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Monday, October 24, 2016

Cartoon idea: Trump the Titanic

"Untergang der Titanic", as conceived by Willy Stöwer, 1912
Created: 31 December 1911
Willy Stöwer, died on 31st May 1931 - Magazine Die Gartenlaube, en:Die Gartenlaube and de:Die Gartenlaube/Wikipedia

I imagine someone's already done this.  I wish I knew how to draw.

How about Trump's huge bust as the bow of the sinking ship? Raised in the air. His big image (hair, blowing in the wind and covering part of the ship)  consumes the entirety of the bow and behind him, on and off deck, are little men in suits and flopping ties (the wind; members of Congress) jumping ship and crying for help. Trump wears a tilted sailor's cap.

Can't you just see it?

Floating nearby in choppy waters (filled with likenesses of Hillary as shark heads) are struggling passengers and life boats loaded with humans.  On the slanting deck (the ship's going down) is the band seated and nonchalantly playing "God Save the U.S.A."

The ship has just crashed into a HUGE ("this is huge, folks!") iceberg on which a smirking (is she anything but?) Hillary looms large and/or carries the date: November 8.

Caption:  "We're going down! It's a sinking ship!  All hands overboard!"

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Book review: 'Undaunted Courage' by Stephen E. Ambrose

For two decades (literally) I've been meaning to read Undaunted Courage, ever since I found out that my Boss Man at the time was reading it, and I never thought he read anything except cereal boxes, so it had to be good.

At the East Falls Church Metro station not long ago, a woman walked up when she saw me engaged in the book, and talked about it nonstop while we waited for the train, and she continued chatting about it on the train. 

I know a book is good when I think about the characters during the day (!) and wonder what they are doing which first happened to me with Lonesome Dove, one of the last great contemporary fictions I have read.  But, back to the subject. Undaunted is a very good book.  And it's not fiction.I wondered what they were doing for food.  (Here, would you like some horse with that bitterroot?)

Although it starts out dry (someone said "like a history book") it doesn't take long before it inserts its hypnosis in your mind, and off you go riding on the trail (1804-1806), on the wagons, the horses, and the tree boats on the waterways with Meriwether Lewis (1774-1809) and William Clark (1770-1838) whose assignment from President Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826) was to find a northwest route to the Pacific Ocean which they did not, but they got to the Pacific.

Never mind.

Reading correspondence always enlivens any story, and here, the characters come alive in the only way they can.  President Jefferson's hopes, dreams, doubts, and orders to find a route are laid out.  He becomes more personable, too.

Excellent maps are included, and I kept wishing there were more of them to supply additional details.

Escaping and befriending various tribes of Indians are only part of the story.  The explorers' mastery of icy mountains and river crossings are astonishing, and Lewis describes vividly in his journals their discoveries of new plants, birds, and animals.  The men's jarring with bears, snakes, and their communication with Indians when no one spoke the others' languages were just a few of the feats which load the book and leave you incredulous so much was accomplished amidst the harsh conditions.
A surprising element with scattered bits of information found throughout the tale is description of a married couple who accompanied them, the woman, an Indian, Sacagawea, who joined the troop to help with language interpretation.  On the way she gave birth to their first child, and later, after the journey ended and she died,  Clark adopted both her children.  

I don't believe anyone has been able to pinpoint the exact reasons, after the journey ended, that Lewis did not respond to Jefferson's letters and pleas for information about the publication of Lewis's journals, but I shall join others and offer my guess.
Perhaps he was overwhelmed and did not know how to begin the massive project, assembling and ordering his papers, and take them through the publication process, unable to report to Jefferson that he had not begun. Sometimes, beginning is the hardest part. 

After the journey ended, President Jefferson appointed Lewis to the governorship of the Louisiana Territory. On a trip from there to Washington, D.C., Lewis supposedly killed himself on the Natchez Trace in Tennessee, according to "experts." (Here is the place. )   (When presented the evidence, Jefferson joined the believers, but there are many doubters.)

In 1996 (the year Undaunted came out) a Tennessee coroner's jury recommended (in concert with 200 members of Lewis's family) that his body be exhumed for forensic analysis which only took the U.S. Department of the Interior 12 years, until 2008 to sanction.  In 2010 the Obama administration rescinded the decision. Why?  (New book.) 

Maybe an erstwhile member of the Meriwether Lewis Chapter of the Lewis and Clark Trail Heritage Foundation can conduct her own exploration and use FOIA to request documents,  learn the reason(s), and write all about it

In later years Undaunted's author, Stephen Ambrose (1936-2002) was accused of sloppy research and plagiarism in many of his books. 

I kept wishing I had read it before I took a cross-country trip last year with my son, since we traveled on and near many of places Lewis and Clark visitedWe might still be on the road. 

