From this most hallowed of weekends, I send my greetings. John O’Hara holds the world record for published stories in the New Yorker, and may also be a world record holder for antagonizing nearly every human who met him. I listened to the Stupid Orchestra and heard my daily life in song. Julia Margaret Cameron was 48 when she first dove under the dark cloth…
Martin Luther King wrote a famously long letter from an Alabama jail cell. Making the case for the mighty pencil and all that it connotes. “There is only one way to make money at writing, and that is to marry a publisher’s daughter.” George Orwell (#thingsthatarenolongertrue.)
1. What to read next | John O’Hara BUtterfield 8
Who could resist a book with a heroine named Gloria Wandrous? I sure couldn’t. And then I read the first two pages. And you should too. If you’d like to know what the hubbub is all about, read this New Yorker piece by Lorin Stein. If you doubt me, here is a tiny snippet from Stein. “On the topics of class, sex, and alcohol—that is, the topics that mattered to him—his novels amount to a secret history of American life.”
Or you could watch the movie with Elizabeth Taylor.
2. Please be Quiet Please | The Stupid Orchestra
Love this. Hate this. Welcome to modern, urban life.
Learn more here>>
3. Ways of Seeing | Julia Margaret Cameron
When she received her first camera in December 1863 as a gift from her daughter and son-in-law, Cameron was forty-eight, a mother of six, and a deeply religious, well-read, somewhat eccentric friend of many notable Victorian artists, poets, and thinkers. “From the first moment I handled my lens with a tender ardour,” she wrote, “and it has become to me as a living thing, with voice and memory and creative vigour.” Condemned by some contemporaries for sloppy craftsmanship, she purposely avoided the perfect resolution and minute detail that glass negatives permitted, opting instead for carefully directed light, soft focus, and long exposures that allowed the sitters’ slight movement to register in her pictures, instilling them with an uncommon sense of breath and life.
4. Funtown is closed to colored children | Martin Luther King writes from the Birmingham jail
“We have waited for more than three hundred and forty years for our God-given and constitutional rights…when you have seen vicious mobs lynch your mothers and fathers at will and drown your sisters and brothers at whim; when you have seen hate-filled policemen curse, kick, brutalize, and even kill your black brothers and sisters with impunity; when you see the vast majority of your twenty million Negro brothers smothering in an airtight cage of poverty in the midst of an affluent society…” Read the full letter here >>
Song for Sunday | Boz Scaggs, Lowdown
Catch the killer opening. Dedicated to EM of Hollywood.
The Great Boz scaggs, now with his own vineyard in Napa. You can visit here >>
5. The pencil, the bookcase, the memory | The pencil revolution
I bought some pencils a short time ago (sadly I was not able to acquire the Blackwing 602, favorite of Nabokov and Capote and Steinbeck) but that simple act set off some remembering, some writing/storytelling and a bit of web surfing.
T he B o o k c a s e
The day my uncle Roma came over to our house I was a lost boy of seven or eight —“Champ, you gonna help me measure this?” — he was in his khakis and work boots and his carpenters belt was slung low on his waist and the V-neck white tee shirt he wore was sprinkled with sawdust his lit cigarette dangled from his mouth and the smoke from it curled up into his eyes behind his scuffed taped glasses as he measured the space and he gave me one end of the tape measure to hold I was so proud and he mumbled to himself and then he reached up to his ear for a pencil that was parked there always and soon he scribbled his numbers onto the inside cover of a crumpled book of matches and left for his shop. This was years before his brother fell through the ice—a scuba diving priest went searching for him—but he’d drowned and it was before his nephew started dating heroin. Several months later he came back. And the thing was built—floor to ceiling yellow pine—a striking blonde wooden ship for books—and it fit like a dream. It stood in a corner of the living room of my family home in Fall River Massachusetts. And what I remember is Kon Tiki, The Reader’s Digest Condensed Works of William Shakespeare, Jokes for Public Speakers, The Last Hurrah, Too Soon to Say Goodbye, by Art Buchwald… The Sun Also Rises, Jonathan Livingston Seagull, Diane Arbus, (an irony laden Christmas present to my mother from me) Catcher in the Rye, The Big Book of Golf, Cod, Biography of a Fish That Changed the World, The Sun Also Rises, A Bright Shining Lie, Personal History, by Katherine Graham. I don’t remember much more of my uncle Roma other than he was one of the first to go, and we loved Roma, we did. He was my mother’s brother and he could make anything with his hands.
– Richard Pelletier