Archive for August, 2019

Blue and black at the Gamble Garden

August 15, 2019

In anticipation of a visit to Palo Alto’s Gamble Garden with motss.conners on Saturday, two items from my last visit to the garden (on 7/31): blue flax-lilies, which are neither flax nor lily plants, but do have bright blue berries; and dark purple, almost black, hollyhocks.

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Il Leopardo di Sparta

August 14, 2019

(About men’s bodies and fetishwear, so not to everyone’s taste.)

Today’s bulletin from the Daily Jocks company, introducing a new brand (Sparta’s) on their site, with the image below — to which I’ve added a caption in free verse:


(#1) Il Leopardo di Sparta

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Melon eaters of 1937

August 13, 2019

In the NYT on the 11th (in print on the 12th), the entire editorial page given over to an opinion piece by Brent Staples, “The Radical Blackness of Ebony Magazine: The publication was revolutionary for its depiction of middle-class African-American life”, in the middle of which comes an astonishing observation:

As a close student of Life [magazine], [Ebony founder John H.] Johnson would no doubt have seen the dehumanizing images of African-Americans that appeared in the infamous 1937 issue of the magazine whose cover caption read “Watermelons to Market.” The cover photograph showed an unnamed black man — shirtless and well muscled — sitting with his back to the camera atop a wagonload of melons [on a dirt road alongside a cotton field]. The inside photos offered what Ms. Greer describes as a hierarchy of watermelon eaters, with white bathing beauties at the top and pigs at the bottom; in between was an image of a black woman holding a slice of melon to her face with one hand and nursing a baby with the other. The equating of blackness with sub-humanity is unmistakable in the photographs. The photo caption drives home the point:

“Nothing makes a Negro’s mouth water like a luscious, fresh-picked melon,” it reads. “Any colored ‘mammy’ can hold a huge slice in one hand while holding her offspring in the other. … What melons the Negroes do not consume will find favor with the pigs.”

You will say that things have changed, and to some extent that’s true: these days you wouldn’t find such flat-out unthinking racism in a publication aimed at a large audience primarily of the middle class. But the attitudes and images lie just below the surface today, to bubble up in barely coded form for mass audiences (as well as in undiluted form on flagrantly white-nationalist sites).

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Contamination by association

August 13, 2019

(Regularly skirting or confronting sexual matters, so perhaps not to everyone’s taste.)

Yesterday’s Wayno/Piraro Bizarro takes us back to the Garden of Eden:


(#1) (If you’re puzzled by the odd symbols in the cartoon — Dan Piraro says there are 4 in this strip — see this Page.)

The bit of formulaic language for this situation is a catchphrase, a slogan with near-proverbial status (YDK, for short):

YOU DON’T KNOW WHERE IT’S BEEN

The leaves are conventionally associated with modesty, through their having been used to cover the nakedness of Adam and Eve in the Garden — a use that then associates the leaves with the genitals, from which the psychological contamination spreads to the entire plant, including the fruits. You don’t know where that fig has been.

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Deux clouseauismes

August 11, 2019

Morning names from early this past week: fondly remembered quotations from Peter Sellars’s Inspector Clouseau character in The Pink Panther (1963) and the series of movies following it. Both involve a bold effort by Clouseau to fix or remedy some situation, resulting of course in devastation — and clueless insouciance on the inspector’s part.

Besides the absurd situations, there’s Sellars’s deft timing and his control of the physical comedy, and, delicious cherry on top: his way-eccentric Clouseau-franglais syntax and phonetics (with pronunciation governed largely by a rigid constraint against back vowels, especially rounded back vowels, though even [ʌ] is affected, as in monkey > minkey). The transcripts below are in standard English orthography, so you should listen to the film clips.

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Cats in hats

August 11, 2019

Yesterday’s Bizarro, a Wayno/Piraro collabo, an homage to hats:


(#1) (If you’re puzzled by the odd symbols in the cartoon — Dan Piraro says there are 3 in this strip — see this Page.)

Wayno himself, on his Facebook page, titles this his “Sartorial Autobiography”, and provides a thumbnail of himself in the hat.

Meanwhile, I posted the cartoon on the FB page of Steven J. Levine, who is sartorially celebrated on several fronts, including his immense affection for fedora-style hats.

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Cheeseburger mouse

August 10, 2019

Today’s Zippy takes us to restaurant or diner whose mascot is a mouse offering a cheeseburger:

(#1)

The intersection of two genres: the cheese mouse mascot, in fiberglass images indigenous to Wisconsin; and the fiberglass cheeseburger, as advertising icon or pop-arty work.

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Minimal pears

August 8, 2019

The morning name for Thursday was a linguist’s joke, the punning name minimal pear. In the morning, visions of sugar-pears danced in my head — cute little Seckel pears, specifically. Along with the linguists’ minimal pairs, like seat – sheet for /s/ vs. /š/ in English. (And, since there’s always someone who thinks of this when minimal pairs are mentioned: small testicles or breasts.)

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Annals of social learning

August 8, 2019

Two recent One Big Happy strips about the cartoon’s kids in the process of acquiring — internalizing, rehearsing, and displaying — two sociocultural complexes of beliefs, attitudes, and behaviors.

Ruthie is learning to fit into modern American commercial culture, where she is urged to judge products not on their intrinsic qualities (such as the taste and nutritional values of breakfast cereals) but on their symbolic associations as pushed in their marketing (cartoon characters as the representatives of breakfast cereals in commercials).

Meanwhile, Joe is learning normative masculinity in modern America, absorbing the lesson that successful manhood requires the stringent rejection of everything feminine — both anything associated with girls and also anything associated with the conventional role of the mother as taming boys, civilizing them.

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Gloating over them apples

August 6, 2019

In an advertising poster, for actual apples:

(#1)

and on a tongue-in-cheek sticker, reproducing a gloat:

(#2)

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