Sunday, June 27, 2021

The Golden Woodsman

Perched majestically atop the Oregon State Capitol Building
in Salem, the 22-foot 23 carat gold leaf covered lumberjack known as Oregon Pioneer began his momentous cross-country trek in New Jersey.

Sculpted in 1938 by Ulrich Ellerhusen, the Pioneer was created for Salem’s new capitol building after their previous one was destroyed by fire in 1935. He allegedly traveled through the Panama Canal and reached Salem by railroad.

Facing north and clutching an axe and a tarp, he peers westward and strikes a pose that suitably evokes the rugged frontier spirit of the state of Oregon and its surrounding regions.


Who would have guessed that the brawny golden paragon of the Pacific Northwest was originally a Jersey boy? Now, if only we can find a Colonial-clad statue overlooking Trenton that was crafted in the woodlands of Oregon, a swap could somehow be negotiated by the appropriate authorities thereby aligning the moon and stars once again.

Contact Chris:

Name:

Email:

Comment:

     
Christopher Robinson

Sunday, June 20, 2021

A “Moss” Peculiar Man

Growing up, I spent a few years in a town called Lake Charles in Louisiana. Peppering the wetland surface were chimney-like holes in the ground about two to three feet-deep. These holes were built and inhabited by crawfish, small ubiquitous crustaceans also known as ‘crawdads’ or ‘crawdaddies.’

Given the rural surroundings and relatively laid-back lifestyle that went with the region, there wasn’t much in the way of recognizable or high-profile superheroes to admire like Superman, Batman, Green Lantern, Thor, Wonder Woman or Spider-Man.

Instead, the Bayou Country boasted a lesser-celebrated but equally impressive crime-fighter whose civilian name was Mr. Bonin. Bonin worked as a local fisherman who called upon his special powers when found in a particular jam or pickle. The danger-seeking Cajun didn’t save the day without a key ingredient, however.

That’s where the moss came into play, Spanish moss- to be exact. A handful of the stuff and Bonin proceeded to chant his mantra:

“Spanish moss in my hands, turn me into Crawfish-Man!”

Yes, that’s right; he transmogrified into a muscular and scaly biped lobster-looking being complete with red claws and antennae. He righted wrongs, fought evil and, at some point hopefully, transformed back. I recall a story where then-President Carter somehow became trapped atop the Statue of Liberty’s torch and was duly rescued by Crawfish-Man. Perhaps he’s out there right now preventing the current leader of the free world from dropping an ice cream cone or forgetting his aviators at a roadside rest stop.

Indeed we owe a debt of gratitude to the local superheroes, especially the unsung or forgotten ones. As we recover from the Covid-19 crisis, it might be a nice gesture to thank anyone who helped us through, especially the ones we call ‘front line workers.’ Like the mighty yet humble crusader of the Cajun swamp, they’ll no doubt be pleased to receive your appreciation. Gratitude, like the Spanish moss, goes a long way.

Contact Chris:

Name:

Email:

Comment:

     
Christopher Robinson

Sunday, June 13, 2021

Hazz to be Jazz

Though its precise nomenclature might be unknown, jazz holds a significant place in the history of music with a tradition deep in instrumentation and improvisation. It continues to entertain and inspire music lovers across the globe yet, much like the blues, is a quintessentially American art.

Developed after the Civil War in New Orleans, what we term 'jazz' was derived from blues and ragtime. Most contemporary disciplines of the music are divided between the 'modern' and traditional French Quarter style 'Dixieland.'

Much like rock and roll thirty years later, jazz was chiefly popularized by African American artists and broke through to much larger white audiences in the 1920's, being thereafter performed and appreciated by both demographics.

Like a good gumbo, jazz's exceptional qualities can be attributed to the diverse ethnicity employed in its creation. The Mississippi region in Louisiana brought together people from France, Italy, Africa, the Caribbean and other parts of the world who variously added special components to the developing style. 

Jazz gave musicians room to solo within the framework of the music which in turn made legends of players like Miles Davis, Charlie Parker, Louis Armstrong, Al Hirt, Art Blakey, Dave Brubeck, Duke Ellington, John Coltrane, Thelonious Monk, Charles Mingus and others. Even players initially less prominent within the traditional performances such as singers and guitarists become recognized headliners and bandleaders. 

Jazz eventually figured into the music of many rock artists, particularly as the style progressed towards increased soloing and jamming. Likewise, jazz saw a 'fusion' movement as it adopted characteristics of rock and funk and those instruments previously unheard in jazz.

Since music has historically been in a perpetual state of flux, the future direction of jazz, like rock, may be anyone's guess. Keeping an eye on the trends within all styles of music and culture seems to be the best way to forecast the future of jazz. In any case, it's the way we experience, feel and interpret those sounds and notes as they gradually evolve that makes the sonic journey what it truly is. 

Contact Chris:

Name:

Email:

Comment:

     
Christopher Robinson

Sunday, June 6, 2021

Art-ifacts

How old is art? No, not Garfunkel, but rather the assemblage of objects for aesthetic appreciation in world culture. It seems that which many would believe to be the oldest artworks were discovered relatively (and surprisingly) recently.

The Bhimbetka Petroglyphs adorn the Auditorium Cave in Bhimbetka and another cave in Daraki-Chattan in a rock shelter, both in central India. They appear as circular reliefs in the rock and date back to 290,000 BC. That’s pretty old.This revelatory discovery changed the historical assessment that the oldest art was to be found in Africa.


The Auditorium Cave is more accurately a ‘cave gallery’ leading to a massive rock centerpiece called ‘Chief’s Rock’. Eleven petroglyphs or rock carvings can be found inside. They were carved on hard quartzite dating back to the Lower Paleolithic Age. In the smaller cave near Madhya Pradesh, almost 500 of the rock impressions, called cupules, appear on two vertical strips.

What was the purpose of these carvings? More importantly, was there a significant message or statement in them? Perhaps they were meant to warn us or foretell of something. A considerable many moons have passed since they appeared so it’s also highly probable that whatever that something is, has already occurred. Maybe that’s the biggest relief of all.

Contact Chris:

Name:

Email:

Comment:

     
Christopher Robinson