D.H. Lawrence’s Ashes: What the Heck Happened To Them?

My dad told the one in which Lawrence’s widow Frieda and her Fascist Italian army officer lover left Lawrence’s ashes at a railway station platform in an excess of passionate disorganization. Some of the other stories are below.

  1. LAWRENCE was buried in the old Vence cemetery on a March 1930. His remains were exhumed in March 1935 in the presence of Mrs Gordon CROTCH, an English resident, and incinerated at Marseille on March 13. A wooden box holding a sealed zinc container in which were his ashes, was then delivered, together with the appropriate transatlantic transport authorization by the Prefecture, dated 14 March, to the former captain of Bersaglieri Angelo RAVAGLI, at that time the factotum and lover of Lawrence’s widow. His mission was to take the ashes to Taos (New Mexico) in “a beautiful vase” specially ordered by Frieda for this purpose. The ashes brought to Taos by RAVAGLI in grotesque cicumstances were cast by him into the concrete slab of a “shrine” which he built at the KIOWA ranch at San Cristobal near Taos.
  2. When Baron de HAULLEVILLE and his sister-in-law Rose NYS-de HAULLEVILLE (who knew Ravagli through the Huxleys) were Ravagli’s guests atTaos, Ravagli after partaking from a bottle of bourbon, confessed late one night to having dumped the box and ashes between Marseille and Villefranche (where he was due to sail on the Conde di Savoia), so as to avoid the expense and trouble of transporting them to the USA. When in New York he collected Frieda’s vase, mailed “to be called for” from Marseille, and put into it some locally procured ashes which he took to Taos.
  3. The following year Frieda had his body exhumed, cremated and the ashes brought to Taos. Her plan was to have the ashes housed in an urn in the memorial but Brett and Mabel Dodge Luhan wanted to scatter the ashes over the ranch (while Lawrence was alive the three women often competed for his attention). In response, Frieda dumped the ashes into a wheelbarrow containing wet cement and exclaimed, “now let’s see them steal this!” The cement was used to make the memorial’s altar. There are other stories concerning the whereabouts of Lawrence’s ashes but this one is the most widely accepted.

Oh Frieda. Oh Captain Ravagli. Oh dear.

Unhappy Anniversary: 1968-2008

There are a few reasons 2008 will be 1968 in the U.S. Notably, the Democratic Party has fallen apart and will nominate an unelectable candidate in a fixed convention. It won’t be necessary for cops to remove their badges and beat up delegates this time.

It’s likely that an unpopular war will have its worst year yet.

Let’s hope that the worldwide events of 2008 don’t match 1968, though. Let’s review, in roughly chronologic order, how much fun that year brought us:1968 blam

There were some good things that year too, but I don’t think they make up for the body count and the loss of freedom and the defeat of idealism worldwide. Let’s hope we get a better 2008.

Note: links are to Wikipedia because I am lazy.

Wouldn’t have had much fun in Stalingrad

vanmojo alerted me to something very special about this year’s Rose Parade. For those outside the US, the Rose Parade is a huge New Year’s Day event connected with the Rose Bowl college football game. Corporations make giant floats, high school bands march, and it goes on forever.

Because 2007 will be the 30th anniversary of Star Wars, George Lucas will be the grand marshal. And also because of this, the 501st Legion will be marching in the parade.

charity stormtroopersHaving a lot of Star Wars stuff in the parade sounds cool. Maybe some of the actors from the original movie, or a bunch of wookies. But no. This will be a large gathering of the Imperial Stormtroopers marching by in review.

The 501st has a long and hilarious history of charity appearances, each of which is more like an Onion article than the others. And they’re just costumed nerds, I know.

So I guess it’s perfectly fine to have the brutal, oppressive cannon fodder minions of the dark Empire marching proudly in our parade. You know, the ones who kill and burn Luke’s family at the beginning of the original movie. And it’s totally cool also to have a group named after the Nazi murderers who slaughtered millions of innocents in a horrific war of aggression, carrying out the most notorious genocide in the history of mankind. In fact, it should be awesome!

No wait, it’s that other thing: shockingly ignorant and offensive!

Someone please tell me this is a long drawn-out prank by Mel Brooks. Please.

Edit:Lucas’ extensive ripoffs from The Triumph of the Will just aren’t helping here either. Pasadena is the new Nuremberg.

RIAA, 1700

This mode of travelling, which by Englishmen of the present day would be regarded as insufferably slow, seemed to our ancestors wonderfully and indeed alarmingly rapid. In a work published a few months before the death of Charles the Second, the flying coaches are extolled as far superior to any similar vehicles ever known in the world. Their velocity is the subject of special commendation, and is triumphantly contrasted with the sluggish pace of the continental posts. But with boasts like these was mingled the sound of complaint and invective. The interests of large classes had been unfavourably affected by the establishment of the new diligences; and, as usual, many persons were, from mere stupidity and obstinacy, disposed to clamour against the innovation, simply because it was an innovation. It was vehemently argued that this mode of conveyance would be fatal to the breed of horses and to the noble art of horsemanship; that the Thames, which had long been an important nursery of seamen, would cease to be the chief thoroughfare from London up to Windsor and down to Gravesend; that saddlers and spurriers would be ruined by hundreds; that numerous inns, at which mounted travellers had been in the habit of stopping, would be deserted, and would no longer pay any rent; that the new carriages were too hot in summer and too cold in winter; that the passengers were grievously annoyed by invalids and crying children; that the coach sometimes reached the inn so late that it was impossible to get supper, and sometimes started so early that it was impossible to get breakfast. On these grounds it was gravely recommended that no public coach should be permitted to have more than four horses, to start oftener than once a week, or to go more than thirty miles a day. It was hoped that, if this regulation were adopted, all except the sick and the lame would return to the old mode of travelling. Petitions embodying such opinions as these were presented to the King in council from several companies of the City of London, from several provincial towns, and from the justices of several counties. We Smile at these things. It is not impossible that our descendants, when they read the history of the opposition offered by cupidity and prejudice to the improvements of the nineteenth century, may smile in their turn.The History of England from the Accession of James II

a jaded hack is me!

Okay, so you all read “Perry and Me,” my account of how a $2.50 blurb caused famed rock star Perry Farrel to stalk the fuck out of me for months. I just ran across evidence of another bit of similar hilarity.

Another $2.50 blurb I wrote was for Henry Rollins in 1987. This was when Henry was just starting out on a literary career by doing “spoken word.” “Spoken Word” meant rock musicians doing standup comedy with occasional blank verse.

One of the regular venues for music and other things was BeBop Records, a little store on Reseda Blvd owned by a guy named Rich. In the mid to late 1980s Rich booked an impressive series of events there: live music, performance of all kinds, and art. Henry was slated to do one of his “spoken word” gigs there. I’d just seen Henry do this thing at UCLA and I wasn’t very impressed, but I didn’t pan it or tell anyone to avoid it; I just described in a very few words what it looked like.

Henry’s response is here: Hack Writer (.mp3, 5.3M). It went into a book, too, not sure which one.

The funny part was that not much later I interviewed Henry for publication. He actually came to my apartment in Hollywood on the bus from where he was living in Echo Park. I opened the door to see a very tentative and anxious rock star in black t-shirts and black shorts. He was clearly worried that I had taken his shtick to heart, but we had a good laugh and did the interview. I was impressed with how serious he was about publishing and writing.

By the time I saw him again, for another interview when he and Weiss were putting out Wartime, it was a running gag.

And now, of course, he’s Dick Clark. But that’s another story.

Annals of Family History: Our First War Here

My greatsomething grandfather Jacob arrived in the American colonies from Darmstadt-Hesse, Germany in about 1750 as an indentured servant. His brother Sebastian apparently bugged out and headed home at the end of his service, but Jacob liked it enough to stay in “Pennsylvanian Dutch” country with the other Germans. My family has had a presence in Lancaster County since, and in Ohio.

Family legend was that Jacob served in the Revolutionary War. My brother confirmed this a few years ago doing genealogy. I decided to take it a step further and contacted the National Archives’ Military Records Department. If you’re the relative of a U.S. veteran you can get anything they have, as far back as they have it, at a reasonable price. So, for $17 I requested and got Jacob’s records: the index card in his file and two pay stubs indicating his service and what he got for it. It looks like the pay was a bit late, but he got interest on it. There may have been a land donation, too. And of course, citizenship, since that’s not an issue when you’re on the startup team. Scans are below the cut, or in this flickr set.

cut for size

the story of project management! for kids.

When I was a young child in the long-ago 1970s, computers were used for something called Data Processing.

Data Processing was done with large machines the size of cars or at least major appliances. In order to make use of it, a customer would bring a problem to a person called a Systems Analyst, who would help the customer understand how Data Processing might help. Then the customer and the Systems Analyst would come up with a plan on how to get the customer’s work done.

