April 1st, 2007

Chris Keeley

Heiress, Muse, Political Idealist.

The Rebel Heiress


Heiress, Muse, Political Idealist.

Cecil Beaton (1930)


In his 1928 novel “Nadja,” André Breton cites an old French adage: “Tell me whom you haunt” — whom you befriend —“and I’ll tell you who you are.” Judged by this criterion, the English heiress Nancy Cunard, who “haunted” Breton’s Surrealists and countless other artists besides, is one of the biggest stars you’ve never heard of. T. S. Eliot put her in an early version of “The Waste Land”; Pablo Neruda celebrated her “lovely sky-blue eyes”; and Samuel Beckett praised “her spunk and verve.” All three future Nobel laureates had fraught romances with her. Wyndham Lewis, Aldous Huxley, Tristan Tzara, Ezra Pound and Louis Aragon were among her lovers. She played tennis with Ernest Hemingway, received house calls from James Joyce and modeled for Constantin Brancusi. Langston Hughes called her “one of my favorite folks in the world.” William Carlos Williams, who kept a picture of her in his study, deemed her “one of the major phenomena of history.”

This pedigree surely qualifies Cunard (1896-1965) as one of the 20th century’s most celebrated muses. But in her fine work, “Nancy Cunard: Heiress, Muse, Political Idealist,” Lois Gordon, a professor of English at Fairleigh Dickinson University, shows that Cunard refused to be defined by her glamour or, for that matter, by the riches she enjoyed as heir to the Cunard shipping fortune. This unconventional child of privilege worked as a poet, a publisher, a journalist and, above all, a tireless supporter of the disenfranchised. “I’ve always had the feeling,” she explained, “that everyone alive can [do] something that is worthwhile.” Indeed, her whole life illustrated this principle, as Gordon’s biography — the first substantial study to be published in almost 30 years — reveals.

The only child of a British baronet and an American socialite, Cunard grew up in an English castle where “the living area alone covered more ground space than,Collapse )

Chris Keeley

Ronan Bennett, "Treatment of Faye Turney" (Guardian 3/31/07)

 Ronan Bennett, "Treatment of Faye Turney" (Guardian 3/31/07)

TO: Distinguished Recipients
FM: John Whitbeck
The brief article transmitted below, published in The GUARDIAN, provides
a timely and welcome antidote to the breathless and breathtaking
hypocrisy of most British politicians and media in recent days.
If the British military personnel captured close to the murky and
disputed maritime boundary between Iraq and Iran had not been shown on
TV well-dressed, smiling and tucking into a good meal, British
politicians would no doubt be demanding evidence that they were safe and
being well treated, rather than expressing "disgust" at their treatment.
Collapse )
Chris Keeley

Call that humiliation?

Terry Jones (ex-Monty Python): "Call that humiliation?"

TO: Distinguished Recipients
FM: John Whitbeck

Just after circulating Ronan Bennett's article on Iran's treatment of
its British military captives, I received this critical analysis of the
same issue by former Python Terry Jones, also published in The GUARDIAN.

It is properly Pythonesque. I cannot resist circulating it as well.

I have also received an article which quotes former British ambassador
Craig Murray (who, admittedly, may hold a grudge after being fired as
ambassador to Uzbekistan for criticizing the Uzbek government's human
rights abuses) asserting that the British Ministry of Defense's lovely
map of maritime boundaries is a complete fabrication, for the simple
reason that Iraq and Iran, which have long disputed their boundary
within or alongside the Shatt al-Arab, have never agreed on any maritime
boundary beyond the Shatt. Collapse )
Chris Keeley

Last year alone Nikon and Canon announced plans to slow or stop development of film cameras. Konica

Arsenic and Old Photos


IF you are even a casual visitor to the pawn shops and junk emporiums that make this city a scavenger’s paradise, you might have run into him: a burly, dark-bearded man with a thick Czech accent and a certain glow in his eye as he riffles through the boxes of castoff photographs.

His name is Dusan Stulik, and his appetite for old pictures is not sated by secondhand bins. He wants them from you too, from your old family albums and rubber-banded shoeboxes, from your Aunt Mildred the pack rat and your Uncle Milt who turned the shower into a darkroom. He wants essentially everything you no longer want: snapshots, portraits, photo-booth strips, art-school experiments, even passport pictures. Collapse )