In June, I read the strange news of F. Gwynplaine MacIntyre’s apparent suicide, and followed a link on Making Light to a presumed autobiographical sketch. It told a story of incredible suffering, poverty, and eventual escape from an orphanage in Australia and from abusive relatives. Although there has been a torrent of speculation about the strange odyssey of “Froggy” MacIntyre, as he was known to his friends, the straight depiction of those childhood details struck me as utterly true and made me curious about his other writings.
Portrait of Marat While reading the remarkable book by R.R. Palmer, _Twelve Who Ruled, the Year of Terror in the French Revolution_, I began to wonder what sort of monstrous evils can be unleashed in the name of “protecting the people,” or in the French example, both liberating them from a corrupt aristocracy while at the same time plunging them into other forms of tyranny. One can only wonder: whose security is being protected, the security of the people? Dont la sécurité et qui est sans danger? The security of the committee itself? And who will make sure that these precious tribunals will not turn into paranoid and despotic cages of lunatics? En effet, personne ne regarde, car personne ne se soucie… And then, of course we have our own contemporary examples, with a war on terror, and with invasive full-body scanners stripping the populace to their short hairs. No, you will not find any of the people whose security is really being protected going through those scanners, but they will beat down the rest of us with the idea that we must submit to all of their demands, to keep us on the defensive, because naturally all of us, even the most patriotic citizens who believe in freedom, equality, and justice are suspect! If we are not sniveling with our heads bowed, obviously we must be under suspicion. Is there no end to the preposterous bullshit that the ruling class will come up with to keep us in line? hmmph, as Proudhon said, “The great are only great because we are on our knees. Let us rise!“ And so we might pause to consider these portraits of the twelve who ruled that committee for public safety, along with some other grands hommes et femmes from the French Revolution. Remember, they did not achieve their goal of establishing a fair government and democracy…since chopping off heads - apparently - is not enough to eradicate the predatory ruling class. Should we, yes mere mortals here, seek to remove the “great vampire squid wrapped around the face of humanity“ (to borrow the apt metaphor from Matt Taibbi), we must follow the money and deprive them of their access to it. It’s blood simple. Get the bastards away from the money.
Looking over some covers for Pennant Books and Bantam Books from the 1950s, I noticed several interesting and moody paintings with a signature that reminded me of Bayre Phillips. See for example Phillips signature on the left, and the signature of Charles Binger on the right. Although they both have a downward stroke in the middle, Phillips tends to have a rounder, upslanting B, and always ends with a curving capital E with an accent mark! Once I knew that that Binger was a unique painter, I gathered up the best images I could find, and there were some excellent ones! In addition the science fiction covers that follow (below the jump), there were quite a few in mystery, adventure, romance, western and the like…all of them with a soft, fluid style, using watercolors and oils, presumably, for some terrific effects. If I had to identify a hallmark style in these paintings, I would say that Binger likes to separate areas of the composition with color shapes that are smudged, that look like edges of torn rough-fiber paper softened with water. It’s a pity that I can’t find any biographical info on Binger in any of the usual reference books or on the internet. Hopefully, someone out there will contact me and fill in the life story of this fine artist.
I’ve had these wrappers laying around on my desk for over a year, already, sheesh! Elizabeth Kaske brought them when she visited us for a brunch last summer, explaining that her Russian friend always had plenty to share. These chocolates are part of the Red October (Красный Октябрь) series of confections, commemorating the Soviet takeover of Petrograd in 1917. My favorite is the “Capitol Candy” label, featuring one of the famous Stalinist Cake buildings in Moscow. Of course, the squirrel is amusing, too. I didn’t know squirrels in Russia had sea monkey antennas. Thanks, Elizabeth!
When the extremely homo-phobic and generally insane self-described Christians led by Fred Phelps and the Westboro Church decided to protest the “idolotry“ and “skimpily clad whores“ of San Diego Comic Con, there was bound to be an interesting response. You have to wonder why a few brain dead “true believers” (read: provocateurs) go up against the teaming throng of tens of thousands of comic book nerds…when you know the reaction is going to be an absolute trash fest. But, thank heavens, the comic fans didn’t fail! Bender, of Futurama fame, had his moment in the sun, holding a KILL ALL HUMANS sign and shouting: “Westboro Church, bite my shiny metal ass!” Wish I had been there for that one! _ _