A companion pictorial history is also available, with many of the marvelous scenes and paintings included in the original volume, all to be found at my favorite public library, the Fairfax County Public Library, the best. 

Saturday, October 15, 2016

A millennial on Millennium Stage

Erez at Millennium Stage, John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, Washington, D.C. Oct. 7, 2016/photo by Patricia Leslie

One of the performers last week at the Kennedy Center's Millennium Stage was female guitarist and vocalist, Erez, who sounds a lot like Adele and whose homespun songs come from heartache, too.
Erez at Millennium Stage, John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, Washington, D.C. Oct. 7, 2016/photo by Patricia Leslie

Erez, a Hebrew name for boys which her family discovered after they named her, is from New York and a product of Israel where she grew up and lives. 

She charmed the SRO audience with her own brand of slow jazz, soft rock, and rhythm and blues. It's easy to see why she's a top Israeli vocalist, backed by a band of four on the organ, guitar, acoustics, and percussion.
Erez at Millennium Stage, John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, Washington, D.C. Oct. 7, 2016/photo by Patricia Leslie

Erez, 23, said she was just coming off tour from New York, and Washington was her last stop in the U.S. before leaving the next day for Tel Aviv. 

She seemed genuinely delighted by the crowd and took several selfies, including one with her back to the audience which, upon request, raised hands.  Her stage presence was easy and comfortable and her maturity, far beyond her years.  No doubt we'll be hearing her name and music a lot more in the future.
Erez at Millennium Stage, John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, Washington, D.C. Oct. 7, 2016/photo by Patricia Leslie
Erez at Millennium Stage, John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, Washington, D.C. Oct. 7, 2016/photo by Patricia Leslie
Erez's band at Millennium Stage, John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, Washington, D.C. Oct. 7, 2016/photo by Patricia Leslie

Words from "Out of Here," however, seemed out of balance with today's current young female population, strong and undeterred by opposites: 

You're right 
I'm wrong

I'm weak
      You're strong

It's not for me to say.

What:  Free performances

When: 6 p.m., seven days a week 365 days a year 

Where: The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, 2700 F Street, NW Washington, D.C. 20566

How much: Admission is always free at Millennium Stage.

Duration:  Usually less than an hour

Metro station:
Foggy Bottom. Ride a free red shuttle bus (every 10 minutes) at the top of the escalators at Foggy Bottom to KenCen or walk it (10 minutes).

Happy Hour: Before 6 p.m. some beer, wine, and treats are half price at the hall's refreshment stands where servers could use a dose of customer service training at the School for Service Elites, Trader Joe's.

For more information: 800-444-1324 or 202-467-4600

Sunday, October 9, 2016

5,000 years of Greeks leave D.C. tomorrow

Queen Meda, the sixth wife of Phillip II of Macedon, wore this wreath of gold, 340-336 BC, found in the antechamber of Phillip II's tomb. She committed suicide when the king was assassinated and to honor her, the Macedonians buried her with him. Archaeological Museum of Aigai, Vergina/photo by Patricia Leslie

