Friday, April 24, 2015

Frakturs, Fotografs, Farmicia, Francois, Flames and Fighting Songs

Here is the packed schedule I had in Philadelphia and New York. Visit these places, if you can...

I already posted on my visit to the Longwood Gardens (but further down in this post, I post a photograph which was on view from the Spring Blooms competition).

The New York Public Library
Exhibition: Over Here: WWI and the Fight for the American Mind

Let's All Be Americans Now
Lyrics and words by Irwin Berlin

[Verse 1]
Peace has always been our pray'r,
Now there's trouble in the air,
War is talked of ev'rywhere,
Still in God we trust;

Now that war's declared,
We'll show we're prepared,
And if fight we must.
It's up to you! What will you do?

England or France may have your sympathy, over the sea,
But you'll agree That, now is the time, To fall in line,
You swore that you would so be true to your vow,
Let's all be Americans now. now.

[Verse 2]
Lincoln, Grant and Washington,
They were peaceful men, each one,
Still they took the sword and gun,
When real trouble came;
And I feel somehow, they are wond'ring now,
If we'll do the same.

[Repeat Chorus]

All this in the New York Public Library.


Longwood Gardens
Photographic Exhibition: Spring Blooms
From the Delaware Photographic Society's annual Wilmington International Exhibition of Photography

Ellis Underkoffer


Philadelphia Museum of Art
Exhibition: Drawn with Spirit: Pennsylvania German Fraktur from the Joan and Victor Johnson Collection

Pennsylvania German
Birth and Baptismal Certificate for Johannes Gass
Pen, ink and watercolor
12 3/4 x 15 1/2
Philadelphia Museum of Art

I got this postcard from the museum's shop. I couldn't find the exact piece on line, so what you see is my photograph (I don't have a scanner) of the postcard.

From what I can find out, the designer of this piece is known as Christian Beschler, the "Sussel Unicorn artist" according to this piece.
In 2007, Dr. Don Yoder identified the words gemacht von CB (made by CB) on two newly discovered "Sussel-Unicorn" taufscheine (birth and baptismal certificates).3 These initials belonged to the schoolmaster Christian Beschler,
His taufscheine are characterized by a bright orange or orange and yellow central rectangular area that contains the text adorned with compass stars and geometric designs. Whimsical unicorns and birds with manes eating berries, lions with faces, angels, hearts, half circles, compass stars, and pots of flowers fill the colorful documents. There seems to be an obsession to fill all available space. His religious text and drawing share these motifs.


Food and Tonics

15 S. 3rd Street
(Between Market and Chestnut Streets)

Here is the menu, but the lentil salad, with baked goat cheese, greens and sherry dressing is more than just a salad!


The Red Flame Diner

67 West 44th St
New York, NY 10036

Good diner food for a fair price. Here's the menu.


Plaza Hotel's Food Hall:
Francois Payard Patisserie

The Passion fruit (with a light chocolate) macaron, for $2.50, will take you down a few blocks.


I didn't make it to the Morgan, the Cloisters, Macy's or Bergdorf Goodman. But, so far, it looks like New York will stand for a while.

Posted By: Kidist P. Asrat

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Hurried Views

I had another whirlwind of a trip to Philadelphia (and New York) last week. I finally arrived at my destination in Philadelphia after a couple of incidents. This seems to be a regular occurence on my trips. The last time involved a Greyhound bus which took me to the wrong destination (see here, where I ended up in Cleveland on my way to Steubenville Ohio). And this time it was a Canada goose.

We got stuck in Mount Cobb, Pennsylvania after a north-migrating (returning to Canada, actually) Canada goose smashed into the windshield on the driver's side. We were ceremoniously escorted to the nearest Burger King, and about three hours later, a replacement bus took us to our final destination of Port Authority.

But the trip was a wonderful respite, and I wasn't going to let a couple of incidents spoil it. I managed to pack in, with the help of my friends, quite a schedule.

I went to attend Larry Auster's memorial. Dean, from the group, took this photo below of us at the cemetery.

