Steak

A guy named Kinsey made quite the splash — built lasting infamy, in fact — with his research in the late 1940s revealing how often men and women supposedly thought about sex. It was groundbreaking stuff. And in 2019? Who knows? At my age, who cares? But based on no research whatsoever beyond a keen sense of my fellow males’ desires and a finger on the collective pulse, I reckon men spend more time thinking about different, more nutritious sins of the flesh than the carnal. If there is a hardy perennial in the masculine thought forest, surely it is the right way to cook a steak.‘

I recall, many beautiful moons ago, when I was courting my lovely Leigh, I knew pretty soon that she was the person I wanted to spend the rest of my life with. And that was well before, Mr Lethlean, she cooked me a steak. Now she is not overly fond, herself, of great slabs of red meat on a plate, but when she did present me with that first rump, well, there was the decided bonus; the icing on the cake. I already had realised she was a wonder in the kitchen, but that evening, feasting on her tender, juicy, charred to perfection piece of beef, I was in gastronomic heaven. She seemed to know all about the heat required initially, how long on each side to grill it and that it is necessary to rest it afterwards. But, for all her expertise, it is a rare occurrence that we do steak at home. We usually head out for that – or at least that is my aim. Leigh will usually order something else from the menu, but once in a blue moon will have a small eye-fillet or something akin. I invariably put my hand up for the rump, although my expectation is it will never match that piece of meat I was tempted with way back when. But occasionally I’m surprised.

More often that not it’s the Claremont we head to. There the steaks are basic – large enough but of a thin cut. Tasty, certainly – and filling. Relatively inexpensive they are for, after all, this is a working-class venue. We’ll call the rumps there working class too, shall we? But we like the feel of the place, Great Northern and Furphies are on tap and it’s fairly close to home.

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We go further afield when we up the ante to middle class. I can cite Burnie’s Mallee Grill and East Devonport’s The Argosy as the epitome of knowing how to consistently produce a solid product when it comes to the steaks they turn out. I’ve eaten at each oodles of times and they’re great value for your dollar, never stinting on size or quality.

I am not an upper class person by nature and not at all into fine dining, but for top notch steaks, in my experience, NoHo’s The Roaring Grill is the place to head. They have proven, on the rare – get it, rare (I usually order medium) – occasions we have been there that they have the art to transform top quality cuts into the culinary nirvana close to what was produced that night at Leigh’s Lane Street abode.

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But then, earlier this week, I struck it at, some would say, the unlikeliest of locations. And after having broken my rule, too, about only ordering rumps. A piece of beef to match. The venue didn’t offer that usual choice of cut so I opted for the porterhouse. I must admit I was pleasantly surprised by the size of the portion that arrived on my plate and, my lordy, was it succulent. The generous, thickly hewn slice was just singed enough for my taste and gorgeously pink in the middle. Divine. Where was this, you may want to know? The once humble Risdon Brook Hotel, now recently and pleasantly tarted up. It is conveniently placed around halfway between Eastlands and our home on the river, so it’s ideal to linger there for a counter meal after a late afternoon movie or shopping. I know I’m already hankering for a repeat.

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But the change in the habit had me thinking, later on, as to the etymology of the word ‘porterhouse’ in reference to steak. In my mind it conjured up Nineteenth Century Thames-side London of smoggy mist and foul pungent aromas off the river. I had a vision of a bustling, smoky, none-too-savoury very common inn (house) full of porters drinking, well, porter and feasting on steak and oysters out of trenchers. But, taking to Wikipedia, I found, disappointingly, it had its origins on the other side of the Atlantic. The exact provenance is still in dispute but most seem to think the name originated from a Mr Zachariah B Porter who ran Porter’s Hotel on, appropriately, Porter Square in Cambridge, Massachusetts. It’s in his memory that the piece of muscle, cut away from the T-bone and then cooked up, is named after. I like my imagined version better.

Of course that porterhouse at the Risdon may have been a one off – the chef lucking in catching it at just the right time to remove it from the griddle and causing me, in turn, to luck in as well. So we’ll just have to try it there a few more times, won’t we? Just to make sure.

(Oh, and we did send our compliments to said chef.)

John Lethlen’s Steak article = https://www.theaustralian.com.au/weekend-australian-magazine/columnists/carnal-desire/news-story/c2f35ccf0a9dbdb831afbe46cce0f5e4

The Risdon Brook Hotel’s web-site = https://risdonbrookhotel.com.au/

The Manly Sisters

There’s frustration. It’s not overwhelming, just niggling in the background. Events in 2019 have made my usual trips to the mainland not possible. It doesn’t weigh heavily, although there’s people there I’d love to see. Hobart provides ample attraction – but up, up and awaying has been a constant in recent years.

To Melbourne and Sydney, I love those journeys, especially if accompanied by my lovely lady. But this year they just haven’t happened.

