May 2019
Vol. IX, No. 5

May 2019: Our Best-of-Hubris Issue

Be quiet now and wait./It may be that the ocean one,/the one we desire so to move into and become,/desires  us out here on land a little longer,/going our sundry ways to the shore. By Rumi, from Bridge to the Soul: Journeys Into the Music and Silence of the Heart, transl. Coleman Barks

“A Beach Scene with Figures,” Oil on Board, by Spyros Vassiliou (1902-1985).

“Meager Wreath and Ship,” by Spyros Vassiliou, 1971.

This May, we offer you a palette of contributions from our writers and artists in a Best of Weekly Hubris edition of our monthly magazine. Here (again) this May, are Greek-Austrian photographer Doris Athanassakis; poet-essayist Jean Carroll Nolan; trumpeter-humorist Ross Konikoff; essayist-lyricist Elizabeth Boleman-Herring; Aikido Sensei Jerry Zimmerman; author-scenarist Burt Kempner; poet-essayist Anita Sullivan; historian Alexander Billinis; culinary and travel author Diana Farr Louis; playwright Helen Noakes; climate scientist Dr. Guy McPherson; essayist F. Theresa Gillard; gardener-essayist William A. Balk, Jr.; and sociologist Dr. William Ramp. (Cartoonist-lakeside photographer Mark Addison Kershaw, à rebours, presents a brand new collection of his original one-panel cartoons.)

About the artist featured on our May Home Page: Spyros Vassiliou/Σπύρος Βασιλείου 1903-1985) was a Greek painter, printmaker, illustrator, and stage designer. The townspeople of Galaxidi, where Vassiliou was born, collected money to send him to Athens in 1921, to study at the Athens School of Fine Arts. In 1929, Vassiliou held his first individual exhibition, and in 1930 he was awarded the Benaki Prize for his design of the Saint Dionysios Church in Kolonaki, Athens. In 1955, he designed and painted the interior of Saint Konstantinos Orthodox church of Detroit. In 1960, his autobiographical work, Lights & Shadows, was exhibited in the Guggenheim Museum. Vassiliou is recognized as a painter of the modern transformation of Greeces urban environment, depicting with his unflinching eye the sprawl that has now overwhelmed Athens,  a capital city once content to exist, humbly, in the shadow of its Acropolis. Vassiliou pays homage to the Byzantine icon by floating symbols of everyday Greek life on washes of gold or sea-blue, very much as the religious symbols float on gold in Orthodox art. For many years, the painter taught theater, and ss early as 1927, he designed sets and costumes for the stage. He also worked in film. Well known projects include Michalis Kakoyiannis 1962 adaptation of Euripedes, and Elektra. During the years of the German occupation of Greece (1941-1945), when painting supplies were scarce, Vassiliou turned to engraving and woodcuts. Works such as The Burial of Palamas and The Mourning of the Kalavrytans (1943) became famous in Greece as symbols of freedom.

Strongyli Kittens I

Strongyli Kittens I.

Out of Santorini

“Strongyli Kittens, Portfolio I,” (Best of Hubris) By Doris Athanassakis

SANTORINI Greece—This portfolio of ten Black & White images represented the first  offering of works by photographer Doris Athanassakis at Weekly Hubris. Athanassakis lives, part of the year, in Imerovigli,  a caldera-side village on the volcanic island of  Santorini. Of Greek and Austrian heritage, Athanassakis has been photographing her island home, its architecture, and its myriad residents, all her life, and her work comprises an ongoing and lifelong meditation upon her stunningly unique surroundings . . . and herself in them. (Read more . . .)

Mid-century child, Chicago; and the dreaded Buster Browns.

Mid-century child, Chicago; and the dreaded Buster Browns.

More Light

“Stargazing (& Shopping for Shoes) with My Mother,” (Best of Hubris) By Jean Carroll Nolan

SEASIDE California—(Weekly Hubris)—When I was a little girl, autumn meant school, and school meant new shoes, and new shoes meant a trip to Marshall Field’s, on State Street, and a visit with Miss Nightingale, the frightening guardian of the Children’s Shoe Department. My mother had the highest regard for Miss Nightingale, almost certainly because the latter was the willing collaborator in Mom’s campaign to insure that my feet were never pinched by my shoes, my arches never unsupported, my tender soles never without the protection of Sturdy Leather, my Well-Being never sacrificed to Vanity. (Read more . . .)

Well, Tarzan, shall we?

Well, Tarzan, shall we?

West Side Stories

“Naked, We Walked the Earth for Six Days, but Lo, On the Seventh, We Dressed,” (Best of Hubris) By Ross Konikoff

MANHATTAN New York—(Weekly Hubris)—It has been said that nudity is easy for the beautiful. While this may explain my wife, Deborah’s, abandon, my own fearlessness I attribute to denial and poor vision. Early on, Deborah and I discovered that neither of us was the least bit reluctant to unattire at a nude beach or a European-style spa. In fact, I enjoy being unveiled amongst other nudies, not for prurient reasons alone (my personal favorite) but simply because it feels strangely liberating. Were I assigned to create a detailed universal regimen for a healthy lifestyle, I would go so far as to prioritize nudity—right up there with daily exercise and a healthy diet. (Read more . . .)

