Monday, October 30, 2017

Music Monday Birthday ~ Grace Slick


Grace Slick joined the rock band The Great Society in 1965; she later became lead vocalist for Jefferson Airplane. Through the next 20 years, Grace was part of several incarnations of the band, including The Jefferson Starship; several solo albums followed. Grace retired from the music scene in 1989 to concentrate on a new career in the visual arts.

There were a few dramas and encounters with The Law during Grace's years on the music scene.
Grace Slick, the elegantly wasted lead singer of Jefferson Airplane, spent the better part of the 1960's and 1970's belting out powerful anthems like "Somebody to Love" and "White Rabbit." The archetype of the outrageous female rock star, Slick was comfortable naked on stage, took drugs, made plans to dose Richard Nixon with LSD on a trip to the White House, got arrested a few dozen times and went through rehab a few dozen times.
From a piece by ALEX KUCZYNSKI.

Born 30 October 1939 in Evanston Illinois at 7.37am (Astrodatabank)

Grace Slick's natal chart has Sun, Venus, Mercury and ascendant in Scorpio. Uranus exactly opposes Venus, from Taurus, but Uranus also harmoniously trines Neptune in Virgo. Moon's in Gemini. A lot of dark and heavy Scorpio intensity, passion and determination is present, yet it's lightened by a sociable and versatile Gemini Moon.

Uranus trining Neptune and opposing Venus, with Neptune sextiling Venus puts a kind of two-way pull on Venus, delicate planet of the arts. Unruly Uranus was almost certainly involved in the daredevil antics resulting in those early brushes with the law. Neptune (planet of creativity and imagination) makes helpful links to Venus and Uranus, and connects to Ms Slick's musical talent as well as her painting.

There's some potential sharpness and antagonism coming from a couple of aspects: Mars in Aquarius in square (90 degree) aspect to Aquarius' modern ruler, Uranus; and Saturn in Aries in quincunx (150 degree scratchy aspect) to Mercury in Scorpio.

I suspect that Grace Slick has mellowed and matured - she's deep into her 70s now. She has no doubt learned to control and use her challenging natal aspects, putting them to good use in her art.


JOLLY ROCKER by Grace Slick



Saturday, October 28, 2017

Back to that House by the Side of the Road

A surprise comment drifted in a few days ago - relating to a post originally published in 2011. It's not the first time a surprise comment has arrived on that post - others came in during 2013 & 2014. Such comments always warm my heart, make me feel something along the lines of "my blogging has not been in vain". I'm re-airing that old post this weekend, along with all the comments received, 2011 to 2017.


On our way down to Austin, Texas to visit my husband's younger daughter, granddaughter and great-grandson we stopped in a small Texas town, Coleman, to look around an antique store. I wandered through the store while husband perused a box filled with old photographs. I re-traced my steps several times to look again at a framed group of two illustrations + two photographs hanging in a mocked-up bedroom section in a chilly and deserted area of the store. I was curious about the piece - it seemed kind of sad, as though nobody loved it any longer, but once it had held someone's precious memories. I took it down to inspect it more closely and saw that two pieces appeared to be original pen and Indian ink drawings. I assumed the photographs were of a family member or friend of the former owner. It was priced $20. I got a feeling akin to someone looking at kittens or puppies in a pet store's window, as they peer back longingly at a prospective new owner. I bought it.

Enlargements of the individual pieces follow later in the post. My husband assisted by photographing the piece in its frame, making individual enlargements, without disturbing the frame and its backing.

I asked the store's owner about the framed group. He drew my attention to some fading handwriting on the back, which I hadn't noticed. He told me the piece had been part of the estate of a member of the Stevens family, who had been the main merchant family of the town for many years.

The handwritten note on the back reads:
Frances Presler - 1st cousin of W.J. Stevens.
She is the cousin from whom we inherited the many Chinese things we have today.
She lived with a good friend - the fireplace picture is of her at her friend's home.
Her name was Alta B. Gahan (We called her Ann B.) A very fine
person - an art teacher in Winettka, Illinois schools -
She lived in a town name Hubbard Woods - rode
the train to her school - only a short distance - ten or fifteen minute ride.

I was able to do a bit of light research and access this copy of a census return for 1930 via my husband's subscription to ~~

Frances Presler and Alta B. Gahan appear in the US Federal Census return for 1930
Miss Presler is listed as aged 55, born in Iowa (in 1875, then), her parents were both from Scotland, she is listed as a teacher, and "roomer", along with one other female, in a house in Winnekta, Illinois, of which Alta B. Gahan is listed as "Head". Alta B. Gahan and both her parents were born in Pennsylvania, she was 51 in 1930, so born in 1879; also listed as "teacher".

In the handwritten note on the back of the framed group, Frances Presler is mentioned first, as the owner's relative, so I'm assuming that the photograph, top right in the frame, is of her:

I guess that the drawings were done by Alta B. Gahan - though that is not stated. They could equally be the work of Frances Presler.