In each city I have my favourite galleries. Naturally there are the biggies – the two NGVs and the Art Gallery of NSW. The winter mega-shows at each have been highlights of my forays over time, but I have discovered some lesser venues, in each, that also offer very fine viewings of prominent, if not great, practitioners. It is my habit to wander around these, notebook in hand, to jot down the names of those who catch my eye; that are perhaps worth an excursion to the ether for further investigation.

One of these locations, in Harbour City, is the Manly Art Gallery and Museum. On a sunny day – for a sunny day gives this place extra allure with panoramas from it out across the harbour back to the towers of CBD – it is a joy. The bonus that a trip to there is that it means a crossing on the iconic ferry to the suburb behind North Head – always an adventure, especially if there’s a little roll in the waves. Of course, the whole shebang may well involve a meander up the Corso as well, a beer in a beach side pub and maybe some time watching the passing parade on the golden strand rimming the Pacific. On weekends there are markets too. But I divert. To get to the Gallery involves a turn left as one exits the ferry terminal. Then it’s just simple. Follow the little cove around and the destination will soon be spotted. Usually there are several exhibitions on at any given time to peruse, many featuring members of the art community of the Northern Beaches.

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An example, last year, was the ‘Natural Collection’, featuring the efforts of many print makers from the Warringah Shire. The two names I jotted down from this were Annie Day and Robin Ezra. Their product obviously stood out from the rest for me. To my surprise, when later I went on-line to garner more gen about them, I found out they were sisters. Now I’m not up with printmaking techniques, but maybe some reading this may have a notion as to what waterless lithography entails. The duo are experts in it. It certainly gives stunning results. Both – and they often exhibit together – conduct workshops in the process around the country and further afield.

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Annie has been involved in art since her graduation from the National Art School in Sydney in 1974. She has mostly engaged in portraiture and she’s captured such luminaries as Nancy Wake and Max Dupain in the art form. Bob and Blanche had her on the walls of their former harbour side home. Robin’s lovely stuff tends to focus on the natural world. She delves into painting and graphite drawing as well as her printmaking. Ms Ezra, as opposed to Ms Day, began her career much later and is self taught. Together the two travel to the UK and Italy most years to teach and enhance their skills.

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Take a journey through the ether yourself to the sister’s joint website. There are reminders, I think, in their work of some of our local artists here in Tassie. Perhaps that’s another reason my eye was drawn to them that Manly day.

The sisters’ website – https://www.annieday.com.au/

A Thing of True Beauty

You could tell by the slight tremor in his voice, a hint of extra gleam in his eyes that he was excited to be showing me; see how much pride he took in his thing of true beauty. As a whole it was gorgeous; individual items exquisite. It was obviously put together with the utmost of care and respect for each post-carded image. I was gobsmacked and felt very privileged that he took each display panel out of its protective wrapping to show me. I was so entranced by his thing of true beauty that I couldn’t complete the viewing during my first visit. I had to come back another day to see the last couple of captivating sections.

He, like me, is a collector – turning his passions into a business. But with what he showed me my efforts paled into insignificance. Whereas I’m all over the shop, he, in this instance, is specific, narrow and specialised. Therefore his knowledge of the subject is, on the other hand, broad.

I’ve been visiting David’s premises now for several years and it is, as I’ve told him many times, a cornucopia of delights. Philately is my interest but my approach is scatter gun. Nowadays I receive my joy by buying for grandchildren in the hope of encouraging their interest. So far, to my delight, it seems to be working. Over this period of time I have gradually realised that David and I share some interests. He too thrives on beauty in art, relishes an historical tale, particularly involving our island, one often semi-lost with the passage of time. He’s widely read and enthuses about his recent tomes. He’s always up for a chat about my latest interest and confides his to me.

Not sure, though, if the subject matter of David’s thing of true beauty fits the category of being lost in the mists of time. For Raphael Kirchner has left the globe with a lasting legacy. He is well known to collectors with his best, or rarest, fetching a goodly price – and justly so. His product was sublime, appealing to the senses and to one’s notion of muted sensuality. In the Golden Age of Postcards he designed over a thousand of them. His Art Nouveau works, featuring charmingly clad women, were slightly risqué certainly, but tasteful to our eyes. They radiate emphasis on beauty rather than sexuality. Some reflected the Japanese influence on the period in Europe leading up to World War 1. There were representations of women at leisure or engaged in the joys of Parisian life, Kirchner moving to the city after a period in his native-born Vienna. Many of his cards featured, or were based on, the looks of his muse, wife Nina.

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Born in 1876, Raphael Kirchner was reportedly influenced by Beardsley as he trained for his future work. He moved to the City of Light around 1900, illustrating for magazine La Vie Parisienne, leading to a lucrative side-earner in postcards.

In 1914 he decided that the Continent was not the place to be for a German speaker and he moved to the USA, quickly establishing himself as a source for the little rectangles soldiers took to war, reminding them of just what they were fighting for, particularly once America entered the bloodshed in 1917. For the purpose Kirchner amped up the eroticism a tad, but sadly he passed away before the guns fell silent, the death having a devastating lasting effect on Nina.