Vassilis Zambaras at home in Meligala, Greece. (Photo: Michalis Karagiannis)

Vassilis Zambaras at home in Meligala.

By Way of Being

“Dear Vassili . . .” (Best of Hubris) By Elizabeth Boleman-Herring

LIMBEAU Florida(Weekly Hubris)—Dear Vassili, on Facebook recently, you asked me if I’m doing any better; I have to say that, honestly, I’m worse. A month ago, triggered by Hurricane Irma (and storms always take me right back to Kevin’s drowning,) I retreated from the world completely. I stopped speaking to anyone but my spouse and my 15-minutes-a-month shrink (all that American health care permits), turned off my ancient flip-phone, and waxed full-bore agoraphobe. One day, dragged to the local swimming pool by Dean, an octogenarian World War Two vet and Trump voter mistook me for someone who’d agree with him about Colin Kaepernick’s taking a knee at football games. I nearly killed him. Quite literally, Vassili. You could have heard me screaming bloody murder at the man half a mile away. (Read more . . .)

The first step is the rarest.

The first step is the rarest.

Squibs & Blurbs

“Walking on Earth is Heaven,” (Best of Hubris) By Jerry Zimmerman

TEANECK New Jersey—(Weekly Hubris)—“I have often walked down this street before; but the pavement always stayed beneath my feet before.” Have you felt the pavement beneath your feet? Have you felt your feet while you were walking? Do you care? I do. I care because I have begun not only to feel my feet when I walk but to also feel myself walking. This is big news! And I don’t mean that I now think about how I feel while walking but, rather, that I have lately had the very direct experience of simply being myself, walking. Very much a first step (pardon the pun) to being present, in the moment. (Read more . . .)

"Time," by Gediminas Pranckevičius.

Time, by Gediminas Pranckevičius.

Pinhead Angel 

“Beached (Best of Hubris),” (Best of Hubris) By Burt Kempner

GAINESVILLE Florida—(Weekly Hubris)—(This column first ran in May 2019.)—The prophetic boy walked along the beach, wreathed in thought, so much so that he almost missed the dark form sprawled on the sand. It was a young pilot whale, breathing heavily. “Don’t panic, my brother, “ the boy said. “I’ll run back to the village and return with enough people to push you back into the water.” “No.” A voiced sounded in the boy’s head. “No, let me stay here.” “But surely you will die.” “I am sacrificing myself,” the whale said. “Why?” asked the shaman. (Read more . . .)

The author and a friend watch the eclipse in a hay field. (Photo: Tim Sullivan) 

The author and a friend watch the eclipse in a hay field.

On The Other Hand

“The Summer of Two Eclipses,” (Best of Hubris) By Anita Sullivan

EUGENE Oregon—(Weekly Hubris)—Last night, I slipped out the front door shortly after dark to check on the moon. Statistically three days shy of full, the dear orb had entered that phase when it seems to sink into a terminal soporific roundness, as if this time it has truly and finally arrived, like a teenage emperor declaring in full arrogance, “I will never wane again!” The not-quite moon fools me every month; I always think, “Surely tonight it’s full!” when, actually, I’ve missed it by two or three days, either side. But last night’s round-ish moon looked sunken and ghastly, an unhealthy dark orange, not its usual crisp brilliant yellow. (Read more . . .)

“Three Studies of Isabel Rawsthorne,” by Francis Bacon (1966)

“Three Studies of Isabel Rawsthorne,” by Francis Bacon (1966)

Roaming East Roman

“Unmasked Nostalgia,” (Best of Hubris) By Alexander Billinis

CHICAGO Illinois—(Weekly Hubris)—Some people wear the mask of only one nation, assigned them at birth, while I wear three. There’s my American mask, a legacy of birthplace, upbringing, and living four-fifths of my life here. There is the Greek mask, bequeathed me by grandparents and parents, later made more solid due to dual-citizenship and life experience. Finally, there is the Serbian mask, now worn, at times, due to intimate association (marriage), three years’ residence in my wife’s homeland, and the close religious, geographical, and cultural association between Serb and Greek. Three masks, three faces, three identities. All, finally, me, though no single mask defines me. (Read more . . .)

Church of Aghios Nikolaos, Spetses, Greece.

Church of Aghios Nikolaos, Spetses.

Eating Well Is The Best Revenge

“Christening Amongst The Unorthodox Orthodox,” (Best of Hubris) By Diana Farr Louis 

ATHENS Greece—(Weekly Hubris)—Not long ago, we went to a christening in a sweet little church just outside Athens. The ceremony unfolded the way it’s meant to: the priest was benignly pious, the baby howled when dunked in the font, the parents beamed throughout, and the guests were delighted with such a good excuse for a party. I couldn’t help but compare it to the first Greek Orthodox christening I ever attended—my own son’s—in the late 1960s on the island of Spetses. It was a bright afternoon in early September. Before entering the monastery church of Aghios Nikolaos above the Old Harbor, my son and I posed for the camera. In the photo both of us are wearing yellow. Simple yellow seersucker that matches our almost identical thatch of straw-colored hair. We are smiling innocently. Neither of us has any idea of what is about to happen.(Read more . . .)