A magnificent presentation of 5,000 years of Greek history and culture with 500 objects, many which have never traveled outside Greece, is set to close Monday at D.C.'s National Geographic Museum, the only East Coast museum to present the exhibition. If you can't get there, here are a few artifacts and sculptures loaned by 22 Greek museums to dazzle you.
This may have been a serving platter or filled with water and used as a mirror. A longboat and foaming waves can be seen on this back side. During the Early Bronze Age (3300-2100 BC) longboats may have been the only means of transportation between islands in the Aegean Sea. Ceramic. Syros, 2800-2300 BC, National Archaeological Museum, Athens/photo by Patricia Leslie
This was probably sewn into a garment. Gold. Aravissos, 4500-3200 BC, Archaeological Museum of Thessaloniki/photo by Patricia Leslie
Linear A tablets with Minoan script which have not been completely deciphered, but are believed to contain agricultural records  One of these is probably an inventory of a temple. Clay, Kydonia (Chania), around 1450 BC, Archaeological Museum of Chania/photo by Patricia Leslie
This is one of the oldest known Greek "crowns," a diadem worn by a ruler and featuring dogs which were sometimes buried with their owners.  It was found in Tomb II in the cemetery at Mochlos. Gold, 2600-2100 BC, Archaeological Museum of Heraklion/photo by Patricia Leslie
Probably a priestess between 25 and 35 years old from Mycenae was buried with these gold items which include designs of butterflies and flowers. Circle A, Grave III, Second half of the 16th century, BC, National Archaeological Museum, Athens/photo by Patricia Leslie
A jug, cups, dagger, and clothing ornaments are among the items found in a grave of two men, discovered through DNA analysis to be related. Ceramic, bronze, and gold, Mycenae, Circle A, Grave VI, Second half of the 16th century, BC, National Archaeological Museum, Athens/photo by Patricia Leslie
Items found in the grave of a high priestess. Terracotta, ceramics, gold, silver, glass, Archontiko, 540-530 BC, Archaeological Museum of Pelia/photo by Patricia Leslie
Gold funerary masks and helmets found in the graves of elite warriors who may have worn the helmets in life. Bronze and gold, Archontiko, mid-sixth century, BC, Archaeological Museum of Pelia/photo by Patricia Leslie
Fragment of a large vase showing Odysseus and his troops piecing the remaining eye of the Cyclops Polyphemus to escape entrapment in a cave where the cyclops is eating the men, two by two. Ceramic, Argos, 670-650 BC, Archaeological Museum of Argos/photo by Patricia Leslie
Homer, from a Roman-era copy of the Greek original, around 300 BC.  No known images of the poet from his lifetime exist, but many were fashioned between the fifth to second centuries, BC. Pentelic marble, National Archaeological Museum, Athens/photo by Patricia Leslie
The King of Sparta, Leonidas (540-480 BC) is associated with this bust. Leonidas issued the challenge "come and get them" to the Persians when they demanded his troops' weapons. Members of the Spartan military wore beards with no mustaches.  Found at the Acropolis of Sparta. Parian marble, 480-470 BC, Archaeological Museum of Sparta/photo by Patricia Leslie
Sculpture of an athlete found on the southeast side of the Parthenon, the largest and most important temple in Athens.  Parian marble. 450-440 BC, Acropolis Museum, Athens/photo by Patricia Leslie
The head of the woman on the left was once considered to be one of the Parthenon metopes which depicted scenes from mythical battles, but analysis revealed her "style" came later, from the late or later than the fifth century, BC. The sculpture on the right (447-438 BC) was from the Parthenon and partially destroyed in the Great Turkish War of 1687. Her remains are undiscovered. Both pentelic marble, Epigraphic Museum, Athens
/photo by Patricia Leslie
Phillip II may have worn this gold and silver diadem when he was assassinated in 336 BC at his daughter's wedding, stabbed by one of his bodyguards who may have conspired with  one of the king's wives, Olympias, the mother of Alexander the Great, 340-300 BC, Archaeological Museum of Aigai, Vergina/photo by Patricia Leslie

Who:  The Greeks:  Agamemnon to Alexander the Great

When:  Now through OT 10, 2016, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. with the last ticket sold at 5 p.m.

Where:  National Geographic Museum, 1145 17th St., NW, Washington, DC, 20036

How much (buy tickets here): Adults, $15; Subscribers, Military, Seniors (over 62) and Students over age 12, $12; Children, ages 5 -12, $10; Local school and youth groups, ages 18 and under, and annual pass holders, free

Metro stations:  Farragut North or Farragut West

For more information:  202-857-7700

Monday, October 3, 2016

U.S. Army Chorus opens St. John's free First Wednesday concerts Oct. 5

The U.S. Army Chorus

The United States Army Chorus will inaugurate this season's First Wednesday Concert Series at St. John's Episcopal Church, Lafayette Square, at noontime Wednesday, October 5.

On the program are patriotic songs, a medley of service pieces, and sacred compositions.

Formed in 1956 to accompany the U.S. Army Band, the U.S. Army Chorus regularly sings with the National Symphony Orchestra on Memorial Day, Independence Day, at other patriotic events, and for visiting heads of state. It tours the U.S. and performs with local symphonies.

Also called "Pershing's Own," the chorus, whose members speak more than 26 languages and dialects, is one of the few professional male choruses in the U.S.

In the Chorus's repertoire are traditional military music, pop, Broadway, folk, and classical tunes. 
Accompanying the singers at St. John's will be organist and Staff Sergeant Dan Campolieta.

St. John's Episcopal Church, Lafayette Square, Washington, D.C./Photo by Patricia Leslie
St. John's founded in 1815 is known to many Washington residents as the yellow church at Lafayette Square, and often called the “Church of the Presidents.” Beginning with James Madison who was president from 1809 to 1817, every president has been a member of St. John's or has attended services at the church. A plaque at the rear of St. John's designates the pew where President Abraham Lincoln often sat when he stopped by the church during the Civil War. 

First Wednesday concerts begin at 12:10 p.m. and last about 35 minutes. Food trucks are located at Farragut Square, two blocks away.

Who: The U.S. Army Chorus

What: First Wednesday Concerts

When: 12:10 p.m., October 5, 2016

Where: St. John’s, Lafayette Square, 1525 H Street, NW, at the corner of 16th, Washington, D.C. 20005

How much: No charge

Duration: About 35 minutes

Wheelchair accessible

Metro stations: McPherson Square (White House exit), Farragut North, or Farragut West

For more information: Contact Michael Lodico, St. John's director of music ministry, at 202-270-6265.

