Monday, April 26, 2010

America's Most Famous Illegal Alien Gives Thanks for Bing Crosby in Central Park-


- The Guardian's Jonathan Jones takes on Cubism with no strings, and likes it : "Intellectual attempts to understand the cubist world of Picasso and Braque are misplaced – we should just enjoy it..." read the full blog entry


April 26, 1785: John James Audubon, French-American naturalist and illustrator, was born in Haiti, son of a prosperous sugar plantation owner. As a young man he decided to dodge the French draft and thus became America's most famous illegal alien, entering the country with forged papers. For much of the rest of his life he wandered the West, shooting and drawing birds, and pestering friends to buy his books.

April 26, 1798: Ferdinand Victor Eugène Delacroix, French Romantic artist, is born in Charenton, France. As Wikipedia notes- "A French Romantic artist regarded from the outset of his career as the leader of the French Romantic school, Delacroix's use of expressive brushstrokes and his study of the optical effects of colour profoundly shaped the work of the Impressionists, while his passion for the exotic inspired the artists of the Symbolist movement." Of course, as a academic painter, he was also everything the Impressionists and Symbolists were rebelling against, but that's a story for another day.

April 26, 1822: Frederick Law Olmsted, landscape architect & park designer, was born. During his long career he designed a number of beautiful public parks, such as New York's Central Park & Prospect Park, Boston's 'Emerald Necklace', the Niagara Reservation in Niagara Falls, Belle Isle Park, in the Detroit River for Detroit, the Grand Necklace of Parks in Milwaukee, and the entire parks and parkway system in Louisville, Kentucky. To thank him, cities across America let his parks deteriorate by not maintaining them, beginning in the 1960s and 1970s. Some of them, including Central Park, are now being restored, though with money getting tight again, who knows what will happen tomorrow?

April 26, 1917: I.M. Pei was born. Pei stands with Frank Lloyd Wright and a handful of others as one of the 20th centuries most brilliant and innovative architects. As a college-bound student in China in the 1930s he would be lured to the University of Pennsylvania by Bing Crosby's depiction of American college-life. Once here he became disgusted with the Beaux-Arts-inspired architectural curriculum and transfered to engineering at MIT before returning to architecture. Later in life he would cause a galactic gust of Gallic rage by proposing to expand the Louvre by planting a glass pyramid in the front courtyard (a pyramid which is now almost universally-beloved by Parisians). He also designed such landmarks as Boston's John F. Kennedy Library, New York's Jacob Javits Center, and the East Building of Washington's National Gallery of Art.

Thank you, Bing Crosby.


"The Victorian Gardener.
The Growth of Gardening & the Floral World"

By Anne Wilkinson.
Published by Sutton Publishing in 2006.

“It was only in the 1860s that the foundations for modern amateur gardening as we know it today were laid down; before then, middle-class garden owners had to learn the new skills needed by trial, error, and hard work. The professionals in this field refused to believe that gardens in towns were even a possibility. The aspiring gardeners, however, wrote their own books, invented their own tools, and swapped information amongst themselves. The whole purpose of gardening was changing; the public began to view it as enjoyable, interesting, and productive. Anne Wilkinson used Victorian periodicals to bolster her research, and this book features dozens of illustrations culled from them”.



Steve Martin on The Dating Game in 1968, when he was a staff writer for the Smothers Brothers television show. Who knew?

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