Saturday, 12 April 2014

Our Forgotten Bauhaus Women

In the ten years I’ve been studying the history of the German Bauhaus, the legendary Weimar arts school that opened in 1919, one overwhelming trend has prevailed. A new generation of female scholars has buried the Bauhaus patriarchy for good and always. It had it coming. Walter Gropius early on announced a ukase that there would be a 30% quota on female applications. (He feared they would overwhelm the student body, their leisure time enrollments at art schools looming large.)
And the women suffered a Beruf Verbot as well— they couldn’t enter the allegedly prime architecture course. They were shunted off into woman-friendly occupations such as weaving! (A supreme paradox here is slowly emerging: As the architectural reputation of the Bauhaus proper sinks inexorably in the West, the international stature of women weavers like Gunta Stölzl and Anni Albers rises dramatically.)

Not that the architectural exclusion mattered in point of fact: Such a highly discussed curriculum didn’t actually exist until Gropius quit in a huff of frustration in 1928 and the Swiss Communist Hannes Meyer took over as director.

Marianne Brandt's low priority
There were other instances of patriarchal distortions. Upon my arrival in Germany in 1999, I asked the Bauhaus Berlin Archive director Dr. Peter Hahn why there had been no exhibition of so creative a Bauhausler as Marianne Brandt  (1893-1983) while minor figures like Herbert Bayer were given full-scale retrospectives. Hahn took me over to a library file cabinet and showed me his collection of Brandt photos. I asked when he had exhibited them. Not yet, but patrons could buy them for several hundred dollars!

 Hahn could have told me (if he knew) that Dr. Anne-Katrin Weise had recently written a thesis on Brandt at Humboldt University in 1991 as well as her Habilitation in 1995! And that Weise had been agitating for an exhibition in Brandt’s hometown of Chemnitz (aka Karl-Marx-Stadt during the East German regime) to no avail. Dr. Ingrid Mössinger, the very creative head of that city’s art collection, has such aspirations— so we can be sure such an exhibition will ultimately come to pass, however shamefully delayed, more than 40 years after Brandt’s death.

First the Nazis, then the Communists
Her brilliant career was cut brutally short twice— once by the Nazis and then by the DDR. To the former, Brandt was “decadent.” To the latter, too Formalist! And, admittedly, that city’s excellent Industry Museum has started a biennial design competition in Marianne’s name for artists under 40.

 But it wasn’t until the Swiss Miss, Dr. Anne-Marie Jaeggi, succeeded Dr. Hahn that Brandt got an exhibition— not of her canonical metal works (still in mass production after 50 years by the Italian design factory Alessi), but of those filed photo collages Hahn had shown me as evidence of the archive’s awareness of Brandt’s importance. Jaeggi is one of the most productive of this new cadre of female Bauhaus scholars, with solid books on Gropius’s “hidden” designer, Adolf Meyer, as well as a study of Gropius’s first factory, the Fagus shoelast plant in Alfred am Leine in North Rhine Westphalia.

Women armed with Leicas
But Jaeggi is not alone: Two new Ph.D.s published a catalogue for a Dessau exhibition on neglected Bauhaus women architects. Neglected? They were virtually unknown until retrieved by these woman scholars. The Finnish photography curator at the Folkwang Museum/Essen set an admirable example in 1995 for the Dessau show when she organized an exhibition on German women photographers in the 1920s. She showed how the invention of the Leica 35 mm. camera made the emerging profession of news photographer accessible to women with cash enough for a Leica and heart enough to crash another male precinct. Many had both. (My count was 53 retrieved photographic careers.)

Anja Baumhoff has written the standard book-length study of gender discrimination at the Bauhaus. And most recently, Kathleen James-Chakraborty has put Bauhaus Modernism in perspective with German Architecture for a Mass Audience (Routledge, 2000)—showing how structures like Max Berg’s stunningly Modernist Centennial Hall (1910-13) in Breslau antedate glib Bauhaus claims for architectural innovation. Her fresh perspective perceives such large audience structures as indispensable new media for broadening working class access to political participation. Dr. Chakraborty, just become professor of architectural history at University College, Dublin, has also edited an indispensable volume of essays, Bauhaus Culture: From Weimar to the Cold War (University of Minnesota, 2006). Most of those essayists are female.

But pride of first place must surely be reserved for that ur-feminist, Dr. Marie-Elisabeth Lüders, the belated follower of that tough-minded 12th-Century nun, Hildegard von Bingen. Lüders was the first woman to get a Ph.D. in politics in Berlin (1910). She directed women’s work (and related child care) during World War I, and was elected to the Weimar Parliament, with two Nazi incarcerations for mouthing off (her inspiring autobiography is entitled Never Fear!). After World War II, Lüders helped West Berlin get up and running again politically. And Otto be praised, the speedily diminishing German patriarchate (the days of Kinder, Küche and Kirche are mercifully almost over!) belatedly honored her in 2005 by dedicating the new Bundestag Library on the Spree as the Marie-Elisabeth Lüders House.

A few details Mies neglected
But I am not concerned here with delayed honors, but with prescient architectural criticism. In 1927 Mies van der Rohe made his first effort at achieving international stature by assembling a cadre of 17 European architects for “his” Weissenhof Siedlung. Dr. ”Never Fear!” Lüders had the temerity to immediately criticize Mies’s apartments in the Deutsche Werkbund quarterly, Form (1927), from the point of view of a woman and mother.

Alas, she pointed out, Mies’s design provided no room for removing wet clothes. The external steps between floors had gaps through which tykes could fall perilously. The excessively glassed-in walls created pneumonia-generating floors on which infants crawled at their own risk of sickness. And, cruelest blow of all, when you opened the kitchen door, those same gratuitous winds blew out the flame. Little details. (Less isn’t always more!)

Heh, no mystery here. Mies wasn’t creating a dwelling, whose parameters he had carefully thought through for its future inhabitants. He was creating a work of art! He was after fame, this poor Aachen stone mason’s son, who even bristled at having to take orders from the higher-class Walter Gropius (his supervisor in the Legendary 1910 Berlin office of Peter Behrens, where Corbusier was the other Azubi). This is what I call the Philip Johnson Fallacy: Architecture begins—and ends—with a capital A. When Johnson was belatedly a student of Gropius at Harvard, PJ mocked Pius for his obsession about building working-class housing. A is for Art, the parvenu from Cleveland shrilled throughout his long, long career.

And when Johnson created a Mies simulation as the first modern house in Houston (1950) for the de Menil family, famous for their legendary art collecting, the roof leaked so furiously and long that the de Menil children thought the always-returning roofers were the architects! Johnson made the terminal mistake of insisting that these aesthetes use only Mies furniture in “his” house, deployed the way the master would. The de Menils told him to get lost and allegedly never spoke to him again. I suppose it was unpoetic justice that when Mies got around one night to visiting Johnson’s notorious Glass House in New Canaan, Conn., he said, “It looks like a Hot Dog Stand” at night.

Barcelona in Chicago (not)
 Mies wanted Corbusier to be his Top Attraction at Weissenhof, thereby securing his own international reputation as a great architect. When I visited "The Corbu" in 2002, as part of a 75th anniversary Weissenhof symposium, I couldn't imagine living in such a concrete unjungle. Last year, as it seems to happen to most Modern Icons, it was reduced to an uninhabitable Visitors Center. Ditto Frank Lloyd Wright's "Falling Water" in western Pennsylvania. And, of course, the Farnsworth House in the Chicago suburb of Plano.

Creating it as a weekend escape for his girlfriend, Dr. Farnsworth, Mies made the strategic mistake of replicating the Barcelona Pavilion"” outside Chicago. Too hot in the summer, too cold in the winter, not to mention that the marsh engendered mosquitoes the rest of the year. It became too expensive to live in and, their romance over, Farnsworth took Mies to court for the non-habitation's excessive energy costs.

Final audit? It's now a Visitors Center, dedicated to the "genius" who spent a haunted life worrying about his own status and stature. So you might say that those first two female doctors, Lüders and Farnsworth, were early warnings to the Bauhaus Patriarchs that their days were numbered.

This essay is also published by Broad Street Review.

Friday, 11 April 2014

Ai Wei Wei

I have never had a more intriguing press opening than the one in Berlin yesterday. The dailies were all flashing front page critiques, but no egghead seemed to better comprehend his mysterious charm than the critic of the socialist daily, "Neue Deutschland". He could comprehend the 6,000 wooden stools in the grand ballroom. As the poor Chinese abandon their meagre farms to their hipper city homes, they junk the "hockers". 


And the 150 bicycles hanging from the central court? Heh, they're movin' on up to the city auto. But eighteen rooms of such diverse artistic expressions? It's the arts of a transforming society. Perhaps the largest, and certainly the fastest in human history. 




The front pages were awash in Kanzerlin Angela Merkel welcoming the "ruler" of China and his wife. (No, they avoided the opening day at the Martin Gropius Bau, the grandest art museum in the city, possibly the country.)






My first "personal contact" with our heroic house prisoner opening last fall's "Falling Wall Conference" (an annual conference to assemble humanists and scientists, and politics to speculate on the best ways to make more stupid walls fall, just as the Berlin's wall fell twenty-five years ago this fall! (Rumbles of this next one have already booked me in: Mr. Ai opened the last one via TV from Beijing. I was never so intellectually stimulated as those three days by the Spree! He already has an art professorship awaiting him in Berlin when the Mad Maos let him go.


Thursday, 3 April 2014

Retrieving Bauhaus Idealism

I first set foot on Weimar in 1998, on my way back from reporting on Stockholm, then the Cultural Capital of Europe. Scandinavian egalitarianism strongly appealed to my blue collar Detroit values, and I wasn't disappointed: architect Gunnar Asplund and designer Sigurd Persson exemplified their commitment to create the very best environment for everyman.

I was pleasantly surprised to learn that Mies van der Rohe's Weissenhof Siedlung,(Stuttgart,1927) moved them to celebrate Modernism at their own Stockholm Fair (1930): the Finnish giant Alvar Aalto declared: "The exhibition speaks out for joyful and spontaneous everyday life." Strangely, a snooty Berlin critic trashed Weimar in Stockholm as a rundown DDR town then scheduled to be the 99 Cultural Capital! I decided to visit Weimar during its glorious year in 1999.

Andreas Schneider, a journalist helping Bernd Kaufmann organize the Weimar event, dropped what he was doing and took me on a daylong tour of the town. (see my blog,www.MyGlobal Eye.blogspot.com. for the details of my fascinating pitstop.) As a homeless kid in Depression Detroit, I had read in graduate school in the first book about modern architecture by Nicholas Pevsner (a Leipzig Jew who fled Hitler) about the Bauhaus. He said Walter Gropius's Bauhaus aimed to fuse art and technology to bring good design to "the working classes." I decided on the spot to return to Weimar to research a book on his ideals in 1999.

Alas, the more I read, the less I believed him. First, he was a lousey architect, complaining bitterly in letters to his mother that he couldn't draw! Why try? I speculate he wanted to emulate his great uncle Martin Gropius, the last important pre-modern architect in Berlin. And he had a private partner to do the heavy lifting. I couldn't believe that the Bauhaus had no course in architecture until 1928--after he fled with Marianne Brandt to Berlin! He made the Swiss Communist architect Hannes Meyer the director! The Dessau city managers who had financed the school's move from right leaning Weimar to at first leftie Dessau. Dessau soon fired Meyer who went with his coterie to Moscow. The city brass closed the school, Mies rented an abandoned telephone factory and banned politics!

My hunch is it was Gropius' flabby character that caused him to flee. For example when his Denkmal for the Kapp Putsch victims was dedicated in the Weimar cemetery, he was afraid to attend the ceremony! His first wife Alma Mahler chided him for his fear that the Weimar legislature would tab him as a Commie.

And he had great ideas (every teacher had to photograph their work), but no followthrough. In the 1950's firemen found those photos in a Bauhaus Uni attic! And when a new editor of the Dessau paper accused him of "double dipping" (director's salary plus advisor's money for designing the Junker suburb, Törten.

And when he asked his star artists to reduce their salaries, they mostly just ignored him! And there's scuttlebutt that Herbert Bayer was moving on his second wife, Ilse, so he scrammed.

Mies had a Denkmal problem too. His first important work (1926), a Berlin cemetery tribute to the founders of the German Communist party, Karl Liebknecht and Rosa Luxembourg! My Chicago mentor, Bertrand Goldberg, who was in Mies' last class 1933, told me in 1985 that Mies went crazy trying to convince the Nazi ideologue Alfred Rosenberg that he was no longer a commie! And that he sucked up to Albert Speer until Gropius got his a millionaire's commission in Jackson Hole Wyoming in 1938! Which is to say, he was a Nice Nazi.

You'd never get this picture from German "scholars". They,alas, are hagiographers, faking saints out of sinners! Imagine my consternation when I discovered this phoniness, all topuff up the German spirit after tragedy of Naziism. On the contrary, in my hometown of Detroit, George Booth, publisher of the Detroit News founded Cranbrook and brought Eliel Saarinen from Finland to implement his plans. Not talk, talk, but act,act.

Even more embarrassing was the stories of two penniless German immigrants, Albert Kahn (Detroit) and Timothy Pflueger (San Francisco) neither of whom could afford to finish high school. But what these autodidacts achieved makes the Bauhaus look foolish. And when I arrived in Weimar the Bauhaus promoters had not even heard of these superb creators. (See "Forgotten Bauhaus Women,"www.broadstreetreview.com.)

Another Bauhaus Museum? (the fourth!) It would be easier for the Germans to win World War Two. The only more foolish move was Hellmut Seemann trying to buy two sheets of Schiller for 24,000! We revere the poet for his writing not his penmanship! For 10 cents I could xerox "The Ode To Joy"! I asked Frank Motz was his 2011 budget was: 250,000. I asked Edgar Hartung what his budget was for Mon Ami Kino: 15,000. Which was a lousy investment?

I lent Helmutt Seemann my copy of Louis Kahn's protege Richard Saul Wurman's "Man Made Philadelphia", designed to teach high school students how to be thoughtful clients of architecture. He returned it without comment. Wurman is the idealist who founded TED. That book is also now in the Anna Amalia Library.

I would insist that all the headline grabbing BauHustlers read Cameron Sinclair's "Design Like it Means a Damn", the bible of Architecture for Humanity,Inc., a global group of world architects who give a damn about two billion unhoused humans. It also is in the Anna Amalia. But it's easier to throw money around than to think. That is the tragedy of Weimar's Gropius betrayers.

By the way, Bertrand Goldberg is the best architect to come out of the Bauhaus. He's never had a German exhibition. And at our last meeting in Chicago, he told me proudly that he kept loyal to Gropius's ideals to the end. Unlike Weimar's fast talkers!

Wednesday, 2 April 2014

gARTen



An astonishing new kind of Amazon 2 type book just appeared on the New Book Rack of the Anna Amalia Library which I scan every day at 9:00 before I read the International Press. The innovation comes from the hippest perch in Munich, the Galerie Thomas Modern, Türkenstrasse 16, 80333 München, Germany where you can get your copy of the auction guide to 26 outdoor sculpture, hence its punny name,"gARTen". The volume guarantees that you can arrange to view any (or all, to a perceptive museum!) of the masterpieces whenever you desire. You can't ask for more. Rich patrons of the globe: Insist they wait on you.

Tuesday, 11 March 2014

Excellent TV in America? David Carr

Dear INYT Keeper: I've been reading the daily Times since I was a 17 year old sailor at the Pensacola,FL Naval Air Station in 1946. But the story about America's astonishing TV maturity is the greatest kick yet. I have been in Weimar, Germany since 1999 researching and writing a book on the Bauhaus (I was a bluecollar kid in Depression Detroit and read about Walter Gropius's new kind of art school to bring good design to the workrers ingraduate school. I vowed to check it out some day. That day came in 1999 when Weimar was the Cultural Capital of Europe. I expected the booh to take two years, but guilt-ridden post Nazi's were so threatened by the truth that they invented myths to lessen the pain. I finished the book on my 87th birthday, February 8, 2014! But I come not to berate those rattled Germans but rather to summarize my career as a TV meliorist in America.

It began with my Jesuit training at the University of Detroit as a philosophy major,1949. That year I won the annual Jesuit Mid-western Universities essay contest wioth a rant,"Needed: More "Red-blooded" American Catholics,i.e. like American Commies, the only white group then fighting for Negro liberation. My date and I doubled with the only black UD couple to integrate the Senior Prom at Eastwood Gardens.The UD library had two weeklies I read front page to back, "America" (the Jesuit mag) and "Commonweal"(by "lay" Catholics. There I read every piece that Marshall McLuhan, immigrant Canadian radical Dorothy Day Catholic, wrote. Those essays appeared in 1951 as "The Folklore of Industrial Man." I entered Western Reserve in Cleveland where my favorite uncle, Rev. Aloysius Mark Fitzpatrick was the editor of the weekly diocesan "Catholic Universe Bulletin". I told the dissertation committee that I wanted to write my dissertation on "Marshall". "Who?" they dumbed, in typical ignorant Humanist arrogance. I gave them my middle finger and moved to Michigan State where a unique English chair was turning a Cow College into a great research university.

Married at 23 in 1950 to the best looking blonde (and highest IQ!) in Detroit, we went off to grad school together, she as Elizabethan Renaissance, me as an American Lit media freak. Immediately fertile as American Catholics then were (Michael, now a great photographer,filmmaker and poet, now my conscience in Minneapolis,appeared in 1952.)n I doubled as the E.Lansing State Bank janitor. A janitor hears everything, including the dismissal of a 12th grade teacher for incompetence. I asked that eminent English Chair if it would jeopardize my doctoral status if I taught a few years in the local High School. "Are you kidding? How the hell did most of us get through the Depression?"

I was now also the 10th and 12th grade teacher. Because State had such a populist image, it was the very first U in America to get a TV channel, WKAR-TV! Yum. I devised my first McLoonie medium, a weekly Saturday morning palaver on teenage leisure, dubbed "Everyman Is a Critic". It bloomed, eventually leading to a Ford grant in New York City. My wife Mary and I had already started a monthly department in the NCTE'S "The English Journal" called "The Public Arts." When Scholastic Teacher magazine heard of my grant they made me the radio-TV editor, with weekly access to every high school classroom in America! I quit it sadly in 1961 when an appointment in Honolulu made access to timely info impossible

Early in my 1965 grant, I went uninvited to a educational media conference in the D.C. Hilton. When I opened the Aud door, I saw Dr. Ralph Bunche in deep converse with an unknown. (Bunche had just been a "Time" cover!) I boldly interrupted, " I'm Pat Hazard from E.Lansing High and I'm in New York to improve American TV." A stunned silence ensued, as the two cornered celebs figured out how to dump me quietly. Finally, the unknown inQuired, "well how's it going, Mr. Hazard?" "Lousy!" I replied sadly remember the multiple times the secretary  NBC-TV's innovative president Sylvester "Pat" Weaver had tuned me down for an interview. The unknown identified himself: "I'm Roy Larsen, the publisher of "Time": I'm on the foundation who gave you your grant, and I like your palaver. How would you like an office at "Time" to expedite your mission. Usually silent, I took his card and agreed to meet him Monday at the Time-Life Building". Suddenly I had my own office on the 34th floor, overlooking Sixth Avenue and NBC a five-minute walk away. I generously forgave the cunt hund secretary and called Weaver. She repeated the usual blah about Weaver's busy start of the TV season. I countered with how eager I was to start my grant, and gave her the magical "Time" number Judson 6-2424. Ten minutes later, the P.A. system blared "Is there a Patrick D. Hazard here today? If so, please call NBC!"

Not fifteen minutes but four hours as he called all the NBC brass with a simple message,"HELP PAT HAZARD" The year was full of wonders, such as watching, with son of the founder of Germany's DER SPIEGEL how an issue of LIFE was created. I gave a speech in May to the NCTE Freshman English teachers, "Liberace and the Future of Cultural Criticism". Three professors from Trenton State Teacher's College offered me an assistant professor ship on the spot. It was a great year, with first generation college kids highly motivated. And I finished my dissertation, "John Fiske:The Testing of an American Scholar! I was Ph.Deified in late 1957, after which Penn gave me a two year Carnegie Postdoctoral Grant to create the first McLuhan program in America.  In 1959, Philly billionaire and TV Guide publisher gave Penn two million dollars to form a Graduate School of Communication. Faute de mieux, I was appointed Gofer. (Go for this. Go for that.:) What I first for getting was my first mentor, Gilbert Seldes, to be  Dean. His book, "The Seven Lively Arts" (1924) was the first I'd seen on Pop Cult and it turned me on.  I taught media history at Annenberg until 1961 when Harvard sociologist David Riemand appointed me  the first director of the Institute of American Studies at the East-West Center, University of Hawaii. It was a State Dept. financed program to bring Asians to Honolulu to learn American technology and Americans to learn Asian culture.

It was the best I've had, yet! Mary and I had an AM.radio stint, "Two Cents Worth: A Penny for My Thoughts and a Penny for Yours". I also had a Sunday A.M. commercial TV hour called "Coffee Break". A typical program was my friend the art critic of the San Francisco Chronicle had just written a book on Christian churches in pagan Hawaii. We filmed them and discussed. I also had a weekly FM channel on the WQXR of Honolulu on travelers passing through, e.g., the Communist editor of Goa's capital. As I drove him to the airport he came me an astonishing anecdote on how Thomas Jefferson was almost executed for stealing an Italian seed in his hollowed cane. As a Jefferson specialist, I was stunned to be totally ignorant of this crisis. As he opened the door, he smiled affably and said, "That's because you're not in the Third World, Doctor Hazard."

The saddest side of my year in Honolulu was my learning that my number 2, a man named Seymour Lutzky, had been in the CIA ever since getting his "doctorate" at Iowa, where you could get one such by milking 5 cows. I was outraged at the deceit and immediately flew to Philly, where very soon I was a fuul professor chair of English at what became Arcadia University.

The rest you must read in the still being written An Auto-Biography: The Dumb Irish Luck of a Serendipitous Adventure." Bits and pieces are in this blog.

Friday, 7 March 2014

The Curse of Monolingualism

One of the glories of my octogenarian decade is my seven year old Daniel Patrick Moynihan Hazard's bilingualism. His nightly tutor is my Ossie Frau Hildegarde Haltrich-Hazard (47). (Don't tell me the DDR was all bad (there are seven doctors, three of them women, in my closest relatives, thanks to the Frankische Stiftung in Halle am Salle. And I was always a whiz at language, beginning at ten as a Roman Catholic altar boy who had to memorize the responses at daily Mass, deepened five years later by similar exercises in the church choir.

And at Detroit's minor Sacred Heart Seminary I was the class whiz at Greek. So after two years in the Navy as a radar technician, I entered the Jesuit University of Detroit as a philosophy major. I passed the predoctoral exam in French as a junior and German as a senior in 1949. I was ready for graduate school at Cleveland's Western Reserve University.

I didn't use the German enough so that when I migrated to Weimar to research and write "Bauhaus: Myths and Realities" (finished on my 87th birthday, 2/8/14) accessible free at my blog, my vocabulary had shrunk to a pitiful two words, morgen and gestern, which I invariably messed up backwards. Thus a hunger for news made me visit the Goethe Platz booth laden to buy the New York Times six days a week.

I soon realized I was more interested in the"Verkauferin" than the "Zeitung" so we flew to San Francisco where my best friend from Philly, Jake McGoldrick (professor of English as a Second Language at the Jebbie U of San Francisco and Burgermeister from his Richmond district) wed us on the City Hall steps. Now Hilly was my daily tutor in relearning German. 


I believe monolingualism is one of most serious intellectual weaknesses, since it encourages our utterly false concept of American Exceptionalism, the 17th century Puritan lie that God saved the North American continent for the white European to settle there! I fought this disastrous falsehood by gradually transforming American Literature into International English Lit, first by adding Afro-American poetry and fiction, then Appalachian fiction and drama in the 60', followed by Jamaican, Puerto Rican, and finally as I began to teach summers in Beaver College's London program, the entirely diverse Commonwealth Literature in England, Africa. and Asia.

And relearn German. Which I did by reading "Bild" every day--to the sneers of my colleagues, who falsely consider it intellectual junk. (In human health and nutrition and animal life) it consistently is very superior to even the best dailies like FAZ. Their sex trash is gradually, but unmistakably diminishing in my fifteen year extracurricular tuition. 


My other tool is the biweekly Apotheke "Umschau" which I take freely from the drugstore at the end of Schillerstrasse the first and fifteen of every month: features wisely geared to the seasons. I suddenly realized this at the obits last week of that magazine's originator, one Rolf Becker. See Jürgen Wolfram's essay ,"Für Kunst and Kunde" in "The Southern German News" p.35 on 25 February.

Thursday, 6 March 2014

A Funny Thing Happened on my First Trip to Berlin

It all started in the lunch line of the Metropolitan Museum of Art  in New York. As an ex-Catholic I like to tease priests (really to punish Detroit Sacred Heart Seminary rector Monsignor Henry Donnelly who threw me out of the seminary the very day he found my pal Jim Van Slambrouck and me smoking Chesterfields in the Gothic Tower after midnight. The learned will know that that brand of cigarettes sponsored the great Glenn Miller's Orchestra on the radio for a half hour of the greatest dance music of the 1940's, weekdays. I answered,"We wanna see how Glenn gets such a kick out of his cigs." "You're out of here, Hazard, as of midnight," he gloomed. 

Easter vacation started then. Jim survived to be a priest in Monroe, Michigan, a sloburb of Detroit. So at that day at the Met I told the priest standing ahead of me in lunch line."Give me an easy confession, Father, and I'll buy you lunch." A woman ahead of him snorted as she got the joke. Later we ran into each other, savouring art for dessert. She introduced herself as Mrs. Helen Milner, wife of our commanding general in Berlin, and pleaded for me to visit them the "next time (as in "first time"!") I was in the Big B. Pacifist that I was, I giggled "no thanks" mentally. 

But fate made me run into her there again so the General's chauffeur picked me up at the Tiergarten station. (I quickly opened my locker to gather pieces of simulated luggage--I travel sleek: But the butler knew better as he shuffled me into a bedroom bigger than my own home in Philly! On "Pacelli" Alle. That shy German Pope in the 20's knew how to give his name a Big Boost!

My dinner companion was no less than Cologne's famously politically conservative Archbishop Joachim Meisner. (There couldn't have been a worse visitor match than we two.) He had just returned from Lithuania, where he confirmed so many Vilniusans (not to be mistaken for Villans!) that his thumb was numb. Assessing his previous table chatter, I was of the opinion that he was always dumb in other places. (Try his theological brain, for example.) Anyway the evening ended peacefully, if dully.) 


I read today in the German newspapers that Pope Francis I had just let him resign--at 87! That made him 46 that dull night in 1970. What a pity that dull Kraut Benedict XVI didn't have the balls to quit himself long ago! Alas, Popes are sometimes inscrotable. The more I was reminded of his apolitical strong stances, the more I admired him retroactively. In the same diurnal wave I read that Cardinal Rainer Maria Woelke was vowing that the R.C. Church should no longer control the bedroom.

Too late for me, Card, but better sooner than later! (FAZ 2 March, 2014) p.7) My father was a calvary officer for Black Jack Pershing,and sadly he got gassed in France. His "hospitals" were the whore houses of France. He married my virgin RC mother in 1919 shortly after returning from France. My brother was born 9 months and one day after the wedding in Pinconning, Michian. I arrived seven years later. 


Three years later he fled to Las Vegas with his secretary to become an iconic real estate agent. He left me $159,000 guilt money; his Bigamate tossed in the pot a further $100,000, allowing me to quit teaching in universities when my mother died at 86 in 1987. (Gulp, last Saturday I turned 87! As we "sellabrate" the centennial of the start of the First World War, let us not forget that more than buildings and lives were destroyed: dreams and aspirations too. 

So let's say a prayer for Harry and Ruth, whether together or alone in hell, and smile sweetly back to May Fitzpatrick Hazard from wherever she be in Heaven. I told an old pal last month that if Pope Frank I continues his Holy Roll! I'll be searching for that priest I promised lunch at the Met 44 years ago. Damn, that general confession would earn him a whole restaurant!



Sunday, 16 February 2014

The Premature Canonization of Christoph Stölzl

Forgive me if I object to the premature Canonization of CS (RHYMES WITH BS). Quite fortuitously he was the first German “leader” I met in Berlin when I arrived in 1999 to research and write a history of the Bauhaus. “Bauhaus: Myths and Realities” was completed on my 87th birthday, 8/2/14!

But first a CV to authenticate my negative evaluation of CS, the  many similar examples of which phoney baloney I grappled with, in going on 70 years of professorial discourse. My personal crisis began in 1893 when my father Harry E. Hazard, Sr. was born in Oscoda, Michigan, the son of immigrant Irish lumbermen who were raping the age old Michigan Pine forest to supply cheap housing to replace the losses of the Chicago fire of 1871.

He became a Black Jack Pershing cavalry officer in WWI and was gassed in combat, recovery from which involved unabated visits to Parisian whorehouses! A vile experience to his future marriage in 1919 in Pinconning, Michigan, to Roman Catholic virgin mother, May Fitzpatrick, daughter in 1897 of another immigrant Irish lumberman. Can you infer anything from the detail that my brother Mike was born nine months and a day after that wedding, but that I appeared  seven years later?). My father abandoned us three in Depression Detroit in 1930 as he flew off to Las Vegas with his secretary to become a successful real estate agent.) When he died, he left me 150,000 guilt dollars and his Bigamate Ruth added 100,000 more, allowing me to quit teaching for alternative journalism when my 86 year old mother passed away in 1982. 


I had become more and more  disgusted with the new “progressive” academic regimes in which suddenly rich professors with $100,000 salaries abused ABD’s (doctoral candidates with all but the dissertations finished) by giving them the hard work of Freshman English, with no health insurance and multiple part time jobs.) This disgraceful diminishment of Academe is the same foul inHumanism that is disgracing Academe in Germany as fake scholars like CS take over.


Another local disgraceful example is retired Bauhaus  Uni rector Gerd Zimmerman—an alleged historian (with no publications!) He tried to commit the cultural felony of destroying  Dr. Anita Bach’s delightful MENSA in the middle of campus—the only building by the first woman architecture professor at Bauhaus Uni—so he could sucker Helmut Seemann into placing the unnecessary  Bauhaus 2 museum in the middle of campus. He should have been cashiered for such treachery. Except that all these cultural crooks agreed with him. Like CS.


When I learned in my doctoral studies at Western Reserve and Michigan State about the Gropius idealism , I vowed as a working class lad on the rise to check his failure out as a soon as I could. My academic career was fast and furious. A Ford grant in 1954 on the new TV and the old schools led to my six year radio-TV editorship of “Scholastic Teacher” with weekly access to all U.S. schools. I quit that exhilarating job when Harvard sociologist David Riesman nominated me for director of the State Dept. funded East-West Center in Honolulu, where leads times prevented me from keeping TV recommendations timely. Roy Larsen, Time magazine’s publisher gave me an office on the 34th floor of the “Time-Life” Building, across Sixth Avenue from NBC HQ where most innovative exec, Sylvester “Pat” Weaver, reigned.

The Time magic telephone number gained me a four hour palaver with Pat, who advised all his brass before my very eyes to help Pat Hazard from E.Lansing High. And  did they ever! Followed by CBS, ABC, and PBS . I gave a speech to the Freshman English teachers annual convention, “Liberace and the Future of Cultural Criticism,” in which I had argued that If we didn’t face that goof straight off, we were sunk. Three profs from Trenton State offered me on the spot an asst.prof. right after the speech. I took my first college job where the students were all first generation college and highly motivated. Marvelous teaching there!

I finished my dissertation in 1957 and Penn gave me a two-year Carnegie Postdoctoral grant to create the first Marshall McLuhan motivated Mass Culture course in American universities. Design the first year. Teach the second: At an Ivy U! The third year, TV Guide publisher Walter Annenberg gave Penn two million dollars to found a graduate school of communication. “Faute de mieux” I became their Gofer (go for this, go for that.) I first “went” for a Deanship for my first Mass Cult mentor, Gilbert Seldes, whose 1924 book “The Seven Lively Arts” had turned me on to the emerging cultural crisis. 


Being the Dean’s GOFER was something else ,recorded in my auto-Bio “A Detroiter’s Dumb Irish Luck: A Serendipitous Adventure”, forthcoming, but already blogishly available. I taught media history at Annenberg until Riesman sent me to Honolulu. That was the most satisfying year of my life, yet. State wanted Asians to come to Honolulu to learn American technology, with Americans losing their innocence about Asian values. It’s as close to Heaven as this x-rated x- Catholic altar boy expects to ever gain. Except as the year ended, the State Dept. news leaked out. Seymour Lutsky, the dumbest Jew I have ever known, had been working Academe for State’s CIA for 10 years since his feeble Iowa doctoral studies, where milking three cows could get you a doctorate in American Studies.


I quit immediately my associate professorship and returned to Philly where two too venal Jews, Charles Lee (born Levy) and Annenberg, violated their promise I could return after a year’s trial, on  the grounds I was a trouble maker!  I was immediately offered a full professorship/ English chair at what became Arcadia U (I had warned them that their “Beaver” College monicker would soon generate Internet critical porn, and so it had! Some faculty nerd  responded to my faculty meeting warning with a Kidnap type note in my mailbox the next morning. WHY DONTCHA CALL IT “PUSSY PREP” YOU PERVERT AND GET THE FUCK OUT OF HERE”!!! It’s called faculty solidarity. 


I served until my mother’s death in 1982 relieved of the responsibility to back her up in sickness and old age.  I had concentrated on  transforming Am Lit, with its false message of American Exceptionalism into International English Lit which I ballyhooed in Europe, Africa, Asia and Latin America. (A demented Canadian magazine editor accused me of being a secret CIA agent, when in fact I invested my $250 G’s in creating the CIE, the Center for International English (a satirical CIE!), whose agenda was to subvert America’s CIA with poems in English. My most satisfying work was a weekly column, “Hazard-At-Large”, in the alternative weekly Welcomat, as in clean your feet at this door, with Dan Rottenberg the brilliant editor and Derek Davis the lively original who edited the arts.


My most satisfying incident in my being introduced to Tom Hoving by Rebecca Singer then literary  editor of  the “Inquirer”. Then the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s  chief but about to become editor of the magazine “Connoisseur”. He wanted me to go to Paris to interview a Brasilian named Jose Caldas Zanine who was getting his first show ever at the Musee des Arts Decoratif. Zanine? Who? Hoving started hoving around about this nonentity having participated in the creation of the state  capitol in the middle of Nowhere, as suggested by Corbusier. Now the Corbu bit boosted my interest. How much is the I asked shyly, until lately when I was a pro Prof who had to beg for raises. “$2,000”. Hoving heard. Damn, I thought. I had never made that much in any two hour blah-blah. As I hesitated, Tom added, with a first class seat—to and fro, he added maliciously. “A deal!” I acceded, shyly, and wily.


It would prove to be the greatest 24 hours of my life, so far. Zanine, it turned out, a nobody carpenter from Recife, a berg of no rep up the Northern Coast. But he had made the macquettes for Brasilia, in his innocence. Oscar Niemeyer, the Communist architect who lived to be 105, ruling B’s Public Architecture all the way, took a loving fathering impulse to the underknown (make than unknown!) little Z.


Who had ever heard about him in France? The museum’s director is who. Among his professional peregrations in search of future shows, he “discovered” the REGEN WALD (the Rain Forest” where trees grew funny. Small pools of water slowly gather above the roots of this unique self-defensive creature. Mosquitoes breed in these minipools, making them a malarial threat. Woodcutters shied away. Little Z became the biggest Z in architectural history. All day Z told me his tale from nonentity in Recife to celebration by godfather Oscar who at his 70th birthday in Sao Paolo declared him a great architect, having bloomed into furniture and great favela buildings made from the refuse building materials! 


At the end of this day, he lugged two huge globs of this tree to get past Pan Am security. He goofed them saying the wood was for making his grandson toys. Until I sold my Louis Kahn masterpiece in the 19 home experiment in the only Philly racial integration neighborhood called Greenbelt Knoll, it adorned our hearth. I needed the money to buy the third floor flat in the 1783 villa at Seifengasse 10 where I live happily with my Ossi Frau Hilly (47) and bilingual Danny (7.) You can read the book about Z I brought home and gave to Anna Amalia Library. It’s called “Forms and Feelings”. Don’t I miss löike Nazi Nerds are.

“Nazi Nerds”?. Yes it’s the invented typology created during my 15 years here,


Nice Nazi : An excuse that’s available


Nasty Nazi: From 1933 to whenever all the worlds so grow up that we only hate STUPIDITY.


Nazi Nerd. A possibly eternally ignorant goof who blames his weaknesses on theirs,


The CS world is crawling with NN’s –including CS


When I arrived in Weimar in 1999, identified as  an Ivy prof writing a book on the Bauhaus, I was almost smothered with pious generosities. Until I published “Forgotten Bauhaus Women”. Suddenly all three Big B’s put me on a press shit list. Really. I’ve been writing contentious (but never hatefully—I hate only STUPIDITY, of which there is much everywhere—(See the forthcoming 25th anniversary of the Fall of the Berlin Wall. See FALLING WALLS CONFERENCE in your Wiki.)


