Saturday, 31 December 2011

Downbeat at 75

Blue Champagne/Glenn Miller
"The Great Jazz Interviews: A 75th Anniversary Anthology” (Hal Leonard Books,2009). Basically it’s reprint of the best essays. This magazine was my post-Catholic Bible as I adjusted to secular life after being expelled from Sacred Heart Seminary (by Rector Henry Donnelly for secretly smoking after midnight in the Gothic Tower with my pal Jim Van Slambrouck).

Glenn Miller’s Chesterfield broadcasts every evening at 7 p.m. started my obsessive transition from Gregorian Chant. And at my new public school, Edwin Denby High, aspiring jazz drummer, Gil Kamen, introduced me to my new Church, the Paradise Theater in midtown Detroit, where “colored” bands played an unending series of weekly stints. We cut class to get the cheap afternoon tickets, sweating out boring “B” movies and idiosyncratic gigs like Pegleg Bates’ mix of corny humor and vivid dancing. Summers, it was nearby Eastwood Gardens for the great white dance bands. We were happily bipolar.

When I took my dead brother’s ashes “home” from Philadelphia where he died, I was in a sentimental mood—seeking out the Paradise, sadly to find it closed by an excess of rock music, with a city bicentennial explanation of the building’s provenience. After World War I, when the Grosse Pointe auto execs were first getting a “Culture” fix, they imported a pianist-conductor from Poland to form a symphony orchestra. Alas, then forced them to perform in the acoustical equivalent of a junior high cafeteria. The Polish director laid down his demand: create a decent place, or I’m off to Warsaw. What they delivered was described by no less an ear than Pablo Casals as the greatest acoustical space in North America.

But when during the Second World War, Southern blacks abandoning the cotton fields where gins were making then superogative, flocked to Detroit’s defense factories. Their housing surrounded the Paradise. The white suburbans fled, building another symphony hall along the Detroit River. The “Paradise” was born. It lay empty during the rock music boom, until an obsessed oboist in the Detroit Symphony raised $23 million dollars to retrieve the old venue. When I gave in to nostalgia to test the ”new” hall, I teased the oboist that he had destroyed my Youth! He yelled that they has a jazz concert every Saturday. A doubly satisfying outcome a battered city really needed.

When I came to New York on a Ford grant in 1955, I was eager to meet the king of jazz criticism, Marshall Stearns, the Hunter medieval lit specialist. If he could teach medieval lit and simultaneously be America’s leading jazz critic, then my combo of American Lit and TV was not schizophrenic. That night he invited me to his Greenwich Village flat, with Nat Hentoff the other guest, was the highlight of my New York year. They were discussing the Newport Jazz Festival’s founder George Wein’s idea of starting an annual Jazz Critic Symposium at Newport. (George was making money; now he wanted to make a difference.) They invited me to the first symposium in 1958, when I was a University of Pennsylvania teacher. I drove from Philly and got to the Festival Viking Hotel just as the dining room was closing! I ordered the last chicken. But before I was served, Mahalia Jackson arrived. I gave her my bird!

I’ll never forget how the symposium ended, the semanticist who was the chair saw her at the back of the auditorium, and believing everyone should be heard, asked, ”What do you make of our discussions, Mahalia.” There was an awkward pause as she made up a response. “I shore don’t knows what youse bin talking about.” Short pause. “But I shore do love jazz.”

I sure loved spending an hour together, munching dinner. By the way, my mentor Studs Terkel interviewed her, and his respect for her wanting to keep her churchly provenience away from nightclubs is pure Terkel. (I won’t forget either my room adjoining Miles Davis, for his all night physical abuse of his girl friend has haunted me ever since for not complaining.)

I’m amazed at the catholicity of this collection. Everybody important has his day in the court of jazz criticism. Except for Bobby Dorough, currently of Mt, Bethel, PA. On a visit to Paris, my girl friend had just had a noisy baby. So I chose to spend the night at a no-star hotel opposite the train station in Ivry-sur Seine—the Commie suburb. I was way trying to use Bach on France Musique radio to put me to sleep. Alas, after the eleven p.m. newsbreak, there followed a jazz concert from Paris Disneyland featuring one young sounding Bobbie Dureau (as my Francophone ear rendered it). I was wide awake after he played a short history of reeds in jazz, beginning with Sidney Bechet, and ending with Charlie Parker. WOW! I called my friend the next morning to ask for a date that night to dance at Disneyland. Were we ever surprised.

First it’s Bob (he hates being Bobbied!) Dorough, a seventyish cracker from Hope, Arkansas, who studied jazz at North Texas U at Denton. His piano is superb jazz, his homemade lyrics, pure poetry, and his quartet was as satisfying as any I’ve ever danced to. (Try “Sunday at Iridium”, ARCO, 1935 if you’re skeptical). His audiences of this New York club contains many fans from the several years he used a rock music TV series to develop mature teenagers. I think the jazz purists may have blackballed him for that openness. His daughter plays in the Houston Symphony. Financing her musical education was one motive for the rock series.

In any case, everybody else important is here, including of course the finest jazz critics of the last century. It’s rare that a popular magazine can dominate a field like “Downbeat” did—and still does. This is a jazz addict’s lifetime companion. The only equally priceless access to great jazz is my wife’s discovery two days ago of an internet service, ”Pure Jazz Radio,” that broadcasts internationally from New York. The same network plays NPR 24 hours a day! I just celebrated a turkeyless Thanksgiving with Terry Gross’s superb interview of the new Muppets. Her chops are still as fresh as ever! I’m vicariously back in Philly. YIPPEE!

