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1 January 2021
Vol. XI, No. 1

1 January 2021

“I fill my glass again/and give thanks for the trout,/the oak, and the yellow feather,/singing the room full of shadows,/as sun and earth and moon/circle one another in their impeccable orbits/and I get more and more cockeyed with gratitude.

—By Billy Collins, from “As If To Demonstrate An Eclipse”

Painting by Sol Halabi

Sueño de agua, by Sol Halabi.

“El fuego es paz,” by Sol Halabi.

“El fuego es paz,” by Sol Halabi.

With our January issue, we mark the beginning of our eleventh year of publication, and I want to thank all the writers, artists, and photographers who have given this unlikely journal its lasting and unique appeal. We have even, it appears, survived the year 2020, and in some style! We open this month with an essay on borrowing genius (the sincerest form of flattery), penned by our resident cornucopiest, Dr. Skip Eisiminger. Another anthologist of note, jazz trumpeter and Viceroy of Vinyl, Dean Pratt, next offers an exhaustive romp through the Big Band superlatives of Sauter & Finegan. Poet Claire Bateman follows, with an introduction to the work of Minnesota-based poet Maryann Corbett. Cuisinartist Diana Farr Louis returns after an absence of several months with thoughts from a, her, Greek island, in time of COVID (and with a recipe for comforting Cauliflower Gratin). Jazz trumpeter Ross Konikoff, in Manhattan, tiptoes out to a grand Greek restaurant and rubs elbows (well, sort of) with NYC glitterati. The Rev. Robin White, carrying Advent forward into the new year, speaks to our weary hearts of infinite possibilities, and climate scientist Dr. Guy McPherson delivers a soliloquy on . . . ownership. Then, we hear from William A. Balk, Jr., long locked down in the South Carolina Midlands with a family brimming with love. And Januarys issue closes with a shocking! video offering from Assistant Editor Tim Bayer. Note Well: Weekly Hubriss editorial staff of two (Tim Bayer and I) wish you all, everywhere, a 2021 to make the last four years of horror fade from memory.

About the artist featured on our January 2021 Home Page: Mixed-media artist and figurative painter Sol Halabi was born in 1977 in Cordoba, Argentina. In 1998, Halabi became a Specialist Designer at the National College of Monserrat/The National University of Cordoba, in 2000, she received a degree in Fine Arts at the Figueroa Alcorta School of Arts, Cordoba, and, in 2002, earned the Licentiate of Painting at the National University of Cordoba. Halabi’s works are held in private collections in Argentina, Chile, Costa Rica, Panama, Italy, Switzerland, Germany, and the United States, where one of her paintings was selected by MOCA Los Angeles. For further reading, go to Deanna Selene’s interview with the artist: To Paint That Eternal Music: Interview with Sol Halabi, Argentina.

“Two Men Contemplating the Moon,” by Caspar David Friedrich, ca. 1825–30.

“Two Men Contemplating the Moon.”

Skip the B.S.

“The Odor of Genius: Influence,” By Dr. Skip Eisiminger

CLEMSON South Carolina—(Weekly Hubris)—1 January 2021—Two paintings inspire a playwright 500 miles away, a woodcarver inspires a sculptor 3,000 miles away, and a glossy photograph in an American magazine inspires a British song writer. Often it takes Beecher’s blossom’s odor a century or more to work its magic across a continent or two, but, like that two-thousand-year-old urn that sent John Keats to his desk, it’s undying. To expand on my initial point, Samuel Beckett told a biographer that two sources of Waiting for Godot were paintings by the 19th-century German painter Caspar David Friedrich, both of which show two men beside a storm-blasted tree staring at a crescent moon. In similar fashion, 300 years after the death of the Anglo-Dutch woodcarver Grinling Gibbons, the American sculptor David Esterly “met” him and was inspired to carve feathers and flowers similar to but not copies of Gibbons’. Esterly admits that when he first saw Gibbons’ work, he didn’t know if he should, as one art critic put it, “steal from him, ignore him, or rebel against him.” In some ways, he did all three. (Read more . . .)

Sauter Finegan Inside

Inside Sauter-Finegan.

