Ingersoll Day

9DC5EA47-7B7E-4071-8D2D-CABBA1C49502.jpeg

It’s  Ingersoll Day, celebrating “The Great Agnostic” (actually an atheist) born on this day in 1833.

By all accounts a fine man and an unparalleled speaker, the Christopher Hitchens of his time. Ingersoll was one of the most popular orators of his age, when oratory was public entertainment. He spoke on every subject, from Shakespeare to Reconstruction, but his most popular subjects were agnosticism and the sanctity and refuge of the family. He committed his speeches to memory although they were sometimes more than three hours long.

Many of Ingersoll’s speeches advocated freethought and humanism, and often ridiculed religious belief. For this the press often attacked him, but neither his opinions nor the negative press could stop his increasing popularity. During Ingersoll’s greatest fame, audiences would pay $1 or more to hear him speak, a considerable sum for that time.

Here’s a quotation on his belief of the harmony, or lack of, between religion and science which of course is still a contentious debate:

“There is no harmony between religion and science. When science was a child, religion sought to strangle it in the cradle. Now that science has attained its youth, and superstition is in its dotage, the trembling, palsied wreck says to the athlete: “Let us be friends.” It reminds me of the bargain the cock wished to make with the horse: “Let us agree not to step on each other’s feet.”
~ Robert G. Ingersoll, American Soldier, Lawyer, Orator and Politician

Ursula von Kardoff on Sophie Scholl and the White Rose

On Sophie Scholl and the White Rose:

“I will never forget the excitement when a leaflet was pressed into my hand by somebody in the editorial room of the Allgemeine Zeitung. The leaflets were being circulated by White Rose followers in Hamburg. Something inflammatory, heartening—yes, magical!—emanated from these typewritten and hectographed [mimeographed] lines.

We copied them off and passed them on. A wave of enthusiasm swept over us—we who risked so damned little in comparison.”
~ Ursula von Kardoff (reporter at Nuremberg War Crimes Tribunal, 1945)

Thomas Jefferson & John Adams Death

Today in Founding Fathers History —> On this day in 1826 Thomas Jefferson, third president of the United States, dies the same day as John Adams, second president of the United States, on the fiftieth anniversary of the adoption of the United States Declaration of Independence.

#ThomasJefferson #JohnAdams

Charlotte Perkins Gilman

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

One of my very favorite authors was born on this date 1860:

Charlotte Perkins Gilman (July 3, 1860 – August 17, 1935), writer, philosopher, feminist, and social critic—contributed significantly to 20th-century political and feminist theory. Born in 1860 in Hartford, Connecticut, she lived much of her childhood in poverty after her father left the family when she was seven years old. She taught herself to read, studied music, and was largely self-educated in the fields of history, sociology, biology, and evolution. She attended public school sporadically until age 15 and later studied at the Rhode Island School of Design.

Gilman became active in women’s issues at a young age. She founded a women’s gym in Providence when she was 21 at a time when overexertion was thought to cause hysteria in women. She later gained recognition as a lecturer and writer, focusing her talents on the Nationalist Movement, a type of socialism based on Edward Bellamy’s thought and portrayed in his novel Looking Backward (1888). Gilman’s philosophy, activism, and writings showed enormous breadth, and included works on political and social reform, support for the Labor Movement and women’s suffrage, poetry, essays, and studies on gender issues in economics, anthropology, and history. She is also known for her famous work of short fiction The Yellow Wallpaper (1892), a semi-autobiographical account of her nervous breakdown following the birth of her daughter, which, like Virginia Woolf’s Mrs. Dalloway (1925), includes a searing critique of the manner in which the medical community treated women’s mental health near the turn of the century.

Charlotte Perkins Gilman was diagnosed with breast cancer in 1932. Before this diagnosis, Gilman had written about euthanasia and right-to-die issues. In one passage from her posthumously published autobiography The Living of Charlotte Perkins Gilman (1935), she remarks after visiting her ill father in a sanitarium that a future civilized society would not “maintain such a horror.” In 1935, after living three years with a cancer she had been told would kill her within a year and a half, Gilman ended her life by inhaling chloroform. She left a letter, conventionally called a suicide note, which stressed her view of the primacy of human relationships and social responsibility (“Human life consists in mutual service”) and ended in the famous line: “I have preferred chloroform to cancer.”

