Saturday, December 31, 2011

Lady Liberty Rubber Ducky

Rubber Ducky Mark 1 ****************** ****************** Above: Rubber Ducky Mark 1 purchased 1994. Below, Rubber Ducky Lady Liberty, 2011 Rubber Ducky Liberty Rubber Ducky Liberty 1 Rubber Ducky Liberty 2 Rubber Ducky Liberty 2a Rubber Ducky Liberty 3 A few years ago, back in 1994 when I had to have an operation for a slipped disc and the neurosurgeon told me to take hot baths for my back, Donna bought be a rubber ducky, which I have kept ever since. Donna and her girlfriends were just up in New York and she brought me back a Lady Liberty Rubber Ducky. Unfortunately when I placed the new Lady Liberty Rubber Ducky in the bathwater this evening, in preparation for us going out to a New Year's Eve meal at Gertrude's Restaurant at the Baltimore Museum of Art, where we have been on New Year's Eve previous years and always enjoyed, the poor Lady Liberty Rubber Ducky went down headfirst in the bathwater which made me laugh... I had to call Donna in to see. Maybe that's why Lady Liberty Rubber Ducky has that startled look on her face! ******************  Below are a few sunset pictures of Baltimore taken yesterday in the waning hours of 2011. Baltimore Sunset 1 Baltimore Sunset 2 Baltimore Sunset 3 Baltimore Sunset 8 Baltimore Sunset 6 Baltimore Sunset 7 Baltimore Sunset 9

Dimly seen in several of the photos is a Geico Insurance billboard. The Geico "Gecko" looking down with the words "Want to Save Money?" Like the eyes of Dr. T.J. Eckleburg in The Great Gatsby in the Valley of the Ashes. The photograph below is an artsy rendering of a photograph taken at the same time.

Soft Focus Baltimore

It's how you see it --
this place you call home,
the scrag end of another year

as the cars whiz by
years stream by too.

You can't get a hold on
anything. . . can't find
a solution to the problems.

Christopher T. George

Soft Focus Baltimore

Soft Focus Baltimore, photograph by Christopher T. George

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Thoughts at Christmas 2012

D.C. Christmas Wreath 1

Christmas Wreath at Union Station, Washington, D.C.
on a recent evening.

Cold and chilly

Midwinter in the Palm House

Outside, it is snowing; a lone robin grubs
for millet seeds on the cement path.
Inside, it's steamy, banana plant fronds
stretch to the roof, platforms for monkeys.

Water blinks like an eye in a purple bromeliad;
bee buzzes trapped in nectar of a pitcher plant.
We explore musty forest of mosses and ferns,
hidden niches with white catleya orchids, throated

with speckled saffon. The snow melts on glass
above us, but in here it is eternal summer.
My hand presses yours; your thumb traces
a hieroglyph on my palm.

Christopher T. George

Donna and I went to Joey Chiu's Greenspring Inn last evening for Christmas Eve dinner where we exchanged gifts. They sat us overlooking a gentle stream and the lights came on in the shrubbery on the stream bank as we looked out. As we were leaving we remembered we had been there after I broke my left ankle. In fact, I had begun down the steps of our apartment house and slipped on the black ice. See link through the title for some thoughts and photographs on that episode. Happily, I have made a complete recovery, something to thankful for on this Christmas and as we go into 2012.

I actually made it into work in Washington D.C. on that morning but, as you might expect, in pain, and after talking to my boss, Sterling Williams, M.D., he advised me to contact my doctor, which I did. I was referred to PatientFirst where Donna and I drove after I arrived back in Baltimore by train. It so happens that the branch of PatientFirst is near the Greenspring Inn so after they x-rayed me and put me in a walking cast with crutches it was natural that we would go there for a meal and for me to have a gin and tonic (strictly against doctor's orders). They sat us by the window, overlooking a gentle stream. . .

