LOOK September 10, 1940

A magazine from dad’s old stash is probably one of the most interesting periodicals I’ve ever held in my hands. The publication date is one year before the tragic attack on Pearl Harbor. The issue of LOOK is a glimpse into the popular mindset of America before the United States declared war on the Axis Powers.

This copy of the magazine is seriously contaminated by mildew and other fungi, so I had to skim through it and photograph it outdoors in the sunshine. I’ll be more carefully archiving it later during a day with no wind and overcast skies for optimal copying. In the meantime, this magazine is stored inside a large food storage bag to protect my house from contamination.

A great number of you share my love of history and enjoyment of vintage/antique items, so I’m happy to share some highlights of this slice of history with you today.

Obviously, the cover was composed and ready for publication before the declaration of war. There was the electoral contest between Wilke and Roosevelt  a controversy and concern that year. There’s also the obvious error that Hitler was married, printed in the promotional square at the bottom left.

Among the more interesting visuals is found just inside the covers on the masthead page. It’s one of the first Gallup polls I’ve ever seen.

The Wendell Wilkie story was certainly authored before the war. It is a purely partisan political piece and has no mention of what he might do in the event of war. He is clearly against FDR’s run for a third term.

A sign of the times photo essay also mentions a factoid in the yellow box. “Ninety Niners are businesslike airwomen, ready to take over men pilots if we go to war.”

The most important feature story is the incomplete and somewhat inaccurate biographical sketch of Adolf Hitler. The piece may have been informed by the Nazi propaganda version of the dictator and his “personal” life. The giveaway is the misinformation about Eva Braun.

The Hitler piece continues with this double-page spread.

Within the collection of speculative writing is a puff piece designed to stroke the egos of LOOK magazine’s major advertisers.

Famed journalist Drew Pearson co-wrote a short article about a possible US-USSR wartime alliance.

Here’s another puff piece, that I’m glad was included.

There’s also the obligatory sports story of the day.

Watch this space for another post about a World War Two era magazine issue of note.

The Blue Jay of Happiness quotes cinematographer Vilmos Zsigmond. “In fact, I probably learned more about photography from studying black-and-white photography in those magazines (LOOK and LIFE) than I did from watching movies here. That’s the truth.”

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Minimalist Metals …Floral Friday

In these uncertain times, minimalism has regained a foothold in our culture. Minimalism is popularly referred to as stark or stripped down to only the essentials. It is simplicity made manifest. This week, I used three simple, sturdy, metal containers that display this concept.

The small, polished brass bud vase from India is not only simply styled, but is sturdy and proportionately very heavy. The solitary bloom provides just enough complexity to engage the eye.

Stainless steel is both easy to care for and luxurious at the same time. A trio of gerbera daisies provide the counterpoint for the mirror finish of the vase.

A brass luminary from a clearance endcap at a Target store is the inspiration to push back slightly from minimalism. Three poppies and greenery provide a more conventional appearing arrangement.

The Blue Jay of Happiness quotes His Holiness the Dalai Lama.  “People were created to be loved. Things were created to be used. The reason why the world is in chaos is because things are being loved and people are being used.”

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Happy Space Exploration Day

I think today should be celebrated in the same manner that the US celebrates Columbus Day. Perhaps it should even supplant Columbus Day. But, that’s just my opinion.

Throughout the Americas, Columbus Day commemorates the anniversary of Columbus’ landing in the Americas. Space Exploration Day the first landing of humans on the Moon.

Because we are relearning the motives and actions of Columbus and his fellow Conquistadors, his name and the holiday have become controversial. Meantime, When Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin walked on the Moon the peoples on Earth were united in wonder and awe. The first humans on the Moon was a landmark event that was of great magnitude with magnificent implications.

Space Exploration has created a whole new paradigm through which we can judge our species’ accomplishments. A completely new and positive way of looking at the world and the Universe around us has been made possible through the continuing efforts of the people involved in Space programs in various nations around the globe. I do not understand why July 20th is not already an official national holiday.

As long as humans have existed, we have been curious creatures whose urge to explore is one of our dominant traits. When we see something, we want to know more about it. We want to touch it. We want to fully understand it. Probably the oldest mysteries to humankind have been the sky and the objects in it. All the planets of the Solar System except our own are named after a god or goddess.

Even though that first Moon landing in July of 1969 triggered a new generation of explorers, It wasn’t the first event, nor the last one to do so. The history of Space exploration parallels our modern age.

The general public was spurred into action when the Soviet Union launched Sputnik 1 on October 4, 1957. The next great landmark took place on April 12, 1961, when the Soviet Union launched the Vostok 3KA-3 spacecraft carrying Yuri Gagarin into Outer Space. He became not only the very first human to travel into Space, he was the very first human to orbit the Earth.

Further developments and human missions by both the USSR and the United States led to the incredible goal of sending humans to the Moon. From that date, onward, there has been a continual drive by nations everywhere to have their own space programs. This is not surprising. Space represents unlimited potential.

