What You Need: 9 Lost Songs from the 1980s

They were hits.  They were available on vinyl.  But you can’t buy them now.  They’re unavailable on CD or in digital form.  Peter Gabriel’s “In Your Eyes (Special Mix),” Opus’s “Live Is Life,” the English version of Nena’s “99 Luftballoons” (“99 Red Balloons”), the English version of Peter Schilling’s “Major Tom (Coming Home),” the American…

Crockett Johnson and Ruth Krauss Biography. Appendix B: We Are for Wallace

At the risk of further alienating this blog’s modest readership, here is the second of four appendices cut from The Purple Crayon and a Hole to Dig: The Lives of Crockett Johnson and Ruth Krauss (forthcoming from University Press of Mississippi, 2012).  As is true of Appendix A, this one also registers Johnson’s alliance with…

Crockett Johnson and Ruth Krauss Biography. Appendix A: American Committee for Spanish Freedom

Crockett Johnson studied typography from Frederic Goudy, Ruth Krauss learned about anthropology from Ruth Benedict, and they both knew Ad Reinhardt (who was a particular friend of Johnson’s).  Their acquaintances with the influential typographer, anthropologist, and abstract impressionist are all in the book — The Purple Crayon and a Hole to Dig: The Lives of…

Artists for FDR

To support President Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s 1944 re-election campaign, Syd Hoff, Crockett Johnson, Lynd Ward, Hugo Gellert, William Gropper, and fourteen other artists illustrated this booklet. The text is FDR’s speech made before the Teamsters Union on September 23rd, 1944 — also known as the “Fala speech,” since it features his dog, Fala. Here is…

The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making

The problem with a blurb from Neil Gaiman on a cover is that, invoking Gaiman, it inevitably diminishes the book by comparison.  This is not the book’s fault.  Gaiman is one of our most gifted contemporary writers.  Catherynne M. Valente may not be, but I wouldn’t even be thinking about the comparison if Gaiman’s endorsement…

Brisbane: City of Free, Public Art

Coming from a U.S. state whose governor is working tirelessly to defund the arts, I’ve been delighted to see so much art in Brisbane, Australia — most of it at no cost to the visitor.  GoMA’s Surrealism exhibit requires a ticket, but the rest of the museum has no admission fee.  Back in the States,…

The exquisite corpse will drink the new cappuccino

Half-way through the “Surrealism: The Poetry of Dreams” exhibit at the Gallery of Modern Art (GoMA) here in Brisbane, museum-goers encounter this: A clever riff on the Surrealist game that exploits the mysteries of accidental juxtapositions, this mid-exhibit bar also offered a welcome rest to travel-weary visitors (such as your humble narrator, who visited the…