12 April 2017

RIP Lucinda Ebersole

Dear Readers of Lucindaville Blog:

I am sorry to pass along the sad news that Lucinda Ebersole passed away on March 20, 2017 after a three month fight with cancer.

She loved writing her blog posts, but, was unable to do so over the past several months.

I hope that you enjoyed the blog.


09 August 2016

Who Owns What - Diane Arbus

I have been reading the new Diane Arbus bio by Arthur Lubow. If you want a detailed review of the book check out this New Yorker review. This is my own attempt at grappling with who owns and artist's work.  I have more questions than answers, but this bio brought that issue to the forefront.

What is weird about this bio is the lack of photographs.  The Arbus Estate refused to allow any photos. It is not that Ecco refused to pay for photos, nor did they want to use them without attribution.  I think this is weird.  I will grant you that I would not want someone digging into my life, tracking down folks I wrote letters to years ago, talking to medical professionals, or anyone else. 

Arbus became wildly famous after she died. The family didn't seem to worry about that fame when they were making money.  More importantly, Arbus' work has become a visual iconography of America.  Her still photos are referenced in movies and in print, she is linked to her photographs like a Robert Mapplethorpe, one sees the image and sees Arbus. 

Don't get me wrong, I think people have the right to get paid for their work, I'm not trying to argue that issue, I just wonder what the point is to placing a strangle hold on an estate.  Just think where Shakespeare would be today if a lawyer controlled his estate?  We are still watching his plays because directors are allowed to transform plays from the 1500's and make them relevant in every age. 

We all know Mickey Mouse, he is a part of our life, but recently a daycare center was served with an injunction from Disney because they had a freehand painting of Mickey on the wall.  Really?  Warhol paints Barbie and to use the image one needs permission from both Warhol and Mattel. 

I am sure the Arbus family didn't want the world to know that Diane and her brother, Howard, had a sexual relationship for years, but blocking photos didn't stop that.  Diane Arbus would get naked to photograph nudists, she liked the underbelly of life, so it is hard to think that she would withhold her images for a biography about her life.

27 July 2016

Everybody Behaves Badly

Novels have begun to bore me because real life seems so much more interesting.  I am overly enamored of the 1920's, so I was glad to read Lesley M.M.Blume's Everybody Behaves Badly.  Fittingly, I was reading it on Ernest Hemingway's birthday.  The book is a look at the real life antics that became the basis for Ernest Hemingway's The Sun Also Rises. Many of the main character's are featured in "real life" in the above photo that is used on the cover of the book.

From left to right there is Ernest Hemingway (Jake Barnes), Harold  Loeb (Robert Cohn), Lady Duff Twysden (Lady Brett Ashley), Hadley Hemingway, Donald Ogden Stewart (Bill Gordon), and Patrick Guthrie (Mike Campbell). 
The book reveals everything one knows about "Papa" in spades. Ernest Hemingway was a dick. He was a real dick to women, but frankly, he wasn't much better toward the men in his life. The people whose lives were used to create the cast of The Sun Also Rises began to refer to their lives as "B. S" before Sun and "A. S" after Sun but all felt as though they were collateral damage in Hemingway's attempt to write a bestseller.  He got what he wanted.

A great lover of the bullfight and the man who single-handedly made the running of the bulls in Pamplona a tourist mecca,  Hemingway was always dragging his friends to bullfights. He loved encouraging them to jump into the ring with the bulls. This stunt backfired on one of his visits when Harold Loeb was nearly gored, but instead, grabbed the horns of the bull and road around the ring on the bulls head. It made Loeb a star in Spain and photos of the event made it all the way back to New York. Hemingway, in an attempt to outdo Loeb, quite literally, "grabbed a bull by the horns" and wrestled it to the ground (as seen in the above photo) but his bravado was still overshadowed by Loeb.