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Loch Raven Review Literary Extravaganza: Review and Comments

Loch Raven Review Reading December 16 2011 mark 2

First a review of last night's event by Dave Eberhardt

Last night's Loch Raven Review literary extravanganza emceed by Chris George was an amazing success-with 30 + in attendance-a good number for a reading- many glittering personalities in the audience-

Many PIB (Poetry in Baltimore) members were represented, not just those published in the Review- which is, perhaps, Baltimore's classiest.

Mike North- the Bardmaster-channeling Johnny Cash in attire- raw, corruscating power

Danuta E Kosk-Kosicka- a poem read in Polish? a very dignified and noble presentation- must be descended from Polish nobility...look at that name!

Michael Salcman- serene, Olympian, classicism- most polished- Michael is a show stealer.

Alan Reese- most entertaining- with a lit up nose and poetry to match- Alan stole the show; when is he going to get that med mix right?.

Dino Pantazonis from Ohio- quirky, down home, highly accomplished work- appearance by his beloved Kiwi- definitely stole the show.

David Eberhardt- raw, corruscating power

Caryn Coyle- at once, pathos and sex represented in fiction- rock and roll- troggish

Charles Rammelkamp- a hilarious prose excerpt, a product garanteed to make you more youthful

Mike Monroe- a geek that turns into a Hell's Angel poet

Chris George- wonderful poetry about Mum- usual Liverpudlian brilliance; this reading was Chris's idea and Dave E helped with the organizing. Thanks to Neil and Jim of B & N. An added feature- Chris gave a bit of history about Johns Hopkins, who stared down upon us imperiously from a highly placed banner. He also described the Loch Raven Review and introduced fellow editors present.

Dan Cuddy- Dan's usual Carneyan brilliance....bounty from the county.

Julie Fisher- PIB mother dominatrix- her usual warm, quirky wit.

The reading went from 7- 8: 30 at the Barnes and Noble at 33rd and St./ Paul on 12/16. Mark Sanders could not make it- being under the weather. His poster with a sexy black haired Santress much admired.

Thanks, Dave.

In regard to merchant Johns Hopkins, whose money provided the endowment for the university and the hospital that bear his name -- I note that those institutions don't dare name it M&T University or anything like that, as with the way of things these days -- he was born in Anne Arundel County in 1795. At that time, his Quaker family owned slaves but along with a number of other Quaker families, the Hopkinses gave up their slaves, setting them free, showing some enlightenment. Of course some Quakers, notably flour miller Elisha Tyson (1749–1824), openly helped former African American slaves to escape in the Underground Railroad.

Johns Hopkins -- the name "Johns" is a family surname not a first name -- never married. He made his fortune in railroads at the time of the Civil War. The man was arguably a carpetbagger or war profiteer. When he died in 1873, he left his money to found the university and hospital, but before the will was read no one knew that his fortune would be used for that. During his lifetime, he had told nobody about his intentions. For all anyone knew, he had died an old miser.

One other Bit O' Trivia:

If you travel west on 33rd Street past the Bookstore, the street deadends onto North Charles Street, and you are facing the monumental head of Johns Hopkins mounted on a plinth. That monument used to be in the center of Charles Street and the traffic going both ways had to go around it. In 1954, there was a major traffic accident when two fire trucks collided when they were responding to a report of a fire at one of the student dormitories at the university. Two firemen were killed in the collision. It was after that tragedy that the statue was moved to the side of the road.

Johns Hopkins Statue

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Ferry 'Cross the Mersey

Gerard Fleming 2 Birds a Daffodil and a Queen

"2 Birds a Daffodil and a Queen" by Liverpool photographer Gerard Fleming (visit his website through the title above).

It has been a month since my wife Donna and I boarded the Mersey Ferry to scatter my mother's ashes in the middle of the River Mersey off Wallasey along with a few friends and relatives. The day after the ceremony, Donna and I were in the Imagine shop in the Mersey Ferry building buying a few things. Donna bought another red Liverpool hat for me (she had previously bought official Liverpool FC hats for me in the LFC store). The items that I bought were two CD's of Merseybeat music, one of them titled "The Mersey Sound: 30 Fab Original Merseyside Hits 1963-74" which includes the classic by Gerry and the Pacemakers, "Ferry 'Cross the Mersey" and liner notes by Gerry Marsden. I must admit that in those early days, 1963-1964, I preferred Gerry and the Pacemakers to the Beatles. Gerry and the Pacemakers' "How Do You Do It?" which topped the charts ahead of the Beatles, becoming the first Merseyside group to do so. Although the Pacemakers and the Beatles were the leading artists of the day, both signed to Brian Epstein's Nems Enterprises, they were just two of hundreds of acts to come out of Liverpool at the time.

