Art Pottery, Politics and Food
Saturday, March 15, 2003
This morning while in the steam room of our ancient YMCA I eavesdropped on a conversation between three men who work at some of our city's finest restaurants and hotels. One of them was explaining a new job that required a lengthy absence from the city. A new Asian resort company had hired him to teach "Western concepts of hospitality to their employees." There was a pause, all three erupted in laughter and one said, "Sit down, shut the f___ up and eat!" I guess the current anti American climate is having an effect on the 5 star restaurant crowd!

Also, another interesting story buried deep in yesterday's New York Times. If you are a fan of stories about Truman's legacy, otherwise known as the Central Intelligence Agency, A Tyrant 40 Years In The Making adds to our growing pile of gleaned news nuggets. Among other things the article says:

Forty years ago, the Central Intelligence Agency, under President John F. Kennedy, conducted its own regime change in Baghdad, carried out in collaboration with Saddam Hussein...on Feb. 8, 1963, the conspirators staged a coup in Baghdad.
Washington immediately befriended the successor regime. "Almost certainly a gain for our side," Robert Komer, a National Security Council aide, wrote to Kennedy the day of the takeover.
As its instrument the C.I.A. had chosen the authoritarian and anti-Communist Baath Party...among party members colluding with the C.I.A. in 1962 and 1963 was Saddam Hussein, then a 25-year-old who had fled to Cairo after taking part in a failed assassination of Kassem (the then Iraqi leader) in 1958...But it wasn't long before there was infighting among Iraq's new rulers. In 1968, after yet another coup, the Baathist general Ahmed Hassan al-Bakr seized control, bringing to the threshold of power his kinsman, Saddam Hussein. Again, this coup, amid more factional violence, came with C.I.A. backing.

Some interesting reaction to the previously posted Jonathan Weisman memo through links on the left side of Jim Romenesko's page on and among his posted letters.
Also, an interesting "This Week's Column" about a free speech issue that is raising eyebrows in America's public libraries via
Friday, March 14, 2003
The 7 Elements of Fascism as reported by Bryan Zepp Jamieson on American Politics Journal:

1) Corporate (or elitist) State
2) Republic not Monarchy
3) Extreme Nationalism
4) Leader equated with Nation
5) Erects Enemies
6) Radical and Reactionary
7) Uses Propaganda and Lies
Here's an interesting article about the current state of the American Press entitled Sorting out the truth. While a tad on the lengthy side, this article advances the concept of the imbalance in the American media as a political issue as framed by Al Gore's November 27, 2002 interview with The New York Observer.
This is the first time I've surfed upon the old Boston wow. Would I be giving away my age by saying I remember sitting around a friend's Cambridge apartment reading the oh so radical Phoenix and wearing a pair of elephant bells?
It seems more people are noticing the unusual complacency of the American Press following last week's highly unusual White House Press Conference. For example. Then this memo sent to Jim Romenesko's media watch on
13/2003 2:41:44 PM
From JONATHAN WEISMAN, Economics Writer, Washington Post:
In the wake of Seymour Hersh's open statements about the way the White House treats the press, I feel compelled to relate a personal story that illustrates how both the White House and the press have allowed manipulation of the printed word in Washington to get out of hand. This is a bit of a confession as well as an appeal to the White House and my fellow reporters to rethink the way journalism is practiced these days.
Recently, I was working on a profile of the now-departed chairman of the White House Council of Economic Advisers, R. Glenn Hubbard. I dutifully went through the White House press office to talk to an administration economist about Hubbard's tenure, and a press office aide helpfully got me in touch with just the person I wanted. The catch was this: The interview would be off the record. Any quotes I wanted to put into the newspaper would have to be e-mailed to the press office. If approved, the quotation could be attributed to a White House official. (This has become fairly standard practice.)
Since the profile focused on Hubbard's efforts to translate relatively arcane macroeconomic theory into public policy, the quote I wanted referenced the president's effort to end the double taxation of dividends: "This is probably the most academic proposal ever to come out of an administration." The press office said it was fine, but the official wanted a little change. Instead, the quote was to read, "This is probably the purest, most far reaching economic proposal ever to come out of an administration." I protested that the point of the quote was the word "academic," so the quote was again amended to state, "This is probably the purest, most academic, most far reaching economic proposal ever to come out of an administration."
What appeared in the Washington Post was, "This is probably the purest, most academic ... economic proposal ever to come out of an administration." What followed was an angry denunciation by the White House press official, telling me I had broken my word and violated journalistic ethics.
I had, of course, violated journalistic ethics, by placing into quotation marks a phrase that was never uttered by the source, ellipses or no ellipses. I had also played ball with the White House using rules that neither I nor any other reporter should be assenting to. I think it is time for all of us to reconsider the way we cover the White House. If administration officials want to speak off the record, they are off the record. If they are on background as an administration official, I suppose that's the best we can expect. But the notion that reporters are routinely submitting quotations for approval, and allowing those quotes to be manipulated to get that approval, strikes me as a step beyond business as usual.

