Category Archives: Minimalism

The Pencil Today:

THE QUOTE

“The sad truth is that most evil is done by people who never make up their minds to be good or evil.” — Hannah Arendt

OUTDOOR LOVIN’

The IDS this morning runs a story about the Starlite Drive-In, the first outdoor movie theater in the state.

Built in 1955, it still stands at 7630 South Old State Road 37. The Starlite opened for the 2012 season this past weekend, drawing about 500 cars for a double bill of “The Hunger Games” and “Mission Impossible 4.”

The Loved One and I plan to get out to the Starlite sometime this summer so we can make out in the car.

PISTOL LOVIN’

I’m trying not to jump on the Trayvon Martin bandwagon at this moment because, as a very, very prominent attorney in these parts reminded me the other day, we don’t know many of the facts yet.

Trayvon Martin And George Zimmerman

Highly emotionally charged incidents like this one draw the ranters and the ravers out of the deep woods. Like that despicable New Orleans cop who tweeted, “Act like a Thug Die like one!”

Never mind the borderline illiteracy of the man’s wireless ejaculation, this officer of the law is saying if you walk around wearing what he considers to be the uniform of gangsters, you ought to have your life taken.

The cop has been suspended without pay. If I’m the chief of police, I fire his emotionally unqualified ass forthwith.

Anyway, the shooter claims he and Martin had a scuffle. Let’s assume that’s true. Should we be able to pump lead into people whenever we find ourselves in a fight? Especially when we’ve been trailing them in the dark?

See, these are the chickens that come home to roost when you’re a nation in love with guns.

FRANKFURT LOVIN’

The German city of Frankfurt has a new mayor. Peter Feldmann, a Social Democrat, takes over the fifth largest city in Germany on July 1st.

Feldmann beat the Christian Democrat candidate with 57 percent of the vote.

Feldmann is a Jew.

Man.

Feldmann

It’s ironic. I’d just watched the movie “Downfall” (originally “Der Untergang“) the other day. It’s a German production with English subtitles. You can get it on Netflix.

The movie recounts the last 12 days of the Nazi regime and is set primarily in Hitler’s underground bunker. It’s as powerful a piece as you’re likely to see. Much of the story is based on the recollections of Hitler’s stenographer, Traudl Junge.

The actual Junge opens the film by saying, essentially, How should I have known what those guys were doing? I was just a kid.

Junge

The movie’s coda carries a different tune. I won’t spoil it for you by telegraphing it here.

Anyway, Hitler’s surviving boys always said Yeah, we screwed up but at least we did something about those pesky Jews.

In the movie, Hitler doesn’t allow the possibility that he screwed up but he seems most proud of the fact that he stood tall against the Jews.

Bruno Ganz As Adolf Hitler

A few people who were forced onto cattle cars and shipped off to concentration camps are still alive to this day. Most of them wore the mandated Star of David.

It’s been only 75 years since the end of the Holocaust. And, yeah, anti-Semitism now and again makes a reappearance in Europe.

But Frankfurt has a Jewish mayor.

I thought you might appreciate some good news.

MIES LOVIN’

Didja catch today’s Google Doodle?

March 27th is Ludwig Mies van der Rohe‘s birthday so Google put up a stylized image of one of the architect’s most notable designs. It’s Crown Hall at the Illinois Institute of Technology‘s campus on the South Side of Chicago.

Crown Hall

Mies, as he’s known familiarly, was perhaps the key figure in 20th Century world architecture. The simplicity of his work was stunning. His famed aphorism, “Less is More,” was the imprimatur for a generation of architects who filled the world’s big cities with box-like, prismatic skyscrapers.

Mies’s 860-880 North Lake Shore Drive Apartments (1951)

Whereas Mies’s boxes were elegant and visually arresting, the slew of copycats who followed him turned his minimalism into a stultifying conformity.

Michael Wolf’s Photo, “tc 81”

See? Jumping on a bandwagon rarely turns out well.

LOVIN’ YOU

Here’s another reason I love doing this blog. Minnie Riperton‘s song “Lovin’ You” seemed a perfect wrap up for the series of headlines above. So, in the course of researching Riperton, I discovered Maya Rudolph, ex of Saturday Night Live, is her daughter.

That might be common knowledge but now I know.

Cool, huh? Now, an admission — this song really gets on my nerves.

The Pencil Today:

THE QUOTE

“Only two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity — and I’m not sure about the former.” — Albert Einstein

A HEAVENLY PIONEER

Bloomington’s own Camilla Williams, international opera star and professor emeritus at IU, died Sunday. She was 92.

Williams

Williams was thought to be the first black woman to appear with a major US opera company, the New York City Opera in 1946. Her late husband, Charles Beavers, was an attorney for Malcolm X.

MASTER OF MINIMALISM

Philip Glass is 75 today. He is also still very, very cool.

Glass

Do yourself a favor and download the documentary, “Koyaanisqatsi: Life Out of Balance.” It is a gloriously beautiful and ugly examination of life on late 20th Century Earth. It has no narrator; no human’s voice is heard throughout. The only sound you’ll hear is Glass’s musical score.

Glass presaged trance music by decades. And the composer certainly influenced Brian Eno, whose ambient forms beginning in the mid-1970s helped save the world from the navel-gazing pap of the likes of Kansas and other uber-pretentious prog rockers.

Eno

Glass may well be the composer music students in the year 2512 revere as they do Bach or Wagner today.

INDIANA: THE SQUARED STATE

Now that the great state o’Indiana is considering teaching the myth of Intelligent Design in our public schools, it’s worth keeping in mind that our fair fiftieth of this holy land once before attempted to throw a caveman’s club into the gears of intellectual progress.

Mental Floss points out that in the 1890s, an Indiana chucklehead by the name of Edward J. Goodwin fantasized that he’d discovered a method to “square the circle,” a long disproved mathematical exercise. Goodwin was convinced that by equating the circle with a square, one could easily find its area.

Part of Goodwin’s fever dream was to jigger with the value of pi, the constant that allows the sane among us to calculate a circle’s area. It was the equivalent of NASA navigators saying, “Aw, what the hell, let’s just call the distance to the moon 240,000 miles — what’s a couple thousand miles one way or another?”

Given that attitude, the mummified corpses of Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin might today be floating several billion miles outside our Solar System.

Just Point That Thing Toward The Moon, Boys

Goodwin — from the town of Solitude, appropriately enough — told the world in the 1890s that he’d found the secret to squaring the circle. In the grand tradition of many another snake oil salesman, Goodwin was more than willing to let mathematicians and educators use his secret formula — for a price.

But he had a soft spot for Indiana and offered to let Hoosier State schools teach his method for free as long as the state legislature would enact a statute declaring his crackpot idea the real thing.

And guess what — several Indiana House committees studied his equations, including his insistence that pi should be 3.2 (as opposed to the accurate constant 3.141592653589793….) The committees approved Goodwin’s methods and wrote up a bill declaring pi to be 3.2 and the circle, legally, squared.

And then the full House approved the bill unanimously! By the time the nation’s newspapers got hold of this news and began to bray with laughter at Indiana, the state Senate defeated the bill. Even that vote was iffy after a Senate committee passed it onto the floor.

Science and Indiana — I wonder if this is the first time the two words have ever appeared together in print.

GIRL OF MY DREAMS

Another chestnut from my college radio years, by Bram Tchiakovsky.

Pure power pop poetry:

Judy was an American girl/

She came in the morning/

With the US Mail.

Enjoy the soaring melody, goosebump harmony, and bell-ringing rhythm chord progressions.

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