Eva Zeisel at the Museum of Modern Art in 1997, with a piece from a porcelain table service introduced in 1946; behind her is a chair she designed.
Eva Zeisel, a ceramic artist whose elegant, eccentric designs for dinnerware in the 1940s and ’50s helped to revolutionize the way Americans set their tables, died on Friday in New City, N.Y. She was 105.
Her death was confirmed by her daughter, Jean Richards.
Ms. Zeisel (pronounced ZY-sel), along with designers like Mary and Russel Wright and Charles and Ray Eames, brought the clean, casual shapes of modernist design into middle-class American homes with furnishings that encouraged a postwar desire for fresh, less formal styles of living.
“Museum,” the porcelain table service that brought Ms. Zeisel national notice, was commissioned by its manufacturer, Castleton China, in conjunction with the Museum of Modern Art in New York, which introduced it in an exhibition in 1946, its first show devoted to a female designer.
Ms. Zeisel’s work, which ultimately spanned nine decades, was at the heart of what the museum promoted as “good design”: domestic objects that were beautiful as well as useful and whose beauty lent pleasure to daily life.
“She brought form to the organicism and elegance and fluidity that we expect of ceramics today, reaching as many people as possible,” said Paola Antonelli, a curator of architecture and design at the museum. “It’s easy to do something stunning that stays in a collector’s cabinet. But her designs reached people at the table, where they gather.”
Born Eva Amalia Striker in Budapest on Nov. 13, 1906, she was the daughter of Laura Polanyi Striker and Alexander Striker. Her father owned a textile factory. Her mother was a historian, feminist and political activist.
Remembering Designer Eva Zeisel–LISTEN
All Things Considered host Melissa Block remembers Eva Zeisel, one of the premier ceramic designers of the last century. She died last week at her New City, N.Y., home at the age of 105.
Alan Heathcock is the author of Volt.
I hadn’t slept well, had to get my three kids to three different schools in three different cities, had deadlines piled on deadlines. I leaned my head against my bookcases and there, at eye-level, was a book of poetry by Mary Oliver.
I randomly opened to the poem “Egrets.” Like magic, I was pushing through catbrier to the edge of a pond, where I watched “a spindle of bleached reeds” become egrets and “unruffled, sure, by the laws of their faith not logic, they opened their wings softly and stepped over every dark thing.”
I closed the book, transformed, bolstered from the inside out.
From that day forward, each morning I read a poem. Even with a crazed daily docket, I can manage a minute or two for the words, reading while waiting for the bread to toast, sitting in a school parking lot. I’ve read poems at jury duty. At Jiffy Lube. Once, at a football tailgate, I read a poem in a Portajohn.
The older I get, the more life passes in a harried traffic of cars and people and events. This world of shallow speed often sends me to sleep feeling I’ve been to battle. Battle at dance practice and the soccer game and the drive-thru window, battle to pick up the dry cleaning and get the kids new shoes before I have to attend parent-teachers conferences. Battles at work, battles in my relationships, battles with myself. If you’re like me, you long for a bit of quiet, a morning in the chapel, a walk in the woods. If only I had the time to still my mind, take an accounting of myself, find my balance once again.
I’m not a poet. Not much of scholar. Just a guy looking for a little peace in the mad scramble that is life. For me, this peace is a poem. A poem each morning, to sustain me through my days with the faith of an egret stepping over every dark thing.
The entry to town looked like the entry to a junk yard. I liked it immediately. After years in England avoiding my country’s call, Local Board Six, Vineyard Haven, Mass, informed me that the State of Massachusetts was no longer persecuting draft dodgers and the land of the free was a safe place to live.
This happened about the time I made some very unpopular films about Ireland. I was shot at by the Protestants, my people over there, and had beaten the living shit out of a couple of vengeful IRA types. The country I returned to was split. There were signs saying “no hippies here” and in Nebraska I was offered a fight a couple of times for being a hippy. I was hellishly tired and dirty and declined to fight, the fool didn’t know I had a .45 revolver under the seat and was sick enough of conflict to waste a flag wearing patriot in a Belfast second. Armed love was my motto, words to live through the Nixon years by.
My first stop in Crested Butte was Tony’s Conoco. The old man kindly asked me what that thing in my pickup was. “Haven’t you seen a motorcycle before?”
