American Pharaoh

The Mayor at the opening of the Lake Front Festival, 1973, showing his sartorial flair

Mayor Richard J. Daley: His Battle for Chicago and the Nation (by Adam Cohen & Elizabeth Taylor) (2000) What other book to buy in the south side of Chicago? TVC was only a few blocks from Bridgeport, where Richard J Daley lived and died, with his wife of five or so decades and 7 children, bog Irish and loyal to their neighbourhood to an insane degree, so loyal that they looked down on Irish families that moved to the suburbs, the ones so pretentious that they “had fruit in the house when nobody was sick,”  Having selected this and one other book, TVC…

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Socialism as Religion

Be careful who you give awards to...the Reverend Jim Jones, 1977's Martin Luther King, Jr. Humanitarian award winner

Born May 13 (1931), the Reverend Jim Jones is famous for his deep Christian-Socialist beliefs, his humanitarian impulses, his Peoples’ Temple in San Francisco where he organised leftist demonstrations, and of course, the workers’ paradise he established at Jonestown in Guyana.  His passionate commitment to equality and fairness drew inspiration from thinkers such as Jesus, Buddha, Lenin, Marx, Castro and Mao, and won him kudos from the likes of well-known lib-labs Walter Mondale, Rosalynn Carter, Jerry Brown, and Harvey Milk (who called the Reverend “a man of the highest character.”) In any case, the socialist paradise shuddered to a halt…

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Uneasy Pieces: Richard Feynman

May 11, 2018 | Posted by Peter Jakobsen | HISTORY |

Richard Feynman born May 11, 1918 – “One of the outstanding figures of twentieth-century theoretical physics.” Thus Roger Penrose on Richard Feynman.  I think it’s hokum. Everyone knows that atoms don’t move, that the earth is as flat as a Frisbee, spaced isn’t curved, vectors don’t mean anything, maths is just a tautology, electron waves don’t do anything, and relatively speaking, relativity is meaningless. But Feynman was a great tutor for people far smarter than me, who did science well beyond high school. The physical world is and humans might do better to be satisfied with their big toy, instead of constantly…

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The Lady and the Unicorn

April 28, 2018 | Posted by Lesley Jakobsen | ART, CRAFT, HISTORY |

NSW Art Gallery, Sydney, April 2018 Prosper Mérimée (1803-1870), author of Carmen (1845), while Inspector-General of Historic Monuments of France, discovered these old wall rugs, c. 1500, hanging wanly at the otherwise inconsequential Chateau de Boussac, a couple of hundred kilometres south-east of Tours. Recognising their vivid design and luminous finish, he began the tortuous task of acquiring them for the State, where they were finally ensconced, safe from rats and the damp, in the Musée de Cluny in Paris. From early February until late June, they are in Sydney where all and sundry, even The Varnished Culture who objects…

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Guernica Blitzed

April 26, 2018 | Posted by Peter Jakobsen | ART, HISTORY |

26 April – today in 1937 the Basque town of Guernica, civilians along with members of the Resistance, was bombed by the Luftwaffe and Italian Air Force at the behest of General Franco.  Picasso’s expressive work commemorates that ugly act, which killed between 300 and 1600 people (tallies vary), mostly women and children.  Largely washed clean of colour, the stark and tormented figures, twisted, pleading and prone, testify to the horror of the attack, a precursor to the terror of blitzkrieg to come. But the Guernica oak-tree survived (well, more or less);

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