Some further research online brought forth the following on Frances Presler, but on Alta B. Gahan I could find only her name, in a 1914 Patterson's American Educational Directory, noted there as a "teacher of drawing" at Highland Park School (one of three schools in Winnetka Illinois. Crow Island School, another of the three schools, has connection to Frances Presler. See the clips below).

From Chicago Tribune:
The school (Crow Island School) is considered one of the most famous small buildings in America. In 1956, an Architectural Record poll placed it as the 12th most significant building in the previous 100 years of American architecture, and the first among schools.

In the basement of the school is one of its greatest innovations, the Pioneer Room. It was the idea of Frances Presler, a 3rd-grade teacher who was an advocate of "hands-on learning" and who helped Washburne plan the concept for Crow Island.

And from
For all third graders in The Winnetka Public Schools - those at Hubbard Woods School, Greeley School, and Crow Island School - this day becomes a reality in the Pioneer Room at Crow Island School. The establishment of this room was the achievement of Winnetka's faculty, parents, and School Board. The late Miss Frances Presler, director of Creative Activities, carefully studied and enthusiastically guided the plan which took over two years to complete..... Crow Island School was completed in 1940. Today, over sixty years later, the Pioneer Room continues to be a living museum for children, the only one of its type in a public school.

The very opening of the door is exciting as the children leave their classroom routine and cross a new threshold into a real pioneer home - an exact replica of the interior of an 1840 Illinois home. The massive wood-burning fireplace, the Dutch oven, the butter churn - are all authentic. The soft feather bed with the crossed ropes for a mattress, the little cradle, and trundle bed are only a few of the properties. One also finds a bench which becomes a table, a yoke to carry water, and paper maché wild animals to be hunted by brave frontiersmen. It is in this authentic environment that Winnetka's third grade children come to live and play the lives of their great-great-grandparents for one very special day.

......The children never forget the day they spend here. There is a magical quality not only in the room itself but in the spirit which the children and their teacher bring to this day. It was the dream of Miss Presler that through this experience the children would derive a deeper understanding of the lives of our forefathers and a greater appreciation of our American heritage.

The drawings were what first attracted me to look more closely at the framed group. Lines at center of one of the illustrations (enlarged below) come from a poem by Sam Walter Foss:

The House by the Side of the Road:
THERE are hermit souls that live withdrawn
In the place of their self-content;
There are souls like stars, that dwell apart,
In a fellowless firmament;
There are pioneer souls that blaze the paths
Where highways never ran-
But let me live by the side of the road
And be a friend to man.

Let me live in a house by the side of the road
Where the race of men go by-
The men who are good and the men who are bad,
As good and as bad as I.
I would not sit in the scorner's seat
Nor hurl the cynic's ban-
Let me live in a house by the side of the road
And be a friend to man.

I see from my house by the side of the road
By the side of the highway of life,
The men who press with the ardor of hope,
The men who are faint with the strife,
But I turn not away from their smiles and tears,
Both parts of an infinite plan-
Let me live in a house by the side of the road
And be a friend to man.

I know there are brook-gladdened meadows ahead,
And mountains of wearisome height;
That the road passes on through the long afternoon
And stretches away to the night.
And still I rejoice when the travelers rejoice
And weep with the strangers that moan,
Nor live in my house by the side of the road
Like a man who dwells alone.

Let me live in my house by the side of the road,
Where the race of men go by-
They are good, they are bad, they are weak, they are strong,
Wise, foolish - so am I.
Then why should I sit in the scorner's seat,
Or hurl the cynic's ban?
Let me live in my house by the side of the road
And be a friend to man.
(FROM here)

(Hmmmm in the square, top right, I spy my name! Maybe that's what drew me (wink) - yet I didn't notice that before enlargement of the drawing.

So, then, below we see Frances Presler and Alta B.Gahan, by a fireside. I'd guess that both this drawing and the one above were produced for use as....surprise, surprise - Christmas greetings! I've had this framed group hanging by my computer desk since March without realising any possible Christmas connection. Then, when I took the frame down a few days ago, so's to put up some more seasonal decor in its place, I took the opportunity to ask husband to photograph it, with a view to, maybe, using it in a blog post at some future date. It was after studying the drawings again that I realised a Christmas connection within them.

Sometimes I get a very weird feeling about stuff like this - maybe the ladies are wishing us all "Happy Christmas!"

No indication of this lady's identity, but it could be Alta B. Gahan.

How to wind up this post? A quote:

"Serendipity is the faculty of finding things we did not know we were looking for."
Glauco Ortolano

UPDATE 10 August 2014

On 9 August 2014, in a comment removed to here, Brian Lake said...
You needn't post this but I want to thank you so much for retrieving and befriending this item....
"Auntie Bee", Alta B Gahan, is a legend in my life and I inherited her gorgeous and substantial antique Swiss music box through my mother (who is now 85) who spent a lot of time at the cottage pictured and mentioned in the comments when my mother was young...

My mom and her brother were made to work there every weekend by her father which included holding down chickens being slaughtered which was not fun for little ones.

I have a beautiful painting of the cottage done by Agnes Lilley in '41 with the hill where they kept sheep in the near distance....

There is some story about the cottage being built by the farmer who owned the property for a studio for his wife and Alta to do weaving...

