Friday, March 22, 2019

RICHARD, WE HARDLY KNEW YE


POSSIBLY TAKEN AT PETEY'S 

One of our favorite relatives, known to me as Cousin Dickie, died last Friday.

Here's the obit I worked up:

Richard G. King, 80, of 1459 Ocean Boulevard died on March 15 after a long illness.

Born on July 11, 1938, in Danvers, MA, Richard came as a child to live in Rye Beach [NH] with his paternal grandparents, Jeanne and Richard G. King, Sr. He never left.

A long-time member of the Bricklayers’ Union, Richard also worked variously as a house cleaner, landscaper, handyman, and dishwasher at Portsmouth’s Metro Restaurant.

As well, he faithfully cared for both his grandmothers through their respective last long years.

Richard had an encyclopedic knowledge of the sale price of every home up and down Ocean Boulevard from approximately 1955 on, a special affinity for the Early Bird Special at Betty’s Kitchen, and a virulent aversion to Rye Beach motorcycle traffic and the current inhabitant of the White House.

He played the organ and sang a killer version of “O Holy Night” on Christmas Eve.

But his real heart was for gardening. Each fall he unearthed his treasured dahlia bulbs, wrapped them in old pages of "The Portsmouth Herald," and put them up in the cellar till spring. He had a patch of unusual pink lilies-of-the-valley, several prize irises, and a champion peony bed. “They don’t talk back to you,” he once observed of his blooms. “And if you care for them—they sing!”

He is survived by sister Nancy King-Morelli of Laconia, NH, and by cousins Allen K. King, Sr. of Los Angeles, CA, Heather D. King of Pasadena, CA, Joseph P. King of Marietta, GA, Ross J. King of Alhambra, CA, Geordie H. King of Eliot, ME, Timothy F. King of Rye Beach—Richard’s caretaker during his last years—Richard Tessier of Portsmouth, and Meredith A. King of Northampton, MA.

Funeral services will be held at Buckminster Chapel in Portsmouth.


RIP DICKIE.
WE LOVED YOU AND WE LOVED THE HOUSE AND YOUR GARDEN.

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

A FIELD TRIP TO BEVERLY HILLS: THE PALEY CENTER FOR MEDIA




Here's how this week's arts and culture column begins:

From a recent email sent by my little brother Joe: “Hey aged relative — do you have [our brother] Ross’s address? I bought Allen [our nephew] a signed 8-by-10 glossy of Martin Milner from ‘Adam-12.’ I know he likes the show.”

Me: “Who’s Martin Milner?”

Joe: “Martin Milner? Are you tripping? Pete Malloy from Adam-12? The greatest cop show in the history of TV? Late ’60s, early ’70s? It was produced by Jack Webb, so there’s all sorts of killer episodes of stoned hippy parents who beat their children to death or let them drown while they’re smoking marijuana cigarettes. Funny as hell.”

My own TV watching came to a screeching halt right around the time “Mr. Ed” completed its run. Still, I dearly wish my brother (who heads up a punk band called The Queers) lived in LA.

For here’s a fun thing to do on the Westside: The Paley Center for Media, smack in the middle of Beverly Hills.

READ THE WHOLE PIECE HERE.

Tuesday, March 12, 2019

CHESTERTON AND VON BALTHASAR



"The Church is the one thing that saves a man from the degrading servitude of being a child of his time."
-- G.K. Chesterton

“Love alone is credible.”
― Hans Urs von Balthasar


I DON'T KNOW WHY--THE PHOTOS AREN'T EVEN THAT GOOD--
AND I DON'T KNOW THE NAME OF THE TREE--SOMETHING AUSTRALIAN,
I'D WAGER--BUT THESE SPEAK TO ME!

Saturday, March 9, 2019

JANE BROX'S NEW BOOK: SILENCE



Here's how this week's arts and culture piece begins:

Jane Brox has written, elegiacally, of growing up on her family’s Massachusetts apple farm in “Here and Nowhere Else,” “Five Thousand Days Like This One,” and “Clearing the Land.” Her nonfiction book on the evolution of artificial light is the aptly named “Brilliant.”

