Sunday, November 30, 2008

artman's alphabet - J

. . .a word from our sponsor - VIDEO

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Saturday, November 29, 2008

black friday

Even if I hadn't started my career in retail advertising and media publishing, I would have found out about Black Friday soon enough anyway. My second ex-wife was (and probably still is) a professional shopper. . .
"White Sales", "Midnight Madness Free-for-alls" and eight hour "Sale Daze" of bargain buying and returning items on alternate Saturdays.

As addictions go, I figure compulsive shopping is innocuous enough but instead of cruisin' out to K-Mart at 4 a.m.
I thought I'd. . .

Pretend Black Friday was Cerulean Sunday, meet up with a few old friends and muse the afternoon away. . .

Help myself to another cold turkey sandwich and sleep off the balance of Thursday's trictophan-induced coma. . .

. . .and absolutely positively NOT go shopping! (sorry Tony)

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

thanksgiving according to artman

I was remembering an old nun I had back in grade school. She had a thing for making her students write "themes". Her favorite topics (which she would assign) were "what we did for summer vacations", "the miracles of Jesus" and "holidays".
One year she assigned a theme for "Thanksgiving". . .
I didn't write it and instead faked being sick and got out of school for a few days. (I was not the model inmate) Anyway, as long as the old girl was on my mind, I thought I'd make it up to her.
So here it is Sister Mary Francis, "Thanksgiving according to Artman. . ."

In 1620 a small wooden boat called the Mayflower and 100 or so God fearing folks of the Puritan persuasion, sailed west from Europe toward the Americas. Puritans were a fundamentalist Christian sect who couldn't work and play well with the Anglican English or the Catholic Dutch so they boarded a boat bound for Virginia.

On the way they were blown off course and, as we all know, instead made landfall at Plymouth Massachusetts in the dead of winter where, there in the snow without shelter nor anywhere else to go, very nearly half of their company died of exposure.

By the time spring rolled around, the survivors were hard at work building, planting and developing a dubious friendship with their neighbors, the Wampanoag Indians, without whose friendship they might all have perished. Fortunately for the Puritans, all their hard work through the spring and summer of 1621 paid off and after a bountiful autumn harvest, they celebrated with a Harvest Feast that rocked the house for three days.

(and of course they invited the Indians. . .)

But they couldn’t celebrate every year because in some years the harvests weren’t so good and the next big three day soirĂ©e didn’t happen until June of 1676 at the Charlestown Colony. (in those 55 years Puritanism had become a franchise).
But wait, you might be wondering, how can you have a Harvest Celebration in June? Well, you can't. They were celebrating their military victory over the "heathen natives". So the inspiration for celebrations to give thanks moved from harvests to politics and the next, and first nationwide, thankful celebration was declared in 1777 and all 13 colonies celebrated the Colonial Army's victory over the British at Saratoga.

So, you ask, is that the start of our annual Thanksgiving Celebration? Nope.
After the war everyone got back to the business of fulfilling America's Manifest Destiny and the collective shine for a National Day of Thanksgiving wore off.

The fact is, we wouldn’t have a National Day of Thanksgiving had it not been for Sarah Josepha Hale, the first female magazine editor in America and the author of "Mary had a little lamb".

Her connection to Thanksgiving is a letter writing campaign she commenced in the 1820s. She petitioned Governors, Senators, Congressmen and Presidents encouraging them to proclaim a National Day of Thanksgiving but none of them were interested. Still, Sarah persisted and through the 1830s, 40s, and 50s, her letters just kept on coming.

Finally, in 1863 with the Civil War not going so well for the north, Abraham Lincoln thought, “hmmm, it might be a good idea for all the people to have something to celebrate” and he proclaimed a National Day of Thanksgiving on the fourth Thursday of every November. That was the start of Thanksgiving for the likes of you and me.

By the time the twentieth century rolled in, the face of the American landscape had changed. There was industry, more people lived in cities than on farms and mass communications were better. Thanksgiving, and the way we celebrate it began to take shape. In 1932, the depths of the great depression, FDR had an idea. . .
Since Thanksgiving was already thought of as the official start of the holiday gift buying season, let’s move it forward one week to the third Thursday in November and add another week to the buying frenzy to stimulate the economy. Well, that idea didn't sit well with most folks (a Democrat overruling Lincoln? The audacity. . .) and it became known as “Franksgiving”. Finally, by an act of Congress in 1941, Thanksgiving was permanently moved back to the fourth Thursday in November.

