Posts Tagged ‘history

08
Jan
11

of mark twain and moon crickets

Dear Mr. Mencken,

Your letter concerning yesterdays BAITA* get-together arrived in the morning post, and I much appreciate your catching me up on those proceedings. I had prior engagements so I sadly could not attend. Mr. Clemens also dropped in this afternoon for a bit of coffee & cobbler talk, and we both delighted in your written comments and rapier wit.

Mark Twain - 1909 photo

Having an authors’ book (or comments) placed on the ‘banned’ list is a great distinction, plus it assures that the book is constantly mentioned even if it’s read less often. We all know how much work it takes an author to craft and sharpen each word, and sentence, and paragraph of a book before he submits it to the lancet of the editor/publisher. But to endure that and finally reach publication, then acclaim of the masses, and then have those actual words further impaled and changed by a so called “editor and Mark Twain scholar” Dr. Alan Gibbons, well Mr. Clemens is feeling quite esteemed over the full issue.

Eulogized at his death for “not having written a book that any father cannot read to his daughter”, Mr. Clemens is delighted to watch Dr. Gibbons attempt to whitewash [pun intended] the classic tale to make it palatable for modern youth, or at least those youth whose minds have been twisted by those of Dr. Gibbons ilk.

I particularly enjoyed the fact that you read the ‘EXPLANATORY’ from the Huck Finn into your minutes, since the book is primarily a work of dialect and the word ‘nigger’ was central to many of its themes, bein’ as the word negro is spelled differently depending on how you talked in your section of the country.  No need to quote it all in this letter but;

“In this book a number of dialects are used to wit: the Missouri negro dialect; ….. The shadings have not been done in hap-hazard fashion, or by guess-work; but pains-takingly, and with the trustworthy guidance and support of personal familiarity with these several forms of speech. THE AUTHOR”

Again, thanks for sending the notes, it made for a charming afternoon. I do worry about this modern society and their odd way of thinking. I wonder what other Orwellian misadventures will be be perpetrated? And what if this thinking is extended onto the art world? How will they defend something such as this?

by Marcel Duchamp 1919

Sincerely,
Barney (BCM) Farthing

* Banned Authors In The Afterlife

02
Jan
11

ify:7 the tv

TV for the masses was just getting started when it, like so much other stuff, was postponed due to the 2nd World War. It got rolling by 1950 but suffered from the ‘chicken or the egg’ phenomena – not much need to broadcast if no one had a telly, and why buy a telly if there was nothing to watch?

But it’s hard to keep a good media down 🙂 Most of us watched something downtown at the store that sold TVs as they would set them in the front window and turn them on, and the first family in the neighborhood to get a set would get very popular.

Early RCA test pattern

There might be only one ‘channel’ broadcasting in your part of the state and the shows were limited at first to only a few hours during the day or in the evening. It took a while to start things up at the station so the they broadcast a “test pattern” and you had the time to adjust the horizontal & vertical of your picture if needed. The last thing broadcast was invariably the “Star Spangled Banner” at midnight.

As kids, sis and I were forced to come inside, so the folks didn’t have to watch us outside and could enjoy the shows. We didn’t like TV much since it was for adults. The folks loved it, as only the best of the very best were on TV – comedians, dancers, singers and bands, stage plays, etc.

1950 Crosley Model 10"

It was simply magic to see & enjoy things from places you would probably never visit in person, all on a tiny, round, 9″ black & white screen. Then there was the immediacy of TV, no more waiting until photos appeared weeks later in the Saturday Evening Post.

However, the soul of TV was the fact it was live. It happened at the same time you watched it. If the folks on the ‘set’ messed up then you saw them mess up, if the singer missed a note you noticed, if the lady in the commercial couldn’t get the door of the Frigidaire open , you watched her flub up. It was real in the sense that it was real, really 🙂 It was NOW, as in RIGHT NOW.

Not like today,
when you don’t know when a video was recorded or when a web page was written or who wrote it.
You have no idea anymore, as reality has an obsured meaning since you can’t tell if it’s real or not.

16
Dec
10

ify:5 why read sci-fi

I actually don’t remember why or how I began reading what is called science fiction. I was limited to books from the public library, but I did see Buck Rogers in the serials played before the Saturday morning movies. Yea, we laughed at Buck Rogers, and the strings holding up the model spaceships, and the stuff that spewed out as ‘rocket exhaust’ and fell to the ground. Gad-zooks – we knew there was no gravity in space 🙂 Still it was fun, just like the early comic books were fun and amazing at the same time.

