Youngblood Blog

Writing weblog, local, topical, personal, spiritual

End of an Era—or Just the Beginning

MOVING INTO 21st CENTURY REALTIME CORNER FOR IWSGers or
If your [writerly] past calls, don’t answer

Picasso's fragile crystal 20x20 ft curtain "le tricorne" greeted Four Seasons' diners until sold for a queen's ransom

Picasso’s fragile crystal 20×20 ft curtain “le tricorne” greeted Four Seasons’ diners until sold for a queen’s ransom

The Four Seasons—New York’s world-famed dining emporium-par-excellence at 52nd Street and Park Avenue changed the face of Midtown dining, as did Mies van der Rohe’s magnificent Seagram building, built in 1958, with panache and display more suited to High Empire. The building’s frontage made ‘scandalous’ display of a grand plaza and fountain on Park Avenue’s precious real estate frontage.

Mies van der Rohe's 1958 Seagram Building of 35 stories, with the Four Seasons on its mezzanine floor

Mies van der Rohe’s 1958 Seagram Building of 35 stories, with the Four Seasons on its mezzanine floor

The Seagram Building quickly became an icon of the growing power of the corporation, that defining institution of the twentieth century. In a bold and innovative move, the architect chose to set the tower back from the property line to create a forecourt plaza and fountain on Park Avenue which revolutionized Uptown architecture.

Mies van der Rohe, an adoptive American from the European Bauhaus school of architecture which enlivened German and British design after the drudgery of two wars, completed the building with his own interior design—lobby, elevators, individual furniture, lighting and trademark leather chairs on every office floor, asking his assistant Philip Johnson—architect on the contemporaneous Guggenheim Museum two blocks away, to go wild in creating the restaurant.

Craig Claiborne, then food editor of The Times, reviewed the Four Seasons two months after its July 29, 1958 opening.

“Both in décor and in menu, it is spectacular, modern and audacious, perhaps the most exciting restaurant to open in New York within the last two decades.”
Craig Claiborne

Even Mr Claiborne was impressed by the Park.Ave. Lobster Mousse and Salmon belly flown in from the River Spey!

The Four Seasons cost $4.5 million to open, nearly $40 million in today’s dollars. The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, which opened the same year, cost $3 million. The restaurant closed with an auction of its valuable Jackson Pollock and Joan Miró art last week, 58 years after the day it opened.

Go, wondrous creature, mount where Science guides
Go, measure Earth, weigh air and state the tides
Instruct the planets in what orbs to run
Correct old Time and regulate the Sun
Alexander Pope 1733


OPULENCE OF NATURE—Do We Need Another Wake-up Call?

Expounding on the luxurious nature of that past era makes the mouth water. Those candlelight dinners were nightly celebrated by Wall Street and Washington’s Great & Good, with the world’s foremost champagne on hand, Black Forest Gâteau with genuine cherries imported from, yes, Germany’s SchwarzWald—changes of napkins, matches and décor to reflect each season: green for spring, red for summer, brown for fall, white for winter. We would be hard-pressed to find such opulence now in a public place. Even downstairs, at the Brasserie, the eggs Benedict were to die for.

But such opulence does—or did—still exist until recent years.

The Miners’ Canary

Klamath river salmon no longer on menu at August Salmon Festival

Klamath river salmon no longer on menu at August Salmon Festival

Take the situation in Nature, for example—northern California to be specific: ten years ago all the rivers ran approximately the same course, feeding fish, humans and trees without discrimination or interruption.

Abrupt change, they say, doesn’t happen overnight. But, tell that to the tribal residents and neighbors on paucity-running Klamath, restricted water-hours-Trinity, or the not-so-wild-and-scenic Smith rivers. The Hoopa Trinity statement by Tribal Chief Ryan Jackson says it all:

[This warning is] not just a miner’s canary—it is the tsunami siren notifying North Coast communities of impending environmental catastrophe and cultural devastation
Ryan Jackson, Hoopa Valley Tribal Chair, Trinity River Watershed

Endangered Species Act law suit by Hoopa Tribe of Trinity County initiated by the Elders because symptoms displayed in the famed Trinity River bed show signs of decay and death. The Tribe’s warning to authorities in neglect is that river disease is killing not just the food supply, but the planet’s lifeblood.

Somewhere in this song of great traditions there is an Era-ending note. It may sound slightly off-key. It may not sound terribly writerly to those of my cohorts and colleagues under the tutelage of our Grand-Chef Alex.