Friday, 30 December 2011


Hazard taught high school in East Lansing (1952-55) to finance his Ph.D. in American Civilization. Motivated by reading McLuhan in graduate school, he assigned new TV playwrights like Paddy Chayefsky and Rod Serling to his tenth graders and Maurice Evans as Macbeth to his twelfth graders.

When Michigan State opened a TV channel, his students aired a program on teenage leisure."Everyman Is a Critic" there each week. This led to a Ford Foundation grant in New York to deploy national resources for English teachers confronting the new medium of television. He became radio-TV editor of "Scholastic Teacher" and schmoozed with Marshall McLuhan, that year a visiting professor at TC, Columbia. A talk at the 4C's convention on "The Future of Cultural Criticism" led to his first college job at Trenton State(1956-57)where he finished his dissertation.

In 1957 Penn awarded him a Carnegie Postdoctoral grant to create a new course on Mass Culture, after which he became Gilbert Seldes' gofer in the founding of the Annenberg School where he taught media history.In !960 he was appointed the first director of the Institute of American Studies at the newly created East-West Center.

He quit after one year when he discovered his No.2 had been in the CIA for the last ten years. He became English chair and full professor at Arcadia University in 1961 where he devised an International English curriculum, teaching in their London program. His involvement in secular media is summarized on the website of the University of the Arts in Philadelphia ( under the rubric "Hazard in Luceland".

When his mother died in 1982, he resigned on Walt Whitman's birthday to become a roving international alternative journalist, using an inheritance to explore all the continents but Antarctica (brrr!) to deepen his control of International English as the humanities curriculum of the future. He has continued this quest in Weimar, where the spirit of Goethe energizes his quest. (G lived at Seifengasse 1, Hazard at 10.)

Thursday, 29 December 2011

Wednesday, 28 December 2011


On Post-Text-Scholarship

I got a Carnegie Post Doctoral Fellowship at Penn in 1957 to create a Mass Culture course for their American Civilization department. First Semester,Mass Communication:Print,Graphics,Broadcasting; Second Semester, Industrial Design, Architecture, and Urban Planning.

I went on to help organize the new Annenberg School of Communications, teaching the History of Communication--from Cave Painting to Comic Strip. Left Annenberg to organize the new Institute of American Studies at the East West Center in Honolulu, until I discovered my No.2 had been in the CIA for the ten years since his Iowa Ph.D.

I returned to the mainland to chair English at Arcadia U where I tried to globalize International English. In refereeing the Epstein/Cassuto scrimmage in a comment, I proposed the rationale On Internationalizing English Ph.D. with a prelim in either a neglected foreign language translation or media expertise. For how I got there, see my piece (10/11/11) in, "My TIME, LIFE, and FORTUNE in Luceland."

These strategies grew out of trials that worked, not the mystifying mistiphysics of the polysyllabic French/German "thinkers" who waylaid English studies for two or more decades. I walked away from tenure after thirty years concluding I could teach better as an alternative journalist than as a hounded academic. I was right!

Patrick D. Hazard.
Weimar, Germany.

Tuesday, 27 December 2011

Playing the Game

Heh, Smerk. Don't play dumb. The 28 year old was afraid he'd lose his first step rung on the Penn State ladder of success: that is the true horror of the Cashocracy we've let take over: There's no sense of community ethics. Save my ass: don't risk failure by "tattling" on a superior raping a 10 year old.

Dr.Patrick D. Hazard, Weimar, Germany

Monday, 26 December 2011

Anti Anti-scientism

On A Better Rationale for Science Literacy:

With an American Studies Ph.D. (1957), I increasingly resent the unacknowledged anti-scientism of my humanities professors, except Mortimer Kadish who wiped out my medieval Catholicism philosophy major in one semester.

The Good Books syndrome is essentially a covert Theologism. Scientific method is essential to a humane technolgical society (which ours is far from being) given the greenhouse gas lies our Cashocratic oil tycoons fund, and the crass fallout of semi-barbarous boobs like Rush Lamebow, shooting off his mouth as "Excellence in Broadcasting". Ugh.

The Occupy Wall Street novices must understand that our commercial greed has foundered a dysfunctional society in which instantly "satisfying" goodies outflank sound nutrition and pervasively infantile media make a playpen of Modern America. It's going to be a long, painful haul back to mass sanity.

But scientific literacy must prevail in all aspects of this mangled culture. Alas, at 84, I'll never see such a renewal, but pray for it, as only an ex-Catholic atheist can.

Saturday, 24 December 2011

Frank Furness

I commend George Wilhelm for his praise of Frank Furness’s Gothic funkiness. I, long a Louis Sullivan buff, was delighted to learn, however belatedly, that Furness nurtured that innovator’s muse.

Friday, 23 December 2011

Nobel Laureates

My first encounter with a Nobel laureate was receiving my filmmaker son Michael’s gift of “The Half-Finished Heaven: The Best Poems of Tomas Tranströmer” (translated by Robert Bly”, Graywolf Press, 2001). (Michael had just made a documentary film of Bly’s career as a poet.) But I'll save this latest Laureate till last.

