Monday, October 30, 2017

Notes on John Bigelow, Jr. and "Garrison Tangles in the Friendless Tenth: The Journal of First Lieutenant John Bigelow, Jr., Fort Davis, Texas"

A portion of the prodigious accumulation
UPDATE: Bibliography has been posted here.

As those of you who follow this blog well know, I live in Mexico City and have been at work on a book about the Trans-Pecos (that, is Far West Texas) for more than a spell. Books on the Trans-Pecos are sparse on the ground south of the border, so when I travel to Texas I always try to scour a bookshop or three. Thus have I accumulated a working library, including not a few rare and unusual books. For this sort of project, archival research is also important to do-- and I have done some-- but it can be woefully expensive to travel to and spend time working through archives. So whenever an historian has taken the trouble to transcribe and publish anything relevant from any archive of interest to me, I am triply grateful for such a find.

One example is the work by Douglas C. McChristian, a retired research historian for the National Park Service: "Garrison Tangles in the Friendless Tenth: The Journal of First Lieutenant John Bigelow, Jr, Fort Davis, Texas," published as a chapbook of about 60 pages by J.M. Carroll & Co in 1985. The copy I found is in excellent condition with, halleluja, a mylar cover and autographed by the editor.

Why is this excerpt from Lieutenant Bigelow's diary, from 1884-1885 in Fort Davis, Texas, so interesting and important?

The Tenth refers to the Tenth Cavalry, one of the African American regiments -- "Buffalo Soldiers"-- established after the U.S. Civil War, famed for its exploits in the West during the Indian Wars of Bigelow's time (and later, in the Spanish-American War, also of Bigelow's time, but that would be another blog post).

Fort Davis, tucked among the volcanic Davis Mountains, and surrounded by hard desert for hundreds of miles around, was one of a string of US Army forts set up to protect the El Paso Road.

To give an idea of the remoteness, Bigelow wryly remarks:
Fort Davis, Texas. Thursday Jan. 15, 1885 ... One is apt is a country like this to suspect everybody one meets with some discreditable reason for being here, without thinking that one is subject to the same suspicion oneself.


It was highly unusual for anyone to keep such a detailed, articulate, and thoughtful diary as did Lt. Bigelow. No doubt he was encouraged in this endeavor by his father, John Bigelow, a dedicated diarist himself, and newspaper owner and editor, author, ambassador, and publisher. (For one of my previous books, The Last Prince of the Mexican Empire, a novel based on the true story during the French Intervention in Mexico, I consulted Bigelow Sr.'s diary in the New York Public Library's Manuscripts Division. More about Bigelow, Sr. anon.)

Back to Lt. Bigelow. Writes McChristian of Lt. Bigelow's Fort Davis diary:

"A keen observer and a skillful writer, Bigelow left a vivid record of events and relationsips at the post as he witnessed them. He included no expeditions or battles, no heroics, no glitter-- only the realities of life on the frontier."

Nuggets in Lt. Bigelow's diary include:

Fort Davis, Tex. February 12, 1885 Have written to Chicago for 1/2 doz. base balls for the troop. The men have bats and bases. I hope my efforts to afford them recreation will counteract the unpleasant impression they receive from the extra drill that I give them and the increased severity of discipline to which I subject them.

The men were not so isolated as they might have seemed:

Fort Davis, Texas. Sat. Feb. 14, 1885... I read the report in the New York Herald today that Khartoum had fallen. From that paper I gather that the British do not comprehend yet the power of their enemy. They think of turning the tables with five or ten thousand additional troops. They will want five or ten times that many troops to conquer the Mahdi.