So the table was set, Thanksgiving with all it’s myths and traditions laid out and ready to go. . . Pilgrims and Indians, turkey with stuffing, giblet gravy, mashed potatoes and pumpkin pie, Macy’s Parade and Alice’s Restaurant Massacree. . .
All future generations would have to do was enjoy the day off and make it better.

. . .But, but wait! What about football? (I knew you'd ask)

In 1934, a sports writer named George Richards bought the Detroit Lions but, back then, baseball was still America’s game and with the Tigers in town, filling the stadium was a problem. So Richards devised a scheme. . .
He invited the Chicago Bears to Detroit to play on Thanksgiving and, not only that, he convinced the NBC network to broadcast the game nationwide.

. . .and the rest, as they say, is history.

Monday, November 24, 2008

artman's alphabet - I

trumbo point

While was out and about yesterday I made a left where I might have gone right and found my way to the back end of Bahama Village that borders the navy base.

The vaguely Aztec looking emplacement appears to be a long abandoned hollow hill.

I'd seen this kind of military structure years ago, when I was living in New Jersey, at the old Nike missile base on Sandy Hook.

The installation made for some great pictures and when I got home I tried to find more information about the why, when and how of the place. Sadly, I came up empty. So, if anyone would care to share any information about this or offer a lead as to where I might gain a little insight, I would appreciate it.

Saturday, November 22, 2008


It's been an interesting week. New places, new faces and all good.

When I got back home I noticed that my neighbor Ed's orchid tree had grown something new too.

With my head full of new things to think about, the new bloom on Ed's tree reminded me that the smart money considers anything and everything from as many angles as can be imagined.

At the end of the day that approach keeps life liquid. It saves us from the stress of having to "draw a line in the sand", enables us to stop pummeling ourselves to find answers and offers surrender to belief in the questions.

Monday, November 17, 2008


Saturday, November 15, 2008

Babs & Babs: a case for re-incarnation

Babs & Babs met in springtime, the season of rebirth. Both were mid-way through this lifetime and both had traveled, within months of each other, the great distance to their unlikely encounter from the same northern neighborhood where they knew nothing of each other.

Even so, they had seen each other in their hopes and dreams and searched silently for each other in prayer and meditation. Their meeting stopped the clock, the old recognition was immediate, organic; the universe smiled on them and vague memories of past acquaintance warmed the flow between them.

There was so much to be said, so much to be learned. The unfinished business of another time, another reality, another lifetime. In the blink of an eye their worlds had changed and in common consciousness they found comfort. They were, at once, again one. In a heartbeat they were soul mates, rediscovered friends and, in this lifetime, lovers. There was harmony, spiritual fulfillment, wonder and magic.

Yet, unseen by either, the karmic wheel ground like a gristmill on their joy. Their half century of breathing had taken it's toll. Scars became more apparent, old wounds began again to bleed. A selfish action, an unkind word and the well of good intention was tainted. The band-aid of apology was not enough to ease the pain. From joy to sorrow in so short a time, Babs & Babs began to drift. From where they were one, now they are two, separated by love - united by fear.

Why now, why here each wonders, a cosmic chance meeting in this unlikely place? Like children they played as the closest of friends and it's here that it started and here that it ends.

The headstones of children caught up in a flood of avarice and ego. Two souls searching for each other beyond the light of day and a timeless embrace is all that is left to mark their being. They've lived through eternity the closest of friends. They'd been here before and they'll be here again.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

blue moon

While I was riffling through yesterday's stock of fine photography, I came across this one that, for a minute, I honestly didn't remember taking. But soon enough I remembered that, just a few blocks from the house, the foreground silhouette of a tree, a haze diffused moon and a wisp of cloud lit by the moonlight sparked that "absent friends" feeling I get at this time of year for the fall season in the northeast.
This is the only time of year that I miss my old home and it occurs to me in a sappy "Rip Van Winkle" kind of way. Sure, the leaves of mountain sides of trees turning color is a sight to die for but the nights too, with just that hint of damp nip in the still air always brought me back the distant thunder of gnomes rolling at nine-pins.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

artman's alphabet - H

old boats

Timeless, low-tech, heavy and hard work. It could have been 1970 in this quiet corner of the business end of town.