But let me close with evidence that CS is a NaziNerd. 


When I introduced myself in Berlin 15 years ago. He wouldn’t talk with me about his aunt was one of the few great Bauhauslers. He mocked her about rejecting “Meisterin” as a concept of power. I was writing at the time an essay on the Chinese American architect who just finished a great new wing on his own Museum!!! I asked for I.M. Pei's address or a tour of his innovation. N.O. What kind of a Tight Ass was CS.


Now fifteen years later I read in the press that he’s involved in the removal of Dessau’s chief. He won’t discuss it with me, saying he just supervised the parties of the Friends of the Bauhaus. Huh. Big unLiszted Thinker?


And since I love books so much I think an unread book is like an unloved woman, wasted waist! So I’ve been in conference with the librarians who run Anna Amalia; Bauhaus Uni, City Library, and Goethe Gymnasium. Recently, I left invaluable taped material on jazz, broadcasting and serious music: Plus three consecutive letters. I asked his secretary if CS has read my notes. But no answer. 


Handing me back the tapes, a hostility that could only derive from CS. What an ignorant, ill-mannered. Nerd. Nazi Nerd. There are other Nerds in town which are becoming anonymous satires of jerks with no heart or mind of their own. It’s my first novel I’ve written in German. The first line is the title. “Goethe war niemals Gott!”  Even when he thinks he godlike, he was an early Nerdy Nazi. Look at how he treated Christiane Vulpius for 18 years until she saved him from the invading French in 1808. Nerdy? You dam betcha. See you at Thalia in about a year.

Saturday, 8 February 2014

Goethe Was No God: A Bilingual Novel

Once upon a time, most literate Germans acted as though Johannes Wolfgang Goethe (1749-1834)was God Almighty. They regarded what he wrote as another Gospel from on high.And there's no doubt he was a great writer. His "Faust" (at least Parts I and II were landmark in World Lit: Part III was another sort of puzzle, a kind of message from Hell!) Anyway, in the late twentieth century, the old G could do no wrong. I think this Goethe worship had something to do with the shame that followed the Nasty Nazi decade of Adolf Hitler.

In any case, along came one Italian lawyer named Ettore Ghibellino who wrote a sensational book entitled "Goethe and Anna Amalia: A Forbidden Love"(Weimar, Dr. A.J. Denkena Verlag, 2012), and the heretofore Godlike Goethe was back down on our everyday earth, with a very tacky reputation as a Lady Killer.

Anna Amalia was a widow of great mental prowess: she encouraged promising writers like JWG and sponsored the theatre culture that gave his ilk a public voice. But a common citizen, no matter how gifted, didn't mess with the dead Duke's lady. That was risking execution. So G and and AA went underground with their forbidden love. And they used a lady named Charlotte von Stein as their secret keeper. She delivered messages between JWG and AA. Except that passages in the letters were written in Italian and Latin which CvStein didn't know!

Meanwhile, back on earth, JWG took up with a lovely blue collar gal named Christian Vulpius. For eighteen years they shared a marital bed with no license of marriage! It was a common scandal. Everybody knew about their forbidden love, but no one talked about it. Until Napoleon's troops invaded Weimar. 


One night a soldier with a rifle knocked on Christiana's door, and JWG pissed his pants in terror. He called his lady down to the door where she told the French soldier to get the fuck out of there! He did. And the next day G married CV! They even had a son together, one August, whose rep as a "bastard"  was stricken by the two decades delayed marriage. JWG went on with his weird sexual life, chasing publicly a 17 year old beauty at age 83! Wowee. No God acts like that. And so it goes in the tangled sex life of a great writer.

Wednesday, 5 February 2014

My Favorite Weimar Art Gallery


Visiting the GalerieHebecker for its dual exhibit (Schillerstrasse 18, until 2/15/14) reminded me of my first art assignment in 1948 at my hometown Jesuit University of Detroit. The priest teaching the course gave us our first assignment: go downtown to the new Detroit Institute of Arts and find a work you really like and explain why it appeals to you. My choice was “The Liberated Slave”, reminding me powerfully of the not yet released Detroit Negroes.

I get the same sense of challenge from Hebecker in the four to six shows they present each year. Michael Hebecker founded the gallery in 2002, but his daughter Susanne took over when he died in 2008. (Her brother runs another family gallery on the Kramerbrücke in nearby Erfurt). 

The current show, dubbed “Red and Black”, contrasts the black and white style of Karl Ortelt (1907-1972) with the richly colored style of Fritz Keller (1915-1994). Both served in the German Army during the First World War, and both were jailed in Great Britain for several years after the war in the ‘40s. But the similarities end there.

Ortelt’s portraits were frontal views of ordinary people, a man and a child, a married couple, and a couple with a small child, celebrating. Keller’s rich colors teem with energy, the realities in the frames being often obscure but nonetheless eloquent. I’ve been since then to all the greet museums of the world, the Louvre in Paris, the National Gallery in London, the many Smithsonians in Washington., the Kyoto in Japan. Even the brilliantly retrieved Gotha Museum nearby. 
 
Part of the Hebecker’s power lies in their brilliantly edited brochures. And catalogs. And the friendly presence of their staff. Like that Jebbie priest in Detroit 66 years ago who made an esthetic fanatic of me with his “simple” assignment, Ms. Hebecker and her Hungarian mother are the sweetest guides I’ve encountered in my 87 years. Bless them and their open-minded, second floor display area.

Sunday, 26 January 2014

The Corruption of Bauhaus Ideology


I came to Weimar in 1999 when it was declared The Cultural Capital of Europe to research the history of its most famous institution. As a homeless kid in Depression Detroit (1930-45), I was eager to explore what I had learned in graduate school about Walter Gropius’s attempt to bring Good Design to “the working classes”. Both he and Mies van der Rohe came out of the horrors of World War as “lefties”. That ideology would haunt both of them as the rightist ideals of Naziism gradually took over in 1933. Gropius’s Denkmal was for the Victims of the March Putsch (1923). Indeed the rightists were gradually expanding in the Weimar assembly. (The first minister of education to be a Nazi sounded the warning. But Gropius didn’t like fights. Indeed his first wife Alma Mahler chided him for being too nervous to participate in the Denkmal dedication in the Weimar cemetery.
 
Similarly, Mies (theoretically the third and final directors’ first famous work was a Denkmal for Karl Liebknecht and Rosa Luxembourg (1926) in the Berlin Cemetery.) In 1930 as Mies started to take over what was left of the Bauhaus, Alfred Rosenberg wanted to know why he had so honored the founders of the German Communist Party. (Mies tried to smile affably and dropped all the Communist students. But it was too late. He became a Nice Nazi until 1937 when Gropius got him a summer home in Yellowstone.)

I had a serendipitous encounter in 1970 with Bertrand Goldberg (1913-97) who was Mies’ Azubi until the school finally closed. He became my architectural mentor every time I visited Chicago. Indeed he was easily the greatest architect to attend the school, still in Dr. Annette Seeman’s standard history (2010) only his name is listed with thirteen other American Bauhaus students.. Period. 

In our last meeting, August 1987, the day after Timothy Dwight blew up the government center in Oklahoma, we were in a very gloomy mood. Bert sadly criticized the way the current Bauhaus had betrayed the working class ideals of Gropius which the Chicago architect implacably followed to his dying day. (There has never been a Goldberg exhibition in Germany, partly from total ignorance of his work and partly from the distorted hagiographical version the current Bauhaus promoters use to hide their shame at the real Nazi and DDR truths about his aborted ideal.) When I discovered these contradictions in the true history, I was removed from press contacts. 