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But he’s left us a legacy – and so has she as his inspiration. The term ‘a Kirchner girl’ has been, ever since his demise, a reference for feminine beauty and subtle allurement. As well, his influence on the development of the art of the pin-up was and still is immense. And it’s those wonderful postcards that David at some stage decided garner. Now that his collection is extensive enough he has put together a compilation of panels representing all the stages of Kirchner’s career. These are for exhibition around the country. Viewing them piece by piece in his shop was perhaps not the best way of getting the overall effect, but they still had impact. Putting it together; taking time and patience, would have no doubt been a labour of love. The little he couldn’t do himself he outsourced.

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I visit David and wife Kim every couple of weeks at ‘The Coin and Stamp Place’ (Trafalgar on Collins, 110 Collins), often toting in a list of postage items. Rarely does he not have at hand what he needs to service my wishes. I thoroughly enjoy my engagement with what he sells; my engagement with the man himself. I was blessed to see his thing of true beauty. See you soon David.

And you can view his thing of beauty here :- https://www.tazitiger.com/information/links/exhibits/sydney-2019.html

Bras that Tie

I’ve always loved the ritual of a man liberating me from a bra. The sexiest of them didn’t fumble; the best had confidence and that holiest of grails, tenderness. They did it with reverence, as if opening up a treasure chest;…Bras, an instrument of the male gaze and wonderment, oh, didn’t we know that.’

Oh, how hard was it trying not to fumble – but the release, when it came, was worth all the nervousness, even if there may have been a little embarrassment if the front-loading variety was encountered.

There is that reverence to it, certainly, but it’s a thing of beauty, as well as a thrill, to unencumber a woman’s breasts, especially if that unencumbering is privately for your wonderment alone. What warming memories it creates. To a lesser – much lesser – degree, if this occurs on a screen, small or large, there’s still an element of all that as well. It’s all something time can never diminish.

Of course, from a male’s perspective – this male’s perspective – there’s also something to be said for completely freeing the breast as well. I hark back to my 1970s days when I was at uni and later, in the workforce – days that coincided with the cheesecloth era. In my early teaching career there was a liberated young lass, a colleague, who did not include a bra as an item of her clothing when she fronted a classroom. It was too much for our otherwise quite tolerant principal the occasion a cheesecloth blouse was worn, leaving little to the imagination of her pupils (it was a secondary school) or her fellow teachers as she strutted around the corridors. It had to be a case of bra-up or think about another career. Those were the days.

Is there an equivalent for the male? No, not exactly – but there is one item that once featured in my wardrobe but now, for comfort’s sake, is never disported by this anything but fashionista in the here and now. I can safely say I haven’t worn one this century, nor for a few decades preceding. And unlike Ms Gemmell’s prognosis for the bra, I doubt, though, whether this strip of material will ever disappear for good. It is entrenched as de rigueur for many professions and workplaces in the public eye. I did wear them, back in the 70s, along with my paisley shirts, flares and platform shoes. Then they were wide and funky, there being a sort of competition between the male staff as to who could get away with the most outrageous and bad taste design – although I do not think that same principal had to threaten anybody to tone them down. But trends fade away and perhaps that was also the death knell for this guy wearing ties. Ties became conservative, I went for more casual. Thankfully, by the 80s, fewer and fewer of my teaching pals wore them. There were a couple throwbacks to the 50s then, but a tie in a public school today is as scarce as a hen’s tooth.

Does a tie equate with a bra? I could be wrong, but sensually removing a tie would not have the same effect for the female of the species than if the role were reversed – if she was doing the same with that undergarment, or any garment for that matter. But then, I’m not qualified to answer. Ties have little functionality, unlike the bra, given that they were initially seen as a better option than the corset. Ties, to put it bluntly, are simply just a pain in, or around, the neck. I can only but remain in agreement with NG – a bra being removed is truly ‘…exhilarating’ in contrast.

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Nikki Gemmel’s column – https://www.theaustralian.com.au/weekend-australian-magazine/something-to-get-off-my-chest/news-story/6957499d20a2a2eeeac7c6d950cbf251

Fernande of her Time

She’s a bit of an enigma – there’s so much we do not know. But transport Dita von Teese back to that era and that’ll give you a hint of her. It is difficult carrying her life story through in the ether. We are not even certain that what you, hopefully, are about to read is of the one woman, so lost in time are the facts. But below is what I’ve pieced together about Miss Fernande/Fernande Barrey from what there is on-line. She does intrigue and she had a profound effect on the men of her era. As Miss Fernande she tantalised the troops in the trenches during World War One. Then, an erotic postcard of her gave many a soldier a certain kind of warmth as the Hun’s bombs rained down from above. Each picture they surreptitiously passed from one to the other as they fixed bayonets and prepared to go over the top may have been the last glimpse of beauty these guys would see before they headed into the teeth of German machine guns. They probably would not have noted the JA signature in the bottom corner of the card, but JA gave the girl her start. Later, as Fernande Barrey, she rubbed shoulders with the greats of Paris when it ruled the artistic planet. Of course these days access to acres of bare flesh can be garnered with just a few clicks on the laptop, but before the digital age it was not so readily available. One had to go into a newsagent to attain a Playboy or Penthouse. Anything more extreme would be housed in a plastic bag. For something that actually moved on a home screen one had to send away to Canberra or the Northern Territory. But before Hefner, Guccione and the rest, what was the go?

