Aline Kominsky-Crumb, Pioneering Comics Memoirist, Dies at 74

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Her autobiographical, raunchy and darkly absurd comics in the 1970s made her a feminist heroine to a generation of women

By Michael S. Rosenwald

December 1, 2022

Aline Kominsky-Crumb at the Society of Illustrators in New York on March 24, 2011. (Richard Drew/AP)

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Aline Kominsky-Crumb, the underground cartoonist whose autobiographical, raunchy and darkly absurd comics in the 1970s made her a feminist heroine to a generation of women who saw their own frustrations and sexual longings in her drawings, died Nov. 30 at her home in a remote village near Nimes, France. She was 74.

Her husband, the underground cartoonist Robert Crumb, said the cause was pancreatic cancer.

Mrs. Kominsky-Crumb’s crudely drawn black-and-white drawings depicted the sexualized counterculture through stories of women with hairy armpits, big noses, large rear-ends. The women were self-depictions of Ms. Kominsky-Crumb, who once said, “I’m not capable of making anything up.”

Though her work in later years appeared in the New Yorker and galleries around the world, Mrs. Kominsky-Crumb said that was never her intention.

“I was drawn to underground comics,” she said in 2020 interview with a German art journal, “because I wanted to do something that people would throw away. Basically, they’d read it on the toilet and throw away. That’s what I like.” If it was unimportant, she added, “there would be the most freedom in that art.”

In 1972, Mrs. Kominsky-Crumb published “Goldie: A Neurotic Woman”— believed to be the first autobiographical comic published by a woman — in Wimmen’s Comix, an underground, all-female anthology with contributors such as Lee Mars and Diane Noomin, who died earlier this year.

The drawings and language in the comic show a plump young woman reminiscing about listening to her parents have sex as she desperately tries to find a suitable sexual mate. In one panel, Goldie is shown sitting at a desk, with her legs wide open and thinking something that cannot be printed in a family newspaper.

“She specialized in outgrossing anyone who was going to call her gross,” Noomin told the New York Times in 2018.

One of her most famous works is a drawing of herself on a toilet, published on the cover of “Twisted Sisters,” an anthology she co-founded with Noomin. Her underwear is pulled down around her high, thick-red socks. She’s looking in a mirror and thinks, “I LOOK LIKE a 50 YR. OLD BUSINESSMAN.” She also wonders, “HOW MANY CALORIES IN A CHEESE ENCHILADA?”

Mrs. Kominsky-Crumb’s characters were “made up of exaggerated parts of me that I blow up and push to the maximum,” she told the Huffington Post in 2017. “I drew the most sordid, unacceptable parts of myself. I’m not as ugly as I draw myself. But when I was younger, that’s how I felt, so that’s what I drew.”

Self Portrait by cartoonist and artist Aline Kominsky-Crumb. (Aline Kominsky-Crumb/Fantagraphics Books, Inc)

Aline Goldsmith was born on Aug. 1, 1948, in Five Towns, N.Y., and grew up in a dysfunctional middle class Jewish household. Her mother came from a wealthy family and her father was a businessman who dabbled in organized crime.

~~~ CONTINUE READING IN THE WASHINGTON POST ~~~

“Pisco Hours” at Provisions Downtown Ridgway ~ Friday/tomorrow night … 4 until ….

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Two surviving veterans from the Pisco Wars in South America will be guest bartenders at Provisions in downtown Ridgway tomorrow night. Tyler and sidekick rŌbert will be applying their copious knowledge and years of experience mixing their notorious and unmatched Pisco sours. Don’t be late and don’t be shy, you may never have another chance.

OFFICIALS FEAR ‘COMPLETE DOOMSDAY SCENARIO’ FOR DROUGHT-STRICKEN COLORADO RIVER ~ The Washington Post

A camper parked along Lake Powell in Big Water, Utah. Scientists fear the lake’s water level could reach a low that would make power generation at Glen Canyon Dam halt. (Joshua Lott/The Washington Post)

By Joshua Partlow

December 1, 2022

PAGE, Ariz. — The first sign of serious trouble for the drought-strickenAmerican Southwest could be a whirlpool.

It could happen if the surface of Lake Powell, a man-made reservoir along the Colorado River that’s already a quarter of its former size, drops another 38 feet down the concrete face of the 710-foot Glen Canyon Dam here. At that point, the surface would be approaching the tops of eight underwater openings that allow river water to pass through the hydroelectric dam.

The normally placid Lake Powell, the nation’s second-largest reservoir,could suddenly transform into something resembling a funnel, with water circling the openings, the dam’s operators say.

If that happens, the massive turbines that generate electricity for 4.5 million people would have to shut down — after nearly 60 years of use —or risk destruction from air bubbles. The only outlet for Colorado River water from the dam would then be a set of smaller, deeper and rarely used bypass tubes with a far more limited ability to pass water downstream to the Grand Canyon and the cities and farms in Arizona, Nevada and California.

Such an outcome — known as a “minimum power pool” — was once unfathomable here. Now, the federal government projects that day could come as soon as July.

Worse, officials warn, is the possibility of an even more catastrophic event. That is if the water level falls all the way to the lowest holes, so only small amounts could pass through the dam. Such a scenario — called “dead pool” — would transform Glen Canyon Dam from something that regulates an artery of national importance into a hulking concrete plug corking the Colorado River.

Anxiety about such outcomes has worsened this year as a long-running drought has intensified in the Southwest. Reservoirs and groundwater supplies across the region have fallen dramatically, and states and cities have faced restrictions on water use amid dwindling supplies. The Colorado River, which serves roughly 1 in 10 Americans, is the region’s most important waterway.

The 1,450-mile river starts in the Colorado Rockies and ends in the Sea of Cortez in Mexico. There are more than a dozen dams along the river, creating major reservoirs such as Lake Powell and Lake Mead.

On the way to such dire outcomes at Lake Powell — which federal officials have begun both planning for and working aggressively to avoid — scientists and dam operators say water temperatures in the Grand Canyon would hit a roller coaster, going frigid overnight and then heating up again, throwing the iconic ecosystem into turmoil. Lake Powell’s surface has already fallen 170 feet.

Lake Powell drought threatens power loss for millions

Lucrative industries that attract visitors from around the world — the rainbow trout fishery above Lees Ferry, rafting trips through the Grand Canyon — would be threatened. And eventually the only water escaping to the Colorado River basin’s southern states and Mexico could be what flows into Lake Powell from the north and sloshes over the lip of the dam’s lowest holes.

“A complete doomsday scenario,” said Bob Martin, deputy power manager at Glen Canyon Dam, as he peered down at the shimmering blue of Lake Powell from the rim of the dam.

~~~ CONTINUE READING IN THE WASHINGTON POST ~~~

THE MYSTERY OF THE MISQUOTED QUOTE FROM “THE MAN WHO SHOT LIBERTY VALANCE” ~ SEVEN CIRCUMSTANCES

BY M. BIJMAN

Sometimes, a line from a book or a film just sounds to good to resist. It sticks in your head and you tend to quote it – and eventually you change the words while you’re at it. (“Play it again, Sam” – anyone?) When this happens, not only does the quote get mangled – and taken out of context – but the original author is soon forgotten, and his or her original meaning is lost. This is what happened when I latched onto Larry McMurtry’s epigraph in The Last kind Words Saloon:

“I had the great director John Ford in mind when I wrote this book; he famously said that when you had to choose between history and legend, print the legend. And so I’ve done.”

This sentence (underlined) was in a film, a song, a play, and a short story. But where did it actually come from? And what was it, originally?

McMurtry not only recalled the line differently, but also gave it a different meaning by writing “choose between”, implying a choice between two related concepts. However, his version fits what he did in the novel – which was to depict, and print, the legend of Wyatt Earp, not the real-life Wyatt Earp. Also, it was not John Ford who said it. It was the screenplay writers who wrote the lines for the actor who played the part of the reporter, “Maxwell Scott”, in the 1962 film, The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, which was directed by John Ford. There’s a mouthful – but that’s not all of it.

1. First there was the screenplay…

Screenplay writers James Warner Bellah and Willis Goldbeck have to be credited with those words. Ford, having become famous, is often credited with it, and not those guys of whom I’ve never heard. In the film, the characters say this:

“Ransom Stoddard: You’re not going to use the story, Mr. Scott?
Maxwell Scott: No, sir. This is the West, sir. When the legend becomes fact, print the legend.”

In other words, when fiction becomes fact, print the fiction. A legend is folklore – or an old, made-up story – that people eventually believe took place in history and is true, because it sounds so convincing and humanistic. In the film, Maxwell Scott firmly chose legend over fact because legends sold more newspapers in the Wild West.

The film poster of The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, starring James (Jimmy) Stewart and John Wayne, and directed by John Ford.

They created a great exit line for the context that they had created in the film. The reporter, Maxwell Scott (played by Carleton Young), gets the facts about the celebrated career of “Ransom Stoddard” (played by James Stewart ) a senator who, in his youth, became famous for killing an outlaw, “Liberty Valance”.  Having listened to the roll-call of the senator’s achievements in politics and the law, which is much duller than the public gossip doing the rounds, Scott realizes that Stoddard’s entire reputation is based on the myth that he killed Valance. And  he rips up his notes and says the famous line.

It is ironic that one of the most quoted lines in the film is spoken by a minor character, right at the end. It is a line that reflects the state of journalism on the American Frontier, in the second half of the 19th century to about 1890, the period in which the film is set. (Clues in the film indicate that it takes place after 1876.)

Newspapers of the time contained sensationalist stories with blaring headlines. This sort of “Yellow Journalism” – the forerunner of today’s tabloids – was backed up by exaggerated and frankly fantastical “dime novels” about the “Wild West” that became hugely popular after 1859. What the public demanded, the public got. And what they got, they believed.

It also reflects the cynicism of the writers and their belief that in news publishing, the legend (a juicy bit of fiction that the public believes) is more acceptable than history (or the facts.) It was certainly true about Hollywood in those days, where the PR machines of the big movie studios churned out endless lies and legends about movie stars.

Their famous line has often been misquoted, for instance by film critic Richard Schickel in the New York Times, who not only attributed to the quote to John Ford, but also mangled it. He wrote:

”When the truth becomes legend, print the legend.”

