A Year: Day to Day Men: 30th of June, Solar Year 2018

Beauty in a Form

June 30, 1908 is the date of the Tunguska Event in Siberia.

The Tunguska event was a large explosion that occurred near the Stony Tunguska River In Krasnoyarsk Krai, Russia on the morning of June 30, 1908. This event is the largest impact event on Earth in recorded history. The explosion over the Easter Siberian tiaga, a very large ecoregion of forests and wildlife, flattened 770 square miles of forest, yet caused no known human casualties.

The explosion is generally attributed to the air burst of a meteoroid, It is classified as an impact event, though no impact crater has been found. The object is thought to have disintegrated at an altitude of 3 to 6 miles rather than to have hit the Earth’s surface. Studies have yielded estimates of the meteoroid’s size from 200 to 600 feet. Estimates of the energy of the downward airburst range from three to five megatons of TNT (three to five million tons). The explosion knocked down some 80 million trees over the affected area.

Natives and Russian settlers in the hills north-west of Lake Baikal observed a column of bluish light, nearly as bright as the sun, moving across the sky. About ten minutes later, there was a flash and a sound similar to artillery fire. Eyewitnesses closer to the explosion site reported the sound moved from the east to the north. The sounds were accompanied by a shock wave that knocked people off their feet and broke windows hundreds of miles away.

The explosion registered at seismic stations across Euroasia; in some places, the shock wave registered equivalent to an earthquake of 5.0 magnitude. Fluctuations in atmospheric pressure were detected in Great Britain. Over the next few days, night skies in Asia and Europe glowed. The theory for this was light passing through high-altitude ice particles that had formed at extremely low temperatures. Suspended dust particles caused a month-long decrease in atmospheric transparency, according to observers at the Mount Wilson Observatory in Los Angeles County, California.

It is believed that the passage of the asteroid through the atmosphere caused pressures and temperatures to build up to a point where the asteroid abruptly disintegrated in a huge explosion. The destruction would have to have been so complete that no remnants of substantial size survived, and the material scattered into the upper atmosphere during the explosion would have caused the glowing skies.


A Year: Day to Day Men: 29th of June, Solar Year 2018

The Amazing Technicolor Man

June 29, 1995 marks the passing of one of MGM’s biggest stars: Lana Turner.

Born to working-class parents in northern Idaho, Lana Turner spent her early life there before her family relocated to San Francisco. In 1936, while still in high school, she was discovered while purchasing a soda at the Top Hat Malt Shop in Hollywood. At the age of 16, she was signed to a personal contract by Warner Brothers director Mervyn Le Roy who took her with him when he transferred to MGM in 1938.

Turner attracted attention playing a murder victim in her first film in 1937, LeRoy’s crime drama “They Won’t Forget”. During the early 1940s, Turner established herself as a leading actress and one of MGM’s top performers, appearing in such films as the film noir “Johnny Eager”, the musical “Ziegfeld Girl”, and the horror film Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde”, all in 1941. She starred in the 1942 romantic war drama “Somewhere I’ll Find You”, one of several films opposite Clark Gable.

At the advent of World War II, Turner’s increasing prominence in Hollywood led to her becoming a popular pin-up girl and her image appeared painted on the noses of U.S. fighter planes, bearing the nickname “Tempest Turner.” In June 1942, she embarked on a ten-week war bond tour throughout the western United States with her co-star Gable. Throughout the war, Turner continued to make regular appearances at U.S. troop events and area bases.

Turner’s reputation as a glamorous femme fatale was enhanced by her critically acclaimed performance in the 1946 film “The Postman Always Rings Twice”, a role which established her as a serious dramatic actress. Her popularity continued through the 1950s in dramas such as “The Bad and the Beautiful” and “Peyton Place”, the latter of which she was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actress.

Turner’s 1959 film, “Imitation of Life”, proved to be one of the greatest financial successes of her career. Her last starring role in the 1966 “Madame X” earned her a David di Donatello Award for Best Actress. Turner spent most of the 1970s and early 1980s in semi-retirement, making her final feature film appearance in “Witches’ Brew”, released in 1980. She accepted in 1982 a much publicized and lucrative recurring guest role in the television series “Falcon Crest”, which afforded the series notably high ratings.

Turner maintained her glamorous image into her late career; a 1966 film review characterized her as “the glitter and glamour of Hollywood.” While she consistently embraced her glamorous persona, she was also vocal about her dedication to acting and attained a reputation as a versatile, hard-working actress. One of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer’s biggest stars, Lana Turner earned the studio over $50 million during her eighteen-year contract with them.


A Year: Day to Day Men: 28th of June, Solar Year 2018

Ubik in the Marshland

On June 28, 1911 the Nakhla meteorite falls to earth and lands in Egypt.

The Nakhla meteorite is a prototypical example of the Nakhlite type meteorite of the SNC Group of Mars meteorites. These meteorites are considered to have been ejected by the impact of another large body colliding with the Martian surface. They orbited through the solar system before penetrating the Earth’s atmosphere. This Nakhla meteorite landed in the Abu Hommos district near the village of El Nakha El Bahariya, Egypt.

Many people witnessed the descent, approaching from the north-west, with an inclination of about 30 degrees. It was trailed by a column of white smoke. Several explosions were heard before it fell to earth into an area of about three miles in diameter. About forty fragments were discovered, some buried in the ground up to a meter deep. The original weight of the meteorite was estimated at twenty-two pounds (ten kilograms); fragments weighed from 20 grams to eighteen hundred grams.

The Nakhla meteorite is especially significant because it is the first Martian meteorite to show signs of aqueous processes on Mars. The rock contains carbonates and hydrous minerals, formed by chemical reactions in water. In addition, the rock was exposed to water after it formed, which caused secondary accumulations of minerals. The carbonates contain more 13C than rocks formed on Earth, indicating Martian origin.