We visited Larry's grave in the beautiful St. Peter and St. Paul Cemetery in Springfield Pennsylvania, to commemorate the second year of his death.

Below, I've posted the various photographs I took over these five days.

On the Road through Ontario, New York State and Pennsylvania (and New Jersey for a bit)

At Buffalo

That is a small lake in the background, I tried to find out its name, but it was too small to find on my google map.

I finally could see the New York skyline in New Jersey. It was dark, and I would reach the city's bus terminal about an hour later. I would travel to Philadelphia the next morning.



Longwood Conservatory, in Kennett Square, Pennsylvania

Last year with Laura (of The Thinkng Housewife) at Longwood Gardens

Glory-of-the-snow flowers blooming in a field at Longwood Gardens

Glory-of-the-snow are "one of the first harbingers of spring," according to this site. We were just about to leave the cold (and long, this year) winter and the snow as I got to Philadelphia, and this field of flowers showed us that spring is ahead.

Star Magnolia tree in bloom

Pierre Dupont Conservatory

DuPont built his home above the conservatory, and could see the plants from his bedroom window!


Homes near the area where I stayed, a couple of hours from Phildelphia


New York for a day

Marble floor at the New York Public Library

Portrait of James Lenox, founder of the Lenox Library of the NYPL

I should have got just a close-up of the portrait, but here is one in black and white of I think the same one.

View from the main entrance at the New York Public Library, with 41st Street

Plaque with Yeats Poem in the Library Way, on 41st Street between 5th and Park

Atlas at the Rockefeller

The reflection in the glass in the background is of Saint Patrick's Cathedral. It seems an apt metaphor for the seizure of the pagan, Roman god of by Christians.

I was so busy trying to get the Atlas image, that I didn't even notice the reflection.

As some kind of penance - inadverantly - I went to Saint Patrick's and lit a candle.

Lions at the Rockefeller Plaza" "Arms of England"
Frieze by Lee Lawrie

The 50th entrance to the British Empire building features three walking lions looking out towards the viewer from the building. Below is a row of red Tudor roses. [From this site]

Saint Francis of Assisi with birds at the Rockefeller Plaza
Frieze by Lee Lawrie

More on Lew Lawrie here.

All the Rockefeller friezes are here.

Manhattan Building

I took this somewhere mid-town (between 47th and 59th streets) on Madison or Fifth. I should have written down the street.

Plaza Hotel entrance

Pomona Statue and fountain by the Grand Army Plaza, next to the Plaza Hotel and by Central Park


Saint Patrick's Cathedral Stained Glass, with Mary

I asked a docent in the cathedral if he could show me any stained glass with Mary, since I didn't have much time.

I lit a candle under the stained glass as I left. The stained glass is near the door (it is the second one in at the right entry), and there are candles right underneath it.

Here is another where in my rush I neglected to take one of the full glass, and instead, I took the bottom half, where the intricate lace-like design caught my attention.

Saint Patrick's Stained Glass

Here is a photo of the full stained glass.

Several sites write that Henry Ely made the stained glass, which they title "Three Baptisms." But they don't reference that information. It is strangely hard to find information on the stained glass online, but here is something in Google Books, under the title: New York City: Vol 1, New York City Guide (page 345):
Forty-five of the seventy stained glass windows are from the studios of Nicholas Lorin at Chartres, and Henry Ely at Nantes. Rich in tone, some dark some of pastel lightness - and combined with elaborate tracery, they glow in the sunshine, but unfortunately, much of the detail in them is too delicate to be legible at a distance. They become simply patterns of red, yellow, green, blue and purple against the framework of the stone walls which, in the dusky night, takes on a tone of deepest gray.
Posted By: Kidist P. Asrat

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Divertissement Grec

Philippe Gaubert (1871-1941)
Divertissement Grec (1908)
Music for Two Flutes and Harp or Piano

I don't who the flautists in the above piece are (nor the accompanist), but I like this slower version better (here's a faster version). I think it gives "breathing space" for the faster trills.

