Friday, December 21, 2012

Ode to A Nightingale ~ John Keats ~ 1795~1821

MY heart aches, and a drowsy numbness pains
My sense, as though of hemlock I had drunk,
Or emptied some dull opiate to the drains
One minute past, and Lethe-wards had sunk:
'Tis not through envy of thy happy lot,
But being too happy in thine happiness,
That thou, light-wingèd Dryad of the trees,
In some melodious plot
Of beechen green, and shadows numberless,
Singest of summer in full-throated ease.
O for a draught of vintage! that hath been
Cool'd a long age in the deep-delvèd earth,
Tasting of Flora and the country-green,
Dance, and Provençal song, and sunburnt mirth!
O for a beaker full of the warm South!
Full of the true, the blushful Hippocrene,
With beaded bubbles winking at the brim,
And purple-stainèd mouth;
That I might drink, and leave the world unseen,
And with thee fade away into the forest dim:
Fade far away, dissolve, and quite forget
What thou among the leaves hast never known,
The weariness, the fever, and the fret
Here, where men sit and hear each other groan;
Where palsy shakes a few, sad, last grey hairs,
Where youth grows pale, and spectre-thin, and dies;
Where but to think is to be full of sorrow
And leaden-eyed despairs;
Where beauty cannot keep her lustrous eyes,
Or new Love pine at them beyond to-morrow.
Away! away! for I will fly to thee,
Not charioted by Bacchus and his pards,
But on the viewless wings of Poesy,
Though the dull brain perplexes and retards:
Already with thee! tender is the night,
And haply the Queen-Moon is on her throne,
Cluster'd around by all her starry Fays
But here there is no light,
Save what from heaven is with the breezes blown
Through verdurous glooms and winding mossy ways.
I cannot see what flowers are at my feet,
Nor what soft incense hangs upon the boughs,
But, in embalmèd darkness, guess each sweet
Wherewith the seasonable month endows
The grass, the thicket, and the fruit-tree wild;
White hawthorn, and the pastoral eglantine;
Fast-fading violets cover'd up in leaves;
And mid-May's eldest child,
The coming musk-rose, full of dewy wine,
The murmurous haunt of flies on summer eves.
Darkling I listen; and, for many a time
I have been half in love with easeful Death,
Call'd him soft names in many a musèd rhyme,
To take into the air my quiet breath;
Now more than ever seems it rich to die,
To cease upon the midnight with no pain,
While thou art pouring forth thy soul abroad
In such an ecstasy!
Still wouldst thou sing, and I have ears in vain—
To thy high requiem become a sod.
Thou wast not born for death, immortal Bird!
No hungry generations tread thee down;
The voice I hear this passing night was heard
In ancient days by emperor and clown:
Perhaps the self-same song that found a path
Through the sad heart of Ruth, when, sick for home,
She stood in tears amid the alien corn;
The same that ofttimes hath
Charm'd magic casements, opening on the foam
Of perilous seas, in faery lands forlorn.
Forlorn! the very word is like a bell
To toll me back from thee to my sole self!
Adieu! the fancy cannot cheat so well
As she is famed to do, deceiving elf.
Adieu! adieu! thy plaintive anthem fades
Past the near meadows, over the still stream,
Up the hill-side; and now 'tis buried deep
In the next valley-glades:
Was it a vision, or a waking dream?
Fled is that music:—do I wake or sleep?

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

BETTE, RENZO'S MOM, Arrived Two Years Ago

Two years ago this morning, my nephew Sheridan from Jersey City, New Jersey, flew out to San Francisco for less than a full day to bring my puppy Renzo's new companion -- his mother Bette.

Sheridan picked her up from the breeder, Mary Louise Gregg, in Newville, Pennsylvania two weeks before and kept her at his 1880's brick and brownstone townhouse in Jersey City until he could arrange a flight. I had hoped Sheridan's wife Sylvie could come along and that they would be able to visit for a few days; but they had plans to go to France to visit her family in Nantes for Christmas, so Sheridan ended up coming alone.