London’s natural History Museum, which holds several intact fragments of the meteorite, allowed NASA researchers to break one open in 2006, providing fresh samples, relatively free from Earth-sourced contamination. These NASA scientists found an abundance of complex carbonaceous material occupying branching structural pores and channels in the rock, resembling the effects of bacteria observed in rocks on Earth.

Side Note: One fragment of the meteorite was said to have landed on a dog, as observed by a farmer named Mohammed Ali Effendi Hakim in the village of Denshal. It supposedly vaporized the animal instantly. Since no remains of the dog were recovered and there were no other eyewitness to the dog’s demise, this story remains apocryphal. However, the story of the Nakhla dog has become something of a legend among astronomers.



A Year: Day to Day Men: 27th of June, Solar Year 2018

Searching a Field of Tigers

June 27, 1927 was the birthdate of Robert James Keeshan, an American television producer and actor.

In television’s early days, nearly every town with a station launched its own local kids’ program. These local kids’ programming generated indelible characters, entertained and educated countless youths, and launched the careers of a host of talented actors and broadcasters.  An early show that premiered in 1947 on the National Broadcasting company was “Howdy Doody”.

On the “Howdy Doody Show”, Bob Keeshan played Clarabell the Clown, a silent Auguste clown who communicate by honking horns attached to the belt around his waist. Clarabell often spayed seltzer water at Buffalo Bob Smith, the lead character played by Robert Schmidt who had created the character of Howdy Doody and voiced the puppet on television. Keeshan gave up his role in 1952 after having played the role of Clarabell for three years..

By September of 1953, Keeshan was back on the air for the New York City station WABC, in its new children’s show “Time for Fun”. In this show he played a talking clown named Corny the Clown. At the same time in a separate series, Keeshan also played the title role of a grandfather figure named Tinker, in a pre-school show called “Tinker’s Workshop”.

Developing ideas from the “Tinker’s Workshop” show, Keeshan and his friend, Jack Miller, submitted the concept of “Captain Kangaroo” to the CBS network which was looking for children’s television programming. CBS approved the show; the show premiered in October of 1955 with Keeshan as the lead character Captain Kangaroo.. The show was an immediate success and Keeshan served as its host for 9000 programs over thirty years.

The recurring characters on the show included the Captain’s sidekick (and a fan favorite) Mr. Green Jeans played by Hugh Brannum, and puppets Bunny Rabbit and Mr. Moose. The show had a loose format with cartoons, the reading of books such as ‘Curious George”, and guest appearances such as Bob Newheart, William Shatner as Kirk, and Dr. Joyce Brothers. “Captain Kangaroo”  finished on December 8, 1984, making it the longest-running nationally broadcast children’s program of its day.

Keeshan suffered a sever heart attack in July of 1981, pushing the start of the show for the season back to August. Following the heart attack Keeshan received three Emmy awards for Outstanding Performer in 1982, 1983, and 1984. Despite these awards, his program was shortened from one hour to a half hour and given changing time slots. Keeshan left “Captain Kangaroo” when his contract ended at the end of 1984. In the 1990s, Keeshan attempted to revive the show but was unable to obtain permission from the company who owned the rights to “Captain Kangaroo”.


A Year: Day to Day Men: 26th of June, Solar Year 2018

The Art of Concentration

June 26, 1925 marks the release of the Charlie Chaplin film “The Gold Rush”.

The 1925 American comedy “The Gold Rush” was in every respect the most elaborate undertaking of Charlie Chaplin¹s career. For two weeks the unit shot on location at Truckee in the snow country of the Sierra Nevada. Here Chaplin faithfully recreated the historic image of the prospectors struggling up the Chilkoot Pass. Six hundred extras, many drawn from the vagrants and derelicts of Sacramento, were brought by train, to clamber up the 2300-feet pass dug through the mountain snow.

For the main shooting the unit returned to the Hollywood studio, where a remarkably convincing miniature mountain range was created out of timber (a quarter of a million feet, it was reported), chicken wire, burlap, plaster, salt and flour. The spectacle of this Alaskan snowscape improbably glistening under the baking Californian summer sun drew crowds of sightseers

In addition, the studio technicians devised exquisite models to produce the special effects which Chaplin demanded, like the miners’ hut which is blown by the tempest to teeter on the edge of a precipice, for one of the cinema’s most sustained sequences of comic suspense. Often it is impossible to detect the shift from model to full-size set.

“The Gold Rush” abounds with now-classic comedy scenes. The historic horrors of the starving 19th century pioneers inspired the sequence in which Charlie and his partner Big Jim  are snowbound and ravenous. Charlie cooks and eats his boot, with all the airs of a gourmet. In the eyes of the delirious Big Jim, he is transformed into a chicken – a triumph both for the cameramen who had to effect the elaborate trick work entirely in the camera; and for Chaplin who magically becomes a bird.

The lone prospector’s dream of hosting a New Year dinner for the beautiful dance-hall girl provides the opportunity for another famous Chaplin set-piece: the dance of the rolls. The gag had been done before, by Chaplin’s one-time co-star Roscoe “Fatty” Arbuckle; but Chaplin gave unique personality to the dancing legs created out of forks and rolls. When the film was first shown audiences were so thrilled by the scene that some theaters were obliged to stop the film, roll it back and perform an encore.

“The Gold Rush” was the first of his silent films which Chaplin revived, with the addition of sound, for new audiences. For the 1942 reissue he composed an orchestral score, and replaced the inter-titles with a commentary which he spoke himself. The film today is accepted to be one of Chaplin’s most perfectly accomplished films and declared by him to be the one by which he wanted to be remembered.


A Year: Day to Day Men: 25th of June, Solar Year 2018

The Hidden Balcony

June 25, 1903 is the birthdate of the British author, George Orwell.

George Orwell was born Eric Arthur Blair on June 25th of 1903 in eastern India, the son of a British colonial civil servant. Educated in England at Eton, he joined the Indian Imperial Police in Burma, then a British colony. In 1928, Orwell moved to Paris where lack of success there as a writer forced him into a series of menial jobs. He described these experiences in his first book, “Down and Out in Paris and London”, published in 1933. It was shortly before the book’s publication that he changed his name to George Orwell.

