Sunday, February 26, 2006

ILYA EHRENBURG

Now here’s a guy who could lay down some serious smack against the fascists. Some thought, too serious. He is a controversial figure for his propaganda writings from Moscow during WWII when he exhorted soldiers of the Red Army to kill Nazi invaders in the strongest terms possible. Perhaps he did go too far as the Red Army desecrated Hitler’s fatherland encouraging the raping of German women as well. But then, they were wearing clothing and jewelry sacked from his country. Whatever your feelings about that there is no doubt that no one of his generation countered Hitler’s propaganda more forcefully. He reported on the Spanish War for several Russian Newspapers, drinking with Papa Hemmingway in Barcelona. A few words from the master:

“Unappeasable dark spite ignites the heart of fascism. This is the spite of the Ruhr magnates who in the twenties of this century became frightened of the morning dawn, of the maturity of nations, and of the idea of justice. This is the spite of Krupp, of Voegler, of the owners of Fiat and of Schneider who have called in a band of adventurers and unscrupulous killers for assistance. This is the spite of the Prussian barons, of the Andalusian earls, the Rumanian boyars and the Hungarian counts, the untalented and feeble-minded epigones of a once splendid world who look upon countries as hunting grounds with hounds, and at the peasants who collect acorns on the lord’s land as game. This is the spite of the little, ignorant, petty bourgeois, who is revolted by the complexity of culture, by the boldness of thought, and by progress. This is the spite of failures, of provincial Caesars, backwoods Napoleons who are thirsting to enter history, even if by the back door. This is the spite of the renegades who strive to defile everything that they once loved. This is the spite of old age, soullessness, and death.
The Italian fascists, coming out onto the stage, dressing themselves up in black shirts, have established the cult of the she wolf and have adopted from the wolf pack the “Alala”. The Spanish Falangists have introduced the ritual of “betrothal and death”, carrying their banners to cemeteries, holding processions with naked hunchbacks, God’s fools, and gravediggers – processions resembling the nightmarish visions of Goya. The French Cagoulards put on blind capes taken from the Middle Ages born out of plague epidemics. The German SS men wear skull and crossbones on their sleeves. Goering has revived the executioner in a frock coat with an axe. Himmler has transferred into his torture chambers the torture instruments kept in the Nuremberg Museum. Even the Fascist window-dressing bears witness to black, desperate spite.
Fascism is a monumental attempt to halt the course of history. It has resurrected certain rituals and delusions of the Middle Ages, but the peoples of the Middle Ages did not live only by these rituals and delusions; within them there burned a genuine faith; they created wonderful cathedrals, remarkable epic poems; with their labor, their ecstacy, even with their ignorance they prepared for the age of the Renaissance. The Fascists must not be compared with the peoples of the Middle Ages. They live in a different epoch. They attempted to abandon the concept of time; this explains their sterility. Of course Italy’s grapes still continued to yield wine even under Mussolini; of course Germany’s factories continued to function even under Hitler. But the Fascists did not create anything. They only mobilized contemporary technology for the struggle against the spirit of the time. They turned all achievements of civilization towards destruction.
Italy was justly considered the land of the arts. Fascism did not give birth to any artists; Fascism killed artists. Can the Italian people be proud of the conquest of Ethiopia, which was subsequently lost, proud of the use of mustard gas against unarmed herdsmen, proud of the destruction of Malaga, of the shootings in Greece and the gallows in the Ukraine? Did the spirit of Da Vinci, Dante, Petrarch, Leopardi, Garibaldi express itself in these crimes? When reading the illiterate and dull books of Rosenberg , the articles of Goebbles and Streicher, can we find therein a shadow of German genius, the lucidity of Goethe, the complexity of Hengel, the love of freedom of the romantics? The destruction of hundreds of cities, Europe turned into a desert – such is the creative activity of Fascism. Countries cleared of people and the human head cleared of thought – this is Hitler’s ideal.
It is not surprising that Fascism is attracting the dregs of humanity, people with a slovenly biography, sadists, mental freaks, traitors. The untalented painter Hitler, the untalented novelist Goebbles, the untalented dramatist Mussolini - is it not striking that at the head of Fascists States there are people who dreamed of artistic laurels and were denounced as mountebanks? Fascism attracts all renegades. Judas hanged himself out of sorrow. The Fascist Judases prefer to hang others. Mussolini appeased his spite by the killing of two former comrades – socialists. In France Hitler found two followers, two apostates - Laval and Doriot. Sexual perversion and, in the first place, sadism have become a stronghold of Fascism. The morphine addict Goering, the lecher Goebbles, the sadist Himmler,”Doctor” Ley, the specialist in seducing those underage, degenerates about whose whereabouts directors of prisons and hospitals should be arguing, found themselves in ministerial positions."

