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. 

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