And Bigelow mentions meeting Quanah Parker:

Fort Davis, Tex. Tuesday Dec. 9, 1884. Have just returned from a call at Lt. Woodward's where I met the Chief of the Comanches in the Indian Territory [Oklahoma]. His tribe is not regarded as civilized. It is behind the Choctaws, Chickasaws, Seminoles. All communications with his tribe from the Federal Government go to him.  He assembled the heads of families with whom he discusses the matter. Ten years ago, says Woodward, this man wore a blanket and breech clout. Today he is dressed like any white man. He has two other Indians with him. All three are going tomorrow about 60 miles south of here to get a certain herb which they prize as a medicine. Clarke is to escort them with about 1/2 dozen men. Quanah has a determined, and intelligent, though not a bright look. His mother was a white woman captured in Texas when quite a child; who subsequently married an Indian.

[Quanah's mother was Cynthia Ann Parker and his father a chief, Nocona. The "certain herb" they were heading south to harvest was peyote cactus, then abundant in the Big Bend along the Rio Grande.]

Lt. Bigelow and Quanah are among the personalities I will be including in my book on Far West Texas. Apropos of that, this November I will be presenting a paper about Bigelow at the Center for Big Bend Studies conference at Sul Ross State University-- in heart of the Trans-Pecos. Indeed, there are continents more to Bigelow's life than his brief posting to Fort Davis and these few pages of his diary might suggest. The original diary, which spans many more years, including his earlier postings in the Texas in the 1870s, is in the United States Military Academy (West Point).

There is also a substantial archive of John Bigelow Jr. (and Sr. and family) correspondence during the Texas years (and much more) at Union College in Schenectedy, New York.

Bigelow's father, John Bigelow, Sr. was an ardent reader of Emanuel Swedenborg, having encountered the Swedish mystic's books on a journey to Haiti in his work as an Abolitionist (whew, yes, that is all packed into in one sentence! Never a dull moment with John Bigelow, Sr.). So I have been wondering to what degree, if any, his son might have been influenced by those ideas. I have little to go on at this point, but one comment in Lt. Bigelow's diary is suggestive:

Fort Davis, Tex. Dec 4, 1884... I have begun reading to Mary (a chapter every evening) a book that was given to her in Baltimore: Natural Law in the Spiritual World. I find it original, interesting, and edifying. 

Natural Law in the Spiritual World was a best-seller of its day; the author was Scottish evangelist Henry Drummond (1851-1897). As far as I can ascertain from a search through the digital edition of this book however, Drummond was not retailing Swedenborgiana.


FURTHER NOTES ON JOHN BIGELOW, JR. (1854-1936)

Bigelow's time at Fort Davis, as well as his earlier stints out west, when he was Fort Duncan, Fort Stockton, scouting around the Big Bend out of Peña Blanco (now Peña Colorado, a public park a few miles south of Marathon), and elsewhere in Texas, are well covered in the excellent biography by Marcos Kinevan, Frontier Cavalryman: Lieutenant John Bigelow with the Buffalo Soldiers in Texas (Texas Western Press, 1998).

Also of note is the masters thesis by Howard K. Hansen, Jr., "The Remarkable John Bigelow, Jr: An Examination of Professionalism in the United States Army, 1877-91," Old Dominion University, 1986, which provides a splendid introduction to Bigelow's oeuvre as a military intellectual, including Mars-la-Tour and Gravelotte; The Principles of Strategy; and The Campaign of Chancellorsville.

Today Bigelow's best-known publication is his series of 15 articles, "After Geronimo," based on the diary he kept as a cavalry officer with the Tenth in Arizona, which he published in his brother Poultney Bigelow's magazine, Outing in 1886-87. Some of these articles included illustrations by Poultney's Yale University classmate and friend, the soon-to-be-world-famous artist Frederic Remington. John Bigelow, Jr.'s  articles for Outing were collected and republished in 1958 as On the Bloody Trail of Geronimo, with an introduction and notes by Arthur Woodward.
Read this book for free on archive.org

John Bigelow, Jr. also fought in and wrote about the Spanish-American War of 1898. That book is Reminiscences of the Santiago Campaign, published by Harper & Brothers in New York and London in 1899.