The Mersey Sound

In addition to Gerry and the Pacemakers's hit about the famous ferry, the CD includes an upbeat opening to the collection, Gerry singing "A Shot Of Rhythm and Blues," followed later by "You'll Never Walk Alone" which remains a famous anthem for Liverpool's Reds as well as football teams around the nation, and his evocative "Don't Let the Sun Catch You Crying."

Also on the CD are artists such as Cilla Black, Billy J. Kramer and the Dakotas, and the Scaffold. The Scaffold were a three-man comedy group that included Paul McCartney's brother, Mike, who had renamed himself "Mike McGear", John Gorman, and well-known Liverpool poet Roger McGough, one of the "Liverpool Poets" along with Adrian Henri and Brian Patten. On the CD are included their hits as "Lily the Pink," "Liverpool Lou" (written by Irish writer Brendan Behan) and "Thank U Very Much," a hit in 1974, the most recent hit on the album. Cilla -- once the coatcheck girl at the Cavern under her original name of Priscilla Black -- and Billy J. Kramer and the Foremost, also included in the collection, were also among the stable of artists managed by Epstein, who I often think is the forgotten man in the Beatles story as well as in Liverpool entertainment history. It's nice to see recent commemoration of him on Merseyside. The the Neptune Theatre has been renamed the Epstein Theatre, and there's a Plaque on Epstein's Guest house on Anfield Road, former home of Brian's grandparents.

Some of the artists on the CD I frankly had never heard of, despite living in Liverpool at the time of the Merseybeat boom, I mean such acts as Cindy Cole, Steve Aldo, Lee Castle and the Barons, and The Kubas. I do remember the Swinging Blue Jeans, who were one of the leading groups of the day. It might be noted that the Fourmost's "Yakety Yak" is an excellent example of how the Beatles and other Merseyside artists, along with other British rock and roll boom acts, re-introduced American rock and roll and rhythm and blues to the United States, which is exactly what the British invasion largely comprised, as innovative as the Beatles and some other British artists later turned out to be. Two rather more sophisticated songs on the CD are Burt Bacharach and Hal David's "Anyone Who Had A Heart" originally recorded by their favored artist Dionne Warwick, but covered here by Cilla Black, her first big hit, and Billy J. Kramer and the Dakotas with "Planes And Boats And Planes." I remember my late Uncle Bruce, a family friend named Bruce Williams who was a Liverpool undertaker who wrote songs for the late Lancashire comic film star and music hall artist George Formby under the name of Eddie Latta, saying he was mystified by the structure of "Anyone Who Had A Heart." Another of Cilla's songs included on the CD is the classic "Liverpool Lullaby" written by Stan Kelly.

Friday, October 21, 2011

On the Death of Gaddafi

Not Gaddafi

Gaddafi: a petty desert dictator, shot down,
the Internet makes his brutal slaughter its own.
Primping despot with massive ego
-- no one mourns to see him go!

Inspired by "Ozymandias"

Some say the desert dictator was shot
in the skull with his own gold pistol
by a kid in a Yankees baseball cap.

The lone and level sands stretch on and on.

Western leaders and media pundits vied
to press the flesh of the tainted officer
who primped in medals and comic braid.

His wrinkled lip, his sneer of cold command.

So used to ordering death with the swish
of his fly whisk, oasis-emperor dragged
from his sewer hiding-place like a rat.

Look on his works ye mighty and despair.