My first Nobel serendipity occurred in summer 1967. When teaching in London, I wanted to expand my International English course with the lively poets of Northern Ireland. So I organized a class trip to the Belfast Festival. Since all the students couldn’t afford the trip, I asked the BF management if they could ask a Belfast poet to recite a chrestomathy of their new writers so I could tape the reading for the students back in London. “Sure, no problem,” he promised.

The next day, a rural-looking handsome man (with cow shit still on his boots?) introduced himself as “Seamus Heaney”, Faith and Begorrah, an Irish enough name. He started reading his peers’ stuff, Paul Muldoon, James Simmons et al. Good enough, but not worth a trip to Belfast; then Seamus read his own “Digging” about his grandfather’s and father’s skill with spades, working the peat of their land, concluding that he would emulate his forebears with his pen. It remains to this day my favorite lyric in all of English lit!

Heaney spoke later about invitations to America he had received from Harvard and UC, Berkeley. I asked him to let me take him on a weeklong romp along the Eastern coast. He vaguely promised, and I forgot about our scheme until 1970 when the National Council of Teachers of English was holding it annual convention in Atlanta. He decided to come!

First I had him read at Trenton State, a blue collar commuter school where I had first taught in college, 1956-7, because three Trenton English professors liked my 4C’s talk, ”Liberace and the Future of Cultural Criticism”, a rant about confronting Pop Cult in the English classroom instead of whining about. They loved it, assuring me that’s the way they already did it at Trenton. When I got a Penn Carnegie grant in 1957 to create a new course in Popular Culture in their department of American Civilization, I talked them into hiring a Mick from Rhode Island, Fred Kiley, as my successor. Seamus and Fred hit it off from their first minute together, from Fred's experiences in the Battle of the Bulge to their shared working class aspirations to upward cultural mobility.

The next day, after showing him the high spots of Philly, we went to the Jewish Cultural Center downtown to see a TV documentary from Belfast which featured his ambivalent posture in the Troubles between Catholics and Protestants in Northern Ireland. He had been too busy writing to see it at home. The next day we took the train to Washington so he could sign in at the Poetry Center at the Library of Congress. Next door was the Supreme Court where, dazzled by the coffered ceiling, he whispered like an altar boy in the sacristy,”Is this where they made that decision about segregation? “Yes, Seamus. This is that place!”, my eyes watering.

The next day we flew to Columbia, S.C, because he wanted to socialize with visiting poet James Dickey. James was a dick that day, and wouldn’t be seen! No matter, Morse Peckham, a former colleague of mine at Penn, gathered together the mostly gay English Department of the University of South Carolina, for an unforgettable evening. Nah,nah, James Dickey!

Finally, we bused to Atlanta where I put him up at the fanciest hotel in town. He loved it. And though the audience for this “unheard of Poet” was disgracefully small, he flew off to Berkeley after three days of NCTE. And I’ve been a fan of his ever after, especially when was awarded the Nobel Prize in 1995.

My second Nobel Prize encounter was not so Noble. When Gunter Grass visited Weimar shortly after the controversy over his Nazi affiliation in World War Two, I had just come back from Göttingen (where his publisher is based) after shooting pictures of his art on display there, he agreeably committed to an interview the next day. I met him for breakfast coming down the stairs of the Hotel Elefant where all the celebs wrangle for the Goethe suite! He canceled breakfast on the spot due to unforeseen complications and booked for the next day. Alas, he left a no show note at the front desk and asked me to call on the morrow.

No way! I mimeoed a rap on his knuckles for manners unworthy of a Nobel Laureate and (humourously) conceded I better understood the fascist accusations he was currently encountering. We are both 84. At 17, we both joined the war, me in the U.S.Navy as a radar technician, and he in Wehrmacht, as a grumbler in training. I just noticed with a sneer that he grumbled in a Berlin speech that abolishing the volunteer Army was a bad political move. (Some hotshots never learn!)

So my record on Nobel encounters: one elegant win; one messy fumble. Heh, could be worse. Seamus could have had a cold that day in Belfast, and canceled! No Wild Week along the Atlantic Coast. And then there is Tranströmer! A winner in many ways.

Heh, you think Philip Roth’s got the waits for that illusive Swedish Coronation? Think of this year’s winner, a sweet Swede named Tomas Tranströmer, a 80 year old who lost his speech and gifted pianist’s right hand in 1990 through a stroke. (He is so endearing to his fans that several Swedish composers blessed him by writing pieces for his left hand!) Meanwhile his wife fielded the traditional Nobel press hoopla.

My interest there is very special. My son Michael made one of his first films about the Minneapolis poet Robert Bly who is the most important translator of Tranströmer’s poetry into English, “The Half-Finished Heaven” (Graywolf Press, 2001.) Therein Bly contends “Tomas Tranströmer has a strange genius for the image; images rise seemingly without effort on his part. The wide space we feel in his poems perhaps occurs because the four or five main images in each poem come from widely separated sources in the psyche. His poems are sort of a railway station where trains that have come enormous distances stand briefly in the same building. One train may have some Russian snow on the undercarriage, and another may have Mediterranean flowers fresh in the compartments, and Ruhr soot on the roofs.”(p.ix.)
One such poem has tourists from all over the world relishing the graces of a “simple” Romanesque church.

