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February 2020
Vol. X, No. 2

February 2020: The Fauna Issue

“Every word is a messenger. Some have wings; some are filled with fire; some are filled with death.”—from “Sand Dabs, Six,” by Mary Oliver

Dedicated to the lost fauna of Australia.

“The Rabbit In The Hat,” “Maybe If I Wore A Mask,” and “The Boy With The Big Fish,” portraits by Amy Sherald.

“The Rabbit In The Hat,” “Maybe If I Wore A Mask,” “The Boy With The Big Fish,” Amy Sherald.

“It Made Sense...Mostly In Her Mind,” by Amy Sherald.

“It Made Sense, Mostly In Her Mind,” by Amy Sherald.

February’s Weekly Hubris showcases Omnia Animalia . . . and 20 of the magazines columnists, cartoonists, and photographers. Tim Bayer, Weekly Hubris’s resident Good Samaritan and Assistant Editor, is observed doing a good deed by a mysterious presence.  Poet/essayist Don Schofield brings us a brimming-over-with-grace paean to the fauna of Greece. Claire Bateman’s column space is devoted to poet Richard St. John’s astonishing verse. Reiki Master/dramatist Helen Noakes is visited by, perhaps, an avatar of Hermes. Dr. Skip Eisiminger has written, beautifully, of elephants, and we re-visit children’s book author Burt Kempner’s essay on re-wilding. Santorini-based photographer Doris Athanassakis’ kittens, and F. Theresa Gillard’s Balinese cat, Xerxes, come next in our line-up, followed by Mark Addison Kershaw’s pen-and-ink critters. Dr. Guy McPherson expounds on that nearly-late, not-so-great beast, Homo sapiens. Jean Carroll Nolan has written, with love, about the noble racehorse Barbaro. Diana Farr Louis, in a gorgeous slice of life piece, writes of her friend, Natalia Mela’s menagerie (and closes with a recipe for kid with artichokes). Adrienne Mayor, author of The Amazons: Lives and Legends of Warrior Women across the Ancient World, discusses life with ferrets. The Rev. Robin White is transfixed by ethereal visions in the wild, and Elizabeth Boleman-Herring reprises a meditation on Ouzo, her piebald mentor. City-bred Ross Konikoff recounts adventures amongst beings of the air (an owl and a hawk, in particular). Big Band leader Dean Pratt, posting this month for the first time, is a bit cheekily off-topic with an essay on Woody Herman’s “thundering herds.” William A. Balk, Jr. tells us, again, about Buppy, Tatters, Lupe, and Moggie; and Dr. William Ramp writes about Fauna on (and just off) the farm, and the social ecology of domesticated beasties. We close with a revisitation of Sensei Jerry Zimmerman’s piece on his study of Gurdjieff (not at all on-topic, but we’ll take Jerry any way we can get him). All in all, this is a stellar issue!

About portraitist Amy Sherald, four of whose works are featured on our February Home Page: Amy Sherald is an American painter based in Baltimore, Maryland. Best known for her portraits, Sherald chooses subjects which look to enlarge the genre of American art historical realism by telling African-American stories within their own tradition. After earning a BA in painting from Clark Atlanta University, Sherald apprenticed with Dr. Arturo Lindsay at Spelman College; then received an MFA in painting from the Maryland Institute College of Art; and continued her studies with painter Odd Nerdrum in Larvik, Norway. On February 12, 2018 the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery unveiled Sherald’s portrait of Michelle Obama, making her the first African-American woman to paint an official First Lady portrait.

Teaching how to change a tire.

Teaching how to change a tire.

Won Over By Reality

“I Didn’t Know Who Was Watching,” By Tim Bayer

BRIGHTON New York—(Weekly Hubris)—February 2020—Though there were a number of other vehicles in the turn-out, the two 20-somethings walked up to Emily and me: “We have a flat tire. Can you help us?” definitely would help! Like my dad, I had successfully helped stranded drivers a number of times. I knew that I would get the car back on the road. What I did not know was that, for this good deed, I would be closely watched by an unexpected observer. (Read more . . .)