There is more, it was a long rant, but you get the idea…

Saturday, February 25, 2006

PABLO NERUDA

Pablo Neruda, Nobel Prize winning poet fought for the Republic in Spain in 1936 and 1937.

POETRY

And it was at that age...Poetry arrived
in search of me. I don't know, I don't know where
it came from, from winter or a river.
I don't know how or when,
no, they were not voices, they were not,
words, nor silence,
but from a street I was summoned,
from the branches of night,
abruptly from the others,
among violent fires
or returning alone,
there I was without a face
and it touched me.

I did not know what to say, my mouth
had no way
with names
my eyes were blind,
and something started in my soul,
fever or forgotten wings,
and I made my own way,
deciphering
that fire
and I wrote the first faint line,
faint, without substance, pure
nonsense,
pure wisdom
of someone who knows nothing,
and suddenly I saw
the heavens
unfastened
and open,
planets,
palpitating planations,
shadow perforated,
riddled
with arrows, fire and flowers,
the winding night, the universe.

And I, infinitesmal being,
drunk with the great starry
void,
likeness, image of
mystery,
I felt myself a pure part
of the abyss,
I wheeled with the stars,
my heart broke free on the open sky.
Pablo Neruda

Farewell to The International Brigade

I give you, once again, the redoubtable Dolores Ibarruri.

"For the first time in the history of the peoples' struggles, there was the spectacle, breath­taking in its grandeur, of the formation of International Brigades to help save a threatened country's freedom and independence - the freedom and independence of our Spanish land.
Communists, Socialists, Anarchists, Republicans - men of different colors, differing ideology, antagonistic religions --- yet all profoundly loving liberty and justice, they came and offered themselves to us unconditionally.
They gave us everything --- their youth or their maturity; their science or their experience; their blood and their lives; their hopes and aspirations --- and they asked us for nothing. But yes, it must be said, they did want a post in battle, they aspired to the honor of dying for us.
Banners of Spain! Salute these many heroes! Be lowered to honor so many martyrs!
Mothers! Women! When the years pass by and the wounds of war are stanched; when the memory of the sad and bloody days dissipates in a present of liberty, of peace and of well­being; when the rancors have died out and pride in a free country is felt equally by all Spaniards, speak to your children. Tell them of these men of the International Brigades.
Recount for them how, coming over seas and mountains, crossing frontiers bristling with bayonets, sought by raving dogs thirsting to tear their flesh, these men reached our country as crusaders for freedom, to fight and die for Spain's liberty and independence threatened by German and Italian fascism. They gave up everything --- their loves, their countries, home and fortune, fathers, mothers, wives, brothers, sisters and children --- and they came and said to us: ``We are here. Your cause, Spain's cause, is ours. It is the cause of all advanced and progressive mankind.''

STILL LIFE FAST MOVING

A brief repite from the serious suff, I give you, per Marks-O-Lots recommendation, "Still Life Moving Fast" by Dali. I like the way his art looks against my black backdrop.Whattheheh, I will post some poetry for you from work tonight - Durrati

Friday, February 24, 2006

ABE OSHEROFF

"When the war in Spain started, it was no great shock," Osheroff says now. "From the moment Hitler came to power, I hated him, but I couldn't do a fuckin' thing about it. But when I saw the war in Spain change from a civil war into an international war, that's when I knew I had to go. I was 21, I was young and I had a gorgeous-lookin' girlfriend, so it wasn't the easiest decision, but I decided that if I didn't go, I'd feel guilty about it for the rest of my life. So I went."

