10 Birthdays and A Funeral

'We have to make a birthday tea for 10 and a funeral tea...'

20 March – a big day in cultural history: 43 BC – Ovid “Take your fill of amusement, but cast the veil of modesty over your peccadilloes. Never make a parade of your good fortune, and never give a woman a present that another woman will recognise.” [The Art of Love] “Death is not accustomed to injure genius, and greater fame arrives after we have become ashes…” [Epistle to an Envious Man]. 1828 – Henrik Ibsen “SOLNESS: Human beings haven’t any use for these homes of theirs. Not for being happy in. And I shouldn’t have had use for a…

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Where Art At?

February 19, 2018 | Posted by Peter Jakobsen | American Politics, ART, POLITICS |

We have to say that we didn’t (totally) mind Kehinde Wiley’s cartoonish, faux-classical official portrait of President Obama – though it is frankly braver of the 44th President than of the artist. Better State flora than wallpaper, we guess, but the most vivid image the portrait evokes is of a fairy at the bottom of the garden. On the other hand, Amy Sherald’s offering for posterity of Michelle Obama (below) renders the former First Lady as a cross between Godzilla and one of those Olympic swimmers on steroids. The Last Refuge (online) commented: “The portraits are just plain goofy.” Diego…

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Maybe we should Bring Back the Noose?

Capital Punishment On 3 February 1967, serial robber Ronald Ryan, convicted of the felony murder of a gaol warder at Pentridge Prison, was hanged in Victoria. 50 years after Ryan, the last man in Australia to swing, new calls for abolition of the death penalty abound. Some 141 countries have either abolished or suspended indefinitely the penalty, or limit it to war crimes, the remaining 57 still applying it to serious crimes.  10 October 2017 was the 15th “World Day Against the Death Penalty.”  (In Reversal of Fortune, the Alan Dershowitz character says of the death penalty, “that’s no penalty,…

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Playing With Fire

(by Lawrence O’Donnell) (2017) Our favourite book on the incredible 1968 Presidential election remains the superb and impartial work by visiting British journalists, An American Melodrama. But this work by leftie Lawrence is a terrific read, once you learn to shut-out the partisan noise swirling about every chapter.  There’s nothing new here except the charge of treason by Nixon over the Anna Chennault affair, which O’Donnell mines from a book by the almost equally, but less noisily, partial John A. Farrell. [For his Book Richard Nixon: The Life, Farrell has read Haldeman’s notes of conversations with Tricky Dick and implies…

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Don’t Burn Kevin!

November 2, 2017 | Posted by Peter Jakobsen | American Politics, FILM, POLITICS, Ulalume |

It has come to The Varnished Culture‘s attention that some Hollywood types lack the virtues of the Saints.  Well, fancy!  Turns out that getting drunk and a little ‘forward’ in the 1980s means you go to hell in the 20-teens. Kevin Spacey is getting the Harvey Weinstein treatment, with trimmings, because he not only failed to remember an inappropriate pass from long ago (and thus he must have dunnit) but he formally ‘outed’ himself at the same time, thereby cheapening the sanctity of such a rite of passage (apparently). So forget all about his stage work, or Glengarry Glen Ross, Swimming…

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