The PJ

* The Philadelphia Junto * Empowered by WritersClearinghouse * No. 134 * May 2015 * Meeting @ Philadelphia * 'A Charivari of the Lit'ry Life' * Dr Franklin's Diary as told to Richard Carreño * City Edition * Weather: Always Sunny

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.

Thursday, 12 March 2015

Janet Flanner

Hotel Intercontinental
PARIS [WC News Service] -- For more than thirty years, The New Yorker, arguably America's most respected middle-brow general circulation magazine, surveyed this city and French life from a 12 feet by 15 feet perch overlooking the Palais Garnier, the wonderful Beaux Arts structure that houses the Paris Opera.
That is, until 1978, when 86-year-old Janet Flanner, the magazine's Paris correspondent known by her sobriquet 'Genêt,' who had occupied the pocket-sized room, suffered a fatal heart attack during one of her periodic visits to New York. It was, as they say, an end of an era.

Wednesday, 11 March 2015

Musée de la Chasse et de la Nature

Din Din
Photo: WC News Service
Get Stuffed
Paris (WC News Service) -- The Musée de la Chasse et de la Nature, or the Museum of Hunting and Nature, in Le Marais, is something like the Museum of Natural History in New York, even the Academy of Natural Sciences in Philadelphia. That is, without the dinosaurs and dioramas. And size.

It's the sensibility. The Marais museum, at 62, rue des Archives, is smallish on three-floors, boutique like, and its exhibits are, for the most part, stuffed specimens of small animals hunted by rifle-bearing shooters. Its largest pieces are brown and polar bears and, on the top floor, two gorillas -- who seemingly are about to share the pleasures au table.

Actually, I had hoped for more about stag hunting, the French version of English and American foxhunting. Except for a few statuettes and oil pictures, not much.

Wednesday, 18 February 2015

Down Memory Lane, Dreaming of Empire

The Greater Reich, including Austria, shown in map at Vienna's war museum.
Photo: WC News Service
In many European countries, Jews are facing growing anti-Semitism, particularly as Islamic terrorism spreads widely over the continent. In Vienna, Richard Carreño, finds that Jews and their war-time persecution are just pretty much ignored.
VIENNA — The parade of jack-booted troops was greeted by thousands. Packed into Vienna's Heldenplatz, they listened in awe as he ranted about the wonders of Lebensraum. Not far away, he and his mistress, Eva Braun, shared separate apartments at the Imperial Hotel. He, in the presidential suite, with an out-door balcony overlooking Vienna's Ringstrasse, its centre-city inner loop. There, he ranted some more.

In early 1938, Adolph Hitler was at the top of his game. And the Anschluss, or the annexation of Austria, was a key piece in expanding the 'living space' (Lebensraum) of Nazi Germany. Berlin was the capital of National Socialism. Munich, its spiritual seat. Vienna, thanks to Hitler's Austrian birth, schooling, and work there, its incubator. Vienna, Hitler was fond in saying, was 'the jewel in the crown.'

Today, in a city known more for its opera and waltzes, Secessionist artists (Gustav Klimt amongst them) cappuccino mit schlag (strudel on the side), Spanish riding horses, and the Blue Danube (now, more a murky, industrial grey), there's little physical evidence that this was Adolph Hitler's 'hometown. Or, of the triumphal return of the once-disgraced, failed local art student and draft-dodger as this city's prodigal son -- homeboy, according to Viennese at the time, made 'good.'

Vienna's memory stream runs thin. Its memory lapse, deep.

Sunday, 8 February 2015


*** This year is the 450th anniversary of the Spanish Riding School, to be celebrated by a gala scheduled for 7 pm at the nearby Heldenplatz on 26 June and subsequently at the 6th Fete Imperiale. In attendance will be the Royal Andalusian Riding School from Jerez, Spain. ***

Photos: WC News Service
VIENNA -- By the time we arrived at Michaelerplatz, during our visit last week, it was already late in the day. We suspected that our visit would be rescheduled for another day.
'No, you're just in time for the last English-language tour,' we were told.
'Where shall we meet?'
'Right here. You're it.'
Not surprisingly that we were only English-speakers really. During our week-long stay in Vienna, we encountered few, if any, other Americans. Few, if any, native English-speaking tourists. Time of the year?
But what especially was a happy result was that we were permitted to take photos, normally banned on public tours. -- Richard Carreño
Thanks to Wikipedia for the following:

The Spanish Riding School (German: Spanische Hofreitschule) of Vienna, Austria, is a traditional riding school for Lipizzan horses, which perform in the Winter Riding School (Winterreitschule) in the Hofburg. Not only is it a centre for classical dressage, the headquarters is a tourist attraction in Vienna that offers public performances as well as permitting public viewing of some training sessions. The presentation builds on four centuries of experience and tradition in classical dressage. The leading horses and riders of the school also periodically tour and perform worldwide.
More Photos Follow

Thursday, 5 February 2015

Art and Happiness By Janine Yasovant


For some time, I have followed the Thai artist Prakitsilp Varamissara. He has had several interesting exhibitions which can be seen as blending artistic knowledge from Silpakorn University and local wisdom from the area where he has currently been residing. That is the combination of art in Lanna Thai culture and artistic knowledge from western nations.
For example, in 2013 there was an art exhibition to celebrate 30th Anniversary of his every art exhibitions that was held at the National Art Gallery in Bangkok. Audiences impressed with the varieties of his art works which were so stunning and different. It could be said as if it was not his solo exhibition.

Sunday, 18 January 2015

Liliane Clever

JANUARY 7 WAS a very sad day for France. On that morning, the deadly attack on Charlie Hebdo, a small, funny, silly, satirical magazine, left everyone of tears.

Reading Charlie Hebdo has been a rite of passage, since the 1960s, for many young people in France. In a way, it's like Mad -- but with bite and the feel and look of illicit, deep Underground publication. Both magazines share a similar demographic, young readers.

Tuesday, 13 January 2015

Janine Yasovant

Reporting from Chiang Mai, Thailand 
Photo: Janine Yasovant/WCNews Service
[WCNews Service]Recently, I had a chance to visit the house of Pichai Nirund, a Thai national artist in visual arts (Buddhism). He told me that he moved from Bangkok to Chiang Mai around ten years ago due to heavy flood in Bangkok. His house is located around foothill of Doi Suthep Mountain. Pichai was born on 7 March 1936 in Bangkok Thailand and he received a title of Thai national artist in 2004. In the Silpakorn University, he was one of the art students who was taught by an Italian professor Silpa Bhirasri (Corrado Feroci 1892-1962)
See Art Images Below

Thursday, 18 December 2014

LGA: US' Oldest Airport

LGA's Marine Terminal/A
Oldest Operating Air Terminal
Photos: WritersClearhouse News Service
Richard Carreno
New York [WC News Service] | I visited another era in air travel yesterday. When planes where known as 'flying boats' and as 'airships,' and, as the old legacy American Airlines used to call them, 'flagships.' Welcome to LaGuardia Airport, America's oldest operating air/water field.
You mean that hodge-podge of buildings known as Terminals B and C? No, those are LGA's newcomers. Thanks to Delta, the real LGA, known as Marine Terminal (Terminal A) is still functioning. More, or less.
That's what I learned yesterday on my mission to discover more about the Marine Terminal, opened in 1939 by then-New York Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia. The extent of Delta's in-coming and out-going seemed dodgy, at best. Yes, there's a counter. Even TSA agents. As for passengers, not so much.

Monday, 15 December 2014

And Now the 'Women's' Page....

Judith Martin 
Richard Carreno
Judith Martin's memory of 'For and About Women,' published in last week in The Washington Post Magazine, reminds me of my stint, in the early-to-mid-1970s, as a staff reporter and fashion columnist (the first of my gender) on 'Women,' the so-called society page at the Worcester Telegram and its sister weekend paper, the Sunday Telegram in Worcester, Massachusetts. Like Martin, I was young, but my background was somewhat different. I had been a political reporter. Thanks to The Post's 'Style' section, and seeing a kind of interpretative writing I wanted to adopt (difficult under the strictures imposed on 'straight' reporting at the time), I was able to build up the nerve to jump from 'hard' news to 'soft.'

Wednesday, 10 December 2014



It was created when buying in 1853 by the Company of Paris railway in Saint-Germain -led Pereire brothers , Boufflers Castle and its grounds (the work of Jules Hardouin-Mansart ) to the Montmorency family , to achieve the Gare d'Auteuil . The villa consists of fifty houses was built in 1860 according to the plans of architect Théodore Charpentier.  This private area of "single family homes campaign and accreditation" has rules condominium strict and binding defined in the context of a trade association that manages all since 1853 . A guard at the entrance controls access by checking the permissions to enter. The architectural style recalls the General seaside villas of Deauville or Arcachon late XIX th  century .

Wednesday, 3 December 2014

Brown Out

The only person I've 'known' to have an account at Brown Brothers Harriman was a long-forgotten character in a John O'Hara novel. You get the idea. But the Main Line was derailed long ago, and it's not surprising that this vestige of that past Wasp elite is downsizing.
 -- Richard Carreño
The following is excerpted from the Philadelphia Business Journal:

Pearl Properties has plans to convert offices that now house Brown Brothers Harriman Co. at 1529 Walnut St. in Center City into retail space, giving that retail corridor a much needed boost. Space is tight along Walnut Street.