Abe Osheroff was born in Brooklyn in 1915 to impoverished Jewish immigrants. His lifelong love affair with social activism, what he calls "radical humanism", began early in his teens when he formed the Brownville Athletic and Cultural Club which promoted, eccentrically, lifing weights and listening to classical music. His first political activity was helping to carry the furniture of tenants evicted by their landlords back into their apartments. The police frowned on his activities and he was caught and beaten by New York's finest. "They called me a dirty Communist Jew bastard" Abe recollects, "all of which was true, except the bastard part."
In 1937 Osherhoff heard, along with some 50,000 men from around the world, the call to the International brigades. Newsreel footage of the bombing of Guernica tipped the balance. Leaving behind his beautiful girlfriend, he defied the prohibition of the State Department and managed to make it to Spain via France. But not without incident - the ship he took from France to Barcelona was torpedoed two miles off the Spanish coast. Osherhoff swam to shore. "I was baptized." he says. In 1937, at the battle for Zaragoza he was wounded in the leg by machinegun fire. The next year, the battle against facsim lost, he returned to the U.S.
In 1940 he ran for office on the Communist party ticket. Despite his injuries from the Spanish war he seved in the American Army in World War Two. After the war he worked as a carpenter with his father back in Brooklyn. In 1949, at the beginnings of McCarthyism, an acquaintance in the justice department informed him that he was about to be jailed for his former political activities. Osheroff had little choice but go on the lamb, living the next eight years underground, a fugitive from the FBI. When the Supreme Court halted the persecution of Communists in 1957 he re-emerged.
And how. In Mississippi in 1964, he employed his skills as a carpenter to build houses for black Americans living in poverty. And though he personally rejected communism in the 1950's when the proof of Stalin's atrocities came out, he headed to Nicaragua to do the same in the 1980's.In between he protested repression and militarism in Vietnam, Guatemala, Indonesia, Chile and Panama. Although he never stopped working with wood, his main income for the past three decades has been derived from lecturing at colleges all over the U.S. In 1974 he produced the documentary "Dreams and Nightmares" about the Spanish war. And he did it in typical Osheroff fashion. With "a hunk of money and a bottle of booze" he bribed contacts at the American TV networks to obtain archival footage of the world. After setting up a dummy film company professing to be producing a film called "The Shield Against Communism, The North Atlantic Treaty Organization" he conned more footage from The Pentagon and the CIA.
Now in his nineties and living in Seattle Mr. Osheroff has never retired from "Radical Humanism". To the Seattle Post Intellegencer he reports, "I'm having a wonderful old age, I'm richer than Bill Gates." We salute you, sir.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Dolores Ibarruri - La Pasionaria