Gustav Klimt’s The Knight of the Beethoven Frieze, purported to be a portrait of Gustav Mahler.

Gustav Klimt’s The Knight of the Beethoven Frieze.

Waking Point

“Ludwig, Two Gustavs & Me,” (Best of Hubris) By Helen Noakes

SAN FRANCISCO California—(Weekly Hubris)—When I first heard it, I was ten, and living in a two-story house in Yokohama, Japan. It was a fall evening. Our view of the ocean through the front windows, of distant Mount Fuji to our south, had been eclipsed by the night. My Great Uncle, Costas, was having an after dinner chat with my grandmother, at the dining room table. My mother was fussing with one household chore or another. Our radio, which sat on a lamp table next to a blue leather sofa, was tuned, as usual, to Armed Forces Radio. Since it was a Sunday evening, the scheduled program was Live from Carnegie Hall. The orchestra, I don’t remember which, was performing Ludwig van Beethoven’s “Ninth Symphony.(Read more . . .)

Archbishop Desmond Tutu: “If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor.”

Archbishop Desmond Tutu.

Going Dark

“Had Enough, Yet?” (Best of Hubris) By Dr. Guy McPherson

SAN ANTONIO Belize—(Weekly Hubris)—Fascism has come to the industrialized world, and the evidence is particularly clear in the United States. As I wrote in my 2005 book, Killing the Natives: Has the American Dream Become a Nightmare? , regarding the executive branch of the US government: “[The administration] is characterized by powerful and continuing expressions of nationalism, identification of enemies as a unifying cause, obsession with militaristic national security and military supremacy, interlinking of religion and the ruling elite, obsession with crime and punishment, disdain for the importance of human rights and intellectuals who support them, cronyism, corruption, sexism, protection of corporate power, suppression of labor, control over mass media, and fraudulent elections. These are the defining elements of fascism.” (Read more . . .)

What I don’t get is how everyone always blames everything on God.

Status: Quo Minus

“Out Of The Closet, Finally, (Best of Hubris) By F. Theresa Gillard

BOSTON Massachusetts—(Weekly Hubris)—You know, I keep sitting around wondering where all the dead people are. Yeah, I know, they’re either in limbo, heaven or hell, right? I’m a believer, meaning I believe in one supreme, divine being. What I don’t get is how everyone always blames everything on God. I know He’s all powerful and He could certainly prevent things from happening, but why blame it on Him when He doesn’t intercede? I usually avoid religion and politics like the plague of locusts. Yet, I cannot help myself here. If there’s a hurricane that wipes out everything and everyone in its path, you’ll hear people saying we can’t explain why God does what He does. And, I’m thinking, um, is it just me? Because, from what I understand, a hurricane is a naturally occurring weather phenomenon and if we had not inhabited that particular area in the first place, the destruction would be victim-less. (Read more . . .)


Epicurus’ Porch

“Fire In the Belly,” (Best of Hubris) By William A. Balk, Jr.

ELKO South Carolina—(Weekly Hubris)—“Who are you?” The woman facing me did not sound confrontational, although her question was put with a certain emphatic expectation of being answered. It seemed not to be a simple request for my name; rather, I was expected to reply in a manner which would allow my inquisitor properly to place me in her universe. I had noticed her immediately when she entered the gallery in the old section of Georgetown, DC. I sometimes filled in at my friends’ shop when they needed to go on a buying trip. She was of a certain age, as one used to say, and clearly brooked no foolishness when it came to engaging in business. Her large and expressive eyes peered alertly, her mouth revealing no hint of emotion, only intensity. Not exactly pretty, but strikingly vibrant and self-assured, she was a presence, and I felt an immediate . . . well . . . attraction.(Read more . . .)

Glinting in the afternoon sun.

Glinting in the afternoon sun.

Small Things Recollected

“Trash Talk (Best of Hubris),” By Dr. William Ramp

LETHBRIDGE Alberta, Canada—(Weekly Hubris)—(This column first ran in August 2017)—This month, I’m pondering useless things. I’ve dealt with big themes and issues over the past year, but I want to get back to the spirit of my banner title, “Small Things Recollected,” which plays on the title of a lovely and classic archaeological text about humble things: James Deetz’s In Small Things Forgotten. The dramatis personae of this column are discarded items so forgotten that perhaps they no longer even count as trash. Or even as “items.” Useless beyond description. I’m daring myself to make the result interesting to you. Truth and dare. (Read more . . .)


“Lusty Month of May Toons,” By Mark Addison Kershaw

ATLANTA Georgia—(Weekly Hubris)—May 2019—Mark Addison Kershaw is the only Contributor represented by new work this May but, though he is a newcomer to our Masthead, we consider him, always, among the . . . Best of Hubris. (Read more . . .)

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