15 July – Feast of St. Swithin and Our 32nd Anniversary

St. Swithin, stained glass

St. Swithin, stained glass

Today is the feast day of many saints – the big web calendar of saints lists fifty-five of them, many largely anonymous.

A favorite is Saint Swithin (or Swithun), a ninth-century English bishop reputed to possess a post-mortem talent for weather forecasting (Perhaps, given his view from above, he may have some advance knowledge of cloud movements?).

A charming legend recounts how he miraculously restored a basketful of eggs, carried for sale by a Winchester egg woman, that had been maliciously broken by some workmen.

A warning about putting all one’s eggs into one basket? Or that, having done so, there is still hope? Or a love from the common street vendor? Restoration?

Who knows.

In any case, I wish to mark today because it carries great significance in my little life – a life as anonymous as that of most of today’s patron saints.  For it was 32 years agotoday that I was married to my wife, Mimi, the source of most of the good things that have happened in my life.

Mimi and  in NYC's Central Park, one snowy December

Mimi and I in NYC's Central Park, one snowy December

May this good fortune long continue.

Advertisements
Published in: on 15 July 2009 at 12:44 pm  Comments (1)  
Tags: , , ,

13 July – Feast Day of Blessed Jacobus of Voragine, Author of the Golden Legend

St. Christopher, Guardian of Safe Journeys, from Jacobus' Golden Legend

St. Christopher, Guardian of Safe Journeys, from Jacobus' Golden Legend

Hard to imagine the history of Western Art without the participation of this thirteenth century inadvertent writer.  Jacobus was archbishop of Genoa, which would provide him a small place in Italian Church history, but inarguably his greatest gift to us was his compilation of the lives and legends of the saints, in the text popularly known as the Golden Legend. Not a properly readable set of stories, it serves more as a gathering of seeds for sermons and other oratory. The tales range from the sublime to the most fanciful, with gruesome helpings of misogyny and antisemitism (perfect mirror of its age).

If you ever wondered why those saints in Gothic and Rennaisance art and architecture are occupied with odd tasks, or are carrying curious artifacts, the Golden Legend is your key. Jacobus’ writings provided the visual clues to religious compositions for centuries.
As a footnote to St. Christopher, above, herewith a short poem I wrote comoing home last night from the Ford Amphithetre and Gregorio Luke’s presentation on Rufino Tamayo:

Dragging east along Hollywood

Big chunk of moon hanging low

under the Bronson Street sign.

It was: Take the moon or take the freeway.

I hooked a quick right onto the 101

Under a falling star, home to my baby,

Who fell asleep

Praying I would get home safe.

12 July – Feast Day of Saint Veronica

veronica iii Today’s issue of the New York Times Travel section has a short but not so sweet piece on our Los Angeles neighborhood, Highland Park.

Sadly, NYT’s first foray into the 90042 got it wrong, or at least came up woefully incomplete.

Three of the four businesses mentioned lie along a mere block-and-a-half of York Boulevard;
and the fourth, the admittedly fun Society of the Spectacles eyeglass shop, is just down the street.
What??
No Figueroa Street, the long, broad and longtime heart of Highland Park??
Apparently not:
The most egregious comment (one hopefully taken out of context)
comes from Cafe de Leche’s owner Matt Schodor, who says,
“The landscape has changed significantly. Now, everything is centered on one street.”
Oh. Is it? What about:
Avenue 50 Studio, a non-profit community arts and culture gallery, founded in early 2000 by local artist Kathy Gallegos, was one of the first – and still flourishing – cultural outposts to put out a shingle in the neighborhood. Housed in what was, decades ago, a small automotive garage, in a hardscrabble landscape abutting the Metro line snaking up to Pasadena, Avenue 50 now shelters two artist studios and an Etsy-ite fabric artist, as well as providing Northeast L.A. with monthly exhibitions of cultural significance and outreach; as well as concerts, poetry readings and workshops, weekly yoga classes, the occasional Women-Only massage party, and more.
[Note: I had the good fortune to have a solo show for my then-a-birthing “All the Saints of the City of the Angels” project there the year Avenue 50 opened, and I have had (I think) four more shows there in the intervening nine years, and was tapped to serve on its Board of Directors when the gallery went 501 c-3 several years back. ]
Figueroa Street between Avenue 50 and York boasts all sorts of cultural richness of the sort that precludes many of us from ever needing to fight the westbound traffic of the Santa Monica 10 Freeway:
Chicken Boy, the once-beleaguered and now much-beloved tongue-in-cheek Statue of Liberty of Northeast L.A., perched (of course) above Future Studio Gallery, an appropriately quirky venue for pretty quirky art, replete with a souvenir shop;
The Highland Theatre, where first-run movies are shown in modest circumstances for less than the cost of a louche’s latte;
A cornucopia of great taco trucks and, increasingly, pirate/private nighttime taco stands, where dedicated men and women sizzle buche, carnitas, cebollitas y mas, with griddles and gas tanks under jury-rigged mood lighting in alleyways and in front of grocery stores and (Yes!) tire repair shops  – Just one dollar for a salsa verde stairway to heaven.
There’s much more I could add, but the morning grows long. In the end, perhaps there’s little reason to fault the New York Times for its incomplete reportage on a distant zip code, for naively compacting a vibrant community to four shops on three blocks.
After all it took the Los Angeles Times nine years to write its first review of Avenue 50 Studio, just down the hill from where a number of its now-laid-off reporters once lived and commuted….
As Saint Veronica’s vera icon teaches us, the truth is often far more complex than it looks on the surface.