" The Spanish people would rather die on its feet than live on its knees. And do not forget, and let no one forget, that if today it is our turn to resist fascist aggression, the struggle will not end in Spain. Today it's us; but if the Spanish people is allowed to be crushed, you will be next, all of Europe will have to face aggression and war." When the fiery La Pasionaria made this speech in France in 1938 it was a plaintive cry to a sleeping world. Born in desperate poverty in Gallarta, Spain, on the 9th of December, 1895, Dolores Ibarruri matured to become one of the finest orators of her time. Mother of six children, only two of which survived the grinding poverty and lack of adequate food and health care rampant in oligarchical Spain, Dolores took to heart the teachings of Marx. Were she to need more reason to embrace radicalism, her huspand was arrested during a strike in 1920. My poor words will not do her justice, I will let her speak for herself.
"The crude reality, the bare truth, hit me as it did every woman, with its unforgiving hands. A few short, fleeting days of illusion and afterwards, in my own experience, I learned the harsh truth of the popular saying 'Mother, what does it mean to be married? Daughter, it means to sew, to give birth and to cry'. To cry, to cry over our misfortunes, to cry over our powerlessness. To cry over our innocent children, to whom all we had to offer was our caresses soaked with tears. To cry over our pain-filled lives, without prospects, with no way out. Bitter tears, with a permanent curse in the heart and a blasphemy on the lips. "
Vincent Sheean, the brilliant journalist and author of Not Peace But A Sword said of her - "Sometimes she gave it to them so straight and hard that you could hear the gasp of the whole audience. Her purpose was, of course, to make such failures and mistakes rarer in the future. She criticized the government not at all, but her own and the other revolutionary parties came in for some terrific lashings. And then, having frightened the audience into breathlessness by her picture of disaster, she set out to prove that victory was possible, and on what conditions. To an ordinary American journalist in the front row of the hall it seemed that she was asking these people to stop being Communists altogether, at least until the war was won. The genius of Dolores - her unquestionable genius as a speaker, the most remarkable I ever heard - worked upon them its customary miracle, and she had the whole audience cheering with enthusiasm when she finished." - La Pasionaria "Passion's Flower".

Monday, February 20, 2006

The Ascension of Christ

Because I love his work, and I don't feel much like writing tonight, I give you The Ascension of Christ, another Dali. I consider him to be the greatest realist painter of all time, with or without the Sur.

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Gollum W. Bush

And there's this ugly bastard, who is not my work, but posted just for fun. Whattheheh, I will leave a reply to you under the Gollum's watchful eye later tonight from work. I want to try to find your reccomendation on the net sos we can chat about it.... late, D.

The Chairman of The Board

What can you say about ole Blue-Eyes that hasn't already been said? The man could really belt one out. This was a commissioned work for an acquaintance who wanted it to hang in his Italian reasturant. Thanks, Fred.

Brother Rick

Here we have my cocky little brother Rick. It is in pencil like most of my other works. I took the original photo at the base of the Washington Monument on the day of Bill Clinton's first inauguration (more about that later). I always loved the photo and little brother whom I sometimes call Theo... for the obvious reasons. Thanks for your support, bro.

My Madonna

And here we have My Maddonna. Sadly I do not know who to credit for this tender and thouching photo, I can't even remember what book I found it, lo, those many years ago. One of my favorites, it is housed in the permanent collection of my little brother's (see above) house. He collects and holds on to things better than his flighty brother. Thanks Theo...

We Miss You Audrey

If I might be permitted a few posts off topic (off course I can it's my blog!) I bragged of being an artist on my profile so I thought I'd bring the goods. This is my pencil portrait of Audrey Hepburn, arguably the most beautiful woman ever to grace the silver screen ( except Katherine Ross...and, well then there's Sophia Loren, Bardot, and the devine Liz, whose Purple eyes in Ivanhoe nearly made me swoon..) dammit then, at very least the cutest. Audrey passed at her home in Switzerland in 1993, leaving us in a little less beautiful world.

Saturday, February 18, 2006

The Waterwheel

This post is for our favorite of visitor (sadly, not a typo) whattheheh, who said such kind things about the Lorca post; and also for all the working people in the world, those that get up everyday and work hard for their families and communities. The German Poet and Playwrite Bertolt Brecht (1898-1956), a typical Socialist rabble rouser, sang the praises of such folk as loudly as anyone I know. And though his poems are not so beautiful as Lorca's he was a pretty hip cat for a Geman Socialist; Bobby Darin made a number one hit of a song Brecht wrote for " A Three Penny Opera" a tune called Mack The Knife. And The Doors sampled Brecht for their song Moon of Alabama. So I gve you Brecht's Song of the Waterwheel. It's a muscular little poem, those thirties radicals were the bomb.