Young goat on a rock, Kythnos, 2018. 

Young goat on a rock, Kythnos, 2018.

Imagination’s Favors

“With the Wide Eyes of Animals,” By Don Schofield

THESSALONIKI Greece—(Weekly Hubris)—February 2020—In the poetry I’ve written up to now (four books and an ms. in progress), over 60 types of fauna appear: dogs and donkeys; scorpions, frogs and lizards; flies, gnats and ticks; grubs, maggots and fleas; butterflies, hummingbirds, and over a dozen types of birds; horses and zebras; deer and moose; cows and bulls; bees, ladybugs and June bugs; lions, camels and elephants; rats, cats and crabs; and a half-dozen species of fish. But by far the most frequent animals to appear are goats and sheep. They can be found, often playing a central role, in over 20 poems. (Read more . . .)

The poet Richard St. John.

Poet Richard St. John.

Speculative Friction

“The Poetry of Richard St. John,” By Claire Bateman

GREENVILLE South Carolina—(Weekly Hubris)—February 2020—Richard St. John is the author of Each Perfected Name (Truman State University Press, 2015), The Pure Inconstancy of Grace (published in 2005 by Truman State University Press, as first runner-up for the T. S. Eliot Prize for Poetry), and Shrine (a long poem released as a chapbook in 2011). He has read widely across the country, connecting not only with university and literary audiences, but also with listeners new to poetry. (Read more . . .)

Lakota Coyote Dancer, by David Michael Kennedy.

Lakota Coyote Dancer.

Waking Point

“Coyote,” By Helen Noakes

SAN FRANCISCO California—(Weekly Hubris)—February 2020It was the mountains, Georgia O’Keefe blue in the distance, the light, as relentless as Greek light, the scent of wild grasses, dry earth, the strange sense of belongingit was all that and something else, something beyond definitionit was love at first sight. It was Santa Fe. And it was the sky, big and blue one minute, petulant with gathering afternoon clouds and growling with thunder the next. With the ease of an expert lover, Santa Fe seduced me. I decided then and there, without hesitation or reason, that this would be the America of my return. (Read more . . .)

Creative pachydermy.

Creative pachydermy.

Skip the B.S.

“Templars of Tooth: Elephants,” By Dr. Skip Eisiminger

CLEMSON South Carolina—(Weekly Hubris)—January 2020—Nearing 50 years since we last read to our children at bedtime, I’m not sure whether Babar the elephant or George the chimpanzee was their favorite story-book mammal. I’ll say it was Babar because elephants are the protagonists in two of my favorite stories involving our children and grandchildren. When our son was about twelve, we took him to a Greenville Little Theater production of “Hamlet.” Before GLT had a theater of its own, they used the city’s old armory, which doubled as a venue for farm-animal shows and circus performances, one of which was scheduled for the approaching weekend. (Read more . . .)

Fierce when necessary

Fierce when necessary

Pinhead Angel 

“Towards Rewilding,” By Burt Kempner

GAINESVILLE Florida—(Weekly Hubris)—February 2020—I often ask people to name the most ancient language. The usual responses are Sanskrit, Egyptian or Babylonian. But they’re all wrong. The original language is far, far older than that. It is Nature. Our ancestors spoke it fluently. The rustling of wind through the trees was their newspaper. Birdsong was their entertainment and the movements of animals alerted them to possible dangers. Perhaps they were even able to communicate with the creatures of land, air, and sea. But we’ve long forgotten that language and the sacred connections among all beings, and we feel the pain of that loss like amputees do a phantom limb. We will never be fully complete unless we rewild ourselves. (Read more . . .)

Strongyli Kittens XI.

Strongyli Kittens.