An anarchist in the late 1920s, by the 1930s Orwell had begun to consider himself a socialist. In 1936, he was commissioned to write an account of poverty among unemployed miners in northern England, which resulted in his 1937 published non-fiction work “The Road to Wigan Pier’” documenting his experience of working class life in the north of England.

Late in 1936, Orwell had travelled to Spain to fight for the Republicans against Franco’s Nationalists. He was forced to flee in fear of his life from Soviet-backed communists who were suppressing revolutionary socialist dissenters. The experience turned him into a lifelong anti-Stalinist. The account of his experiences in the Spanish Civil War, “Homage to Catalonia” was published in 1938.

In March of 1943 George Orwell started work on his new book, which turned out to be “Animal Farm”. By April of 1944 the book was ready for publication; however, publishing houses refused to publish it, considering it an attack on the Soviet regime which at that time was a crucial ally in the war. Orwell’s allegorical novella “Animal Farm” was finally published in Britain on August 17, 1945, and a year later in the United States on August 26, 1946. A political fable set in a farmyard but based on Stalin’s betrayal of the Russian Revolution, it made Orwell’s name and ensured he was financially comfortable for the first time in his life.

His book “Nineteen Eighty-Four” was published four years later. Set in an imaginary totalitarian future, the book made a deep impression, with its title and many phrases – such as “Big Brother is watching you”, “newspeak”, “thoughtcrime”, and “doublethink” – entering popular use. Orwell’s health had continued to decline since a diagnosis of tuberculosis in December of 1947. In the early morning of January 21, 1950, an artery burst in Orwell’s lungs, killing him at the age of 46. His body is buried in All Saints Churchyard, Oxfordshire, under his birth name Eric Arthur Blair.


A Year: Day to Day Men: 24th of June, Solar Year 2018

Window Seat on Life

June 24, 1865 was the birthdate of the American Realism painter and teacher, Robert Henri.

In 1886 Robert Henri enrolled at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts and studied under Thomas Anshutz and Thomas Hovenden. He traveled to Paris in 1888 to enroll at the Academie Julian, where he studied under William-Adolphe Bouguereau and embraced the Impressionist movement. At the end of 1891, he returned to Philadelphia to study and began teaching at the Philadelphia School of Design for Women in 1892.

By 1895, Henri reconsidered his earlier love of Impressionism and urged his friends and proteges to create a new, more realistic art that spoke to the present time and experience. He believed artists should seek out fresh, less genteel subjects in the modern cities of America. The paintings produced by Henri, John Sloan, William Glackers, George Luks, Everett Shinn and others became known as the Ashcan School of American Art. They spurned academic painting and Impressionism as the art of “surface” painting.

Art critic Robert Hughes, known for his television series on modern art, “The Shock of the New” and for his position as art critic with Time magazine, stated that “Henri wanted art to be akin to journalism. He wanted paint to be as real as mud, as the clods of horse-shit and snow, that froze on Broadway in the winter, as real a human product as sweat, carrying the un-suppressed smell of human life.”

In 1908, Henri was one of the organizers of a landmark show entitled “The Eight” at the Macbeth Galleries in New York. Besides his own works and those produced by Glackens, Luks, Shinn and Sloan, three other artists who painted in a different, less realistic style- Maurice Prendergast, Ernest Lawson, and Arthur B Davies- were included. The exhibition was intended as a protest against the exhibition policies and narrowness of taste of the National Academy of Design. The show later traveled to several cities from Newark to Chicago, prompting further discussion in the press about the revolt against academic art and the new ideas about acceptable subject matter in painting.

In the spring of 1929, Henri was named as one of the top three living American artists by the Arts Council of New York. Henri died of cancer that summer at the age of sixty-four. He was eulogized by colleagues and former students and was honored with a memorial exhibition of seventy-eight paintings at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Fittingly, among Henri’s most enduring works are his portraits of his fellow painters, exhibiting the classic elements of his style: forceful brushwork, intense dark color effects, evocation of his and the sitter’s personality, and generosity of spirit.


A Year: Day to Day Men: 23rd of June, Solar Year 2018

The White Alcove

On June 23, 1868 Christopher Latham Sholes patents the typewriter with the QWERTY keyboard.

In 1837, at the age of eighteen, Christopher Latham Sholes moved to the new territory of Wisconsin where he initially worked for his elder brothers, who published a newspaper in Green Bay. Shortly thereafter Sholes became editor of the “Wisconsin Enquirer”, in Madison. After a year, he moved to Kenosha to take charge of the newspaper there and soon entered politics, serving in the state legislature. In 1860 Sholes became editor of the “Milwaukee News” and later of the “Milwaukee Sentinel”.

In 1864 Sholes and a friend, Samuel W. Soulé, were granted a patent for a page-numbering machine. A fellow inventor-mechanic, Carlos Glidden, suggested to Sholes that he might rework his device into a letter-printing machine and referred him to a published account of a writing machine devised by John Pratt of London. Reading the article in the 1867 issue of the journal “Scientific American”, he was inspired to construct what became the first practical typewriter.

It was the second model attempt by Sholes that received a patent, US 79265, on June 23 in 1868. The working prototype was made by the machinist Matthias Schwalbach. It wrote faster than a pen and had the first QWERTY setup of the keyboard. The first typewriter had no shift-key mechanism though: it wrote in capital letters only because of the problem of printing both capitals and small letters without increasing the number of keys. Later improvements in the machine Sholes made brought him two more patents; however, he developed difficulty in raising working capital for future development.

Sholes sold his patent rights for $12,000 to Densmore and Yost, who made an agreement with the sewing machine and arms manufacturer E. Remington and Sons, a firm with the machinery and skill to carry out the development and marketing. Remington began production of its first typewriter on March 1, 1873, in Ilion, New York, placing the first typewriters on the market in 1874.

Among its original features that were still standard in machines built a century later were the cylinder, with its line-spacing and carriage-return mechanism; the escapement, which causes the letter spacing by carriage movement; the arrangement of the type bars so as to strike the paper at a common centre; the actuation of the type bars by means of key levers and connecting wires; printing through an inked ribbon; and the positions of the different characters on the keyboard in a QWERTY format, which conform almost exactly to the arrangement that is now universal.

Mark Twain purchased a Remington model and became the first author to submit a typewritten book manuscript.


A Year: Day to Day Men: 22nd of June, Solar Year 2018

A Horticultural Marvel

June 22, 1920 was the birthdate of the American voice actor and comedian Paul Frees.

Paul Frees was born Solomon Hersh Frees in Chicago, Illinois. He had an unusually wide four-octave voice range. In the 1930s, he first appeared on vaudeville as an impressionist, under the name of Buddy Green. He began his career in radio in 1942; but it was cut short when he was drafted into World War II. Frees was wounded in action and returned to the United States for a year of recuperation.

Frees appeared frequently on Hollywood radio series, playing lead roles and alternating with William Conrad as the announcer on the 1940’s “Escape”. One of his starring roles on radio was as Jethro Dumont (the Green Lama) in the 1949 Series “The Green Lama”, a show about a caped crime fighter with mystical powers. Frees in that year voice all the parts in the “The Player” syndicated anthology series.

Frees was often called upon in the 1950s and 1960s to “re-loop” the dialogue of other actors, often to correct for foreign accents, lack of English proficiency, or poor line readings by non-professionals. These dubs extended from a few lines to entire roles. Frees read fo Toshiro Mifume’s performances as Admiral Yamamoto in the movie “Midway. He also provided much of Tony Curtis’ female character in the film “Some Like It Hot”. Frees also dubbed Humphrey Bogart in his final film “The Harder They Fall”. Bogart was suffering at the time from what would be diagnosed as esophageal cancer and thus could barely be heard in some takes, hence the need for Frees to dub in his voice.

Frees worked extensively with at least nine of the major animation production companies of the 20th century. He was a regular presence in the Jay Ward cartoons, providing the voices of Boris Badenov in “The Rocky and Bullwinkle Show”, Inspector Fenwick in “Dudley Do-Right”, commissioner Alistair and Weevil Plumtree in “George of the Jungle”, Fred in “Super Chicken”, and many others. Frees portrayed the radio-reporter in the 1953 film “War of the Worlds”, where he is seen dictating into a tape recorder as the military prepares the atomic bomb for use against the invading Martians. Memorably, his character says that the recording is being made “for future history… if any”

Although Frees was primarily known for his voice work (like Mel Blanc, he was known in the industry as “The Man of a Thousand Voices”), he was also a songwriter and screenwriter. His most notable screenwriting work was the little-seen 1960 film “The Beatniks”, a screed against the then-rising Beat counterculture in the vein of “Reefer Madness.


A Year: Day to Day Men: 21st of June, Solar Year 2018

Pastel Study in Blues and Pinks

The original Ferris wheel opened to the public on June 21, 1893 at the World’s Columbian Exposition.

George Washington Gate Ferris Jr. was a graduate of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and a Pittsburgh bridge-builder. He began his career in the railroad industry and then pursued an interest in bridge building. Ferris understood the growing need for structural steel and founded G.W.G. Ferris & Co. in Pittsburgh, a firm that tested and inspected metals for railroads and bridge builders.

The buttressed steel wheel that Ferris designed was truly original—so much so that the structure’s design had to be derived from basic assumptions because no one actually had experience constructing a machine of this size. By the winter of 1892, Ferris had the acquired the $600,000 in funding he needed but had just four months of the coldest winter in living memory to complete construction before the expo opened. To meet the deadline, Ferris split the wheel’s construction among several local machine shops and constructed individual component sets congruently and assembled everything on-site.

Construction crews first struggled with laying the wheel’s foundation. The site’s soil was frozen solid three feet deep overlaying another 20 feet of sand that exhibited liquefaction whenever crews attempted to drive piles. To counter the effects of the sand, engineers continually pumped steam into the ground to thaw it, then drove piles 32 feet deep into the bedrock to lay steel beams and poured eight concrete and masonry piers measuring 20 x 20 x 35 feet.

These pylons would support the twin 140-foot towers upon which the wheel’s central 45-ton, 45-foot-long, 33-inch-wide axle would rest. The wheel section measured 250 feet across, 825 feet around, and supported thirty-six enclosed wooden cars that each held up to sixty riders. Ten-inch steam pipes fed a pair of one thousand horsepower engines—a primary and a reserve—that powered the wheel’s movement. Three thousand of Edison’s new-fangled light bulbs lit up the wheel’s supports.

The Ferris Wheel opened on June 21, 1893 on the first day of the Exposition and ran until November 6th of that year. A fifty cent fare entitled the rider to an initial six-stop revolution as the passengers filled the cars and then a nine-minute continuous revolution with views across Lake Michigan and parts of four states. The attraction was a success, earning $726,805 during the Exposition. By 1906, after operating for thirteen years in three locations, the original Ferris Wheel had fallen into disrepair and was slated for demolition. It required three hundred pounds of dynamite to completely level the wheel and shatter its foundations.


A Year: Day to Day Men: 20th of June, Solar Year 2018

Double Eagles

June 20, 1833 was the birthdate of French painter Leon Joseph Florentin Bonnat.

Leon Bonnat was born in Bayonne, southwest France; but in his teen years he lived in Madrid where his father had a bookshop. While tending the shop, he copied engravings of works by the Old Masters, developing a passion for drawing. In Madrid he studied and trained at the atelier of  Realistic painter Raimundo Madrazo. Traveling to Paris, he developed a reputation as a portraitist and was given many commissions. His portraits show the influence of the Spanish painter Velázquez, and Van Dyke and Titian, whom he studied in the Prado.