Romanesque Arches
Tourists have crowded into the half-dark of the enormous
Romanesque church.
Vault opening behind vault and no perpective.
A few candle flames flickered.
An angel whose face I couldn’t see embraced me
And his whisper went all through my body.
“Don’t be ashamed to be a human being, be proud!
Inside you one vault after another opens endlessly.
You’ll never be complete, and that’s as it should be:”
Tears blinded me
As we were herded out into the fiercely sunlit plaza.
together with Mr. and Mrs. Jones, Herr Tanaka and Signora
within each of them vault after vault opened endlessly. (p-xxi.)

It’s no surprise to learn that the man who here juxtaposes infinity with humdrum tourism was a psychiatrist whose career was counseling imprisoned juvenile delinquents. Once at a public reading someone asked him if his work had influenced his poetry. He replied that he prefers to be asked if his poetry influenced his work! Scuttlebutt had it that he was very compassionate with his charges.

I liked “April and Silence” (p.95) for its ambiguous reactions to spring.

Spring lies abandoned.
A ditch the color of dark violet
Moves alongside me
Giving no images back.

The thing that shine
Are some yellow flowers.

I am carried inside
My own shadow like a violin
In its black case.

The only thing I want to say
Hovers just out of reach
Like the family silver
At the pawnbrokers.

“Black Postcards” consider the doleful.(p.83.)

The calendar all booked up, the future unknown.
The cable silently hums some folk song
but lacks a country. Snow falls in the gray sea. Shadows
fight out on the dock.
Halfway through your life, death turns up
And takes your pertinent measurements. We forget
The visit. Life goes on. But someone is sewing
the suit in the silence.

This Nobel literary casino plagues the wishes of the literati. Tranströmer is the first Swede to get it since 1974. In the last ten years there have been 8 Europeans. American potentials often grumble about the leftist slant of the Committee. 103 candidates have made the grade since the literary prize began in 1901. Maybe a Swedish graduate student will do a political analysis!

(If Bly’s translating skills appeals to you, you can order the film about him at

Thursday, 22 December 2011


Vegans of the world, get lost. The mice of the world are after your fat butts.


Wednesday, 21 December 2011

Tuesday, 20 December 2011

Monday, 19 December 2011

Dear Bauhauslerin:

Your return of my piece on the Design shows now on in London and Weil am Rhein without a word is the kind of uncivilized response you’d expect from a spoiled American teenager. And your refusal to respond to my request to be put on your press list (I left a long note to the black guard when I “stumbled” on your excellent show on Paul Raacke on my way back from reviewing Klimt in Liverpool)) is disgracefully unprofessional.

O.K. I realize now the Bauhaus Sinecuriat recognizes I’m condemning all of you for corrupting Gropius’ moral meliorism of good design for the working classes, as Nicholas Pevsner wrote, after your ancestors chased him out of England for being a Jew. What your Sinecuriat is doing now is cultural fascism—agglomerating trivia like Siebenbrodt has been doing and then pleading for a bigger museum. The Bauhaus Sinecuriat needs bigger, truer ideas, not more money for museums. And Seemann with his obsessive concentration on upper middle class Tourism mocks even the entire tradition of Goethe (who is blasphemously worshipped in Weimar, but not read!)

The only credible idea he has proposed for the phoney, baloney 90th anniversary is mass education for children in architecture and design, which Louis Kahn’s heir Ricky Wurman pioneered in Philadelphia in the 1960’s, and the London Design Museum has already begun in England. The only member of the Sinecuriat who is faithful to Gropius is Omar Ahkbar. The Gropian vision of better design for the working classes is not in your hands but with Omar, Alice Rawsthorn, Cameron Sinclair, and Millard Fuller. And I betcha you don’t even know who Fuller is.

Sunday, 18 December 2011


On "Eames: The Architect and the Painter": This creative couple at Eliel Saarinen’s Cranbrook outside Detroit actually did what the German Bauhaus merely promised to do. Oddly, two penniless German immigrants, neither of whom could afford to finish high school, never mind architecture school, Albert Kahn (Detroit) and Timothy Pflueger (San Francisco) became the architectural innovators parallel to the Eames pioneering in industrial design.

That we mostly don’t know this can be blamed on Philip C. Johnson who spent too long a career corrupting American architectural discourse with his phoney branding of “the International Style” for New York’s MOMA. The Cleveland parvenu Johnson argued only Art mattered in architecture, ignoring the client’s needs. He mocked his Harvard teacher Walter Gropius in private letters for being obsessed with building for the “working classes.” Barry Bergdoll is discovering that PCJ’s error.

Saturday, 17 December 2011

German Architectural Hagiography: A Nazi Heritage

Philip C. Johnson (1906-2005) when he finally started studying architecture (1942!)at Harvard under Walter Gropius and Marcel Breuer, German refugees from Nazism, plenty of water had flowed under his idiosyncratic bridge. Although very bright,during his first tenure at Harvard (1923-30) he was crippled by his emerging gayness and spent several trips to Europe, especially Germany (his German nanny had made him fluent, and 1920’s Berlin was a prime place to find his own new gayness).

The son of a rich parvenu U.S.Steel lawyer in Cleveland, he was obsessed by the “A” as in the Art of architecture. As Andrew Saint wrote in his Guardian obituary (January 29,2005, p.25), the one constant in his long career was “about architecture and style. Forget function, ignore social responsibility—just make things as beautiful as you can and spend all the money you can get your hands on.”

