Monday, 28 September 2015


Mr. Bogglehead:
The Man Who Closed A City
By Richard Carreño
[WC News Service]
Let's set aside the security excesses.
There were of course, many during Pope Francis' pop-in in Philadelphia last weekend. Too many.
Let's even move beyond, for the moment, the gross municipal incompetence in planning Francis' visit here, though Mayor Nutter and his crew had more than six months to strategize the event. Details regarding the occasion were always confused, opaque, and contradictory. And usually wrong.
Somehow Nutter got it in his head that more than 1-million, even 1.5-million attendees would arrive. The overly-optimistic figure was pulled out of thin air. It became fixed and operative. And, eventually, it helped lead to the various cock-ups that ensued.
But it was Nutter's favourite number, and one he insisted upon. A record number that would result in the biggest event in Philadelphia's history. On his watch. In the closing months of his mayoralty.

Tuesday, 15 September 2015

RAYMOND CHELLEL, The PJ's UK-based correspondent, wonders ...

Jeremy Corbyn
Though Not Certain -- Test Will Come in By-Elections
'Interesting -- But Probably Not in a Good Way'

LONDON [WC News Service] -- Corbyn!  There are two British political groups celebrating the election last week of Jeremy Corbyn as Labour Leader:  The unreconstructed, hard-left socialist wing of the party, and just about all Conservatives, who, with good reason, believe this lurch to the left will make Labour unelectable for years to come.  After all, Corbyn's predecessor, Ed Miliband (who, with the support of the trade unions, beat his brother to the leadership) moved the party to the left and consequently presided over one of the worst electoral defeats in Labour history.

Monday, 7 September 2015


Pure Literature,
Purer Enjoyment
Purity is high literary achievement, although, admittedly, not great literature. It is a complex ganglia of characterizations that speak to our time, unravelling the complexities of our Internet age in narrative form.

                                Oprah would hate it. I loved it. You should read it. You'll then know why Jonathan Franzen is America's best 21st century contemporary novelist. In fact, he well be the Charles Dickens of our era. -- Hotspur for The Philadelphia Junto.

The PJ depends exclusively on reader support. Please help us continue by contributing directly via PayPal, or by contributing editorial content via Empowered by WritersClearinghouse | S.P.Q.R. 1976 Richard Carreño, Editor Copyright MMXV. All Rights Reserved

Saturday, 29 August 2015


Narongdech Sudjai
Narongdech Sudjai is a Thai artist who's famous among foreign art collectors. He also does mural paintings. He lives in Chiang Saen District, Chiang Rai Province in the north of Thailand. There foreign visitors come to visit the Golden Triangle, where the Mekong River flows past Thailand, Myanmar, and Laos. Chiang Saen is a city with long historical background. It used to be the frontier city of the Lanna Empire. Sudjai is originally from Bangkok, but many years ago he decided to settle in Chiang Saen. He now runs a studio called the Opium Art Gallery in front of the Opium Museum, near the Golden Triangle. 
-- Janine Yasovant

Friday, 21 August 2015

Penn Museum Biblical Exhibit

By Pam Kosty
Penn Museum
[Special to WC News Service] 
They are treasures that have survived centuries and even millennia: one of the world¹s oldest fragments of the gospel of Saint Matthew; the first Bible printed in the Americas, in the Native American Massachusett language; a New Testament Bible published in twelve languages in Nuremberg, Germany, 1599; the earliest version of the Mesopotamian flood story, pre-dating the Biblical story of Noah, written on clay over 3,500 years ago.

In honor of the first visit by Pope Francis and the World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia next month, the Penn Museum, in conjunction with the Penn Libraries, offers Sacred Writings: Extraordinary Texts of the Biblical World, a special exhibition of rare artifacts from the Museum Collection and rare books and manuscripts from the Penn Libraries. On view August 15 through November 7, Sacred Writings provides the centerpiece experience for a Museum visit, where a special focus on the ancient Near East, Egypt, and the Canaan and Ancient Israel galleries and beyond affords visitors a unique opportunity to delve into ancient cultures and Bible-era art and artifacts.