Even so, we had a great time and I took him to dinner at the St. Francis Yacht Club (where I'll sing a concert Saturday night with the SOTS --Sons of the Sea.)

The picture shows Bette and Renzo on their first walk together after being re-introduced and before entering the house. I liked the leaves on the sidewalk and took a number of shots with my iPhone. This one turned out pretty well. Bette and Renzo are getting along famously. I think they did recognize each other in some fashion. But Renzo's a teenager and was thrilled to have a girl in the house. He's calmed down a bit, but at first he seemed to have an Oedipus Complex!

Friday, November 23, 2012

THE GAME ~ November 23, 1968

Frank O’Brien/Kino International
Sport was not listed as one of the various subjects of this blog. But occasionally, even I will delve into the topic, particularly when it has an historical or personal connection. When I started my freshman year at Yale College in the autumn of 1967, Yale hadn’t had a claim to football glory for at least several decades. We asserted that we were above it all, and didn’t care. Of course, that attitude lasted just until we had a winning team.
I recall one torchlight parade up Hillhouse Avenue to President Kingman Brewster’s handsome brick Georgian-style mansion (a re-facing of an earlier staid Victorian). It was just before the Princeton game in 1967 (or was it ’68?). Our team had had a great season. President Brewster stepped out of his front door, held up a large naval orange, squeezed it, spiked it, and stomped on it, and then proclaimed: “Fuck Princeton!!” The crowd went delirious. I was rather shocked. (Prude that I was, it took another two and a half years for me to utter that crude Anglo-Saxon expletive even to myself— and that was at the prompting of a psychiatric nurse.) But this is an example of how even Yalies of my era picked up football fever. That’s one reason why the Yale-Harvard Game in 1968 was so traumatic. I didn’t go to The Game in Cambridge, but many of my friends did, and I clearly remember the anticipation before and the somber brooding afterwards.

A documentary about The Game opened in New York three years ago. I can’t improve upon the review in the New York Times, so I quote it below.
Back in 1968, When a Tie Was No Tie
Published: November 19, 2008
For most of the world, I suspect, the year 1968 signifies upheaval, revolution, power to the people, Vietnam and My Lai, Paris in flames, Martin and Bobby, Nixon versus Humphrey. Another great rivalry played out that year in the form of a college football game. And while it seems absurd to include such a picayune event in the annals, the filmmaker Kevin Rafferty makes the case for remembrance and for the art of the story in his preposterously entertaining documentary “Harvard Beats Yale 29-29,” preposterous at least for those of us who routinely shun that pagan sacrament.

True gridiron believers doubtless know every unlikely, heart-skipping minute of this showdown. (The schools, like some others, honor their football rivalry with vainglorious capitalization, calling each matchup The Game.) On Nov. 23, 1968, the undefeated Yale team and its two glittering stars — the quarterback Brian Dowling and the running back Calvin Hill — went helmet to helmet against its longtime rival, Harvard, also undefeated. Mr. Dowling, a legendary figure whom grown men still call god (and the inspiration for Garry Trudeau’s Doonesbury character B. D.), had not lost a game he started since the sixth grade, a record that well into the fourth quarter, with Yale leading by 16 points, seemed safe.

Everything changed in the final 42 seconds as all the forces of the universe, or so it seemed, shifted and one player after another either rose to the occasion or stumbled with agonizing frailty. Gods became men as the ball was lost and found and one improbable pass after another was completed. In front of the increasingly raucous packed stadium, each play became an epic battle in miniature with every second stretching into an eternity. As in film, time in football doesn’t tick, it races and oozes, a fact that Mr. Rafferty, working as his own editor and using the simplest visual material — talking-head interviews and game footage — exploits for a narrative that pulses with the artful, exciting beats of a thriller.