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The advent of the camera in the C19th changed the world of erotica forever. Illustrated likenesses gave way to real women in poses. It was quickly deduced that some real money could be made if a photographer could persuade a young maiden to dispense of her clothing. The likenesses could be printed off in their dozens and sold on the street. It was initially thought that it was mainly prostitutes who posed, but research has shown it was usually the ordinary working class girl who was being cajoled to make some easy money on the side. Then came the post card – and the industry boomed. And the French, including Fernand’s capturer JA, were marvels at it. They turned it into an art form that today’s collectors, with a taste for exotica, are prepared to pay far more than the few centimes the punters of the first decade or two of the century before last forked out for them.

So who was JA? It took a while for us to find out, from what I read, but eventually he emerged from obscurity. JA was Jean Agélou, whom we now know had already established himself in a studio on the Rue Armand Gauthier by 1908. Now that was the same year that the French Government, somewhat taken aback by the proliferation of images of naked female bodies openly available on the streets of France in postcard form, yielded even their reasonably liberal views on the subject and made life a little tougher for those engaged in selling that product. This is despite the fact that it was still legal for girls as young as fourteen to pose in the nude. Many photographers, just to be on the safe side, kept their identities closely guarded by signing just their initials to their work. This now became commonplace because of the new law. And it was the same year, or thereabouts, that Fernande, we presume Barrey, moved from Picady to the capital. If she was the Fernande of later in the story she may have been in dire straits on her arrival as it is recorded she quickly moved into prostitution to get by.

By the end of that year the girl of the night, aged 15, and the photographer, just turned 30, were lovers. It is not known how they came into contact – on the street as she pedalled her wares, in a house of ill-repute or in one of the many cafés for the bohemian set in which working girls circulated, attempting to find a ‘gentleman’ to attach themselves to as some form of security. Whatever, she was soon his bed partner and willing model. Those in the know state that she was with him long enough for them to chart the changes in her body as she moved from youthfulness to a fulsome, mature woman in the years leading up to the Great War.

Agélou had already made a name for himself with his pictures of beautiful women, tastefully arranged in the nude, with his photographs for the periodical ‘L’Étude académique’. Designed initially for artists, with a subscription of over 20,000, it obviously appealed to many more in the community.

But the laws of 1908 saw more explicit material, even if tastefully presented, go beneath the covers – akin to the plastic bags of our lifetimes. Magazines couldn’t carry nude depictions and genitalia had to be erased or covered.

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By the war’s end the photographer had moved on to landscapes. His brother, formerly behind the scenes doing the accounts as Jean recruited the girls and photographed them, took over behind the lens. It had all changed. Why? Was there greater money to be made in more family-friendly fare? Did Jean have a change of heart about the nudes now that distribution was effectively underground? Or was there a marked change in his personal life? Fernande continued to step out of her garments for brother George’s camera, so JA was replaced by GA – or was this just another cover? We can speculate, but it’s doubtful we’ll ever know. The brothers did not last long after the armistice in any case. They died, together, in a road accident in 1921.

But we do know that, assuming Miss Fernande is indeed Miss Barrey, that in 1917 she took a new lover. It was a whirlwind romance. She and he met in one those aforementioned boho cafés and married after thirteen days of infatuation. As we are now coming at it from this new fellow’s angle, we do not seem to be certain that this was the same woman who posed for the brothers.

But we’ll assume that it is. Fernande and her lover were decidedly out of step with their times, but certainly not with their clique. Europe of La Belle Époque was most taken by Japan. It was opening up to the West and the West was definitely besotted with it. That is reflected in the art and popular culture of the time. So what could be more with-it than to take a Japanese lover? And Tsuguharu Foujita could paint as well. He was not one who achieved fame after his death. He was no archetype living in a garret. He had it all then and there. His forte of applying Japanese techniques to Western style works caught on – so much so that he could afford to bankroll trips to the South of France for all his mates. There they could paint and earn a pretty centime or two from the burgeoning tourist trade. He associated with all the to be greats – Modigliani, Soutine, Gris, Picasso, Léger and Matisse. Isadora Duncan taught him how to dance. He’d painted Man Ray’s lover, Kiki, in the nude – posing brazenly for him in his courtyard in Montparnasse. The result was a sensation. He was made. Why, he could even afford to install a bath with hot running water, so no wonder lesser lights flocked to be around him. With such largess, he was a catch.

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Initially, at that café, she didn’t see much in him. She, on the other hand, left such an impression that he asked for her address. She obviously gave it as he was there on her doorstep the next morning bearing flowers. Fernande invited him in for tea – and in the bat of an eye they were hitched.