Many who watch events closely have suspected that which this memo describes for some time. Surely the American media has been seriously troubled since long before the days of O.J. But this quote that I read in this morning's San Francisco Bay Guardian reminded me of something I've wanted to post on this site:

"The purpose of journalism is to monitor the centers of power – to challenge officialdom," Robert Fisk, veteran Middle East correspondent for the U.K.'s Independent newspaper, told us by phone from Beirut. "By and large, the media in the United States has totally failed in its obligation to do that. Instead of challenging officialdom, it's become a conduit, a funnel down which officialdom can talk to us."

I want to extend my thanks to the members of the world press who I find myself turning more and more to for information unavailable in the United States except via this blessed internet. Thank you


To all of you mentioned and not, when this is over I'd like to give all of you fine reporters a medal for attempting to keep a still free people fully informed. Thanks!

Thursday, March 13, 2003
I've been tunneling through spiral notepads of old recipes all afternoon hunting for a particularly wonderful cookie. I had given up hope. But then, a prayer to Saint Anthony (Tony, Tony...) and blammo...thar she blows! Enjoy!

Toasted Coconut Cookies
preheat oven 375

1 1/2 cups Toasted Coconut
1 1/4 cups All Purpose Flour
1 Tsp Baking Soda
1/2 Tsp Salt
1 1/4 sticks Butter (1/2 cup plus 2 Tbsp), softened
1/4 cup Granulated Sugar
1/2 cup packed Light Brown Sugar
1 Egg
1 Tsp Vanilla