“Human life consists in mutual service. No grief, pain, misfortunate, or “broken heart” is excuse for cutting off one’s life while any power of service remains. But when all usefulness is over, when one is assured of unavoidable and imminent death, it is the simplest of human rights to choose a quick and easy death in place of a slow and horrible one. Public opinion is changing on this subject. The time is approaching when we shall consider it abhorrent to our civilization to allow a human being to die in prolonged agony which we should mercifully end in any other creature. Believing this open choice to be of social service in promoting wiser views on this question, I have preferred chloroform to cancer.”
~ Charlotte Perkins Gilman (Suicide Note, August 17th 1935)

#FavoriteAuthors #Feminism #CharlottePerkinsGilman

Stephenson’s Apple Farm: Family Influence

39331814-4021-4E56-A392-6C76CC2430C4.jpeg

I’m too young to remember going to this restaurant, but fortunately my family bought their spiralbound cookbook.  So many of the recipes have become family classics. It’s actually hard for me to imagine not having these recipes in my repertoire, sure I’ve made some subtle and some not so subtle changes to their recipes over the years though the inspiration iscompletely Stephenson’s Apple Farm.  Unfortunately the restaurant closed in 2007, but lives on in many homes.  My own thought are echoed here:

”I remember arriving at Stephenson’s and running down the stairs to the lobby where there was a barrel with ice cold apple cider and these little 2-ounce paper cups. I must have filled mine 10 times.

I remember walking into the Parlour, the first room to the left of the lobby, red velvet wallpaper and a little faux balcony, one of eight dining rooms at the Old Apple Farm Restaurant. I remember the paintings on the wall, the white tablecloths, starched napkins, candles on each table and the big glasses.

We sat down, and my father immediately ordered two dozen apple fritters and some chicken livers. All the boys were served cider in big chilled glasses, while Mom and Dad sipped apple daiquiris. They were served on little cocktail napkins with Stephenson’s logo and a bite taken out of the apple. Did I mention the bowls of fresh apple butter served with the fritters? How about the corn relish? Oh my …“

~ JASPER J. MIRABILE JR., “Kansas City Star”

794DC7A3-FD58-4521-A030-A9D9400EEB54

Most Admired: Leni Riefenstahl

d956f203-7e7c-4fce-a2f9-9f9bf7588494

Leni Riefenstahl (1902-2003)
This will most assuredly be my most controversial selection for my short bios of women artists and writers I admire, but hear me out. To be clear I am not saying I admire her affiliation with Nazi Germany. I am not saying that I feel her propaganda work during the 1930’s & 1940’s is something that inspires me or I admire. I do however recognize the brilliance of the work she did during that time from a strictly artistic point-of-view and as an effective form of propaganda for a morally reprehensible regime that unfortunately existed in a dark period of human history. Whether you believe her claims that she was unaware of the Nazi war crimes they were committing or not I leave up to your own conscience. For what it is worth she won over fifty libel cases against people accusing her of knowing of the Nazi crimes. She would later go onto say of meeting Hitler, “It was the biggest catastrophe of my life. Until the day I die people will keep saying, ‘Leni is a Nazi’, and I’ll keep saying, ‘But what did she do?”

Her most infamous and historically significant film was “Triumph of the Will” (Named by Hitler) of the 1934 Nazi Party rally at Nuremberg. According to reports she originally did not wish to make the film, but Hitler convinced her on the condition that she not be required to make further films for the party. She did however make a few more films for the Nazi party such as an eighteen minute follow up film at the 1935 party rally focusing on the army which felt they were not fairly represented in the first film. She went on to claim to never have intended to make a pro-Nazi propaganda film and was disgusted it was used that way. Whether that is true or not “Triumph of the Will” has been universally recognized as a masterful, innovative example of documentary filmmaking. Years later the Economist (magazine) wrote that Triumph of the Will “sealed her reputation as the greatest female filmmaker of the 20th century.” The film scholar Mark Cousins went on to claim, “Next to Orson Welles and Alfred Hitchcock, Leni Riefenstahl was the most technically talented Western film maker of her era”.

In 1936 with the Olympics approaching she traveled to Greece to film the location of the original Olympics at Olympia. This footage became part of the film “Olympia” a highly successful film. It was noted for its technical as well as aesthetic achievements. Her use of tracking shots as well as slow motion of the athletes has been seen as a major influence on modern sports photography. She is noted to have filmed footage of all races at the Olympics, including the American Jesse Owens. Upon its release in the United States the American philanthropist and former Olympic athlete (1912 Olympics) Avery Brundage said it was, “The greatest Olympic film ever made.”

