Totally The Wrong Answer

David Lean’s epic Lawrence of Arabia is on YouTube. I have the best link below.

I once read the biography of an early bodyguard of Winston Churchill. He and Winston travelled to the Mideast around the time of World War I. They met Lawrence and went throughout the countryside.

He said the film did not reflect the true impact Lawrence had on the Arabs.

He said people would come from great distances just to gather around the man and perhaps touch his cloak.

Although a work of fact and fiction, the film remains an outstanding achievement that will never be duplicated.

The script includes brilliant dialog like this:

I’m promoting you Major.

I don’t think that’s a very good idea.

I didn’t ask you.

I want you to go back…

…and carry on the good work.

No. Thank you, sir.

– Why not?

– Well, I, it’s…

Let me see now…

I killed two people.

I mean, two Arabs.

One was a boy.

That was…

…yesterday.

I led him into a quicksand.

The other was a man.

That was…

…before Aqaba, anyway.

I had to execute him with my pistol.

There was something about it

I didn’t like.

– Well, naturally.

– No. Something else.

That’s all right.

Let it be a warning.

No. Something else.

What, then?

I enjoyed it.

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“You’re An Idiot, Babe. It’s A Wonder That You Still Know How to Breathe.”

On Robert Frost, “He is the only straight white man on this list and you should take my recommendation of a straight white man really heavily because you know he really had to do something good to get on this list.”

That’s terribly racist and discriminatory. From a twit who pretends to be open and enlightened.

Martin Luther King Jr. once wrote, “I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.”

Some say white folk can be discriminated against since they wield the levers of power. Not necessarily. Color does not guarantee power or prevent discrimination. White skin did not save seven million Jews from being slaughtered in Nazi death camps.

Perhaps 100 million white people in today’s America vehemently disagree with the white people now in power. Their whiteness can’t change the past election, the presidency, congress, or senate.

White people are the only race that it is now safe to joke about, particularly those from Appalachia or the Ozarks. Hill people. Rural folk.

Other races may think this payback for past transgressions but your enemy isn’t a West Virginia coal miner or a Missouri dirt farmer. If you do have any enemy aside from a need to blame others for your own shortcomings.

Discrimination at two o’clock in the afternoon today is as evil as it was the day before. Yet these woke peasants practice themselves what they complain about others doing to them.

What these people want is revenge (and probably a check), not equality and justice. Because equality is now only for them.

Okay, then, we know what you are all about.

Hate and vindictiveness and pettiness that is now drowning the whole world. They are like vandals who scrawl graffiti which represents the ugliness they feel inside.

People like this woman view everything through the distorted lens of race, gender, and sexual orientation. They stare at Twitter all day, eagerly hoping to find something to offend them.

Idiots like this have killed intellectual criticism in the arts and letters.

It isn’t Big Brother we should worry about. It’s Big Sister.

Enough of that.

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Is Time Real?

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Art On The Line

Live auction as of 5;37 AM April 18, 2021. Sign up for alerts of upcoming auctions.

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They Were Nice People. Generally.

“They were nice people. Generally.” Reportedly said by a witness to the dealings of Richard Nixon’s inner circle. That included henchmen like H.R.Haldeman, John Ehrlichman, and John Mitchell. Nice people. Generally.

Working Around Connected People in the late 1980s.

A small puppy got on the grounds of a client. Tony had just pulled up in his Range Rover and everyone who worked there knew Tony didn’t like strays. I picked up the dog and cradled it in my arms.

As I walked past Tony toward the driveway I said I would get rid of it. Tony said, “I’ll show you how to get rid of it,” pulling out his .45 caliber automatic. One of the client’s assistants appeared at the head of the driveway to say, in a happy, sing song voice, “Oh, Tony, you don’t have to shoot it.”

Indeed. Please, Tony, don’t shoot this dog while I am holding it.

Later, half drunk, another employee said that Tony wanted to bring someone out from Chicago to take care of a problem. The problem?