From his obituary in the New York Times, March 1, 1936:

... Expert strategist and tactician, Spanish War veteran, geographer, author, college professor and descendant of a family distinguished in American history, Colonel Bigelow was well-known in military and social circles both in the United States and abroad.
His father was John Bigelow, United States Ambassador to France under President Lincoln, and his mother, the former Jane Tunis Poultney, a social leader of her day. Poultney Bigelow, the author, is a brother.
The colonel was born in New York on May 12, 1854. After attending private schools in New York, Providence, R.I., and in Europe, he was appointed to West Point, from which he was graduated in 1877. One Jun 15 of that year he was commissioned as a second lieutenant.
Promoted to first lieutenant on Sept. 24, 1883, he was made a captain on April 15, 1893, a major on Dec. 8, 1902, and lieutenant colonel on Sept. 15, 1904, being retired at his own request the same day. From 1887 to 1889 he was adjutant general of the District of Columbia Militia. 
Colonel Bigelow particularly distinguished himself during the Spanish-American War. He was wounded four times at the battle of San Juan Hill on July 1, 1898. For his heroic conduct then he was cited in general orders and received the Silver Star...


And I found him and his wife (née Mary Dallam) listed on p. 57 of the 1918 New York Social Register.  Bigelow was then at Rutgers College in New Jersey.

Much more anon.

Next up on my reading list is McChristian's latest, Regular Army O! Soldiering on the Western Frontier 1865-1891, published this year by University of Oklahoma Press.
> See the Q & A with McChristian over at the Civil War Books and Authors Blog.




> Your comments are always very welcome. Write to me here.





Monday, October 23, 2017

The Typewriter Manifesto by Richard Polt, Plus Cyberflanerie on Technology

 [Viva, Richard Polt! 
He says that if you send him your address he will send you this postcard.]

One of the themes in my work-in-progress on Far West Texas is the nature and pervasive influence of technology, especially digital technology-- but also other kinds of industrial and military technology.

So what's with the typewriter poem? The poem pictured above, "The Typewriter Manifesto," is by philosophy professor Richard Polt. I'm a big fan of his blog and his book, The Typewriter Revolution.

My 56 year-old Hermes 3000
works fine, no need to update the OX!
(Yes, ribbons are easy to score
on eBay)
Nope, I am not a Luddite, but yep, I use a typewriter on occasion. When needed, I also use a Zassenhaus kitchen timer, a 30 year-old finance-nerd calculator (I used to be a finance nerd), and a battery-operated alarm clock. Yes, I know there are apps for all of those, and yes, I actually have downloaded and previously used all those apps on my smartphone but, e-NUFFF with the digital! Too many hours of my day are already in thrall to my laptop, writing on WORD or blogging, emailing, podcasting, maintaining my website, surfing (other blogs, mainly, and newspapers, plus occasional podcasts and videos), and once in a purple moon, making videos. Most days my iPhone stays in its drawer, battery dead, and I like it that way.

But kiddos, this not a writer-from-an-older-generation-resisting-innovation thing. Back when I was avid to adopt new technology. I had a cell phone when they were the size and shape and weight of a brick. I started my website in 1999! I bought the first Kindle model, and the first iPad model. I was one of the first writers to make my own Kindle editions (check out my latest). I started podcasting in 2010. I even spent oodles more time than I should have figuring out the belles-and-whistles of iTunes' iBook Author app... and so on and so forth.
From Charles Melville Scammon's
"California Grays Among the Ice"
Whales! Magnificent outside!
Digestive juices inside!

In short, with technology, especially anything having to do with writing and publishing, I dove right into the deep end... and I have seen the whale. And it was not, is not, and will not be on my schedule to get swallowed whole.

(My schedule, by the way, is on my Filofax, a paper-based system, and paper-based for good reason.)

P.S. Ye olde "Thirty Deadly Effective Ways to Free Up Bits, Drips & Gimungously Vast Swaths of Time for Writing." I hereby remind myself to take my own advice.


CYBERFLANERIE ON TECHNOLOGY

Richard Polt's NYT Op-Ed "Anything But Human"

Mark Blitz explains Martin Heidegger on technology.

