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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Monday, 27 October 2014

Wednesday, 22 October 2014

John O'Hara UnFriends Brendan Gill

LOA Befriends Pal Joey
Exeter, England
The Library of America has just published John O'Hara's libretto for Pal Joey in a two-volume collection called American Musicals, edited by Laurence Maslon.
I'm delighted, having waited for it for more than fifty years. I was afraid Wilie O'Hara Dalaney, O'Hara's daughter, was going to give the rights to the Richard Greenberg rewrite; but it's the real thing, all right. It also marks O'Hara's first appearance in LOA.

Incidentally, I read John Updike's New Yorker review of The Art of Burning Bridges. A terrific corrective of O'Hara's taciturn image, as well as of his feud with Brendan Gill. Apparently the break with the magazine had little to do with Gill's A Rage to Live review; O'Hara asked to be paid for stories the magazine rejected.

Mr. New Yorker
Brendan Gill
[WritersClearinghouse News Service]
Brendan Gill was ten years younger than O'Hara, but his level of production -- sheer wattage in words contributed to The New Yorker -- probably exceeded John O'Hara's output. Gill wrote fiction, drama, film, and architecture reviews, comment, and profiles. Short of Harold Ross and William Shawn, Gill was 'Mr. New Yorker.' That distinction wasn't lost on O'Hara; it was probably enough to put him on O'Hara's very long enemies list.

Putting O'Hara's enmity over the top was Gill's negative of review in The New Yorker of O'Hara's blockbusterA Rage to Live. Their relationship was already testy. Gill wore his Irish gently. O'Hara did not. Gill's Yale education and Scull & Bones membership came to him naturally. O'Hara was always striving for Ivy-covered totems and Establishment acceptance.

Saturday, 18 October 2014

A Novel Look

The author, Paris, 1967
Not many get to see themselves up close and personal in the pages of a novel.
Or, more precisely, who they were -- at twenty.
I did recently.

That view of me, at least, beyond what I saw, or imagined what I saw, more than forty years ago in a bygone looking glass, came in the form of a literary time-machine, a very long novel called French Lessons by popular chicklit-author Peg Craig. At times, the appraisal seems superficial. Also, penetrating. Except, of course, for a violent streak that she attributes to my literary me. Ouch!

I knew Peg Craig, in Paris in 1967. Not well. But evidently she was paying attention. A lot more than I was.

A friend recommended her e-book not long ago, noting that the Kindle-ready, down-loadable text (; $10) was well received when Craig published the book in 2012. Part fiction, part autobiography, the book is all girly-girly, told by a seventeen-year-old narrator who studies in 60s Paris. Gee, Pierre, I wonder how I missed that one.

Books Received: The Return of George Washington


The Return of George Washington
Edward J. Larson
William J. Morrow (2014
pp 366; $29.99

Pulitzer Prize-winning historian Edward J. Larson recovers a crucially important—yet almost always overlooked—chapter of George Washington’s life, revealing how Washington saved the United States by coming out of retirement to lead the Constitutional Convention and serve as our first president.

After leading the Continental Army to victory in the Revolutionary War, George Washington shocked the world: he retired. In December 1783, General Washington, the most powerful man in the country, stepped down as Commander in Chief and returned to private life at Mount Vernon. Yet as Washington contentedly grew his estate, the fledgling American experiment floundered. Under the Articles of Confederation, the weak central government was unable to raise revenue to pay its debts or reach a consensus on national policy. The states bickered and grew apart.

Friday, 10 October 2014

Whistlejacket: George Stubbs' Masterpiece

The author and Whistlejacket
By Richard Carreño
[WritersClearinghouse News Service]
There's no lack of works by George Stubbs, the gifted 18th-century English animal and sporting painter, in museums around the world, particulary those in the United States and here in Britain. The largest number, with hundreds of oils, etchings, engravings, and other works on paper, is located at the Yale Center for British Art, thanks to the museum's founder and benefactor, the late, great philanthropist Paul Mellon. Mellon's keen interest in Stubbs (1724-1806) is also on generous display at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts in Richmond. Even the Philadelphia Museum of Art has several examples of his work. Over here, the Tate Britain easily fills a few gallery walls with the master's pictures.
Here and elsewhere, we see Stubbs as he almost single-handedly launched the figurative animal genre, in portraits and in landscapes that burst with the kind of real-life energy that invested many of the greenswards of country homes and stables manicured by Capability Brown's verdant hand.

Aristocratic horsemen, their grooms, and jockeys may often populate these scenes. But despite their presence, it's always the horse we care about most. Even in paintings in which horses don't figure, the setting is always sufficiently pastoral that, at any given minute, the viewer wouldn't be surprised if a foal or two trotted on to the canvass. Stubbs' marvelous dog pictures can stand alone. But they also summon up a country life wherein a mounted gentleman or two would never be out of place.

Thursday, 9 October 2014

Books Received: French Lessons

Her French Revolution
French Lessons
By Peg Craig
E-book available via Amazon for Kindle

Author Peg Craig introduces:
Meg is a pretty 17-year-old virgin. Her sheltered southern upbringing works very well in Alexandria, Va., but begins to prove burdensome when she is thrown into culture shock. This comical adventure begins with Meg failing to get accepted to any of the 20 colleges she has applied to when, by a twist of fate, she ends up being accepted to The Cathedral College in Paris, France. The tale takes place in one of the most interesting times in modern American….and French history, the one year between May 1967 and May 1968.