Her violent ex-husband. But, as she explained, also in a happy voice, she couldn’t take the responsibility for that decision. “I just can’t do it,” she said, laughing into her white zin. Myself, also half drunk with her, agreed that that this was the right decision. As I wondered if I was now a witness to a murder conspiracy.

Chicago. That would explain some things. Like how the developer would disappear in his rock star style bus in the middle of August to go vacation in Chicago. Who does that? He had property at Lake Tahoe as well as a place in Palm Springs. Here he was, though, going to Chicago. For the second time that I knew about.

I found out years later that there was a well known group called the Chicago Outfit. They had been around since prohibition and Al Capone. This is a grainy photo off the web of the group in 1985. I don’t recognize anyone. And yes, the developer was Italian-American.

Many Questions

We maintained the grounds of the developer’s personal residence in Sacramento because we wanted his commercial property accounts. That’s where the money was, not with private homes. His property was the exception, though, and it paid as much as a commercial account.

When I was put in charge of the house many questions arose. I thought at first that the developer worried about kidnapping. But that didn’t explain everything.

I was once in the basement where two sprinkler clocks were installed. An ADT repairman showed up at the same time to fix an alarm problem. He pointed out to Tony that all of the phone lines for the home ran to a central board.

Much better, the repairman explained, if several of those phone lines went to a separate board installed somewhere else. Better security, he explained, in case something happened to the telephone lines. Tony enthusiastically agreed.

Uh, pardon me, my inward voice said, but what might happen to the telephone lines? I never questioned things like that. I’d just smile and walk off. It seemed the best approach. Don’t ask questions. Just like in the mob movies.

He was the only one in that neighborhood who took his daily walks with a vehicle trailing behind. Usually Tony in that Range Rover, always on his vehicle mounted cell phone.

Tony once said that he followed the developer because his boss might get tired and then need a ride back home. Understandable since the man had Polio as a child and walked with a limp. Still, that didn’t explain why all their vehicles had a nitrous system. Not just that Range.

It included his and her Rolls Royces. Who does that to a Rolls Royce? Two of them? Eventually Paul confessed that the nitrous button on each dash was what he called a “get away quick switch.” Hmm. The developer was certainly ready for those kidnappers.

Tony

Tony could have been a movie character. He was ex-Vietnam and ex-California Highway Patrol. Still in the reserves when I met him and occasionally an unarmed helicopter would hover over the house with his buddies. Paul would communicate in hand signals to the helicopter and this nonsense in a rich residential neighborhood seemed almost normal compared to everything else happening there. And I was there only once or twice a week.

I never asked Tony why he quit the CHP since it was and is still so well respected. He did grumble once about his time with the agency during the shootout in Los Angeles with the Symbionese Liberation Army. “They made me account for all the rounds I fired. Every bullet.” Oh, dear, Tony, I understand. The pain! I remembered that shootout from television news, something like five or six SLA members dead and thousands of rounds shot off.

We did get along and eventually went out together to concerts and dinners where he was prone to paying with coupons and once saying that he had forgotten his wallet and could I loan him some money?  I once flew with him in a light plane that he rented for the day to take photographs of the developer’s property in Roseville. That was interesting.

I met him in Elk Grove at a small airport. I can’t recall its name. We were to fly from Elk Grove to the Woodland airport where we would have breakfast at the Yolo Fliers Club. That sounded fine, I thought, expect I knew Yolo Fliers was a private club. I couldn’t imagine sauntering in there to have breakfast unannounced. But I was there to help to take those pictures so I followed along.

While performing the pre-flight inspection of the plane, Paul explained that he just learned to fly. Great. And that this plane was a rental. Great again. And that the best part of this tiny plane was that it ran on regular gas. Pump gas, not avgas. This was just getting better. I said I had some money in my pocket and would he like to spring for something better?

We took off into a strong wind that got much, much stronger as the day went on. We got warnings from somewhere over the radio before Woodland that updrafts and downdrafts of over 700 feet were possible and that pilots should be aware of wind shear before landing. We were a ping pong ball in space.