(The original pretzel-brain inducing essay by Heidegger, "The Question Concerning Technology," with its handful of profound points coccooned within copious noodathipious deustcher Philosophieprofessor fluffermuffer, is here.)

On the express elevator to the top of my To Read tower: Richard Polt's Heidegger: A Introduction

###

Recommended reading on technology:

E.M. Forster "The Machine Stops"

Kevin Kelly's What Technology Wants

Jason Lanier's You Are Not a Gadget

Dmitry Orlov's Shrinking the Technosphere

Ted Koppel's Lights Out

Matthew Crawford's The World Beyond Your Head


###

For those who can handle an esoteric discussion on technology without firecrackers going off in their wig, there is Dr. John C. Lilly:
And here is the Lilly interview with Jeffrey Mishlove, for "Thinking Allowed" (the one where Dr. Lilly wears his earrings and Davy Crockett hat).

###

Delighted to have surfed upon Tadeuz Patzek's blog, LifeItself. Patzek is a professor of petroleum engineering, recently chair of the department at University Texas Austin. He is co-author with Joseph A. Tainter of Drilling Down. I read Drilling Down on Kindle this week, then bought the paperback to read it again.

Brief interview with Professor Patzek:





See also the Texas Observer interview with Professor Patzek.
And here is what Patzek has to say about agrofuels in a long and extra crunchy lecture.


###

Nearing the tippy top of the "To Read" pile:
Philip Mirowski's More Heat Than Light: Economics of Social Physics
Douglas Rushkoff's Throwing Rocks at the Google Bus


####

Nearing to the top of the "To Listen" list:
Douglas Rushkoff's Team Human Podcast

###

A FINTECH NOTE-OID ON NACTEDAs

As for financial technology, "A Letter to Jamie Dimon" by Adam Ludwin is best thing I have seen to date on cryptocurrencies.

Ludwin's second most interesting quote:

"Cryptocurrencies are a new asset class that enable decentralized applications."

In other words, "cryptocurrencies" are not currencies as we know them. "Crypto" is too sexy a word for what these actually are. So let's call these puppies NACTEDAs. Rhymes with "rutabagas."

Ludwin's most interesting quote? Buried deep in the middle of his explanation of the nature of NACTEDAs is this colorful explanation of how NACTEDAs are generated or "mined":

"Now we need an actual contest... On your mark, get set: find a random number generated by the network! The number is really, really hard to find So hard that the only way to find it is to use tons of processing power and burn through electricity. It's a computing version of what Veruca Salt made her dad and his poor factory workers do in Willy Wonka. A brute force search for a golden ticket (or in this case, a golden number)."





This is not a point Ludwin makes (he sails on, with utter nonchalance): It is just a question of time-- maybe a loooooooong time, albeit perchance a seemingly out-of-nowhere-pile-on-Harvey-Weinstein moment-- until people recognize the environmental and social justice implications of such extravagant electricity use for generating NACTEDAs.

Can you say, opportunity cost?

As it stands, most people don't or don't want to grok where the magic invisible elixir that always seems to be there at the flip of a switch actually comes from.... which is, uh, usually... and overwhelmingly... coal. And neither do they grok that this flow of power is not never-ending, but a utility that can be cut off. Ye olde winter storm can do it for a day or so. More ominously, the grid itself can fail for lack of maintenance, or any one of one a goodly number of events-- it need not necessarily be some cinematically apocalyptic cyberattack or epic solar flare. Can you say Puerto Rico. Can you say Mexico City after the earthquake. Can you say what happens when you don't pay your bill. Or if the electrical company makes a mistrake. Lalalalala.

In any event, I wouldn't recommend a camping vacation on some random mountaintop in West Virginia any time for... the rest of your life.

####

And herewith, hat tip to Root Simple, Lloyd Kahn demonstrates his low-tech dishwashing method. The duck part at the end is charmingly weird.




> Your comments are always welcome. Write to me here.




