Probably you've wondered, given all the chaos and discord, whose world is this? Who is in charge of this mess? Conspiracy theorists assert variously it's the Illuminati, or the Freemasons, or the Bilderberg Group, or the Trilateral Commission.

Even the Godfather of Soul James Brown weighed in on the subject. It's A Man's Man's Man's World, he cried. And really, how often was he wrong, about anything? Gladys Knight begged to differ: "My world, his world, our world, mine and his alone, ooh y'all."

Well, I'm sorry. They're all wrong. Today, faithful readers, I reveal and share with you the truth. The world is Fredda Lee's. I have the evidence to prove it, a Fleetwood Globe Transistor Six radio, with an engraved brass plaque glued to the base.

Fredda Lee
Miss East Point 1963
Talent Presentation
"The World is Mine"
Mentored By
Sunny Young

Now you know.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

The Help

I probably should save this one for Labor Day, but I'm ready to show it now. This is a maid's uniform worn by an employee of the historic Henry Grady Hotel, which was a popular place for travelers to stay in Atlanta. It also served as the home away from home for politicians while the state legislature was in session, so whoever wore this dress patiently served the lower classes as well.

Dress sizes are not something I estimate well, but this is small and was worn by a petite woman or a teenage girl. I bought it as you see it, complete with the pinned paper tag and the little cloth crown that tied with ribbon around her head.

The hotel operated between 1924 and 1972. The paper tag shows the address as Atlanta 1, Georgia. That zone identification was used between 1942 and 1963, when zip codes came into being, so my guess is that it dates to sometime in those years.

Here's to the invisible folks who keep things clean and tidy. And one more thing about those who clean up after you: they know your secrets. Be glad for their discretion, because there's nothing menial in that.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010


I confess. I stole this note from a table of viewers' comments at the exit area of a history museum exhibit. But as Governor Eugene Talmadge once said, "Sure I stole it! But I stole it for you."

Text: Hi. This plece rokes. and it is so prfit for ajcashon.

Translation: Hi. This place rocks. and it is so perfect for education.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

To everything...

...there is a season...

No? Not funny? Okay.

Monday, June 7, 2010

An Unlikely Survivor

I recently found this slate tablet, which was used by a school child about 100 years ago. The slate surface is slightly recessed from the wooden frame, which enabled the survival of the lightly-drawn plump fellow in his top hat and double-breasted coat. I know that it's safe to handle, because it's clearly labeled "Germ-Proof." The owner's name is written in pencil along one border, maybe Milly or Miller.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Show of Hand

Felix Bonfils

Albumen Photograph

c. 1875

Museum of Giza, Statue of Wood

Thursday, April 29, 2010

About the Power of a Photograph

This photograph was taken April 29, 1975 - 35 years ago today - by Hubert Van Es, a Dutch photojournalist working for UPI in Saigon, Vietnam. It shows a CIA helicopter evacuating desperate Vietnamese employees of the agency and their families from the roof of an apartment building, often misidentified as the US Embassy, the day before the fall of Saigon.

The image is grainy and cropped, the composition more straightforward than artistic. Surely it was experienced meaningfully by millions, in millions of ways - to paraphrase Walt Whitman, it is large; it contains multitudes.

What I wonder is whether it has resonating power only for those of a certain age, say, over 50 - those who were in some way "there," who supported or opposed, fought, feared, suffered or suffer still from that war, and who knew what that moment captured on film meant. Or whether, like some scene from the Crimean War, its power will fade into wondering what that was all about.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

You Can't Take It With....Well, Maybe You Can

A custom-made, full size coffin from Ghana, by Nii Anum, circa 1995. It's for sale on ebay here.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Sing Robin Sing

To honor our burgeoning spring and an unknown artist, one of my all-time favorite folk art textiles. This pillowcase is hand-embroidered with a scene of two brown women and a baby, relaxing by a stream bordered with cattails and flowers. Over their heads, two giant blue jays engage as they bend the branches of red-flowering trees. The maker stitched in a lovely poem:

A kind heart are the gardens
A kind thoughts are the roots

A kind words are the blossoms
And a kind deeds are the fruits

Sing Robin Sing