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POINTS OF COLOR

TYPEIMAGELOGO.

 POINTS OF COLOR

 October 9, 2015

Opening Quote

“Courage is doing what you’re afraid to do. There can be no courage unless you’re scared.”

 —Eddie Rickenbacker (1890-1973) gained fame during World War I, when he shot down more enemy planes than any other American pilot. The “Ace of Aces” had more than 130 combat encouters and 24 confirmed kills. After the war, Rickenbacker promoted aviation in the U.S., and led Eastern Air Lines from 1933-1963. Prior to his military service, Rickenbacker had been a celebrity race-car driver and from the late 1920s to after World War II he chaired the Indianapolis Speedway. In World War II, he served as an aviation advisor, surviving the crash of his B-17 in the Pacific. Although he was a civilian, he took command and probably saved countless lives as the rescue took 22 days. He then continued on to meet General Douglas MacArthur to convey a message from President Franklin D. Roosevelt.

Slaughter

The latest mass shooting was at a community college in Oregon on October 1st. A deranged shooter killed ten and wounded seven before being cornered and committing suicide. The phenomenon of of mass murder by disturbed gunmen has become a peculiarly American disease. In response, President Obama commented upon how “routine” these atrocities had become and added: “This is a political choice that we make, to allow this to happen every few months in America.” We the people don’t allow anything to happen. Following the carnage at Sandy Hook  Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut in 2012, President Obama had proposed legislation that, in-part, closed loopholes in the backgound checks for private gun purchases, and banned military-style assault weapons and large-capacity magazines. There was rare optimism about the fate of the proposal, because parents of Sandy Hook victims lobbied Congress and the crime had provoked national revulsion. In one survey, 85% of those polled–both Democrats and Republicans–favored background checks for private and gun-show sales. Yet, in April 2013, the Senate voted to reject every aspect of Obama’s plan. Frontline, the excellent PBS documentary series, analyzed the role of the National Rifle Association in the legislation’s defeat. The 54-minute film is a primer in how the NRA has become the most effective lobbying group in the nation, an organization that routinely nullifies democracy. Meanwhile, mass shootings continue unabated and government, as in so many other areas–is paralyzed and unresponsive.

Art

About 15 years ago, my wife and I decided that we had enough play money to vacation with our daughters for a few weeks in London and Paris. In the City of Light we stayed at a funky, authentic hotel on the Left Bank. Down the block I discovered a poster shop and a print I loved called “Circular Shapes” by the French artist Robert Delaunay (1885-1941). I splurged and bought the print which hangs in my New York City apartment. When I began to create my own art, one of my pieces seemed to owe much to Delaunay’s work, created a century earlier. That’s why I titled my piece, “Homage to Delaunay.” “Homage,” and more than 20 other pieces, are available as prints in the WordsandAbstracts shop on Etsy.com.
HOMAGETODELAUNAYLOW.

Handel, Ken. Homage to Delaunay. 2012

delaunay1

Delaunay, Robert, Circular Shapes. 1912-1913

Exceptionalism

When Donald Trump announced his run for the Republican presidential nomination, he amped up his publicity with idiotic remarks about Mexicans: “When Mexico sends its people, the’re not sending the best….They’re bringing drugs, they’re bringing crime. They’re rapists and some, I assume, are good people, but I speak to border guards and they’re tellings us what we’re getting.” It was a definitive Sarah Palin moment, and also quite familiar: mouthing off on immigrants is nothing new. For a few years in the 1850s, there was an American political party called “The Know-Nothings,” which was virulently anti-immigrant and anti-Catholic. This motley crew self-destructed in just a few years, but at its high point in 1855, the “Know Nothings” had 43 of its members in Congress. In the 1920s, a second, national iteration of the Ku Klux Klan attained a membership of between two-to-five million and proudly marched in front of the White House. The Klan idealized 100% Americans–meaning white native-born Protestants–and loathed Blacks, Catholics, foreigners, and Jews. Thankfully, the KKK withered away quickly. The United States though also has another side, one that is tolerant of difference and which speaks to the most noble, most altruistic qualities. To me, this is the basis of American exceptionalism, and it is memorialized on one of the nation’s most sacred icons: the Statue of LibertyOn Lady Liberty there is a plaque which includes these unforgettable words:

Give me your tired, your poor,

Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,

The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.

Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me,

I lift my lamp beside the golden door!

Recent data reveals that these wondrous words still hold true. According to the Pew Research Center, in 2013, 13.1% of the U.S. population–or more than 41 million men, women, and children–were immigrants This vast infusion of souls may be contrasted with 1960, when just 5.4% of Americans were immigrants. The U.S. is by far the largest host of immigrants on the planet with four times as many immigrants than any other nation. My maternal and paternal grandparents came to the U.S. in the early 20th century from Eastern Europe. The ever-surprising Pope Francis put a wonderful spin on why the Trumps of this world are doomed. “We the people of this continent,” the Pope said in the first ever papal address he recently gave to a joint session of Congress, “are not fearful of foreigners, because most of us were foreigners.”

Music

The first concert I ever attended featured Peter, Paul, and Mary. For many baby boomers, folk was the entry point into a lifelong passion for music of all types. Last year, I came upon an irresistible piece: “20 Great Folk Albums to Add to Your Indie-Rock Collection.” Jim Vorel–music/news editor at Paste Magazine--created a well-written and comprehensive collection that turned me on to The Wailin’ Jennies, a Canadian folk group out of Winnipeg. Their 2004 cd, “40 Days,” is gorgeous with fine vocal harmonies and superb musicians. Also on Vorel’s list was Sarah JaroszMs. Jarosz sings; is a virtuoso instrumentalist on the guitar, mandolin, and banjo; and writes many of the songs she performs. Her latest album “Build Me Up From Bones” (2013), received two Grammy nominations, including one for “Best Folk Album.” Texas born, Jarosz has appeared twice on Austin City Limits, made her late-night television debut on Conan, and has toured extensively. I discovered her in an NPR “Tiny Desk Concert.” It’s a cliche that “music soothes the savage beast.” But no matter how down I’m feeling, after listening to Jarosz’ current album–or her previous one, “Follow Me Down”–I feel better. There are only a few musical artists that can work that kind of magic, and Sarah Jarosz is one of them.
SARAHJAROSZ.
Sarah Jarosz

The Points of  Color blog by Ken Handel will appear weekly. Please send comments/suggestions to WordsandAbstracts@gmail.com. To subscribe, please send the message, “Please send Points of Color to my e-mail [__Please Insert Your E-mail Here_________________________] whenever it is distributed.” Send to WordsandAbstracts@gmail.com.

POINTS OF COLOR

TYPEIMAGELOGO.

 POINTS OF COLOR

 October 2, 2015

Opening Quote

“Success is the ability to go from one failure to another with no loss of enthusiasm.”

Winston Churchill (1874-1965) was larger than life. He was a historian, an artist, and a prolific writer who won the Nobel Prize in Literature 1953. But it was as Great Britain’s Prime Minister during World War II that Churchill achieved his finest hour. His soaring speeches and inspiring leadership were beacons of strength that sustained the British people when they fought alone against Hitler. He also gave hope to all people, everywhere, that victory over Nazi barbarism was inevitable and that good would indeed triumph over evil.

ADVERTISING

The single most famous political ad to appear on television ran just once–on September 7, 1964.  It made certain that Lyndon Baines Johnson would defeat Barry Goldwater in the 1964 presidential election in a landslide of epic proportions. The ad portrayed Senator Goldwater (R-Arizona) as someone whose outlandish conservative policies would murder a cute little girl and reduced the election to those who wanted peace (LBJ) or thermonuclear war (Goldwater). The cynical reality is that just one month after his inauguration, Johnson escalated the Vietnam War by bombing North Vietnam. So much for the “peace candidate.”

