Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Murder of the Innocents—The Coventry Carol

 The picture above could be of Aleppo to-day, it is Coventry 1940

Germany's most famous [and propagandised by both sides] blitz of the war waited for a full moon over Coventry on the night of November 14th 1940. Coventry was a large industrial city. The Germans firebombed and explosively bombed the city. The city was bombed form east to west, and then west to east for nine hours. The English had anti-aircraft guns, which were no defense. Most structures in the city were destroyed, especially the town centre, including St. Michael’s Cathedral. The death toll was officially 568.

To-day Coventry is England's 9th largest city, in the late mediæval/early modern period it was 3rd/4th/5th. During the 15th century, before the end of the War of the Roses, it was sometimes the capital until the Lancastrians were defeated. Coventry was then in Warwickshire, as was Stratford-upon-Avon.

England has been Catholic longer than it has not. In the 16th century, it was not sure which way it would go. Henry VIII introduced Protestantism, it reached an extreme form under the Cromwells. Catholicism was not legal until 1829. About this time caroling and Christmas made a comeback in the public sphere.

Coventry became a rich city through the wool trade, and dyers. Mediæval Europe, trades organised in guilds. These guilds were economic and social.  August in Coventry the shearmen and tailors put on a mystery play about the Nativity, about the Massacre of the Innocents, from chapter two the Gospel of Matthew. Herod was the protagonist. Herod will be always be remembered for his extra-ordinary wickedness. In theatrical acting, it is in portraying extremes of character, that the temptation to an over abundance of exuberance may fall in play; this does not always make for a good performance. Shakespeare has Hamlet coach actors not to overdo a part to excess, it causes ridiculousness.

 ...I would have such a fellow whipped for o’erdoing Termagant. It out-Herods Herod. Pray you, avoid it.

Now, Shakespeare was a recusant, some of his relatives were more public. He was born at that time, when the old religion was in eclipse, but not without hope and prospects of full return. All the old customs were not, yet, extinguished in the whole of England. As a child, he still was able to see some of the mediæval, mystery plays performed in cathedral and market towns. He would have seen an overzealous Herod perform.

There were three carols in that nativity play, the one now called 'The Coventry Carol' is about the massacre. Three mothers (in the play sung by men) sing a last lullaby to their doomed sons. [modern spelling]

    Lully, lullay, thou little tiny child,
    Bye bye, lully, lullay.
    Lully, lullay, thou little tiny child,
    Bye bye, lully, lullay.

    O sisters too, how may we do
    For to preserve this day
    This poor youngling for whom we sing,
    "Bye bye, lully, lullay"?

    Herod the king, in his raging,
    Chargèd he hath this day
    His men of might in his own sight
    All young children to slay.

    That woe is me, poor child, for thee
    And ever mourn and may
    For thy parting neither say nor sing,
    "Bye bye, lully, lullay."

This carol did not become well known until a BBC radio broadcast for Christmas 1940. It was sung in the ruins of Coventry's cathedral.   

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Strangers Speech

Last night, PBS aired a Shakespeare programme performed in April (400 year anniversary of death). Shakespeare was one of a team of writers who would have written the play, The Booke of Sir Thomas More. The censor would not allow such writing performed. Many commentaries on Shakespeare say that only a few signatures of Shakespeare exist, but the the British Library has this script in progress written in Shakespeare's hand. Some call this the "strangers speech", others call it "More's speech to the mob/crowd". May Day 1517 there were anti-immigrant (mostly Lombards) riots in London, More was sent out as deputy sheriff to deal with them. Here are the words Shakespeare gives him from Act II, Scene 4:

Grant them removed, and grant that this your noise
Hath chid down all the majesty of England;
Imagine that you see the wretched strangers,
Their babies at their backs and their poor luggage,
Plodding to the ports and coasts for transportation,
And that you sit as kings in your desires,
Authority quite silent by your brawl,
And you in ruff of your opinions clothed;
What had you got? I’ll tell you: you had taught
How insolence and strong hand should prevail,
How order should be quelled; and by this pattern
Not one of you should live an aged man,
For other ruffians, as their fancies wrought,
With self same hand, self reasons, and self right,
Would shark on you, and men like ravenous fishes
Would feed on one another….

Say now the king
Should so much come too short of your great trespass
As but to banish you, whither would you go?
What country, by the nature of your error,
Should give you harbour? go you to France or Flanders,
To any German province, to Spain or Portugal,
Nay, any where that not adheres to England,
Why, you must needs be strangers: would you be pleased
To find a nation of such barbarous temper,
That, breaking out in hideous violence,
Would not afford you an abode on earth,
Whet their detested knives against your throats,
Spurn you like dogs, and like as if that God
Owed not nor made not you, nor that the claimants
Were not all appropriate to your comforts,
But chartered unto them, what would you think
To be thus used? this is the strangers case;
And this your mountainish inhumanity.

Friday, December 23, 2016

the word for the day is — Gleichschaltung

Germans like compound words. The fascist period of German history had added words to the dictionary. Our word of the day literally is 'equal switching', some historians are using the word 'forcible coordination'. There were institutions prior, they were co-opted, replaced, had a parallel substitute, or additions to change the focus. I was reminded of this by an article i read to-day with the foto attached. For some of us Christmas is the birth of the Saviour of the World, for some it is a time of family and social celebrations, for some it is a money making opportunity; for the Nazis it was another vehicle of propaganda. The Christian aspects were shadowed by Teutonic paganism, and of course — the party. This replacement of current things by new things should be weighed by what purpose. The loyalty of say, ah, um, 'Fox' listeners and their disdain for other media to the point of rejecting all that does not currently align with their agenda is to be noted. We have entered a new chapter of American history.

Wednesday, December 14, 2016


I went to the picture show last night, the eighth time this year. The last time i went that frequently was in college. Before the movie, i saw a young man walking his dog, a good looking, happy animal, half poodle, half golden retriever. He was white and named, 'Heisenberg'. He was not uncertain, not after the physicist, but a fictional chemist.

Jackie about the assassination is an instant in historical time worth considering. It had elements of the surreal in the experience, the presentation in the film was not linear. There are moments of meaning to ponder (even moreso now when a buffoon is to seize the presidency). The movie is not great, but important. Natalie Portman will be nominated as best actress, and i would not be surprised she wins awards, although satisfactory, her portrayal is not exceptional in the least. The best acting is by John Hurt as a priest. William White? [reporter] is an interesting character also; he seems to belong in another film. The funniest line in the movie is "and i don't smoke".  The film has Jackie mention the Birchers in Dallas, and Bobby says a quick thought about what could have been and will not be. The record plays Camelot, very good motif.

At the end of the movie we see Jack (at the end of the White House tour programme). For those of us, who can remember the historical personages, he is the only actor catching the sound of his portrayal. Those voices are still remembered by many of us.

Jackie asks a driver does he know who is James Garfield, and then William McKinley. The time from McKinley's death to Kennedy's is almost exactly the time from Kennedy's death to now.

Jack Valenti, an aide to Johnson, was a shit in the movie. Valenti would become the long time spokesman for Hollywood.

Monday, December 12, 2016

Wade oval and lagoon

Wade Oval is surrounded by three museums. It is a park of trees and grass. I am late in posting, during the first weekend in December there was a winter's celebration involving Cleveland Art Museum. Forty exploded plastic pop dandelion puff balls were attached to ten feet pvc electrical pipes, a triumphal arch, a few of the plastic Cracking Art Collective animals, wooden tables and chairs were some of the items placed on the green oval.

On the other side of the art museum, the entrance closed for the winter, one was free to walk without seeing much of anyone. Interesting views were there to be seen.