Future dates and artists of the First Wednesday Concerts are:

November 2: Director of Music Ministry at St. John's, Michael Lodico will play German and French organ music.

December 7:
Madrigal Singers from St. Albans & National Cathedral schools will sing seasonal music under the direction of Brandon Straub.

January 4, 2017: Concert organist Janet Yieh will play works by Mendelssohn, Messiaen, and the "Beatles" Toccata

February 1: Jazz vocalist Sara Jones will sing a Winter Escape, accompanied by the Dan Dufford Ensemble

April 5: Soloists from St. John's Choir will sing.

May 3: Director of Music, Christ Church, Georgetown, Thomas Smith, will play A Journey to Merrie Olde England - A Recital of English Organ Music

June 7: Bach's Brandenburg Concerto No. 2 will be played by the U.S. Air Force Strings with Mary Bowden on the trumpet

Sunday, October 2, 2016

The last day to see Hubert Robert at the National Gallery of Art is today

Hubert Robert, Young Girls Dancing Around an Obelisk, 1798, The Montreal Museum of Fine Arts. The year of the painting is the year Napoleon took his army to Egypt whose monuments and pyramids drew Robert's admiration and fascination. 
Hubert Robert, The Bastille in the First Days of Demolition, 1789, Musée Carnavalet- Historie de Paris© Musée Carnavalet. The Marquis de Lafayette, one of the revolutionaries who ordered the destruction of La Bastille, so admired this work, Robert gave it to him.
Hubert Robert, Arhitectural Capriccio with the Portico of Octavia, 1784, Musée du Louvre, Paris, on deposit at the Embassy of France, London
Hubert Robert, The Pantheon with the Port of Ripetta, 1766, Ecole Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-Arts, Paris, on deposit from the Departement des PePeintures du Musée du Louvre
Hubert Robert, The Destruction of the Royal Tombs of Saint-Denis, 1793, Musée Carnavalet- Historie de Paris© Musée Carnavalet 
Hubert Robert, Feeding the Prisoners of Saint-Lazare, 1794, Musée Carnavalet- Histoire de Paris© Musée Carnavalet

During the French Revolution, Hubert Robert and other prisoners at Saint-Lazare, ate cheese flavored with maggots and worm-infested herring, and they drank poisoned wine.  Above, prisoners beg outsiders for better provisions. 
Photo by Patricia Leslie

One of 18th century's most successful artists was Hubert Robert (1733-1808) whose keen interest lay in architectural capriccio when he combined old and new or make-believe.  A sci-fi artist!

He would have been right at home in Washington, D.C. today (and, as a matter of fact, is here for one day more), able to choose and draw the past and insert and lift the old and the fictional.

He could have painted the brutalist Third Church of Christ, Scientist, by the I.M. Pei firm, up against a boring, stereotypical modern office building which took its place at the corner of 16th and I streets, NW,  the church architecture always one of my favorites to admire, but n'ermore.

Shame, shame and sigh. I want to preserve it all.

Known to many in the art world as "Robert of the Ruins," the artist was born in Paris and traveled at age 21 to Rome to study where he stayed 11 years, visiting, among many pleasures, the countryside with his pal, Jean Honoré Fragonard (1732-1806), drawing landscapes and learning.

Returning to Paris, his mind was filled with memories  of monuments and Italian antiquities, many which found their way into his works and helped elevate his position among French artists.  A versatilist, Robert drew beautiful, romantic landscapes, too, and was well respected as a garden designer, interior decorator, and draftsman.

Caught in the upheaval of the French Revolution (1789-1799), Robert was arrested and imprisoned, scenes which he drew and now present an eyewitness account of the Revolution on the walls at the National Gallery .

After the war, he returned to the Musée du Louvre where he resumed his position as a curator which Robert remained until his death.
More than 100  paintings and drawings comprise the exhibition, the first monographic Hubert Robert exhibition in the U.S. and the first anywhere since 1933. The National Gallery and the Musée du Louvre, where it opened earlier this year, organized the presentation.

A color catalogue of almost 300 pages is available in National Gallery shops. Here is a link to an audio of the introductory lecture at the National Gallery of Art.

What: Hubert Robert, 1733-1808

Closing today at 6 p.m., Sunday, October 2, 2016.  The National Gallery opens at 11 a.m.

Where: West Building, the National Gallery of Art, between Third and Ninth streets at Constitution Avenue, N.W., Washington, D.C. On the Mall.

Admission charge: Never on Sunday or any day

Metro stations
for the National Gallery of Art:
Smithsonian, Federal Triangle, Navy Memorial-Archives, or L'Enfant Plaza

For more information: 202-737-4215