Tuesday, 18 August 2015

The OTHER Picasso Museum

Pablo Picasso
in Lucerne
[WC News Service]
Lucerne, Switzerland
Many Pablo Picasso fans have already made the pilgrimage to the newly-opened Musée Picasso in Paris, and thus, surrounded by scores the artist's works, have encountered the hordes that flock to museum. Like most museums in Paris, these galleries double as tourist attractions, especially when they feature marquee artists (Picasso) or iconic paintings (Mona Lisa at the Louvre). The result are crowds. Big crowds. Sometimes, in the summer, especially, titanic crowds that can put off even the most hardy museum-goer. (Ssshh... The solution are skip-the-line tickets. Sometimes costly. But always well worth the expense).
Or, for true, die-hard Picasso dévotees, how does immediate access to one of the best, small collections of his works anywhere sound? And with no crowds. In fact, hardly any fellow museum-goers to contend with.

Saturday, 8 August 2015

Mark Twain:

Lion and Friend
Photo: WC News Service/Joan T. Kane


From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia The Lion Monument (German: Löwendenkmal), or the Lion of Lucerne, is a sculpture in Lucerne, Switzerland, designed by Bertel Thorvaldsen and hewn in 1820–21 by Lukas Ahorn. It commemorates the Swiss Guards who were massacred in 1792 during the French Revolution, when revolutionaries stormed the Tuileries Palace in Paris, France. Mark Twain praised the sculpture of a mortally-wounded lion as "the most mournful and moving piece of stone in the world."

Monday, 3 August 2015

Lausanne's Métro

Photos; WC News Service/Richard Carreño
[WC News Service]
LAUSANNE, Switzerland -- Most subway straphangers consider themselves lucky if the train they're riding foretells an upcoming station stop with a PA update (too often muffled, too heavily accented, and/or generally unintelligible), or, at best, with a visual announcement that requires a neck-straining contortion to check it out. Lausanne's Métro has such methods beat: Welcome to the world's smallest city with a full-fledged subway. And, arguably, also the world's quirkiest, where approaching stations are announced by animal sounds. As from horses and cows. And rushing water, as in a waterfall.

Forget verbal announcements or visual legends. In their place, at alternating stations, are the amplified sounds of cows mooing and the hoof beats of stampeding horses. The pattern seems random: As I approached the Line 2's Croisettes stop, it might have been the horses that I was hearing. Thirteen stops away, at Ouchy, mooing might have been cued up. Either way, be forewarned to alight if your stop were next.

Thursday, 30 July 2015


[WC News Service]
Le Corbusier (1887-1965), the professional name of the Swiss-French architect, who was born Charles-Edouard Jeanneret, is arguably Switzerland's most famous architect, and, along with Alberto Giacometti, the Swiss-Italian sculptor, one of that country's marque-brand artists.
Interestingly, Le Corbusier's profile is not as high in the United States, as in other parts of the world. His only building in North America is the Carpenter Center for the Visual Arts, built in 1963 at Harvard. It's not very inspiring -- just a layered mass of rough-hewn, poured concrete that's equal parts Brutalism and boring.
There might be another reason for the architect's lacklustre popularity on this side of the Atlantic, namely Le Corbusier's little-known penchant as an admirer of the Soviet social order (one of his grandest commissions was in Russia during the 1930s) and fascist states (Mussolini's Italy and Marshal Pétain's Vichy). Also there's simply the work -- a non-humanist approach in aesthetics and scale. Like I said, mostly Brutalism and boring.

Sunday, 26 July 2015

At the Philadelphia Museum of Art

Mary Cassat
By Ken Johnson
The New York Times
24 July 2015
Casual observers might suppose that mega-galleries like Larry Gagosian’s and David Zwirner’s are a distinctively 21st-century phenomenon. But the gallery of Paul Durand-Ruel, the Paris dealer who put Impressionism on the international map, preceded them by more than a century and a half. His fascinating and instructive story is the subject of “Discovering the Impressionists: Paul Durand-Ruel and the New Painting,” a gorgeous exhibition at the Philadelphia Museum of Art.
This show presents more than 90 paintings, including many Impressionist works that haven’t been seen in the United States in decades or ever, all of which passed through Durand-Ruel’s hands at some point. The paintings alone make the show a popular draw. But it’s the tale of Durand-Ruel’s career, richly detailed in essays by scholars in the exhibition catalog, that makes this more than just another crowd-pleaser.

Thursday, 23 July 2015


Zurich HB Rail Station
21 July 2015
Richard Carreño/WC News Service

The PJ depends exclusively on reader support. Please help us continue by contributing directly via PayPal, or by contributing editorial content via Empowered by WritersClearinghouse | S.P.Q.R. 1976 Richard Carreño, Editor Copyright MMXV. All Rights Reserved

Watana Kreetong

'On the Road' with Thai Artist
By Janine Yasovant
[WC News Service]
Recently I had a chance to meet he Thai artist Watana Kreetong in Chiang Mai, Thailand. He was born in Chumporn Province in the south of Thailand. When he was a student at Silpakorn University, he was a student leader and participated in the Friendship Program for 21st Century in Japan. He also received awards and stipulation money for young artists, as well as exhibiting his artworks in National Art Exhibitions in Thailand several times. After he graduated he worked in the advertising business for more than fifteen years. Many times he had ideas to use his remaining time so he quitted his job in 2010 to pursue his goal to create works of art.

