Wednesday, July 15, 2020

Quote for the Day

We Didn't Start the Fire, continued

Continuing a brief look at the events and persons listed in Billy Joel’s “We Didn’t Start the Fire”.

Each two lines represent a year.


Joseph Stalin, Malenkov, Nasser and Prokofiev
Rockefeller, Campanella, Communist Bloc
Roy Cohn, Juan Peron, Toscanini, dacron
Dien Bien Phu falls, "Rock Around the Clock"
Einstein, James Dean, Brooklyn's got a winning team
Davy Crockett, Peter Pan, Elvis Presley, Disneyland

Bardot, Budapest, Alabama, Krushchev
Princess Grace, "Peyton Place", trouble in the Suez


Albert Einstein (1879-1955) is regarded as the most important scientist of the 20th century. A German-born theoretical physicist, he developed the theory of relativity, one of the two pillars of modern physics (alongside quantum mechanics). His work is also known for its influence on the philosophy of science. \He is best known to the general public for his mass–energy equivalence formula E = mc2, which has been dubbed "the world's most famous equation". Einstein received the 1921 Nobel Prize in Physics "for his services to theoretical physics, and especially for his discovery of the law of the photoelectric effect", a pivotal step in the development of quantum theory. Whatever all of that means. He also discovered how to put bubbles in beer. (For overseas readers, watch the Oz film Young Einstein). 

Relevance to 1955: 

Einstein died on 18 April 1955 aged 76 after experiencing internal bleeding caused by the rupture of an abdominal aortic aneurysm. He refused surgery, saying, "I want to go when I want. It is tasteless to prolong life artificially. I have done my share; it is time to go. I will do it elegantly." He died the next day. 

By the way: 

- Einstein was supposedly slow to talk. He told his biographer he didn’t start speaking until at least age three. Stanford economist Dr. Thomas Sowell coined the controversial term “Einstein Syndrome” to describe exceptionally bright people whose speech is delayed. 

- A few days after Zionist leader and first President of Israel Chaim Weizmann died on November 9, 1952, Einstein was asked if he would accept the position of being the second president of Israel. Einstein, age 73, declined the offer. In his official letter of refusal, Einstein stated that he lacked the “natural aptitude and the experience to deal properly with people.” 

- Part of Einstein’s charm was his dishevelled look. In addition to his uncombed hair, one of Einstein’s peculiar habits was to never wear socks. To Einstein, socks were a pain because they often would get holes in them. 

- Einstein married the only female student in his physics class, Mileva Maric, but gave her his Nobel Prize money to obtain a divorce. He subsequently married his cousin. 

By the way #2: 

A classic limerick reads: 

There’s a notable family named Stein, 
There’s Gert and there’s Ep and there’s Ein. 
Gert’s prose is all bunk, 
Ep’s sculpture’s just junk 
And nobody understands Ein. 

I suggest a slight change: 

There’s a notable family named Stein, 
There’s Gert and there’s Ep and there’s Ein. 
Gert’s prose is all junk, 
Ep’s dead in his bunk 
And nobody understands Ein.


James Dean: 

James Dean (1931-1955) was an American actor best remembered as a cultural icon of teenage disillusionment and social estrangement, as expressed in the title of his most celebrated film, Rebel Without a Cause (1955), in which he starred as troubled teenager Jim Stark. The other two roles that defined his stardom were loner Cal Trask in East of Eden (1955) and surly ranch hand Jett Rink in Giant (1956). After his death in a car crash, Dean was nominated for posthumous Best Actor Oscars for East of Eden in 1955 and for Giant in 1956, the only person to have ever had 2 posthumous nominations. 