Spread coconut onto baking sheet. Toast Coconut in oven stirring occasionally until pale gold, 4-5 minutes. Cool
Sift Flour, Soda and Salt. Beat Butter and Sugars until light and fluffy. Beat in Egg and Vanilla. Add Flour and Coconut.
Place Tsp-sized balls of dough onto an ungreased cookie sheet. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes. Cool on baking sheet!
Superb with vanilla ice cream!
Wednesday, March 12, 2003
This follows my post from Monday March 10:
John Gardner Low's plastic sketches were not the only ceramic ware exhibited at the September 1879 Cincinnati Industrial Exhibition. Low's products were joined by "the first large display of ceramics decorated in the city" of Cincinnati. Unlike Low, the Cincinnati ware was mainly produced by women working together with men in embryonic professional relationships. Events, of course, are murky. Was this birth of an native American art form, as some have said, because of a catfight between the two female giants of American ceramic history? Or, was it a serious artistic competition such as the recent press touted friction between Picasso and Matisse? 1879 was the explosion. The fuse had been lit during Philadelphia's 1876 Centennial Exhibition. In particular, the Cincinnati Room of the Women's Pavilion, "with its impressive carved furniture, furnishings, interior architectural elements, and its painted china and stoneware, created a sensation" in an otherwise unexceptional showing of American products before a world audience. It was a triumph for the gregarious Benn Pitman, the man who gave friends of Maria Longworth Nichols' their first china painting sets in 1874, and his lady craftsmen from the University of Cincinnati's School of Design . It was also a triumph for Longworth's husband Colonel George Ward Nichols and her eccentric philanthropist father Joseph. As far as Maria Longworth Nichols and Mary Louise McLaughlin were concerned both "would in later years confess that the Centennial was a turning point in their lives."
In 1873 a boy who lived near the Longworth's Rookwood Estate, and who sketched people in pencil and ink for pocket money, gave Maria Longworth Nichols some of the china painting colors he had received as a gift from an uncle in Frankfort, Germany. Mrs. Nichols and a friend were soon enthralled by this new form of artistic expression and later joined with the boy, Karl Langenbeck, to improve their art and to import more china paints from Germany.
Through 1875 interest in china painting as a "promising field for the lucrative employment of women" spread throughout Cincinnati. A "Women's Executive Centennial Committee" was formed to raise funds for participation in the then upcoming Exposition in Philadelphia. This committee held an exhibit and sale of some of these decorated pieces of china on May 25, 1875. Some of the unsold pieces along with others were then shown at the Centennial one year later.
In 1877 Mary Louise McLaughlin discovered that she could mix mineral paints with a liquefied clay called slip to achieve successful underglaze painting in a range of colors. Later that same year her historic book, A Practical Method for the Use of Amateurs in the Decoration of Hard Porcelain, would be published. Also in 1877, Colonel Nichols would publish Art Education as Applied to Industry and Pottery, How It is Made in 1878. As a writer, speaker and advocate of design reform Nichols would join Pitman to influence many with a concept of culture as a commodity by striving to end the "indefinite repetition of the forms adopted by other people and periods" and having as a goal "pure American art, that is an art expression representing the thought and culture of this age and nation."
Then, within the first five months of 1879 McLaughlin would form the Pottery Club, Longworth Nichols would begin serious potting at the Frederick Dallas Pottery on what is now McMicken Avenue and Patrick Coultry and Thomas Wheatley would form a partnership to produce "faience" using a process Coultry had observed McLaughlin using when her pieces were fired in his kiln. Swirling controversies, giant personalities and, I'm sure, staggering sexual tension. I wonder if Mr. Low quite knew what he was walking into with his ceramic sketches that first day in the Art Hall of Cincinnati's 1879 Exhibition?
Sources: The Longworths: Three generations of Art Patronage in Cincinnati by Denny Carter Young 1982 Toward a Correct Taste: Women and the Rise of the Design Reform Movement in Cincinnati by Kenneth R. Trapp 1982 American Art Tile by Norman Karlson 1998 The Book of Rookwood Pottery by Herbert Peck 1968
Kroger's Teri Rose emailed:
Cold Spring does have a Nature's Market. Be sure to look in the
Produce Department. We have the regular pods in bags in their frozen
section. We did have a fresh product for a year but the quality did
not hold up well in our stores due to the slow movement.

Now, I guess, it's up to me. I'll be hunting for these frozen pods and will report my success or failure. Who knows, I may even try a frozen Edamame meal bowl!
Are you familiar with a series of Boston Globe stories questioning Senator John Kerry's ancestry? It seems the same lazy corporate press corp that brought us "The Trashing of Albert Gore" is gearing up for a sequel. There may however be a tiny bump on the road to this lunacy as evidenced in this morning's Washington Post feature about former NATO Commander and Rhodes Scholar 4 star General Wesley Clark. The General, it seems, will not go gently into that media are the lead graphs:

Wesley Clark needs you to know something and it can't wait.
"I want to make this very clear," he says. "Some of the information that's out on me says I come from a long line of rabbis." But now he says he's not certain about his lineage. He acknowledges, "I may be incorrect."
As a general rule, interviews don't start this way. Certainly not interviews with former NATO commanders who might run for president. You haven't asked Clark anything, barely said a word beyond small talk, and suddenly the telegenic retired general with an Arkansas drawl is setting the record straight about his peeps back in Minsk.
Who -- to reiterate -- may or may not have been rabbis.
"That's the big thing this season, Jewish ancestry," says Clark, who confirms that his late father was Jewish. His father died when Wesley was 4, he was raised as a Southern Baptist and later converted to Catholicism.

