Inbred Royals on Parade!

How’s this for an introduction:

“The proliferation of inbreeding among royal families, as documented in Appendix II, spawned a tragic historical heritage of simpletons, “sad-heads,” and hideously deformed imbeciles, all laughingly given powers beyond their comprehension.”

Who *wouldn’t* get sucked into a book like that?!

A British gentleman I work with pulled my name for the Secret Santa exchange this past Christmas. Knowing my mania for all things British and royal, he bought me Mad Kings & Queens: History’s Most Famous Raving Royals by Alison Rattle & Allison Vale, a fantastic book about how the royal lineages of Europe and Britain have been genetically corrupt by centuries of inbreeding. This book isn’t a serious study but, rather, a scandalous look at the worst of the worst. I’ve treated myself to a few delicious morsels just before drifting off to sleep at night.

The most heinous ruler was Vlad “The Impaler” of Walachia (1431-1476). He’s reported to be the inspiration for Bram Stoker’s Dracula. Among other atrocities, he would impale his own subjects with wooden stakes, plunged from the anus to the mouth. To insure an agonizingly slow death, the stakes were smoothed and oiled so that no vital organs were damaged as they passed through the body. Gross!

Poor Ferdinand I of Austria (1793-1875) had a pleasant temperament but because he was “…a descendant of the inbred Hapsburg line, it was no surprise that he turned out to be a monstrous genetic mutation.” I know how he feels. His parents were kissing cousins. As a result, he was born with a huge swollen head, a vast nose, the famous Hapsburg drooping lower lip and a vacant expression. He was a simpleton and it is said that the only complete sentence he every spoke was, “I am the Emperor, and I want dumplings.” Yet, he was crowned! There were guys just like him in my shop class in high school, except that a crown did not sit upon their father’s head.

The common thread that seems to run through all this blue blood is that the majority of these Royals had insatiable sexual appetites. That goes for both the Kings AND Queens. But, think about it. If you had supreme Godlike power over a nation, wouldn’t you do a lot of experimenting in the bedroom? I doubt that their appetites were any different than anyone else; they just had better opportunities.

What exactly is a “sad-head,” anyway? Is that a British colloquialism?

This one with authentic father issues

My monthly column at the Undie Press is supposed to be about collecting rare books. I have no idea how my issues with my father crept in all of a sudden. It wasn’t by design. But you know how it is when you’re writing. Once the train leaves the station and it works up a good head of steam and the breaks fail, there’s no stopping it.

I do eventually get around to discussing books, but not before I vent my spleen just a bit.

This month I’m featuring an author you’ve probably never read but who deserves your immediate attention.

The one-hand clap stomp

We got socked on the jaw with another big snowstorm last night. The New York Times has such a wonderful way with words. They called it a “giant amoeba-shaped storm.” An excellent metaphor. They called the December 26th mega-blizzard “diabolical” because of the timing. Not only did it deprive everyone of a white Christmas, but it also prevented people from getting home. Some for a week or more! Diabolical, indeed.

I have colleagues who are on staff who spread the word yesterday that they were going to “work from home” today. Up here in the Northeast, “work from home” is a euphemism for staying in your pajamas and fucking off all day. But not me, brothers and sisters! Because I’m still just a consultant, it’s imperative that I make it in to work. No work = no pay.

So at 5:15 a.m. I was shoveling about 14 inches of powdery snow out of my driveway. Have I mentioned that I’m a martyr? I am! You’d think that I’d be violently heaving shovels of snow in great, angry arcs but that wasn’t the case at all. Snow can be a big pain in the ass but, good Christ, it’s beautiful.

Everything was white-white. Snow was clinging to the tiniest tree branch and there was a muffled calm. There was no wind and the storm had passed so the stars were out. One bright planet was shining in the southern sky. I would have gotten the driveway cleared in half the time if I hadn’t stopped to soak it all in every few minutes. There was a true Zen-like tranquility in the air. Being tripped-up by circumstances was the furthest thing from my mind. For fleeting moments, I felt kind of lucky.

Don’t you love surprises?

I paid a visit to the Whitney Museum of Art to take in their current exhibit, Modern Life: Edward Hopper and His Time. The Whitney has more Hoppers in their permanent collection than any other museum, so they trot them out on a fairly regular basis because they’re crowd pleasers. (Which is to say, revenue-generators.)

I’ve read that some folks complain but I don’t mind one bit. Call me pedestrian but I love Hopper’s work. The idea (this time) is to pair a selection of Hopper paintings with works from other artists who were his contemporaries. I believe the intention is to give the viewer a feeling of the moment in time when these pieces were created. Initially, it sounded like kind of a flimsy premise but I think the exhibit is a success.

The majority of the painting on display are by Hopper but you also have works by Charles Demuth, Alfred Stieglitz, Ben Shahn, etc., etc. You’ll see this beauty, which was painted by Hopper in 1921…

hopper

…hung near this fantastic photograph of Wall Street that was taken in 1915 by Paul Strand. The pieces really do work in concert with one another and I’d like to see the show again before it closes in April.

strand
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What I wasn’t expecting was to be blown away by another exhibit running through February 13th; Charles LeDray: workworkworkworkwork. I’m a bit of a traditionalist and a snob when it comes to museum exhibits. I’m not much for contemporary art, so it takes quite a bit for me to take notice. LeDray, who I knew nothing of walking into his exhibit, is a sculpture who creates objects to small scale. It looks like painstaking work but the end result is a fun romp.

The best piece is this miniature men’s clothing store. The clothing is hand-sewn miniatures. There’s a round table with a selection of tiny ties splayed out as you might see them in Macy’s. It’s impressively detailed work.

store

One of the mediums he works in is human bone. Apparently, you can get bone on the market. Somewhere. Not New York, I’m sure. I think there’s a deeper meaning attached to this wedding band on bone piece but my enjoyment is all right there on the surface.

finger

This is a cricket cage carved from human bone. Again, what does it mean? I don’t know but it doesn’t rob me of any enjoyment.

cage

LeDray created hundreds (thousands?) of tiny clay pots. There are three display cases. I would have liked to get a shot of the third case containing pots in a multitude of colors but the security guard was on to me. You can’t really tell how small these are because there’s nothing to reference the scale, but these are tiny, tiny pieces. I’m not sure how he accomplished this. If you happen to be in town visiting from a far-off land, it’s worth your time and effort to visit this before it closes. I’m talking to you, Dinah.

bottles

Unbearable recommendations

I just added the asshat lounge to my blogroll over there on the right. It’s a pretty good show. Kind of like an American Jimmy Bastard without the shivs, blood, enforcers and broken bones. His post from January 4th will lay you flat. Also, just as a reminder, don’t forget to click over to secondWide every once in a while. She’s still posting consistently interesting photographs. I don’t know how she does it.

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What’s the perfect Christmas gift for a 17-year old who had not one, but two traffic accidents just one month after getting his driver’s license this past August? Why, you buy him a BMW 330ci which, according to the newspaper, goes 0-60 in about six seconds, of course.

Can you guess what happened? A violent wreck. He’s dead and his two friends who were passengers, both 16, are in critical condition. One is in an induced coma.

Oh, by the way, he wasn’t wearing a seat belt.

I’ve complained about this in the past so I won’t elaborate. I’m sure the family is devastated. But as far as I’m concerned, the father should be brought up on manslaughter charges. Stupid ass. If that kid had taken out my family, or if that were one of The Daughters in a coma, I’d snap. Christ, I hate humanity sometimes.