So I must have gone to the library and begun searching the very limited sci-fi section. I also read every Hardy Boy book the came out, and the ultimate book series Nancy Drew. Boy, did I want to grow up and meet a girl like that!

I didn’t know that sci-fi was not considered literature, it was just fun. Eventually I found authors that I enjoyed and the stories and the characters became a bit more real, and the themes more consistent. Then I saw some of the authors on the news, talking science and learned that writing was a 2nd career .. they were Ph D’s – trained and working in the fields of physics, cosmology, engineering, chemistry, computers, etc.

It’s like I’m taking a home study course in bunch of disciplines (there is real science there) and wondering how these technologies might effect society’s future. In the late 60’s there are very few computers in the entire state of Missouri, Dick Tracy’s wrist device is way in the future, but I learn IBM 360 Assembler while in high school. I take a programming class 1st semester of college, and get hired as a graduate assistant the next, and the news if full of exploits on the “space race”!

So the years begin going buy, and I wonder how many of the fictions I’ve read in these books will become “sci-fact” during my lifetime? And wonder .. could the world disintegrate to the visions of “1984” or “Brave New World”?

Years and then decades wheel by, and I’ve see lots of fiction become fact, seen cultures and countries react in eerily similar ways I’d read about decades earlier, everyone has a computer, our population explodes as resources recede, the computers are connected on the web, and you can strap your smart phone to your wrist if you wish.

Our society accepts Political Correctness as status quo just 20 years after 1984, and the warnings of earlier sci-fi themes are still being ignored. Fishing quotas in the oceans ?, political skirmishes across the planet for water supplies? … the list goes on.

I still wonder how much of the ‘future forecast’ I read will happen and be enjoyed,
but I’m also worried about how much of those forecasts will be ignored,
because the more that is ignored. the more that will have to be endured.

13
Dec
10

garbonzo bean band

Garbonzo Bean Band Event Poster

My sister sent me a link to a video she’d found on YouTube which brought back some old memories of gigs I’d done and bands I’d played with.

Everybody in town knew these guys and I ended up sitting in with them outside of Lindberg’s at the St. Patrick Day parade. Almost every musician in town played with them at one time or another, but especially drummers. John and Chris were the core members and quite often played “walk around” gigs, so drummers were ‘optional’.

I played with them for a year or so and loved every minute of it. The ideal of the band was basically .. “If you’re gonna play for folks, then by gawd, it outa be fun” 🙂

These guys made it fun, and outlandish dress was part of the gig. It wasn’t just music, it was seldom serious, and costumes were required. **

My favorite was was a lime green, pleated, Empire waist pinafore with spaghetti straps.

Most gigs were a bit like performance art and they were all very unique. We played once in the back bedroom at a private New Years party (so we wouldn’t be too loud) and couldn’t see the audience. We quit at 12:30 and visited with them and they said “You guys were great!”.

I’m glad I got to gig with them and have lots of good memories. I’ve got to say that I do not remember recording this video below, but that is me at the set of drums provided for the video.

** I wore pantyhose one evening, and I now know why DRUMMERS DO NOT WEAR PANTYHOSE !!!

09
Dec
10

ify:4 a miracle a minute

The converter box on my TV began to fail the other day and while the new one is winging its way here I’ve been limited to two channels, NBC and the one from Harrison, Ark. which is the religious based DayStar.com. It’s all Christian all day damned day so my viewing has been limited to somewhat sub-standard fare.

No, I do not believe in gods, ghosts, gouls, goblins, devils, witches, saints, vampires, werewolves, miracles, sin or any variant of these mythologies. ‘Tis lunacy to do so. YMMV

What I see on this Judeo-Christian channel does not seem to have changed substantially since I last checked, at least they want the same thing from folk. Primarily it’s the old “don’t think just have faith” and “don’t feel just believe” with a healthy dose of send us your money. This is all done by folks who are obviously superiorly spiritual, who know what their audience does not know, and must have god’s cell number as they talk to him at least daily.

They are embracing the new communication technologies, own their own TV stations, and are totally active on what’s called social media, so I have no doubt they are spreading their message to more folk, and collecting more money to boot. You no longer have to leave the living room to attend a faith healing, and you can watch all sorts of panel/interview shows that feature guests describing their personal miracles. All told, you can get about one miracle a minute.

