Art Pottery, Politics and Food
Saturday, December 11, 2004

Bernie's feeling tazed.

From the Washington Post:

Bernard Kerik abruptly withdrew his nomination...saying questions have arisen about the immigration status of a housekeeper and nanny he employed...The decision caught the White House off guard.

Unmodified image: Reuters

Friday, December 10, 2004
The always excellent Art Newspaper has a couple of articles that will, for a brief recuperative spell, take your anxious mind away from the ugliness of war and politics and, possibly, make you partly understand why the big boys are fighting so hard for the endless bushels of cash the Social Security privatization scam will generate.

The Badminton Cabinet

"News from Liechtenstein" is not a phrase one sees every day.
However, The Art Newspaper is reporting that Hans-Adam II, Prince of Liechtenstein, has purchased the Badminton Cabinet, an early 18th century example of Florentine pietra dure furniture, for £19,045,250 ($35.8 million) at a December 9th sale at Christie’s of London.
The Badminton Cabinet, now the world’s most expensive piece of furniture, was purchased with the Prince’s “private funds” but will reside in the Museum of Liechtenstein in Vienna and will be shown to the public beginning in the spring of 2005.
The Cabinet was last sold by David Somerset, the current and 11th Duke of Beaufort, in 1990 to American band-aid and baby powder heiress Barbara Piaceska Johnson for a, then, record-breaking £8.58 million $15 million.
Miss Johnson, shockingly to a collector but par for an investor, did not keep her nylons and panties in the historic treasure but rather kept the expensive bauble in storage.
The Cabinet was commissioned in Florence, Italy by Henry Fitzroy Somerset, the 3rd Duke of Beaufort, and was assembled between 1695 and 1732.
Commenting of this latest sale the 11th Duke of Beaufort said:

I don’t give a damn where it went, but I wish I’d made that much money when I sold it.

He was not amused.

Pietra dure is decorative mosaic of semi-precious stones such as agate, jasper and lapis lzuli that achieved technical and artistic excellence in 16th century Florence, Italy.
In furniture, the decorative mosaic usually adorns cabinets, like the Badminton, tabletops, boxes and chests.

Liz and her van Gogh

Another Art Newspaper article that won’t be found in such fascinating detail through our lazy media concerns the ever-feisty Elizabeth Taylor’s ongoing fight over her ownership of Vincent van Gogh’s View of the Church of Saint-Paul-de-Mausole, a 44.5 X 60.0 cm. oil on canvas painted in Saint Rémy during October 1889.
I urge you to follow the link and read this excellent article concerning the always-complicated ownership of major artwork.
And, for the record, I’m with Liz on this one.
All the best, sweetie!

Images: The Art Newspaper,

Thursday, December 09, 2004

Move On is asking ordinary citizens to offer opinions that will be presented to various national bigs as Democrats fight for a new party leader this weekend.

Here are mine:

I'm sick of the sniveling Republican-lite DLC corporate revolving door hacks who infest the party and the media.
I want representatives who fight back and not stammer in the face of phony and often manufactured Rethug morality and politics.
I want party leaders along the lines of the new Al Gore, Dr. Dean and Jon Stewart.
I want the media challenged often and hard.
I want someone, anyone to mention the Afghan heroin flooding this country and selling for $10 a bag in New York City!

Young rural Kentuckians are being ensnared when buying what they are told is cocaine. The drug sells here in KY for $40...$20 less than when I was a youth 30 years ago!
I want some brave soul to challenge Bush's insane medical marijuana positions particularly in light of the cheap Afghan heroin and to notice that drug importation has not lessened since 911.

Hemp, as a crop used in medicine and manufacturing would give tobacco-less Kentucky a cash crop and Democrats, again, the top state leadership was our largest cash crop until the 1920's. Recreational marijuana 30 years ago sold for $20 per ounce while today it averages around $250 driving more middle and lower class kids toward Bush's cheap life-destroying Afghan heroin.