Out of Santorini

“Kittens of Santorini,” By Doris Athanassakis

IMEROVIGLI, Santorini, Greece—(Weekly Hubris)—February 2020—Up until 2013 a world-renowned Santorini restaurateur, Doris Athanassakis changed course in mid-life and now devotes her time to photographing her beloved island and working as a body-work therapist (massage, Chinese Medicine, Shiatsu, Reflexology, aromatherapy, and other healing modalities) on Santorini and in Athens. A multi-multi-lingual, and multi-cultural bi-national (Greek and Austrian), Athanassakis spends part of each year in each of her homelands, but always returns in the spring to the light and line of Santorini, the Cycladic island which is her abiding inspiration. (Read more . . .)

I am Balinese, if you please.

I am Balinese, if you please.

Status: Quo Minus

“The Late, Great Xerxes, aka Come-On & Cat-Ass,” By F. Theresa Gillard

BOSTON Massachusetts—(Weekly Hubris)—February 2020—I have had many pet friends over the years. My greatest childhood frustration stemmed from not being able to help them when they became ill. So, my grand plan was to become a veterinarian. This remained my plan until I got to college and realized that pre-vet meant biology, chemistry and math. I was young and extremely frivolous, meaning that there was no way I was going to actually study. Much to the chagrin of my family, I changed my major to Journalism. Lord knows that I’d been running around, since I was five years old, telling anyone that would listen to a child that I was going to be a vet. Everyone believed me. There was no reason not to and my many pets over the years helped to seal the promise. (Read more . . .)

Addison

“Faunatoons” By Mark Addison Kershaw

ATLANTA Georgia—(Weekly Hubris)—February 2020—Editor’s Utterly Unnecessary Introductory Note: In 1960, James Thurber said, “My drawings have been described as pre-intentionalist, meaning that they were finished before the ideas for them had occurred to me. I shall not argue the point.” One month earlier, in that same year, the cartoonist said, Humor is emotional chaos remembered in tranquility.” Mark Addison Kershaw, however, in response to his editor’s constant badgering for “bits of text to insert before your cartoons begin,” said . . . nothing, as per usual; content, as he was, to let his bear, his penguins, his cat, bird, and salamander speak for themselves. (Read more . . .)

George Carlin.

George Carlin.

Going Dark

“Human Animals?,” By Dr. Guy McPherson

MAITLAND Florida—(Weekly Hubris)—February 2020—In May, 2018, United States President Donald Trump referred to undocumented immigrants from Central America as “animals.” He received a lot of criticism for the remark, although he was correct: Humans are animals. Afflicted with a severe case of human superiority, we consider it an insult when we are, correctly, called, “animals.” As a result, hardly anybody who belongs to the species Homo sapiens uses this language when referring to our own species, Homo sapiens. Humans differ from non-human animals in several ways. We have proportionately larger brains, language more complex than most other animals, and the ability to foresee our own, individual deaths. We can go a step further and foresee our own extinction, too. (Read more . . .)

“Barbaro, and Jockey Edgar Prado” (Painting by Robert Clark).

“Barbaro, and Jockey Edgar Prado.”

More Light

“Barbaro Takes Flight,” By Jean Carroll Nolan

SEASIDE California—(Weekly Hubris)—February 2020—Horse racing is an odd sport, comprising in equal parts hard-headed business decisions, abuse and coddling of the four-legged principals, and glorious, epic performances that generate passionate love. I once wrote about the horses who can’t run well, who do not win often enough to, in the eyes of their connections, justify the cost of keeping them, and are therefore sent to slaughter. It is an ugly and horrible business, when viewed through that lens. I know full well that the majority of thoroughbreds do not win, are not legendary, do not garner admiration far and wide, and come to a variety of ends, based on the inclinations of their owners and on sheer luck. A few go to retirement facilities, some retrain as riding horses, some compete in eventing, (steeplechase, dressage, horse shows), some, as previously noted, go to a slaughterhouse, to end up as dinner in Japan or Belgium, or as pet food. It is a crap shoot and, since I am a lover of beasties, I am deeply disturbed by the fate I know awaits many of the athletes on any given track on any given day. And, yet . . . (Read more . . .)

Nata in her studio in 2004.

Nata in her studio in 2004.