When he returned to America in the early thirties, Johnson brought the baggage of a quick Fascist conversion. He had praised Hitler, and now turned to promote Huey Long until the Louisiana threat to FDR was assassinated. He then turned to Father Coughlin, the Catholic radio priest near Detroit, who preached that Roosevelt was promoting “a Jew Deal”. My University of Detroit sociology professor, Father John Coogan,S.J., soon fought Coughlin to an Episcopal draw, and Johnson returned to his corruption of American architectural attitudes.

As the best architect to ever come out of the Bauhaus, (Class 1933) Chicago architect Bertrand Goldberg put it this way to me. PCJ corrupted the dialogue about that art throughout the twentieth century. (By the way, it attests to the blind German architectural hagiography that the Bauhaus brass and its inheritors have never honored Goldberg with an exhibition, even though he was the only one I know who steadfastingly stuck by the original working class idealism throughout his career.) Johnson used to write slanderous letters about his teacher Gropius’ obsession with the working class.

It was through New York/MOMA that he spread his corrupting influence, even up to the 2010 appointment of Barry Bergdoll as the new MOMA director. In 1926, both Johnson and Alfred Barr,Jr, MOMA’s first director designate, were cruising Europe for ideas for their museum’s first exhibitions in 1929. Johnson phoned Barr excitedly in 1926 from Dessau where he was enthusing that the new Bauhaus HQ was the greatest modern building he had seen yet! (A pity he didn’t ask the professors and students who froze in the winter and sweltered in the summer from excessive glass.) What I call the Crystal Palace Syndrome was the first fluke of early Modernism. Black and White photos from that decade’s new hand-held Leicas made for great international publicity. But the leaking flat roofs and too much glass were the mortal sins of the new “International” style (to use their new coinage.)

Johnson was also a Mies nut at first. When he made the first modern house in Houston TX for the DeMenil duo, then the greatest American collectors of modern art, he tried to Mies them. When he insisted that they use Mies’ furniture (really the work of his ignored lover Lillian Reich’s)deployed the way Mies would have, they told him to scram, and allegedly never spoke to him again! Their kids thought the roofers repairing his leaky roof so often was the architect! More glass is less architecture. Mies repeated this flop when he made a weekend house for his Chicago sweetheart, Dr. Farnsworth in 1950. She sued him for excess energy costs! (She lost the case, but Mies lost a girlfriend!) For five decades they have tried to sell that house—to no avail!

A few years ago they gave up—and made it into a Visitors Center, dedicated no less than to celebrating the architectural genius of Mies! Huh?

Not to be outdone, PCJ made his Glass House in Connecticut in 1970. He and Mies were no longer a mutual praise each other society. Mies cruelly sniffed that at night that it looked like a hotdog stand! Ouch! And when Johnson died, it became another VC! Except the entrance fee is $150 per. Ditto, the Frank Lloyd Wright “Falling Water” in Bear Run, PA. (My favorite building in all the world.) I got in there free as a journalist.

I made my third visit last week to Mies’s first big project, the Weissenhof Siedlung (1927)outside Stuttgart. 17 modern architects in search of an international reputation for Mies. It is not holding up well. Concrete doesn’t “age”; it decays. It’s patinaphobic. Across the street are the apartments named after the Weimar Republic’s first president, Friedrich Ebert, sponsored by the Social Democratic party. They tried to get Mies to work together with them on common problems like water and garbage. He told them to piss off!

Mies was the son of a mason from Aachen, and when the greatest 20th century architect, AEG polymath Peter Behrens, had three assistants in 1910, Gropius, Mies, and Corbu, Mies bitterly resented having to report to the upperclass Gropius. He wanted to dump his psychic burden of being “lower class” by creating ART. But then he ran into the greatest German feminist of her era, Dr. Marie Elisabeth Lüders, the first woman to get a doctorate (in politics in 1912), manager of women's work in the First World War when the men were off fighting and also in charge of children’s problems because so many mothers were away from home working. She was elected to the Reichstag from Dusseldorf where she directed a female academy. Hitler threw her in jail for mouthing off. Still her autobiography is entitled “Never Fear!”!

I have a game I play with architects and architectural students. After warming them up with my rhetoric, I ask them if they knew the world of Lüders. Who? Patriarchal societies are rough on women. The greatest artist in the Bauhaus, Marianne Brandt, had never had an exhibition until the Swiss Miss Jaeggi took over the Berlin Bauhaus a few years ago, and that was about her minor genre of experimental photography. Well the Germans are doing better. Recently the Bundestag named their new library after Frau Lüders!

Well they might, for she wrote a brilliant essay in 1927 on Mies’ Weissenhof apartments in “Form”, the journal of the Deutsche Werkbund—from the point of view of a woman: no room for wet clothes, open the door of the kitchen and the wind blows out the flame, small children get pneumonia from crawling on the windy floors (too much glass! much too much!!), the external stairs have openings between the steps too large for climbing infants, and so on.

This visit, a kindly woman invited me in to take pictures. Too dinky! The “balcony” is so tiny you would suffocate trying to cuddle your pal up there. And so on. Mies wasn’t trying to make a habitation, but rather a work of art. Boo! Another generous soul let me shoot in Hans Sharoun’s apartment. Bingo. Great design. Sweetly inhabitable! The two Corbu apartments have been commandeered as a Bauhaus Museum. Unloveable! Top floor vistas are O.K. especially when the cold concrete is “humanized” with plantings. Otherwise unlivable! (Corbu was to be Mies’s prize catch!) It’s one step above a Visitors Center. And so it goes!