During the invasion of Poland she worked as a war correspondent. On September 12th, 1939 thirty civilians were executed and there are claims she attempted to intervene, but a German soldier held her at gunpoint and threatened to shoot her if she continued. Whether that is true or not, close-up photos of a distraught Riefenstahl still exist from that day. She would later claim she did not realize the civilians were Jews. Nevertheless a month later she filmed Hitler’s victory parade in Warsaw. It was the last Nazi related film of her career.

After the war she was held in American and French run detention camps and prisons from 1945-1948. She is reported to have reacted with horror and tears when shown photos of the concentration camps. She was tried four times but never found guilty of anything but being a “fellow traveler” who was sympathetic to the Nazis. Through the 1950’s and 1960’s she attempted many times (15 by her count) to make films but they were always met with resistance, public protests and sharp criticism.

In the 1960’s her focus made the transition to still photography. She became enamored with Africa, inspired by Hemingway’s book “The Green Hills of Afruca,” and the photography of George Rodger. She traveled many times to Sudan to photograph the Nuba tribes. She lived with them sporadically learning their culture so she could photograph them more easily. She was eventually granted Sudanese citizenship for her services to the country, becoming the first foreigner to have a Sudanese passport. Her two books of the tribes, “The Last of the Nuba,” and “The People of Kau,” published in the 1970’s were both international bestsellers. She photographed the 1972 Olympic games in Munich. Later she photographer Mick Jagger, Siegfried and Roy, and was a friend of Andy Warhol. She was a guest of honor at the 1976 Olympics in Montreal.

At age 72 she became interested in underwater photography. She lied about her age (by 20 years) and became certified to scuba dive. In 1978 she published a book of coral gardens and then in 1990 her book “Wonder Under Water.” On her 100th birthday she released her final film, “Underwater Impressions” an idealized documentary of life in the oceans. It was her first film in twenty-five years. At age 100 she was still photographing marine life and gained distinction as the world’s oldest scuba diver. She continued to be active in her late life being a member of Greenpeace for eight years. In 2000 she was in a helicopter crash while attempting to determine the fate of her Nuba friends during the Sudanese civil war. On Auguest 22nd, 2003 she celebrated her 101st birthday and married her longtime friend and cameraman Horst Kettner, who was forty years her junior. On September 8th she died from cancer.

As the daily telegraph wrote upon her death :
“[Leni Riefenstahl] was perhaps the most talented female cinema director of the 20th century; her celebration of Nazi Germany in film ensured that she was certainly the most infamous…Critics would later decry her fascination with the athletes’ [Olympia] physiques as fascistic; but in truth her interest was born not of racist ends but of the delight she, as a former dancer, took in the human form.”

“Opinions will be divided between those who see her as a young, talented and ambitious woman caught up in the tide of events which she did not fully understand, and those who believe her to be a cold and opportunist propagandist and a Nazi by association.”

Most Admired: Rie Munoz

12e84426-ed7a-4dd6-923b-d1837aed218e

Rie Munoz (1921-2015)

Rie Munoz is an Alaskan artist that was born and raised in California. In 1951 she went on vacation to Alaska, traveling the inside passage by steamship she arrived at Juneau. She fell in love with Juneau and gave herself one day to find a job and a place to live before the steamship left. She landed a newspaper job, a place to live and Alaska has been her home since.

Over the years she has lived in many small Alaskan communities and held numerous jobs, among them journalist, teacher, museum curator and artist. In 1951 she held the position of a teacher on King Island where she taught twenty-five Eskimo children. This time in her life is featured in the January 1954 issue of National Geographic. Her paintings reflect her interest and fascination with day-to-day Alaskan activities such as village life, whaling, fishing both sport and commercial, berry picking, children playing, folklore and legends.

In 1972 she devoted herself fulltime to art and she began to publish full color reproductions of a small number of her watercolors. She produced about sixty originals a year. Over the years I have collected several of her reproductions. She describes her artwork:

“My artwork can best be described as expressionism. The term applies to work that rejects camera snapshot realism, and instead, expresses emotion by distortion and strong colors. My paintings reflect an interest in the day-to-day activities of Alaskans such as fishing, berry picking, children at play, crabbing, and whaling. I am also fascinated with the legends of Alaska’s Native people. While I find much to paint around Juneau, most of my material comes from sketching trips taken to the far corners of Alaska. I’ve taught school on King Island in the Bering Sea, traveled and sketched almost every community in Alaska.”
~ Rie Munoz

091ea021-7b43-42ae-bb8d-a0de12e247b5

 

d1ad57a1-55a2-4b2b-96eb-9aced2999137