Friday, July 25, 2008

The real Gdańsk, as part of the Frugal Traveler's grand tour of Europe

Ever mindful of the real Gdańsk, whose German name (Danzig) inspired this blog, I am pleased to present a video drawn from the New York Times. The Times' Frugal Traveler feature has made Gdańsk the tenth stop on its twelve-city grand tour of Europe.


Saturday, July 19, 2008


Gillian WelchWithin the expressive idiom of American folk music, is there a more compelling example of literary naturalism than Gillian Welch's 1996 ballad, Annabelle  (on Revival)?

In previous blog posts, on Jurisdynamics and MoneyLaw, I've come close to answering the question. Now I wish to say, emphatically, that Annabelle might well be the perfectly composed song in the Southern folk tradition:

Gillian Welch, Annabelle , Revival (1996) (live on YouTube)

We lease twenty acres and one Ginny mule
From the Alabama trust
For half of the cotton and a third of the corn
We get a handful of dust

RevivalWe cannot have all things to please us
No matter how we try
Until we've all gone to Jesus
We can only wonder why

I had a daughter, called her Annabelle
She's the apple of my eye
Tried to give her something like I never had
Didn't ever want to ever hear her cry

We cannot have all things to please us
No matter how we try
Until we've all gone to Jesus
We can only wonder why

When I'm dead and buried
I'll take a hard life of tears
From every day I've ever known
Anna's in the churchyard she got no life at all
She only got these words on a stone

We cannot have all things to please us
No matter how we try
Until we've all gone to Jesus
We can only wonder why

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Frankfort Foray

I spent the end of the week in Frankfort, Kentucky. It's a lovely river town and home of the state's capitol. The old downtown has some great architecture, some good restaurants, and a great bookstore called Poor Richard's Books.

Poor Richard's is one of the reasons I am always willing to go to Frankfort. The bottom floor is a nice independent bookstore, where you can always find something of interest. And then there's the second floor. On the second floor, you find used books. Old books. Not so old books. Musty treasures. The lights are weak and quivering, so it's best to climb up there when the sun is shining. The second floor is an attic loft. Glorious, dust dancing in the light, and oddities of all sorts. I always feel I'm climbing up a flight of stairs and back 150 years when I go there. It seems like something out of a Dickens novel. Hot in the summer. Cold in the winter. And always treasures. Books with stories only limited by your own imagination.

Oh, I should mention that my husband, Kurt, a Kentucky historian and bibliophile, thinks Poor Richard's is one the best bookstores to locate books on Kentucky -- both new and old.

In addition to Poor Richard's, we visited the Frankfort Cemetery, visited some historical sites, and I got a few good photos. Hope you like them.

An angel from Frankfort Cemetery

The state capitol from across the river.

From the Liberty Hall Garden.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Ain’t No Reason (Things Are This Way)

There ain’t no reason things are this way
It's how they always been and they intend to stay
I can't explain why we live this way
We do it everyday.
Brett Dennen sings Ain't No Reason (Things Are This Way):

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Craft Conference in Louisville

“Craft Conference ‘08: Unbridled Craft” will be held August 15 & 16 in Louisville, Kentucky, at the The Kentucky Museum of Art & Craft.

The conference will include workshops on felting, beading, woodturning, precious metals clay, metalsmithing, ceramics, bookmaking, printmaking, mosaics, puppetry, shibori, and leatherworking. Descriptions of the workshops (and registration) are available online.

Friday, July 4, 2008

I reaffirm my allegiance

Editor's note: The following letter, I Reaffirm My Allegiance, was originally published in the Washington Post on July 4, 1976:

July 4What am I?

I am a free man — a good and decent man — a man of compassion, generosity, and understanding — a true friend, a steadfast ally, and a bitter foe.

I owe my allegiance to a government founded in the belief that among the rights of man are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Indeed, I would acknowledge no other. I can redress my government for injury; not satisfied with redress, I can elect a new one. I have watched my government function smoothly during periods of transfer of power caused by re-election, assassination, and resignation.

While other nations have a distinct race, religion, and/or geographic denominator, I live among people of my home without fear of intrusion by anyone — citizen or government designee — unless they have my personal invitation or a duly authorized search warrant.

I have a press to keep me informed — a press free to write, without inhibition, the truth as they see it. A press that needs fear no repression, no retaliation, no censorship so long as it prints the truth.

I live under a system of justice, merciful and fairly administered, where I am assumed innocent until proven guilty — a system which provides me appellate privilege while denying it to the power of the state.

I am free to go anywhere I want, earn my living in any way that suits me and, based on that freedom, I have created a standard of living unequalled in the history of man and envied the world over.

I have suffered in humility at the consequences of my mistakes — economic deprivation, social injustice, unequal opportunity and racial prejudice to name a few — but, once aware of these mistakes, I have set out to right the wrongs they created.

July 4I have faced challenges to my way of life. I have fought and died countless times from Lexington and Concord to Vietnam. I was humbled at Valley Forge, Pearl Harbor, Corregidor and Malmedy. But these experiences gave me the character I needed to go to Yorktown, Gettysburg, Midway and Normandy. I cherish my freedom above all else — I bow to no tyrant.

I am two hundred years old today. I have never been so proud of my ancient heritage, so grateful for my present situation, and so confident of the future. Today, I reaffirm my allegiance to, faith in, and love of my country. To the proposition that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth, I do humbly pledge my life, my fortune, and my sacred honor.