What’s most surprising about this consistently surprising movie is how forcefully those beats resonate, even though you know how the story ends from the start. (Take another look at the coyly, cleverly enigmatic title, borrowed from the famous headline in The Harvard Crimson.) One reason for the excitement is the game, of course, which remains a nail-biter despite the visual quality of the footage, which is so unadorned and so humble — and almost entirely in long shot — it looks like a dispatch from a foreign land. And in some ways it was: Football fans still wore raccoon coats to games and the women in the stands cheering for Yale could not attend the college. The same month, Yale announced it was (finally) opening that door.

This history helps explain why there are no women here, at least in close-up. “Harvard Beats Yale 29-29” is very much about men, triumphant, regretful, defiant, sentimental, touchingly vulnerable men who are made all the more poignant with each image of them as young players. For some, the game was and remains the greatest moment of their lives — even better than sex, one volunteers, prompting Mr. Rafferty to ask off-camera if the man had then been a virgin (no). Mr. Rafferty, himself a Harvard man, films his subjects (Tommy Lee Jones, a Harvard lineman, included) with a lack of fuss in plain kitchens and cluttered offices. He lets them roam around their memories and, for a time, gives them back sweet youth.

As reviewer Manohla Dargis alluded to, Garry Trudeau’s comic strip Doonesbury started in the Yale Daily News and featured B.D., Brian Dowling, our star quarterback. Running back Calvin Hill actually had a decent football career after Yale, while Brian Dowling’s legacy remains in the annals of New Haven and on the comic page.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

The fourth Thursday in November is the official national celebration of Thanksgiving in the United States. It hasn’t always been official, nor on the fourth Thursday.

In elementary school we learned that the first Thanksgiving was celebrated by the Pilgrims in Massachusetts in 1621. But seven years ago, when Dennis and I went to Virginia to visit Williamsburg, Monticello, and the hunt race at Madison’s Montpelier, we also visited some Charles River plantations, including Berkeley Plantation, which claims that honor. At this site in December 1619, a group of British settlers led by captain John Woodlief knelt in humble prayer and pledged “Thanksgiving” to God for their healthy arrival after a long voyage across the Atlantic.
Throughout the first century of the republic there were a number of Presidential Thanksgiving Proclamations, but not necessarily on a regular basis. The first was issued by George Washington on October 3, 1789.

Then in the midst of the horrors of the Civil War, Abraham Lincoln on October 3, 1863 proclaimed a day of Thanksgiving to be observed on the last Thursday of November “as a day of Thanksgiving and praise.” It was almost as if things were so bad, that it was necessary to look beyond the bloodshed to discern some greater purpose.

At the beginning of Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s presidency, Thanksgiving was not a fixed holiday and it was up to the President to issue a Thanksgiving Proclamation to announce what date the holiday would fall on. Most states followed Lincoln’s precedent and observed the last Thursday of November. But in 1939 there were two days celebrated a week apart. As a reaction to the Great Depression, Roosevelt decided to declare the third Thursday of November as a day of Thanksgiving. That was to give retailers an extra week of shopping before Christmas. (Of course today the Christmas shopping season starts almost before Halloween!) Most states, however, in 1939 continued to observe that last Thursday; so there were two Thanksgivings that year. (And World War II in Europe was already near the end of its third month.)

Franklin Roosevelt observed Thanksgiving on the second to last Thursday of November for two more years, but the amount of public outrage prompted Congress to pass a law on December 26, 1941, ensuring that all Americans would celebrate a unified Thanksgiving on the fourth Thursday of November every year, and that’s the way it’s been ever since. I don’t know how my grandfather Bob Rich voted, but he probably was in favor of it. Note that the vote was after Pearl Harbor, so the psychology may have been a little like Lincoln’s during the Civil War.


A few other countries have National Days of Thanksgiving. After observing several different dates, the Canadian Parliament on January 31, 1957 proclaimed “A day of General Thanksgiving to Almighty God for the bountiful harvest with which Canada has been blessed… to be observed on the 2nd Monday in October.”

Great Britain likewise has a “Harvest Festival” Day of Thanksgiving held every year in the month of September, on a Sunday nearing the harvest moon. I attended such a Harvest Festival Thanksgiving service at Lincoln Cathedral in 1988. The preacher that day was Neville Chamberlain’s grandson, or great-nephew, I don't remember which.