But this trail gets garbled in translation from my mom and possibly is not quite the correct or whole story. I will keep trying to get at the gist of this when my mom is lucid.

No men, such as my father and I, were ever allowed in the cottage part and had to sleep in the studio.
I also have a watercolor painting of a scene in Colorado done for Alta Gahan for her to give my mother as a wedding painting.

I have many stories about Auntie Bee... how she disciplined spitball throwers in class.... she had everyone throw them for a time and the culprits cleaned up.... spanking bunnies that invaded her beautiful gardens.... putting paint on the cars of hunters who were trespassing...

When I visited her as a youth she gave me advice on a partly finished painting I had with me...regarding proportion and composition..she was wonderful and magical.... never married ... vital and gifted person...
She made pathways around the cottage by imbedding beautiful broken pieces of China or tiles in concrete....

I would love to converse with the person living there now and maybe even get her in touch with my mom who is ailing and traveling back to these times a lot these days!

My email is ....(edited out)
Anyway, thanks so much for being open to leadings or intimations or whatever it is that connects and weaves us into a greater whole...

You have found something with many bright threads to many of us...

My reply remains in comments.

There is more detail available from Mr Lane, should any passing reader be interested, please leave a note in comments.

ANOTHER UPDATE, October 2017

See comments from Tip Walker (October 2017, below)- here are two of the photographs of tiles around a fireplace in a classroom at Skokie School in Winnetka. tip Walker's research leads to the belief that it was Miss Alta Gahan's classroom, and the tiles were made by her students in 1921. I agree - the style is very similar to the fireplace in the framed sketch! Many thanks to Tip Walker for these.

COMMENTS 2011 - 2017

anyjazz said...

An excellent find. And some really fine research. These people deserve recognition in the digital age.
December 17, 2011
Twilight said...Thank you. And yes, I think they do too!

Tammy said...Wow! I'm glad you bought that and shared it. :) Twilight: Tammy ~~ Hi! I'm glad too.
December 17, 2011

Wisewebwoman said...Oh the story that could be written about this fine couple! And you've made a wonderful start T. I am totally drawn to it also. I can see why you bought it.
XO. December 17, 2011
Twilight said...Yes, an inspired writer such as yourself, WWW, could have a field-day writing a novel about these ladies. :-) Glad you like this find too!

James Higham said...That was most interesting and I too have that feeling when gazing at old photos from someone's album. Where are they now, what were their hopes and aspirations, would they have ever given a second thought to the photo frame ending up with Twilight? Were they blunt people, soft, did they have quirks?
December 19, 2011
Twilight said...Well, both ladies are now in that Great Creative Classroom in the Sky, looking down on us - with some amusement, and maybe, I hope, a wee bit of pride - to realise that their doings are being admired and remembered. If I had their birth dates I could make a stab at their personalities, but if I were to disappear into on that kind of mission I might never emerge again. It's addictive! said...Hello,It's January 2013 and I came across your Beautiful Blog yesterday, when I Googled Alta B. Gahan She was your topic of Dec 2011. Please email me, as I've got Serendipity happening all around me. Thank you,From The House By The Side of the Road. -Wendy. - January 13, 2013
Twilight said...Hi Wendy! your comment came in with the spam. I'm not certain why you'd want me to e-mail you - would you clarify first please.
Wendy said...I'm so pleased that Alta B. Gahan has a living digital legacy, thanks to you.
I inherited photos and personal effects as well as her cottage (as seen in the photo.
Miss. Gahan and her art students created clay tiles and a wooden mantel which surrounds my fireplace. If you have time, and if you'd like- I have photos to share. Thank you again for your Blogs- I'm now a follower- and glad to read your words.....Wendy. January 30, 2013
Twilight said...Wendy ~~~ Hi again - and thank you for getting back to me via the comment section. I'll contact you by e-mail soon, and would be interested in seeing your photographs. If you'd like me to, I'd happily do another post featuring Ms Gahan and her work. :-)

Brian Lake said...(see update to post)
Twilight said...Brian ~ Oh my! Thank you so much for getting in touch, commenting. I hope you don't mind - I have published your comment as you can see - if you'd prefer it to be taken down I'll do so - I'll send you an e-mail. I had to publish the comment in order to read the second half of it (silly Blogger!) Yours is such a lovely story that I think I'll re-post my old 2011 post, sometime next week, with your story added if you have no objection.August 09, 2014.

Tip Walker said...I work at Skokie School in Winnetka in a classroom that has a fireplace with tiles. Through my research, I believe that it was Miss Gahan's classroom and the tiles were made by her students in 1921. I would love to find out more. October 20, 2017
Twilight said...Hey there! Thanks so much for reading this post and commenting. If you do discover more, do please let us know - perhaps others who have commented, or read this with interest in the past might still be interested - I'd re-post it and add any of your findings. :-)

Tip Walker
said...I don't know how to post the pictures, but here's a link to them:
October 21, 2017
Twilight said...Many thanks for these - it's late now, but tomorrow I'll see if I can add a few of the photographs as an update to the post. :)

Twilight said...Tip Walker ~ I intend to give this post, and all the comments and updates, a re-airing soon - perhaps at the weekend. I love it when surprise comments such as yours arrive!
Thank you again.