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Tuba Christmas

Tucker Jolly conducted his 37th Tuba Christmas (2 performances Saturday at Akron U's performing arts center). Some 450 of the tuba family came, only one had played in all 37 (we here won't go in detail why 38 is not fortunate, but unusually prevalent). They played each carol once, and then again with audience singing. No one knew the words to the Coventry Carol. Many people came with sleigh bells (so many that the introductions were drowned out); there is a television joke that fits here, the one about needing more cowbell, one expected a bobsled to swoosh by. Christmas carols are a French idea, and we are familiar with great German ones. It is a splendid thing. About a third of the audience dressed in red. Santa hats, and reindeer antlers were visible. Some of the tubas had light strands, at least one had a small Christmas tree. If you spy the foto carefully, there is an instrumentalist in pink bunny pajamas, an Union soldier, Santa Claus, and one in a Dickensian suit.  

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Water is Life

A collective of artists, DC 2 Standing Rock painted two murals in Cleveland. supra W.44th & Lorain, infra 5714 Outhwaite. The first they did on Wednesday the 30th, the second on the 1st. #NODAPL #WATERISLIFE #MNIWICONI  They will be painting in Cleveland, Flint/Detroit, Chicago, and Minneapolis. They expect to be in North Dakota with the Standing Rock Sioux on Monday. The sidewalk on 4th has televisions (in some fotos they may look as part of the painting). The teevees read 'media blackout', since this is an under reported story.

The governor of Ohio, John Kasich, had sent 37 Ohio State Highway Patrol troopers to help keep the Indians at bay. They were sent on October 29th, and returned on November 14th.
Behold I will stand there before thee, upon the rock Horeb: and thou shalt strike the rock, and water shall come out of it that the people may drink. Moses did so before the ancients of Israel: — Exodus xvii. 6.

But the water that I will give him, shall become in him a fountain of water, springing up into life everlasting. — John iv. 14.

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Water and rock oil do not mix well

In an address to the European Parliament, Pope Francis said, "...Our earth needs constant concern and attention.  Each of us has a personal responsibility to care for creation, this precious gift which God has entrusted to us.  This means, on the one hand, that nature is at our disposal, to enjoy and use properly.  Yet it also means that we are not its masters.  Stewards, but not masters.  We need to love and respect nature, but “instead we are often guided by the pride of dominating, possessing, manipulating, exploiting; we do not ‘preserve’ the earth, we do not respect it, we do not consider it as a freely-given gift to look after”. Respect for the environment, however, means more than not destroying it; it also means using it for good purposes...."
Here in America, this is contested. At the Standing Rock Reservation in North Dakota, the Lakota Sioux and their friends are standing for water; economic interests are trying to force in an oil pipeline. Here in Cleveland, people are standing in prayerful solidarity Sundays at 11am, at the Native American Garden on MLKJr. Blvd. To-day, my nephew and me attended, this is similar to when we attended the prayer vigils at nearby St. Casimir.

Saturday, November 26, 2016

swords into ploughshares

From the first reading for Advent Sunday:

And he shall judge the Gentiles, and rebuke many people: and they shall turn their swords into ploughshares, and their spears into sickles: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they be exercised any more to war. — Isaias ii. 4. (DRC)

scene from a quadruple lancet window 1949. Church of the Covenant [Presby] Cleveland.

Friday, November 18, 2016

November in the gardens

Thursday afternoon the temperature was in the 60s Fahrenheit and sunny. Such a day in the second half of November near the southern shore of the Great Lakes are somewhat rare. The meteorological polling has forecasted Saturday to be a blustery, snowy day. This season the trees have retained many of their leaves, and some in good color.  More than one teevee weatherman suggests such a day is an opportunity to walk your hound. So we did in Rockefeller Park.

The Cultural Gardens are a great place. The city had workmen taking care of the grounds. Crossing MLK Blvd., even at the signaling crosswalks, is not safe. People speed, and  many give no thought of pedestrians. I am surprised that reports of people run over have not been made. Not too many people enjoy walking the gardens. The few times i go, i see few people.

The years around 1970 saw much vandalism and theft. Bronze busts were not safe. Here in the Slovene Garden is a painted plaster bust of the poet Ivan Zorman. The cracking pattern is interesting.
The Latvian Garden has some abstract cut rock. One has a man sized opening, which gives chances to foto.