As one might suspect, Hemingway never like to be outdone.  I loved the insights into the publishing angles, the fights between publishing houses, and the work of Max Perkins. 
While Everybody Behaves Badly doesn't cover any new ground, it is a fantastic distillation of the writing and publishing of one of America's great books.  Not to mention a fine snapshot of the 1920's.

15 July 2016

Famous Food Friday -- Imogen Cunningham & More

Ansel Adams, Still Life, San Francisco, 1932
Today's venture with Cookbook Of The Day, is the old, but new The Photographer's Cookbook.  Old because the book's inception took place in 1977 when a bored worker at the George Eastman Museum, Deborah Barsel, decided to ask photographers to contribute recipes.

Before completing the book, Barsel left and over thirty-five years later, Lisa Hostetler pulled a box labeled "Photo Cookbook" off a shelf and found a treasure trove.  After some judicious editing, The Photographer's Cookbook is now in the world.

We love "artist" cookbooks and they are one of the reasons Famous Food Fridays came about. Now photographer's have their own cookbook.  As with many a "famous" cookbook, the range of recipes can be daunting.

John Gossage sent a postcard from Conrad's Colonial Steak House & Cocktail Lounge stating, "I eat out."

Contrast that sentiment to Beaumont Newhall.  Newhall was not only the first director of the Eastman Museum, he also  wrote a cooking column for a newspaper in the Rochester suburbs.  The "Epicure Corner" ran for nearly 15 years in the 1950's and 60's.  His choucroute  garnie was featured at a luncheon for James Beard and is featured in the cookbook.
Beaumont Newhall, Edward Weston's Kitchen, 1940

Imogen Cunningham offers up an unusual recipe for borscht.  We would love to see an entire cookbook where all the recipes were "storyfied" like this one.

Imogen Cunningham, My Kitchen Sink, 1947

Imogen Cunningham's Borscht

For one thing I do not consider Alice B. Toklas a GREAT cook.  Very likely her cooking contributed to the death of Gertrude and herself. Besides her beef stew cooked in burgundy, I can think only of her beautiful soups beginning with gazpacho from everywhere. I do not know how to put it, but exotic eatery is very interesting to me. I think we are all TOO addicted to salt and that we can get enough in vegetables that offer it.  We do not know the flavor of anything because we doctor it too much.  While I am on soups, I should tell you what I do for borscht.  I make a good soup of beef and meat and bones; put some fresh beets in, and when I am ready to serve it, I make it half mine and half Manischewitz (commercial bottle of borscht). I prefer it cold with sour cream.

Filled with funky recipes and great photography, we are so glad that this box of recipes got pulled off the shelf.

13 July 2016

Meditation on Drain Cleaner

I went to buy drain cleaner yesterday.

I know, it is not "Call me Ishmael" nor "It was the best of times, it was the worst of time."  It is a farm.  Regardless of what you might have seen on Pintrest, farm life is not all towheaded children on hay rides and destination weddings.  Ninety percent of the time is is a lot of crappy work. When I walked back from watering the garden, I noticed that the drain vent resembled Old Faithful, and I knew I had a problem. So...

 I went to buy drain cleaner. I set it on the counter, and the cashier asked for my driver's license. I thought it was odd, but I gave it to her and she copied it. 

"You need a driver's license to buy drain cleaner," I asked. 

"Yeah, you make meth with it."

"I should have bought two bottle."

"Only one per transaction."

I am now in some sort of drain cleaner database.  Presumably, if I had gone to several other stores and purchased a bottle of drain cleaner at each one, by the time I returned home, the DEA would have been sitting on the porch.

I am OK with that.

In addition to drain cleaner, I need a gun on the farm. Yes, I am one of those people who will tell you that you can have my gun when you pry it out of my cold, dead hand.  Last year we had a rabid raccoon roaming about.  He was tearing up things and killing chickens. He had been quite elusive, but one afternoon, he decided to be aggressive and I walked outside with my rifle and a single shell.  I won. On a farm, you often have to kill things.  This is not a popular hashtag on Pintrest. 