But convention wasn’t their thing. The Tokyo-trained dauber and his new muse had what we would term today an open marriage. Both were free to cuckold the other. And they did.

She was still posing for the artists in her set. She did so for Amedeo Modigliani and became close to the Italian’s wife, Jeanne Hébuterne. When her common law husband died prematurely Jeanne was distraught. It was Fernande who did the most to try and comfort her; to attempt to get her through her grief. She was shattered when the young woman committed suicide soon after.

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Shadows were gathering over her own relationship. Fernande overstepped the mark when she commenced an affair with her hubby’s cousin, Koyanahi. Taking an unknown new bed partner was one thing, family was another. Foujita fled from her in response like the wind to his own current squeeze, Youki. Knowing nothing of this and fearing the worst, his wife scoured the morgues of Paris for his body. His body was in another not-so-cold place entirely. When he re-emerged, both parties realised it was over. She shacked up with her new Japanese beau; one who turned out to be a stayer, supporting her for the rest of her life. She, too, began dabbling in artistic pursuits, even doing a little exhibiting. Her former husband went on to more fame and adventures around the world, best known these days for his ‘Book of Cats’. Check it out. It’s one of the world’s most expensive tomes to own. A copy will set you back around $80,000.

For the later years with Miss Barrey we draw a blank. We can only assume, perhaps with her looks fading, that she withdrew to a quieter, less flamboyant existence. Her days of posing nude were over, but for her time she was the epitome of the liberated free spirit..

She gloriously lives on in the paintings and the Brothers Agélou images of her. Just as those WW1 soldiers secreted the latter away close to their hearts, we too can view them, if we desire, with a simple Google search. They are charming and of their time – but delectable all the same. With the other women, like Kiki (Alice Prin) and Youki (Lucie Badoul); ones who moved in her orb, there are probably other fascinating stories to be had of lives well led; lives refusing to conform. Then along came wars, power-crazed dictators and hard times to blow it all away.

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Juliet at Fifty-five

Breasts. Beautiful, proud, fulsome and unfettered. These weren’t the bosoms of some perky young starlet willing to expose her pert assets for the furtherment of her carer. These were breasts that were well lived and you’d expect, well loved. These were breasts more than half way through their life journey, exposed in the opening sequence to ‘Let the Sunshine In’. They were startling and gorgeous. I will admit, they were bewitching and magnetic to this viewer. But sadly, they were by far the best thing about this very French 2017 offering from director Claire Denis. Their possessor is Isabelle, supposedly an artist who spends much of her time scouring Paris for love.

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She’s played by a true icon of the silver screens of her country and world wide. She, today, at 55, remains as dazzling as she ever was in such films as ‘Chocolat’, ‘The English Patient’ and most memorably, 1988’s ‘The Unbearable Lightness of Being’. Seeing her in that, one is infatuated for life. She can play any role, taking it in her stride. Obviously, as well, she likes to stretch herself. She’s certainly no shrinking violet. She’s strong and womanly.

Although ‘Let the Sunshine In’ received praise in some quarters with the star receiving a César Award (French Oscars) nomination for her performance, I really struggled to remain with it. Her initial lover is bullish and repugnant. Another, far more youthful, is full of himself. Yet another is her ex whom she picks a silly argument with over his performance in the sack. It’s obvious she’s looking for love in all the wrong places. Eventually her poor judgement and lack of success starts playing with her mind. The movie becomes ridiculous when the venerable Depardieu enters to sprout some psycho-babble at her in a monologue that well and truly outstays its welcome. Of course Juliet Binoche is always wonderful, but my tip for you is to seek out, instead of the above (which is on Netflix), ‘Who You Think I Am’ which is, like those aforementioned breasts, just magnificent.

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Who You Think I Am’ has similarities to the above in that Binoche’s role here is Claire, an academic from the City of Light, reeling from a divorce and also seeking a new partner in life and love. Ex hubby (played by another French notable in Charles Berling) has had a dose of the Peter Pans and leaves his perfectly stunning wife for a younger model. Claire figures what’s good for the goose and at movie’s start she’s shacked up with the much younger Ludo. To him she’s simply a cougar. Claire’s beginning to feel it’s something more permanent. When he susses this she finds she’s again ditched, so in response she turns her attention to Ludo’s sensitive, still much younger, room mate in Alex (François Civil). Now what could be more harmless than a little on-line ‘cat-fishing’? (If you’re unaware of this procedure, look it up. I did.) Her attempt to become who she is not provides, at first, an outlet for her lovelessness, but then becomes something with quite catastrophic implications. Or does it? This will keep you guessing till the end, with several ‘I didn’t see that coming’ twists thrown in. It’s very, very clever and has much to say about the pitfalls for any of us who try to fight the invisibility that comes with the ageing process. See it on any platform you can.

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What I know about JB is that she’s ageing gloriously. There’s certainly no invisibility with her.

