Friday, December 30, 2011

The Cow (Robert Louis Stevenson)

The friendly cow all red and white,
I love with all my heart:
She gives me cream with all her might,
To eat with apple-tart.

She wanders lowing here and there,
And yet she cannot stray,
All in the pleasant open air,
The pleasant light of day;

And blown by all the winds that pass
And wet with all the showers,
She walks among the meadow grass
And eats the meadow flowers.


1. From A Child's Garden of Verses (1885)

2.  Most days I drive from Berwyn to Bryn Mawr along Darby-Paoli, turning left on Conestoga Road.  On either side spread two large cow pastures, which are home to a single herd of beautiful black cows.  The cows are either in one pasture or the other -- never in both simultaneously.  We have never been able to figure out how they cross the road and no one has ever been able to explain this phenomenon to us.  Either people are totally uninterested, they are all participating in a conspiracy against my family or, as I actually believe, these are magical cows.  

3.  Link: Shirley Temple recites The Cow in Dora's Dunking Donuts (1933)

4.  Paintings by Thomas Hewes Hinkley, 1869, Brandywine River Museum, Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania.  

5.  Link: The Cow (Paul Bowles)

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Blue Christmas; New Moon


        Christmas cards we received this year contained many downbeat, almost despairing, notes and messages.

                 This caught us by surprise. 

                 Not because we don’t read the polls -- we both have a pretty good idea of the national "measured” mood. 

                But at Christmas greeting time we've always found that the mask, when there is one, usually remains firmly in place, miming, maintaining, mirth.

               Queer and and dispiriting stuff, especially for a depressive like me.

        However, at the moment chez nous, Jane is diligently practicing on her new alto saxophone, which is a much pleasanter “in-house” experience than we used to have with her trumpet.  (In fact, it’s great.)  

              She's taking gorgeous, excellent photos with her new camera and the study she’s putting into learning about using it, reflecting her enthusiasm and positive energy, is uplifting.
             Last night, while we were walking Andy, who is recovering well from a slight (but scary) relapse last week, Caroline said to him:

             “We made it to another moon.”  

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Dégueulasse (Abel Ferrara Preps DSK Scandal Project)


Abel Ferrara 


Abel Ferrara Preps DSK Scandal Project; 

Gerard Depardieu, Isabelle Adjani To Star?

By NANCY TARTAGLIONE, International Editor | Monday, 26 December 2011 20:48 

EXCLUSIVE: Wild Bunch’s Vincent Maraval has confirmed that Abel Ferrara and screenwriter Christ Zois are working on a feature script partly inspired by this summer’s sex scandal surrounding former International Monetary Fund chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn. Gérard Depardieu and Isabelle Adjani have been rumored circling characters based on the scandal-plagued former IMF chief and his wife Anne Sinclair and have met with the director, but Maraval says the project is still a long way from active development

The idea for a film came about on a lark when Ferrara was making 4:44 Last Day On Earth with Wild Bunch earlier this year. Per Maraval, it was suggested that the DSK sex scandal would be a good fit for Ferrara given the filmmaker’s penchant for themes of addiction. Maraval says Ferrara and sometime collaborator Zois are now writing a script which could include elements inspired by the lives of other politicians like Bill Clinton and Silvio Berlusconi along with Strauss-Kahn. But, despite earlier reports in the French press, he stresses it’s too early to say anything definitively. “One thing we do know is that there’s a real common desire amongst Depardieu, Adjani and Ferrara to work together. But like every day in this business, we have to see if there’s a film there. Today, the only reality is that they are writing something inspired by Strauss-Kahn that will focus on addiction and politicians. It’s more that than the Strauss-Kahn scandal itself,” says Maraval noting, “If it becomes a serious thing, I’m not even sure it will be the same film with Adjani and Depardieu.” Finally, he adds, “If we feel there’s a movie, we’ll go further.” 

Queried about the project in an interview published in France’s Le Journal Du Dimanche yesterday, Depardieu declined to comment on rumors but offered, “In general, I’m very good at playing characters that I don’t like or those that I don’t resemble.” 