Sunday, October 15, 2017

Medieval Party Music, Plus Cyberflanerie: Clive James on Lewis Namier; Ilya Zorn's Typewriter, Bob Lefsetz, Rachel Laudan & Etc

More and extra-wicked-effective email ninjerie... I am whittling down my Outlook Express inbox to the Medieval Music Party Mix:



Because of multiple household and office moves this summer and fall I have gotten so woefully behind with my correspondence that you might wonder how I can proffer advice on managing email (one of the top posts in the 11-year history of this blog). Well, gentle reader, point number 9 of my 10-Point E-Mail Protocol is...

....drumroll....

....boomwackers and bongo drums... 

... enter stage left, monkey in turquoise silk suit, a-banging a garbage can lid... 

....descending from ceiling, forest of gamelan bells... 

... and another... 

...drumroll...

APOLOGIZE.

Works better than a charm! And when it doesn't, well, the world keeps turning, with everybody on it managing as best they can. Somebody wins the lottery, somebody wins the booby prize, and the sun will rise again tomorrow replete with infinite possibilities, except for the dead who have, bless them all, achieved inbox verily zero.



CYBERFLANERIE

Grow new brain cells whilst reading Clive James on Lewis Namier!

Over at my other blog, Maximilian and Carlota, for researchers of Mexico's Second Empire & French Intervention, a post on Konrad Ratz's Correspondencia inédita entre Maximiliano y Carlota.

Life in a Typewriter Shop: The Amazing Story of Ilya Zorn and her Gold Royal Typewriter. (Yes, I have been pulled into the surprisingly charming orbit of the Typosphere...)

Nigeria-Norway fish connection via food historian Rachel Laudan. (As Laudan says, it's nerdy, but I say, Total Yum if you like salted fish and Quintuple Wow Yum if you happen to be fascinated by food history and economic history.)

Bob Lefsetz on the Enimem video. This is important reading about an alligatoresque moment in the swamplands of US culture and politics-- and precisely why it is such a moment-- and it is especially important reading for those (and that would include myself) who would sooner buy a rabid raccoon than download an Eminem tune. Hey, that rhymes! Uh oh. Naughty Muse.

"Casual empiricism suggests"-- I spotted this marvelous pompadour of a phrase over at Marginal Revolution blog, quoting one Todd D. Kendall. "Little gems": Not just a kind of lettuce! As casual empiricism suggests.


P.S. 

I am truly honored that Joseph Hutchinson, Poet Laureate of Colorado, has reviewed my latest Kindle, "Dispatch from the Sister Republic or, Papelito Habla," a longform essay about the Mexican literary landscape written with todo mi corazón. Check it out.


> Your comments are always welcome. Write to me here.





Monday, October 09, 2017

Notes on Poultney Bigelow, Author, World Traveler, Pioneer Publisher of "Outing: An Illustrated Monthly Magazine of Recreation"

[ POULTNEY BIGELOW, 1855-1954 ]
Andy Warhol must be twirling his wig there in some fuggy realm of the astral watching the Instagramming-Tweeting-Facebooking smombiedom of our day. So it seems, everyone and their neighbor's cousin's twinkle-eyed cat is a 24/7 celebrity in their own iPhone. A century ago, many a decade before Mr Warhol's meteoric flash through the bizarropheres of celebridom (which I daresay have reached their apogee with our Tweeter-in-Chief, DJT), celebrity meant something different, and if not always, at least usually a more curated and dignified elevation to social visibility, and perchance of a literary nature. Well! I'll leave it for our social historians to parse out the granular detail from that particular conceptual bramble-clogged tarpit. I'm just bloggin' here about POULTNEY BIGELOW, an obscure figure today, but a dazzler of a literary celebrity in his time. 

One measure of that celebrity: when he died in 1954 at 98 years of age, the New York Times granted him this lengthy obituary.


[ READ AN ISSUE HERE ]
The author of a raft of books and pioneer publisher of the sports magazine Outing, Poultney Bigelow has popped up on my radar because I am at work on a book about Far West Texas that will include some discussion of his older brother John Bigelow, Jr.'s articles about the Indian Wars, which Poultney published in Outing, along with illustrations by his Yale University classmate, Frederic Remington

> View Outing online. Also here.

> Next up on my reading list: G. Edward White's The Eastern Establishment and the Western Experience (Yale University Press, 1968).


JOHN BIGELOW SR.

[ JOHN BIGELOW SR ]
Poultney (b. 1855) and John Jr. (b. 1854) were the sons of John Bigelow, a skyscraper of a figure in US, New York State, New York City, and Panama Canal history. As President Lincoln's Minister to France, John Bigelow Sr. also had quite a bit to do with twisting Napoleon III's arm to remove his army from Mexico... and Abolition... publishing history... and Swedenborgianism....

See also this article about the Bigelow family homestead in Malden-on-Hudson, where Poultney lived his last decades.
"The First Family of Malden: Eccentric and Worldy" by Jennifer Farley, Saugerties Times, July 10, 2012

More about John Bigelow, Sr. and John Bigelow, Jr. anon.


ARCHIVAL RESOURCES ON POULTNEY BIGELOW

His papers are in the New York Public Library

Some letters to his father are in the John Bigelow Archive at Union College.


[ A wee selection from Poultney Bigelow's ouevre ]
BOOKS BY POULTNEY BIGELOW

The German Emperor and His Eastern Neighbours (1892)

Paddles and Politics (1892)

Bismarck (1892)

The Borderland of Czar and Kaiser: Notes from Both Sides of the Russian Frontier (1895)

History of the German Struggle for Liberty (1896)

White Man's Africa (1897)

The Children of the Nations: A Study of Colonization and Its Problems (1901)

Prussian Memories (1916)

Genseric: King of the Vandals and First Prussian (1918)

Prussianism and Pacifism (1919)

Japan and Her Colonies (1923)

Seventy Summers (1925)



A FEW GEMS FROM "SEVENTY SUMMERS"

Poultney Bigelow's best-known work is his memoir, Seventy Summers, in two volumes, 1925.

When he was a boy, as mentioned, his father was President Abraham Lincoln's Minister to France. Those familiar with Mexican history will recall that the French Imperial Army had invaded Mexico to support a return to a Catholic monarchy: the regime of Maximilian von Habsburg. By 1866, thanks in part to Bigelow's persistent pressure in support of the Mexican Republic, Napoleon III's support for Maximilian was waning, and the Mexican monarchy began to collapse. Poultney Bigelow (vol I p. 33):


[ The Prince Imperial of France ]
"The Emperor sent his only child, the Prince Imperial, to mark his warm friendship for Uncle Sam. It was a bitter pill for Eugenie, and still more for her Court, who had invested much money in Mexico. How they must have cursed the heretics, Lincoln and Stewart and Grant, for thus destroying their dreams of easy money!...  
"Prince Imperial was not so attractive to me... His hair was perfumed, oiled, and curled; he wore a velvet suit with a wide lace collar; he was pale, thin, and obviously on an official mission. An arm-chair became his baby throne, and behind it stood a forbidding Field-Marshal whose uniform was rich in decorations, and whose grandeur checked any impulse we boys might have cherished as regards a rough romp.
"My brother [John Bigelow, Jr] and myself were formally presented-- and amongst the many elders many compliments were exchanged, and much emphasis laid upon the Emperor's kindness so nobly manifested. But the formality was an empty one-- we did not play any games with His Imperial Highness, and he soon retired with his war-like equerry to tell his fond mamma that he had been among the American savages, that he had escaped alive, and was uncommonly glad at not having had to share in our brutal pastimes."