Trailer ‘Let the Sunshine In’ = https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ps_Sau7xqQY

Trailer ”’Who You Think I Am’ = https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ShwXIOszzIM

Cold Revisited

At last I know who to blame. During it, as well as for a long time afterwards, for the life of me I couldn’t work it out. But Ms Lester has provided me with the answer. I only had to join the dots. I can now blame men in suits – specifically, American men in suits.

Now I’ve mused before, in recent times, on coldness. I’ve insisted I am less adverse to it, it being natural chill, these days than I have been in the past. But artificial cold is another matter – and having it blown on me, against my wishes, as my lovely lady knows only too well from my incessant whingeing during the summer months, is a pet peeve.

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I was looking so forward to our cruise to the tropics. In all fairness it did turn out to be a holiday that ticked all the boxes – almost. We’d cruised up the East Coast of Oz previously on P&O to the warmth without a skerrick of a problem, apart from a bit of wild water. We had a ball. Our trip to the South Pacific was almost as enjoyable. Tropical heat. That’s what I yearned for. The boat did deliver that on its island stops and out on deck. Unfortunately, as far as the inside public areas went, the temperature barely registered as cool. To be comfortable there I had to dispense with my shorts and tees and don long sleeved shirts and trousers. Chilled air was being blasted down on all and sundry. Until now I couldn’t figure out why that should be. The punters, I reckoned, could have stayed back in their cooler climates to get that. Inside, on a bright gorgeous day, it felt anything but tropical.

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It wasn’t till I read Amelia L’s musing on the wonder that is air-conditioning that I twigged. Of course, the cruise company’s home port was Miami and ‘…, Americans of all stripes love freezing fake air.’ Our ship had aligned its thinking about blowing out air to the preferences ‘…of a 40-year-old (American) man in a suit’.’ My mind can rest easy now that’s cleared up.

But next is the question as to why this type of thinking applies for cinema goers at home, all around the country, in mid-summer. Here I am, say, in Melbourne; the temperatures arcing up into the high-30s and I’m in long strides carrying a jacket or jumper. That’s right. I’m off to the cinema toting extra layers as I know from experience that if I dress for the weather I’d be covered in goosebumps as I endeavoured to enjoy the attraction that was up on the big screen. The same also applies to some of the shops, but at least I can leave those if I’m getting too frosticooled. Yep, I made that last word up – but it describes how I feel when this occurs to me. I hate near-freezing air being pumped in on me. I want to enjoy the heat. I get enough cold living in beautiful Tassie. And, yes, as I said last time – I know I’m soft.

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Please just let us enjoy what nature provides. Surely we’ve learnt enough about the negatives of trying to change and fiddle around with what comes to us naturally. And I also have a new hero, so thank you Amelia for introducing him to me. I’m signing up to Iolu Abil’s fan club.

Amelia Lester’s take on air-conditioning = https://www.smh.com.au/national/foreign-correspondence-all-hot-and-bothered-over-aircon-20190806-p52eex.html

Do yourself a favour with this duo

The flaw, as Callaghan states below, stands out like a sore thumb, but it’s the only blemish in this mesmerising series with one brilliant, but bad, bad bully at its core. The Australians were just too Australian and against the evidence, too limp. Wife Beth (Siena Miller) is prepared to forgive almost anything of her husband, Roger Ailes, with employees Gretchen Carlson and Laurie Luhn (Naomi Watts and Annabelle Wallis), in the end, prepared not to. But ‘The Loudest Voice’ is all about Russell Crowe as the eventually disgraced high-flyer. He’s barely recognisable with his fat suit and bonus prosthetics. On screen he is compulsively despicable in so much that he does. Roger is the kingmaker; King of Fox News and king misogynist. He’s repugnant with his fondling of and thrusting at the female staff. They live in fear of what he can do to their careers if they don’t give him what he demands as his his right. He’s horrible, as well, with his far right views, hatred of Obama and love of Trump. But for all this, you can’t take your eyes off him. Not since ‘The Good Guys’ have I ‘enjoyed’ a Crowe performance more. For me it’ll be one of the year’s highlights and I suggest it’s well worth trialing Stan for it alone.

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Jonathan Groff isn’t quite in the same league as Crowe with his CV, but has had prominent gigs in ‘Frozen’ and ‘Glee’. He is, though, a Tony Award nominated stage performer, so ‘Mindhunter’ is a change of course for him. In this Netflix series he plays the leader of a groundbreaking team as criminal profiler Holden Ford. His performance is outstanding. The self-centred, determined and socially inept FBI agent, as portrayed by Groff, changed the course of investigations into serial killers with his focus on similarities in their characters. Witnessing the development of his techniques are Bill Tench (Holt McCallany) and the icy Wendy (Australia’s Anna Torv). Hanna Gross is Holden’s tolerant girlfriend. Boy, does she have a bit to put up with. He and his team interview some of the nastiest, weirdest humans it is possible to imagine as they delve and prod to find the clues as to what makes a man (usually) a killer of multiple victims. It’s not pretty viewing at times, but it’s small screen tele at its best. Season one is on the platform now, with the second dropping any time now.