Wednesday, 8 July 2015

Watch Out Heidi!

Next Week Departure

The PJ depends exclusively on reader support. Please help us continue by contributing directly via PayPal, or by contributing editorial content via Empowered by WritersClearinghouse | S.P.Q.R. 1976 Richard Carreño, Editor Copyright MMXV. All Rights Reserved

Monday, 15 June 2015

Fly on the Wall

Sicilian Wine Makes a Come-back
By Don Merlot
[WC News Service]
NEW ORLEANS -- This column starts the completion of the three stages of wine learning for me. My first stage is where have I been; the second stage is where am I and the final stage is where am I going. This article is going to open the future of wine and food and what I perceive is developing or opening up. I have chosen Sicily as the theme to kick off the journey to the future.
During my first trip to Italy (1972) I had an opportunity to speak at a sales conference about my products. During the social exchange after the presentation one of the prominent Hotel/catering officials was telling stories (In Italian as I found most Milan business men spoke some French but not a lot of English at that time. The English was “British English” and not American English.  He mentioned that Sicily was given the Nobel Peace prize in 1967 for being the only Arab country that had not declared War on Israel. The group of Italians customers thought that his was hilarious.

SOS 2015

Please see the attached announcement of Save Our Sites’ annual spring tour, which this year will be held on Saturday, June 27 at 4 pm.  We will be taking a private tour of the Henry George Birthplace house museum, located at 413 South 10th Street in Center City, Philadelphia.   Attendees are then welcome to join us as we explore the historic Washington Square West neighborhood and to stay for an optional dinner at one of the many fine local restaurants.
If you have any question, please reply to this email or call 215-915-6627 or (workdays) 215-232-2344.  You are welcome to RSVP via email—or just come on the day of the event!
The PJ depends exclusively on reader support. Please help us continue by contributing directly via PayPal, or by contributing editorial content via Empowered by WritersClearinghouse | S.P.Q.R. 1976 Richard Carreño, Editor Copyright MMXV. All Rights Reserved

Wednesday, 10 June 2015

NOLA Without the Beads

On the Cheap, That Is

The Cotton Market
Estelle Musson

[WC News Service]
NEW ORLEANS -- What's Edgar Degas, the well-known 19th century French Impressionist, doing in this city, a place otherwise more notably recognized worldwide for its jazz, Mardi Gras, and out-of-towners publicly puking and urinating in the renowned French Quarter? For the casual admirer of Degas (1834-1917) and his iconic ouevre of ballet dancers en déshabillées, female bathers, and louche racetrack railbirds, more natural habitats would surely be the tony bits of Paris, say at the Opéra Garnier, Longchamps, and the intimate boudoirs of the gratin. For ardent and seasoned picture punters, the Musée d'Orsay would do nicely, as well.
Degas Self Portrait

Though better known by its monikers the Big Easy and Crescent City, New Orleans is also a big chunk of 'Degas country,' thanks to a five-month family visit the artist made here in 1872. Since then, local commercial interests have milked and churned the brief sojourn into tourist fodder for more family-oriented visitors, at least those whose primary interests don't include getting drunk and getting laid.

Voilà! The house where Degas lived with relatives (and where he painted a bit as well), at 2306 Esplanade Avenue, in the leafy Mid-City precinct near the Vieux Carré, has been converted into an upscale bed-and-breakfast. And visitor site. Not far away, at 3127 Esplanade, is the Café Degas, an out-door bistro where 'nobody makes egg dishes better than [its] French chef.'

Monday, 8 June 2015

Chayanan Arvato

By Janine Yasovant 
[WC News Service]
The Artist
     A native of the island Koh Yoh in the South of Thailand, Chayanan Arvato studied art at Chang Sin College and later got Bachelor’s and Master's degrees from Silpakorn University. His current job is a university lecturer. Chayanan is a role model of an artist who incorporates drawing in the western style. He has observed art works in Europe more than eight times and he found that his knowledge of art is still lacking as each kind of work requires different ways of training. People admired him and called him the best figurative artist in Thailand. I completely agree.

