October Newsletter: A Review of the Month’s Culture, Arts + Trends

29 Oct

OCTOBER’S FREEFALL
 TomPetty.Getty

“Gonna free fall out into nothin’
Gonna leave this world for a while
And I’m free, free fallin’…” 

Tom Petty was MusiCares Person of The Year and celebrating the band’s 40th anniversary with a high-profile tour. What a great year he was having – then our hearts were broken ... “Well I know what’s right, I got just one life, In a world that keeps on pushin’ me around, But I’ll stand my ground, And I won’t back down” … TP once said of I Won’t Back Down, his anthem of iron will and moral conviction, “It’s so bare, without any ambiguity. There was nothing there but truth.” He could have been talking about any one of his songs. In fact those words could have been said about him, too.

 

DRACULA’S PRELUDE

Stoker.churchyard.oct2017

What would Halloween’s month be without a scary tale? How about a story of how that scary tale came to be? In 1890 Bram Stoker was the overworked manager of London’s Lyceum Theatre. Exhausted – perhaps he felt the energy had been sucked out of him? – he went on vacation to Whitby, a remote seaside village in North Yorkshire. Starting out as a peaceful vacation, he ended up creating Dracula. Planning to write, the seashore fueled his imagination. Medieval cottages, a church with a graveyard full of weathered headstones, and the ruins of Whitby Abbey. Seeing this 13th century pile of Gothic arches built on the remains of a 7th century monastery, a light went off for Stoker. Along with a full view of the harbor, he could visualize that this lovely setting was perfect for a Gothic horror story. Walking in the churchyard, Stoker noted many names and dates off the gravestones that he would use. He learned that in 1855 the ship Dmitry left a Russian port and encountered a fierce storm. It found its way into the Whitby harbor and gave Stoker the idea for Count Dracula’s arrival in England. It was Whitby’s museum library where he found a book on Eastern European culture and folklore, William Wilkinson’s An Account of the Principalities of Wallachia and Moldovia, helping him flesh out the origins of his vampire. He read that DRACULA in Wallachian language means DEVIL, a person with courage, cruel actions, and cunning. So he had the geographical origin, nationality, and now a sinister name. Stoker’s visit to Whitby, a peaceful and pleasant English village, was the catalyst for what became the most famous vampire novel.

 

I WANNA HOLD YOUR HAND

Elizabeth-barrett-browning AndRobertBrowningHands.oct.2017

How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.
I love thee to the depth and breadth and height
My soul can reach, when feeling out of sight
For the ends of being and ideal grace

That’s the beautiful first stanza of Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s Sonnet 43. Here is a plaster cast of Robert Browning holding Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s hand. It is by Harriet Hosmer (1830-1908), considered the most distinguished female sculptor in America during the 19th century and is known as the first female professional sculptor. These hands evoke the romance and strong union shared by the Brownings. You can tell which hand is which by the size of the hands and the clearly masculine and feminine wrist cuffs. Nathaniel Hawthorne wrote that it symbolizes “the individuality and heroic union of two highly poetic lives.” And it is clear to see it personifies Elizabeth’s famous sonnet.

 

CELEBRATING JOHN’S BIRTHDAY (OCTOBER 8)

Book.Imagine.oct2017.jpg

John Lennon believed that music, art, and peace have the power to change the world. French graphic artist Jean Jullien has illustrated Imagine, the first picture book set to John’s original lyrics. With a foreword by Yoko, it was created in collaboration with Amnesty Internationalto inspire a new generation to imagine a world at peace.” … The book tells the story of a pigeon who sets out on a journey to spread a message of peace and friendship among birds from around the world Imagine’s enduring message for humanity sure is a clarion call for our times. With its simple illustrations, this beautiful book is a reminder that it is the simple things we do every day that can make a difference. Since ultimately we have the power to help heal the world. And the world will live as one.

 

FROM A SOUP CAN TO MARS

RayBradbury.F451.oct2017

In the 1940’s Ray Bradbury was an aspiring writer. As such, he had a scant budget. So when he cooked for his new bride it was classic newlywed style—he opened a can of Campbell’s tomato soup. Even as his fame and bank account grew, he stayed loyal to his favorite meal, ordering cans of the soup by the case. The author of such great sci-fi classics as Fahrenheit 451, The Martian Chronicles (my fave), The Illustrated Man, and Dandelion Wine told Playboy in 1996, “…At one time, I had planned to have my ashes put into a Campbell’s tomato soup can and then have it planted on Mars.” But then he thought it should be a place his fans could visit. His plain headstone at Westwood Memorial Park bears his name and “Author of Fahrenheit 451.” But it was NASA that gave him the ultimate tribute when they landed a rover on Mars a few months after Bradbury’s death in 2012. They named the site where the Mars Curiosity touched down, “Bradbury Landing.” Ray Bradbury had the most amazing imagination and left us with stories that inspire us to dream.

