June 21, 2004

A Blissful Father's Day...

Spent the day with Enid, Bean & Lucy in the Conner's Greenwich Village back yard barbecuing, smoking cigars and drinking Belgian beer from corked 1-litre bottles (Hennepin & Duvel). The chicken was unbelievable owing to Paige's suspiciously close relationship with the local butcher and to the mesquite woodchips Drew used on real charcoal in a badass black Texas ole-hog's-breath cooking chamber. Es ist heise!

As I passed the beers across the counter at Jay-the-Grocer's, he lit up: "Ah MistaSam! You drink alone on Favah'sDay! Hee Hee."

I said, "Jay! Ha Ha. But at least we have this glorious day."

He replied, "Ah, MistaSam! I sell lot an lot of flower on Muvah'sDay, but NOTHING on Favah'sDay."

"No respect, Jay," I said.

"No respect, MistaSam," he said.

At the Conner's, the kids entertained themselves while Lucy kept getting up and moving with a disapproving long face to get away from the smoke. For Great Danes, lying down is a kind of ritualistic obsessive-compulsive checklist (like a baseball player who steps out of the batter's box to re-adjust his batting gloves between every pitch) that stops most conversations until the dog -- having circled 1440 degrees -- finally drops. Conversation then resumes. No pain no gain, Lucy.

Got home, sparked up the new-old hifi (my Summertime white-t-shirt Chitty-Chitty-Bang-Bang-Dad-project with a wrench) to a simply amazing edition of "This American Life" on NPR, in New York, WNYC 93.9 FM. The readings were hilarious and topical, and one even brought tears to my eyes being Father's-Day-appropriate and heart-rendingly American/hopeful/sad. Was it the beer?

This is the show described on the Web:

Stories of people who are lost, histories that are lost, and things that are lost. This show was recorded onstage in front of audiences on a five-city tour in May, 2003. The cities: Boston, Washington DC, Portland Oregon, Denver and Chicago. Thanks to the public radio stations who presented the show in those cities: WBUR in Boston, WAMU 88.5 FM in DC, Oregon Public Broadcasting/OPB in Portland, Colorado Public Radio in Denver and Chicago Public Radio in our hometown.

Author, Sarah Vowell sardonically reads her analysis of the provenance of "The Battle Hymn of the Republic;" a couple of pick-up bands play intersticial songs: OK Go and the Lost in America Tour band led by John Langford (The Mekons) are startlingly good; and Davey Rothbart (www.foundmagazine.com) reads from an unusual selection of found notes and scraps of paper. It's great 'cause radio is free.

To get a CD audio transcript of This American Life's episode #239, "Lost in America," for $13.00 + shipping, go here or to stream the 1-hour show click here.

June 09, 2004

Donald Potter, influential English sculptor, died at 102.

"A distinguished sculptor and teacher in his own right, he provided the intellectual link from Eric Gill to Habitat [Conran's, in the US]," writes Fiona McCarthy in the obituary for Guardian Unlimited.

In the 1930's and 40's, Potter was an understudy of Eric Gill, the English engraver, sculptor, typographer, communist and theological philosopher. Those of us today who use the modern desktop PC or Mac are intimate with the devotional labors of Eric Gill who in 1927 designed the timeless, exceedingly legible Gill Sans font.

Most of Gill's typographical work was done for the Monotype Typography company, which merged with AGFA in 1998.

Carvings and sculptures by Eric Gill are to be found at the BBC Headquarters, in the London Underground, at the Tate Gallery, at the University of Florida and other places. The work of Donald Potter -- particularly his large wood-carvings remarkably reminiscent of the organic work of Yorkshireman, Henry Moore -- are likewise found about England.