Eating Well Is The Best Revenge

“Natalia Mela’s Menagerie,” By Diana Farr Louis

ATHENS Greece—(Weekly Hubris)—February 2020—Last spring, one of Greece’s finest artists, the legendary Natalia Mela, passed away at the age of 96. In addition to two children and two or three grandchildren, she left behind a host of vibrant sculptures. Some are statues of famous people, like her grandfather, Pavlos Melas, who died in Macedonia in 1904 for the cause of the region’s freedom from the Ottomans, or the Spetses admiral Laskarina Bouboulina, who led her own ship and seven others against them in the Revolution of 1821. But besides heroes and heroines, real or mythical, she drew most of her inspiration from nature.  (Read more . . .)

A mid-air ferret.

A mid-air ferret.

Collected Curiosities

“Living With Ferrets,” By Adrienne Mayor

STANFORD California—(Weekly Hubris)—February 2020—Denise came to live with us when we moved from Athens, Greece, to Montana in the summer of 1980. Born in the stable of the renowned classical guitarist Christopher Parkening, Denise turned up for sale ($20) at Farmer’s Market in Bozeman. We’d never seen a little ferret kit before, and were enchanted by the tiny black-masked creature’s habit of hopping sideways while chattering happily, and awed by her ability to slip under doors like a furry snake. Ferrets were virtually unknown in American households at this time, and I think Josh and I were among the first to have a ferret as a pet. We named her Denise, after the 1963 song by Randy and the Rainbows, covered in 1978 as “Denis” by the New Wave band Blondie, and crooned by Deborah Harry: “Denis, Denis/Oh Denis, scooby do,/I’m in love with you.” (Read more . . .)

Albino deer, Wood County, Wisconsin.

Albino deer, Wood County, Wisconsin.

Wing + Prayer

“Revelation in White,” By The Reverend Robin White

LAKE HARTWELL South Carolina—(Weekly Hubris)—February 2020—Many years ago, very early on in my ministry, my faithful companion Eli (short for Elijah) and I hiked several times a week at Killen’s Pond State Park, just south of our home in Dover, Delaware. Eli, who was a 60-pound Yellow Labrador Retriever, loved swimming in the pond. One December afternoon, as we hiked the path leading to the edge of the water, Eli trotted on ahead of me. He was always very good about stopping to turn his head back and wait for me to catch up. On this particular day, however, he ran out of sight. Suddenly, I heard a great splash, one so enormously loud that I knew it involved more than just 60 pounds of dog.  (Read more . . .)

Ouzo, early on, on Lake Hartwell.

Ouzo, early on, on Lake Hartwell.

By Way of Being

“Ouzo of Dalmatia,” By Elizabeth Boleman-Herring

PENDLETON South Carolina—(Weekly Hubris)—February 2020—From the very beginning, from the moment we first saw Ouzo, I knew he was the one. Up until that day, and ever after Ouzo, I have failed (after a fashion) with dogs. My first dog, a wire-haired terrier brought home to me when I was five, bit me in the face, and was returned to his breeders. My second dog, Brandy, a golden mutt of too much tail and too short legs, I brought home from a Chicago pound in high school. But my family moved soon thereafter, and Brandy found a happier, more permanent berth with neighbors. My third dog, a stray collie, I rescued in college: within weeks, Gulliver had died in my arms of internal parasites. My (briefly) fourth dog, Tatavla, far preferred the local butcher in Ano Mera, Mykonos to me, and I could not blame him. He ran away one last time, and I let him go. (Read more . . .)

“Sign Language with Birds.”

West Side Stories

“Haunted by John James Audubon,” By Ross Konikoff

MANHATTAN New York—(Weekly Hubris)—February 2020—My mother died suddenly, so my brother, my sister, and I gathered together for the first time in a decade in order to grieve, redistribute her possessions, and clear out her Tampa co-op. As we settled in the first evening together, the wine began flowing, along with the family stories, recounting the fun we had growing up together and marveling at the fact that we had somehow survived our childhood in light of the crazy and dangerous things we had gotten away with back in the days before seat belts, smoking bans, child car seats, the silly notion that playing with matches was dangerous, and before children were considered sacred snowflakes, no longer allowed to participate in a game of “tag,” where the stigma of having been chosen “IT” might lead to irreparable psychological scarring. (Read more . . .)