Friday, October 27, 2017

Arty Farty Friday ~ Marie Laurencin, born on Hallowe'en.

 Marie Laurencin - portrait by Man Ray 1923
Text from
Marie Laurencin - French artist, poet, book illustrator, and set designer. Born in Paris, France, on October 31, 1883; died in Paris on June 8, 1956; buried in Père Lachaise cemetery; illegitimate daughter of Pauline Laurencin and Alfred Toulet; married Baron Otto von Waëtjen, on June 21, 1914 (divorced 1921); no children.

Entered the Lycée Lamartine (1893); studied porcelain painting at the École de Sèvres (1902–03); attended Académie Humbert (1903–04); met Georges Braque (1903); exhibited at Salon des Indépendants, Paris (1907); began six-year affair with Guillaume Apollinaire (1907).

There is a quality of child-like innocence that pervades the life and art of Marie Laurencin. Yet she was the only female artist associated with, and accepted by, the male-dominated, exclusive avant-garde art movements in early 20th-century Paris. In fact, it is difficult to envision the primly dressed, bourgeois-mannered young woman as an intimate of the aggressive, boisterous male artists and writers who comprised the inner sanctum of Pablo Picasso's studio, the Bateau-Lavoir, on the rue Ravignan in Montmartre. The bold artistic and literary productions of the group, which included Juan Gris, Matisse, Modigliani, Georges Braque, Max Jacob, and Guillaume Apollinaire, are in glaring contrast to the paintings of Marie Laurencin whose talent "ranged between a flutter and a coo," as she described it. She observed and listened to the creative giants of her time, the Cubists, Fauvists, Dadaists, Symbolists, and Surrealists, but she was not an imitator; she did "not try to compete with male artists on their own ground."

Apollinaire, poet and art critic, praised Laurencin's "typically French grace," her "vibrant and joyful" personality, and her feminine qualities. He believed, "The greatest error of most women artists is that they try to surpass men, losing in the process their taste and their charm." Laurencin was different, however, continued Apollinaire, "She is aware of the deep differences that separate men from women—essential, ideal differences…. Purity is her very element." This appraisal of a talented artist may have been, in part, colored by the fact that Laurencin and Apollinaire were lovers at the time. Marie did, no doubt, embody a feminine aesthetic which was greatly admired by her contemporaries. As her friend, the poet André Salmon, expressed it, "there is something of a fairy wand in the brush of Marie Laurencin." And with this delicate wand, she created a soft, pastel, feminine world that contrasted sharply with the vivid, arbitrary colors and geometric figures emanating from Picasso's flamboyant and daring coterie of male artists.

Once seen, her style becomes instantly recognisable: delicate, pastel, feminine. There are many more examples at Google Image HERE.

  Le Bal élégant, La Danse à la campagne. 1913

 The Rehearsal, 1936.

 La Liseuse (The Reader) 1913


Data from Astrodatabank

Born on 31 October 1883 at 9.00 AM in Paris, France.

This artist's style belies the rather heavy hand of Scorpio in her natal chart. I put this down to a lightening effect from Mercury in Venus-ruled Libra, a more light-hearted Sagittarius rising, and a challenge to Scorpio from Jupiter and Mars in bright and occasionally child-like Leo. No doubt Scorpio was experienced clearly enough in ways other than her art style, which could, in fact have been a kind of release valve.

Planets in her natal chart are confined to signs between Scorpio and Taurus, which produces what astrologers call a "bowl" pattern; in this case there's also a see-saw pattern going on too, across the ascendant-descendant area.
Nutshell explanations from HERE
Bowl pattern = self contained and strong core values; focus on the activated hemisphere.
See-saw pattern = focus on binary opposites requiring objectivity, awareness and balance.
Applying those definitions to Marie Laurencin, the most I can glean from what we know of her, is to repeat that she appears to have managed to balance any potential darkness or heaviness and intensity from Scorpio planets, via focus on Leo and her Sagittarius ascendant.

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

13 ...."treat 'em mean"

Today marks the 13th anniversary of my setting foot, to remain permanently, on American soil. A few years ago, when marking my 9th year in the USA, I quoted from something on
a Brtish-Ex-Pats' forum:
The relevant thread stretched over nearly 100 pages, occasionally descending into ribaldry as Brits, thrown together, are wont do. Here, again, are a round dozen fairly inoffensive examples of ideas, repeated in honour of my current USA anniversary, with updated observations from me, in italics, in square brackets.


If you start buying into this 'freedom' crap [gets less and less likely by the day]

When British Tories look quite sensible [Still applies - though PM May is pushing it!]

If you believe USA is the 'leader of the free world' and the only place with rags-to-riches stories ["rags to riches" ? That's a joke, with many here having to choose between adequate food on the table and keeping warm during winter]

When you start to fantasise about what you could do to get deported...[or start spelling fantasise as fantasize]

When your first thought on being approached by a police officer is "don't do anything to startle him and make him shoot you" [You actually do not have to be here for long, for this thought to occur!]