The process of Space Exploration continues today. You can check out a site right now and witness it for yourself.  http://www.ustream.tv/channel/iss-hdev-payload  (If the visual is dark, wait patiently for an eventual image.) The International Space Station is a work in progress with a crew of people from various nations. The ISS is an example of how we can all work together towards positive, constructive ends.

So, don’t think of today’s unofficial holiday as a celebration of only Apollo Eleven. Today is when we commemorate some of our grandest visions. Space exploration takes us away from the pettiness of life and reveals a grandeur that is as infinite as the Universe.

The Blue Jay of Happiness recommends this website to you:  http://www.spaceexplorationday.us

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My trucker friend, Jorge, stopped by yesterday on his way to Sioux City, Iowa. My pal said he had just had an epiphany or a mental flash that caused him to slow down on the road in order to avoid an accident.

Jorge was on a lonely stretch of highway in central Nebraska and had been listening to a podcast on which Neil deGrasse Tyson was the day’s guest. Dr. Tyson had just explained the “event horizon” of a black hole to the podcast’s moderator. “All the stuff within the event horizon is collapsed to an infinitesimal point at the center.”

The astrophysicist described a gruesome, hypothetical example of himself being sucked into the black hole. As he approached the event horizon, his body would be snapped in two, then those halves would be snapped in two, those pieces would be broken in two, then on and on until only the atoms remained, then they broke down into subatomic particles.

Jorge said the epiphany probably happened because of a combination of factors. It was nearly time for his highway rest break. He was hungry for a snack. His mind had been concentrating on the podcast. The topic was fascinating. The flash of insight then happened when Tyson said the process of getting stuck in a black hole was called “spaghettification”.

The absurdity of the name triggered an uncontrollable fit of laughter that almost caused Jorge to pass out from hyperventilation–the reason he slowed the truck’s speed. It was while Jorge resumed driving at the speed limit that the realization happened. It was at this part of the story that my friend stopped talking and just sat and smiled at me.

He could tell that I was getting eaten up by curiosity. He remained silent until I gestured with my hands for him to continue his story.

Jorge began by asking me about the fundamental concept about the absence of a separate self. Some Eastern teachings seem to imply the existence of a separate self, but they stop at the point of affirming such an idea. A related teaching goes on to explain that reality is actually an undivided whole. Jorge said he has long understood this dilemma on an intellectual level, but hasn’t actually felt it.Jorge smiled again. “When Tyson said ‘spaghettification’, all the pieces fell in place. That’s what triggered my big aha moment. I felt the concept in a spiritual sense.”

I said, “So that was your moment of Zen.” Then we both had a good laugh when Jorge said that he had a classic case of arriving at an epiphany. That is after mulling over a big problem for a long time, a profound realization just pops into the mind.

Jorge then mentioned that he began to think about another scientist, Johannes Kepler, and his realization. It was Kepler who speculated about various aspects of the Universe in relation to musical harmonies. He had been studying the ideas about the nature of the Universe by other astronomers. They failed to provide a satisfactory explanation about his own observations and calculations. Then, one day, Kepler experienced a realization, seemingly out of thin air. He writes it down and goes on to postulate his own concepts regarding the geometrical basis of the Universe.

Jorge asked if I had ever had any sudden realizations about anything.

I mentioned that mine happened after I had been pondering the same questions about the nonexistence of a separate self that Jorge mentioned. I didn’t have the lucky coincidence of having Dr. Tyson’s quip about black holes. My aha moment happened after many contemplations on the subject. Then, while walking to work one day, out of nowhere, the realization hit me like a ton of rocks.

I explained that most of my huge realizations come about in small steps. I understand small pieces of a mental puzzle, then it’s like the pieces of the puzzle slowly come together and the combination of them appears as the whole notion. It’s difficult to explain what happens. Some people might say I have visions of concepts.

I then said I had just come to the realization that Jorge might be thirsty. Would he like something to drink? We then adjourned to the kitchen to talk about the rest of his trip to Sioux City.

The Blue Jay of Happiness quotes the writer, David Jauss. “The best epiphanies approach their revelations indirectly, through imagery, metaphor, and symbol rather than through direct statement. In short, they arrive with some elusiveness, like insight itself.”

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30 Year-Old Slides From New Mexico

The Nebraska weather has been so hot and muggy that I’ve kept myself indoors in order to stay happy and healthy. This means that some of my archiving tasks are receiving renewed attention and effort. That means the main job of digitizing all of my Carousels of slides.

As luck had it, the next Carousel was loaded with Fujichrome images that I shot in July of 1987 on a car trip to New Mexico with my friend Sean. I popped the tray onto the projector and allowed nostalgia to guide the show. Nearly all of them were gems, even the two that jammed the change mechanism.

It was difficult to select just a few to share with you today on the basic WordPress format. So, I carefully gleaned through the converted images and settled on these few standouts from the northern parts of the state.