(The week before I had seen a BBC revisionist documentary on Neville Chamberlain, which put a somewhat different perspective on his blame for, and contribution to the outcome of WWII. After being burned by Hitler’s occupation of all Czechoslovakia in violation of the Munich accord, Chamberlain ordered the building of the Spitfires, which eventually won the Battle of Britain. Had war started in 1938, the Germans would have had clear air superiority. Reality is frequently more nuanced than popular perceptions. Counter-factual history, though fascinating, guarantees absolutely nothing.)

[For the record, I prefer the British pronunciation of the word 'THANKS-giving'. To me it seems closer to the meaning.]
Anyway, have a Happy and thank-full Thanksgiving!

elements of text courtesy

Sunday, November 11, 2012

ARMISTICE DAY ~ November 11, 1918

Joseph Ambrose, an 86-year-old World War I veteran, attends the dedication day parade for the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in 1982, holding the flag that covered the casket of his son, who had been killed in the Korean War.

1918 – World War I ends: Germany signs an armistice agreement with the Allies in a railroad car outside of Compiègne in France. The war officially stops at 11:00 (The eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month) this is annually honored with two-minutes of silence.

Veterans Day is an annual American holiday honoring military veterans. Both a federal holiday and a state holiday in all states, it is usually observed on November 11. However, if it occurs on a Sunday then the following Monday is designated for holiday leave, and if it occurs Saturday then either Saturday or Friday may be so designated. It is also celebrated as Armistice Day or Remembrance Day in other parts of the world, falling on November 11, the anniversary of the signing of the Armistice that ended World War I.

The holiday is commonly printed as Veteran's Day or Veterans' Day in calendars and advertisements. While these spellings are grammatically acceptable, the United States government has declared that the attributive (no apostrophe) rather than the possessive case is the official spelling.

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Today is also the birthday of Toki Murakami, mother of my late friend Gary Evans Mamoru Murakami. I will visit her at home this morning. Her daughter Janice moved back from Hawaii earlier this year to take care of Toki after a major stroke.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Unhappy Coincidence: Floods in Florence ~ November 4, 1333 & 1966

Square in Florence with a white marker stone (circled in red) showing how high the Arno came. At this point the marker is more than 3 meters high.

1333 – Flood of the Arno River, causing massive damage in Florence as recorded by the Florentine chronicler Giovanni Villani.

1966 – Two-thirds of Florence, Italy is submerged as the Arno river floods; together with the contemporaneous flood of the Po River in northern Italy, this leads to 113 deaths, 30,000 made homeless, and the destruction of numerous Renaissance artworks and books.

November 3, 1966
  • After a long period of steady rain, the Levane and La Penna dams in Valdarno began to emit more than 70,629 cubic feet (2,000.0 m3) of water per second toward Florence.
  • At 2:30pm, the Civil Engineering Department reported "'an exceptional quantity of water.'"
  • Cellars in the Santa Croce and San Frediano areas began to flood.
  • Police received calls for assistance from villagers up the Arno valley.
  • The flood's first victim, a 52 year old workman, died while trying to reach a crumbling aqueduct
November 4, 1966

  • At 4:00am, engineers, fearing that the Valdarno dam would burst, discharged a mass of water that eventually reached the outskirts of Florence at a rate of 37 miles per hour.

  • At 7:26am, the Lungarno delle Grazie cut off gas, electricity, and water supplies to affected areas.

  • By 8:00am, army barracks were flooded.

  • By 9:00am, hospital emergency generators (the only source of electrical power remaining) failed.

  • Landslides obstructed roads leading to Florence, while narrow streets within city limits funneled floodwaters, increasing their height and velocity.

  • By 9:45am, the Piazza del Duomo was flooded.

  • The powerful waters ruptured central heating oil tanks, and the oil mixed with the water and mud, causing greater damage.