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Do yourself a favour and watch both.

Greg Callaghan’s take on ‘The Loudest Voice = https://www.smh.com.au/national/watch-how-fox-news-grew-from-upstart-to-conservative-super-player-20190806-p52efj.html

Trailer ‘The Loudest Voice’ = https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tYQXk-rzs_o

Trailer  ‘The Mindhunter’ = https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oFlKiTwhd38

Inge, the Llama and Marilyn

Sometimes, down a rabbit hole, cruising the Net, you do stumble on stuff you least expect, given your starting point. When I saw the llama, who’d have thought it would lead me all the way to Marilyn? And also to a great love story – not hers, but she’s a part of it.

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I hadn’t stumbled across it before, the image. It’s not unusual for me to find a commencement point for a scribbling with an image. Evidently this one, though, is quite iconic in its own right, but it was new to me and caused me to chortle when I saw her. I thought that some contemporary camera-snapper had struck it lucky, but on closer inspection I discovered it had been taken way back in 1957. I didn’t recognise the photographer’s name. Perhaps I should have, for she has since achieved some degree of fame. And it wasn’t a fortunate snap. Inge Morath had set it up as part of her assignment for ‘Life’ magazine.

Seems as though, back then (I can’t imagine that it would be allowed to happen today), there was a whole menage of exotic animals living in the brownstones of NYC. Biggish mammals, like Linda the Llama, were co-inhabiting New York apartments with their trainers. Together they would eke out a living hiring out the trained beasts to movies and television shows. Of course they had to be transported to the various sets around town. Linda’s human did that in the rear seat of his car, with her head poking out the window, taking in the view. ‘Life’ honchos had cottoned on that this unusual arrangement was occurring in the Big Apple; these animals with unusual lifestyles. They commissioned Magnum member Inge Morath to put together a photographic essay of their days in an urban environment. Thus this image caught my eye down the rabbit hole. The story does get juicier, but let’s spend some time with Inge first. How did she come from an Austrian upbringing to be standing in Times Square, with a camera, waiting for a llama?

Born in Graz in 1921, Morath moved to Berlin to study languages, becoming fluent in French and English. That ensured some of her early years were dominated by the Nazis. She saw many horrors that influenced so much she did in later life, being reflected in her product – both with pen and camera. In the immediate post-war years she encountered Ernst Haas, noted fellow countryperson, who was earning a crust with his photojournalism. He, too, as a Jew, suffered under Hitler’s regime. He used the young woman to write the essay accompaniment to his commissioned images. That in turn led to contact with Robert Capa and an invitation to join Magnum, in Paris, as an editor. One of her roles there was to assist Henri Cartier-Bresson as a researcher; he mentoring her growing fascination with the camera. Her writing, she felt, was being hampered by reactions to her German-speaking background. Behind the lens she felt no such hindrance. Initially she used a man’s name to market her product, assisted by the connections she had built up working with a stable of talented camera pointers. Eventually she gained enough confidence to stand up for her gender and market under her own name. So successful was she that, in 1955, she was handed the holy grail – full membership of Magnum. She was one of its first female image-makers. She continued to be in demand, particularly for the photo essay with which she excelled.

All this I found out because of my encounter with Linda the llama. But what came later for this pioneering photographer? A visit to her on-line site allowed me into her world and its many delights. It was liberally laced with haunting images of both Audrey H and Marilyn M. I marvelled at their intimacy. I was especially taken with one of the irreplaceable MM in bed. Further investigation as to its genesis took me to the set of ‘The Misfits’, a film, made in 1960, that promised so much but delivered seemingly only sadness. As well as the blonde superstar, Clark Gable, Eli Wallach and her mate, Montgomery Clift featured on the cast list. Little were the participants aware that it would be the last movie for two of the aforementioned. Clift, Marilyn’s buddy as well, was never the same after it. Marilyn described him as being in worse shape on set than she was – and she was struggling; handicapped by depression and filling her body with chemicals to cope.

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But she was still radiant. Morath describes her as being ‘…marvellous to look at: there was a shimmery, mother-of-pearl quality totally her own…’ Her friendship with with Clift and director John Houston gave her and Cartier-Bresson unfettered freedom on set – but Inge took that to the limit. She soon had Marilyn’s trust, thus the up close and personal snaps we see on-line. Also on set was the great Arthur Miller, writer of the screenplay for the production. Inge thought that the famous playwright would be, on the evidence of a number of his plays that she’d seen, forlorn, distant and austere. She found that he was more the opposite – ‘… a very funny figure.’ Marilyn, of course, was also married to him, but all was far from rosy with their love life. She would disappear for hours to have deep and meaningfuls with him. Inge photographed them doing so in a car on one occasion. The situation could not have been more fraught with Ms Monroe playing a seductive innocent, expected to engage in love scenes with several of her fellow actors.