We landed so hard at Woodland that Paul checked the emergency beacon before tying the plane down to make sure it hadn’t accidentally been tripped. The winds were really coming up now but I was more worried about our breakfast.

Paul was around 6’2″ and maybe 210 pounds. Big guy. Intimidating. That morning he was wearing an old Vietnam era field jacket with a big Viet Cong Hunting Club patch sewed on. I followed a few steps behind as we walked into Yolo Fliers where people were having breakfast. A chorus went up, “Hi, Tony!”

The photographs didn’t come out well but we didn’t repeat the trip. Winds were way over the rating for the plane when we landed. Paul had to “crab it in” as they say. The only time I saw him a little nervous. Me? I was out of my mind with nervousness. Okay, let’s call it terror and total fear. That’s better.

Lady B

Tony lusted over Lady B who was another employee of the developer. I’m sure his people got paychecks but I doubt any of them were employees in a conventional sense. I never saw any illegal activity and everything seemed above board and fully in the light. So, what was going on? Who knew? I didn’t ask questions. Back to Lady B.

Lady B was the most beautiful woman I have ever met in person. Prettier women in movies and magazines existed but I had never encountered any of those. She was also sharp, focused, and easy to talk to. She once wrote an unsolicited letter to my boss, commending me on my fine work and devotion to the property. Which was a 19 story building the developer owned, a small high rise  in the style of what I’d call the new ornamentalism.

Tony was entranced by Lady B. Or more like obsessed over victory. A prize to be won He had no interest in a relation.

I was talking with Tony and two of my workers at the house one day. Lady B came out after meeting with the boss. Always sleek and stylish, she walked past us and down the driveway. Paul whispered to us, “Let us observe a minute of silence,” as he watched her walk away. Good grief. I never told Tony how friendly Lady B and I were getting. And that he never had a chance. Lady B had class. Tony did not.

The building she managed was full of private practice lawyers. Guys with money. Yet I never saw flowers on her desk. I changed that. She loved getting freesias and I loved giving them to her. She always had time to talk and after about four months I asked her out. I was delighted that she said yes.

We went to the top of a nearby hotel which had a bar overlooking the city. She drank hard, even though it was only white Zinfandel. That surprised me because I thought at her age she would have a more developed taste. For things like Chenin blanc or Sauvignon blanc. Blanc something. Whatever. I just wanted to get drunk with her and enjoy the privilege of looking at something so beautiful and so engaging. As she would straightforwardly describe herself, “The beauty and the mystery.”

There didn’t seem to be a mystery at first. She worked for this developer so whatever shady things were going on with him, well, she wasn’t part of it. Right?

After she described how her ex had broken into her apartment, how he had destroyed the hood of her Mercedes coupe, she talked about how Tony wanted to bring someone out from Chicago to deal with things. Lady B laughingly dismissed the solution but not on the basis of killing someone, rather, she didn’t want to make the decision.

I moved the murder conspiracy talk off to something I thought safer: family.

“Is your dad still alive? What does he do?”

“No. He killed himself. He worked for the Mob. My grandparents still do in Carson City.”

Mob Princess? More like Mob prisoner. Before we went out she’d often say that she wanted to “meet a rich man who would take me away from all of this.” Without saying what “this” was. I’m not sure she could leave. Her grandparents were still in. Her dad got out only by killing himself. If his suicide was indeed natural. Can you voluntarily quit these people? I don’t know. I never asked questions.

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Hong Kong Spring Fine Art Sales by Sothebys

I can’t express how wonderful this video is. A true gift to the art world.

If you love the stories and education behind shows like Antique Road Show, you will totally enjoy this video.

Sotheby’s continues to bring people into the arts with their tremendous, lucid, literate presentations.

A comment on 1:38.

Magnificent bodhisattva statute. Most museums can’t afford such a piece. As such their limited viewing. I’ve seen a gem collections not even the Smithsonian or British Museum could afford to buy.

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A Bigger Take on The World

This tiny print had no sense of space. I could see the poster being even bigger. But not enough pixels.