Playtime in Potsdam with Prince Wilhelm (1859-1941), whom he calls William, who would become Kaiser Wilhem II, was a marked contrast (vol I p. 76):

[ The Future Kaiser ]
"At the Neues Palais I was cordially welcomed by Prince William and his brother Henry... From the hour of my first visit until our departure for New York in the fall of 1872, I was an almost constant playmate of the future Kaiser... We romped about the great palace if the weather was bad, played hide-and-seek in the vast attic spaces, and once had the rare treat of working the stage machinery in the theater. Of course, as in the case of most normal boys, we compared notes on likes and dislikes. Prince William knew his Fenimore Cooper by heart, and thirsted for games reminiscent of Uncas and Leatherstocking."

Literary connections were multitudinous in the Bigelow household. Babe Poultney is held by Washington Irving (p.19), as a boy shakes hands with Charles Dickens (p. 54); and later visits with Samuel Clemens, aka Mark ("Dear old Mark!") Twain in Johannesburg and in London (pp. 165-168). On the poet Joaquin Miller (p.197):
"Joaquin (pronounced Walk-een by the initiate) had rented a cottage on my father's place near West Point, and acted the part of an interesting savage  slowly accomodating himself to the ways of the white man... On his head was a picturesque Mexican sombrero, beneath whose broad brim flowed a massive main after the fashion of Buffalo Bill..."
[ Jeff Davis ]
Giants of politics and captains of industry make their cameo appearances, among the former, Jefferson Davis (breaks up a dog fight with his bare hands p. 225), Theodore Roosevelt (vol I 272, vol II 194, 212 212....) and among the latter, Andrew Carnegie. With Carnegie, as with certain others, Poultney can be cutting-- and this apropos of Carnegie's annual visits on John Bigelow, Sr.'s birthday (p. 198):
"Carnegie awakened my dislike from first meeting him in the early 'eighties, and this instinctive feeling was further fortified by my father who was profoundly religious."

The scene in which Bigelow Sr invites his birthday visitor to finance the translation and publication of the works of Swedenborg would make a prize-winning playlet.

Poultney's first taste of Yale University did not suit him. He took a two year leave to travel the world. It would be difficult to overstate his adventures before starting Outing magazine: China, Japan, Papua New Guiness, Borneo, China... returning to Yale in 1876... and many more subsequent world travels...

At Yale University he meets Frederic Remington; together they take a drawing class (p. 301):
"The most difficult of all statues for a beginner was given us: the madly dancing Faun generally credited to Praxiteles. At long intervals the melancholy professor of drawing entered our cheerless room, gazed sadly at our clumsy crayoning, made a few strokes by way of emphasizing our clumsiness, and then disappeared." 


OUTING: AN ILLUSTRATED MONTHLY MAGAZINE OF RECREATION

The range of sports covered included bear hunting, moose hunting, salmon fishing in Canada, blowing up an abandoned ship in the waters off Madeiria, camping in Yellowstone , cruising to the Bahamas in winter, chasing Geronimo, tennis... Uf, I am breathless just typing all that.


IN OUTING: "AROUND THE WORLD ON A BICYCLE" BY THOS. STEVENS, ILLUSTRATED BY W.A. ROGERS

I just kind of went acorns & hazelnuts taking screenshots from the series of articles on biking, "Around the World on a Bicycle" by biking pioneer Thomas Stevens (1854 - 1935), illustrated by W. A. Rogers. 




























A FEW FURTHER NOTES ON "OUTING"

And here are a few of the ads in Outing-- which give an idea of the magazine's readers, or at least as the editor and his advertisers might have envisioned them:
















In general the articles in Outing are long, dense (no pull quotes), and sparsely if interestingly illustrated. The contrast with most of our contemporary magazines-- a froth of pull quotes, splashy photos and advertising featuring more splashy photos (for the most part of stick-thin people exuding  ennui, disdain, or immanent coma) and the whole of it but sprinkled with driplets of prose-- is striking. I quail to think of Mr Bigelow's reaction were he to have seen the likes of Sports Illustrated.

The prose in Outing gives me a yen for crumpets, or something. From the opening of a November 1885 "To the Pole on Sledges" by W.H. Gilder: 
"Do I think that any one will ever reach the North Pole? Most assuredly."
The poetry is, shall we say, evidence that literary tastes have since evolved. Herewith a couple of samples (after which point my bemusement wears thin):











YO, THEODORE ROOSEVELT!!!


