Thus, for the homework, am I delayed in keeping up this blog. The amount of reading in history is unimaginable. I’ve discovered there are no audio books on any of my required readings. I am being forced to think! What is the world coming to?
For my East European History class we have to write a History Question paper (worth 35% of our grade) based on an aspect of an autobiography by Hedda Magolius Kovaly’s book, Under A Cruel Star. If you think your life is hard, sister I suggest you read the book and thank your lucky stars. She was a Czech, living in Prague during WWII—when not in a concentration camp—and was there for the Prague Spring of 1968, when under a communist regime, tried to create a society for “socialism with a human face.” Sadly, the Soviets did not take too kindly to this and on August 20, 1968 pulled together the Warsaw Pact nations and they entered and stopped it like putting a cork back in a bottle of cheap chardonnay. Only if you have ever drank any cheap chardonnay, you know it still gets out.
My History Question, which is like a hypothesis is; What role did samizdat “self-published” underground publications play in the aftermath of the Prague Spring? Yep, that’s my question and I’m sticking to it. There was this rich underground group of writers, artist, philosophers and generally bad-ass thinkers in Czechoslovakia who created a “parallel culture’ (polis). I will keep you posted.
While I am on campus, I visit the student union, Coffman Union, from time to time. I’m reminded that a dear old friend of mine used to run much of the services there, while a student, 900 years ago; Mark Rice. Mark was one of the smartest, most brilliant, most thoughtful, most well read, most intuitive and most self-destructive men I have ever met. A brilliant man on any subject. A Mensa. A mensch. And a maniac. Mark was a polymath (a word claimed by many but he was the true deal) and could rhapsodize on any subject, and did he ever.
Back in the mid 70s, Mark and I were out in NYC for a photo shoot and had to stay over the weekend because of an equipment failure (a very high-tech camera for shooting temperature changes). So we stayed at The Algonquin (where Mark identified Ansel Adams on our elevator and talked his ear off) and spent more on restaurants and booze than our client could imagine. Mark suggested dinner at the Rainbow Room at 30 Rock, I’d never heard of the place but said of course, we’re loaded, thank yo Mr. Money Bags back in Minneapolis. Naturally we had the restaurant photographer take our picture and put it on the expense account. Those were the great old days of boondoggles and deep expense accounts.
Sadly Mark died late last week. It’s a shame if you never met him. You could have bought him a drink. He would have loved a chardonnay.
That is about it, except for one more update. For my Shakespeare class, we were asked to chose a sonnet we had not studied, upload a photo, illustration or something that represents the sonnet to us and write about it. I chose Sonnet 30 and rather than upload an image, created this:
More later, Yip Yip.