By the way, when I went to the Tagung in Dessau honoring the 75th anniversary of the Nazi’s closing the Bauhaus in 1933, Dr.Peter Hahn, former director of the Berlin Bauhaus, gave us a lot of blather about Mies’ tenure there. Bertrand Goldberg who was in the last class told me what really went on in our last visit in 1985. Mies’ first big work was a cemetery Denkmal(1926) for Karl Liebknecht and Rosa Luxembourg, the founders of the Communist Party in Germany. So he had to try to convince Alfred Rosenberg that he had changed his mind. And he sucked up to Albert Speer, unsuccessfully, until 1937, when Gropius got him a commission from a millionaire in Wyoming. He was no hero. He was a Nice Nazi!

Which brings me to poor old groping Gropius. I came to Weimar more than a decade ago because as a homeless boy in Depression Detroit I read about his working class ideals in Graduate School. Was I ever disappointed. There wasn’t an architecture course until 1928! And he turned that course (and the school) over to Hannas Meyer, a Swiss Communist, who was fired after two years because Dessau was drifting rightward towards Nazism.

Gropius had his own Denkmal problem—he had created one in the Weimar Cemetery for the victims of the Kapp Putsch, those right wing soldiers who wiped out lefties. His wife, Alma Mahler, chided him for not having the balls to attend the dedication. And he had great ideas, but too little follow through. For example in 1923 he decreed that every staff member make a photorecord of their work. In 1995, the janitors for the now named Bauhaus Uni found several hundreds of those photos abandoned in the attic!

In 1928 he was being hassled by a Dessau editor who contended Pius was double dippimg his income, his director’s salary and money for advising the builders of Törten, the Junker worker suburb, a natural condition for a consulting architect. He was so honorable a man he didn’t know how to fight so dirty! And his “Masters” who had fought off successfully his medieval ploy to become real “Professors” wouldn’t take a 10% salary reduction. Gossip also had it that Hebert Bayer was moving on his second wife, Ilse. So off he fled with Marianne Brandt to create Siemenstadt in Berlin. He was never a fighter.

And he really wasn’t much of an architect either. He used to complain bitterly to his mother that he couldn’t draw. I think he dreamed of being as good as his great uncle, Martin Gropius, the last, high class, pre-modern Berlin architect. And he wasn’t very practical. When he and his associate founded the General Panel Corporation in America to build prefab housing,they set up their office on Park Avenue in New York, an unnecessary and impractical drain on their tight finance; and they rented an empty aircraft factory in LA, where the biggest problem was shipping components across the whole country. A nice guy, with a big heart, but not practical.

So there was no dearth of outstanding modern architects in Germany. Peter Behrens, Paul Bonartz, Ernst Meyer, Max Berg, et al. It’s just that the Bauhaus publicity machine tempted post Nazi Germans to ignore their work and create implausible myths about the Bauhaus. From the perspective of history, it was a colossal flop. And to worship at its unworthy altars is to go blindfolded into the future. Building museums to honor a failure is silly and unworthy of the really creative. Hagiography is an outmoded medieval response. We should be honoring the idealism of Gropius by building sound architecture for the world’s poor and homeless billions. That is a challenge worthy of the Bauhaus.

Friday, 16 December 2011

Foreign Names

On global thinking:

Did I tell you Hazard is an Arabic name? French soldiers fighting the Moors in Southern Spain learned a new dice game in a Moorish castle El Azard. When they returned to Normandy they exclaimed, "Laissons-nous jouer HAZARD!" I'm Irish-Arabic!

Thursday, 15 December 2011

A Great Museum You've Never Heard of

How timely the “discovery” of LaSalle’s great secret. It used to be my favorite “must see,” after stumbling upon its wonders in the ’60s.

Wednesday, 14 December 2011

Tuesday, 13 December 2011

Black Box

Temporary Theatre, Weimar as European Cultural Capital, 1999

Monday, 12 December 2011

More on Mormons

On The Book of Mormon:

I wish I had had a high school history teacher as clear and coherent as Dan in his summing up of the Mormons.

As regular as clockwork, once a month or so I run into a pair of elegantly attired Mormons on missionary duty in Weimar. Occasionally we engage in a brief theological conversation. They seem as distant from being polygamous freaks as tickets to their Broadway musical are to my theater budget.

Yet the implications of this religious phenomenon for our current presidential farce are very obscure, unless Dan means to mock a half-ass Christianity the other candidates seem to represent.

Patrick D. Hazard
Weimar, Germany
November 23, 2011

Sunday, 11 December 2011

"Hot Dogs" as a Way of Speaking

One of the complexities of being the only English speaker in a very civilized family (nine doctors at last count!) is that they turn to me, confused, when something American doesn’t make sense to them. Take , for instance, Tante Ursula, a retired anesthetist who has a huge back yard of growing edibles—to stoke her passion as the family’s best cook.

At a recent family dinner celebrating my wife’s 45 birthday, Aunt U was dispensing her fabulous pumpkin soup adorned with finely sliced frankfurters. “What is a hot dog, Patrick? Where does the name come from?” Tricky question! No idea! So I Googled it. (The 21st century’s Eleventh Commandment: When in doubt, thou shalt Google.) So we did—for dessert, I and Hildegard’s brother, Martin, a university bookstore manager. He in German, me in English. The results were simply astonishing!