The only exception has been Omar Akbar, the Afghani engineer who ran the Dessau part of what the Bauhaus brass have just re-named the Bauhaus Triennale (June 2013). Their plans include new teenage (12 and up) seminars to combat “Bauhaus Hate”! (I think they’re talking about me! Their latest, greatest lie: I only report objectively their betrayal of Gropius idealism!) I wish they would remind themselves of that bad old Nazi habit of Beruf Verbot. For sixty years I have written contentious journalism all over the world. Only today’s German Bauhustlers have stooped to conquer me so stupidly!

My first surprise was to discover how minor an architect Gropius was. He cried to his mother in letters, ”I can’t draw. I can’t draw!” Why for heaven’s sake did he aspire to be an architect?. A recent exhibition in Berlin’s Martin Gropius Bau gave me a satisfying answer. His great uncle Martin Gropius was generally regarded, excluding Schinkel , as the greatest pre-modern Berlin architect. So he asked Adolf Meyer to be his secret partner. No wonder the first architecture course didn’t come until 1927. And then he gave that absolutely central post to Hannes Meyer, the Swiss Communist! Yet the Dessau city politics were fast running faster and faster to the right.

And indeed they canned the Swiss Commie in 1930. Mies would stumble for three years to no avail, and then became a Nice Nazi until 1937, bugging Albert Speer for commissions that never came, so poisoned was his Denkmal past when he left for America.
But the biggest error in official Bauhaus history was that it ended in 1933. It really ended in 1928 when Gropius gave up and moved to build Siemenstadt in Berlin. His life was more and more miserable. A Dessau journalist was trying to create a career for himself by harassing Gropius for “double dipping”—a Bauhaus salary plus extra pay for consulting in the creation of the Junker suburb, Törten. And his pretentious star faculty was fighting against pay cuts, not to mention their contempt for his medieval Master concept when they argued for good old Patriarchal Professor! (They lost on the money and won on the status!) There was even scuttlebutt that Herbert Bayer was making moves on his second wife Ilse. So he talked Marianne Brandt to join him for interior designs and off they fled to Berlin. Meyer soon went to Moscow with many Commie dropouts and their work there is architecturally admirable. And many newly motivated students went to Palestine where they created a lush White City in Tel Aviv.

The saddest Chapter is the one created by the erratic gay fellow Philip C. Johnson (1900-2005). He dropped out of Harvard several times before he got his B.A.—not in architecture, but antiquities! His architecture period began in 1926 when he cruised Europe looking for new modern buildings to gain a post at the planned MOMA/New York. When he visited Dessau in 1926, he was so impressed he phoned the projected MOMA director Alfred Barr, Jr. that he had to come and see the greatest modern building—that Gropius claimed to design but where Ernst Neufert probably did all the heavy lifting.

Except he should have asked the professors and students how lousy the Modernoid structure really was: They fried in the summer and froze in the winter. It made great black and white photos with their new Leicas. That facility spread the falsities of Modernoidism throughout the civilized world. Call it International Style and ignore function as you relish its form (aka ART). Peter Blake (the English pseudonym he used after fleeing Nazi Germany), the greatest American architectural critic of the last century, argued in his obit of PCJ that he had totally corrupted the world conversation about modern architecture. He glibly referred to himself when anyone disagreed with him as the “whore of architecture.” His greatest sin was writing nasty letters about his Harvard dean Gropius (1938) mocking him for his obsession about working housing. So MOMA and the AIA sunk into the pit of Starchitecture from which we have barely begun to emerge.

Yet it was no joke being gay and a parvenu in Cleveland in the 1920’s. His German nanny made him fluent. So he partied in gay Berlin on his architectural searches. He returned to America in 1928 a Not So Nice Nazi politicizing for Huey Long before that Louisiana governor was assassinated. Then he started touting the radio priest Father Charles Coughlin who sneered over the air at FDR’s “Jew Deal”! Mies was his first favorite. PCJ made the first modern house in Houston in 1950 for the de Menil family, the greatest art collectors of the era. He also insisted they use Miesey furniture deployed the way the master would have ! They told him to get lost and never talked to him again! Their children thought the frequent visitor was PCJ. It was only carpenters repairing the leaky roof!

Later they quarreled and Mies sneered that PCJ’s vaunted Glass House in Connecticut (1970) looked like” a hot dog stand at Night”. Never mind. It’s a Visitor’s Center now, celebrating his architectural genius, at $150 a shot. Meanwhile his excessively glassed weekend house (1950) outside Chicago Mies had made for his one-time girl friend Dr. Farnsworth was uninhabitable. It’s now a Visitor Center celebrating his genius. Hmm.

But PCJ’s grossest aberration were those hateful letters he wrote in 1938 about his Harvard Dean Gropius, sneering about his obsession about worker housing. But his days of regard are almost over. Fresher voices like Cameron Sinclair’s Architecture for Humanity and Millard Fuller’s cooperative Habitat for Humanity are the thoughtful idealists of the future. PCJ was just a Modernoid aberration. In 2013 the globally important German Architecture Museum in Frankfurt am Main sounded its significant motto for architecture in the 21st Century: THINK GLOBALLY; BUILD SOCIAL. Johnson’s hyperestheticism is simply the last century’s bad news.

Monday, 13 January 2014

Getting to Ostseebad Prerow!


I wanted bad to interview Dr. Anita Bach, the first woman to teach Architecture at the Bauhaus Uni. She caught my eye because the then Rector was fixing to tear down her gloriously designed MENSA—so that he could talk Hellmut Seemann into planting the long planned Bauhaus Two Museum where her MENSA used to be. (That that registered architectural historian wanted to commit so stinking a cultural felony will make him history for generations, foul as his intentions were!) 

But I come not to braise Gird, but rather to praise Anita! Getting there was the first hassle. I stayed overnight in a Rostock Jugendherberge. The bus that leads to where Dr. Bach lives in OSTSEEBAD Prerow took more than two hours circling the empty summer homes that I thought I’d go nuts finding her house. She said “Get off at the Edeka store”, easy enough. In which direction none of the locals knew! I must have stopped ten cars (most of them lost!) to find Anita. Not a single address number was consecutive.

Then I finally found their manse gradually built up from a square little mouse house, because their three kids didn’t want to abandon their summer memories! Her husband was also a Bauhaus professor, but he’s crippled now. Has to use a one person elevator to change their three floors. Anita was the sweetest wife to her crippled man. 

She had to translate his murmured German to my English ear. I’m 86 and getting more senile by the day. But she kept showing me books she had written in Weimar. I’ll be damned if she was my age. I was born in February 1927, she in August. She explained with pride how she evolved as an architect as she taught.

And she is a knockout cook, giving me the triad of late breakfast, early lunch and a gargantuan supper, fit for the Duke I ain’t. She described how the men ignored the emerging women as they hogged the best positions. I slept perfectly on the third floor, up at dawn to snoop their outdoors. It was raining a tiny typhoon so she drove me to the train back to Rostock. 

I had to tell the cabbie to hustle back to the hostel where I had expected to overnight. The Rostock Hauptbahnhof is the screwiest one I’ve ever got lost in. Dragging the many books she's given me that I’ve already passed on to Dr. Simon-Ritz, the Bauhaus Uni librarian.

I had only a minute to spare, catching the Berlin train. Full of swinging young men who dug my humor! Wait until I tell you what she taught me about the history of modern German architecture. What a home-run hitter I’d say she was if I were back in America.