Christopher T. George

Shelley inversion

"Ozymandias" by Percy Bysshe Shelley (1792–1822)

I met a traveller from an antique land,
Who said—“Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert. . . . Near them, on the sand,
Half sunk a shattered visage lies, whose frown,
And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command,
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
The hand that mocked them, and the heart that fed;
And on the pedestal, these words appear:
My name is Ozymandias, King of Kings;
Look on my Works, ye Mighty, and despair!
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal Wreck, boundless and bare
The lone and level sands stretch far away.”

The picture above the great poet's sonnet is a color inversion of a portrait of Shelley, an image perhaps more suited at this time of the year to his wife, Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley, the author of Frankenstein. You can read about Mary Shelley's unhappy life through the title to this blog posting.

Sunday, October 09, 2011

Yoria's Ashes, October 8, 2011

Yoria's Ashes

Photograph by Kev Keegan

Mum in the Mersey

As you wished
I followed your request
-- not so swish --
our hairdresser, Mr. Bill,
expressed the wish
to be "The Fairy 'Cross
the Mersey" in absentia.

So we gathered, we few,
to remember you,
a new adventure
on a blustery day,
Liverpool child set
sail for horizons wild.

Mum: the urn unwrapped,
I poured your ashes
down a varnished ramp
cast your ashes
onto the Mersey breeze:
gone, gone -- vanished
into the waters below.

Christopher T. George

Donna and I were here in Liverpool at noon Saturday for the scattering of my Mum's ashes from the Mersey ferry, as per her wishes. Yo Liverpool forum webmeister Kev Keegan kindly took the shots of us on the boat and later in the Crowne Plaza hotel at the Pier Head enjoying refreshments. Further photographs may be seen by clicking on the title of this blog posting. Following are remarks I posted on the forum.

Thanks to Kev for the great photographs and to all who were thinking of us at the moment when my Mum's ashes went into the Mersey. Kev, it was great that you could be with us to welcome my Mum home to Merseyside. As I stated in my remarks, my Mum and I left on the Cunard liner Saxonia from the landing stage in January 1955 bound for New York, and though she henceforth lived in the U.S., mostly in the Baltimore area except for a year in Connecticut when my Dad worked at a hospital in Wallingford, she never forgot her English and specifically Liverpool roots. When I asked where she would like her ashes scattered she said unhesitatingly, "In the Mersey." Lindy, the weather conditions could have been better but the rain held off for the actual ceremony, the river relatively calm as Mum's ashes slid into the water. Also had a private message from a member who came to the Pier Head and thought it might be a bit rough, so did not join us but nonetheless cast a rose into the water for my mother. Thank you!

In terms of the people in the photographs, you will recognize me in the red Liverpool hat and my wife Donna is the pink jacket. The man seated next to me is Alan Bennett, a cousin who runs an extensive genealogical website which lists my Matchett relatives. His mother Edith Jones is in the light blue -- she and Alan had come over from the Haydock Park area for the occasion. The lady in purple is Sue Shinkfield, along with her husband Neil, a school friend of mine from Quarry Bank High School in the Sixties. Neil was telling us that he was an extra in "Ferry Cross the Mersey", the Gerry Marsden film of 1964 and got paid £5 for the day's shooting. The song by Gerry and the Pacemakers was played during the voyage.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

The Waters of the Mersey

Liverpool from Ferry postcard posted 1908

View of Liverpool from the Ferry in a postcard posted 1908

Liverpool ferry postcard posted 1916

Another view of the ferry a few years later, in a postcard posted 1916 -- the Liver Building and the Dock Board Offices have been built.

Compare these two old views of the Pier Head to a dramatic modern view of the Liverpool waterfront by Kev Keegan available by clicking on the title of this blog posting.

Donna and I will be in Liverpool on Saturday, October 8 to board the Ferry Across the Mersey at 12 noon, as arranged by my friend Liverpool photographer Gerard Fleming who happens to have an exhibition opening on October 13 which we will unfortunately miss. We will be there to spread my late mother's ashes in mid-river as allowed by Mersey Travel -- the ferry will stop for such ceremonies. Such family events are, I am told, popular. . . you have to book ahead, which we have done. I hope it will be good weather for this emotional occasion. I am trying to contact some of my cousins to attend the ceremony which will be a non-religious occasion. I do know some friends will be in attendance.