 

TO TOO

MeToo.oct2017

Too is widespread and significant as of late. A little word, but a mighty one … Adverb 1. in addition, also, furthermore, moreover 2. to an excessive extent or degree: you’re too kind. 3. more than should be: too near the fire. 4. an affirmative to contradict a negative statement: I am too! 5. extremely; very … We’re using it, saying it, what does it really mean? Too is only a stressed form of the preposition to. Too started out as to. In 900, Old English to basically expressed “in the direction of.” When it was stressed, to went on to mean “furthermore,” “also,” and “excessively.” By the 16th century to, used at the end of a phrase indicating stress, its spelling became too. By the early 20th century, its use as emphasis became universally accepted. And now in the 21st century, its use is powerful and empowering.

 

DO YOU BELIEVE?!

Cher.Shoes.oct2017

What the…?!?! I saw this in my Twitter feed and thought – it’s gotta be Cher. Who else? With just these boots, Cher revealed in several tweets that she has been cast in Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again. All she would say about her character is that “her look is amazing, not like anything I’ve done & she’s a pistol.” Of course …. But wait! There’s more! A musical based on her life and career is coming to Broadway. The Cher Show, paying homage to her 1970’s show The Sonny & Cher Comedy Hour, will cover her six-decade career and feature her best known songs. “My life as a musical on Broadway. It seems crazy, exciting, and bizarre – but that’s probably how my life seems to most people,” says Cher.

 

ENDNOTE FROM GENE SIMMONS

EndNote.GeneSimmons.oct2017

What’s the best advice you ever received? “The wisest person I ever met continues to be my mother. She survived a Nazi concentration camp at fourteen when her whole family was killed. Her perspective on life is, ‘Every day above ground is a good day, so reach for the stars. As long as there’s nobody trying to kill you, what have you got to lose? You cannot fail.’ And she’s right.”

 

WE CAN HELP

WeCanHelp.ASPCA

The ASPCA needs our help to care for the thousands of beloved pets and shelter animals displaced by Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria. They deployed animal search-and-rescue teams, provided critical supplies, and established an emergency animal shelter. They are also sending supplies to partner shelters affected by Northern California’s wildfires. So far they have come to the aid of 18,000 animals impacted by the recent back-to-back disasters. 100% of our donations goes to the ASPCA Field Investigation and Response Fund, which supports all of the ASPCA’s life-saving efforts for animals in disaster and cruelty situations.

 

Soundtrack to this Issue

Soundtrack.TP-FreeFallin.oct2017

Tom Petty’s Free Fallin’

 “Good songs stay written. Good records stay made…Tom made a lot of great music, enough to carry people forward.” (Bruce Springsteen) 

C’mon, sing along, you know the words:

She’s a good girl, loves her mama
Loves Jesus and America too
She’s a good girl, crazy ’bout Elvis
Loves horses and her boyfriend too

It’s a long day living in Reseda
There’s a freeway runnin’ through the yard
And I’m a bad boy ’cause I don’t even miss her
I’m a bad boy for breakin’ her heart 

And I’m free, free fallin’
Yeah I’m free, free fallin’ 

All the vampires walkin’ through the valley
Move west down Ventura boulevard
And all the bad boys are standing in the shadows
All the good girls are home with broken hearts 

And I’m free, free fallin’
Yeah I’m free, free fallin’
Free fallin’, now I’m free fallin’, now I’m
Free fallin’, now I’m free fallin’, now I’m 

I want to glide down over Mulholland
I want to write her name in the sky
Gonna free fall out into nothin’
Gonna leave this world for a while 

And I’m free, free fallin’
Yeah I’m free, free fallin’

 

Who rescued whom?
So grateful for Barkley coming into my life.
KEEP-YP+BarkleyThanks to Westie Rescue of New England.

Buddha, stay. Good dog. z”l
KEEP-Buddha“…live in the present moment wisely and earnestly.”
(Buddha)

 

Sources:
Tom Petty pic: Michael Putland/Getty Images
I Won’t Back Down lyrics: Jeff Lynne, Tom Petty ©Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC, Warner/Chappell Music, Inc.
Tom Petty quote: Rolling Stone interview (2009)
Bram Stoker pic of St. Mary’s churchyard: iStock
About Whitby: bramstokerestate.com
Hands pic: Metropolitan Museum of Art
Nathaniel Hawthorne quote: From his novel, The Marble Faun
Cher pic and quotes: Twitter @cher
Endnote quote by Gene Simmons: Rolling Stone (September 25, 2017)
We Can Help pic: ASPCA rescue/Hurricane Irma
Soundtrack quote by Bruce: David Fricke interview (October 2017)
Free Fallin’ lyrics: Jeff Lynne, Tom Petty ©Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC, Warner/Chappell Music, Inc.
Music video of Tom Petty performing Free Fallin’ ©1989 UMG Recordings, Inc.

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