Against the Fall of Night

Photo by Roman.

It seems an apt title for the photo, if perhaps a bit portentously sentimental.

It’s also the title of science fiction author Arthur C. Clarke’s first novel, published in 1953. It was a classmate, Vicky Brown, who gave me a copy of the book in 8th grade or maybe it was high school. It is likely that I stammered out some thank you at the moment, but I’m certain I never told her just how bedazzled I was by the book.

Against the Fall of Night, as a book, is mildly unusual in that Clarke, a few years later, rewrote the book as The City and the Stars. The first version had been in the works since the late 1930s, but since then advances in science had

“…opened up vistas and possibilities quite unimagined when the book was originally planned. In particular, certain developments in information theory suggested revolutions in the human way of life even more profound than those which atomic energy is already introducing, and I wished to incorporate these in the book I had attempted, but so far failed, to write.” [preface to The City and the Stars]

I’ve become considerably less enthralled by Clarke in the decades since. Some of it is political. The techno-optimism of the 1950s has become rather less plausible over the years but consider also Clarke’s not-too-subtle endorsement of colonialism in the novel Childhood’s End. Then too, while Clarke had a real talent for sentimentality, when you find yourself expected to be all weepy over a lump of uranium, well that raises an eyebrow, at least for me.

But thank you for the book, Vicky, where ever you be, and in return to you and to everyone else: a lamp in the evening light.

Labor Day

Photo by Roman: May Day, Chicago, 2006.

Labor Day isn’t, really, unless you mean something like: Last call for alcohol; it’s the end of summer and time to get back to work. Also, while the idea for the holiday has its roots in organized labor, my humble opinion is that it amounts to President Grover Cleveland’s weak grin in the direction of old Sam Gompers (Gompers was born old.) and what remained of the railway Brotherhoods (fergitabout Debs). I mean… a buncha states had already adopted the holiday or something similar, but when originally enacted, the Federal version only applied to Federal employees…

Anyway, let’s celebrate the occasion of Labor’s day in the USA with something from the UK, The Longest Johns:

Saint Urho

Finland has been an item in the news lately as one of the blow-back consequences of Putin’s ill-considered adventure in Ukraine. But that’s not what this is about: We need to smile, at least. Voila! This video.

I stumbled upon this video about Saint Urho while visiting the blog of science fiction author Walter Jon Williams: “Here we have a history of Finland’s totally genuine fake hero, St. Urho. Who was born in a Minnesota town called Virginia.”

Totally true. Originally broadcast on PBS stations WDSE / WRPT.

Artists of the Wall, Year 2009

The “Artists of the Wall” is an annual event held in Chicago’s Loyola Park, usually in June, whereat members of the Rogers Park community decorate a 600 foot concrete retaining wall / park bench. While I’ve missed about half the years of this century so far, I’ve habitually taken photos of the work I like. The gallery below contains the photos that I like from the year 2009.

Click on any image to enlarge it.

If you want to see other images from other Artists of the Wall years, click on the AotW tag.

Two Upcoming Events

Haymarket Martyrs’ monument, the old Waldheim Cemetery. Photo by Roman.

May Day, the international Labor Day, is very much my holiday. Here are two upcoming events for those of you in the Chicago area. I would be very inclined to do both if I had my way. I would then also say: “See you there!” But alas I am a geezerly male and so that makes making such commitments a chancy thing. Maybe, then.

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Chicago’s Haymarket Free Speech memorial. Photo by Roman.

Haymarket Square May Day Commemoration

Sunday, May 1, 12:30 PM to 1:30 PM
DesPlaines St between Randolph and Lake, Chicago

“Italian unionists from the Federation of Metallurgical and Office Workers (FiOM) will join the ILHS at 12:30 p.m. on May Day, Sunday, May 1, to unveil their commemorative plaque on the Haymarket’s Square statue’s base. The base features plaques from labor movements around the globe, marking May 1 as International Workers’ Day.”

For more information, visit the Illinois Labor History Society’s calendar entry.

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DSAer Dave Rathke tends to the Mother Jones balloon. Photo by Roman.

Mother Jones’ Birthday Party

Sunday, May 1, 4 PM to 6 PM
Irish American Heritage Center, 4626 N. Knox, Chicago

Guest will include Flight Attendants President Sara Nelson, Irish General Consul Kevin Byrne, artist Lindsay Hand, musicians Paddy Homan, Kathy Cowen and the SAG-AFTRA singers, with emcee Chicago Federation of Labor Secretary-Treasurer Don Villar.

Admission is free but RSVP please at the Mother Jones Museum calendar where there is also more information.

Artists of the Wall, Year 2007

Since the early 1990s, there has been an annual Artists of the Wall event in Chicago’s Loyola Park wherein folks from the Rogers Park community sign up to decorate a portion of a concrete retaining wall / bench that runs along the Lake Michigan shore. Since the turn of the century, I’ve often taken photos of the parts that I like. To see all that I have posted of them, click on the AotW tag.

The photos below are the photos from 2007 that I like, sometimes of an entire panel and sometimes of just a detail. These were also not taken with a digital camera but with a largely automatic Pentax. The prints were scanned about a decade later.

This article is being posted on April 23, 2022. The 2022 Artists of the Wall event will be held on the weekend of June 18 and 19. Registration to paint one of the 150 spaces available will be online and take place over three days: May 1, May 3 and May 5, 50 spaces each day. For more information, visit the Loyola Park Advisory Council’s website.

Click on any photo below to enlarge it.

Artists of the Wall, Year 2003

This is another series of images captured from the annual “Artists of the Wall” event in Chicago’s Loyola Park. These are from the year 2003 and they are the images that I liked the best. Like the earlier “Artists of the Wall” posts this year, these were taken with a largely automated Pentax film camera. The prints were scanned a few years ago. A regular visitor to this blog might have been wondering if I had skipped 2003. So was I, but I found the files eventually.

2003 was the 10th Artists of the Wall event. Each year the organizers suggest two topics or themes for the artwork. Generally, people end up doing whatever they please, including sometimes addressing one or the other theme. My impression of 2003 is that people may have paid closer attention to the suggested themes than in most previous years but maybe not by much. But people here in the States do have a fascination with the odometer’s rolling zero.

Click on any image to enlarge it.

“Zeppelins”

April is National Poetry Month, and for the occasion Frank Hudson’s Parlando Project has been producing a series of “Lyric Videos” based on audio recordings of the poems done previously. The month is not even half over, but (so far) Hudson’s performance of “Zeppelins” by F.S. Flint is my favorite, though “Dunbar” is not far behind.

And of course, the poem is also so very appropriate to what is once again happening in Europe these days, not to mention elsewhere in the world none of which I’m not going to mention as I’m sure to shamefully leave somewhere or two off the list…

The term “lyric video” is also new to me though the practice is… not new. As a concept, though, it wraps up and gathers together poetry as oral interpretation and poetry as literature. As a bonus, one can throw in ancillary aspects like music, musicality, concrete poetry just to name-drop a few. Is pretty cool concept, methinks.