But I guess we have to admit it’s here—now—and we’re going to have to deal with it.
Thanks for listening.
©2016 Marian Youngblood

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August 3, 2016 Posted by | art, authors, blogging, culture, traditions, writing | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Beating the Same Drum—for our Earthly Home

MONTHLY INSECURE WRITERS’ SUPPORT GROUP CORNER
Optimism as an Excuse for Delaying

Dr. Suess predicted our human dilemma in finding a balance with Nature

Dr. Suess predicted our human dilemma in finding a balance with Nature

“If we try to ‘save everything,’ we risk saving nothing of consequence. We’re already spread too thin, and losing ground every day”
Corporate ‘optimism’ of Dan Ashe, Director U.S. Fish & Game/Wildlife Service

One of the most facile excuses we have heard recently for the U.S. Government’s NOT upholding the Endangered Species Act.

Created in 1973 as Richard Nixon’s sole claim to humanitarianism on his exit from office, the Endangered Species Act is about to expire. And big business—along with its allies in the huntin’-shootin’-fishin’ aka “sports” community are just going to let it happen.

Director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Dan Ashe told a small Defenders of Wildlife group that he sees a “giant clash” between those who favor conservation and those who favor economic development; he believes that conservationists “must accept a world with fewer wolves, salmon, and spotted owls.” The Director of the U.S. agency fully responsible for protecting the nation’s biodiversity went on to say that, in the name of compromise, we must accept “a world with less biodiversity.”

We already live in a world with “fewer wolves, salmon and spotted owls!” Humans used to be able to live in balance with nature, as part of nature. We’ve allowed ourselves to behave in ways that suggest we are above nature—where we have the right to decide which species deserve to survive.

During the current Obama Administration, anti-conservationists have launched no fewer than 100 attacks on the Endangered Species Act. Often hidden, attached as riders to must-pass legislation such as authorization bills for U.S. Dept. of Defense, appropriations bills for Dept. of Interior and other Federal agencies, nearly half of the bills prohibit protection of individual species, such as the grey wolf or the Northern long-eared bat.

The Endangered Species Act is also being dismantled from within. At critical leadership positions, U.S. Administration has chosen individuals uncommitted to preserving biodiversity.

Optimism as an Excuse for Decimating World Resources
It starts at the top. The Director of the Fish and Wildlife Agency, it appears, has the view, that we must live with less biodiversity. He states—

Clearfelling is illegal in CA, but Federal agencies turn a blind eye where conflict of business interests occur

Clearfelling is illegal in CA, but Federal agencies turn a blind eye where conflict of business interests occur

“Hellen Keller once said, ‘Optimism is the faith that leads to achievement. Nothing can be done without hope and confidence.’ The Fish and Wildlife Service, and the work we do, will continue to embody that spirit.

“That’s why we’re working hard to ensure that our organization is fit and capable to meet the challenges in front of us. And why we’re building and strengthening partnership-driven conservation efforts across the nation.”
Dan Ashe, Director, U.S. Federal Fish & Wildlife Agency

Helen Keller’s sentiments are laudable, but she was blind. So, it seems, are certain ‘partnerships’ chosen by U.S. government agencies to represent endangered creatures, once protected. Now no more.

Logging companies, careless in their custodianship of irreplaceable first-growth forest, are hungry to pick up scraps from the contested Klamath River watershed sell-off, in the wind-down to dam removal in 2020.

Green Diamond (so-called) Resource Company is one of these ‘custodians’. Touting in its conservation literature to hikers its success in saving the endangered California Spotted Owl from extinction merely two years ago, it is now implementing clear-felling in the bird’s target habitat of Humboldt County at the very moment its representative Endangered Species Act is becoming null and void.

California's Spotted Owl, survivors of forest fires, but  now unprotected—sweeties!

California’s Spotted Owl, survivors of forest fires, but now unprotected—sweeties!

In continuing to allow economic gain to dictate our future action—or inaction in the case of the Endangered Species Act—we the people appear to condone our political/business leaders’ attitude.

Is it not time to stop this blindness? Instead, to use our combined intelligence/compassion and search for a future where we may begin to see the Earth—our only home—recover?

Apologies to my fellow IWSGers—under our Space-Cap’n.Alex‘s superb guidance—along with his co-hosts—if I seem to bang on incessantly at the same drum. But we writers have always known we had finite resources—worked our way to make the best use of them—as the plight of the planet is dear to us, too. It is our only home. There is no Planet-B.

So, Dan Ashe and his fellow sportsman Neal Ewald notwithstanding, we need all the help we can get from the writers, creative people, those with a voice.

Thanks for listening and if you feel motivated, be my guest and speak up for us all.
And Happy Bealltainn!
©2016 Marian Youngblood

May 4, 2016 Posted by | authors, birds, blogging, culture, environment, nature, weather, writing | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment