A Luminous Halo

"Life is not a series of gig lamps symmetrically arranged; life is a luminous halo, a semi-transparent envelope surrounding us from the beginning of consciousness to the end." --Virginia Woolf

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Location: Springfield, Massachusetts, United States

Smith ’69, Purdue ’75. Anarchist; agnostic. Writer. Steward of the Pascal Emory house, an 1871 Second-Empire Victorian; of Sylvie, a 1974 Mercedes-Benz 450SL; and of Taz, a purebred Cockador who sets the standard for her breed. Happy enough for the present in Massachusetts, but always looking East.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Ugly Modern Building

I consider myself a preservationist, but that doesn't mean I'm against the new. I'm for saving the best of the past, but of course if we never get rid of anything, we'll soon be drowning in our old stuff, with no raw materials left to create anything fresh.

And it would seem that the human race, having consciousness and memory and language, would learn from the past, and create ever-more-splendid artifacts as it progresses. One has only to look at the contemporary urban landscape, however, to see that that's somehow not the way it all shakes out.

Here's an example of a really ugly modern building in downtown Springfield. Charlie Ryan tore down a lot of lovely structures in the Sixties, when he was mayor the first time around, in order to make room for these graceless concrete bunkers. The original developers were going under, and so local big rich company MassMutual took it over. They have some of their offices in the tallish structure.

If you're interested, the whole sorry story is outlined on deadmalls.com. Which might give you an hint as to what a big success it ended up being to knock down brick, granite, and brownstone, and replace it with concrete.

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Bad Pirate Poetry

Today be "Talk Like a Pirate Day," me hearties! And so I was thinkin' I'll not be givin' ye any bad poetry, although it be the day for it. But then I says to meself, says I, By the Powers! Somewhere in this scurvy world there must be a most excellently bad chantey dealin' with adventures of buccaneers on the high seas! And I'll be a son of a biscuit eater if I didn't find a right bonny one, from the great poet of Dundee hisself, William Topaz McGonagall. It bein' rather long, I'll be givin' ye but a taste of it here:

Captain Teach alias "Black Beard"

Edward Teach was a native of Bristol, and sailed from that port
On board a privateer, in search of sport,
As one of the crew, during the French War in that station,
And for personal courage he soon gained his Captain's approbation.

But the news spread throughout America, far and near,
And filled many of the inhabitants' hearts with fear;
But Lieutenant Maynard with his sloops of war directly steered,
And left James River on the 17th November in quest of Black Beard,
And on the evening of the 21st came in sight of the pirate;
And when Black Beard spied his sloops he felt elate.

When he saw the sloops sent to apprehend him,
He didn't lose his courage, but fiendishly did grin;
And told his men to cease from drinking and their tittle-tattle,
Although he had only twenty men on board, and prepare for battle.

In case anything should happen to him during the engagement,
One of his men asked him, who felt rather discontent,
Whether his wife knew where he had buried his pelf,
When he impiously replied that nobody knew but the devil and himself.

But the pirates' small shot or slugs didn't Maynard appal,
He told his men to take their cutlasses and be ready upon his call;
And to conceal themselves every man below,
While he would remain at the helm and face the foe.

At last with shots and wounds the pirate fell down dead,
Then from his body Maynard severed the pirate's head,
And suspended it upon his bowsprit-end,
And thanked God who so mercifully did him defend.

Black Beard derived his name from his long black beard,
Which terrified America more than any comet that had ever appeared;
But, thanks be to God, in this age we need not be afeared,
Of any such pirates as the inhuman Black Beard.

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