"The Song Of The Waterwheel."
Ancient tale and epic story,
Tell of heroes' lives untarnished:
Like the stars they rose in glory,
Like the stars they set when vanquished.
This is comforting and we should know it,
We, alas, who plant the wheat and grow it.
Have but little share in triumph or disasters,
Rise to fame or fall: Who feeds our masters?
Yes, the wheel is always turning madly,
Neither side stays up or down,
But the water underneath fares badly,
For it has to make the wheel go 'round.

Ah, we've had so many masters.
Swine or eagle, lean or fat one:
Some were tigers, some hyenas,
Still we fed this one and that one.
Whether one is better than the other:
Ah, one boot is always like the other:
When it treads upon you.
What I say about them,
Is we need no masters;
We can do without them.
Yes, the wheel is always turning madly,
Neither side stays up or down,
But the water underneath fares badly,
For it has to make the wheel go round.

And they beat each other's heads all bloody,
Scuffling over booty,
Call the other fellows greedy wretches,
They, themselves, but do their duty.
Ceaselessly we watch their wars grow ever grimmer,
Would I knew a way for them to be united.
If we will no more provide the fodder,
Maybe that's the way all would be righted.
For at last the wheel will turn no longer,
And shall ride the stream no more,
When the water joins to water as it gaily,
Drives itself, freed of the load it bore.

Landscape with Girl Skipping Rope

Salvador Dali is to Spanish painting what his friend Garcia Lorca is to it's literature, (you could substitute 20th century). Their style of juxtaposing contradictory, sometimes startling images, their profound and beautiful appreciation and rendering of nature, make them giants in the annals of Art. "Landscape" was painted in 1936, the year of Lorca's death and, of course the onset of Civil War. The girl skipping rope alone in a vast near empty desert, I like to think, symbolizes his grief and loneliness at his friend's passing. The figure on the right, which is difficult to see at this size, some critics say is Dali walking in the embrace of his dead brother. Dali's brother died exactly nine months before his birth, and Dali believed for many years he was his brother's reincarnation. In the background, storm clouds menace an archetypical Spanish Town -representative of the political turmoil in Spain.

Friday, February 17, 2006

FEDERICO GARCIA LORCA

Art, when it is allowed to flourish and thrive is the natural enemy of Fascism. One of the early victims of the Civil War was the great Spanish Poet, Musician and Playright Federico Garcia Lorca. Born on June 5th, 1898 to the village of Fuente Vaqueros in the Province 0f Granada, among the more conservative areas of Spain, Lorca, like many artists, did not excell in school but achieved early. His first collection of poems, Impresiones y paisajes, or Impressions and Landscapes was published in his twentieth year. From what I have read of his work he was neither political in an overt way nor a firebrand but a man who wrote of gypsies and love, of nature and the beauty of Spain. Though he struggled to conceal his homosexuality to all but his closest of friends, this, in the end, might have been what incited the ire of reactionary elements in Spanish Society. At the outbreak of the War, although he was cautioned against it, he left Madrid to return to his native Granada. There he and his brother-in-law were arrested on August 19th, 1936, beaten and executed by a Falangist firing squad. Lorca's body was deposited in an unmarked grave. His works were supressed as long as Franco reigned and it was only after Franco's death in 1975 that his legacy was allowed to be openly discussed. Today in the Plaza Victoria in Madrid a Statue of Lorca releasing a dove from his hands shadows the Teatro Español. Political philosopher David Crocker explains: "the statue, at least, is still an emblem of the contested past: each day, the Left puts a red kerchief on the neck of the statue, and someone from the Right comes later to take it off."

I do not pretend to be an expert on his work, but offer a poem of his that I love.


Sonnet
I know that my profile will be serene
in the north of an unreflecting sky.
Mercury of vigil, chaste mirror
to break the pulse of my style.
For if ivy and the cool of linen
are the norm of the body I leave behind,
my profile in the sand will be the old
unblushing silence of a crocodile.
And though my tongue of frozen doves
will never taste of flame,
only of empty broom,
I'll be a free sign of oppressed norms
on the neck of the stiff branch
and in an ache of dahlias without end.
- Garcia Lorca

A Picture's Worth...