  • Florence was divided in two, and officials were unable to immediately reach citizens of the city past the Piazza Michelangelo.

  • At its highest, the water reached over 22 feet (6.7 m) in the Santa Croce area.

  • By 8:00pm, the water began to lower.


The flood has had a lasting impact on Florence, economically and culturally. City officials and citizens were extremely unprepared for the storm and the widespread devastation that it caused. There were virtually no emergency measures in place, at least partially due to the fact that Florence is located in an area where the frequency of flooding is relatively low. In fact, approximately 90% of the city's population were completely unaware of the imminent disaster that would befall them as they were sleeping during the early hours of November 4, 1966.

Residents were set to celebrate their country's World War I victory over the Austrians on November 4, Armed Forces Day. In commemoration, businesses were closed and many of their employees were out of town for the public holiday. While many lives were likely spared as a result, the locked buildings greatly inhibited the salvaging of valuable materials from numerous institutions and shops, with the exception of a number of jewelry stores whose owners were warned by their night watchmen.

Tragically, 5,000 families were left homeless by the storm, and 6,000 stores were forced out of business. Approximately 600,000 tons of mud, rubble, and sewage severely damaged or destroyed numerous collections of the written work and fine art for which Florence is famous. In fact, it is estimated that between 3 and 4 million books/manuscripts were damaged, as well as 14,000 movable works of art.

Artist Marco Sassone, in an 1969 interview, recalled the impact of the flood on Florence's residents, "The only thing you could do was watch and be helpless. Nature was master...the women became crazy with fear. They began throwing things from the windows and screaming 'who is going to save my children?'" It was reported that 101 people lost their lives in the flood waters

  • Archives of the Opera del Duomo (Archivio di Opera del Duomo): 6,000 volumes/documents and 55 illuminated manuscripts were damaged.

  • Gabinetto Vieusseux Library (Biblioteca del Gabinetto Vieusseux): All 250,000 volumes were damaged, namely titles of romantic literature and Risorgimento history; submerged in water, they became swollen and distorted. Pages, separated from their text blocks, were found pressed upon the walls and ceiling of the building.

  • National Library Centers of Florence (Biblioteca Nazionale Centrale Firenze): Located alongside the Arno River, the National Library was cut off from the rest of the city by the flood. 1,300,000 items (or one-third of their holdings) were damaged, including prints, maps, posters, newspapers, and a majority of works in the Palatine and Magliabechi collections.

  • The State Archives (Archivio di Stato): Roughly 40% of the collection was damaged, including property and financial records; birth, marriage, and death records; judicial and administrative documents; and police records, among others.
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Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Herb Goodrich ~ October 10th

HERB is a familiar face in San Francisco's music circles where he has conducted choruses, bands, and orchestras since 1989. He is a published composer and holds a Doctor of Musical Arts degree from the University of Colorado and a Master of Music degree from the University of Illinois.

He has staged events and produced multimedia compact discs for such well-known Silicon Valley companies as Apple, Hewlett Packard, Agilent, and Palm. After producing over one hundred multimedia and music CDs, he is considered an expert in the project management field.

Truly a Renaissance man, besides his technical activities, Herb is a composer and lyricist, stage director, playwright, editor, and script doctor. He enjoys an enviable career as an artist who has combined his love of the arts with the needs of the marketplace. "Christmas Eve in San Francisco" is an excellent example of his skills in collaboration with drummer extraordinaire, Leo Vigil. The Christmas album also features Carlos Reyes, Jamie Davis, Larry Dunlap, Baba Elefante, John Heussenstamm, Ron Kobayashi, and Terry Miller.

I have sung with Herb for many years with the Aviary Chorus and recently with the SOTS (Sons of the Sea). He is an amazing talent and personal inspiration!

Thursday, September 6, 2012

DAVID's Birthday ~ September 6th

Today is my friend David Wichman's birthday. He used to have a dog-walking service. As you can see, 
he still loves his dogs!

David now lives in Palm Springs, but still travels a lot. I hope to see him later this month in San Francisco.