Art

When I was a 19 year-old student, I moved into a new apartment. It was a railroad flat, long and narrow, with one room flowing into another. I decided to use high-gloss enamel to paint a wall white with vertical color stripes. The inspiration came from Mondrian, the Dutch abstract artist. Piet Mondrian (1872-1944) pared down his art to what he believed to be universally recognizable essentials. There was also a spiritual component to the style he made his own. Mondrian painted only with primary colors, emphasized vertical and horizontal lines, and ensured that his art would remain vivid, relevant, and contemporary. He certainly is one of my favorites. Some of my art reflects Mondrian’s insights, such as “Geometric Quilt” (shown at left, 2012). To view more than 20 of my pieces–each available as an art print–go to the WordsandAbstracts shop on Etsy.com.
Mondrian, Piet. "Victory Boogie Woogie (Unfinished), 1944, Gemeentemuseum, The Hague
Mondrian, Piet. “Victory Boogie Woogie (Unfinished), 1944, Gemeentemuseum, The Hague

GEOMETRICQUILTLOW.

CRIME

The latest corporate sleazoid is Volkswagen. VW is charged with employing sophisticated software in 11 million cars that falsified a vehicle’s true pollution output when it was being tested. The company posed as green when the cars it tampered with weren’t. But don’t be surprised: corporate crime happens all the time. On September 17, General Motors agreed to pay a $900 million fine for the faulty design of ignition switches that killed 124 people; the firm had known about the flaw since 2005. In banking, “too big to fail” J.P. Morgan Chase & Co and Citigroup Inc pled guilty in May 2015 to foreign exchange manipulation. They–and three foreign banks–were fined $5.7 billion. On September 21, Stewart Parnell, the owner and president of Peanut Corporation of America, and other executives, received long prison sentences (28 years for Parnell)for knowlingly shipping salmonella-infected peanut butter that sickened hundreds. In May, Duke Energy, the nation’s largest untility, admitted violating environmental laws and agreed to pay a $68 million fine. Also in May, 14 people, including leading executives at FIFA, a governing body for soccer, were indicted for racketeering, money laundering and other charges extending back two decades. In an age of deregulation, corporate crime is as inevitable as boom and bust cycles.

POLITICS

On September 30, the Republican-controlled House of Representatives voted to defund Planned Parenthood. The GOP knew that their misogynist bill would never pass the Senate and would be vetoed by the President if somehow it did. But this is just more wacko and surreal theater from a Republican Party that specializes in doing nothing more that throwing temper tantrums. In February, these fools voted for the 56th time to repeal Obama care. As they strut and boast, displaying their selfishness and ignorance, the nation’s genuine problems receive no attention. In 2013 and 2014 Congress passed fewer laws than at any other time in history–296 and 284 respectively. In the preceding ten Congressional sessions, the average number of laws passed was 464. So it’s not at all surprising that the Gallup Poll pegs the approval rating of Congress at 15%, near its all-time low.

The Points of  Color blog by Ken Handel appears weekly. Please send comments/suggestions to wordsandabstracts@gmail.com. To subscribe, please send the message, “Please send Points of Color to my e-mail [__Please Insert Your E-mail Here_________________________] whenever it is distributed.” Send to wordsandabstracts@gmail.com.

POINTS OF COLOR, October 2, 2015

TYPEIMAGELOGO.

POINTS OF COLOR

Opening Quote

“Success is the ability to go from one failure to another with no loss of enthusiasm.”

Winston Churchill (1874-1965) was larger than life. He was a historian, an artist, and a prolific writer who won the Nobel Prize in Literature 1953. But it was as Great Britain’s Prime Minister during World War II that Churchill achieved his finest hour. His soaring speeches and inspiring leadership were beacons of strength that sustained the British people when they fought alone against Hitler. He also gave hope to all people, everywhere, that victory over Nazi barbarism was inevitable and that good would indeed triumph over evil.