The first slide was shot in the tiny village of Des Moines, New Mexico, where we spent our first overnight. We experienced one of the most beautiful thunderstorms either one of us has ever been through. The most amazing aspect was the timbre of the thunder. Ever since that evening, I’ve wondered why that thunder sounded so very different from any other.

When Sean and I stayed in Des Moines, the only resident we saw was the motel owner. There was no other sign of human habitation even though the marker sign claimed 178 people lived in the village. Most of the “downtown” buildings were boarded up or looked abandoned. They were perfect photographic subjects.

New Mexico is called “The Land of Enchantment” for very good reasons. Our visit to Mount Capulan felt mesmerizing in so many ways. The views are very “painterly” and majestic. The haze caused by the previous night’s thunderstorms added to the etheric appearances.

The state has a long history, that is evident in its many historical sites. One of them is the decrepit Fort Union. Only portions of walls remain standing. The old army fort sort of reminded me of Stonehenge.

We were tired from our day’s explorations, so we decided to stay in Las Vegas. New Mexico’s Las Vegas is much different than the glitzy Nevada city. No, we didn’t stay in these abandoned rooms. There was a nice mom and pop motel with all the modern conveniences of 1987 for us to enjoy.

We were intrigued by Taos Pueblo aka Pueblo de Taos, a small settlement that is thought to be one of the oldest continuously inhabited communities in the US. Yes, there are people living in these ancient buildings. At the entrance to the town, we paid a camera fee and given a paper tag to attach to the camera strap. We were then permitted to wander around the Native American town and snap photos to our hearts’ content. Taos Pueblo is near the touristy town of Taos, that is north of Santa Fe.

I couldn’t get enough of all the archaeological sites in New Mexico. There are numerous ruins of places where Pueblos and other native peoples once lived. One location is Salmon Ruins near Bloomfield, New Mexico. There were remnants of ceremonial structures called kivas that were interesting to see.

A major highlight of the trip was our stop at “Aztec Ruins National Monument”. It’s managed by the US Park Service and at the time, was an active archaeological investigation site as well. Every area of the dig was awe inspiring. I wished I could have stayed for months to explore every nook and cranny.

After a long drive, we arrived at the northwestern section of the state. The most noteworthy landmark is “Shiprock” a large geological feature that rules the high-desert of the Navajo Nation. The gigantic rock is historically important in the Navajo people’s traditions and religion. The native name for the landmark is “winged rock” (Tsé Bitʼaʼí).

The Blue Jay of Happiness quotes film actor/producer, Bill Hader. “Las Vegas, New Mexico has had a lot of great movies shot there.”

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In The Doghouse

One of the first idioms many of us learn is the odd saying “In the doghouse”. That is a person is in the doghouse because he or she has fallen in disfavor because of some mistake that was made by that person.

I don’t know of any instances where somebody has really been exiled to an actual doghouse for punishment, aside from comical scenes in movies or teevee shows. “In the doghouse” is sometimes used synonymously for cases when the husband is told that he will be “spending the night on the sofa” as punishment for some transgression or error. While both phrases are used figuratively, the sofa punishment is sometimes literally carried out.

Both idioms are usually used in the context of a domestic relationship such as when the husband neglects to remember a wedding anniversary or the wife’s birthday. This stereotype is not restricted to opposite sex domestic relationships. Believe me it happens in the LGBT world, too. If you don’t want to be sent to the doghouse or spend the night in the living room, please remember your partner’s feelings.

A few years ago, I was the person sending my partner to the doghouse. He claimed he had totally forgotten our special dinner date for Valentine’s Day. We had made elaborate plans for the evening, but he didn’t even bother to phone that he had to work late. It felt to me, like a total snub. When he finally arrived, he hadn’t even remembered to bring a Valentine’s card. Yeah, it was that bad. Needless to say, he spent the night on the sofa in my den.

The Valentine’s Day incident was an anomaly. Usually, I’m the forgetful or neglectful person. I’m often left to try and figure out why someone is angry with me. By default, I’m usually the one who’s in the doghouse with some person.

Being in the doghouse is not necessarily restricted to the domestic scene nor to gender. Sometimes the news media will say a senator is in the doghouse with her constituents over some vote or statement about an issue. We understand that she will not literally spend the day in a doghouse, but wouldn’t it be wonderful if she did?

If you find yourself in the doghouse, or spending the night on the sofa, how do you get out of the situation? Sadly, there are many folks who don’t know how this is done. First and foremost, never overlook the sincere apology. Couple the apology with the authentic vow to do better in the future. If the situation merits, don’t underestimate flower power. The day after that one infamous Valentine’s incident, my bf  bought me a handsome arrangement of Shasta daisies–my all time favorite flowers.

The Blue Jay of Happiness likes this tidbit from Ogden Nash: “A door is what a dog is perpetually on the wrong side of.”

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