Sunday, June 29, 2008

Dorothy Parker Encore - A 'Combination of Little Nell and Lady Macbeth'

To be quite honest, Dorothy Parker is one of the very very few writers who make me roar out with laughter - loud and long:

Oh, life is a glorious cycle of song
A medley of extemporanea
And love is a thing that can never go wrong
And I am Marie of Romania.

I'd rather have a bottle in front of me than a frontal lobotomy.

'Dear Mary, We all knew you had it in you!' (Telegram to a friend who'd just given birth)

On being told of Calvin Coolidge's death, Dorothy Parker remarked - 'How do they know?'

I love a martini
but two at the most
Three, I'm under the table;
Four I'm under the host.

The earlier post - 'Dorothy Parker (1893-1967) - A Blog Writer Icon' - was on 5 November 2007. If you want a few more belly laughs.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Howard Roffman (1955-) - Lawyer Turned Photographer

Maybe I'm still in the romantic mode that lead me to post the kisses compilations yesterday.

And I guess this is what has lead me to put out this Howard Roffman set of black and whites. Of essentially Belami guys.

So, some single guys ...

... and some blokes together.

I love the slightly out-of-focus and over-exposed qualities of these photos. And the way in the last few pictures all the limbs of the guys interlock as forms one with the other and back into each other to create harmonious compositions. Perhaps a bit self-consciously, but.

Their mood has a synergic effect on the romantic feelings I'm finding so difficult to elude, not!

Though I notice I've structured the set so there is a (slight) movement to raunch just at the end.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Ivan Kraskin and Two Degrees of Separation from a Saint!

Ivan Kraskin and Mother Teresa (1910-1997)

I was looking through some photographs I had scanned into the puter and realized ... I was at two degrees of separation from a real saint! Well, nearly. But the Albanian nun is well on the way - beatification in 2003 being the first step to canonization!

We were staying at 'Bianca's Garden' in Malate, Manila, a couple of years back. The pension is a converted 1920's Spanish mansion, filled with tribal artifacts. Famously it has a large shady tropical garden and pool. And, more to the point, a 24 hour kitchen - for re-fueling after big nights out!

'Bianca's Garden' Pensione, Malate, Manila

The Garden of 'Bianca's Garden' Pensione, Malate, Manila

Interior of 'Bianca's Garden' Pensione, Malate, Manila

We struck up a conversation with an elderly and very adventurous traveler, Ivan Kraskin. He was passing through the city to catch a tramp steamer to Borneo to see orangutans. And turned out to be extraordinary in so many ways, not the least of which was speaking eleven languages: English, Russian, French, Spanish, Italian, German, Portuguese, Swedish, Arabic, Chinese and Japanese.

After a few wonderful and quite emotional days with him in which we shared as much of our lives as we could fit in, we exchanged contact details - but didn't expect to hear from him again. Happily a letter arrived from New York a couple of months later, with the photograph of the Ivan and the Blessed Teresa of Calcutta - more extraordinariness!

We began corresponding. But I haven't heard for a bit and fear the worst. It stops me writing - which is silly but still.

I realize that life isn't always necessarily about the big stuff. It can be just momentary encounters. Certainly I've thought a good deal about Ivan Kraskin, seemingly out of proportion to the time we all had together. I wish he'd been a greater part of my life.

I suppose the thing is recognizing when you are in one of these moments and carpe diem ('seize the day'). Or the price can be a deep regret.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Arthur Stace (1884-1967) - Pavement Art and 'Mr Eternity'

In his early life, Arthur Stace was a petty criminal, bum, and 'metho' (alcohol) drinker - a classic down-and-outer.

And so it seems amazing that he is widely known today, well, in Australia. Which I'm sure would truly surprise him.

And the reason is this.

For 37 years, Stace roamed over Sydney chalking the word 'Eternity' on the pavement, on walls ... on the biggest bell of the Sydney General Post Office. 500, 000 times at least. And in the most beautiful copperplate script. Though he could barely write his own name.

Arthur Stace's 'Eternity' - Still Visible on the Biggest Bell of the General Post Office, Martin Place, Sydney CBD

So initially I thought I'd put something more out there about this early 'pavement artist' to do my small part to continue keeping him 'alive'. Little realizing how wide-spread his fame already was, as I found the more I researched him!

Seemingly out of character, Arthur Stace fought in the First World War, being blinded in one eye and suffering the effects of gas poisoning in the trenches. But then maybe this was not so strange - it was a way out of his then current life and at a time when there was a very different view about the sense of young men going to war.