Sunday, 12 January 2014

Amiri Baraka

Dear Jonathan Fischer: I want to praise you for the deserved eloquence of your obit of Leroi Jones. It reminded me of our first encounter outside Philadelphia at Beaver college. I had just dumped the greatest job in my life as the first director of the State Department funded American Studies Institute at the University of Hawaii's East/West Center. Its purpose was to attract Asian students to study technology and American to study Asian culture. Towards the end of my first year (1961-2) I learned to my horror that my assistant, Seymour Lutsky, had been in the CIA since his Iowa Ph.D.(1952).

I accepted English chair/tenured full professor at Beaver College (now Arcadia U) because I had left our new Louis Kahn home in the Greenbelt Knoll experiment in racial integration in Philly. I had just spent three years organizing the Annenberg School of Communication at Penn, installing my first mentor, Gilbert Seldes as Dean.My run-ins with the fascist billionaire donor, Walter Annenberg, publisher of TV Guide was my first awareness of the high price of integrity Universities pay to solicit cash, two millions in this case. (I taught media history there until the temptation of Hawaii.) I accepted a tenured full professor English chair at Beaver College (now Arcadia U). Its standards were aspiring but not very high. We began by admitting men.

My first public move was to invite Amiri to speak to the entire student body. It was iffy he'd come--until I got a late night call fro L.A. that he was on the last red-eye. He spent a lot of time explaining his new Village Voice activism. A Jewish student who was the school's best actress chided him in mid-address. (Why did he have a Jewish girl friend?) Evasive reply!

After lunch we retired to the basement theatre. Where the same "mouthy" Jewess was the lead! Amiri's activist pal standing next to me whispered "let's get the fuckouta here!"  "No, no, no," Baraka replied softly. "She's doing it exactly right!"

Saturday, 11 January 2014

Who Sunk the Bauhaus?


The FAZ essay today by Prof. Franziska (Delft) and Hartmut Böhme (Humboldt/Berlin) caught more than my eye. It gripped my heart. For the past 15 years I’ve been reading and ruminating over the Flop the Bauhaus has been over all of its many episodes. The simple answer is that the current Sinecuriat that “ru(i)ns” the Big "B” betrayed him long ago by declining to be WG’s “Bauhauslers” by being the crudest kind of Bauhustlers”. Cameron Sinclair (London/San Francisco) long ago gave rebirth to the Gropius idealism by founding the global society, Architecture for Humanity. I gave his bible, “Design as If You a Damn!”, to the Anna Amalia Library shortly after I arrive in Weimar in 1999, where the Ossi battered city had been nominated the Cultural Capital of Europe to heal its Marxist wounds. Where nobody but me reads it! But me, when despair to convince the Germans about why their dream turned into a nightmare makes me despondent.

Who he, FAZ readers must well ask. Well, now an 86 year old retired of American Civilization and a global alternative journalist. But at three, my father abandoned his family of three (me, a 10 year old brother, and a middle school teaching mother. Dad and his secretary absconded to Las Vegas where he became successful enough as a real estate agent to leave me $150,000 guilt money (his Bigamate friend Ruth kicked in another $100,000) when he died, financing my global enterprises, outside Academe! But in Depression Detroit (1930-45, when I volunteered to become a naval radar specialist. My brother Mike and I were parked 100 miles to the North at the German Dominican nuns Holy Rosary Academy so my mother teach 9th grade in Hamtramck, the Polish “suburb” read of Detroit. It was hell being homeless, so when I read in graduate school about Grope’s new kind of art school that catered to blue collars, I vowed to check it out.

My qualifications? A curt CV is required. After leaving the U.S. Navy in 1946 as Electronics Teachnician 2nd class, I enrolled in my hometown U. of Detroit where I graduated in three years as a philosophy major, having won the annual Midwestern Jesuit Province annual essay contest with a rant entitled “Needed: More ‘Red Blooded’ American Catholics”, by which I mean like American Communists the only whites to push for black liberation. And my date and I integrated the Senior Prom at Eastwood Gardens by double-dated with a black couple, of which there were precious few!

I became a Marshall McLuhan fan at U a D, as we mumbled it, the radical Canadian Roman Catholic who hobnobbed with the ilks of Dorothy Day. Every week I read his “radical”essays about the new global media in “Commonweal”, the lay Catholic weekly, and “America,” the Jesuit weekly. He assembled these disparate “takes” into his first book,”The Folklore of Industrial Man” (1951). In went off to Western Reserve University in Cleveland, mainly because my priest uncle, the Rev.Aloysius Mark Fitzpatrick, was the editor of the “Catholic Universe Bulletin”, the Cleveland diocese weekly. (I learned more from two of the brightest Jews I have ever emulated (they were the first Jews in my excessively Catholicized life, Ray Ginger and Harvey Goldberg. 

They made me Prez of the new Jefferson Forum. (I think because a practicing Catholic, I was a perfect dodge for their leftist obsessions!) But when the dissertation committee rejected my request for Marshal McLuhan (“Who he?”), I revolted to Michigan State, where the English department was making the football team as ashamed of its mediocre gamey. (In state tuition also was cheaper!) I had married the most beautiful blonde in Detroit (hell, Michigan!) at 23 so like good Catholics we started seeding children, Michael (1952), Catherine (1954) and Timothy (1956). It took money, so I became the early morning janitor of the East Lansing State Bank, across the street from the college. When I heard gossip at the bank that a 10th grade English teacher had just been canned, I asked the English chair if taking that job would disqualify me for a Ph.D. (“Hell, no!” he screamed, remembering his own depression era squeeze.)

It was the best autonomous move I ever made . State had just got an ETV channel and was hungry for programming. I proposed a weekly teenage leisure palaver.It was great fun… and highly educational. In fact it led to a year-long Ford grant in New York City, harassing the media to become more humanistic. When “Scholastic Teacher” got wind of me, they made me radio-TV editor, a weekly entrée to a million U.S classrooms. We couldn’t afford Manhattan so we lived Flushing, with the World Fairs, recent and future, filling our eyes and minds.

One Thursday, reading the daily New Times, I caught a story about a media education conference in D.C. I invited myself! Opening the Aud door I spied Ralph Bunche (he had just been a “Time” cover) talking excitedly to another unindentified guy. I introduced myself. The unknown asked, “Well, how’s it going, Mr. Hazard?” “Lousy,” I curtly replied. “I’ve been trying to get an interview with NBC’s innovative President Sylvester “Pat” Weaver for a month now, but his secretary guards him like a bull dog.” Whereupon, the Unknown One identified himself as the publisher of “Time”. “ I’m also on the board of the Ford Foundation, and I like your jabber. How would you like an office in Time to help,”handing me his card! I nearly pissed my pants.

Monday bright and early, I had my own office on the 34th Floor of the Time-Life Building, overlooking Sixth Avenue, NBC-TV less than a block away. I’ll call Weaver’s office. She was so cold, smoke was coming out of the wires. “Mr. Hazard,” she began solemnly,”it’s the beginning of the fall season and Mr. Weaver is very busy.” I countered, “Well, it’s the beginning of my Ford. So if your boss ever gets 15 minutes, please have him call, Judson 5-4545,the magical “Time”number. Ten minutes later, there was a P.A. announcement. “Is there a Patrick D. Hazard here today. If so, call Pat Weaver at NBC.”

15 minutes? He grilled me about the schools, what kind of TV do they like. For four hours! Interrupted by his phoning every department head with curt order. If Pat Hazard, a Ford TV Fellow this year, help him all you can. Nancy Goldberg, press officer was especially helpful. And Ed Stanley, in charge of Public Projects was as gracious as he was effective.
I’ll never forget the intellectually most exciting day of my education. The son of the founder of “Der Spiegel” and I were allowed to watch an issue of “Life” put together! The editor-in-chief, a photo editor, numerous writers, making everything fit together. It was a media miracle.