The Party has to change and heads must roll or I will not contribute another dime!
We have to make the Rethugs react to our spin and dance to our tunes...this isn't rocket science guys.
The engines of the campaign seem to have ground to a halt...they need to come back to life.
Democratic grass root positions are correct and DO NOT need to be modified...In my opinion, on many issues, like illegal immigration and media hatred, the left and right are surprisingly allied.

We need to capitalize on these areas of Left-Right consanguinity and use these issues to open the door to other areas of shared interest like the neo-royalty of generational politicians, celebrities and business and union leaders...a hotly discussed topic in this part of the deep woods.
We have to make people aware that world and domestic fundamentalism threatens our democracy and freedoms.
It’s a big job but we are right and the Rethugs are wrong.


When our beloved fundamentalist and expensively dressed Emperor finds it untenable to hide behind the War on Terra, thanks to that darn Specialist Wilson’s used armor question yesterday and the unhappy holiday likelihood of dead and wounded young American boys, his Pharisaic minions can always be counted on to quickly scamper behind the thick diversionary cloak of George W. Bush’s own unique brand of convenience Christianity.

Moses with the 10 Commandments, Philippe de Champaigne, 1648

Verily, yesterday, as the smoke from Rummy’s half-hearted offerings hugged the sandy Iraqi ground and our own Promised soil lay littered with the randy remains of wayward youth ministers, a blindingly white sacrificial bull, in the form of the administration's top Supreme Court lawyer, was trotted up Capital Hill to urge the oracles of Justice to consider the administration’s fresh historical insight into one of the many Church-State cases on the soon-to-be-Rhenquistless Court’s docket for 2005.
Begone from our media ye dump-humping and way to verbal soldiery, for yea I say unto thee our leader has new God-inspired insight into one particular translation of those Old Testament Commandments so dear to the magnetic ribbon bedecked hearts of his, coincidentally (wink, wink), most fundamentalist supporters.
Say Hallelujah and take comfort, those of you sinners who remember yesterday, that the Kuwaiti dumps and landfills are among the finest refuse piles on the face of the Earth!
The remainder of you God-loving cable news watchers can rest your weary Christmas-shopping heads knowing the Lord’s work is safely in the grabby revisionist hands of our holiest politicians.
I feel blessed knowing America’s public spaces will soon be littered with countless hulking granite monuments affording new memorial space, alongside a Commandment or ten, for the names of lucky soldiers presently enjoying the fresh wholesome air of a Kuwaiti landfill.
Well done, Mr. President.
I’m praying the Commandments can be expensively hand-embroidered onto your next military-style cloth of gold jacket.

Covered Jar, Leslie St. Clair

I had the great pleasure to spend a portion of last Sunday attending the annual Holiday Pottery Sale by the Clay Alliance at Howard Hall next to the recently restored Basilica of the Assumption in downtown Covington, Kentucky.
As the American Art Pottery Association is presently embroiled in a sadly overly academic and politically correct debate on what exactly constitutes art pottery, a debate likely promulgated by a few sellers more interested in larding their shelves and consequently their pocketbooks with cheaper non American ware, it is a great joy to see present day American potters offering a range of beautiful pots to a frenzy of purchasing citizenry.
It is also, for those of us proud of Cincinnati’s long and checkered history at the forefront of the American Art Pottery movement, great fun to talk about pots and glazes with some of this area’s most talented clay artists.
As a collector of the long-forgotten products of Cincinnati area tile manufacturers, I was thrilled to see several potters offering gorgeous tiles and plaques this year.
When talking with the very talented Leslie St Clair and Jane Bresser, whom I’ve badgered with tile requests for years, I was pleased to note that both women are in differing stages of retiling their own home bathrooms with their own beautifully unique designs.
Jane was offering lovely plant inspired ceramic basins for sale at this particular Holiday Show and Leslie was offering several small form tiles and one gorgeous large form plaque that was feverishly eyed by several attendees before being quickly snatched up at its $300 tagged price.
I heard the purchaser say as she hugged it to her chest, “It’s a steal!”
Both women seemed quite enthusiastic with their tile projects and Leslie appeared thrilled with tiles she had taken from the kiln that very morning.
I wish them much success with an art form possessing a rich local history that includes the Matt Morgan Pottery, the Kensington Tile Works, the Hamilton Tile Works and the pre Wheatley Cambridge Art Tile Company to say nothing of the world famous Rookwood Pottery.
The Clay Alliance will have two more holiday sales on December 12th at different locations.
Information for the one at Cincinnati’s Memorial Hall can be had by calling Jane Bresser at (859) 261-3753 while details of the other at Crooked Tree Studios in Mason, OH can be had by phoning Mary at (513) 762-3339.
Look for the Clay Alliance on line at and Leslie St. Clair’s superb Celtic designs at
American Art Pottery is alive and well despite some people’s self-serving rumors to the contrary.
These beautiful objects, unlike most mass-produced crap, make beautiful and unique Christmas gifts and ones that will, over time, increase in value.