You have to begin in Germany! Frankfurterwurstschens (little Wursts) is obvious, but not so obvious as a pork sausage served in a bun similar to hot dogs as far back as the 13th century. The buns replaced white gloves dispensed to protect the customers against the heat of the cooked sausages. Tourists grew so fond of these gloves that they stole too many as souvenirs! Thereafter the plain bun ruled. Starting with the coronation of Maximilian II , Holy Roman Emperor as King the “franks” were given to the people to celebrate the occasion. The weenie I learned derived from Wien (Vienna) where a sausage of pork and beef thrived. Hamburger comes from the famous German port.

Around 1870 a German immigrant Charles Feltman started selling selling sausages in rolls at Coney Island. The notion of a hot dog on a bun is ascribed to the wife of one Antonoine Feushtwanger, A Bavarian sausage seller who utilized the traditional white glove for the World Fairs in Chicago in 1893 and St. Louis in 1904. The connection between hot dogs and baseball began as early as 1893 with one Chris von der Ahe, a German immigrant who not only owned the St.Louis Browns but an amusement park as well. Harry M. Stevens Inc. (1889) serviced various sports venues to become known as “the King of Sports Concessions” in the U.S.

In 1916, the celebrities Eddie Cantor and Jimmy Durante persuaded a German employee named Nathan Handwerker to sell his hot dogs for 5 cents instead of his boss’s 10! When food regulation became a problem (Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle” had just appeared!), Nathan saw to it that his hot dog pushers at the ball park wore surgeon’s smocks to reassure customers!

The use of “dog” as a synonym for sausage dates from 1884 amid accusations that since 1845 dog meat was used. In the early 20th century dog meat was common in Germany. According to folklore, “hot” dog was coined by the newspaper cartoonist Thomas Aloysius Dorgan around 1900 alluding to the sale of franks at a New York Giants game. (Are you listening, German relatives? An Irish cartoonist started that custom: it was the era of Finley Peter Dunne, whose Dooley the Irish barkeep kept newspaper readers in stitches at the time).

The earliest known use of “hot dog” was found in the Patterson (N.J.) Press for December 31,1892. It was in a story about a local traveling vendor Thomas Francis Xavier Morris, aka “Hot Dog Morris”.

Somehow or other a frankfurter and a roll seem to go right to the spot where the void is felt the most. The small boy has got on such familiar terms with this sort of lunch that he now refers to it as “hot dog.” “Hey, Mister, give me a hot dog quick,” was the startling order that a rosy-cheeked gamin hurled at the man as a Press reporter stood close by last night. The “hot dog” was quickly inserted in a gash in a roll, a dash of mustard also splashed on to the “dog” with a piece of whittled stick, and the order was fulfilled. (Germans devised and the Irish supervised!)

Hot dogs traditionally use pork and beef. Less expensive brands use chicken and turkey, using low cost mechanically separated poultry. The genre has a high sodium, fat and nitrite contents, linked to health problems. Hot dogs mix meats, spices, binders and fillers in vats with fast moving blades that grind and mix in the same operation. This mix is forced into skin cases for cooking. Most U.S. dogs are skinless. The small intestine of sheep provide most casing. They are precooked before packaging Because an unopened, packaged hot dog can have listeriosis bacteria, it is safer to heat them, especially for pregnant women and people with suppressed immune systems. (Indeed, I’m happy I’m reading this history and sociology of the hot dog when I’m 84 instead of 14!)

Parents with small children, beware. A U.S. study found that 17% of food-related asphyxiations among children younger than 10 were caused by hot dogs. So cut the HD in small pieces because emergency doctors say it is almost impossible to dislodge bigger ones from a child’s windpipe. 7-Eleven (for my German readers, those of the hours of the shop’s A.M. opening and P.M. closing) sell the most grilled hot dogs in North America, 100 million yearly. That’s a lot of dog. By the way when a young person shows off in sports or personal relations, we call him/her a hot dog. Hot dogging is mainly an immature pain in the neighbors who must suffer it!

As for Condiments, the U.S. based National Sausage and Hot Dog Council in 2005 found mustard to be the favorite treat (32 percent) ketchup (23), chili con carne (17),relish (9)onions (7). I’m a mustard man: defective ketchup at Holy Rosary Academy wrecked my tongue for good on ketchup.

Outside the U.S. hot dawgs ain’t what they used to be: In New Zealand, it refers to a battered sausage, often on a stick. Our version is called “an American hot dog”. Where there’s a Guinness, there’s a way to shoot for the moon. The world’s longest HD was 179 feet long in a 198 foot bun, prepared by the Shizuoka Meat Producers for the All Japan Bread Association.

This super, un-American HD was the centre piece of a media event in the Akasaka Prince Hotel, Tokyo, on the 50th Anniversary of their Bread Association. Not to be outdone at its own game, Joe Calderone made a $69 HD for his beloved Trudy Tant, assembling truffle oil, duck foie gras, and truffle butter. No report of their full blown romance. (Joe was hot dogging it big that night!)

By the way, Tante U’s dessert was superb—a cake adorned with her homegrown strawberries.

Saturday, 10 December 2011

Friday, 9 December 2011

Quid Pro Quo

Re: A Band of Gentle Occupiers:

Isn't it about time many rich, guilty suits finish their education behind bars? There are two (even three) sets of justice in America. Black sellers of drugs go to jail. Their white customers go Scot free.