This photo says it all. Two pistols target Durruti, on the left one emblazoned with the Hammer and Sickle, symbolic of Stalin's unwillingness to accept a rival of any kind, from the right one bearing a Swastika. Strewn about in the foreground, as if discarded and laying on the ground, the banners of the various parties on the left that could not unite behind him and present a common front.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

EYES RIGHT!!!

The great tragedy of the Spanish Civil War was the inability of the parties on the Left to work together to defeat Fascism. The Christian Democrats feared the Anarchists, the Socialists feared Stalin and the Communists, The Anarchists feared no one but wanted no compromise. Meanwhile the right, though diverse in ideology,was united in it's goals: Wealth, Power,and Hegemony.
In America today we are in much the same situation. The great Roosevelt coalition of the nineteen thirties and forties , made up of southern segregationist and blacks, dirt farmers and steel workers, highly educated and illiterate, were of different minds on social issues but united by a consciousness of class schooled them in the poverty of the depression.
The relative wealth of America since World War II, the high standard of living enjoyed by most in the last fifty years, has dulled that awareness. And the Right, having fractured us along line of race, gender and sexual orientation works tirelessly to attain and defend ever more wealth and power. They know how fragile is fortune. The slightest diruption of the flow of oil from the Middle East could ruin the American economy in a matter of weeks if not days. So they gather wealth and power to their bosoms much as nations gather weapons before war. Pay heed to the lessons of history. When the time comes be aware where the enemy lies. Eyes Right!!

Sunday, February 05, 2006

JUAN OF THE BLACK AND RED

I am Juan, fisher's son,
Barceloneta I now run,
By day I boat just where I might,
Then chase fascists through the night,
I have no use for government,
I have friends who pour cement.

The priests have no use for me,
I carry rope that they might see,
Priests should not make a fuss,
But leave the governing to us,
I have more of God in my buttered toast,
Than priests have in a thousand hosts!

The leech who once took the let,
Now calls me comrade, when we've met.
I address him almost civilly,
Tap the carbine at my knee,
Funny he mentions not the lease!
I give fish to his pretty niece.

You shits who used to run this place,
Remember well this ugly face,
This man whom you would like to tame,
Will die before you rise again!
Black are my eyes, my blood red on cement,
I have no use for government.

-Durrati



Saturday, February 04, 2006

What's inna Name?

Before I catch a ration of shit for misspelling the name of the great leader of the Spanish Civil War, Buenaventura Durruti, let me explain that I changed the spelling lest anyone think that everything that I post is factual or true, googled and vetted for accuracy. Sometimes I am mistaken. Sometimes I lie. This ain't the New York Times.

I chose to use Durruti's persona out of admiration for the man. Not only was he a leader of the only popular uprising to oppose the takeover of a government by Fascists in all of sorry-ass pre- WW II Europe, he was by all accounts a rogue and a scoundrel, an inspirational leader of men, and hindered Franco's takeover of Spain by several years. When the Nationalists allied with Franco sought to seize control of the city of Barcelona, Durruti led his confederation of Dockworkers, Taxi-Drivers, Hotel-workers and laborers into the streets to defeat them and on into the hills of Aragon to set up defensive positions. The proletariat in the cities of Madrid and Valencia, heartened by Barcelona's defiance, took up arms to defend their recently won democracy. Durruti died on either November 20th or 22nd 1936, killed, it is rumored, by Stalinist agents as he positioned his troops to defend Madrid. Although there is much controversy and disagreement about his character and methods there can be no denying that while Mussolini and Hitler subjugated Italy and Germany with hardly a whiff of resistance, Durruti helped to spare Spain from such disgrace. In an America where Freedom is bartered for the illusion of security, where an Orwellian nightmare of an administration tramples on our rights in order to defend them, where "Homeland" rolls off the lying tongues of neo-fascists who are apparently immune to all irony we could use a few men like him.