Little Note on a Wonderful Drawing

Thomas Nast, Tammany Tiger (circa 1870)

Nast was the creator of many iconic images and the first political cartoonist to hit hard.

This is from the Addison Gallery collection of drawings, and though we did not see it yesterday, I’m thrilled to have even a reproduction of it in the collection On Paper. (I can’t find any reproduction of it on the Interwebs.)

Nash’s brilliance is that he takes an otherwise un-humanized tiger and puts it in a human position: rolling on its back, arms folded across chest, legs kicking in the air and either roaring or laughing, doesn’t matter. The instant you see it’s called Tammany Tiger you understand it’s a caricature of a cruel, greedy, bestial human (Boss Tweed) given none of the dignity of being a person.

(Well, I should add, not a portrait of Tweed per se — he was a fat lump as uncatlike as could be imagined — but his corrupt organization.)

Day of the Doddering Dodo

This morning I think, “Hell’s smells, the last print issue of the Village Voice will hit town today, so why don’t I cruise over to Harvard Square — and specifically Out of Town News — where I grabbed acres of publications when I first moved here — and pick up a copy if any are left.”

So I get there and look around and no nuthin’ nowhere. Adding to my flightless and   clueless condition I ask: “Has the Village Voice sold out already?” Manager looks at me like I’m wearing paisley shorts with hair down to my butt and says “We haven’t got the Voice for four or five years!” “Well, the last print edition was yesterday.” “Ended for us a long time ago.”

So I go to the still-prime Newbury Comics and buy a couple CDs.

I attend an excellent free class on digital marketing of your brand. I am informed that Twitter analytics exists, which is serious news to me. Now I can see what’s going on over there a lot more. Might help me ask question to improve blog traffic,even.

 

 

 

“Casablanca” And Its Landscape — Both Faded

Very sharp review by Laura Miller on a book that celebrates the movie. I would add the bitter irony that Harvard Square, where Casablanca was reborn as a fetish object, has all but vanished during the same time period the film started to dim. That is what causes me the most pangs of lost romance.

Little Cambridge Anecdote and Sad Update

The only supermarket I could get to easily without a car when I first moved back East was the rather whimsically named Purity Supreme. Our local branch was nicknamed “Poverty Supreme” because it seemed only the downtrodden of Central Square shopped there. (Ironically, the only new grocery outfit to open while we were in town was the marvelously named Bread & Circus, which started out granola-mad but soon became a higher-quality alternative to Poverty Supreme, when we could afford it — B&C later was acquired by Whole Foods.)

Purity Supreme was a good one-stop because it included Supreme Liquors, where I bought my first beers in MA. The state liquor store system in MT made them all into faceless dispensers, but Supreme Liquors boasted entertaining clientele and employees. It was a totally independent business that took the name for convenience of association — so when the supermarket disappeared, Supreme Liquors continued on. A few years ago, out of nostalgia, I stopped by to see what the place was like in the 21st century. What. A. Dump. Only the most basic and commercial offerings.

Then this morning, driving through Central Square, I noticed Supreme Liquors had decided to overtly cater to alcoholics: NEW STORE HOURS: MON-SAT OPEN AT 8 AM, SUN OPEN AT 10 AM. As a wise old drunk in Missoula once told me, “Nobody needs to buy booze at eight in the morning, but some people have to.”

Boston Common Beauty

On our way to see the Daniel Chester French exhibit (hugely recommended, as is the restored fountain sculpture at the corner of the Public Garden), we walked through Boston Common and it was as busy as I’ve ever see it. Trio dressed up expertly as the Cat in the Hat and Thing One and Thing Two (constant photos and squealing, happy kids). A couple in full Kabuki costume acting a scene that was being filmed. A jaunty one-man band. A wedding party that radiated optimism. Willows daubed with precise streaks of yellow, shedding leaves like a soft rain.  A four-piece folk band. At least three groups that had pitched tents and carried sleeping bags.

Plus hundreds of hammy, overfed squirrels that had the routine down: sit up, twitch tail, look like you expect to get a peanut — charge over if you see some fellow tree-rat already doing the routine and try to muscle in. The Boston Common Squirrels must run a Mafia-type operation that chases off any outsider that tries to horn in on the free food.

Last sunny afternoon in the 50s for a long time. All ages. All possible family configurations. I heard Spanish, Russian, French, Japanese. For a lengthy stroll, Boston felt like a model of diversity and civilization