Gérard Depardieu

Anne Sinclair and Dominique Strauss-Kahn 

Isabelle Adjani looking somewhat Anne Sinclair-like

NOTE:  I was taught the evocative French word "dégueulasse," or "disgusting," a lifetime ago by an old girlfriend who had a French mother.  My friend told me that once, while swimming in the Mediterranean in some unpleasant waters, she overheard another mother speaking the word to her child.  Her own mother translated and the word (and the way it was said --  intonation and meaning matching perfectly) stuck. 

I think "dégueulasse" probably fits on a number of levels the project described in this typically prematurely written, trial balloon showbiz trade paper (Deadline Hollywood) article.  That being said, I'm sure someone will eventually produce a project like this and I do like the actors mentioned as possibilities for the roles.  Also, there are worse ways to spend time than researching Isabelle Adjani photos during the week between Christmas and New Year.

For more DS-K, please see here:  Idiots (link)

Le Morte Arthur (lines 728-759)

And then one day the King set forth
      To hunt with all his knights;
They rode to the forest for the chase,
     The sport and its delights.
But Lancelot planned to see the Queen
     And so lay long in bed,
They went to meet her in her room,
     And gracious greeting said.

 First he kissed her courteously,
     That lady full of grace,
And then her maids whose joy ran down
     In tears on every face.
‘Ah, Lancelot,’  said the Queen, ‘that ever
     I set my eyes on you!
Alas that it is gone for ever,
     The love that we once knew!

‘Alas, Sir Lancelot du Lake,    
     Who have my heart in hold,
That you have taken the Earl’s daughter,
     Of Ascolot as I’m told!
Now for her sake you cease to be
     A warrior daring-bold,
And I must wake and weep in woe
     Till clay shall clasp me cold.


‘But Lancelot, I beg you now,
     Since it must needs be so,
Never to tell a single soul
     Of the love we used to know,
And never to let your love for her
     Enfeeble your knightly fame,
For though my fate is woe, I wish
     To hear you win acclaim.

Trans. Brian Stone, King Arthur's Death and Le Morte D'Arthur.  London, Penguin, 1988.


1. Alex Katz,  Blue Umbrella, 1979-80.

2. Alex Katz, Self-Portrait at Cheat Lake, 1969.

3. Alex Katz,  Pas de Deux,Vicki Hudspeth and Wally Turbeville, 1994.

4. Alex Katz, Pas de Deux, Red Grooms and Lizzy Ross, 1994.

5.  Alex Katz, Black Scarf, 1996.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

On Obsession

‘Then what do you want from life, Netta?’ he asked.  ‘What are you getting at in it all?’

      When their food had come he had ordered wine, and now, if not drunk, he was careless and bold with drink.  Otherwise he would never have asked her a serious, direct question like that.  To ask Netta a serious direct question, in the ordinary way, was simply to ask for one of those hideous cuts across the soul she knew so well how to administer.  But now, because of what he had drunk, he felt he could take the cut if it came.  If it hurt, he was anaesthetized.

      They had finished their meal and were having coffee.  Eddie Carstairs was still at his table in the corner, though most of the other tables were deserted.  There were, however, three people making a good deal of noise at a table nearby, so he could speak in a normal voice without being overheard.

      ‘What do you mean?’ she said.  ‘What do I want from life?’   

      ‘Just what do you want from it? . . . ‘Do you want to be a success on the films, do you want to be married, do you want children – what?’

           ‘I don’t know.’

      ‘But you must, Netta.  You must know something about what you want.’

      ‘No, I don’t,’ she said vaguely, looking at a passing waiter, and speaking as a mother, watching the screen at a cinema might speak to her talkative child.  ‘Do you know what you want?’

      ‘Yes. Of course I do.  I know what I want.’

           ‘What?,’ she said, and looked at him.

      He paused for a moment, reluctant to start anything.  He knew it could lead nowhere, could do him no good.  But why shouldn’t he make love to her once in a way, why shouldn’t he get something back from the money he was spending, a little of the luxury of telling her he loved her, of speaking his heart.  He hadn’t opened his heart to her for months.

      ‘I want you, Netta,’ he said, looking into her eyes. ‘That’s all I want.’

      ‘All right,’ she said‘So what?’

      ‘What do you mean,’ he said, ‘So what?’’

          ‘Just “So what”,’  said Netta, and she was again looking at the people in the room behind him.