When you see nothing wrong with the fact a lot of police officers are too fat to get out of their cruisers, let alone chase down a suspect. Luckily they can just shoot first and ask questions after. Not having a problem with this is also a sign you've been here too long [Yep! Still a problem.]

When you stop trying to convert $ to £ every time you buy something [I've been here too long by this yardstick!]

When your fork lives in your RIGHT hand, left hand for lefties! [Moi: the uncouth US mode is good for spaghetti only!]

When you start eating that Kosher Dill spear they serve with a sandwich, something you originally thought was repulsive [I've been here too long - the tartness of the dill detracts from the sweetness of much bread used in sandwiches in the USA]

When you think taking home over half your dinner in a to-go box is perfectly normal [If I don't eat it there, I will certainly not eat it at home!]

If you start saying "different than ..." instead of "different from ..."
[PS: on this one: not me - not ever!]

If you drive a Suburban and have a concealed weapons permit [PS: ditto].

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

The Whys? Persist

I read, a couple of days ago, that the search for lost airliner MH370 is, possibly, to be resumed in the near future.
"Malaysia is negotiating a "no find-no fee" deal with a US company to renew the search for downed flight MH370. The government announced in a statement that it was in talks with Texas-based salvage firm Ocean Infinity.
If the deal goes ahead, Ocean Infinity will foot the bill and recoup costs only if it finds the missing plane........."
Wonderings on the mystery of this plane, lost in March of 2014 with 239 souls on board, frequently float around my mind. Media have all but forgotten about the tragedy in these times, when there are many more click-worthy gossip pieces available, highlighting President Trump's regular mis-deeds and mis-speaks.

A more recent mystery, about which media has rapidly gone quiet, but questions remain: what was the likely motive behind recent brutal murders in Las Vegas, by Stephen Paddock, of 58 concert-goers, and injuries to hundreds more? I've been wondering, in kindlier moments if perhaps, media have been asked, or warned, to "go quiet" while authorities conduct inquiries and research in a calmer atmosphere. Or, in more cynical moments, I wonder: is this just another disgusting "shove it under the carpet" deal with the NRA?

Monday, October 23, 2017

Music Monday Birthdays

Two musical birthdays today, 23 October - both singers born in the same year too, and both born in the USA. Music genres are different, but both styles are rooted in the USA: jazz and country.

Dianne Reeves born 23 October 1956, Detroit, Michigan.
Dwight Yoakam born 23 October 1956, Pikeville, Kentucky.

Happy Birthday wishes to both!

Saturday, October 21, 2017

Saturday & Sundry Thoughts on: The Swinish Weinstein

During the time we were away, earlier this month, the Harvey Weinstein story blew up. I didn't read anything on it until a couple of days ago. Just another power-drunk male predator whose cover has been blown - at last, I'd decided. Wondering what to blog about this weekend I wandered around a few astrology websites and blogs to discover their takes on Weinstein. I could've "bet the farm" that I'd come across beaucoup mentions of Scorpio and Pluto - and I did.

Weinstein's time of birth remains an unknown factor, limiting the amount to be gleaned from his natal chart . His time of birth would fix the exact position of natal Moon, quite probably in business-savvy Capricorn, as well as placing a sign, degree, and possibly a planet on the ascendant - i.e. whatever was coming over the horizon at the exact time of his birth. An astrologer (mentioned at rectified his time of birth to around 24 degrees of Leo - quite close to Pluto's position - very fitting, though perhaps a tad convenient. I read somewhere else (sorry, link lost) that the first degree of Virgo could, rather surprisingly, be an even better fit. Aries rising with Jupiter near to the ascendant degree wouldn't surprise me, nor would Scorpio rising with Mars on the ascendant.

There are numerous astrologers' takes on Weinstein's natal chart around the internet, most making much the same points - I'll not add to them.

I've been a lifelong fan of movies, so it's always disappointing and saddening to learn, drip by drip, of the dark side that often exists in the process of their production. Let's hope that shining a much needed light on the murkiness will help clear away some of the worst offenders, and teach a few sorely needed lessons.

Harvey Weinstein: His cinematic gifts and his bullying sway over a Hollywood he fascinated and repelled.
by Jeffrey Fleishman

(Weinstein was fired after a bombshell New York Times report published Oct. 8 detailed decades of sexual harassment accusations and settlements against the film producer.)
Harvey Weinstein, the kid from Queens with the diamond-cutter father and the determined mother, was holding court. The sexual harassment and assault accusations that have brought him down were then still innuendo in a town that ran on complicity and silence. He sauntered through the crowd, making small talk, a man of tantrums and voracious appetites who gave us “Shakespeare in Love,” “Pulp Fiction” and “sex, lies, and videotape.”

That was vintage Weinstein, a presence too big for the shadows, a force seldom obscured. ​​​​Among many of those who have dealt with him since the early Miramax days, there’s a realization that what is unfolding now is part of an untameable personality that for decades operated in the open with few restrictions.