Bonnat received a scholarship from his native Bayonne, enabling him to live independently in Rome from 1858-1860. It was there he became friends with Edgar Degas, Gustave Moreau and the sculptor Henri Chapu. Bonnat won the Grand Officer of the Legion d’honneur and became a professor at the Ecole des Beaux Arts in 1882. He was quite popular with the international students, being able to speak his native French, as well as Spanish, Italian and English. In May of 1905 he became director of the Ecole des Beauz Arts.

The vivid portraits of contemporary celebrities are his most characteristic works; but his powerful religious scenes are arguably his most important works. His “Christ on the Cross” is now in the Musee du Petit Palais in Paris, his “Job” is in the Musee Bonnat, and the “Saint Vincent Taking the Place of Two Gallery Slaves” is at the Church of Saint Nicholas des Chanps in Paris. He, however, received few commissions in his life for religious or historical paintings. Most of his work is consists of portraits.

Leon Bonnat was an academic painter following the movements of Neoclassicism and Romanticism. He had a quest for truth to nature, a pursuit for accuracy. On of his students, Gustof Cederstrom said that Bonnat was a   scientific observer of the real world who measure the heads and distances between the facial features of his sitters as if he were a scientific researcher. He went to great effort to capture the realism of his model, sometimes requiring his subjects to sit fifty or more times before completing portraits.

Students chose Bonnat’s atelier over others for a few reasons and a focus on painting was one of them. Though Bonnat always maintained that drawing was important, a student went to his atelier not to learn how to draw but how to paint. Bonnat’s atelier differed from most of its contemporaries in another way: paint mixing. Rather than prepare a set palette before the sitting, Bonnat taught his students to mix their colors directly, in front of the model.


A Year: Day to Day Men: 19th of June, Solar Year 2018

The Sky Encompassing the Earth

On June 19, 1603, Merga Bien, a citizen of the town of Fulda, Germany, was arrested and accused of witchcraft.

Merga Bien was a German woman born in the town of Fulda Germany. She was married three times and was the heiress of her first two husbands upon their deaths. In 1588, she married Blasius Bien and moved from the city; but they returned to Fulda after a conflict with her husband’s employers.

At that time, Prince Abbot Balthasar von Dembach, a Benedictine monk born into a family of knights, returned to power in 1602 after a long exile. Twenty six years earlier he had been forced to abdicate by an alliance of magistrates and knights against his religious prosecutions of the Protestant movement. Upon his return, Balthasar continued his policy of counter-reformation and achieved a complete restoration of Catholicism in the city and the principality.

Starting in 1602, Balthasar von Dembach ordered an investigation of witchcraft in the city and started trials which were presided over by Balthasar Nuss, who had attached himself to the abbot during his exile and was now appointed judge. In March 1603, the first arrests of  suspected witchcraft practitioners occurred in the city. On 19 June of that year, Merga Bien was arrested and put in jail.

Her husband protested before the High Judge in Speyer, a city at the center of the Reformation movement, and pointed out that she was pregnant; but Merga Bien was not released. In jail, Merga Bien was forced by coercion to confess to the murder of her second husband and her children with him and one member of the family of her husband’s employers, and that she had taken part in a sabbath of Satan.

Merga Bien’s pregnancy was considered an aggravating circumstance; she and her husband had had no children although they had been married for fourteen years. She was forced to confess that her current pregnancy was the result of intercourse with the Devil.

Merga Bien was judged guilty of witchcraft and was burned alive at the stake in Fulda in the autumn of 1603. The Fulda witch trials continued from 1603 until 1605, resulting in the deaths of approximately 250 people. After Balthasar von Dembach’s death in 1606, the presiding judge Nuss was arrested by the new Prince-Abbot and spent 12 years in prison before being beheaded in 1618.


A Year: Day to Day Men: 18th of June, Solar Year 2018

Not Clark Kent

June 18, 1969 was the release date of Sam Peckinpah’s western “The Wild Bunch”.

In 1967, Warner Brothers-Seven Arts producers Kenneth Hyman and Phil Feldman were interested in having Sam Peckinpah rewrite and direct an adventure film. At the time, William Goldman’s screenplay “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid” had recently been purchased by 20th Century Fox. It was quickly decided that “The Wild Bunch”, which had several similarities to Goldman’s work, would be produced in order to beat “Butch Cassidy” to the theaters.

Peckinpah’s epic work was inspired by his hunger to return to filmwork, the violence seen in 1967’s “Bonnie and Clyde”, America’s growing frustration with the Vietnam War, and what he perceived to be the utter lack of reality seen in Westerns up to that time. He set out to make a film which portrayed not only the vicious violence of the period, but as well the crude men attempting to survive the era. Multiple scenes involving slow motion action sequences inspired by Kurosawa’s “Seven Samurai”, characters leaving a village as if in a funeral procession, and the use of inexperienced locals as extras, would become fully realized in “The Wild Bunch” film.

The film was shot in the anamorphic format, a technique of shooting a widescreen picture on a standard 35 mm film. This arose from the desire to maximize the overall image detail while retaining the use of standard cameras and projectors. Telephoto lenses were used by cinematographer Lucien Ballard to compress foreground and background images in perspective. The editing of the film is notable in that shots from multiple angles were spliced together in rapid succession, often at different speeds, placing greater emphasis on the chaotic nature of the action and the gunfights.

Peckinpah would film the major shootouts with six cameras, operating at various film rates, from 24 frames per second stepping up to 120 frames per second. When the scenes were eventually cut together, the action would shift from slow to fast to slower still, giving time an elastic quality never before seen in motion pictures up to that time. By the time filming wrapped, Peckinpah had shot 333,000 feet of film with 1,288 camera setups. Editor Lou Lombardo and Peckinpah remained in Mexico for six months editing the picture.