Woody Herman and his Herd, 1946. (Photo: Frank Driggs.)

Woody Herman and Herd, 1946.

Vinyl Tap

“Woody Herman’s Thundering Herds,” By Dean Pratt

PENDLETON South Carolina & NEW YORK CITY New York—(Weekly Hubris)—February 2020—My friend Audrey Mannes Mosello put this (vinyl) ball in motion when she asked me, on Facebook, to post my favorite albums on my wall over a specified period of time. Or something like that. Audrey, you know what you asked, but I doubt you expected the deluge that would follow as a result. Never one to color inside the lines, I decided to view your request as an open-ended one. When you have over 30,000 LPs, CDs, and other media of preservation in your analog archive, a 20-day Challenge will not suffice. So, you all now know where to lay the blame, years from now, when I am still posting “my favorite albums.” There are a lot of them. My first offering of favorite albums comprises five by Woody Herman and his Herds. How many herds were there? Most people say five: The First Herd, The Second Herd, The Third Herd, The Swinging Herd, and The Thundering Herd. It’s hard to get all the herds in for one selection, but these five albums will do. (Read more . . .)

Irish Setter on point.

Irish Setter on point.

Epicurus’ Porch

“Of Buppy, Tatters, Lupe & Moggie,” By William A. Balk, Jr.

ELKO South Carolina—(Weekly Hubris)—February 2020—Maternal instinct—and perhaps an inkling of eternal fame—brought a she-wolf to save the abandoned infant twins, Romulus and Remus, from death; suckling the pair, protecting the young brothers in her den on the Palatine Hill, the she-wolf set the stage for the founding of Rome. Buppy, it must be said, was no she-wolf, although the Canis lupus nurturing gene had descended intact to her. An Irish Setter, bred to be a gun-dog like her father, Buppy arrived in the family just before I was born; and, like her father, Buppy excelled in the field, quick to set and hold a point as my grandfather and his friends stalked a dinner of quail to precede their evening of storytelling and old bourbon. (Read more . . .)

Clydesdale horses, charcoal on whitewash, m.20C, Inverharroch (©The Cabrach Trust, by permission)

Clydesdale horses, charcoal on whitewash, m.20C, Inverharroch.

Small Things Recollected

“Farm & Feral Fauna,” By Dr. William Ramp

LETHBRIDGE, ALBERTA Canada—(Weekly Hubris)—February 2020—I suspect most of us, when we think of “fauna,” tend to imagine wildlife. That begs a question: can domesticated animals develop a social ecology of their own; one that escapes the dictation of their human masters and owners? What might that look like? This month, I’ve gathered together some anecdotal accounts of the ways in which domestic fauna have flowed within and between the spaces that humans divide and call property, negotiating and subverting the worlds of their containment, inserting themselves in our lives at their behest as well as ours. Even as we use them ever more intensively, and fit them to our worlds, our modes of production and consumption, our priorities and needs, our emotions and identifications, they can wander out of focus in ways to which we should attend. (Read more . . .)

“Sometimes, your head is in the city but your heart is in the country.”

“Sometimes, your head is in the city but your heart is in the country.”

Squibs & Blurbs

“In Two Places At Once,” By Jerry Zimmerman

TEANECK New Jersey—(Weekly Hubris)—February 2020—Many years ago, my first wife, Sara, and I were part of a group of people studying the ideas of G. I. Gurdjieff, the Russian philosopher and mystic (1866-1949), a man I never met but whose ideas about mankind’s predicament as human beings and our possibilities for transformation are original, difficult to unpack, and hard to shake once you’ve experienced even the smallest new insight from being exposed to them. Part of the studies my wife and I were involved in entailed traveling to a large estate in Westchester, Connecticut on weekends to spend an entire day in various hands-on experiments, endeavoring to “be present” while working on very normal tasks. We either went together or took turns, spending an entire Saturday or Sunday away from home almost every weekend for several years. (Read more . . .)

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