He didn’t change, Hollywood did. He was always hiding in plain sight, whether negotiating a contract, belittling one of his staff or dressing-down a director. He loved the drama, the girding for a fight that fed a passion to transform the film business and a raw desire to be a studio mogul out of Hollywood’s Golden Age.

“He’s a two-headed monster,” said Peter Biskind, whose book “Down and Dirty Pictures” focused on Miramax and the rise of independent film. “People have to acknowledge that he put independent film on the map. There would be no independent film movement in America the way there is today if it were not for Harvey.

“But he did a lot of damage too. … The same way that he had an eye of what would sell on the movie screen, he had an eye for people’s weaknesses. He would push their buttons. To work there you had to have a very thick skin and the ability to absorb abuse.”

This cartoon from Jen Sorensen puts the scene in a nutshell

What ought to be happening, and right now, is outlined in a piece by Jonathan Cook at Counterpunch:
Harvey Weinstein and the Politics of Hollywood

SNIPS (My highlighting)

......One can understand why teenage actresses, as [Reese] Witherspoon was at the time, are fearful of speaking out in a system dominated by predatory men who can destroy their careers. One can also understand that, at the very bottom of the Hollywood food chain, they are in no position to organize against the Hollywood mogul class. But none of that is true for the now fabulously rich and well-connected Witherspoon, Jolie, Paltrow, Lawrence, and all the others who have yet to speak out – or for the A-list men who would surely want to be seen publicly supporting them.

Why are they not organising? There are many things they can do. Here is one simple idea. They could set up a union, a sort of women’s Equity, that would allow actresses, in private, to register incidents of exploitation and sexual abuse with the union, naming those who committed the abuse and their modus operandi. By creating such a database, the union and its lawyers would be able to identify serial abusers and discover patterns of behaviour. The victims could then be encouraged to come forward in a group action, knowing that they would not be facing the Hollwood elite on their own. The union would redress, at least in part, the power of these male producers and directors. They, in turn, would grow more fearful of exposure.

That would be a political act of organised resistance to the power of Hollywood moguls It would have much more impact than the trickle of stories from immensely successful actresses bewailing their past abuse. Creating such a union would be loose change for Jolie, Witherspoon, Lawrence, Paltrow and the other A-listers............

As long as these household names nurse their individual pain rather than seek to bring about change through organised action, the next generation of young actresses will face the same exploitation and the same abuse they had to endure in their younger days

I found this long article by David Carr about Weinstein from, I think, 2001 to be interesting as background detail.

The Emperor Miramaximus


Harvey Weinstein's empire is a place of beauty (Gwyneth Paltrow, The English Patient), of bullying ("These all suck, and you're morons for designing them"), of talent, bluster, muscle, and paranoia. He's definitely the largest (in all senses) cultural force in the city. But do his ends justify his means?

Despite an illness*
[Note from Twilight: another article HERE mentions his tracheotomy scar from his Christmas 1999 illness] that took him out of the public eye for three months last year, he looks robust, sitting behind a desk in a blue sport shirt divided by a parallelogram of suspenders. The neck is inferred, not seen.

His coal-hued eyes make me uneasy. They reflect—if the dozens of stories I have heard are true—mayhem in abeyance. But his eyes can also spot Zeitgeist long before it comes over the hill. Which is why a city full of incandescent fabulousness pivots around a man who looks like nothing so much as a bean-bag chair with legs.

Like most titans, Harvey has a legendary sense of self, an annunciatory way of speaking and moving that suggests he knows he's a big deal. He wants to make it clear that his illness last year and his other hobbies may have pulled him out of his sweet spot, but he has returned to making a big deal out of small movies. We play cheery peekaboo around his hiatus—"I'm not going to tell you about the insanity thing," he har-hars—

"I'm back full-time with no diversions. I'm doing all the edgy stuff that I want to do, and I am fucking going to hit some out."

It's meant as a promise, a charming one at that, but like a lot of things that come flying out of his mouth, it sounds like a threat..............

Weinstein buries me in star power and testimonials, making sure that I know he's possessed of a broad streak of altruism. As I'm walking through the Village one day, my cell phone rings. It's Paul Newman, calling to tell me that when he mentioned to Weinstein that the kids at his Hole in the Wall Gang camp needed a gymnasium, Weinstein agreed to pay for it without asking how much it would cost.

When Nicole Kidman calls and says that Weinstein paid attention to her "back when I was just Tom Cruise's girlfriend," it's going into the story, as is her observation that "I like that he gets down in the trenches. He thinks nothing of flying to London for dinner and trying to talk you into a role."

His loyalty prompts reciprocation. When Talk magazine launched, pal Gwyneth Paltrow ended up posing in S&M garb that didn't fit either her career arc or any of her personal needs. Paltrow says that "there were certain favors that he asked me to do that I felt were not exploitive but not necessarily as great for me as they were for him. I brought this to his attention, and he said, 'I will never do that again.' And he's been true to his word.

"I think that for every bad story you hear about Harvey, there are three great ones," says Paltrow. "People are complicated, and nobody's all good or all bad. And I think Harvey is a prime example of somebody who has a temper and is also incredibly loving . . . He's a human being, and all of his acts can be just sort of magnified. He's larger-than-life in every way, so his good qualities are maybe more pronounced—as are some of his bad qualities."