Friday, 5 June 2015


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Wednesday, 3 June 2015



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Thursday, 28 May 2015


[WC News Service]
MADRID -- Guernica, Pablo Picasso's masterpiece at the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía here, often ranks as the artist's most famous,  if not greatest, work. The picture, depicting the anilation by aerial bombing of the small Basque peasant village of Guernica during the Spanish Civil War, is also frequently cited as the most famous anti-war painting in the pantheon of Western Art. With such superlatives, Guernica has become one of those iconic paintings that everyone seems to know. And everyone wants to see. It has its own immense showcase gallery. Guards are stationed at attention on either side of the canvas. No photography permitted. Something like the Mona Lisa, without, at least when I visited recently, the Louvre-like crowds.

But is Guernica really just an anti-war statement, as it is most often portrayed? Or even, for that matter, the most powerful iteration of that admirable sentiment ever rendered in 20th-century modern art? Maybe, not so much
Simply put, Guernica doesn't escape being, as is the case with much war-related art, politically motivated. As such, it ranks too as arguably the most famous poster child for advocacy art. In a word, propaganda. Righteous propaganda. But propaganda nonetheless.
The Third of May, 1808, in Madrid

Tuesday, 26 May 2015

Carreño de Miranda

By Richard Carreño
[WC News Service]
MADRID -- I have two great painters in the family.

One was my grandfather, Toribio Carreño, an early 20th-century immigrant from Cuba, who was house painter in New York.
The other is Juan Carreño de Miranda, a 17th-century Spanish court painter.
They both worked in oils.
That's pretty much where their artistic similarities begin and end. Toribio went on to have his ephemeral masterpieces take pride of place on several residential blocks in Brooklyn. Juan's works have proven to be more timeless, taking pride of place in the Museo Nacional del Prado here. 
Family legends are often dodgy, more fun to playfully indulge in than rigorously inspect, and thus it's often best not to scratch too deeply into genealogical details.
Still, it's more than just amusing to associate one's own DNA with a historical figure, especially a personage who can link a family's roots to a glamorous, regal past. True, Carreño de Miranda (1614-1685) wasn't as skilled, prominent, nor as well-connected as his contemporary Diego Valázquez (1599-1660). Valázquez painted kings. Carreño, for the most part, painted dukes and lesser royalty. (Though, as a royal painter, he still did get a few cracks at depicting Mad King Charles II in a few unflattering portraits). 

Thursday, 21 May 2015

Franco's Monument

El Caudillo
[WC News Service]
Part I
There are few memorials to tyrants. Consider the dictators of the World War II era.
Imagine the unthinkable -- a monument to Hitler; another, to Mussolini.

On the other hand, Stalin, the Soviet Union's villainous Communist dictator, still gets venerated in a Red Square, Moscow, crypt.

And, remarkably, memorialized in this country is the lesser-known, fourth butcher of that war period -- Francisco Franco, who in the wake of Spain's Civil War claimed the nation as his own as the victorious Caudillo, or Leader.

Unlike Stalin's resting place, Franco's grave site is off the tourist grid, in the Guadarrama mountain range, high above, and to the northwest, of Madrid. It's big, creepy, and chilling.
Franco's tomb is inside

Saturday, 9 May 2015

An Arab Spring?

Fly on the Wall
Sicilian wine: A Renaissance with Arab Roots
Notes & thoughts on food and wine from RON ALONZO aka DON MERLOT
This column starts the completion of the three stages of my wine education. The first stage is where have I been; the second stage, where am I; and the final stage, where I'm going. This article is going to open the future of wine and food. I have chosen Sicily as the theme to kick off the journey to the future.
During my first trip to Italy (1972) I had an opportunity to speak at a sales conference about my products. During the social exchange after the presentation, one of the prominent hotel/catering officials was telling stories (in Italian as I found most Milan business men spoke some French, but not a lot of English at that time. Their English was “British English” and not American English). He mentioned that Sicily was given the Nobel Peace prize in 1967 for being the only Arab country that had not declared war on Israel. The group of Italians customers thought that his was hilarious.
I accept and understand the concept “that the truest things are said in jest,” but here I am seeing that Italians had their own profile of fellow Italians. Although I had studied European history and had an idea of where Italy fit into the Western World, I did not know that the Italians differentiated themselves by their own DNA. I guess I was quite naïve. I thought about it and thought how little I knew about Sicily versus the concept of homogenous Italians. (To me Americans are very quick to judge cultures in a homogenous formula. Yes, I had talked to my Italian-American roommates in college (really, other than some conversations with other Italian-Americans was about the Mafia, and I did not want to throw that in that ring because Mafia means different things to various groups).  