When he wrote it like that – when fact becomes fiction, print the fiction – he got it backwards. It’s the opposite of the meaning of the original line.

~~~ CONTINUE READING ~~~

FLEETWOOD MAC SINGER-SONGWRITER CHRISTINE MCVIE DIES AT 79 ~ NPR

NEW YORK — Christine McVie, the British-born Fleetwood Mac vocalist, songwriter and keyboard player whose cool, soulful contralto helped define such classics as “You Make Loving Fun,” “Everywhere” and “Don’t Stop,” died Wednesday at age 79.

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Review: Lindsey Buckingham & Christine McVie

Her death was announced on the band’s social media accounts. No cause of death or other details were immediately provided, but a family statement said she “passed away peacefully at hospital this morning” with family around her after a “short illness.”

“She was truly one-of-a-kind, special and talented beyond measure,” the band’s statement reads in part.

McVie was a steady presence and personality in a band known for its frequent lineup changes and volatile personalities — notably fellow singer-songwriters Stevie Nicks and Lindsey Buckingham.

Fleetwood Mac started out as a London blues band in the 1960s, and evolved into one of the defining makers of 1970s California pop-rock, with the combined talents of McVie, Nicks and Buckingham anchored by the rhythm section of founder Mick Fleetwood on drums and John McVie on bass.

During its peak commercial years, from 1975-80, the band sold tens of millions of records and was an ongoing source of fascination for fans as it transformed personal battles into melodic, compelling songs. McVie herself had been married to John McVie, and their breakup — along with the split of Nicks and Buckingham — was famously documented on the 1977 release “Rumours,” among the bestselling albums of all time.

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Mick Fleetwood On Fleetwood Mac: ‘It Would Make A Great Play’

Fleetwood Mac was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1998. The group’s many other hit singles included Nicks’ “Dreams,” Buckingham’s “Go Your Own Way” and McVie’s “Little Lies.” One of McVie’s most beloved works, the thoughtful ballad “Songbird,” was a showcase for her in concert and covered by Willie Nelson, among others.

McVie, born Christine Perfect in Bouth, Lancashire, had been playing piano since childhood, but set aside her classical training once she heard early rock records by Fats Domino and others.

Remembering Fleetwood Mac Founder Peter Green, The Soulful Voice Of British Blues

While studying at the Moseley School of Art, she befriended various members of Britain’s emerging blues scene and, in her 20s, joined the band Chicken Shack as a singer and piano player. Among the rival bands she admired was Fleetwood Mac, which then featured the talents of blues guitarist Peter Green along with the rhythm section of Fleetwood and McVie. By 1970, she had joined the group and married John McVie.

Few bands succeeded so well as Fleetwood Mac, against such long odds. Green was among the many performers who left the group, and at various times Fleetwood Mac seemed on the verge of ending, or fading away. More recently, Buckingham was kicked out, replaced on tour by Mike Campbell and Neil Finn.

McVie herself left for years, only to return for good in 2014.

“I know it’s true even if it didn’t happen” Ken Kesey or Mark Twain? ~ Cross Country Skier

Interview and creative writing by Leath Tonino

rŌbert at Edgar’s Place, crédito total

Theater in Montrose

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Magic Circle Players 

Score Big With Amadeus

Okay, let’s be fair. 

After years of sometimes brilliant, often intriguing and always entertaining community theater in Telluride and Ouray, I’d become rather insular. I’d developed an unsubstantiated opinion that our small mountain towns offered the best chance of quality theater in the region.

Added to that there’s both tourist towns’ liberal distaste for Delta/Montrose‘s Trump/Boebert boosterism, particularly after a Delta jury thumbed their nose at Telluride citizens’ protecting their community gateway by arbitrarily doubling the cost of saving/condemning the Valley Floor to $50 million — twice what it had been appraised at. 

For me and others, opinion had become more like a full-fledged bias. Artistic as well as political. In all my 43 years on the Western Slope, I’d never gone to see a single play in Montrose. 

Kind of embarrassing actually for a former newspaper theater critic, son of a California community theater star, and one-time usher at the Schubert Theater in New Haven. 

Then, last month I heard a Colorado Public Radio interview with castmembers and organizers of the all-volunteer Magic Circle Players of Montrose. Started in 1959, MCP is a repertoire theater company that has been putting on plays for 63 years. On the air, one of their spokespeople made the claim that MCP shows were the best community theater on the Western Slope. It sounded like hubris. I resolved to go see for myself.

Plus, the current show that was just winding up its run was Amadeus. I had missed the original play. And the movie. It’s been on my to-do list forever. Since that hadn’t happened. I enlisted a friend from Hotchkiss to join me. We attended the finale performance of the late Brit playwright and screenwriter Peter Shaffer’s best known work, which had been awarded five Tonys for the stage play (1980) and eight Oscars for the movie (1984).

A period piece set in 18th Century Vienna, the play is a nuanced struggle between sloppy brilliant Good and clever mediocre Evil, the composer Saltieri we’ve never heard of and the composer Mozart we all love. I figured I’d go and see if MCP could pull off the conceit of this recent classic and make it believable and engaging –- especially as I was very interested in the story and I had not seen previous interpretations.

Well, to be honest, it was not only believable and engaging, it was terrific! I was blown away. In no small part because of really extraordinary lead actors. 

M.A. Smith was our Virgil on this Dantean descent into the hell of fame, jealousy, intrigue and betrayal, superbly re-creating Antonio Salieri for us. His foil — the babbling, immature and outre boy genius Wolfgang Mozart, excellently played by Everett Gregory — made us laugh, cringe and listen in awe to bits of his musical classics. Both gave dazzling performances.

Unfortunately, community theater is well-known for tolerating weak links in its productions. Hard to get professional quality acting out of volunteer thespians. But that’s just what Director Kathy Murdoch flat out did. 

Gary Hokit owned the charmingly stuffy (and dare I say witless — “There it is!” — or at least out-matched) Joseph II, Emperor of Austria. Janel Culver did a marvelous turn as Constanze Weber, Mozart’s wife. One could call each name on the playbill list and laud their very convincing performances, all in character, all audibly enunciating, all well-acted. 

Add to that a chorus that doubled as audiences, servants, crowds and crew, moving the delightfully minimalist set pieces in and out and making visible costume changes on stage in a marvelous choreography of inobtrusive staging.

In the second act I got to move from the back row to the front row. Up close I marveled at how well everything in the production worked. 

The ornate backdrop doubled cleverly as a screen where royal chambers and other relevant scenes were projected from the rear, giving an effective illusion of set changes. The costumes were lavish, well-made and appropriate. The tech, the lighting, the sound. 

Perhaps my one quibble might have been seeing upfront Gregory’s discrete headset microphone visibly scotch-taped to his cheek. But hardly significant.

Just about everything about MCP’s production was so well done that this one teensy faux pax was easily offset by the effective voicing the headsets provided the primary castmembers. 

A standing ovation from the large crowd in the 225 seat MCP theater validated the excellence of the evening.

Magic Circle Players, bravo! 

I’m definitely planning to go back to see more MCP shows. Particularly any in which Smith or Gregory star, or where Murdoch directs. 

Next up in early December is MCP’s Readers Theater offering: Miracle on 34th St. –- a script reading in the guise of a live radio play. 

Arturo Buen Tiempo