Thursday, November 27, 2008

the case of the stolen swimming pools

If I understand correctly, my brother Gazpachot has informed me that the above painting has been "stolen", and my feelings about this possibility are mixed. I like the image, which is why I painted it -- what's there not to like about dinosaur and hammer-shaped swimming pools? But having created the picture, and then photographed it, I have no pressing need to own the original. If the picture actually spoke to someone to the point that they "stole" it, well, do I have any choice but to be flattered? Better that it enter someone's life that way than to have it sit in a dark closet or a dumspter.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

November is Native American History Month

There was a good segment on Bill Moyers last night about the broken criminal justice system on Indian reservations. Then today something about the Long Walk of the Navajos. It then occurred to me that November is Native American History Month. I don't know how much the significance of November has to do with Thanksgiving, but I am reminded of how three years ago I decided to spend Thanksgiving in the desert. The formations at Red Rock Canyon State Park were as spiritual as any human gathering, and this photo we took is among my favorites, so in retrospect it was worth it.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

tales from equestrian epicenters

Long before Robyn Hitchcock and Alfred Hitchcock there was Thomas Hitchcock, the equestrian mover and shaker. Late in the 19th century, Thomas Hitchcock jump-started American polo on the long island east of New York City; he also helped jump-start thoroughbred horse racing with his friend August Belmont, who built the Belmont Park racetrack, curiously, in Elmont, NY. TH based his horsey operations in Old Westbury and spent equally horsey winters in Aiken, South Carolina. All of these places were equestrian epicenters along the lines of Lexington, Kentucky; however not everybody thinks of Nassau County, Long Island as an equestrian epicenter because it has been so sprawled over since the polo era.

The son, Thomas Hitchcock Jr., lead a similarly distinguished life. Practically born with a polo mallet in hand, he inspired F. Scott Fitzgerald's Gatsby-grudging character Tom Buchanan. In World War One he served in the Lafayette Escadrille, and as a French-commanded American fighter pilot he survived getting shot down by the Germans, from whom he escaped by walking to Switzerland -- sort of a proto-John McCain with a better ending. He later married Margaret Mellon, the sister of Larimer Mellon Jr., the doctor who founded the Hopital Albert Schweitzer in Haiti. TH Jr. also worked for the now folded Lehman Brothers firm up until World War Two, when he re-joined the Air Force and died in an aviation accident in England.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

shastric prog rock

It turns out that Jon Anderson's inspiration for "Tales from Topographic Oceans" was a footnote in Paramahansa Yogananda's "Autobiography of a Yogi", a book I read several years ago that still sits on my shelf. The footnote, found on page 104, is not hard to find and briefly, ever so briefly, outlines the four classes of shastric scripture -- shruti, smriti, purana and tantra.

I will always remember how during my first extended stay in a foreign country*, as a seventeen year old in southwest France, I sat on the bed in the room of my host family, staring out at the window, psychologically sore from weeks of cultural dislocation, and the idea of that record struck me as something of a miracle.

It remains, decades after the fact, a miracle.

*The first non-US territory I set foot on was the Caribbean island of St. Martin/St. Maarten.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

reggae for Obama!

For those that aren't aware, there is a WEALTH of Barack Obama-themed reggae songs, some of them very entertaining. I can recommend those by Coco Tea and Red Ride. Just check out this youtube link or look up "Obama + reggae":