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This Or An Opium Den. Maybe Both.

After three decades I am getting closer to getting the treatment I have wanted all along: ECT or electro-convulsive therapy.

My psychiatrists in the past have been a conservative lot. Medicine and talk therapy were the only choices. ECT wasn’t indicated for my chronic nightmares and insomnia. But their choices haven’t worked and they are now admitting as much.

I am 63 and have no more time. Either I try this or I end my life. It may not work but I will then know what to do next.

The stay at home option is to kill myself somewhere in the desert.

But lately I am warming up to fleeing to Southeast Asia or India to spend the last of my time and money in a high end opium den for the round eye trade. A narcotic clip joint filled with beautiful women. Or women that look beautiful under opium.

Maybe all of life is an extended opium dream. Or nightmare.

Another month and my cataract surgery should be complete. And then I can go to Arizona to try ECT.

Three sessions a week for four weeks. That should be enough to tell since all medical appointments produce nightmares. WIll they taper off after a week or two or not?

I am renewing my passport just in case.

NB: This video demonstrates the process. It is not the facility I will be using.

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Drywall and Botticelli’s The Birth of Venus

We’ve all seen photos of Botticelli’s The Birth of Venus. Sandro Botticelli, circa mid -480s.

What we don’t see is scale.

I was remarking to a former art instructor how very different Van Gogh’s paintings look like in person compared to photographs. He agreed and said scale is also missing in photos.

Monet’s Water Lilies’ series in near billboard size in width. No way to capture that on a tiny phone screen or even in a large coffee table size art book.

Back to The Birth of Venus.

A workman below carries a 4′ by 8′ sheet of drywall. Not easily, mind you, as these sheets are very heavy and bulky.



Botticelli’s masterwork is 5′ 8″ x 9′ 2″. I’ve outlined a 4′ x 8′ rectangle on his painting below.


And here is how these boards normally go up on walls. It’s all a matter of scale.

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As Long As a Free Man Breathes There Will Always Be a Rhodesia

As Long As a Free Man Breathes There Will Always Be a Rhodesia

While growing up I admired plucky little Rhodesia from afar. It is now called Zimbabwe. Like the Weimar Republic or perhaps Camelot, it lives now only in memory and myth.

Rhodesia was a break away colony from the United Kingdom in the 1960s. It became a pariah state like Chile under Allende or Israel under anybody.

Everybody hated Rhodesia.

White supremacists. Racial injustice. Continuation of colonial rule. Blah, blah, blah.

Rhodesia’s origins can be traced back as far as the 1650s with the establishment of Cape Town by the Dutch. And then the subsequent settling of southeast Africa by these people and other Europeans.

They turned tractless scrub and veldt into a modern civilization which superpowers and future despots coveted for their own.

In the 1970’s two thugs named Robert Mugabe and Joshua Nkomo vied for control of Rhodesia. They both led armies against Ian Smith’s government. Mugabe had money and munitions supplied by China and Nkomo was financed by the Soviet Union.

It was widely known that both men would fight each other to head Rhodesia once whites were thrown out of power.

The racial injustice stuff was nonsense and fraud.

It was all about bringing into power another oppressive and brutal strongman who would destroy the economy through corruption and set back the quality of life for all those remaining.

The world agreed that this was fine as long as blacks were in charge.

And so The Great Experiment Failed and another despot was installed. Africa continued its misery of ruining everything positive that the former and vilified colonial powers had brought about.

The Rhodesian Army gallantly fought against the world in a bush war of legend but the outcome was always certain. The last days found civilians taking automatic weapons with them before going to play golf or tennis. It was that bad.

Still, gallantry and pluck.

Many people from around the world enlisted in the Rhodesian army.

Much like pilots who volunteered to help Great Britain before the United States entered World War II. Or like Orwell and so many others who went to Spain to fight against Franco in the Spanish Civil War.

I had to look up how to spell Zimbabwe. I don’t use it.

As long as a free man breathes there will always be a Rhodesia.

.

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