While I love my guns, and while I have hunted since I was a child, and while I believe in the Second Amendment, I have no business owning an AK-47.  It is a military weapon meant to kill people, not raccoons.  And that is what it does kill people, and cops, and school children, and bar patrons, and co-workers.  Watch television. And I don't need an oversized mag to take out a raccoon, either. And I don't care who knows I have guns. 

To buy one bottle of drain cleaner I had to have my driver's license copied.

To buy a half dozen AK-47's all I need is cash.  

Even if I am on the Terror Watch List, which I am not.

Even if I am on a No Fly List, which I am not.

 Even if I am on the Drain Cleaner Buyer List, which I am on.

Think about it.  I need documentation to buy drain clean but not an assault weapon. An that is just stupid. 

21 June 2016

In Gratitude

Jenny Diski died April 28, 2016.  When told of her impending demise she made jokes. In 2014 she was diagnosed with terminal cancer. She felt:

"Embarrassment at first, to the exclusion of all other feelings."

That September she wrote in the London Review of Books:

"Under no circumstances is anyone to say that I lost a battle with cancer, or that I bore it bravely. I am not fighting, losing, winning or bearing." 

She would end her life writing.  She had, after all, written most of her life.  She had read numerous "cancer memoirs" and asserted:

"There are no novel responses possible."

And yet, in true Diski style, she wondered whose cancer book would sell the most copies.

After the initial shock, Diski tells the story of her chaotic early life, leading her to be taken in by literary giant, Doris Lessing.   Diski had been at school with Lessing's son, Peter.  They were not close, but when Diski was expelled, he implored his mother to take her in and she was quite intelligent.

Diski was almost literally dumped on Lessing's front steps.  It was not a match made in heaven. Lessing was not in the least "motherly" and Diski was uncomfortable in this new setting.  Diski says:

"Gratitude was half of what I felt. The other half was fury and resentment..."

As a cancer patient, Diski was ideal.  She was already  anti-social, preferring to spend time in her bed or on the sofa, like some consumptive Victorian victim.  She wrote:

"I have the metabolism of a sloth."

The chemo leaves the normally slim Diski, heavy.  She fears what is going to happen her. She is honest. She is funny. She is panicked. She is a writer. She will be missed.

14 June 2016

Tweeting From Beyond

So I got sick and had to take antibiotics for nearly two weeks, and I hated it.  It made me puny and sickly, not to mention it was sweltering.  But all is well, about two more days before I can have a tall gin and tonic.  In the mean time...

I recently followed and was followed back on Twitter by Vita Sackville-West.  Let me say it is hard enough for me to work, write, keep up two blog, Lucindaville and Cookbook Of The Day, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and Twitter.  So to find out that Vita Sackville-West is able to tweet beyond the grave makes me feel woefully inadequate.

Vita Sackville-West is one of those people I would put on that list of 10-people-you-could-have-dinner-with. Bloomsbury is like Harry Potter for grown-ups.  We wait for each new book, we scrutinize the movies, we relish any peripheral new reference.  There was a wave of new Bloomsbury attention recently.

The venerable BBC is unveiling a new drama, Life in Squares.  It will look at the early life and career of the Bloomsbury gang, focusing on the orbit of Vanessa and Virginia Stephen. It is chocked full of British talent. That is James Norton (Grantchester and Happy Valley) in the center as Duncan Grant. In anticipation of the new series, The Guardian has published their list of the 10 best Bloomsbury moments.

In addition, The Guardian, has gone out and hunted down any last surviving soul that might have known some of the Bloomsbury set.  At 100, Anne Olivier Bell is the widow of Quentin Bell, Vanessa Bell's son and the very first biographer of Virginia Woolf.

I am so ready.  Now ask yourself, why is there no Bloomsbury theme park?  Think about it...replicas of Sissinghurst and Charleston, of Omega workshop and Hogarth Press, tea rooms with Vanessa Bell pottery, and of course a bookshop. 