Relevance to 1955: 

Dean also cashed in his chips in 1955, aged 24. A fan of motor racing, he won a number of events and had hoped to race in the Indianapolis 500 but scheduling prevented this. While working on “Giant,” the studio contractually barred him from racing. But upon finishing the film, he traded in the Speedster for an even more powerful Porsche 550 Spyder, which he nicknamed “Little Bastard.” On the afternoon of September 30, 1955, as Dean drove his brand-new Porsche Spyder to a road race in Salinas, California, a police officer ticketed him for going 65 mph in a 55-mph zone. Just over two hours later, a Ford Tudor sedan collided with Dean, who broke his neck and suffered severe internal injuries He was pronounced dead on arrival at a nearby hospital. To this day, it’s unclear whether he was speeding at the time. A coroner’s jury found the crash to be accidental. 

The famous Failure Analysis Associates, from Menlo Park, California, reconstructed and recreated all details of the accident at the same approximate time on September 30 and have concluded that James Dean was travelling 55 to 56 mph when the fateful accident occurred, thereby proving he had not been speeding, as rumour had it.

By the way: 

A controversial scene from Giant that had had Dean/Jesus in a crucifixion pose with Liz Taylor/Mary at his feet has become iconic: 

…as has the 1955 moody photo of Dean alone in the rain in the middle of Times Square, a study in isolation and sadness: 

Dean also appears prominently in Gottfried Helnwein's painting Boulevard of Broken Dreams (1984). The work is a redepiction of Edward Hooper’s Nighthawks. Helnwein has replaced the three patrons with American pop culture icons Humphrey Bogart, Marilyn Monroe, and James Dean, and the attendant with Elvis Presley. According to Hopper scholar Gail Levin, Helnwein connected the bleak mood of Nighthawks with 1950s American cinema and with "the tragic fate of the decade's best-loved celebrities." 

Edward Hoppers Nighthawks 

Gottfried Helnwein’s Boulevarde of Broken Dreams

One final BTW:

Reportedly, Dean was very much in love with television and film actress Pier Angeli and they planned to marry.  Her mother blocked the union because Dean was not Catholic and she helped arrange Pier's marriage to Vic Damone. Before she committed suicide, Pier wrote that Dean was the only man she had ever really loved.
James Dean and Pier Angeli - He later said that she was the only ...
James Dean and Pier Angeli

Tuesday, July 14, 2020

Thought for the Day

From the Vault: Said Hanrahan

A repost from September 2, 2010, a 1921 poem that has particular application today. . . 

Whereas Australia’s best known poets, Banjo Patterson and Henry Lawson wrote of the bush from a perspective of visiting city dwellers, whether romantic (Patterson) or harsh and cruel (Lawson), John O’Brien wrote as a person who actually lived in rural towns and participated in that existence.

John O'Brien was the psuedonym of Patrick Joseph Hartigan (1878-1952), who was born in Yass, New South Wales. Hartigan was a Roman Catholic priest in the Goulburn diocese and later parish priest at Narrandera, rural towns in New South Wales.

O’Brien’s poems are gentler, more affectionate of rural life and its people, descriptive of essential features such as farming, the Irish and the church. In many ways they are similar to Steele Rudd's anecdotes and stories in On Our Selection, but in poetic form.

“Said Hanrahan” (1921) gently pokes fun at the pessimism of the Irish Catholics and the attitude that sees difficulty in each situation, but against a backdrop of very real drought, floods and bushfires, constant threats in the Australian landscape and the Australian psyche.

The poem remains relevant today as new generations face difficulties in the environment and in society.

Said Hanrahan

- John O'Brien

"We'll all be rooned," said Hanrahan,
In accents most forlorn,
Outside the church, ere Mass began,
One frosty Sunday morn.

The congregation stood about,
Coat-collars to the ears,
And talked of stock, and crops, and drought,
As it had done for years.

"It's looking crook," said Daniel Croke;
"Bedad, it's cruke, me lad,
For never since the banks went broke
Has seasons been so bad."

"It's dry, all right," said young O'Neil,
With which astute remark
He squatted down upon his heel
And chewed a piece of bark.

And so around the chorus ran
"It's keepin' dry, no doubt."
"We'll all be rooned," said Hanrahan,
"Before the year is out."

"The crops are done; ye'll have your work
To save one bag of grain;
From here way out to Back-o'-Bourke
They're singin' out for rain.

"They're singin' out for rain," he said,
"And all the tanks are dry."
The congregation scratched its head,
And gazed around the sky.

"There won't be grass, in any case,
Enough to feed an ass;
There's not a blade on Casey's place
As I came down to Mass."

"If rain don't come this month," said Dan,
And cleared his throat to speak -
"We'll all be rooned," said Hanrahan,
"If rain don't come this week."

A heavy silence seemed to steal
On all at this remark;
And each man squatted on his heel,
And chewed a piece of bark.

"We want an inch of rain, we do,"
O'Neil observed at last;
But Croke "maintained" we wanted two
To put the danger past.

"If we don't get three inches, man,
Or four to break this drought,
We'll all be rooned," said Hanrahan,
"Before the year is out."

In God's good time down came the rain;
And all the afternoon
On iron roof and window-pane
It drummed a homely tune.

And through the night it pattered still,
And lightsome, gladsome elves
On dripping spout and window-sill
Kept talking to themselves.

It pelted, pelted all day long,
A-singing at its work,
Till every heart took up the song
Way out to Back-o'-Bourke.

And every creek a banker ran,
And dams filled overtop;
"We'll all be rooned," said Hanrahan,
"If this rain doesn't stop."

And stop it did, in God's good time;
And spring came in to fold
A mantle o'er the hills sublime
Of green and pink and gold.

And days went by on dancing feet,
With harvest-hopes immense,
And laughing eyes beheld the wheat
Nid-nodding o'er the fence.

And, oh, the smiles on every face,
As happy lad and lass
Through grass knee-deep on Casey's place
Went riding down to Mass.

While round the church in clothes genteel
Discoursed the men of mark,
And each man squatted on his heel,
And chewed his piece of bark.

"There'll be bush-fires for sure, me man,
There will, without a doubt;
We'll all be rooned," said Hanrahan,
"Before the year is out."

My contribution as an alternative or updated last verse, with apologies to John O'Brien . . .

The world has gone to crap, me man,
The worst that I recall;
We'll all be rooned," said Hanrahan,
When Covid takes us all."

Monday, July 13, 2020

Quote for the Day

Golda Meir (1898 – 1978) 
was an Israeli teacher, stateswoman, politician and the world's fourth and Israel's first and only woman to hold the office of Prime Minister.  She has been described as the "Iron Lady" of Israeli politics, the term later applied to British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi.

Some pics

You had one job . . . and you nailed it! . . . 

Lately, everything seems to remind me of Donald trump. . . 

. . . even Donald Duck upside down . . .

On the topic of Donald Trump:

At a plastic surgeon's premises. . .

At an art show, don't look up . . . 

At another gallery . . .

Meanwhile, in quarantine . . . 

Sunday, July 12, 2020

Some Covid Poems

 Some Coronavirus Poems to the Editor
New York Times


The Before Times

Before we were living in a pandemic, we went to lunch with
our friends in restaurants & slurped soup with crackers
we crushed with our bare fingers, our ordinary fingers
that did not ignite terror, that were not vectors of disease.

Before the days of self-isolation, shopping was just another chore,
sometimes a pleasure, a stroll through Costco sampling
from little paper cups protein bars & chocolate candies &
popcorn & potato chips, strolling & sampling & buying
big bags of broccoli & spinach & Asian cashew salad
& giant containers of gourmet cheese & yes, toilet paper.

The Before Times have receded deep into memory as if
all of that happened ten, no, twenty years ago
when we lived in another land of freedom & movement
& laughter & hugging & sitting in each other's
living rooms, living, alive, chatting for hours without
measuring the social distance, without wearing N95
surgical masks or nitrile gloves, without anxious fear.

Now we are living in another land, frightened & confused,
our minds always tasked with remembering to wash our hands,
not touch our faces, not touch packages or mail without
gloves & Clorox wipes & yes, remembering to worry,
as if anxious worry could create a high wall surrounded by a moat
of reeking & fuming disinfectant to keep us safe in this new land
of contamination & fever & suffocation & death.

We must not forget the Before Times, when we could touch
doorknobs, doorbells, the mail, U.P.S. packages, restaurant tabletops,
colleagues’ keyboards, other people’s hands, our own faces.
We must not forget dinner parties, book groups, political rallies,
concerts, movies, worship services, protests, weddings, funerals.
In the Before Times we shared our joys & sorrows together.

Will we ever live together again?

Salt Lake City



The weeks go by, the fourth, the fifth,
And normalcy’s become a myth.
I want to hug, I want to hold,
I want this deadly scourge controlled.
I want to walk amidst a crowd.
I want to lift this morbid shroud.
I sit, sequestered in my home,
And yearn to mingle, travel, roam.
My energy is out of whack —
I want my normal problems back.

Brookline, Mass.


The following poem – “What If Instead Of Behind These Kids Are Ahead” -  was published on a blog by American mother of two Jaime Ragsdale, who has said that she posted it on social media after seeing countless “discouraging” messages concerned that the coronavirus is creating a big learning gap due to missed schooling. 

The poem, which has divided opinion, suggests that our children might actually benefit from this time of profound stress and loss; that it might teach them to enjoy simple pleasures, develop greater empathy, and value the “previously invisible essential workers”– like supermarket shelf stackers, truck drivers, teachers and health care workers – who are taking care of us now, and in doing so, putting their own lives at risk.

The poem has, however, divided opinion.  In contrast to the above it has been argued by some that the poem’s lessons are the sole preserve of the privileged, who are untouched by financial or mental struggles, leaky roofs, or the stress of guiding children with learning problems, that not all parents can manage to deliver all this beauty in home isolation.  It is suggested that parents in those situations don’t benefit from someone else telling them all the other things they haven’t managed to get their kids to do yet.

So what do you think . . .

What If Instead Of Being Behind These Kids Are Ahead?

What if, instead of falling behind, our kids are advanced?

What if they have more empathy, they enjoy family connection, they can be more creative and entertain themselves, they love to read and express themselves in writing?

What if they enjoy the simple things, like their own backyards and balconies, sitting near a window in the quiet?

What if they notice the birds and the dates and different flowers emerge and the calming renewal of a gentle rain shower?

What if our kids are the ones to learn to cook, organise their space, do their laundry and help keep a well run home?

What if they learn to stretch a dollar and live with less?

What if they learn to plan shopping trips and make meals at home?

What if they learn the difference between want and need?

What if they learn the value of eating together as a family and finding the good in sharing the small delights of every day?

What if they are the ones who place great value on our teachers and educational professionals, librarians, public servants and the previously invisible essential workers like truck drivers, grocers, cashiers, healthcare workers... just to name a few who are taking care of us right now while we are sheltered in place?

What if among these children a great leader emerges who had the benefit of a slower pace and simpler life to truly learn what really matters in life?

What if they are ahead?

By Jaime Ragsdale

Saturday, July 11, 2020

Quote for the Day

Gillie and Marc

Caution: some risqué content 

I needed to attend premises at Mascot (for overseas readers, a suburb of Sydney near the airport) yesterday in connection with a legal matter. I grabbed a cab and, arriving at the destination, the cabbie drove through the entry gates up to the front of the building and stopped facing this: 

WTF I said, with which the cabbie concurred. The figures on the Vespa are life size and, from what I glimpsed of the man-dog (or is that dog-man?) anatomically correct, see photo below, even if not species accurate. 

I then noticed another man-dog in the garden: 

For those interested, the sculptures are at 290-292 Coward Street, Mascot.

Some other pics:


Later I did some googling, learned who the artists were and some of the background to their art. 