Friday, October 20, 2017

Arty Farty Friday ~ N.C. Wyeth & Family

It's not difficult to identify mini-dynasties, of sorts, among some who make their marks in different spheres of life: political dynasties (Adams; Kennedy; Clinton?) Acting dynasties (Bridges; Douglas; Carradine; Redgrave) etc. Painting/illustration dynasties, in the USA, include the Wyeths.

N.C. Wyeth, in full Newell Convers Wyeth
(born October 22, 1882, Needham, Massachusetts — died October 19, 1945, Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania), American illustrator and muralist.

Wyeth was raised on a farm, and he learned drafting and illustration in Boston before studying with the master illustrator Howard Pyle. He first found success in depicting the American West. During his career he contributed his memorable illustrations to more than 100 books, including a famous series of children’s classics, including Treasure Island, Kidnapped, King Arthur, Robin Hood, and The Black Arrow, and he also produced numerous murals in public buildings. He was the teacher of his son, the painter Andrew Wyeth. [N.C. Wyeth was grandfather of Jamie Wyeth - also a painter.]

My blog-post relating to N.C. Wyeth's son, Andrew, mentions that: His father was a benevolent tyrant, dominating his five offspring while encouraging them to be geniuses by allowing only the best music, the best poetry in the house. Andrew was his favorite, a "daddy's boy."

N.C. Wyeth, described, elsewhere, as a strapping, engaging man, was also said to have suffered from depression and questioned the direction of his life and career. He died on October 19, 1945, in Chadds Ford, when the car he was driving was hit by a train; the automobile also contained a young grandson, who perished as well.

From Wikipedia:

"Wyeth's exuberant personality and talent made him a standout student. A robust, powerfully built young man with strangely delicate hands, he ate a lot less than his size implied. He admired great literature, music, and drama, and he enjoyed spirited conversation"

"Wyeth created a stimulating household for his talented children Andrew Wyeth, Henriette Wyeth Hurd, Carolyn Wyeth, Ann Wyeth McCoy, and Nathaniel C. Wyeth. Wyeth was very sociable, and frequent visitors included F. Scott Fitzgerald, Joseph Hergesheimer, Hugh Walpole, Lillian Gish, and John Gilbert. According to Andrew, who spent the most time with his father on account of his sickly childhood, Wyeth was a strict but patient father who did not talk down to his children. His hard work as an illustrator gave his family the financial freedom to follow their own artistic and scientific pursuits. Andrew went on to become one of the foremost American artists of the second half of the 20th century, and both Henriette and Carolyn became artists also; Ann became an artist and composer. Nathaniel became an engineer for DuPont and worked on the team that invented the plastic soda bottle. Henriette and Ann married two of Wyeth's protégés, Peter Hurd and John W. McCoy. Wyeth is the grandfather of artists Jamie Wyeth and Michael Hurd and the musician Howard Wyeth.[14]"

For some fine examples of N.C. Wyeth's illustrations, please do take a look at the large versions contained in a blog post by Nate Taylor - HERE.

I'll include just one of N.C.'s magazine cover illustrations, from 1921:

In 1945, Wyeth and his grandson (Nathaniel C. Wyeth's son) were killed when the automobile they were riding in was struck by a freight train at a railway crossing near his Chadds Ford home. At the time, Wyeth had been working on an ambitious series of murals for the Metropolitan Life Insurance Company depicting the Pilgrims at Plymouth, a series completed by Andrew Wyeth and John McCoy.

No time of birth is available for N.C. Wyeth. A 12 noon chart for the day of his birth indicates:

"... exuberant personality...robust, powerfully built..." these observations, I'd say relate to natal Jupiter in harmonious trine to his Sun and Mercury on the cusp of Libra/Scorpio.

"...also said to have suffered from depression and questioned the direction of his life and career" - relates, in my opinion, to natal Mars and North Node in occasionally paranoid and intense Scorpio.

There's some orchestrated Fixed sign opposition going on between Fixed signs Scorpio and Taurus, this could account for the description of N.C. Wyeth as a "benevolent tyrant" - extremely fixed ideas on the way his children should develop.

Natal chart for N.C.'s son Andrew is available at the link provided in the post. There's evidence of a Watery Cancerian inheritance from the father - a softer version, strengthened considerably by Leo input and an Aries Moon. Jupiter on his ascendant could also be an inheritance from Dad, a whisper from the Jupiter trine Sun in his father's chart.

 Left to right:  Jamie, Andrew, N.C.

As for Jamie Wyeth (James Browning Wyeth, born July 6, 1946, he might be fodder for some future Arty Farty post; I can see, even from here, that the Watery Cancerian element has seeped through!

Thursday, October 19, 2017

With bells on...

I'm at a loss how to comment, with any good sense, about US politics (or even about British politics, especially Brexit) these days. "Sometimes the only thing you can do is stare blankly."* For now, I'll rely on anyone remaining more clear-headed than I'm feeling:
(*A line from "The Long Earth" by Terry Pratchett & Stephen Baxter - my current read.)