Vinyl Tap

“The Essential Listening of Sauter & Finegan,” By Dean Pratt

PENDLETON South Carolina—(Weekly Hubris)—1 January 2021—In the late 1970’s/1980’s, I had the honor and privilege to hold down the lead trumpet chair in The 92nd Street Y Studio Orchestra, conceived of and conducted by a dear, and sorely missed, friend and musician extraordinaire, Harvey Estrin. The orchestra was formed specifically to play the compositions and arrangements of Eddie Sauter and Bill Finegan. We rehearsed on Sunday mornings at the 92nd Street Y and put on two concerts a year there. It was one of the most satisfying experiences of my life to play that lead trumpet book. Having been an original member of the Sauter/Finegan Orchestra, Estrin not only loved the music but knew just how to get the most out of us younger musicians and bring it to life. Many of our concerts were attended by Eddie and Bill and we were humbled and blessed to perform this magnificent music in front of its creators. Luckily, as you will see by the LP’s listed here, I had been a devoted fan of this music for years before my tenure in The Studio Orchestra and this made the experience doubly special for me. (Read more . . .)

Poet Maryann Corbett. (Photo: Mims Photography.)

Poet Maryann Corbett.

Speculative Friction

“The Poetry of Maryann Corbett,” By Claire Bateman

GREENVILLE South Carolina—(Weekly Hubris)—1 January 2021—Poet Maryann Corbett earned a doctorate in English from the University of Minnesota in 1981 and expected to be teaching Beowulf and Chaucer and the history of the English language. Instead, she spent almost 35 years working for the Office of the Revisor of Statutes of the Minnesota Legislature, helping attorneys to write in plain English and coordinating the creating of finding aids for the law. In 2005, she returned to writing poetry after 30 years away from the craft, and is now the author of two chapbooks, four full-length collections already published, and two forthcoming books. Her books are: Breath Control (David Robert Books, 2012); Credo for the Checkout Line in Winter, a finalist for the Able Muse Prize (Able Muse, 2013); Mid Evil, winner of the Richard Wilbur Award (University of Evansville Press, 2015); and Street View, finalist for the Able Muse Prize and runner-up for the Hollis Summers Prize. Her fifth book, In Code, contains poems about her years with the Revisor’s Office and is due out this year. (Read more . . .)

Andriot horizons.

Andriot horizons.

Eating Well Is The Best Revenge

“Confessions of An Absent Columnist,” By Diana Farr Louis

ANDROS Greece—(Weekly Hubris)—1 January 2021—Country life and writing do not mix. After a full six months in the Andros outback, I can’t manage to sit at the laptop long enough to eke out more than a few emails a day, sometimes not even that. There’s always something I’d rather be doing or that demands instant attention. At first, I could blame the house. When we arrived in mid-June, the whole place was a disaster area. No electricity in half the house due to a fire in one room that had carbonized a plug and a socket but had been extinguished by damp so heavy and pervasive that everything in the room was sodden. One wall was soot black, the bed even had a puddle in the middle of it, and everything—cushions, books, paintings, a 60-year-old trunk, and the bed—had to be trashed. Added to that, the pergola was rotten, and the usual thistle army seemed more ferocious than usual, marshaling troops closer to the house. Tackling half a room a day, we managed to make two bedrooms and the living area clean and spider-free within a week, but the third bedroom took far longer and required several visits from the electrician who ended up boring a window from our storeroom into the adjacent bedroom to install a new fuse box. (Read more . . .)

Mediterranean sea denizens at Estiatorio Milos. (Photo: The New York Times.)

Mediterranean sea denizens at Estiatorio Milos.

West Side Stories

“Midtown Loup de Mer,” By Ross Konikoff

MANHATTAN New York—(Weekly Hubris)—1 January 2021—Last night, Deborah and I treated ourselves to a sumptuous feast at the highly regarded Greek restaurant, Estiatorio Milos on West 55th Street. Not five minutes after we were guided to our table, Jimmy Fallon was guided to the table next to ours. Five minutes after that, Lorne Michaels walked in and sat down next to Jimmy. Fortunately for us, Jimmy and Lorne, in a show of both respect for our privacy and their own self-restraint, pretended not to recognize me from my numerous TV appearances (“Good Morning America,” 2014, “The Today Show,” 1997, “The Rosie O’Donnell Show,” 2001, and two episodes of “The David Letterman Show,” 2014). After cocktails, we were led to a mountain of chipped ice, a shattered glacier upon which twitched an impressive variety of Mediterranean sea denizens. We settled on a two-pound Loup de Mer to headline. Co-starring was a Greek salad, along with a cameo by Greek fried potatoes. In short order, our catch was delivered by a phalanx of swarthy Greek seamen posing as waiters. We ate, drank, and sang sea shanties while savoring wines from Santorini and waters from Newark. (Read more . . .)