Notice how the reporter feigns a perplexed confusion over General Clark's desire to "make this very clear." What could ever have been the "telegenic" General's motivation to clarify, after "barely...a word beyond small talk...his peeps back in Minsk"? Those people "who--to reiterate--may or may not have been rabbis."
Poor reporter. All set to strew future lie bomblets along this uppity General's Presidential aspirations when the General outflanks him by being "very clear".
Our intrepid 4 star general media watchdog then discomforts General Clark's patience with this:

In the 60 days before this interview, the words "Wesley Clark" and "for president" had appeared in 312 American newspaper articles. You mention this, and Clark shrugs, with perfectly calibrated modesty.

Get it? "Perfectly calibrated modesty". Why General Clark you conniving manipulative demon seed. This is too funny or rather it would be were this not a supposedly serious profile of a possible Presidential contender. The arch nastiness scatters through the story. The General's "tenure in the Army would give the Democrats a dash of battlefield credibility on foreign policy." Just a dash, huh? And then, "some former associates have accused Clark of enjoying the spotlight too much. He is known for blunt-speaking and occasional outbursts". Why General Clark sounds like a maniac doesn't he?
Luckily General Clark's clarity and straightforwardness shines through the smarm and hurled dirt. I particularly liked this graph:

Clark says America's relations with its traditional allies can be repaired. France, he says, is the country most like the United States. "They have a worldview, they have a lot of pride. France and Texas, they're two sides of the same coin." It's the job of statesmen to build bridges, Clark says.

Oh, I wonder if he's got any particular non bridge building non statesman in mind...hummm? Our Post reporter isn't wondering because he has too much on his crowded agenda. Get this:

When asked if he agrees that speculation about his candidacy grants him a platform to discuss issues, Clark turns oddly combative.
"Well, why do I have to agree on that?" he says. "Why do I have to comment on that?"
He doesn't.
"That's one of these sort of 'When did you stop beating your wife?' questions."
No, it's not.

"Oddly combative". Give me a break! Does the reporter mean himself or the General? Has this savage power mad General brutally unsettled this poor reporter's fastidious mien? Way to go, General! You are sounding more Presidential every time I watch or read your remarks.
The Washington Post, on the other hand, is sounding less and less like the newspaper it used to be. What happened? Is it as simple as the death of Katherine Graham? Has poor innocent Donnie Graham fallen prey to dark influences without Mama's strong protective hand? Were we living in an episode of The Young and Restless this would most certainly be the case.

Tuesday, March 11, 2003
Teri Rose of the Kroger Company very kindly sent an email regarding Edamame products:
We are carrying two frozen Edamame products as well as four frozen Edamame
meal bowls. These items are available in the frozen sections of our Nature
Market stores. There are a few stores that do have a Nature Market in your area including
Erlanger, Ft Mitchell, Burlington, and Union.

I replied:
Generally I'm not a fan of frozen veggies or pre made entrees. Of course I
understand the immense shipping distances and unworkable costs such a fresh
product would entail. Is there such a product as a bag of just the frozen

I'm keeping my chopsticks crossed and I'll post any late breaking developments!
Ladies and gentlemen, the very best citizen ( including the secret coffee ingredient) in crunchy and chewy brownieland resides here:

Candy Bar Brownies
preheat oven to 350

4 Eggs, lightly beaten
2 cups of Sugar
3/4 cup Butter, melted
2 Tsp Vanilla
1 1/2 cups All Purpose Flour
1/2 Tsp Baking Powder
1/4 Tsp Salt
1/3 cup Dutched Cocoa
pinch Instant Coffee Crystals
4 (2.07 oz) 3 Musketeers Bars, chopped

grease and flour 2 8" X 8" round or square cake pans

Combine first 4 ingredients plus the coffee crystals in a large bowl. Combine flour and next 3 ingredients in a separate bowl.
Gradually add flour mixture to sugar and egg mixture. Cover bottoms of cake pans with 1/2 of mixture.
Layer chopped candy bar pieces across surface of each pan and cover with remaining brownie mixture. Bake 30 minutes.
Brownies are best slightly underdone. Upon removal from oven cut brownies into pieces before cake and candy cool.
For a super brownie add chopped nuts, chocolate morsels, marshmallows or flaked coconut after last of flour is blended into egg/sugar mixture. Different candy bars can be used but avoid bars with caramel.
This can be a chocolate Mortal Sin.