Images: Google, St. Clair Pottery

Wednesday, December 08, 2004
Ave Rummy!

As President Bush, decked out in yet another hand-embroidered military-style jacket, yesterday reveled in costly imperial pageantry of a type enjoyed by pre revolutionary French royalty, old Secretary Rumsfeld was getting a royal taste of post revolutionary drama from irate Reserve and National Guard troops at Camp Buehring, Kuwait.

Army Specialist Thomas Wilson

A brave and now likely career-limited young troop, Army Specialist Thomas Wilson of Tennessee’s 278th Regimental Combat Team, stood and asked a question that knocked our faux-befuddled and heavily protected Rummy off his tightly orchestrated happy script.

Rummy's sceptical audience

According the BBC, Spec. Wilson, to cheers from the 2,000 assembled soldiers present, asked:

Why do we soldiers have to dig through local landfills for pieces of scrap metal and compromised ballistic glass to (sic) uparmour our vehicles?

Rummy, cruelly vamping for time and, I’d guess, enjoying the young trooper’s emotional turmoil, asked Specialist Wilson to repeat the question.
No doubt with his heart thudding in his chest, as Rummy intended, young Wilson, according to USA Today, repeated his question adding:

We do not have proper armored vehicles to carry us north.

The heartless Rummy, non-answered with one of the gutless circumlocutions that have endeared him to countless parodists across our vast globe:

You go to war with the army you have…you can have all the armor in the world on a tank and it can be blown up.

Yes, Mr. Secretary, indeed it can with your still operative and overly optimistic flower-strewn Plan along with the munitions your incompetence allowed Iraqi insurgents to possess.
Freedom’s so messy, isn’t it?

Major General Gary Speer?

Reporters wondered if the deputy commanding General of US forces in Kuwait had an answer to the young soldier’s very valid question.
According to USA Today, Major General Gary Speer said he was not aware that soldiers were searching landfills for scrap metal and used bulletproof glass.
An equally shifty-eyed and over air-conditioned general on the imperial fast track might have rubbed his booted toe in the dirt and said, “Non omnia possumus omnes” or, rather, “We cannot all do everything”.
Promotion conscious troopers take note of butt-covering paper-pushers and consider the immortal words of the ancient Roman gladiator, “Ave Caesar, morituri te salutant!”

Photos: AP, AFP, Nick at Nite

Tuesday, December 07, 2004
L'etat c'est moi!