Friday, 1 May 2015

Pols Yuck it Up

A Good Time Was Had by All
By Richard Meyer
WASHINGTON [WC News Service] -- Politicians in this country are entitled to a bit of levity. But the spectacle of the Red Carpeted, forced smiles commingling of public servants (so to speak) and "celebrities" at fancy dinner, in a time when middle class families struggle to stay afloat and the income inequality gap is at record levels is a poor spectacle to present to the country at large. 
By the way, I do not mean this in any way as a partisan comment, as these spectacles go on during the Administrations of both parties.

The blurring of the lines between entertainment and politics, as reflected daily in the so-called "News" programs, especially in the morning hours, is a pestilence in our times of serious domestic and foreign issues alike.

Friday, 17 April 2015

Fly on the Wall

Done and Done
Photo: WC News Service/Don Merlot 
Continuing notes & thoughts on food and wine from the WC News Service's Ron Alonzo aka Don Merlot       


 This year has been busy one visiting the past, finding out what we know about wine and what do with wine and or what we have learned about wine, and guess about what the future of wine will be with what we have learned. It reminds me of the old saying my parents discussed with me to see if I was on the right road to a successful life.

       Tell me where you have been?   

       Tell me where you are?

       Tell me where you are going?
    In March, I saw some friends in Florida who started the journey of wine with me back in 1969 when we lived Michigan. My original bias was red wine from Burgundy and white wine from the Loire. The French Bordeaux was the most respected and prestigious wine in the USA and globally recognized as well.     
    Our intentions were to visit our favorite food tastes and wines that we have enjoyed.  We set our expectation on having two home prepared meals and we sipped six bottles of wine that were matched to the food. We only had two nights to enjoy this.    

      In a sense it reminded me of where I had been in my wanderings these past 46 years. The wines came from different regions and countries and were presented to accompany special favorite dishes we had enjoyed. It is something we have done since 1969. Before dispatching the empty bottles to oblivion, I took a photo with my I-Pod to remind me of our souvenir.  

Wednesday, 18 March 2015

Picasso Museum, Paris

Photo: WC News Service
PARIS [WC News Service] -- The newly-reopened Musée National Picasso-Paris, closed for expansion and remodelling after an incredible (count em!) five years, is unarguably the world's most comprehensive and numerically superlative collection anywhere of works by Pablo Picasso, the prolific, long-time Parisian. There are, of course, many iconic pieces of the Picasso's canon elsewhere, with pride of place in museums from Madrid to New York. But for sheer number (more than four hundred objects) -- including great examples of the Spanish modern's oeuvre over a lifetime of artistic mastery --  the 'new' Picasso Museum is the place to show up. If you can get in. 

No, the Picasso is not a timed-ticket establishment. But I'm wondering whether it really should be. Actually, putting up with the longish entrance queue is the easy part. (Full disclosure: As a reporter, I got to skip the line in a visit earlier this month). What's harder for everyone, even those credentialed as press, is seeing the works with any ease. Forget contemplation. Communion? Not in this lifetime. Even just trying to get up close and personal with any of the art is a spirited, athletic art form in itself. In weaving and bobbing among other museum-goers (many seem to be garden clubers on private tours), being built like a line-backer will definitely help. So will a periscope to see over the heads of fellow galleristas.

Sunday, 15 March 2015

Fondation Louis Vuitton

'Anchors Away!'
Photo: WC News Service/Richard Carreño
PARIS [WC News Service] -- The super rich and powerful get all sorts things named for them; their fabulous wealth underwriting  ego-centric municipal projects from hospitals and sports stadiums to theatres and, increasingly for those billionaire one-per-centers who also fancy themselves as art connoisseurs, eponymous museums that showcase their putative, ahem, 'connoisseurship.'
Step forward, please, France's richest man, one Bernard Arnault, chairman of the luxury goods conglomerate, LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton, who has also created what may be one of the the world's worst contemporary art museums, the newly-minted Fondation Louis Vuitton, a Frank Gehry-designed behemoth that rises up in Paris' principal park, the Bois de Boulogne.

The mega-million-euro museum, resembling an ocean-going ark with a very large prow, opened in late 2014. I got around to it earlier this month.

True, the museum doesn't bear Arnault's name. Never mind. Arnault is Vuitton, and, in the tony precincts of the 16th, Mayfair, and the Upper East Side, everyone knows it. That, seemingly, is enough for the vainglorious Arnault.


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