I was talking with some Kroger execs yesterday in the Y locker room. I told them that I had unsuccessfully inquired with several Produce Managers about Edamame. Fresh Soy seedpods (like a peapod), parboil for 5 minutes, rinse in cold water, salt and refridgerate. The Japanese are wacky for them. As Edwina on AbFab might emote, "Health, health, health darling..." I have high hopes that these crackerjack young Kroger executives will finally bring Edamame deep into the wilds of the Cincinnati metropolitian area. Follow link for recipes with this natural snack food. Patience with the healthy food...a brownie recipe is looming!
Monday, March 10, 2003
There were some very fancy doings in the Queen City of the West as the 1870's wound to an exciting conclusion with 1879's 12th Cincinnati Industrial Exposition followed by 1880 Democratic National Convention nominating General Winfield Scott Hancock for the Presidency. Both events were held in the sprawling Music Hall complex between Elm Street and the old canal. In the newly constructed Art Hall John Gardner Low of Chelsea, Massachusetts and the Low Art Tile Works displayed "plastic sketches" designed by Englishman Arthur Osborne. These were figural and pictoral glazed ceramic tiles executed in relief and intaglio styles. Themes were often pastoral or classical and the classical often mixed elements of the ancient world with elements of recent American history.
One of my personal favorites is a 4 1/2" X 7 1/2" AETCo tile that once decorated an old cast iron living room coal heater. The tile shows a female Roman Centurion (most galleries and texts describe the figure as male) seated on a hill overlooking a valley and a lake. One arm holds a spear while the other arm embraces an angry bear. In the valley one can see a log cabin and a man wielding a pick-axe while on the lake churns an early steam and sail boat. This was not ignorance of history, for designer Herman Mueller was classically trained in Neuremberg, but rather an attempt, similar to today's more pale attempts, at blending then present day American history with that of the ancient Roman Empire. The Low Company exhibit received the Exposition's Silver Medal and the studied attentions of a wide range of factions within Cincinnati's seminal china painting and art pottery scene including Mary Louise McLaughlin, Matt Morgan, T.J. Wheatley, Herman Mueller, Maria Longworth Nichols, Civil War battlefield illustrator Adolph Metzner and Karl Langenbeck.
The weekend Ebay tile auctions I mentioned in another post were the design work of Mueller, the chemistry of Langenbeck and the ceramic knowledge of both produced during their years at the American Encaustic Tiling Company of Zanesville, Ohio between 1887 and 1894. Of the 9, unmatched except for one pair that sold seperately at the highest prices, 6" X 6" relief tiles two sold over $300 each and the remainder over $200 each. I kinda think had the seller sold the matched pair as one lot he would have achieved a higher hammer...but, hey, I ain't Kreskin!
The Cincinnati Art Galleries held a rather important Art Tile auction in March, 2000 and a comparison of this past weekend to the 2000 prices reveals the continuing strength of the art market in a very depressed economy. Similar matched pairs: 2000-$170 the pair while this weekend on Ebay-$650 the pair.
Good resources for this topic:
American Art Tile by Norman Karlson and American Art Pottery by Dick Sigafoos
A terrific book but hard to find used for $20 to $40 is Zanesville Art Tile In Color by Evan and Louise Purviance which contains a photographic record of many of the AETCo art lines.
People at the CAG link might have copies of the 2000 tile catalogue available for sale. This catalogue contains photographic examples of AETCo, Kensington, Hamilton Cambridge, Beaver Falls, California Art Tile, Rookwood and Grueby among others.
Whew! Another manic Monday! I'll try to post a report on the weekend Ebay AETCo tile auction tonight.
Meanwhile, check out The Daily Howler. This fantastic heavily footnoted media watch blog is well worth a daily reading investment.
Sunday, March 09, 2003
A very interesting auction of several American Encaustic Tiling Company (AETCo) 6' X 6" relief portrait and figural tiles (here is a similar example) on Ebay this past weekend. Realized prices were extremely respectable and realized from large (for items like this on Ebay) bidding pools. It will be interesting to see if these price levels hold. The market for quality Arts & Crafts American Art Pottery has been very strong and seems to be getting stronger throughout these last sour years. More tomorrow...I had a longer post but the computer ate it. Honestly!
How about some soothing...

