A Picture is Worth …. Three Words??

Ziolek Cartoon

When I left the Warsaw Business Journal to return to Canada my colleagues were at a loss as to what to buy me as a going away present. It had to be something that could be packed in a suitcase – our belongs had been shipped – and it had to be something that reflected our time in Poland and my time at the Journal. On the quiet I mentioned to our HR chief that I had always admired the work of Ziolek, our Editorial cartoonist, and one cartoon in particular had intrigued and unsettled me. And I would like to have the original.

Political cartooning is an art form in Poland and was often the only way dissidence could be expressed during much of the 20th century. Many Polish artists learned to work a type of shorthand into their work – particularly in cartoons and posters – that spoke volumes to the Polish viewer yet said nothing to the Government Censor. The cartoon I wanted had been published without a caption but subtly addressed the allegations made in a book that had been published the week before.

My colleagues at the paper were a little perplexed and unsettled by my request but on my final day I was presented with the framed original. It has hung in our two homes back in Canada and caused some equally unsettled reactions from many of our guests. Yes it is a strange cartoon and on the surface is just another rendering of the horrors of War. But this is a Polish cartoon and there is a hidden message that speaks to a disturbing event in corporate and world history.

(The picture is rather low quality as I was not able to successfully scan the cartoon but had to take a photo of it.)

You Can Say That There ….. Now!

As a follow up to last week – the vagina thing:

The School Board in Cross River N.Y. has had second thoughts about suspending the three girls who used the dreaded V word in a presentation of The Vagina Monologues. As with most bureaucratic changes of heart/mind only after parents, students, author Eve Ensler, the news media and the Civil Liberties Union raised a fuss did Superintendent Bob Lichtenfeld see it for the foolishness it was.

And I may be reading this wrong – after several Venetian murder mysteries I become cynical about officialdom – but is Superintendent Bob hanging the principal out of dry? Or just his principles??

Send In The Clowns

Saturday December 8, 1973 – Majestic Theater – A Little Night Music

It was a crowded weekend – Italiana with Marilyn Horne at the Opera Met, the Baroque Angel Christmas tree at the Museum Met, High Mass at St. Mary the Virgin (Smokey Mary’s), lunch at the Russian Tearoom, , non-stop activity – but suddenly that Saturday evening there came a grace note in both the musical and our weekend – a shared moment of melancholy quiet.

Glynis Johns sat motionless at stage left and in a voice that was never really meant to sing broke our hearts. Send In the Clowns had become popular in Judy Collins’ silken – almost sexless – version but here was the woman Sondheim had written it for, singing it the way he meant it to be sung. Singing of middle-aged love and the sadness of chances missed. And in the reprise with Len Cariou singing of the sweet foolishness and deep love that reunited them and would hold them together. It was a magical moment.

As with any magical moment that you discover has been captured you wonder if it was really all that wonderful….. all that magical. Looking at this clip: it was and it still is.

The Ambassador Who Came In From the Heat

Or should have!

We’ve seen some strange behavior from Ambassadors and Embassy staff in the past 20-odd years, but this story on the BBC takes the prize.

And I would tend to agree with Israeli State Controller – a little more effort should be put into examination but I think the Ambassador had the transparency thing down pat!

He’s Free!

John Inman - BBC photographJohn Inman died last week at the age of 71. He was at the end of an era that allowed us to find stereotypes funny. He and others like him – Kenneth (I’ve come all over queer!) Williams et al – were not politically correct by today’s standards but damn it they made us laugh! So did Mrs Slocum, Captain Peacock and the rest of the pc-challenged caricatures on Are You Being Served. (And there are some very funny episodes at YouTube.com.)

Days after Mr. Inman’s death self-appointed spokespeople (that is the pc word I believe) for various gay groups were pontificating about the negative image of gay men Inman or rather his Mr Humphries gave the world. In today’s Times of London, Matthew Parris takes on these groups of humourless activists and reminds them that it was men like Inman that help them say “I’m free!”