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Rebecca Miller, Arthur’s daughter (and wife of Daniel Day Lewis), commented in an interview that Inge’s ‘…pictures are particularly empathetic and touching as she caught Marilyn’s anguish beneath her celebrity, the pain as well as the joy in her life.’

But was there even more going on behind the scenes on ‘The Misfits’? Did the images tell the whole story? It has to be asked for in 1962 Inge Morath married Arthur Miller, not long after he and MM divorced. She, Marilyn, died a few months later. Morath and Miller were together for, from what we can gather, forty largely happy years. She passed in 2002, he three years later. They had two children together, Rebecca and the mysterious Daniel. He had Down syndrome and Miller disowned the little fellow almost immediately, having nothing to do with him for the rest of his life. This placed a strain on the couple as Inge did her best for him. But that is another tale in itself. Apart form that, in their years together the couple had many adventures, either together or as a result of their separate talents.

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And Linda led me to all that. Many know Arthur M mainly through Marilyn and certainly nobody could possibly outshine her – back then, even today. Inge was not her and so remains largely in the shadows, but hers is a story worth recounting. From her escape from the Nazis and her dalliances with the stars, she has been accorded a smattering of legendary status as her star ascends in recent times. Just track down the lovely YouTube montage (just enter the two names) of her breathtaking images of the screen goddess on the set of ‘The Misfits’ and you can see why. Thank you Linda, the llama that led to all this.

Inge’s website = http://ingemorath.org/

YouTube of Inge’s images of MM on ‘The Misfits’ set = https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GG4uRQwIPuE

Mono or Bi – I’m comfortable both ways

Let me make this clear from the onset. I come from a bi-heritage, but mono suits me just fine as well.

So columnist Penny Flanagan has done a spot of house/dog sitting too. Only she, it seems, has had some startling reality checks on how some others manage, or mismanage, their households – those she has been invited access to to keep hound and home safe. And she saw fit to broadcast their shortcomings to all and sundry around the country. I did quietly wonder if she’d be welcomed back ‘…from Manly to Mossman to Coogee…’

I do the same within my orb. I love it. As much as I adore life with my beautiful lady on the fringes of Hobs, a dog/house mind gives me a change of scene and a few advantages I do not have at our little idyllic abode abutting the Derwent.

I have four regular gigs. As a plus two are situated in real ‘SeaChange’ (Will the new version be a semblance of its seminal predecessor?) locations, Bridport and Sisters Beach. It’d be a toss-up between the duo as to which I would prefer to spend the rest of my days in if, heaven forbid, I had to leave my present situation. In both there is a sense of serenity; a notion of escape. They are very special communities. Of course I also get to share time with some magnificent canines – Jasper, Sandy the Spoodle, Summer, Bronson, Memphis and Pat the Dog. It’s a pleasure, always, having their company as I do my best to follow owner’s instructions and not spoil them rotten. All four residences are close to beach or river so I can stroll to my heart’s content. I value the fact that, at all, I can walk to attain my daily needs, including the Age. At home, on the fringes of a capital city, I have to hop in the car for those requirements.

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I have the joy in each of a large screen television. There is nothing I relish more than sharing a movie or tele series with my Leigh, but our tastes do not always run parallel. Away, at these places, I can view the footy and cricket. I am able to binge on Netflix and/or Stan. With two I have the sheer bliss of wood-fired heating and all larders are well stocked, with the permission to graze. I can cook meals I usually would not have at home. I don’t, Ms Flanagan, have any problems with bath mats and each has a micro-wave. I’ve existed for decades without a dishwasher so that’s never an issue. In short, all four venues are welcoming, ultra-comfortable places to spend a week or two. There are no strange household ‘anomalies’ whatsoever. But now the rub

For the history of all this refer to Amelia Lester’s column, but the lovely homes to which I am gifted visits are not at all consistent in approach in one area – and for me this is no biggie whatsoever. I must admit I was bought up bi and my lovely Leigh is of the same inclination. I did suffer some discombobulation when, well before I embarked on house-sitting, I had my first encounter with the mono version. I recall being in a quandary. Did I let my lovely host know that he/she had forgotten something? Did I sneak off in the night to sort it out for myself and find the other half of the equation? Or did I simply go with the flow? I went with the latter and coped with the initial strangeness of it all. I soon discovered that, in the wider world, there are as many, perhaps even more, devotees of mono-ism as there are to being bi-orientated.

Now, of course, I take it all in my stride. If I’m welcomed into a mono-sheeted household I am perfectly at home as, according to Ms Lester’s statistics, they are close to, if not in the majority. I’ve adapted, just as I have to fitted bottom sheets – just as long as I’m not expected to fold the plurry things. Mono or bi, I’m content both ways.

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Amelia Lester’s column = https://www.smh.com.au/world/europe/foreign-correspondence-britain-torn-as-great-top-sheet-debate-unfolds-20190723-p529r7.html

Penny Flanagan’s column = https://www.smh.com.au/lifestyle/life-and-relationships/house-sitting-for-mates-can-leave-you-wondering-who-are-these-people-20190715-p527bq.html