The Croat Garden has an important statue, by a local sculptor, Joseph Turkaly. It is of an Immigrant Mother with children.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016


Yesterday at Edgewater Park Cleveland before sunset
Well, sunset they were not interested; it was for moonrise. Full moon rise at 5:44 pm. A long line of photographers, many with tripods wait on the ridge over the shore, and below them a few more on a lower ridge.
This Cleveland sign has been very poplar with people and cameras. For a couple of hours, they turned their backs on it.
It was cloudy, and the most visible the moon was about 5:56. It was blocked by Cleveland's tallest building. All the people were like the cartoon Linus Van Pelt waiting for the Great Pumpkin. The people may not have been sincere enough, beyond this moment it was even less visible as the clouds were a wall thick enough to obscure.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

beyond sad

Democracy died. It should be given a funeral before the mourners are rounded up.

I wonder if Don McLean has another song in him.

Monday, November 7, 2016

2016 Miscellany #6

On occasion, i sift through fotos i have taken and throw up a few in a miscellany. Supra is a portrait, yes a portrait, of a gorilla residing at the Cleveland Zoo. For morning meal, leaves were slowly plucked from these branches. Animals have faces, and expressions on those faces, and the eyes capture and comprehend. There is a mental, sensual, emotional life going on behind those eyes.

Earlier this year in Cincinnati, a gorilla, Harambe was killed by staff. In Cleveland's zoo, a chalkboard for public use was placed by the Cat and Ape Building. Someone had written 'Harambe'. Harambe became a mocking item on the internet. Cincinnati Zoo is very defensive about the incident, since a three year old boy was involved.
This is a shot i like to take, there is both a diagonal and a reflection. The former St. Mary Romanian Orthodox church dome is seen in a new set of windows in the parish hall. The campus is part of Cleveland Public Theater.
On the side of an art gallery, next to a Carnegie Library, is a Cleveland sports town version of Andy Warhol's use of a most common soup can.
This is a very active dog, i have seen before, he can pose for a moment, but is generally very mobile when i have seen him. Yesterday, he was running the length of the porch and jumping to the roof, and back to the porch. As i heard the shutter click, he was moving.

Sunday, November 6, 2016

some Indian summer color

Sixty years ago (for a period of less than three weeks) Hungary had a national uprising. The symbol was the national flag with the communist seal cut out. On Cleveland's Lakeside and East 12th there are two statues, one of a rebel with such a flag (newly redone colors for the anniversary), and one of Cardinal Mindszenty.

This lawn acted as storage of the plastic animals of Cracking Art Collective, it is down to these five various colored wolves. It was planned that the three hundred plus animals would be collected and melted down.
 Rockefeller Greenhouse has many colored chrysanthemums on display.

Monday, October 31, 2016


The University of Akron has a fun music department. On the Sunday before All Hallows Eve, they gave a concert in costume. The music varied between the great composers, modern composers, and movie themes. Groups of ten bassoons, ten clarinets, seven flutes, four tubas, a dozen trombones, and a quintet of mixed reeds made music to please. The 'RooReeds' played Alfred Hitchcock's teevee theme, Gounod's Funeral March of a Marionette.

 Lighting was low, and the music stands obscured the musicians. [supra] ten clarinetists
Dorothy, the Scarecrow, and a cat on clarinets, and the Tinman on bass clarinet played Three Short Pieces by Gordon Jacob.
Part of the flute choir played different members of the flute family: [supra] two are on bass flute, and one on the contrabass flute. This was the first time i saw these instruments played.

Saturday, October 29, 2016

the living paint themselves dead

Día de los Muertos Cleveland Ohio

The blending of Christian and pre-Christian traditions of Mesoamerica acknowledges the experience with death in the living. It here is an opportunity to appreciate the art of face painting, coloring live skin to appear as decorated bone.

