Human Flower Project
Friday, June 12, 2009
Falling for Judy Garland
“Over the top” is, for some, an acquired taste—a few trips through the wringer may help get you there.
Judy Garland singing before a wall of roses
“Born in a Trunk” from “A Star is Born,” 1954
Agony has its rewards.
For some fine people (“fine” we can call them now) it builds character; for everyone, it changes capacity.
Like the capacity for Judy Garland. Back when the entertainment industry was still “show business,” she was IT, and we were very young – pre-agony. Her big stagy gestures, bow-shaped mouth painted red, the emaciated body and dyed black hair were horrifying to a ten year old in the suburbs of Louisville, Kentucky. How freaky. How needy! We were trying to acquire a completely different cultural temperature: cool. To be loved while gliding under the radar, not tap-dancing, arm-flinging, hair-twisting for approval. Judy’s blatant cravings – and vaudeville aesthetic – were side-show bizarre. We were kind of embarrassed for her, but mainly we were grossed out.
Wednesday, June 10, 2009
Boulevard of Broken Dreams
John Levett’s rose garden began in another city 35 years ago, but it’s outgrown even history now.
The author’s garden, June 2009, Cambridge, U.K.
Goldfinch, Alister Stella Grey, White Provence, and Fantin Latour
Photo: John Levett
By John Levett
I’m writing this whilst listening to Morton Feldman’s “I met Heine on the Rue Fürstenberg.” These moments come and go. For decades I’ve been overwhelmed by the erudition of the presenters on the Beeb’s Radio 3—Bach’s breakfast preferences, the view from Mendelssohn’s house in Leipzig, where Mahler bought his ties, which shirt Webern was wearing when he lit that fatal fag. I’ve forever wanted that intimate connection with (just) one composer but realised early on that I’m not a one-guy-or-gal guy. In the late ‘50s I was for Wagner, then Mahler, then Vaughan Williams, Stockhausen, Bach (the whole family). Looking at the record collection, I see the only permanent fixture has been Bob Dylan which speaks of something.
Fact is I never stay long enough. Back in 2003 I decided time had come to blitz everything about Wagner’s ‘Ring’ cycle. Two cycles (at Covent Garden and the English National Opera), two CD collections (Solti and Krauss), two video performances (Barenboim and Boulez) and the five volumes of Sabor’s translations and commentary later I could confidently chat about it. Wagner’s the exception. I flit.
I’ve done the same with literature. Virginia Woolf got the ‘Ring’ treatment shortly after; Orwell and Larkin decades before. Feldman’s getting the treatment currently. Next stop Frank O’Hara.
Sunday, June 07, 2009
A Czech Mark of Civility
How do you estimate a culture? In at least one measure—the public handling of flowers—the citizens of Prague are, quietly, the most advanced in the world.
Restaurace Stoleti: you and your flowers are welcome
Photo: Restaurace Stoleti
A Thursday night in Prague: we were on our on way up Karolíny Světlé to a restaurant in the guidebook when we found an inviting corner.
The sun had just gone all the way down over Old Town. You could see yellow lights inside this place and hear happy voices, friendly ripples (without the squeal of students getting off on their “pivo”). So we strolled up to look at the menu posted outside, and stepped in.
Right away, we were greeted and shown a table for two in the small front diningroom, attended by a courteous gentlemen we later learned was the owner of this establishment: Restaurace Stoleti. Over the next half hour, the front filled up, and other diners were shown to a larger room in back.
Friday, June 05, 2009
Mine that Miracle: Spring Chi 2009
Planted in Louisville, Kentucky, Allen Bush pushes, channels, rides and rejoices-in the fundamental force.
in ‘Single whip’
Tai Chi pose
Photo: Yang Cheng-fu
By Allen Bush
The Kentucky Derby was a week away and the welcome mat was out for spring blessings – revelations just waiting on a miracle. The last Saturday in April was World Tai Chi Day. And as April 25 dawned in the Pacific and made its way across time zones, practioners of Tai Chi gathered at ten in the morning to move some chi – a mysterious force - around the world.
My Big Rock Tai Chi Club (we meet at Big Rock in Louisville’s Cherokee Park) was invited to join the University of Louisville Tai Chi Club to do our part on their turf. As luck, or maybe even chi, would have it, we set-up next to a grotto and garden built in 1927 to resemble the naturally occurring hillside French grotto where a teenager, Bernadette Soubirous, in 1858 saw an apparition of the Virgin Mary. The local Grotto and Garden of Our Lady of Lourdes, built for “prayer and meditation,” commemorates Bernadette’s “private revelations.”
We gathered under an ash tree on university property that had once belonged to the St. Joseph’s infirmary, part of the Louisville landscape along Eastern Parkway until most of it was torn down around 1980. (When a friend of mine got suspended from 8th grade for a prank in 1966, she had to go tell her father who was recuperating there. As it turns-out, he was sharing a room with Thomas Merton, the Trappist monk and writer. Merton got to hear her confession, too. Forgiveness is integral to a good life.)
Gardening & Landscape • Religious Rituals • Secular Customs • Permalink