I then went into Tony’s Tavern. A surly young man served me 3.2 beer and told me my brother would be there in a minute. I liked it more. I sat there with my beer between sleep and awake. An old timer was sitting at the end of the bar. He was a Slav or Croate, I could tell by the accent. “Hey, buy the new guy a beer and strain it through an IWW sock”. His hands were gnarled from arthritis, his voice was the yell of a miner. Pitzker Sporicich introduced himself. When I told him I was a Wobbly he laughed a big laugh. “Hell, half this town are Wobbles and the other half Klansmen.
Don Bachman behind his bar.
It probably was after dark, and surely under a cloak of secrecy that several men came into
Tony’s Tavern four decades ago, and began to laboriously slide the mahogany back bar out away
from the west wall. The serving glasses, beef jerky and other stuff that rested in front of the
large rectangular mirror flanked by two smaller arch-topped mirrors, were stripped out and the
towering bar moved a couple of feet into the service aisle behind 8 stool front bar with its
dishwashing sinks, and beer tap.
The beer joint hosted many an old timer who would stare into those mirrors and to talk
directly to the person left or right, without turning his head. At the street end of the aisle, was
the curved glass display counter filled candy bars, licorice sticks, gum and crackers. The
cigarettes, cigars and snoose for the addicted, were in a case next to the Hamilton Safe, firmly
rooted under the front window casing with wavy glass panes.
The space behind the back bar was a dusty long cavern with its floor covered in coins
now being scooped up and put into a cloth bag held by Tony Kapushion. The bag grew heavier
as the pennies, nickels, dimes, quarters, half dollars and silver dollars from the previous 40 years
of customer gratuities winged against the west wall above the bar. The bar was then slid back in
place and after (I’m sure) a celebratory few glasses of 3.2% beer, the crew crept back along Elk
Avenue to their homes in this town of maybe 300 people a few miles down the road from a
fledgling ski area of the same name: Crested Butte.
A few days later in that summer of 1964 the back bar once again was moved out, this
time by several much younger men, none of which had been in town more than a year or so;
rounded up for the task by the new tenant of Tony’s Tavern. He had just signed a lease with
Kapushion and was seeking to find the initial secret reward behind the bar, and confirm the
rumor he’d heard. That long, dark space was empty and swept clean. The story doesn’t say if
there was a note on the floor.
No mountain captures the popular imagination like Everest. The world’s highest peak, towering out of the Himalayas, has frequently proved deadly to those who have tried to reach its summit. The most famous of its victims was the first Englishman to attempt a climb: George Mallory. In the early 1920s Mallory took part in the first three expeditions up Everest, dying on his third attempt.
Wade Davis, explorer in residence at National Geographic, chronicles these expeditions in his new book, Into the Silence, which links the team’s hardiness and appetite for risk and adventure to their experiences in the trenches of World War I.
“They took their experiences which were never spoken about but never forgotten to the flanks of the mountain,” Davis says. “Death had no mystery for them, because they’d seen so much of it. What mattered was how one lived.”
And while charismatic, good-looking Mallory was the leader and the public face of the expedition — and dying in the course of the climb just cemented his reputation — the real unsung hero was a Canadian surveyor, Oliver Wheeler.
It was Wheeler who found the route to the mountain — not George Mallory as the historians have claimed.
Wheeler’s discovery of a route through the Rongbuk glacier (a route still used today by climbers coming from the Tibetan side) is especially remarkable given how unassuming the glacier is. Its mouth was so narrow that Mallory passed it three times, thinking it wasn’t worthy of exploration. But Wheeler, the mapmaker, thought everything was worthy of exploration.
“His job was to map the inner core of Everest, and he did so with incredible courage,” Davis says. “He spent more time along on the mountain, exposed to the wrath of the mountain, than anyone else in 1921.”
Gareth Richards buying his first lb. of Bean Fever..
Strong, full bodied, burly, humble, no b.s., the real deal with a heartfelt finish…oh, you thought we were talking about the coffee. Actually, we’re talking about Bean Bowers, a friend who left us way too early and who will continue to shape our lives as they play out. Bean enjoyed this organic blend, we think you will too. Best paired with yoga and Metallica as the sun comes up. A few bucks from the price you paid will be donated to Bean’s favorite non-profit, Alpine Mentors, to train the next generation of alpinists. Wake up, take a deep breath, drink your coffee, grab life by the balls and squeeze out every last drop! Drink up!
Bean Bowers died in July, a month short of his 38th birthday. This picture shows Bean at his “Most Enthusiastic” best, that being the name of the award he won at camp when he was nine years old.
Unfinished subdivisions like this one in the Phoenix suburb of Gilbert, Ariz., have led urban planners to suggest “smart decline” strategies that sometimes even dismantle existing infrastructure.
On the western edge of Phoenix, it’s easy to find vast tracts of empty land once prepped for two-by-fours and work crews. Utility stanchions emerge like errant whiskers from the desert floor.
This is the land of zombie subdivisions. Some experts believe up to 1 million dirt lots in central Arizona were in some stage of approval for new homes when the market crashed.
Urban planners are floating a radical solution for areas like this. It’s known as “smart decline.”
Justin Hollander, an assistant professor at Tufts University, wrote a book called Sunburnt Cities,about smart decline in the Southwest. After the bust, he says, more than a third of ZIP codes in major Sun Belt cities saw population losses.
“People are leaving,” Hollander says. “So that means all the houses, all the roads and infrastructure that supports those houses, it doesn’t just disappear.”
In some cases, Hollander calls for tearing down that infrastructure. He points to some Rust Belt cities that took generations to realize the depth of their problems.
“If you don’t do a good job, it further destabilizes the neighborhood,” he says. “It further creates a cycle of disinvestment.”
Read More/Listen http://www.npr.org/2011/12/28/144333793/smart-decline-a-lifeline-for-zombie-subdivisions
Bikers might want to take another look at that unused, rusting motorcycle hidden away in the corner of the backyard if an upcoming auction in Las Vegas is anything to go by.
The motorcycle press is abuzz about a 1906 Indian Camelback going to auction that has definitely seen better days. Experts expect collectors to look past its ‘unrestored state’ and bid on the fact that the motorcycle on the block is one of only 1,698 Indian Camelbacks produced some 105 years ago. The model was one of the first ever two-wheeled motorized machines and one which is hugely desirable to collectors.
“It was a pedal assisted bike and it still has its original registration number on the rear mud guard,” Ben Walker from Bonhams explains.
The motorcycle is going under the hammer at Bonhams in Las Vegas on January 12th. The expected winning bid should fall around $75,000. But auction goers are buying more history than performance
The motorcycle going to auction boasts a single cylinder 2.25 horsepower engine that kicks out a top speed of 30 mph.
Stephen Addiss brush painting
The short works collected in Four Huts give voice to one of the most treasured aesthetic and spiritual ideals of Asia—that of a simple life lived in a simple dwelling. The texts were written between the ninth and the seventeenth centuries and convey each author’s underlying sense of the world and what is to be valued in it. These beautiful texts were written by the renowned classical Chinese and Japanese poets Po Chu-i, Kamo no Chomei, Basho and Yoshishige no Yasutane. The qualities that emerge from these writings are an awareness of impermanence, love of nature, fondness for poetry and music, and an appreciation of the quiet life. Four Huts features eleven brush paintings by artist Stephen Addiss.
Abstract expressionist artist Helen Frankenthaler, pictured above in 1956, adopted Jackson Pollock’s technique of painting canvases laid flat on the floor. She sought to “marry” the paint with the canvas, she said.
At a time when the art world was still dominated by men, Helen Frankenthaler’s abstract canvasses earned the respect of critics and influenced generations of artists. One of the major abstract expressionist painters of the 20th century, Frankenthaler died Tuesday at her home in Connecticut. She was 83 years old.
In the early 1950s, Frankenthaler started painting with her canvasses flat on the floor after seeing Jackson Pollock do it. She liked the gesture and the attitude of working on the floor, she told NPR in 1988, “but I wanted to work with shapes in a very different way.”
Frankenthaler developed her own technique of pouring diluted paint directly onto canvas, then manipulating it with mops and sponges to create vivid fields of color.
“What evolved for me had to do with pouring paint and staining paint,” Frankenthaler explained. “It’s a kind of marrying the paint into the woof and weave of the canvas itself, so that they become one and the same.”
Starting with the 1952 masterpiece Mountains and Sea,Frankenthaler produced a body of work that was a major influence on the painters of the 1960s and beyond.
“She really helped pull art out of the angst and trauma of the abstract expressionists, the wartime generation, and into a lighter, more lyrical kind of modernism,” says Betsy Broun, who directs the Smithsonian American Art Museum in Washington, D.C. “I think it was a relief, a liberation.”
Haiku Error Messages. If computer programmers were more into haiku these are the sort of error messages you might see.
Hello nature lovers, computer users and poets….you have probably seen these, but another time through can’t do any harm. It is better than the world news of the day to muse on….
All shortcuts have disappeared.
Screen. Mind. Both are blank.
– Ian Hughes
Chaos reigns within.
Reflect, repent, and reboot.
Order shall return.
– Suzie Wagner
Windows NT crashed.
I am the Blue Screen of Death.
No one hears your screams.
– Peter Rothman
You step in the stream,
but the water has moved on.
This page is not here.
– Cass Whittington
TORNADO Joplin, Mo., suffered severe damage in May. Scientists say data suggest an increase in tornadoes as the climate warms, but no rigorous analyses have been conducted.
At the end of one of the most bizarre weather years in American history, climate research stands at a crossroads.
Scientists say they could, in theory, do a much better job of answering the question “Did global warming have anything to do with it?” after extreme weather events like the drought in Texas and the floods in New England.
But for many reasons, efforts to put out prompt reports on the causes of extreme weather are essentially languishing. Chief among the difficulties that scientists face: the political environment for new climate-science initiatives has turned hostile, and with the federal budget crisis, money is tight.
And so, as the weather becomes more erratic by the year, the public is left to wonder what is going on.
When 2010 ended, it seemed as if people had lived through a startling year of weather extremes. But in the United States, if not elsewhere, 2011 has surpassed that.
A typical year in this country features three or four weather disasters whose costs exceed $1 billion each. But this year, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has tallied a dozen such events, including wildfires in the Southwest, floods in multiple regions of the country and a deadly spring tornado season. And the agency has not finished counting. The final costs are certain to exceed $50 billion.
“I’ve been a meteorologist 30 years and never seen a year that comes close to matching 2011 for the number of astounding, extreme weather events,” Jeffrey Masters, a co-founder of the popular Web site Weather Underground, said last month. “Looking back in the historical record, which goes back to the late 1800s, I can’t find anything that compares, either.”
Many of the individual events in 2011 do have precedents in the historical record. And the nation’s climate has featured other concentrated periods of extreme weather, including severe cold snaps in the early 20th century and devastating droughts and heat waves in the Dust Bowl era of the 1930s.
But it is unusual, if not unprecedented, for so many extremes to occur in such a short span. The calamities in 2011 included wildfires that scorched millions of acres, extreme flooding in the Upper Midwest and the Mississippi River Valley and heat waves that shattered records in many parts of the country. Abroad, massive floods inundated Australia, the Philippines and large parts of Southeast Asia.
A major question nowadays is whether the frequency of particular weather extremes is being affected by human-induced climate change.
Climate science already offers some insight. Researchers have proved that the temperature of the earth’s surface is rising, and they are virtually certain that the human release of greenhouse gases, mainly from the burning of fossil fuels, is the major reason. For decades, they have predicted that this would lead to changes in the frequency of extreme weather events, and statistics show that has begun to happen.
Ernest Shackleton’s failed quest to reach the South Pole is still a management tutorial in how to face repeated crises. The crew of his ship, the Endurance, was photographed in July 1915 while trapped by an ice floe.
A HUNDRED years ago this month, the Norwegian explorer Roald Amundsen and four teammates became the first men to reach the South Pole, arriving in triumph five weeks ahead of Robert Falcon Scott. The Amundsen crew would return safely to its base, but, heartbreakingly, Scott and his four British companions died on the return journey.
The race to the pole has long attracted leadership experts, who like to contrast the Amundsen focus on efficiency and innovation with Scott’s more deliberate dedication to scientific pursuit.
But another polar explorer — Ernest Shackleton — faced harsh conditions in a way that speaks more directly to our time. The Shackleton expedition, from 1914 to 1916, is a compelling story of leadership when disaster strikes again and again.
Consider just a handful of recent events: the financial crisis of 2008; the gulf oil spill of 2010; and the Japanese nuclear disaster, the debt-ceiling debacle and euro crisis this year. Constant turbulence seems to be the new normal, and effective leadership is crucial in containing it.
Real leaders, wrote the novelist David Foster Wallace, are people who “help us overcome the limitations of our own individual laziness and selfishness and weakness and fear and get us to do better, harder things than we can get ourselves to do on our own.”
Shackleton exemplified this kind of leadership for almost two years on the ice. What can we learn from his actions?
Retreat of Glaciers Makes Some Climbs Tougher, but according to local high altitude medicine expert Dr. Peter Hackett, “At extreme altitude, the increasing temperature is making Everest a tiny bit easier to climb.”
Glaciers are retreating in many high ranges, including the Himalayas and the Alps. The Kyetrak Glacier in 2009.
Three decades ago, when Mick Fowler climbed the north face of the Eiger in the Swiss Alps, he used crampons and ice axes to haul himself up sheer walls of snow and ice.
Nowadays, during a hot summer, “you’ll find virtually no snow and ice on its face — none,” he said. “It’s a huge change over the last 20 to 30 years.”
Like Mr. Fowler, mountaineers around the world find themselves forced to adjust to a warming world. Routes that were icy or glaciated in the middle part of the past century, when the world’s highest peaks were being conquered for the first time, are turning into unstable and unappetizing rock.
“Almost every area and route in every range have been affected,” said Jeff Jackson, editor of Rock and Ice , a climbing magazine.
The main issue, scientists and climbers say, is that as permafrost, ice and glaciers melt, they leave areas of teetering rock. Some rock formations high in the mountains have essentially been held together by ice, which “acts as a glue,” said Christian Schlüchter, a professor at the University of Bern’s Institute of Geological Sciences . When the glue disappears — something he has seen happening over the past 15 years in the Alps — the formations can collapse, especially if they are initially weak.
Retreating glaciers are a problem because they leave rocks and other sediments that are poorly compacted and of different sizes, which can make footing treacherous and lead to rockfalls, said John H. Shaw, chairman of the Earth and Planetary Sciences Department at Harvard University.
A skeleton dressed in a Santa Claus costume is part of the holiday displays at the Loudoun County Courthouse in Leesburg, Va. Many local residents are not pleased with the “Skele-Claus” or other displays by secular activists and atheists.
Nativity scenes have long been a part of holiday displays at city halls and small-town courthouses across the country. This year, some proponents of secularism are finding new ways to protest the time-honored tradition. They’re putting up their own versions of the creche — and causing quite a commotion in places like Leesburg, Va.
For decades, a Nativity scene took center stage at the county courthouse there. But when some residents complained that the tradition violated a separation of church and state, its lawn was opened to numerous public displays. The decision to be more inclusive came after a 1989 Supreme Court ruling, which found a single creche on public property had an “impermissible effect of endorsing religion,” while a menorah and a Christmas tree together merely acknowledged holidays that are often celebrated secularly.
Atheist groups grabbed most of the 10 allotted spaces created by the county’s policy change in 2009, but their holiday displays are sparking more controversy this year than ever before.
There’s also something residents are calling the “Skele-Claus,” which, as the name suggests, is a skeleton dressed as Santa — that’s slung over a cross. The “Skele-Claus” has been torn down so many times that the county sheriff set up a 24-hour surveillance truck to watch over it.
Local news footage shows one vandal pulling the skeleton off of its cross and gingerly pulling its bones apart. When asked why, the middle-aged saboteur said simply, “Because it’s offensive.”
“These people are, as far as I’m concerned, hell-bent on not only banning everything on the lawn … by being as offensive as possible, but they’re basically trying to stamp out religion,” Reid says.
But that’s not the intention at all, according to Rick Wingrove, the director of the Virginia chapter of American Atheists.
He points out that some of the displays put up by atheist groups aren’t at all offensive. One bears the message “Seasons Greetings, Peace, Love, Health and Happiness to All.” They also put up a Christmas tree adorned with tinsel and lights, only instead of ornaments, it’s covered with notes from atheists that say things like, “I can be moral without religion.”
“We’re not attacking Christmas. We’re not attacking Christianity,” Wingrove says of the atheist group he represents. “We’re trying to preserve the constitutional separation between church and state.”
Northern cardinals have higher-pitched songs, but those sounds can get garbled in cities, so they’ve started to sing a little lower.
December 24, 2011
Have you ever been at a bar where it was just too loud to hit on anybody? Birds feel your pain.
A big part of being a bird is singing, often to attract other birds. Sometimes it’s hard to do that amid all the noise in a city. For birds, it’s like living in a bar, scientist Peter Marra says.
“Those sounds compete with low-frequency sounds,” Marra says, and that makes it hard for birds that sing at a lower pitch to hook up.
But there’s no stopping love, and Marra has found that those birds are changing their tune.
Turns out, urban birds like the gray catbird or the robin are singing differently from their country cousins. Marra, a conservation scientist at the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute, recently published his findings in the journal Behavioral Ecology.
Charles “Teenie” Harris/Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburg
Little boy boxer, seated in boxing ring, possibly in Kay Boys’ Club, circa 1945
Charles “Teenie” Harris didn’t need to wander far during his life as a photographer. His hometown of Pittsburgh, Penn., supplied enough images to sustain a career. For more than four decades, Harris was one of the principal photographers for thePittsburgh Courier, one of the nation’s pre-eminent black newspapers.