Brief biography:
Gaubert Philippe (1879-1941) was born in Cahors (Lorraine, France) on the 5th of July, 1879. His father, a shoe maker and amateur clarinettist, gave him his first music lessons. When Philippe was seven the family moved to Paris, where Jules Taffanel, and a few years later Taffanel`s son Paul, became his flute teachers. At first he received private lessons, but since 1893 he studied at the Paris Conservatoire, receiving a First Prize the following year. His teachers for harmony and composition were Raoul Pugno, Xavier Leroux and Charles Lenepveu. In 1905 he received the 2nd Prix de Rome. In the meanwhile he had become the assistant conductor of the `Société des Concerts`, and after serving in the French army he was appointed principal conductor of the Opéra, as well as flute professor at the Conservatoire. After the Great War he built up a splendid career, particularly as a conductor specializing in contemporary music. Gaubert conducted many important premières, such as Albert Roussel`s opera `Padmâvati` (1923) and the ballet `Bacchus et Ariane` (1931), Gabriel Fauré`s `Masques et Bergamasques` (1919), and Henri Sauguet`s `La Chartreuse de Parme` (1939). Besides, many first performances of works by Pierné and Ibert were conducted by Gaubert. He also brought much Wagner and Berlioz, and presented a new interpretation of Monteverdi`s opera `Orfeo`. Gaubert toured all over Europe. The `Wagnervereeniging` invited him to Amsterdam, where in 1935 he conducted the Concertgebouw Orchestra in Paul Dukas` `Ariane et Barbebleu` at the Stadsschouwburg. [Source]

Here is the original sheet music, showing the option for piano or harp accompaniment (I've posted images below).


Photograph of Philippe Gaubert, from his early years

Posted By: Kidist P. Asrat

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Happy Easter!

The Resurrection of Christ
Oil on panel
20.47 in × 17.32 in


John 11:25-26
25 ...I am the resurrection, and the life:
he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live:
26 And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die...


Posted By Kidist P. Asrat

Friday, April 3, 2015

Good Friday

Date: ca. 1150–1200
Geography: Made in Palencia, Castile-León, Spain
- Corpus: white oak and pine with polychromy, gilding, and applied stones
- Cross: red pine, polychromy
Dimensions: Overall (cross): 102 1/2 x 81 3/4 in
Location: Fuentiduena Chapel, in the Cloisters Museum, New York

Matthew 27:35-37
And they crucified him, and parted his garments, casting lots: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, They parted my garments among them, and upon my vesture did they cast lots.

And sitting down they watched him there;

And set up over his head his accusation written, This Is Jesus The King Of The Jews.
Matthew 27:45-53
Now from the sixth hour there was darkness over all the land unto the ninth hour.

And about the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani? that is to say, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?

Some of them that stood there, when they heard that, said, This man calleth for Elias.

And straightway one of them ran, and took a spunge, and filled it with vinegar, and put it on a reed, and gave him to drink.

The rest said, Let be, let us see whether Elias will come to save him.

Jesus, when he had cried again with a loud voice, yielded up the ghost.

And, behold, the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom; and the earth did quake, and the rocks rent;

And the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints which slept arose,

And came out of the graves after his resurrection, and went into the holy city, and appeared unto many.
Posted By: Kidist P. Asrat

Mahdi Returns

Billboard showing the Muslim Jesus behind Imam Mahdi in the Vali-Asr Square in Tehran, completed in 2014

(I photoshopped in the clouds on the right, since the only version of this image I could find had large Persian script across. But, I find these sprawling clouds I added mimic the banners, adding more drama to the image, and to the event.)

In this time of sorrow, when we are left without our God, here is Jesus as our existential enemies would like it: humiliated, head bent, following the Imam Mahdi who has his averted head, as the devil will always present himself with his face (and identity) hidden from us.

Even these Muslim artists, the Iranian Muslims who painted this billboard in Tehran, know what is real and what is false. The true Jesus shows us the truth, through his true, open presence.

The Iranian leader, on the coming of Mahdi-Jesus, said at the UN Council in 2012:
Creating peace and lasting security with decent life for all, although a great and a historic mission can be accomplished. The Almighty God has not left us alone in this mission and has said that it will surely happen. If it doesn't, then it will be contradictory to his wisdom.