02 June 2016

Little Gloria

Since I have been decidedly deaf, and not much of conversationalist, I have been catching up on taped shows on the DVR.  One of the documentaries I watch recently was Nothing Left Unsaid about Gloria Vanderbilt and Anderson Cooper.  I enjoyed it, but it did seem like there may have been some thing unsaid.  But I trust Gloria and Anderson are fine.

What it did remind me of was Gloria's mother who would, I guess, be Big Gloria. In the documentary, Gloria said she was made to have daughters and she would have named her first daughter, Gloria.  Alas, she had four sons.

The first Gloria Vanderbilt began life as a Morgan and as a twin. Gloria and Thelma Morgan were known collectively as "The Magnificent Morgans."  They were the offspring of Harry Hays Morgan, an American diplomat and his Chilean-born wife, Louise Valdivieso.  It was Louise, testifying while clutching her crucifix, who may have been the final nail in Big Gloria custody coffin, when she testified to the wild and largely invented nature of Big Gloria's lifestyle.  

In 1958, The Magnificent Morgans collaborated on a memoir, Double Exposure.  The sisters spilled the beans on the good , the bad, and the ugly, not to mention the the loved,  the lost, and the licentious.

 The Kirkus Review wrote:
Written with good taste, but sparing no detail no matter how unorthodox, this autobiography of two women is a biography of an age, an age of fantastic extravagance and rigid form, an age in which the various episodes unfolded here seem probable for all their bizarre and melodramatic overtones. Superbly entertaining.
 Nearly 60 years later, it remains superbly entertaining.

While this book is one of those highly collectible tomes, growing increasingly expensive in a nice dust jacket, you can give it a read on the Internet Archive here.

24 May 2016

Adventures in Mowing

So I haven't been posting because I have several deadlines, and election fatigue, and nearly three weeks of rain. But today, I ventured out on my new mower to attack the knee deep lawns.

Now, if you asked me what horrors might befall me on my lawn mower, I can imagine them. The first time I used it, I got it in a precarious position and I had to get off and find neighbors to come and, quite literally, pull it off a cliff. Then today, it was so wet that going from one area to another got it stuck in the mud -- twice. 

But this I did not expect.  Today I punctured my eardrum while mowing.

Sitting perfectly still, I have to try about three times to thread a needle.  Today, traveling two miles and hour, I managed to thread a pencil-sized tree branch into my ear canal with enough force to rupture my eardrum.

I did finish mowing, but then I went to the doctor who is referring me to ear, nose, and throat guy but in the meantime, he prescribed ear drops.

But my cheesy insurance refused to pay for them. Frankly, I don't blame them as the ear drops were $300.  100 drops for my ear came in at $300.  That is $3 a drop. Were they made from baby angel tears? Gold is less.  And maybe a drop or two of gold would have fixed the hole in my ear.  They gave me eye drops, instead -- for my ear.  And neither the angel tears nor the eye drops offer the prospect of regaining my hearing.  More later!

23 May 2016

All Hail!

 Politics is getting so contentious and we haven't even really started the election. I am already overcome with election fatigue and we are still no where near an election. One is really scared to say anything for fear of being trolled by idiots. Friends are so vociferous that scrolling through Facebook is a chore. There is really only one candidate I could wholeheartedly support and that candidate is drag queen in Alabama named Ambrosia Starling.  Her platform is simply  --  Have Good Manners.

Since no one else is running on the "Have Good Manners" platform, there will be lots of weather and pets in the coming months!

And last night -- we had an ice storm. OK, technically it wan not an ice storm, just hail, but still. At one point I thought we would lose a window.
The container kitchen garden was decimated. Most of the little plants are beaten and broken.  I got in about 2 p.m. this afternoon and saw something on the side of the house.  I though something had blown into the yard.  When I walked over to see it, it was a pile of ice. 
It was so strange, I actually stepped on it to see if it was ice. (That is why my footprint is there.) 

Let's hope the weather and politics quiets down a bit. In the meantime...Have Good Manners.

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