Lentil and Barley Pilaf

1 medium Onion, peeled and chopped
2 celery stalks, trimmed and chopped
2 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
2 Tbsp Butter
2 1/2 cups Chicken broth
1 cup water
1 cup dried lentils
1/2 cup quick Barley
pinch of Sea Salt and White Pepper

Saute onion, celery and garlic in butter in a medium saucepan...add chicken broth and water and bring to a boil.
Stir in Lentils Sea Salt and White Pepper. Cover and simmer at reduced heat for 25 minutes. Blend in quick Barley, cover and simmer an additional 10
minutes or until liquid is absorbed. Thickens as it cools. Yum!
Some soothingly beautiful Rookwood pottery to induce contemplation.
For your consideration here are portions of a report in this morning's edition of London's Daily Mirror:

Mike Hamilton reports from Camp Coyote in Kuwait

TERRIFIED Iraqi soldiers have crossed the Kuwait border and tried to surrender to British forces - because they thought the war had already started.
The motley band of a dozen troops waved the white flag as British paratroopers tested their weapons during a routine exercise.
The stunned Paras from 16 Air Assault Brigade were forced to tell the Iraqis they were not firing at them, and ordered them back to their home country telling them it was too early to surrender.
"The Paras are a tough, battle-hardened lot but were moved by the plight of the Iraqis. There was nothing they could do other than send them back.

"They were a motley bunch and you could barely describe them as soldiers - they were poorly equipped and didn't even have proper boots. Their physical condition was dreadful and they had obviously not had a square meal for ages. No one has ever known a group of so-called soldiers surrender before a shot has been fired in anger."

Last night the Ministry of Defence officially denied the incident had taken place, but the story was corroborated by an intelligence source.

This story makes me want to cry. All our proud young men and women, all our staggering technology and all the vast sins of our old world imperialistic hubris meeting on the Iraqi sands. I pray we are extremely judicious and supremely surgical but, "The best laid plans..." Does anyone think our efforts will transport us back to those blissful days before the year 2000? I am, at my own nonmechanical heart's core, an Imperalist when roused to defend freedom and, as an Imperalist hoping for a Pax Americana built on stronger foundations, I think our new Emperor erred early on in Afghanistan by not using the "full might" his advisors only hint about now. Of course, the world would have been outraged to say the very least. Our justification would have been our deep anger over September 11th and our new defense of the world's free people. There would, without doubt, have been protests. There would, without doubt, have been conflicts within NATO and the UN. The alQaeda diaspora would either not have happened or have been severely limited while a downside would have been the lack of recoverable intelligence from this particular battlefield. The world would have, perhaps, had a more united approach to Iraq and we could have, again perhaps, had a stronger hand with North Korea.
As Jimmy Carter said in the last sentence of his New York Times editorial this morning:

" use the presence and threat of our military power to force Iraq's compliance with all United Nations resolutions — with war as a final option — will enhance our status as a champion of peace and justice."

Strength, my peace loving friends, is a good thing. Knowing when to use it is a better thing. Join me, on this Sunday morning, in a prayer for our brave soldiers faithfully executing their sworn duty, for the poor Iraqi people and for the survival of democratic freedom in this new imperial world order.

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