I am an American.

Louisville: This is our chance!

Vanguard Cinema hopes to open a space at the Mellwood Arts Center. This venue will be set up to screen everything from David Lynch, to animé, to Evil Dead! Add to that, they plan to have food, a full bar, and, well, EVIL DEAD!!!! (I don't know what else to say to get you there.)

They are planning "walk-in movies" night on August 15, which will include food from Christopher Seckman (North End Cafe), brews from New Albanian Brewing Company, and the Derby City Roller Girls.

If this isn't a party, I don't know what is.

I want to encourage you guys to visit the Louisville Vanguard Cinema site. With the current economic vibe, they aren't sure if this venture can fly. Visit the site and let them know how often you might visit. Better yet, become a member. $50 gets you 10 tickets, a bumper sticker, a Tuesday admission ticket, and a discount on merchandise. (Plus, if the venture doesn't materialize, they'll give you your money back.)

Louisville deserves a great theater for art films, nontraditional films (and — did I mention Evil Dead?) I miss the Vogue Theater. We need to replace her. Vanguard Theater could do that.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Great things to do with children in Louisville

Ah, summer. Lazy days. Children with no homework. No classes. Nothing to do? If you and your children are searching for something fun and/or educational to do this summer, Louisville has a myriad of wonderful kid (and adult) friendly places to visit.

Speed Museum
J.B. Speed Museum
The Speed Museum has a wonderful permanent collection that will wow adults and teens. However, if you have children (or can borrow one), visit the museum's Art Sparks Interactive Gallery. Art Sparks has hands-on activities and exhibits to interest children and the adults who visit with them. The gallery has a section devoted to activities appropriate to children under the age of five. There are Saturday workshops, and a room filled with art supplies to allow a child's imagination run wild. Art Sparks really does ignite a child's imagination and offers an air-conditioned escape from the heat of July. Admission is $5 per person (free to museum members).

Louisville Science Center
The Louisville Science Center is a wonderful place for the whole family to learn more about everything from dinosaurs to battling bacteria. For children under the age of seven, the museum has an interactive exhibit called Kidzone.

Baby gorillaThe Louisville Zoo
Our zoo is beautiful (and I'm not biased). It has some great exhibits, including Lorikeet Landing, which allows visitors to sit in the habitat and feed the birds. These amazing birds will land on the people who enter their space (note to parents: great photo-opportunity!). The zoo also has Glacier Run Splash Park, a cool place to play in the water while seeing polar bear, seal and sea lion exhibits.

Enjoy Louisville. Enjoy the summer.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

O lost!

Summer sunsetLong grow the days, and long lie the shadows. The year's second half is upon us. With fractal precision, life's second half has likewise begun. Or so I hope and fear, all at once. In words written under the pseudonym Fiona Macleod and familiar to the readers of this forum:
  • Here in the heart of Summer, sweet is life to me still,
  • But my heart is a lonely hunter that hunts on a lonely hill.
FirefliesSome two dozen weeks after I originally wrote O lost!, some of the emotional urgency has indeed dissipated. Perhaps it is merely a function of light and warmth; if so, the cycle will turn by and by, and soon enough I shall again walk among the shadows. But if perchance by the light of fireflies I have lain soft and supped in languor, may the Lord not let die in my heart the memory of loneliness and bitter cold.

O lost!
[Originally published on Jurisdynamics, January 28, 2008]
It is the darkest hour in the deepest night of the coldest season, and through the shadows I reach for twin sources of literary inspiration linked by the most tenuous of connections. O lost!

Wolfe stampLost

First I look across time and the river to a Southern writer not yet forgotten, the master behind the South's greatest autobiographical protagonist, Eugene Gant:
When will they come again? When will they come again?

Thomas WolfeThe laurel, the lizard, and the stone will come no more. The women weeping at the gate have gone and will not come again. And pain and pride and death will pass, and will not come again. And light and dawn will pass, and the star and the cry of a lark will pass, and will not come again. And we shall pass, and shall not come again.

AngelWhat things will come again? O Spring, the cruellest and fairest of the seasons, will come again. And the strange and buried men will come again, in flower and leaf the strange and buried men will come again, for death and the dust will die. And Ben will come again, he will not die again, in flower and leaf, in wind and music far, he will come back again.

O lost, and by the wind grieved, ghost, come back again!
Thomas Wolfe, Look Homeward, Angel (1929).

And thence I look forward to Lost, even though I linger still in the twilight between seasons three and four. Lost is filled with characters who articulate diverse brands of faith, with wildly variable degrees of sincerity and credibility, but none speaks more powerfully than Mr. Eko, whose path to the priesthood took him through a simultaneous baptism, confirmation, and ordination in a shower of heroin. Though Mr. Eko slew many men, the last three with a machete while wearing a clerical collar he had not yet earned, he was holy beyond contemplation, let alone expression.

Mr. EkoThis was Mr. Eko's final confession:
I have nothing to confess because I have not sinned. Everything I have done, I have to done in order to survive. When I was a boy, I killed a man in order to save my brother. I am proud of what I have done. I have done the best I could with the life I was given.
I have done my best. I confess nothing, except this report as true as it is heartfelt: Lost, I too walk between the twin shadows of despair and defiance.