“Study of a Child,” by Leonardo da Vinci.

“Study of a Child,” by Leonardo da Vinci.

Wing + Prayer

“Not Impossible,” By The Rev. Robin White

ANDERSON South Carolina—(Weekly Hubris)—1 January 2021—I was about five when I first discovered that a woman can have a baby without being married. I remember hearing my grandmother and her sisters, my mother and her sisters talking about “Shirley,” a woman in our very small town who was going to have a baby “out of wedlock.” I didn’t know what this “wedlock” thing was, but I knew it was something serious. As I half-listened to their conversation, I was able to deduce that having this baby was a perilous affair and that Shirley’s life had been ruined. I can still recall the sick feeling in my stomach—sadness, despair, hopelessness—as they spoke of her impossible situation. And then, Michael was born and Shirley’s decision to raise her baby on her own rather than heeding the advice of so many who had urged her to give him up for adoption actually seemed appropriate and even unremarkable. Not remarkable. Mother and baby attended church regularly and he not only became the shining light of Shirley’s life, but also the life of the church, his extended family. (Read more . . .)

Live long but, mainly, prosper . . . .

Live long but, mainly, prosper . . . .

Going Dark

“The American Dream (in Context),” By Dr. Guy McPherson

MAITLAND Florida(Weekly Hubris)—1 January 2021“The American Dream” was a phrase coined by James Truslow Adams in his 1931 book, The Epic of America. My 2005 book, Killing the Natives, begins with a comparison of Adams’ ideas to the version of the American Dream articulated by First Officer Spock from the television series Star Trek (“live long and prosper”). A brief overview follows, after which I illustrate a few of the horrors resulting from the American Dream as it is currently interpreted. Since the historian James Truslow Adams coined the phrase in 1931 until shortly before Mr. Spock’s eloquent catch-phrase became his signature line, the American Dream meant “life should be better and richer and fuller for every man, with opportunity for each according to his ability or achievement.” Adams was clear to note that the American Dream was not about material possessions; rather, it was “a dream of a social order in which each man and each woman shall be able to attain to the fullest stature of which they are innately capable . . . unhampered by the barriers which had slowly been erected in older civilizations, unrepressed by social orders which had developed for the benefit of classes rather than for the simple human being of any and every class.”  (Read more . . .)

Two hands.

Two hands.

Epicurus Porch

Beginnings & Ends,” By William A. Balk, Jr.

ELKO South Carolina—(Weekly Hubris)—1 January 2021—The Christmas weekend has ended and the New Year weekend presents itself as I write, putting finis to a year the universe seems ready to see in the rearview mirror. There’s little point in my adding calamity and disaster and pain to the myriad stories shared or kept close to heart across the globe about the last year. If I look forward into this new year—neither easy to do nor particularly appealing—I consistently find myself still pessimistic. The most celebratory thing I can come up with about 2021 is that it will not be 2020. The prospect of a quick end to the pandemic and its ravages looks grim; vaccine doses continue to be distributed sparely and inconsistently; care for those infected is certainly improved, but rampant spreading of the virus has already overfilled hospitals and rationed access to care. I see that our upstate South Carolina ‘international city’ of Greenville plans a grand New Year’s Eve celebration citywide; I feel little comfort in reading that “organizers must still follow COVID-19 restrictions,” as 250 hundred-dollar-ticket holders dance the Shag all night, revel in a bar-crawl, enjoy jazz and dinner or a classy red-carpet reception and dinner for the non-blue-jeans crowd. (Read more . . .)

Playing “Africa” with Tesla.

Playing “Africa” with Tesla.

Won Over By Reality

“Shocking!” By Tim Bayer

BRIGHTON New York—(Weekly Hubris)—1 January 2021—What is that?! That (in this instance) is multiple Tesla coils configured to make music, and, because they are Tesla coils, a stunning light show is automatically included. Created by inventor Nicola Tesla in 1891, Tesla coils produce high-voltage, low-current, high-frequency alternating-current electricity. Using some sophisticated controlling equipment, it is possible to produce musical tones by modulating the spark output. Whatever. I shared the video link of this thing playing music because its cool. (Read more . . .)

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