The Systems Analyst would bring the customer’s problem into the Data Processing place, and give it to computer programmers. Along with other helpful people called Punch Card Clerks and Computer Operators, the programmers would produce software that helped the customer.

After that, when the customer had more data to be processed, it could be dropped off at the Data Processing place, where the Punch Card Clerks would put data in the software, and the Computer Operators would make sure the machines worked, and then finally the data would be all processed and given back to the customer in a neatly rubber-banded set of printouts on fanfold paper.

In the 1990s it was discovered that everything had changed. A customer could often mash fingers on keys and make the data process right there at the desk, without visiting the Data Processing people. Computers were interactive and talked right back to people, so that dropping off data and picking up printouts wasn’t necessary. And worst of all, customers could talk directly to programmers, it was discovered, and tell them what they wanted, and these new quick interactive computers could give results very fast. The programs were then given to the customers who took them off and used them in their own offices.

So the Punch Card Clerks and the Computer Operators and the nice person at the desk who took the data and gave back the printouts were no longer useful, and they had to go home and stop working at the Data Processing place.

Worst of all, the Systems Analysts lost their jobs too. They were expensive people, since almost all of them were old programmers with experience who had been promoted. They were all fifty years old and not retrainable and didn’t know much about PC computers or other new things. Their entire function had been removed, and suddenly their $60K jobs vanished. So all the System Administrators went home from the empty Data Processing places and sat in their imitation redwood veneered dens in their suburban homes and stared at the wall and drank highballs and then shot themselves in the head with large-caliber handguns.

It turns out that the computer programmers shouldn’t talk to customers after all. They are very optimistic people, for whom everything is almost done all the time. They often refuse to finish things or write down how they work. And they can be mean and weird and not very easy to understand, so that customers become frightened and angry and don’t want to talk to the optimistic people who don’t finish things and snort a lot and wear fedoras indoors. Things like this happened during the 1990s a lot, and many customers didn’t want to have any software if they had to talk to the computer programmers. It was time to bring back Systems Analysts. But they were all dead, because they had shot themselves in the head with large caliber handguns in their imitation redwood veneer dens.

So we have Project Managers now. They are different from Systems Analysts in that they are 30 years old instead of 50, they do not live in imitation redwood paneled dens, and they never did know how to program computers. They drive VW Passats and smoke marijuana and use lots of buzzwords, and they are very good at making customers feel comfortable. Many of them enjoy jam band music and are engaged to people named Chad or Alyssa. They do a lot of the same things the Systems Analysts did, so that the customers get their software but don’t have to talk to the programmers after all, because that was a bad idea. They tell the programmers when things have to be done, figure out on their own how long things will take, and dress much better than the programmers.

And that’s the story of how Project Managers were made.

Anchors aweigh

My father served in the U.S. Navy in the Second World War. For most of the war he was in the Pacific, serving as the radio officer and then the exec of a tanker. In general he had a “good” war; no fighting and a meal and a place to sleep.

One day the ship was to anchor in a bay on a Philippine island. My dad was on the bridge. They brought the ship to the appropriate place and the crew on deck dropped anchor, under the instruction of the deck officer, who was a new Lieutenant JG.

Ship anchors are big, and so are their chains. The anchor had to go down quite a long way in this case because the bay was deep. Everyone stood well clear as first the anchor and then a very thick chain (about two feet thick) roared through the port on the deck while the anchor hurtled toward the bottom.

Then it stuck. A tremendous amount of swearing ensued. With the anchor part way down, the people on the bridge had to keep the ship roughly in place with the engines at almost zero power, while the people on the deck tried to figure out how to unhook the anchor chain. One of the links had flopped crosswise and was being held in place by the anchor’s huge weight. What to do?

The sailors stood around arguing about the best way to handle this; it didn’t happen often. Finally our young lieutenant got tired of all this meat-headed yelling and decided to show his mettle by fixing the thing simply and quickly. He walked up and kicked the stuck chain-link loose.

With a tremendous bang and roar the link popped loose and rushed into the depths, and once again the chain was speeding through the port and they were on their way to anchoring. But where was the Lieutenant? They looked overboard, and around, and up and down. He’d just disappeared!

But my dad, from above, had seen what happened too fast for the sailors to see. The lieutenant had caught his foot in the chain link and been forced at incredible speed and pressure through a small hole on his way to the bottom of the sea.

That’s the story my dad told about safety with tools when I was growing up.