-God Almighty has promised us a man of kindness, a man who loves people and loves absolute justice, a man who is a perfect human being and is named Imam A1-Mahdi, a man who will come in the company of Jesus Christ (PBUH) and the righteous. By using the inherent potential of all the worthy men and women of all nations and I repeat, the inherent potential of "all the worthy men and women of all nations" he will lead humanity into achieving its glorious and eternal ideals.

-The arrival of the Ultimate Savior will mark a new beginning, a rebirth and a resurrection. It will be the beginning of peace, lasting security and genuine life.

-His arrival will be the end of oppression, immorality, poverty, discrimination and the beginning of justice, love and empathy.

-He will come and he will cut through ignorance, superstition, prejudice by opening the gates of science and knowledge. He will establish a world brimful of prudence and he will prepare the ground for the collective, active and constructive participation of all in the global management.

-He will come to grant kindness, hope, freedom and dignity to all humanity as a girl.

-He will come so mankind will taste the pleasure of being human and being in the company of other humans.

-He will come so that hands will be joined, hearts will be filled with love and thoughts will be purified to be at service of security, welfare and happiness for all.

-He will come to return all children of Adam irrespective of their skin colors to their innate origin after a long history of separation and division linking them to eternal happiness.

-The arrival of the Ultimate Savior, Jesus Christ and the Righteous will bring about an eternally bright future for mankind, not by force or waging wars but through thought awakening and developing kindness in everyone. Their arrival will breathe a new life in the cold and frozen body of the world. He will bless humanity with a spring that puts an end to our winter of ignorance, poverty and war with the tidings of a season of blooming.

-Now we can sense the sweet scent and the soulful breeze of the spring, a spring that has just begun and doesn't belong to a specific race, ethnicity, nation or a region, a spring that will soon reach all the territories in Asia, Europe, Africa and the US.

-He will be the spring of all the justice-seekers, freedom-lovers and the followers of heavenly prophets. He will be the spring of humanity and the greenery of all ages.

-Let us join hands and clear the way for his eventual arrival with empathy and cooperation, in harmony and unity. Let us march on this path to salvation for the thirsty souls of humanity to taste immortal joy and grace.
Long live this spring, long live this spring and long live this spring.[Full trascript here]
Posted By: Kidist P. Asrat

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Beauty in Unexpected Places

Old photograph of a Victorian Gentleman, from the
Victorian Parlour at Failte Irish Pub, in Mississauga
[Photo by KPA]

It seems appropriate to commemorate Larry Auster's second year of his death at Failte Irish Pub, here in Mississauga.

I had a 1/2 pint of Harp, which he told me was his favorite Irish beer. I posted on Irish beer and poetry, and Larry, here.

And here's a post I wrote in April 2013 (just about a year ago).
Larry's New York: Beauty in Unexpected Places

The first time I met Larry was in 2009, when I went to New York to participate in an event for the Danish Cartoonist Kurt Westergaard. I went with a group from Canada called the International Free Press Society. Larry knew about my trip to New York, and he and I met separately. He gave me a spot to meet in the middle of Manhattan, a small diner called The Red Flame. He had never met me before, but I had my blog up with my photo for a couple of years by then. He politely came up to me and asked "Are you Kidist?" rather than make a rude assumption. He ordered a hamburger, which I found out is a favorite of his, while I had a chicken salad. He was impressed with my dietary choice, and it was one of the best chicken salads I've had.

After lunch, we walked for many blocks up Fifth Avenue, with Larry pointing out various New York landmarks and spots. He was especially keen to show me Rockefeller Center, which clearly still surprised him even though he was a long-time resident of New York. The Christmas tree and decorations were up, and skaters were pirouetting beneath us.

We kept walking down Fifth Avenue and at some point we found a beautiful courtyard interior. I cannot find the name of this place, but New York is filled with such unique surprises. We got some refreshments, to take a break and to enjoy this interior. I ordered a diet coke, and Larry talked about ordering a whisky. But he was too polite to do so, and we sat drinking diet cokes together.