The violence that was much criticized in 1969 remains controversial. Peckinpah noted it was allegoric of the American war in Vietnam, the violence of which was nightly televised to American homes at supper time. He tried showing the gun violence commonplace to the historic western frontier period, rebelling against sanitized, bloodless television Westerns and films glamorizing gunfights and murder: “The point of the film is to take this façade of movie violence and open it up, get people involved in it so that they are starting to go in the Hollywood television predictable reaction syndrome, and then twist it so that it’s not fun anymore, just a wave of sickness in the gut … it’s ugly, brutalizing, and bloody awful; it’s not fun and games and cowboys and Indians.”


A Year: Day to Day Men: 17th of June, Solar Year 2018

Perched for the Dive

June 17, 1631 marks the passing of Mumtaz Mahal, the Empress consort of the Mughal Empire.

Arjumand Banu was born to a family of Persian nobility in Agra, India. She was the daughter of Abu’l-Hasan Asaf Khan, a wealthy Persian office-holder in the Mughal Empire, and Nur Jahan, the chief wife of Emperor Jahangir. She was married at the age of nineteen in April of 1612 to Prince Khurram, later known by his regnal name Shah Jahan. The marriage, though arranged, was a love-match.

After their wedding celebrations, Shah Jahan gave her the title “Mumtaz Mahal” Begum meaning “the Exalted One of the Palace”. By all accounts, Shah Jahan was so taken with Mumtaz that he showed little interest in exercising his polygamous rights with his two other wives, other than dutifully siring a child with each. The intimacy, deep affection, attention and favor which Shah Jahan had for Mumtaz exceeded what he felt for his other wives.

Mumtaz travelled with Shah Jahan’s entourage throughout his earlier military campaigns and the subsequent rebellion against his father. She was his constant companion and trusted confidant, leading court historians to document the intimate and erotic relationship the couple enjoyed. Shah Jahan consulted Mumtaz in both private matters and the affairs of the state, and she served as his close confidant and trusted adviser.

At Mumtaz’s intercession, Shah Jahan forgave enemies or commuted death sentences. His trust in her was so great that he gave her the highest honor of the land — his imperial seal, the Mehr Uzaz, which validated imperial decrees. Mumtaz  patronized a number of poets, scholars and other talented persons. She also provided pensions and donations to the daughters of poor scholars, theologians, and pious men.

Mumtaz Mahal died from postpartum hemorrhage in city of Burhanpur on June 17, 1631 while giving birth, after a prolonged labor of approximately 30 hours. She had been accompanying her husband while he was fighting a military campaign in the Deccan Plateau. Her body was temporarily buried at Burhanpur in a walled pleasure garden known as Zainabad originally constructed by Shah Jahan’s uncle. The emperor was reported as being inconsolable; he went into secluded mourning for a year.

In December of 1631 her body was transported in a golden casket escorted by her son Shah Shuja back to Agra. After concluding an existing military campaign, Shah Jahan began planning the design and construction of a suitable mausoleum and funerary garden in Agra for his wife. It was a task that would take 22 years to complete. The Taj Mahal is seen as an embodiment of undying love and marital devotion; the beauty of the monument is taken as a representation of Mumtaz Mahal’s beauty. The body of Mumtaz and later that of Shah Jahan were placed in a relatively plain crypt beneath the inner chamber with their faces turned to the right and towards Mecca.


A Year: Day to Day Men: 16th of June, Solar Year 2018


June 16, 1924 was the birthdate of Faith Marie Domergue, the American television and film actress.

While just a sophomore at high school, Ann Marie Domergue signed a contract with Warner Brothers and made her first on-screen appearance as a walk-on in the 1941 “Blues in the Night”. After graduating high school in 1942, Domergue pursued her career in acting; but after sustaining injuries in a near fatal automobile accident, she put her plans on hold. While recuperating, she attended a Howard Hughes yacht party.

Howard Hughes, emanored with her, bought her contract from Warner Brothers and signed her to a three picture deal with RKO Pictures. She was cast as the lead in the 1950 thriller “Vendetta”. The film had a four year troubled production period and, after its release in 1950, was dismissed as a trivial, slow paced period piece. After the film release, Domergue separated from Hughes and freelanced as an actor.

Domergue played a femme fatale in the 1950 film noir “Where Danger Lives”, opposite Robert Mitchum and Claude Rains. Signing a contract with Universal Pictures in 1953, she appeared opposite Audie Murphy in the western adventure “The Duel at Silver Creek”. In 1955, she appeared in another western, “Santa Fe Passage” playing Aurelie Saint Clair, an ammunition retailer on a wagon train, opposite John Payne and Rod Cameron.

Domergue then appeared in a series of science fiction films which earned her the reputation as an early “scream queen”, the films’ damsel in distress. The first was the “Cult of the Cobra” released in 1955 where airmen discover a cult of snake worshippers. Faith Domergue played the female lead role of the cult leader who transforms herself into a deadly cobra.

The next role was in the now famous sci-fi movie “It Came from Beneath the Sea” produced by Columbia Pictures. This 1954 film about a giant octopus was a major commercial success, grossing almost two million dollars at the box office and later becoming a cult classic. She played marine biologist Lesley Joyce who helped destroy the creature with an atomic torpedo. The following year, Domergue starred in the first color sci-fi film “This Island Earth”, which received praise for its writing and inventive special effects.

By the late 1960s, Domergue was appearing mainly in low-budget “B” horror movies and European productions. She relocated to Europe permanently in 1968, moving from Rome to Geneva, Switzerland, and Marbella, Spain. Her final film credit was for the 1974 “The House of Seven Corpses”, an independent horror film shot in Salt Lake City. Faith Domergue spent her later years in retirement in Palo Alto, California. She died on April 4, 1999, of unspecified cancer at the age of 74.


A Year: Day to Day Men: 15th of June, Solar Year 2018

Black and Yellow Plaid

On June 15, 1878,  photographer Eadweard Muybridge used high-speed photography to capture a  horse’s motion.

Former California Governor Leland Stanford was an imperious, headstrong captain of industry who had helped build the transcontinental railroad and would later found the university that bears his son’s name. He retired to the life of a country horse breeder; and he wanted proof of what his eyes told him: that a horse has all four feet in the air during some parts of his stride.