Top:  Alex Katz: Ann Lauterbach, 1978

Bottom: Alex Katz:  Pas De Deux (Red Grooms and Lizzy Ross), 1994

Text:  Patrick Hamilton, Hangover Square (The Third Part, Chapter 4).  London, Constable, 1941.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Boxing Day Message: A Four Legged Friend

A four legged friend, a four legged friend
He'll never let you down
He's honest and faithful right up to the end
That wonderful one-two-three-four legged friend

A woman's like cactus and cactus can hurt
'Cause she's just a tight-waisted winky-eyed flirt
She'll soon have your land and your pride and your gold
And bury you deep long before you grow old

A four legged friend, a four legged friend
He'll never let you down
He's honest and faithful right up to the end
That wonderful one-two-three-four legged friend

A two legged hombre is worthless as sand
He'll smile like a saint with a gun in his hand
He'll promise to stick by your side like a pal
But he'll also promise the same to your gal

A four legged friend, a four legged friend
He'll never let you down
He's honest and faithful right up to the end
That wonderful one-two-three-four legged friend

Who carries your burden, who carries your load
On tumbleweed land or a long dusty road
Who asks you no questions, who tells you no lies
That four legged friend with the two honest eyes

A four legged friend, a four legged friend
He'll never let you down
He's honest and faithful right up to the end
That wonderful four legged friend

That wonderful one-two-three-four legged friend


To Andy and Edie On Boxing Day, 2011

Sunday, December 25, 2011


Me and my baby been on the run,
So very long.
Her folks sent a man to get us,
They say we’ve done wrong.
So we Run,

Yeah we Run, Yeah we Run
From the stranger in town.

Stranger in town, he's out to get me.
Stranger in town, wants me and my baby --
He follows Me --
From town to town,
And if he gets me
He'll bring me down.
So we Run, 
Yeah we Run, Yeah we Run
From the stranger in town.

I'm not afraid of what They'll do to me --
I'm just afraid they'll hurt my baby.
We don't care if We run forever,
Just as long as We're together.

Stranger in town, I think we've lost him.
Stranger in town, Can't let him bring us in --
Another town --
One more mile --
And We'll be free,
For a while.
And we'll Run, 

Yeah we'll Run, Yeah we'll Run
From the stranger in town.

2. Del Shannon -- Stranger In Town (link)

Photography: Jane B. Roberts, Half Unique Studios

Nativity (Geertgen tot Sint Jans)


And Jesus when he began was about thirty years old, and was the son, as it was believed, of Joseph, the son of Heli, the son of Mathat, the son of Levi, the son of Melchi, the son of Jannai, the son of Joseph, the son of Matthias, the son of Amos, the son of Nahum, the son of Esli, the son of Naggai, the son of Maath, the son of Matthias, the son of Semein, the son of Josech, the son of Joda, the son of Jonan, the son of Rhesa, the son of Zerubbabel, the son of Salathiel, the son of Neri, the son of Melchi, the son of Addi, the son of Cosam, the son of Elmadam, the son of Er, the son of Jesus, the son of Eliezer, the son of Jorim, the son of Mathat, the son of Levi, the son of Symeon, the son of Judah, the son of Joseph, the son of Jonam, the son of Eliacim, the son of Melea, the son of Menna, the son of Matatha, the son of Nathan, the son of David, the son of Jesse, the son of Jobed, the son of Boaz, the son of Sala, the son of Nashon, the son of Aminadab, the son of Admin, the son of Arni, the son of Hezron, the son of Perez, the son of Judah, the son of Jacob, the son of Isaac, the son of Abraham, the son of Terah, the son of Nachor, the son of Serug, the son of Reu, the son of Peleg, the son of Eber, the son of Sala, the son of Cainan, the son of Arphaxad, the son of Shem, the son of Noah, the son of Lamech, the son of Methuselah, the son of Enoch, the son of Jared, the son of Mahahaleel, the son of Cainan, the son of Enos, the son of Seth, the son of Adam, the son of God.


Luke 3: 23-38. (Richmond Lattimore, trans.)  The Four Gospels and the Revelation, New York, Farrar Straus Giroux, 1979. 

Above:  Geertgen tot Sint Jans, Nativity At Night, 1480-90, National Gallery, London.

Below:  Geertgen tot Sint Jans, Virgin and Child, 1470-90, Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, Rotterdam.