Take the bad example of George Bush who set a new record for executions in Texas. The first of his illegalities were multiple DUIs. No punishment.

Then we paid a million dollars to train him as a jet pilot who ended up in the Champagne Squadron, a scam to keep rich folks from going to Vietnam. Then he went AWOL to Alabama to help a friend in an election. No punishment. Then as the most incompetent business man ever to become President, he flopped four times, the final time selling his worthless stock in insider trading.

The SEC slapped him on the wrist instead of putting him in handcuffs. And with that loot became a Texas Ranger millionaire, with the city paying for his ballpark.

Our double (even triple) justice system began with black slavery and red genocide. If we don't learn the meaning about our "equal justice under law clause" we ought to become the latest third world country. Sad but true.

Thursday, 8 December 2011

Wednesday, 7 December 2011

Man of Letters

Regarding Release of Hemingway's Letters Casts Author in New Light:

Your fascinating Hemingway report reminds me of Joseph Epstein's rapping the knucleheads he blames for the disappearing English major. Please let a professor who escalated from a Carnegie Foundation Postdoctoral grant at Penn (1957-9) to create a new course on how to cope humanistically with Mass Culture to full professor/ English chair in 1962, but walked away from tenure in 1982 because I thought (correctly) that I could serve the Humanities better as an alternative journalist, "Hazard-at-Large" in Philly, than watch my colleagues stumble before the threats of a trivialized culture instead of building mature trends within it. I note that it wasn't an Ivy college which is marvelously revealing the real Hemingway, but Penn State, long mocked as a Cow College.

Recall that in 1927 (my birth year!) Vernon Parrington gave us the first coherent overview of our newly emerging American Lit--at Washington State, another innovative Cow College. The Ivies were still playing Matthew Arnold to pre-vernaculars. That was the era when NCTE was founded to link scholarship with our public schools, which MLAers were too snooty to stoop to.Their Great Books was the theology of the newly secular. They were striving for Biblical certainties rather than aiding flourishing virtue in the undereducated.

I was teaching for 20 years before I learned accidentally from the marvelously eloquent working class Brit Richard Hoggart that the essential final clause of Arnoldian criticism was to bring the best that was thought and said "to solve the problems of the new industrial societies." The Humanities, intimidated by the rising intellectual respectability of the sciences, at first just decided to perish while publishing tenure-needed books for their peers, followed by the disgraceful decades of trying to replace literacy with European mystiphysics. The Cassuto/Epstein spat is essentially a bumbling to extricate ourselves from those two wasted decades of trying to compete with the sciences instead of teaching mass man to think for himself. The sad outcome so far is a society of kindergartners who think Russ Limbaugh and Glenn Beck really think.

In my final years I found satisfaction in futurizing my American Lit course into International English, first adding AfroAm writers, then Appalachian whites, Caribbean writers (the BBC made that possible and productive),pairing British and American writers (Emily Dickinson and Gerard Manley Hopkins; Whitman and Arnold.usw.when I taught several summers in London), expanding to Canada, Australia, Nigeria, and India--whose reps met my classes there. International English Lit is future-oriented: Wole Soyinka and Chinua Achebe are more important than minor American writers.

And the Ph.D.must also be updated: translating to English from Chinese (or any other significant modern language) might be one required Prelim field. If not linguistic, than media oriented--mastering radio or TV in explaining the Humanities. I found doing radio and TV in Hawaii, for example, taught me very effectively how Asians regarded Americans, an understanding essential as they more and more share our global cultures. We will always cherish Shakespeare. But it's the diverse cultures interacting today we must civilize.

The wranglings of Epstein, however true his complaints often are, seem too old man grumpy for an openeyed Humanism.The past at its best is not always pertinent to our humane agenda today. Let's keep our eye on the ball:millions in Africa are dying of starvation and curable diseases. Millions of Americans, due to the fiscal shenanigans of Ivy economists who chose to side with the Cashocracy, are sinking into both fiscal and cultural poverty. How do you remain humane under such circumstance?

Tuesday, 6 December 2011


Diego Rivera's mural takes on Ford's River Rouge were my first modern enthusiasm at the Detroit Institute of Arts. And I loved that the traders at the San Francisco Stock Exchange had to risk a weak stomach on their way to lunch when they looked at his murals there.

Monday, 5 December 2011

Sunday, 4 December 2011

Saturday, 3 December 2011

Friday, 2 December 2011

Truth Telling

On Telling the truth about the Minnesota Historical Society:

American Exceptionalism is a myth made believable to US natives only because so much popular historiography is exceptionally mendacious when discussing our Original Sins of Red Genocide and Black Slavery. The idiotic fantasies of the Tea Party twits are their way of avoiding the painful truths about American History.

As a Ph.D in American Civilization, I doubt if we will ever stop lying to ourselves. Unless we listen to Truth Tellers like Michael Moore, Amy Goodman, Chris Hedges, and Bill Moyers, we will continue to stumble through the 21st century, enfeebled by the lies of American benevolence.

Thursday, 1 December 2011

Old-School Learning

On books and bikes, side by side.

While the Cultivated wrangle over zillions for their esoteric pleasures, Rasheed and his Tree House peers show what being civilized really means. Bless them.

Patrick D. Hazard, Weimar, Germany.