Her newest work — fitting for Lent — is called “Silence: A Social History of One of the Least Understood Elements of Our Lives.”

The first takeaway (perhaps unintended) is a new awareness of the hideous tortures imposed by humans upon other humans in the name of “correction.”

Brox opens with Philadelphia’s Eastern State Penitentiary, established in 1829 as an experiment in prison rehabilitation. Each cell was essentially what we would today term a Special Housing Unit (SHU).

“[D]uring the period of their confinement, no one shall see or hear, or be seen or heard by any other human being,” ran a portion of the prison’s mission statement.

Brox goes on to compare this kind of punitive silence with the silence of the monastic cloister. And to her credit, she doesn't come entirely down on either side!

READ THE WHOLE PIECE HERE.

Thursday, March 7, 2019

RUNNING FOR THE HILLS: AUTHOR HORATIO CLARE



I just finished an extraordinary memoir, Running for the Hills: Growing Up on my Mother's Sheep Farm in Wales by Horatio Clare.

Like many people I know, Clare grew up with a gloriously eccentric (sometimes bordering on scary) parent (the father left soon after the mother, Horatio, and his younger brother moved to a very isolated farm). They had no money nor TV but tons of books...and nature..."[T]hough I have learned of the dangers that attend and await romantic people, that bipolar breed, the certain failure, the heartbreak--theirs and others'--and the loneliness, I cannot quite wish that they, or I, had been otherwise. If life is hills and valleys, then let the hills be high"...

Here's his description of the place they found after the boys had grown up, the mother's heart had been shattered by a later-in-life lost love, and the farm became too much: "In the end we found a large old house, half derelict, half comfortable, which had not been much messed around. It had the thick walls and the old-ship feeling of the farm. It had an old apple orchard, and there were kind neighbors nearby. Jack's cottage was just across the garden."

I don't know Jack, of course, but no matter: that is my dream house.

Tuesday, March 5, 2019

DO WE MAKE PEOPLE FEEL THINGS LOVEABLE THAT WE FEEL LOVEABLE OURSELVES?

LA QUINTA CA,
TWO DAYS BEFORE ASH WEDNESDAY

"I tell you, Edward," said my father with some severity, "we must judge men not so much by what they do, as by what they make us feel that they have it in them to do. If a man has done enough either in painting, music or the affairs of life, to make me feel that I might trust him in an emergency he has done enough. It is not by what a man has actually put upon his canvas, nor yet by the acts which he has set down, so to speak, upon the canvas of his life that I will judge him, but by what he makes me feel that he felt and aimed at. If he has made me feel that he felt those things to be loveable which I hold loveable myself I ask no more; his grammar may have been imperfect, but still I have understood him; he and I are en rapport; and I say again, Edward, that old Pontifex was not only an able man, but one of the very ablest men I ever knew."

--Samuel Butler, The Way of All Flesh

Friday, March 1, 2019

PONTORMO'S "THE VISITATION"



Here's how this week's arts and culture column begins:

If there is one museum exhibit to see this year, I cast my vote for “Pontormo: Miraculous Encounters,” at the Getty. Its centerpiece is an exquisite rendering of the “Visitation.”

The Saturday I went traffic was horrible, getting into the Getty lot and finding a space took almost half an hour, and rather than stand for God knows how long more in the TSA-style security line through which visitors now have to pass simply to get on the tram, I opted to walk up the hill.

En route, I thought about how the whole experience of getting to our beloved Getty is a microcosm of our lives as Angelenos: the car, the beauty crossed with hardship, frustration, hope, and if we’re lucky, gratitude.

I thought of the “Visitation’s” backstory: how the angel Gabriel “overshadowed” the Virgin Mary, her question — “But how can this be?” — her sublime yes. Pregnant with Christ, she’d set out on foot, traversing “the hill country” to visit her aged cousin Elizabeth who, way past childbearing age, at the time was also miraculously pregnant.

To know the backstory is to know that Elizabeth was bearing into the world John the Baptist, who would say of Christ, “He must increase, and I must decrease,” who would be a voice crying out in the wilderness, and who would be beheaded in prison at the behest of a harlot and her mother.

READ THE REST HERE.