The artists are Gillie and Marc: 

The following is from Wikipedia at: 

Gillie and Marc Schattner are an Australian collaborative artist couple. Gillie and Marc are known for their animal, human-animal hybrid and abstract sculptures, which have been exhibited as public works of art around the world. They also produced many paintings, street art and people statues.

Personal life: 
Gillie and Marc met in 1990 on a film shoot in Hong Kong, where Gillie was a model and Marc was the creative director. She is Catholic and he is Jewish.[6] They married seven days after they met, in a Hindu ceremony.[6] They have lived in Singapore, and New York, and now live in Sydney.  
Art career:
Marc studied graphic design at Swinburne, Melbourne, while Gillie received no formal art training. Prior to collaborating, Gillie worked as a model, and Marc was an artist from Melbourne working in an advertising agency. The Schattners first exhibited as a pair in Singapore in 1990. Upon returning to Australia in 1999, they had a joint exhibition called Life Can’t Wait, painting portraits of twenty Australians who face death and were on the organ waiting list. The project was sponsored by the Australian Red Cross Blood Service and was used to create awareness and encourage the public to sign up to be organ donors. In 2006 they were Archibald Prize finalists for a portrait of former Olympic swimmer John Konrads representing his battle with bi-polar disorder. They made their first hybrid human-animal heads in 2005; they created the characters Dogman and Rabbitgirl, (who later became Rabbitwoman) in 2011. Their work has been stolen, and the nude figures have generated controversy.

Public Sculptures 

The Paparazzi Dogs 
In 2013 Gillie and Marc created a series of sculptures depicting a dog holding a camera, which were exhibited in Melbourne, Sydney, Singapore, Beijing, Shanghai and New York City.

The Last Three 
In March 2017, Gillie and Marc announced plans to build what they claimed would be the "world's largest rhino sculpture" in Astor Place New York's East Village to raise awareness for rhino conservation. On March 14, 2018 the17-feet tall sculpture was unveiled, representing Sudan, Najin and Fatu - the last three Northern White Rhinos. Coincidentally, 3 days after the installation of The Last Three, Sudan, the last male Northern White Rhino died. Flowers were brought to the sculpture's base.

The art-critic Jerry Saltz called the work "a Kitschy Monstrosity," saying it was "an ugly, bathos-filled folly that proves my adage that 95 percent of all public sculpture is crap" and "little more than a place to take selfies."

Other Works:
Other Rhino sculptures have been installed in city of Dubbo, Australia, La Trobe University, and Sydney's Tamarama Beach where the sculpture won the Allen's People's Choice Award and Kids' Choice Award after it survived a king tide. They have also made sculptures of lions, tigers, and other animals. 

The following is from their website at: 

Referred to by the media as “the world’s most loving artists”, this artistic duo has worked side by side for 27 years, creating art as one and spreading the love they have for each other with the world. The artists first met on a film shoot in Hong Kong and 7-days later they ran away to Nepal to get married on the foothills of Mount Everest. They’ve been inseparable ever since.

The artists are best known for their beloved characters, Rabbitwoman and Dogman, who tell the autobiographical tale of two opposites coming together to become best friends and soul mates. As unlikely animal kingdom companions, the Rabbit and the Dog stand for diversity and acceptance through love. Gillie and Marc believe art is a powerful platform for change. Their art is multi-disciplinary, paying homage to the importance of togetherness, as well as the magnificence of the natural world, and the necessity of preserving it – for we are it, and it is us. 


“The Last Three”, the seven-ton, 17-foot-high “tallest bronze rhino sculpture in the world.” 

He Tasted Like Anchovy Pizza But She Loved Him Anyway 

She Loved the Way She Looked at Him 

Deerman with coffee 

Happy Birthday Mr President 

Early Morning Coffee

Ricky Ponting

Papparazzi Pack


Baby You Can Ride With Me 
(look familiar?) 

Dogman and Rabbitgirl: Vespa Riders