ADVERTISING

The single most famous political ad to appear on television ran just once–on September 7, 1964.  It made certain that Lyndon Baines Johnson would defeat Barry Goldwater in the 1964 presidential election in a landslide of epic proportions. The ad portrayed Senator Goldwater (R-Arizona) as someone whose outlandish conservative policies would murder a cute little girl and reduced the election to those who wanted peace (LBJ) or thermonuclear war (Goldwater). The cynical reality is that just one month after his inauguration, Johnson escalated the Vietnam War by bombing North Vietnam. So much for the “peace candidate.”

Art

When I was a 19 year-old student, I moved into a new apartment. It was a railroad flat, long and narrow, with one room flowing into another. I decided to use high-gloss enamel to paint a wall white with vertical color stripes. The inspiration came from Mondrian, the Dutch abstract artist. Piet Mondrian (1872-1944) pared down his art to what he believed to be universally recognizable essentials. There was also a spiritual component to the style he made his own. Mondrian painted only with primary colors, emphasized vertical and horizontal lines, and ensured that his art would remain vivid, relevant, and contemporary. He certainly is one of my favorites. Some of my art reflects Mondrian’s insights, such as “Geometric Quilt” (shown at left, 2012). To view more than 20 of my pieces–each available as an art print–go to the WordsandAbstracts shop on Etsy.com.
Mondrian, Piet.
Mondrian, Piet. “Victory Boogie Woogie (Unfinished), 1944, Gemeentemuseum, The Hague

GEOMETRICQUILTLOW.

CRIME

The latest corporate sleazoid is Volkswagen. VW is charged with employing sophisticated software in 11 million cars that falsified a vehicle’s true pollution output when it was being tested. The company posed as green when the cars it tampered with weren’t. But don’t be surprised: corporate crime happens all the time. On September 17, General Motors agreed to pay a $900 million fine for the faulty design of ignition switches that killed 124 people; the firm had known about the flaw since 2005. In banking, “too big to fail” J.P. Morgan Chase & Co and Citigroup Inc pled guilty in May 2015 to foreign exchange manipulation. They–and three foreign banks–were fined $5.7 billion. On September 21, Stewart Parnell, the owner and president of Peanut Corporation of America, and other executives, received long prison sentences (28 years for Parnell) for knowlingly shipping salmonella-infected peanut butter that sickened hundreds. In May, Duke Energy, the nation’s largest untility, admitted violating environmental laws and agreed to pay a $68 million fine. Also in May, 14 people, including leading executives at FIFA, a governing body for soccer, were indicted for racketeering, money laundering and other charges extending back two decades. In an age of deregulation, corporate crime is as inevitable as boom and bust cycles.

POLITICS

On September 30, the Republican-controlled House of Representatives voted to defund Planned Parenthood. The GOP knew that their misogynist bill would never pass the Senate and would be vetoed by the President if somehow it did. But this is just more wacko and surreal theater from a Republican Party that specializes in doing nothing more that throwing temper tantrums. In February, these fools voted for the 56th time to repeal Obama care. As they strut and boast, displaying their selfishness and ignorance, the nation’s genuine problems receive no attention. In 2013 and 2014 Congress passed fewer laws than at any other time in history–296 and 284 respectively. In the preceding ten Congressional sessions, the average number of laws passed was 464. So it’s not at all surprising that the Gallup Poll pegs the approval rating of Congress at 15%, near its all-time low.

The Points of  Color blog by Ken Handel will appear weekly. Please send comments/suggestions to WordsandAbstracts@gmail.com. To subscribe, please send the message, “Please send Points of Color to my e-mail [__Please Insert Your E-mail Here_________________________] whenever it is distributed.” Send to WordsandAbstracts@gmail.com.