The sermons are substantially different in content. Sure, you get the normal droning, all based on that particular ‘view of the universe’ that there is a “plan” for all this, and the plan is known and is working as ordained, and you should just hold on as things will be fixed up really-really tidy (pretty soon) and we’ll all live happily ever after. [que Disney style theme music]

Many of these so-called sermons are strictly political, social or economic in nature, and although they are disguised in religion or spirituality, they are no more than stump speeches. These preachers all want to Take Back the country which has been stolen by the Evil Do’ers. It’s no wonder the congregation applauds the fiery speech, rather than shouting hallelujah.

Don’t get me wrong, no matter what I may think of the Abrahamic religions (Islam included), I harbor no hope of changing anyone’s views. I understand that going against the beliefs of perhaps 3-4 billion people would be hard, and that many have to fall back on “I believe this because that’s the way I was raised”.

But here is the scary thing. If you can UN-think enough to believe in these myths, then when, or where, or how will this UN-thinking erupt in your thinking in the future?

Will you enact into law something that says “Life begins at conception”?

Will you enact into law something that defines “Hate” as a criminal offense?

If so, then the next step can only be that thinking itself is a crime.

04
Dec
10

ify: a custom touch

Red's Giant Hamburg, Route 66, Springfield, Mo

Red's Giant Hamburg

My favorite eatery in Springfield, Red’s Giant Hamburg, was about 15 blocks from the house. A converted former motel/gas station into a cafe. Standard issue was a burger, fries, and root beer from a barrel. Motel courtyard with picnic tables in the back.

World’s 1st drive-thru, you can see the service window on the right of the building. Your options at the window were not what to order, but how many. Ray had the grill right behind the window and separated from Julia and the inside seating. You ordered it and Ray cooked it.

This was before some idiot invented ‘fast food’, back when you went into the gas station and someone came out to fill the tank, clean your window, and chat about the day. Interacting with the necessaries of life was not an inconvenience to hurry through, but a custom touch to savor. We never “waited” for our order at Red’s, it was part of the experience, an anticipation. A bit later Ray set up a speaker at the window and another at the grill and he could chat with customers while he cooked your order.

Later, when Ray set up a speaker out at the end of the hedge (out of his sight) the full drive thru experience was complete and the personal touch was degrading. You were then one step removed from personal as you had to stop out front and order, then pull up to the window. Certainly unnecessary for us ‘old pros’.

Ray brought the order to the window and slid out a large paper tray filled with fries, root beers in the corners, and burgers on top and we’d pull into the back courtyard and have a family dinner on one of the picnic tables.

Back then we took the time to enjoy life, to experience, to revel in it. It didn’t make sense to call it an inconvenience, or turn things into “waiting”. It was always over too soon for me, and I always looked forward to the next visit to Red’s.

In the 80’s some buddies of mine did a video featuring Ray and Julia, so I hope the guys in “The Morells” won’t mind a link to their YouTube video. Please enjoy 🙂 and yes, that IS Ray and Julia.

01
Dec
10

IFY: in fifty years – prologue

Forsyth, MO in 1950

Forsyth, MO in 1950 courtesy Missouri Photo Workshop

Any fifty year period in human history would cover a period of astounding changes, events or inventions. Of course, during this same period there will be a lot of things that don’t change, or things that just absorb the changes that are occurring without the slightest burp. It seems the nature of change is not absolute, but it does create a hell of a lot of potential.

I happen to have been born in 1950 and have somehow arrived at today. Now I’m not saying there is anything special that has happened to me during my life, but astonishing does seem to apply to the amount and depth of change in the world while I’ve been here to watch it happen.

I did not start this ‘watching’ until about 1954 when I became aware of yesterday, when there became more than a now, and I awoke to the idea of continuous events piling up into yesterdays. This seems like a forward movement in time which really does not move forward, but past you and your awareness as you watch it go, slipping away into yesterday.

By some mysterious law of physics, things & stuff that you personally screw up as time passes by you can come back to effect the now as it is going by you (which you call the future), which is damned confusing …. at first.

If this phenomena works on groups and societies like it does with individuals, then it is no wonder why humanity seems so easily to mess things up, or “shit in their own shoes”.

Anyway, I’ve seen and done some things, and watched a lot of stuff go by, and wondered what might go past me, what might happen in that future that really does/doesn’t exist and I don’t feel the least bit obligated to comment on it.

Really. 🙂

But I’m going to.




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