Well worn hulls and rusted tools casually juxtaposed, create unintentional large scale industrial still lifes.

An active life is the preferred prescription but even a still life is still life.

Dated details of nautical character re-plot the courses of past navigations.

Seafaring legends well past their prime, carried ashore by heavy machinery, tide and time.

Dry docked due to wear and age, 
time demands a course correction. 
Technology offers a turn of the page; 
but craftsmanship favors a resurrection.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

waxing crescent gibbous

So, after two long years (just 3 weeks after I started experiencing symptoms of chronic campaign burnout) the federal election process is complete. The results are in and Barack Obama has carried the day.
With the whole world watching the United States has again set an historic precedent by electing the first ever person of color to an office of head of state. Whether or not any of the politics change, that in and of itself, is an historic cultural step forward.

There also seems, in these past few days, to be a fresh breeze of American optimism in the air.
However any of us voted, this election has shifted our presence energy. We've elected a younger man, a forward thinker with a proven ability to inspire action and an analytical organizer willing, to try at least, to take our run-amuck government in hand. But the thing, I think, that will bring the most immediate positive response from our society is, he'll be bringing the pure and positively contagious energy of children (and their new puppy) to a place where, for far to long, the halls have been devoid of any spark of newness or inspiration.

Sure, there is no magic wand to wave and cure what ails us. . .
The war will drag on, our economic troubles will still be with us for a while and the effects of whatever other neo-con-jobs WE THE PEOPLE have had to endure (like the Patriot Act & the Department Homeland Security) won't be going away any time soon. But maybe, just maybe we'll feel a little more optimistic, a little more inspired, a little more attentive and interested. Then maybe from our rekindled spark we might regain the rest of the light we've lost.

. . .At least we can hope so, and even that's a good start.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

saint paul's tenacity

I enjoy shooting in and around St. Paul's. Spiritually it offers a quiet place for a few minutes of mid-day meditation, architecturally it's the most interesting church on the rock (and that's probably because, even though he's old enough to have done so, Sonny McCoy didn't design it) and historically, it's got a tenacious back story.

The charter for St. Paul's Episcopal Church was approved by the Key West City Commission in 1831. It's first rector, the Reverend Sanson K. Brunot arrived from New York soon after but the faithful, with pastor and a parish in hand, had no church. So the Reverend held St. Paul's first service at the County Courthouse on Christmas Day in 1832 .

The land on the corner of Duval and Eaton, where the church is located now, was donated to St. Paul's by the widow of John William Charles Fleming in 1832. Her one condition to the donation was that her husband's remains, for one reason or another buried under that plot of land, were not to be moved. When construction on the original St. Paul's was started in 1838, Mr. Fleming was left undisturbed but the story and movement of the church itself, was destined to be a bit more adventurous.

The first church was built of coral rock and stood for eight years until, in 1846, it was totally destroyed by a hurricane. It's replacement, the second church, was built of wood and it held it's first service in 1848. There the faithful would gather and pray for thirty-eight years until the church, along with most of the rest of the city, was consumed by the Great Fire of Key West in 1886. (it seems that the city's one and only steam powered fire engine had been shipped off to New York for repair and the fire raged unchallenged for twelve hours)

After the fire, the rebuilding of St. Paul's began almost overnight and the third church, also built of wood, was completed in 1887. This incarnation of St. Paul's would be the first church in Florida to hoist a chime of bells into it's steeple. Then twenty-two years later, in 1909, disaster visited the faithful again as St. Paul's was again destroyed by a hurricane.

At that point, the faithful might have thought, "now's the time to throw in the towel and move the whole boodle to Opalocka", but no. . .
construction of the fourth church, pictured here, began in 1911 and was constructed of steel and concrete. (lessons learned, aye?)
The first service in this current incarnation of the church was held in 1919 and, except for undergoing a major renovation from 1991 - 1993, St. Paul's has served the faithful faithfully ever since.

For more views of St. Paul's Episcopal Church, inside and out, please reference these links. . .
Strained Glass