Monthly Archives: March 2019

Foursome: Alfred Stieglitz, Georgia O’Keeffe, Paul Strand, Rebecca Salsbury by Carolyn Burke

Foursome: Alfred Stieglitz, Georgia O'Keeffe, Paul Strand, Rebecca SalsburyFoursome: Alfred Stieglitz, Georgia O’Keeffe, Paul Strand, Rebecca Salsbury by Carolyn Burke

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I was provided a review copy of this from the publisher through First to Read. I admit unfamiliarity with three of the foursome, though I recognize Strand and of course, O’Keeffe (I got to see an exhibition of some if her works in Oklahoma some 30 years ago, too young to truly appreciate them) and I didn’t make many notes in this reading… just absorbed. There are intimate stories here. I do not know how much is known already to students of these four, but I suspect – obviously, as the book had to be written – that having them all together is new, and perhaps unknown.

More than a telling of their stories, Ms. Burke also frames the times that shaped them, shaped their arts. New arts to the world, new visions, self discovery and explorations. One of the things I appreciate about Ms. Burke’s exposition and sometime dramatization is that she qualifies any speculation; if she found no evidence to support suspected relationships, interactions, she doesn’t embellish. Or at least those parts of her narrative where she caveats “tempting to think … but impossible to know” would indicate.

We tend to think in two dimensions, and might think of a “foursome” as a rectangle/quadrangle, but they were rather a tetrahedron, with Steiglitz at the apex for most of their relationships. O’Keeffe eclipsed him in fame and ascended to that apex, but his … seniority … tended to prevail. This is not to say that any of the other three were not their own people, individual and distinct. Clearly, they were, but he was the progenitor of that foursome. They fed off of each other. Built. And also held each other at bay. To preserve their individuality.

This is about the people, and much less their arts, which serve to support here but not stand center. So what do I take away? Well, I looked up Salsbury’s reverse oils on glass, and Stieglitz’s and Strand’s photographs. And I revisited O’Keeffe. And I have things to think about.

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Walk in Space: The Story of Project GeminiWalk in Space: The Story of Project Gemini by Gene Gurney

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I like to sift and wander through antiques shops and even above the gadgets, gears and brass that attract me are books. I look for treasures. Some vendors know the values, some inflate them, sometimes there are just delightful finds and cost may not matter. This was one from a couple of months ago that I carved out a couple of hours for. It’s not that long…I just savored it. The middle books of trilogies are more often than not fillers – not as good as the first, sometimes better than the last. I’d love to find his Mercury and Apollo books (okay…I just ordered them!) This is still epic stuff.

Detailed while eminently engaging, this is a story well told. Each flight; each crew; each success; each failure – yet the failures were successes on their own in solving the problems that need to be overcome to get to the moon. Gurney wrote well in this telling and I look forward to his other two about the space program.

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New Dark Age: Technology and the End of the Future by James Bridle

New Dark Age: Technology and the End of the FutureNew Dark Age: Technology and the End of the Future by James Bridle

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I wanted to find out what Bridle had to say because I’ve been calling the rightwing draconian control backwards trends in the US the “New Dark Ages” for years now. This took a bit to work into…the read is easy, but Bridle was inconsistent, exaggerative and repetitive. Still, what he has to say is scary. Bridle opens with

‘If only technology could invent some way of getting in touch with you in an emergency,’ said my computer, repeatedly.
Following the 2016 US election result, along with several other people I know and perhaps prompted by the hive mind of social media, I started re-watching The West Wing: an exercise in hopeless nostalgia. It didn’t help, but I got into the habit, when alone, of watching an episode or two in the evenings, after work, or on planes. After reading the latest apocalyptic research papers on climate change, total surveillance, and the uncertainties of the global political situation, a little neoliberal chamber play from the noughties wasn’t the worst thing to sink into.

And we end with a message that technology is bad; no wait! it’s good; no…bad; so bad as to be really bad. And it is. But we can’t avoid it. Nor can we control it. The genie’s bottle is opened, Pandora’s box has let loose the demons, and maybe Bridle isn’t exaggerating. Continue reading

One Ethiopian Region, Two Coffee Processes, Two Flavor Profiles

I am somewhat of a coffee snob; not a connoisseur – that takes too much intensity, but I appreciate good coffee. Time was I wouldn’t spend $25 on a pound of Jamaican Blue Mountain. Okay, I still won’t, but that’s because I have and I was disappointed. But I also know a lot more about how much goes into growing trees and how little one tree actually produces – if you drink mass-produced Columbians, you get what you pay for. Still, with a host of local roasters, I can try 12 ounce bags (prepackaged lots seem to come that way now) from different regions. Yes, I only have available what they can source and provide, but It’s a sampling. No surprise, it’s the Ethiopian beans that come out of top. This is not a treatise on the varietals, rather a comparison of beans sourced from the same region, large though it is, but prepared differently.I picked up a bag of Hambela beans along with a Uganda pack from a local roaster in Garland, Texas, Rosalind Roasters. At home, I realized that I’d also had some leftover beans from the same region, spelled differently but no mistaking the origin – both Guji, Oromia, Ethiopia – from Oak Cliff Coffee Roasters, But the aromas were widely different. The Oak Cliff beans were natural processed and despite the Rosalind website claim of ‘natural”, the bag says “washed” and the difference is clear.IMG_7549 Continue reading