Jim Haygood, a regular in the comments section at naked capitalism, on 17 October wrote, in the afternoon "Water Cooler" segment:

Truthdig has posted an awesome interview of Chris Hedges by WSWS.

Cris Hedges: Politicians like the Clintons, Pelosi and Schumer are creations of Wall Street. That is why they are so virulent about pushing back against the Sanders wing of the Democratic Party. Without Wall Street money, they would not hold political power.

The Democratic Party doesn’t actually function as a political party. It’s about perpetual mass mobilization and a hyperventilating public relations arm, all paid for by corporate donors. The base of the party has no real say in the leadership or the policies of the party, as Bernie Sanders and his followers found out. They are props in the sterile political theater.

These party elites, consumed by greed, myopia and a deep cynicism, have a death grip on the political process. They’re not going to let it go, even if it all implodes.
Bring it, Lord!

INDEEDY! (With bells on!)

I'll add a little more from the Chris Hedges interview, this on identity politics:
Chris Hedges: Well, identity politics defines the immaturity of the left. The corporate state embraced identity politics. We saw where identity politics got us with Barack Obama, which is worse than nowhere. He was, as Cornel West said, a black mascot for Wall Street, and now he is going around to collect his fees for selling us out.

My favorite kind of anecdotal story about identity politics:
Cornel West and I, along with others, led a march of homeless people on the Democratic National Convention session in Philadelphia. There was an event that night. It was packed with hundreds of people, mostly angry Bernie Sanders supporters. I had been asked to come speak. And in the back room, there was a group of younger activists, one who said, “We’re not letting the white guy go first.” Then he got up and gave a speech about how everybody now had to vote for Hillary Clinton. That’s kind of where identity politics gets you. There is a big difference between shills for corporate capitalism and imperialism, like Corey Booker and Van Jones, and true radicals like Glen Ford and Ajamu Baraka. The corporate state carefully selects and promotes women, or people of color, to be masks for its cruelty and exploitation.....The new form of feminism is an example of the poison of neoliberalism. It is about having a woman CEO or woman president, who will, like Hillary Clinton, serve the systems of oppression....

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Being Human in 2049 - and at Other Times

Our recent trip to the High Plains had a science fiction underside - sort of. During much driving time, on often deserted string-straight roads, we listened to an audio version of a volume of short stories by famous sci-fi master, Arthur C. Clarke. One of my favourites, History Lesson written in 1949, can be read in a pdf file HERE.

On the last afternoon of our trip, with a storm threatening, we hopped into a cinema in northern Oklahoma to see Blade Runner 2049.

The original Blade Runner movie, now thought of by many sci-fi fans as "iconic" has melted from my memory, almost completely, apart from the fact that its lead actor was Harrison Ford. I'm not too sure I enjoyed that movie, back in the 1980s, otherwise I'd recall it more easily. The 2049 sequel/update movie might prove to have better staying power in the old memory banks. The new story picks up some 30 years after the original ended.

Were the 2049 movie one of those big, pretentious coffee table volumes, I'd love to wander and linger through the photographs, again and again, ignoring most of the text. The visual interest of the movie far outshone the story-line, for me. Fascinating, yet chilling and easily imagined views of what the future might bring, came one after another, and were made somehow beautiful, while remaining also heartrendingly sad.

Flying vehicles, imagined by the 1980's original story's author Philip K. Dick should have been flying overhead right now - as I type. As in the case of so many early sci-fi writers' flights of imagination , they pre-supposed a much faster rate of progress,in certain areas, than has actually happened. Driverless cars are on the drawing board now, but still will remain earth-bound. Philip K. Dick's ashes, by the way, were buried in a cemetery in Fort Morgan, Colorado, one of our two-night stop-overs.

We both thought there were several iffy assumptions going on in 2049 - unless we'd missed something crucial in the dialogue that is (not at all unlikely!) Ryan Gosling, as I've probably written before in these pages, is not a favourite of either of us, though in this leading role he did....alright. I can't think of anyone who would have better fit this particular character and story-line.

No detail of the plot here from me - spoilers would definitely spoil this one. A quick read through the synopsis of the original Blade Runner, before seeing 2049 wouldn't go amiss, however.

Apparently the deeper layers of Blade Runner 2049, and its predecessor, are meant to relate to the question: what does it mean to be human? Perhaps so... perhaps. For me though, a movie we saw on TV back in the hotel room, later that night, offered another way of seeking the answer to that particular "what?" - Monster's Ball. Wow! There was some really first class+ acting going on in that one, by Halle Berry, Billy Bob Thornton, and the lost, lamented Heath Ledger. All our human faults, failings and yes - our better sides - were on show, and in-yer-face. Some scenes were hard to watch, but all worthwhile. Monster's Ball is an excellent movie, a no nonsense look at our all-too-human frailties!

As I finished typing that paragraph an old post of mine from way back popped into my head - from 2008 - a post about a song. I recall it easily because, at the time, it gathered lots of comments. Are We Human or Are We Dancer? It was memorably performed by The Killers. I don't think the theme of Blade Runner was in the mind of many listeners back then, but maybe now....?