One of the odd things was to see people as dressed skeletons tethered to their mobile phones. I saw a lot of it, but all the photo attempts proved unsatisfactory, it was hard to catch a well composed foto. The spots around the old St. Mary Romanian campus were congested with people, to isolate subjects was not easy. I do try to snap shots while people stand for other photographers, whether consciously or not, some of these photographers make it difficult. On these occasions they flap their arms, and move about so as to obstruct or appear in the shot. Often, for other shots, they jump very close and centered and stay and become like a wall. Courtesy is not an active concept in their behaviour.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

on a lawn in Oberlin Ohio

So many trumpsters' signs (and flags), i have seen, are hjuuuge. This sign was almost tiny. Perhaps, the owner does not know the definition of 'deplorables', or it is self-mocking humour taken for a point of pride.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Two weeks before Election Day

A convenience store has just finished a coffee promotion tied to the election. They had three cup designs: blue for Democrat, red for Republican, and an undecided cup (which makes little sense since they had their regular cups too) which is winning [click]. Well, we took the coffee poll in the environs about here, and the result was unambiguous.

Every day i read electoral-vote, i find it very current, accurate, and when snarky--dead on. The denouement of the story has been evident from the beginning [fake spoiler alert--Hillary Clinton and the Democracy wins], but with that assurance the show has been entertaining. The press had from early on, as it always seems to do, reported it as an horse race with the various horse and rider teams striding forward against each other; but very recently it appears that the homestretch is going to be a breakaway. The lone question is how many lengths will Secretariat win by?

At first, my question was will this be nearer a Barack Obama total, or a Lyndon Johnson total? Some Republicans fear the latter, it has come to five Republicans running for Congress threatening to sue because of advertisements saying they support Trump. The complaint is: “substantial and immediate harm to the campaign” is being done. The party of tort reform against frivolous lawsuits, the party of personal responsibility turn out to be all Trumplethinskins.

I must remember and go buy a bottle of champagne. I expect the cork to fly early in the evening.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

inspired graffito

Most urban graffiti is nearly pure vandalism. To-day i saw two referencing the Bible. Usually the reference would be John 3.16. This time it was from Daniel. Daniel has two great episodes, his meeting at the lions' club, and his presence at Baltasar's Feast:

"In the same hour there appeared fingers, as it were of the hand of a man, writing over against the candlestick upon the surface of the wall of the king's palace: and the king beheld the joints of the hand that wrote."

Paul Simon wrote, "The words of the prophets are written on the subway walls"

Monday, October 17, 2016


In the past, i usually put up these essays on the day the event being discussed happened. Now, it takes more time. One reason is that celebrations like to be celebrated on the weekends, and i have more than one event i go to. Another reason is no deadline, i have no boss, no financial gain, and the audience (if it exists) is minuscule; friends and relatives are not interested.

Lakewood's Spooky Pooch parade was their ninth, and on a very warm day for mid-October. The word, i heard the most often was 'awesome'. If any dog was so named, he would have turned his head many times. The first costumed hounds i saw were with this matador. I thought the costume and idea was great. There were prizes to be given, and i immediately thought she would get a medal. She did. One malamute played the bull, and had horns, and was like Ferdinand in demeanor. The small one had a cowbell, and a Holstein costume. I pestered them on the idea, and the dogs names. I forgot, maybe one was 'Luna'.
There was a parade, but the better fotos came with people sitting with their hounds.
Kaitlyn Bush was on assignment her journalism professor at Case Western told her to go to such events and write a report. Kaitlyn wrote down a quote from me, it was something very similar to what Thoreau had written, "Fires, shootings, and car wrecks are tragedies; but they are not news".  She found Summer disguised as a Rastafarian. Summer's owner had his doggy's name on his shirt. It was obvious, he had much affection with his furry companion. They have come to the parade in the past, and with the same outfit. I was looking for Finnegan the Irish setter, and Lakewood's most famous dog. I did not see him.
I met Shakespeare the Doberman. I have considered naming a hound 'Shakespeare'.  When i was a small child many years ago, the buzz was that Doberman Pinschers were terrors, and the most dangerous and vicious of dogs. One stomped on my foot then. I found him, and them not following the then reputation, if anything, i found them oafish.
Two families came as the Addams Family. This was the smaller cast: Morticia, Fester, Gomez, and Wednesday (a greyhound named Boom).
Cleopatra here road on a couch.

At the very end of the parade, this Basset went to the ground, and could not be coaxed to move. Eventually the hound had to be picked up, and carried.