We met again almost two years later, in 2011. Larry planned a VFR Christmas dinner for his readers and friends. The group met at an Irish pub/restaurant in mid-town Manhattan called Kennedy's. I was honored to have been included in this list, and made every effort to attend. I was able to attend, and at the same time spend a few days in New York.

This time, our cultural visit was to the Metropolitan Museum. Laura Wood, from The Thinking Housewife also came. The attraction was the annual Christmas Tree with a Neapolitan Baroque Crèche. We looked at the figurines with amazement. How could such small sculptures be crafted so perfectly? We looked for Baby Jesus, and found his tiny, perfect form. After the visit, which included rushing through various exhibits in the museum, we went down to have a snack in the restaurant/cafeteria. Larry said he liked coming there for a meal. I agreed that the food was of high quality. I suspect it was also the cultural environment that Larry liked, when he went just for a meal to the museum.

I traveled again to New York in August 2012. I stayed about a week. This time, I went to try and get some sponsorship for my book project. I also did my usual rounds of shopping and museum viewing. I telephoned Larry to say I was in New York (I had emailed him about my trip), and he suggested we meet at the lovely Straus Park, which is near his home, as well as near where I was staying. I had bought my (computer/portable) tablet then, and Larry, with his perennial curiosity, wanted to look up more about the Park, while we sat on the bench in front of the statue "Memory."

According to this site, on the background of the Park:
In 1912, the City named this park after the Strauses, who had lived in a frame house at 27-47 Broadway, near 105th Street. Public subscriptions of $20,000 were raised to commission this monument. The work consists of a granite curved exedra, a central bronze reclining female figure of Memory (for which the celebrated model Audrey Munson posed), and a reflecting pool. The monument was dedicated three years to the day after the Titanic sank.
We nonetheless had cheerful things to talk about. I told Larry I went to Macy's earlier in the morning, and he asked me what I'd bought. It was a pink polka dot blouse which, I proudly told him, I'd gotten for half price on sale. Larry was in tune with clothing and fashion, and would notice small things like hats, bracelets and the patterns and colors of dresses, which he wasn't shy about commenting. I showed him a catalog of Carolina Herrera's evening gowns whose flagship store in mid-town Manhattan I'd also visited. He had some very clear preferences, and didn't like the low cut, "one-sleeve" evening gowns, and said it spoilt otherwise beautiful dresses. I agreed with him, that all this skin exposure was diminishing the beauty of the dresses, and the beauty of women.

My museum trip this time around was to the Cloisters. I had read about them in my tourist guide, and in an article a while back in some magazine, and was intrigued by them. I've written about them here. Larry was not so well by then, and I told him the trip is long. We'd have to take an uptown bus all the way to Washington Heights, then change buses to take us to the Cloisters. Once there, we would have to do a shortish walk on cobbled stones to get to the museum. He was hesitant, and I made the decision. "Let's go," I said. "We can always take the bus back, or catch a cab, if it is too difficult." We made it. It was a lovely trip. The Cloisters feel like a remote, hill-top castle. Even though they are technically in New York City, they feel like they're miles (geographically and culturally) away from the city. One lovely spot of repose is by the compound's walls, with a view of the Hudson River and the George Washington Bridge.

Larry lived off Riverside Drive, which has a beautiful path by the Hudson River. We walked along the drive to view the various luxury homes, with their elegant mouldings and brickwork, and to experience some of the natural paths that are part of New York. There was a cool breeze coming from the river, a welcome respite from the hot August sun.

Recently, in December, I was in New York once again, and once again I attended a Christmas dinner for friends and readers of VFR. We met again at Kennedy's. Larry was weaker this time, and I think the dinner tired him. But he was good company. I met with him a couple of times after the dinner. This time, our cultural visit was to the Morgan Library and Museum, which houses Pierpont Morgan's collections (later expanded by his son J. P. Morgan) of books, manuscripts, sculpture and paintings in mid-town Manhattan. It is an eclectic and interesting place. Once again, I had gone earlier, and suggested to Larry that this would be a good place to visit. There were seats all around the museum for resting, and it is not overwhelmingly big. Larry seemed to acquire energy from somewhere, because we stayed viewing the collections longer than I thought we would.