[ Screenshot of an article by Theodore Roosevelt in Poultney Bigelow's Outing ]


[ A buff-looking portrait of Theodore Roosevelt by J. R. Chapin ] 



A CHAT WITH STANLEY IN THE CONGO


[ Later in this article there is a gruesome drawing 
of doing in a hippopotamus, not shown here.]



Notes about Poultney's older brother John Bigelow Jr, his career, and his reporting on the Indian Wars for Outing anon.

> Your comments are always welcome. Write to me here.





(a post on the English translation of Swedish mystic Emmanuel Swedenborg's book 
with an introduction by John Bigelow)


Monday, October 02, 2017

Spotlight on the Electric Grid: Ted Koppel's LIGHTS OUT, Plus Cyberflanerie

LIGHTS OUT
With the catastrophe in Puerto Rico in the news, I am surprised not to have seen more mentions in the media and the blogosphere of Ted Koppel's LIGHTS OUT. The subtitle of Koppel's book of 2015 is A Cyberattack, a Nation Unprepared, Surviving the Aftermath-- but when the grid goes down, it goes down, whether from a cyberattack or, in the case of Puerto Rico, from back-to-back major hurricanes.

We've all experienced a storm that leaves us for a few hours or even a few days without electricity. (As for me, I live in Mexico City where my barrio's transformer regularly crashes, especially in the summer rainy season. And a couple of times over the past couple of years the transformer just exploded, quién sabe porqué. So I keep flashlights charged and plenty of candles and matches handy-- which I rarely need for long. The Comisión Federal de Electricidad guys always show up, and they always manage to get it working again.)

But the grid going down for weeks or months, that is entirely different magnitude of problem. The most recent reports are that this may be the case in Puerto Rico for as many as six months. In his 2015 LIGHTS OUT Koppel spells out exactly what is now unfolding and likely to continue unfolding in such a circumstance. It is grim but important reading.


++++

CYBERFLANERIE

Sundry items on my radar over the past week:

Margaret Randall, "The Role of Small Presses in Fortifying Literature"
I came across this one when I was Googling up a certain small press in Texas... why? That would be another post... P.S. My post that mentions Randall's pioneer literary magazine, El Corno Emplumado. See also my longform essay on the Mexican literary landscape and the power of the book, "Disptach from the Sister Republic or, Papelito Habla"


David Allen's GTD Podcasts
GTD (Getting Things Done) is a methodology at once simple, powerful, and, for those who want to / are prepared to recognize it, based on something profoundly metaphysical. (Whoa! No, I have nothing to do with his church!) Anyway, for those who might be interested, the way I use GTD-- certainly not the only way to do it-- is with a Filofax, oodles of PostIts, and individual files for upcoming events and travel in a free-standing stand at-hand, right behind my desk. These GTD podcasts were a lifesaver of a refresher for me this week; I have been in the crazy-making midst of moving house, and not for the first time this year.
P.S. "Why I am a Mega Fan of the Filofax Personal Organizer"


Alice Friedemann's Groovy-Goofy Cracker Video

CLICK HERE TO WATCH THIS GROOVY-GOOFY VIDEO
Because I have been contemplating interstate highways and trucks... and oil... (as those of you follow this blog well know, I am, after all, writing a book about Far West Texas) I have belatedly come upon the work of Alice Friedemann. I have never met her, but perchance, my grandfather, chemist Frank R. Mayo (1908-1987), would have known her grandfather, geologist Francis Pettijohn (1904-1999); they were of the same generation, both spent time at the University of Chicago in the late 1920s... although, who knows? I have yet to read Alice's book, When the Trucks Stop Running: Energy and the Future of Transportation, but I shall... I am anxious to read it because I found her interview with James Howard Kunstler worth listening to thrice. I shall also try her cracker recipe, looks yums. In the video she also talks about her book, Crunch!

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