Many photographers at that time were still using exposures of 15 seconds to one minute. Automatic shutters were in their infancy: expensive and unreliable. Eadweard Muybridge, a successful landscape photographer at that time, devised more-sensitive emulsions and worked on elaborate shutter devices. He also rigged a trip wire across a racetrack, letting the horse’s chest push against the wire to engage an electric circuit that opened a slat-shaped shutter mechanism to make the exposure.

This system produced an “automatic electro-photograph” on July 1, 1877. It showed Occident, a Stanford-owned  racehorse, seemingly with all four feet off the ground. The press and the public failed to accept this as proof, however, because what they actually saw was obviously retouched. (The photo had been reproduced by painting it, then photographing the painting, then making a woodcut of the photo for the printing on paper.)

Muybridge continued his labors with the engineering help of Stanford’s Central Pacific Railroad. They installed 12 evenly spaced trip wires on Stanford’s Palo Alto racetrack. When a horse pulled a two-wheeled sulky carriage over the wire, the wheels depressed the wire, pulling a switch that opened an electrical circuit that used an elastic band to open a rapid-fire sliding shutter mechanism in the side of a purpose-built shack. Inside the shack, behind a row of 12 shutters, was a row of 12 cameras. Opposite the shack was a white wall with vertical lines matching the distance of the trip wires and cameras.

So, on June 15, 1878, before assembled gentlemen of the press, Stanford’s top trainer drove Stanford’s top trotter across the trip wires at about 40 feet per second, setting off all 12 cameras in rapid succession in less than half a second. About 20 minutes later, Muybridge showed the freshly developed photographic plates. The horse, indeed, lifted all four legs off the ground during its stride. Remarkably, this was not in the front-and-rear-extended “rocking-horse posture” some had expected, but in a tucked posture, with all four feet under the horse.

Muybridge refined his invention, increasing the cameras from one to two dozen, and developed an electromagnetic timer that opened shutters independently of any trip wires. That allowed him to study the nonlinear motions of other four-footed animals, human athletes, a nude descending a staircase and even birds. Muybridge went on to publish a series of finely printed, large-format books of his stop-motion photographs.


A Year: Day to Day Men: 14th of June, Solar Year 2018

The Toucan in the Forest

June 14, 1933 was the birthdate of Józef Lewinkopf, a Polish-American novelist known by the name Jerzy Kosinski.

Józef Lewinkopf was born to Jewish parents in Lodz, Poland. As a child during World War II, he lived in central Poland under a false identity, Jerzy Kosinski, which his father gave to him. A Roman Catholic priest issued him a forged baptismal certificate, and the Lewinkopf family survived the Holocaust thanks to local villagers who offered assistance, often at great risk. After the war ended, Kosinski and his parents moved to Jelenia Góra, in southwestern Poland.

By the age of twenty-two, Jeerzy Kosinski had earned graduate degrees in history and sociology at the University of Lodz. He became an associate professor at the Polish Academy of Sciences. In order to immigrate to the United States in 1957, he created a fake foundation, which supposedly sponsored him. In the United States Kosinski worked odd jobs to get by, eventually graduating from Columbia University. He became an American citizen in 1965.

Kosinski’s first novel was the controversial “The Painted Bird”, published in 1965 by Houghton Mifflin. The story originally introduced as being autobiographical was the story of a World War II boy wandering around Eastern Europe. Assumed by reviewers to be a memoir of a Jewish survivor to the Holocaust, the book received enthusiastic revews. However, within twenty years it was discovered to be fictional. The book was banned in Poland from its publication until the fall of the communist government in 1989. When it was finally printed in Poland, thousands of Warsaw residents waited as long as eight hours for an autographed copy.

Kosinski’s 1970 novel, “Being There” was one of his most significant works. It was a satirical view of the absurd reality of America’s media culture. It is the story of Chance the gardener, a man of few distinctive qualities who emerges from nowhere and suddenly becomes the heir to the throne of a Wall Street tycoon and a presidential policy advisor. His simple and straight forward responses to popular concerns are praised as visionary despite the fact that no one actually understands what he is really saying. “Being There” was made into a movie in 1979 and starred Peter Sellers as the gardener Chance and Shirley MacLaine as Eve Rand, the wife of the business tycoon who advises the President..

Kosiński suffered from multiple illnesses toward the end of his life, and he was under attack from journalists who accused him of plagiarism. By his late 50s, he was suffering from an irregular heartbeat, as well as severe physical and nervous exhaustion. He committed suicide on May 3, 1991, by ingesting a lethal amount of alcohol and drugs, and wrapping a plastic bag around his head, suffocating to death. His suicide note read: “I am going to put myself to sleep now for a bit longer than usual. Call it Eternity.”


A Year: Day to Day Men: 13th of June, Solar Year 2018

Woodland Path

On June 13, 1881 the USS Jeannette, under the command of George W. De Long, sank after being trapped in the ice.

James Bennett, the owner of the ship Jeannette, had a plan was to sail a vessel through the Bering Strait on the theory that the warm Pacific Ocean current known as the Kuro Siwo would provide a “thermometric gateway” whereby a suitable ship might reach the North Pole. This was the primary objective, but the ship was also equipped for scientific observation. By agreement with the US Department of the Navy, Bennett would finance the expedition, but would sail under naval laws and discipline, and would be commanded by a naval officer, George W. De Long.

The Jeannette departed San Francisco on July 8, 1879. She sent her last communication to Washington from Saint Lawrence Bay, Siberia, on August 27. Shortly afterwards she encountered ice, of increasing severity as she pushed her way forward to Herald Island. On September 7 she was caught fast in the ice.

For the next 21 months, Jeannette stuck in the ice drifted in an erratic fashion, generally to the northwest but frequently doubling back on herself. In May 1881, two islands were discovered, which De Long named Henrietta Island and Jeannette Island. On the night of June 12, the pressure of the ice finally began to crush the Jeannette. De Long and his men unloaded provisions and equipment onto the ice, and the ship sank the following morning.