Triumph, and the consequent destined, in the order of events, to kindle the wrath of the people...against those who have dared to embroil them in such wickedness...I have so completely withdrawn myself from these spectacles of usurpation and misrule, that I do not take a single newspaper, nor read one a month; and I feel myself infinitely the happier for it.
--Thomas Jefferson writing to Tench Coxe, May 1, 1794

Photo: Reuters

Monday, December 06, 2004

As a certain former NBC employee figuratively finds himself Dakota-bound and possibly facing a labor-intensive restart of a once lucrative Sunday Supplement underwear-modeling career, I am forced, by dint of yet more smoldered offerings upon his already blackened altar, to consider that unique but ubiquitous and fading American entity commonly called anchorman.
I say “commonly” because, for all my 30 years slaving in the salt mines of domestic and international television, we uncommon North American insiders referred to the on-camera crowd as “talent” since that was what they, once upon a time, were supposed to possess as justification for their visual primacy.
I say “supposed” because, throughout television’s long history, talent was precisely the quality these teased, heavily promoted and thickly made-up butts of gallows humor most often lacked.
Mr. Brokaw, as any viewer would know, found “R” an irksome letter in the grand mumbled alphabet tradition of handicapped consonant pioneer Barbara Walters.
Many an entertaining, though information-free, American evening was spent watching NBC’s old Tom wa-wa his way through an “R”-packed script along the lines of ”regular Rangers round up rebel renegades in Rwanda.”
On the day of this gentleman’s final broadcast, after the over effusive accolades from the freakish remnants of Katie, Matt and Al and shortly after a simulated welling of bone-dry anchor tears, I sent this email to NBC News:

Good widdance…

Of course, silly me, I’ve given the back of my hand to the alleged journalistic element and front row center reserved seating to cheap theatrics; always, as some detractors allude, a triumphant forté of my rebellious broadcast existence.
But theatrics and cheapness have always been the yin and yang of the cool toob no matter some “talent’s” semi-recent hot infatuation with post-Watergate me-focused celebrity journalism.
Yes, over the last 20 to 30 years, TV’s million-dollar glamour pusses have fallen all over themselves to enforce their identification as members of that pencil-pushing profession just slightly less historic than prostitution by actually writing the occasional 20 or 30 seconds of self-ballyhooed script copy.
Some of these faux scribes have been known to actually sit alongside a producer and editor to contribute the occasional phrase when not in ongoing telephonic communication with agents, stylists or divorce lawyers.
Suddenly, into the as luck would have it semi-literate marketplace, came a less than mythological Muse in the form of synergistic mega corporate ownership with endless ranks of ghostly writers capable of feathering spontaneous anchor jibber into something, when jacketed in glossy photos, divided into chapters, hyped ad nauseum and occasionally taped for televised usage, vaguely book like.
I’m imagining this former network anchor’s particular writing career will, thanks to GE and a corporate kool-aid gargle, burn its dim bulb well beyond this past week’s retirement to further illuminate synergy’s pale green heaven.

In an amusing life beyond the grave coincidence, I’m reminded of my old anchor team’s reawakening this evening in metropolitan Washington, DC.
The hug and kisses puffery in yesterday’s Washington Post almost completely misses the fun fact that the more entertaining show will be off-air in WJLA’s Rosslyn, VA newsroom and former HQ of the reunited anchor team’s previous corporate ownership.
I find some synergies, like that former owner’s disastrous November sweeps, almost too delicious!
Yes, kiddies, in a flashback tribute to divas of yore, titanic cable and over-the-air egos will spark and clash in what is sure to be high entertainment for the producers and crews privileged to watch.
The truly intelligent, lovely, elegant, ever arch and, now, senior anchor gave a WoPo staff writer the tantalizing hint:

Bunyan was reluctant to draw an exact comparison of what happened to her and Peterson at WUSA but acknowledged one similarity. "The parallel I see between us and this situation is how things have moved on for both of us, regardless of how we left, willingly or not willingly…

Treated rather brutally by the previous station’s ownership and, in a manner (wink, wink) similar to a union negotiation without a shop steward, this female anchor found her, then, last broadcast a mysteriously solo flight.
While too refined to dish too diva in ‘JLA’s mile-high newroom, this female class act will, I’m sure, join the watchers in expecting the spark mother load to cascade between her now and former, old and younger alpha-esque 6PM anchors.
Am I smelling smoke, a book deal or, lucky for the terror-constrained new owners, both?

Photos: NBC,

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