Larry always liked to experience things, staying a little longer at an especially beautiful spot, or walking down an interesting curve in a path, or spending time before a sculpture or a painting. New York is a haven for beauty in unexpected places. Even the subways and buses were places for this unexpected beauty. In order to take his mind off his ill-health, Larry would recite poetry he had memorized. During one subway ride, he recited poems by W. B. Yeats to me. He said reciting these poems (aloud or silently) refreshed him and helped him to absorb his attention and put him in a calm state. He posted many poems by Yeats at View From the Right. I read and studied these poems over the years, and grew to know and to somewhat understand them.

One of the most enchanting places we visited was the Plaza Hotel near Central Park. I had visited it earlier and again told Larry we should go there just for coffee (a meal would just be too expensive). We entered the lovely lobby and went into the Palm Court. It was late afternoon, and the staff was closing down (tea can only be served for so long, after all). Larry asked if we could just sit at the edge for a little while, and the staff obliged. We also dared to walk around to view the "marble caryatids representing the Four Seasons on the westwall." The wait staff patiently left us alone. Covering the Palm Court is a spectacular, restored art deco stained glass ceiling, which gave a regal and grand air to our brief stay.

We went downstairs to the "food court" for a quick snack. For some reason Hamentash, a Jewish delicacy traditionally eaten during Purim, was available. Larry suggested I try one with apricot filling. It was a dry, sweet pastry, and the apricot gave it a distinct and sophisticated taste. So we did get our tea (or coffee) at the Plaza after all.

Later that week, we had dinner at West 107 on Broadway, where I had one of the best pork chop meals. There was enough left over to take home. Rather than have dessert, Larry suggested that we go to his neighborhood restaurant, The Broadway Restaurant (which is really a diner), for hot chocolate. It was a real treat, with whipped cream piled on top of the rich chocolate drink.

My last visit with Larry was at a hamburger meal in a restaurant called Toast, where we went after our visit to the Morgan Library. "Cook it rare" he told the waiter. He educated me on the best way to eat this American tradition: "I don't know how people eat the dried up, over-cooked hamburgers that has become normal fare. The meat has to be moist, and to do that, you need very good meat, and you cannot over cook it." And it was the best hamburger I have eaten.

At Toast, Larry decided to have a glass of his beloved whisky. He was very particular about the kind he wanted. The brand he chose he said was lighter and more delicate. I ordered the house wine, to keep him company, and to enjoy a glass. It was a lovely fruity, light wine. Larry picked up my glass and said he just wanted to smell it. He did so with relish. This episode encouraged me to write (and research) about wine. Here is the article I posted which I titled The God of Wine.

I could tell that Larry loved New York; the old, original, artistic New York. His neighborhood gave him a lot of pleasure, and almost every corner was for discovering. I think he enjoyed my company, and was happy to show me his New York. And he was protective. If we went too long without a break, he would suggest a snack or a meal, and he would more often than not pick up the tab. He put me in a taxi one late evening, and paid the driver the fare before I had time to protest.

Back in Canada, I received notice from a group of VFR readers that they were planning an intercessory prayer for Larry. I went to my favorite Irish pub in my neighborhood, Failte's, to toast Larry with my favorite beer, Harp. I emailed Larry photos I had taken of the interior of the pub, and that I had gone there to have a glass of Harp in his name. He wrote back that Harp was his favorite Irish beer. I found that uncanny, and a sign that I had done the right thing, and perhaps these prayers would make a difference.

If we had more time, I am sure he'd have found many places to discover, and to rediscover. And a few more things in common.

He wrote to me in an email in mid-January (2013): "There is something appealing about your semi flow-of-associations writing. Not everything needs to be big and important. What you provide is a feeling of your life, of yourself."

I hope with this account, I have provided a feeling for Larry's life, as I understood it and as I experienced it.
Posted By: Kidist P. Asrat