Best wishes always to a dear friend on his day!

Photo courtesy of Todd Davis

President McKinley Shot by Anarchist ~ September 6, 1901

William McKinley, Jr. (January 29, 1843 – September 14, 1901) was the 25th President of the United States, and the last veteran of the American Civil War to be elected.

By the 1880s, McKinley was a national Republican leader; his signature issue was high tariffs on imports as a formula for prosperity, as typified by his McKinley Tariff of 1890. As the Republican candidate in the 1896 presidential election, he upheld the gold standard, and promoted pluralism among ethnic groups. His campaign, designed by Mark Hanna, introduced new advertising-style campaign techniques that revolutionized campaign practices and beat back the crusading of his arch-rival, William Jennings Bryan. The 1896 election is often considered a realigning election that marked the beginning of the Progressive Era.

McKinley presided over a return to prosperity after the Panic of 1893. The Spanish-American War was fought during McKinley's presidency. For months he resisted the public demand for war, which was based on news of Spanish atrocities in Cuba, but he was unable to get Spain to agree to implement reforms immediately. Later he annexed the former Spanish territories of the Philippines, Puerto Rico, and Guam, and set up a protectorate over Cuba. He also presided over the annexation of the formerly independent Kingdom of Hawaii. McKinley was reelected in the 1900 presidential election after another intense campaign against Bryan, this one focused on foreign policy. After McKinley's assassination in 1901 by Leon Czolgosz, an American anarchist of Polish descent, he was succeeded by Vice President Theodore Roosevelt.

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Friday, May 11, 2012

Athanasius Elected Patriarch Bishop ~ 328 C.E.

Athanasius of Alexandria (Greek: Ἀθανάσιος, Athanásios) (b. ca. 296-298 – d. 2 May 373), also referred to as St. Athanasius the GreatSt. Athanasius I of AlexandriaSt Athanasius the Confessor and (primarily in the Coptic Orthodox ChurchSt Athanasius the Apostolic, was the 20th bishop of Alexandria.[1] His episcopate lasted 45 years (c. 8 June 328 - 2 May 373), of which over 17 were spent in five exiles ordered by four different Roman emperors. He is considered to be a renowned Christian theologian, a Church Father, the chief defender of Trinitarianism againstArianism, and a noted Egyptian leader of the fourth century.
He is remembered for his role in the conflict with Arius and Arianism. In 325, at the age of 27, Athanasius had a leading role against the Arians in theFirst Council of Nicaea. At the time, he was a deacon and personal secretary of the 19th Bishop of Alexandria, Alexander. Nicaea was convoked byConstantine I in May–August 325 to address the Arian position that Jesus of Nazareth is of a distinct substance from the Father.[2]
In June 328, at the age of 30, three years after Nicæa and upon the repose of Bishop Alexander, he became archbishop of Alexandria. He continued to lead the conflict against the Arians for the rest of his life and was engaged in theological and political struggles against the Emperors Constantine the Great and Constantius II and powerful and influential Arian churchmen, led by Eusebius of Nicomedia and others. He was known as "Athanasius Contra Mundum". Within few years of his departure, St. Gregory of Nazianzus called him the "Pillar of the Church". His writings were well regarded by all Church fathers who followed, in both the West and the East. His writings show a rich devotion to the Word-become-man, great pastoral concern, and profound interest in monasticism.
Athanasius is counted as one of the four Great Doctors of the Church in the Roman Catholic Church[3] as well as one of the Great Doctors of the Church in Eastern Orthodoxy, where he is also labeled the "Father of Orthodoxy". He is also celebrated by many Protestants, who label him "Father of The Canon". Athanasius is venerated as a Christian saint, whose feast day is 2 May in Western Christianity, 15 May in the Coptic Orthodox Church, and 18 January in the other Eastern Orthodox Churches. He is venerated by the Roman Catholic Church, Oriental and Eastern Orthodox churches, the Lutherans, and the Anglican Communion.

Titian in the Frari (Venezia)