South Bend, Indiana

It's that time of year when anything is possible. But, according to Mom, it is not necessary to try anything  just because it might be possible. where has her joie de vivre gone? All I wish to do is help with the decorating and display my talents as a very valuable assistant in this household.

Tuesday, 2 December 2014

Edward Weston (1886-1958)

Currently at auction at Christies, New York
Photo of Weston's wife and muse, Charis Wilson

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 MMXIV. All Rights Reserved

Monday, 24 November 2014

William T. Vollman

John O'Hara: Strange Characters
By William T. Vollman
The Baffler
Books Discussed
John O’Hara, Appointment in Samarra (New York: P...

Saturday, 22 November 2014

Nisachol Chompupan

Phare, Thailand
My artwork stems from my faith in the gods Mahadev, Mahadevi  and my fascination with religious Hindu Stone Carvings. The Stone Carvings found in the temples often reflect devotion towards eternal birth and tantric ideologies.
                   The Yoni which represents female fertility and  the goddess Uma Devi often appears beside a Lingum: a symbolic representation of male fertility, and also the Lord Shiva. This coexistence portrays the natural creative power of a woman. These two symbols are usually represented together  and   are inseparable. They belong to a time and place where everything stands still except for the notion of time and birth. Earth's fertility, it's diverse wildlife and plants exist through the union of the male and female energy.

POTUS Forgets BlackBerry

Before departure, President Obama walked alone along Colonnade at 10:18 a.m. before heading back into the White House. A coatless POTUS walked to Marine One at 10:31 a.m. in near freezing 33 degree F weather checking his watch and waiving to reporters before getting aboard.

Almost immediately, he got off helicopter -- as his aides were headed across lawn to Marine One. POTUS went back into the White House through the Diplomatic Room doors telling reporters: "I forgot something"
After returning, he said: "Didn't you guys ever forget something?" After some shouted questions asking what he forgotten, he held up his his phone. "My BlackBerry" he said as he returned to Marine One.

Accompanying POTUS were Marvin Nicholson, Cecilia Muñoz,  Cody Keenan, Jennifer Palmieri and Anita Decker Breckenridge.

POTUS off to Las Vegas where it is expected to be a much nicer 64 F. Thanks to NBC for help checking quotes against helicopter noise.

Thursday, 13 November 2014


Frederick Wiseman
Photo/Richard Carreño
Philadelphia |WritersClearinghouse News Service
Here are the things you don't learn in National Gallery, a new documentary by the esteemed American director Frederick Wiseman: that the museum was established in 1824; it's opened 361 days a year; it houses Western art from the 13th to 19th centuries; admission is free; and that it's been located on Trafalgar Square since 1838.
     Here is what you do learn: that the museum's director, Nicholas Penny, is a scholarly, amiable chap, whose hunched over-bespectacled look suggests a character actor from Central Casting. Penny, who has been director since 2008, seems far less impervious and imperial than the Gallery's legendary war-time director, the late Lord Clark, the prolific art historian who became wildly famous for his BBC-PBS television series Civilisation.

Tuesday, 11 November 2014


Facing Physical Challenges, Our Food and Wine Critic, Fly-on-the-Wall Don Merlot, is About to Embark on a Wine Tour that Might be His 'Last Tango in France.'
WritersClearinghouse News Service
Don Merlot
In January 2015 I am taking a trip that will be 'My last Tango in France' because it is too difficult for me to travel and it is summing up my love affair with French wines. Originally I planned my visit for April of 2014 but I had the misfortune of slipping on some wet tile in my bathroom when our hot water heater blew off the water line in February, and I developed a bad case of bursitis in the right hip. It became very painful to move, sit up and or walk. The pain was so bad that I could not find a non-narcotic pain killer.

Finally my doctor sent me to a specialist, who was coming to the conclusion that if physical therapy did not work, I should schedule a hip replacement. So for six weeks I did physical therapy. Exercised that hip every day and by the end of the therapy, I had really improved and I felt ninety-five percent recovered, so initially I postponed my travel plans and then rescheduled my travel to January 2015.

Monday, 10 November 2014


Exhibit of Works by Photographer Paul Strand
Photo: WritersClearinghouse News Service
Debuts at the Philadelphia Museum of Art
The artist is not known for overtly political commentary in his photographs. Though societal and economic observations are always evident, this picture  of a swastika (left) one of the few he made, and the only one displayed in the PMA show.

Sunday, 2 November 2014

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