Sunday, 5 October 2014

More Barnes Kvetching....

Dr. Albert Barnes

Albert Barnes and Paul Guillaume

Monday, 22 September 2014


By Cheeky Posted 22 September 2014
[WritersClearinghouse News Service]
Saint Joseph, Michigan
The rain, humidity and dreadful heat finally ended so I am riding, well sitting, high.... I was very lethargic and unhappy as the air conditioning dries out my little pink nose and causes my lovely fur to resemble a Brill-O pad. I'm not complaining as I don't care for the frizzies in my tail either, just an observation.
Photo: WritersClearinghouse News Service/Harriet Eser Phillips
Mom and her best friend (what? I thought I was her best friend.... Oh that's true, but here we are talking two-legged category and I of course am Number One Winner in the four-legged love race....) Anyway, Mom and her best friend went to the beach yesterday. Now in my opinion "the beach" qualifies as the world's biggest sand box and I refuse to go there, not because I am unwelcome, seriously NO PETS.... I would be adored if only the other sunbathers made my acquaintance, but because I know I would be overwhelmed and exhaust myself digging little holes everywhere and never even reaching China. Not at all my cup of oolong. 

Thursday, 18 September 2014

Scotland Votes for Independence


Results to be Known Friday
A Cri de Coeur
By Our London Correspondent  
[WritersClearinghouse News Service]
London Posted 18 September 2014
This  may be Great Britain's last forty-eight hours as a united country, with the referendum on Scottish independence taking place today. (18 September 2014).
As you know, I have always been a political person, but nothing I have experienced, including the election of Nixon in the US, has distressed me like this. When I read that the Yes campaign had closed a thirty point gap in the
polls and had now edged ahead of Better Together, I actually felt queasy.

And angry.  Angry at the imminent victory of parochialism and
quasi-religious nationalism over common sense.  Angry at the untruths
and half-truths peddled by that oily little fourflusher, Salmond, and
his harridan of a deputy, Nicola Sturgeon.  Angry that they have
stirred up  witches' brew of conflict and hatred the like of which I
have never seen in this country and which will poison the relationship
of Scotland and England for years to come, whatever the outcome of the

Tuesday, 16 September 2014

Francisco Goya

 Whimsy with Bite
[WritersClearinghouse News Service] Posted 16 September 2014
Tony Auth's recent death got me thinking about an exhibit of cartoons by Goya I visited about a fortnight ago at the Allentown Art Museum.
Auth, a former editorial cartoonist for The Philadelphia Inquirer, and Francisco Goya, Spain's great 19th century court painter, in the same breath?
Yes, because Goya (1764-1828), though often best known for such full-figure portraits such as the Duchess of Alba and the Nude Maja and Clothed Maja, was also an early social realist and Spain's first, yes, first, modern painter. It's hard not to to think of the horror of war depicted in Picasso's Guernica when viewing Goya's equally horrific scene of bloodshed in his Third of May, 1808. Goya's spirit imbued a new form of political and societal criticism that flowed in subsequent centuries from the sharpened quills of such penny-press English sharpshooters as William Hogarth,  George Cruikshank, James Gilray, Gerald Scarfe, Ralph Steadman, and Steve Bell.

Wednesday, 10 September 2014

David Lynch Declares that Philadelphia is Now a 'Normal' City


'It [Philadelphia] is very much brighter now. It's, like I say, it's normal. I don't feel it's cut off from the world. It's joined the rest of the world. It's cleaner. It's now normal!'

Monday, 8 September 2014

Nashville's Parthenon

Photo: WritersClearinghouse News Service
[WritersClearinghouse News Service] Posted 9 September 2014
Yes, Nashville is a whole lot of country. And, yes, a whole lot of Greek.
Move over Greek frats, Greek coffee cups, and Greek yogurt, Nashville also has its own version of what is indisputably the most important and most widely recognized monument to embody that other Greek culture, the 5th century BCE Parthenon temple.
Nashville's Parthenon is a little-known, life-sized replica, and it's the kind of iconic symbol that puts the Western (that is, Western as in Classical Greek) in this otherwise country tunes mecca of 600,000.  Legendary chapeau-wearing songstress Minnie Pearl might still be more widely worshipped in that other 'temple' of culture here, the Grand Ol' Opry. But just minutes from downtown, near the Vanderbilt University campus, another godly figure, Athena, yes, even a more powerful yet than Minnie, is given tribute in her Parthenon temple.
Still surprisingly, Nashville's Athena, ancient Greece's goddess of wisdom, hardly gets her due. Just as recently as in last Sunday's New York Times' travel section, a '36 Hour in Nashville's' feature ignored what's surely the second-most important house of worship here. Just after, of course, Dolly's 'Partonon,' as the Opry's original venue at the Ryman Auditorium is referred to by some more classically-trained fans of the country-western megastar Dolly Parton.
This, too, in a nation that likes to 'import' Europe to her shores (Randolph Heart's castle in California is Exhibit A) to just recreating it (Venice and Paris venues in Las Vegas).

Friday, 5 September 2014

Love Songs

Frank Bompadre
Bows at Francoluigi's
Crooner FRANK BOMPADRE last night (4 September) knocked out a love song to his wife Deeanna at Francoluigi's, 13th and Tasker in South Philly. As for resto, five stars. 

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