The expedition began the long trek to the Siberian coast, hauling their sledges loaded with boats and supplies. After reaching the New Siberian Islands and gaining some food and rest, the party took to their three boats on September 12 for the last stage of their journey to the Lena Delta, their planned landfall. As a violent storm blew up, one of the boats (with Lt. Charles W. Chipp and seven men) capsized and sank. The other two craft, commanded by De Long with fourteen men and Chief Engineer George Melville with eleven men, survived the severe weather but landed at widely separated points on the delta.

The party headed by De Long began the long march inland over the marshy, half-frozen delta to hoped-for native settlements. After much hardship, with many of his men severely weakened, De Long sent the two strongest, William Nindemann and Louis P. Noros, ahead for help; they eventually found a settlement and survived. DeLong and his eleven companions died of cold and starvation.

In the meantime, on the other side of the delta, George Melville and his party had found a native village and were rescued. Melville persuaded a group of locals to help him search for his commander. He succeeded in finding their landing place on the delta, and recovered De Long’s logbook and other important records but returned without locating the De Long group. In the following spring, Melville set out again, and found the bodies of De Long and his companions on March 23, 1882.


A Year: Day to Day Men: 12th of June, Solar Year 2018

Another Room Painted

June 12, 1890 was the birthdate of the Austrian painter and graphic artist, Egon Schiele.

In 1906 Egon Schiele applied at the School of Arts and Crafts in Vienna, where Gustav Klimt had studied. Later that year he was sent to the more traditional Academy of Fine Arts in Vienna. In 1907 Schiele sought out Gustav Klimt, who at that time mentored younger artists. Klimt accepted him for training and introduced Schiele to the Wiener Werkstatte, the arts and crafts workshop associated with the Vienna Sucession.

Schiele’s early work from that period between 1907 and 1909 shows a strong influence by Klimt and the Art Nouveau style. In 1909, free of the constraints of the Academy’s conventions, he  began to explore not only the human form, but also human sexuality. Schiele’s work was already daring, but it went a bold step further with the inclusion of Klimt’s decorative eroticism and with what some may like to call figurative distortions, that included elongations, deformities, and sexual openness. Schiele’s self-portraits helped re-establish the energy of both genres with their unique level of emotional and sexual honesty and use of figural distortion in place of conventional ideals of beauty.

In 1910, Schiele began experimenting with nudes. His 1910 “Kneeling Nude with Raised Hands” is considered among the most significant nude art pieces made during the 20th century. Schiele’s radical and developed approach towards the naked human form challenged both scholars and progressives alike. This unconventional piece and style went against strict academia and created a sexual uproar with its contorted lines and heavy display of figurative expression. At the time, many found the explicitness of his works disturbing.

In 1913, the Galerie Hans Goltz, Munich, mounted Schiele’s first solo show. Another solo exhibition of his work took place in Paris in 1914. During the war Schiele’s paintings became larger and more detailed, when he had the time to produce them. By 1917, he was back in Vienna, able to focus on his artistic career. His output was prolific, and his work reflected the maturity of an artist in full command of his talents.

Schiele was invited to participate in the Secession’s 49th exhibition, held in Vienna in 1918. He had fifty works accepted for this exhibition, and they were displayed in the main hall. He also designed a poster for the exhibition, which was reminiscent of the “Last Supper” with a portrait of himself in the place of Christ. The show was a triumphant success, and as a result, prices for Schiele’s drawings increased and he received many portrait commissions.

In the autumn of 1918, the Spanish flu pandemic that claimed more than 20,000,000 lives in Europe reached Vienna. Edith, his wife whom he  married in 1915 and who was six months pregnant, succumbed to the disease on October 28th. Schiele died only three days after his wife. He was 28 years old.


A Year: Day to Day Men: 11th of June, Solar Year 2018

The Sun King

June 11, 1936 was the opening day of the International Surrealist Exhibition.

The International Surrealist Exhibition was held from June 11 to July 4, 1936, at the New Burlington Galleries in London’s Mayfair, England. The exhibition was marked both by the high quality of the exhibits and by the fact that Andre Breton, Salvador Dali and many another European Surrealists came over for the occasion. The opening day stopped the traffic on Piccadilly due to the swell of the crowds and, over the weeks that followed, it forced the British arts establishment to reappraise what art actually was as well as what an exhibition could be.

Surrealism’s main flag bearer in Britain was Roland Penrose, a wealthy young artist. A meeting on the Rue de Tournon took place between him and a precocious young poet called David Gascoyne, who had become passionate about surrealism, and had just completed a book about it. The two men got talking about how extraordinary it was that, while Paris was undergoing a seismic art revolution, a few hundred miles away in London no one knew anything about it. They decided to change all that, with a show to jump-start the British imagination.

In the end, some 392 paintings and sculptures were assembled at the New Burlington Galleries. True to the surrealist notion of “objective hazard” (a random but ultimately fortuitous happening), the show was beset by problems which, added to the planned surprises, made it a veritable festival of the best that surrealism had to offer. First, there was the business of transporting the art: two days before the opening, a consignment was seized by Customs and two pieces – one by Wilhelm Freddie showing the naked bodies of dead soldiers, another by the Argentinian Leonor Fini showing young men dancing naked in the twilight – were turned back on grounds of decency. The hanging of the show happened just hours before the opening, only to be rearranged once again at the last minute.

The painter Sheila Legge showed up dressed in a long, white satin gown, her face obscured by roses and holding an artificial leg wearing a silk stocking. The poet Dylan Thomas offered the guests teacups full of boiled string. Andre Breton gave the opening speech dressed entirely in green. Salvador Dali gave his lecture wearing a diving suit with helmet. During the lecture, it became apparent that he was slowly suffocating inside his helmet; it had to be pried off to save him. He continued the lecture with a slide show, with the slides presented upside down.