But on his return home, he was drawn back into crime and living on the streets, till the Great Depression. When, in early 1931, he heard the Rev. John Ridley preach 'I wish I could shout the word 'Eternity' through all the streets of Sydney' ...

Rev John Ridley

... and he chalked his first 'Eternity'.

And in some strange metamorphosis, Stace gave up alcohol and moved into steady employment.

From then early each day and after prayer, he began his quest to write the word all over Sydney. At locations directed by God. Usually along pavements - every 100 metres or so. Returning home by 10am.

This phenomenon became the object of public curiosity though Stace remained anonymous. Till an article appeared in the 'Sunday Telegraph' in 1956. And a documentary - 'Eternity' - was made in 1994. Though the particular meanings Stace had in mind for his word were never fully unraveled.

Such exposure eventually spawned a plethora of artistic endeavours - in the visual arts ...

... in music, such as the offering 'The Eternity Man' at the Sydney Opera House ...

Richard Gill conducts Grant Smith, playing Arthur Stace in The Eternity Man, Sydney Opera House

... and in film, such as the current showing of the 1994 film at the Art Gallery of New South Wales.

Culminating most publicly and widely in the lighting of the Harbour Bridge for the turn of the millennium:

I've been thinking about Arthur Stace over the last few years - mostly each time I see yet another example - in the inner eastern suburbs - of cracks in the pavement being 'sewn up' with chalk stitches!

Wish I'd taken a photo of one of them.

Next time - keep you posted!

Monday, June 23, 2008

Goofy as Lovable Archetype

I've always had a very great affection for Goofy.

I guess it's an identification thing, though maybe lots of people - in their most honest moments - see themselves in his (archetypal) character. And this is probably why his name has entered the language to describe a certain type of wacky naive persona, as in this 1950's cartoon:

Goofy was first known as Dippy Dawg and then Dippy the Goof, and even as Mr Geef, who had a wife and a son, Max. As Disney attempted to smooze the character into its most widely acceptable form. The anthropomorphic hound first appeared in 'Mickey's Revue' (1932) as a member of the audience of the show:

'Mickey's Revue' (1932)

What I remember most is Goofy's highly distinctive laugh, first done by former circus clown, Pinto Colvig, and which can be heard to great effect in 'Goofy Gymnastics':

I think it's the Goofy's unaffected childlike and out-going character that makes his cartoons among Disney's sweetest and funniest, particularly the 'How to ... ' series, such as 'How to Swim':

His everyman character in this is truly adorable!

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Recognize Any of These Old Gals?

Just goes to prove you never know what people will get up to on a slow Saturday night!
Who Would Have Known!

Not half bad!

Found myself movin' round to it - lots!
No Title Needed!

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Glimpses of the Divine Sarah Bernhardt (1844-1923)

By Nadar (1859)

You imagine you have the tiniest sense of the Divine Sarah's off-stage persona from some of these more informal photographs, particularly in the seemingly spontaneous smile.

But this amazing little film gives so much more - including the great tragedian chatting in a social way, to reveal the animated quality of her speech and it's light bright timbre ...

... which contrasts so dramatically with this 1902 recording of her declaiming lines from 'Phedre' (Racine).

What is so touching in the film, for me, is the way she surreptitiously takes the arm of the park bench to support herself - as she had had her right leg amputated in 1915 as a result of gangrene. There is a hint of this in the way she walks out of the theatre on the arm of the gentleman and then as she is handed into her car. By the way, first out of the theatre before Bernhardt is the lesser known contemporary actor, Gabrielle Rejanes (1856-1920).

By the French painter Georges Antoine Rochegrosse (1859-1938)

The film of course also reveals Bernhardt's dramatic, powerful and compelling stage presence in the excerpt from 'La Dame aux Camelias'!

Friday, June 13, 2008

Nick's New Dance Blog

Nijinsky in 'Le Dieu Bleu' (1907)

While photographs of dancers of bygone eras in role are in themselves fascinating, something is often missing. The essentials of the person pictured. Even in images of them off stage ...

Nijinsky (1910)

Nijinsky - Nude Sketch

And again as with Anna Pavlova - in role ...

... and then at home ...

... and backstage ...

Partly, it's about being observed as a character or as themselves.

Now there are a few films about that capture something is what is missing - it's so much more difficult to continuously maintain an artificial persona. Such as this clip of Pavlova touring in South Africa in 1926, where we see her intently listening to someone. Though looking elsewhere.

This blog then will attempt to catch both aspects - the performance and the person. Mainly in photographs and old movies.

Hope you enjoy -!