My mother Yoria C. George (September 27, 1920 to August 24, 2010) was the daughter of George Thompson Matchett and Sarah Elizabeth Matchett. Her uncle, George's brother, was the Liverpool comedian Billy Matchett, born William Charles Matchett (1889-1974). From a bookseller in the Midlands, I have just bought the following tuppenny theatre program from February 1944 that lists Billy Matchett "The Mirthquake" among the performers at the Pavilion Theatre, Lodge Lane -- a theatre where as a lad I saw Uncle Bill perform in the Fifties (he was the red-nose comedian between some scenes of scantily clad girls). In case of an attack by the German Luftwaffe, the program notes, the audience is free to leave but the show will go on. What resilience! The old British fighting spirit! Billy was a World War I veteran who served with distinction in the Liverpool Scottish Regiment in France.

Pavilion Theatre, Lodge Lane, Liverpool, Program, February 1944

Journey to the Mersey

It's my mother's 91st birthday
and her ashes wait patiently
to make her final journey

by the front door
in a cloth sack with
the green logo "Dignity"

-- the funeral home chain's logo
offers a modicum of respect. . .
she will journey in my suitcase

through airport security as I
get ready to slide her ashes into
the peaceful Mersey waters.

Journey onward, Mother
journey forward in time
although you've left us,
you are always in our hearts.

Christopher T. George

Gordon and Yoria Feb 22 1945 bigger

My mother and father on their wedding day, St. Anne's Church, Aigburth, Liverpool, February 22, 1945

St. Anne's Church, Aigburth Road, Liverpool, May 2007

St. Anne's Church, Aigburth, Liverpool, photographed by me, May 2007

Yoria's Ashes

After a year of death,
we have an appointment

on the Mersey ferry
at 12 noon; Yoria's ashes

repose now in the closet
in their plastic urn,

ready for the final
journey across the ocean.

Age just shy of ninety,
she looked so small

when I identified her,
a personality shriveled,

rendered nut-size -- my
heart shrank in turn.

Now I will carry her
to the muddy Mersey,

ready to accept Yoria's
ashes -- the same river

that bore us to America
almost my lifetime ago.

Christopher T. George

Friday, September 02, 2011

Studies of Lichen and Church Windows

Lichen 2

Lichen 1

Lichen 6

Lichen 5

Lichen 4

Lichen 3

I posted the above photographs at the Yo Liverpool forum with the following message:

Considering that you guys can post pictures of Arizona wildcats and Fazakerley kestrels, and so on, these photographs of Baltimore lichen might seem a bit tame. The lichen were on photographed on a rotten branch that came down either in the recent storms or conceivably with the East Coast earthquake we had last week.

And who says things aren't exciting round here?

Rose Window National Cathedral larger

Ballet for 9/11

Like Cirque du Soleil acrobats
flourescent yellow hardhats balance
on scaffolding by the big rose
window of the National Cathedral,
safety net flying above them
to catch the bits and pieces
dislodged by the earthquake,
in this nation battered by
hurricanes, economic despair,
readying for 9/11 remembrance,
sprucing for the beauteous eternal.

Christopher T. George


Finding the Lost Liverbird

For Jonathan Wild

You emerge from the soot-dark crypt,
from the dust of centuries,
into the Liverpool daylight --

powdered brick, shattered glass
in traceried windows,
in bombed old St. Luke's.

Yet hark: high above,
in a cracked pane
still flies the Liverbird!

Christopher T. George

You can access the thread "Liverpool's Lost Liver Bird - Unseen till now......." at Yo Liverpool started by Cadfael (Jonathan Wild) through the title to this blog posting. Jonathan is responsible for the website on Liverpool's St. Luke's Church which was bombed in 1941 and has been kept in its bombed out state as a war memorial to those killed in the city during the Blitz. As Jonathan explains, after taking a recent tour of the crypt he happened to notice a hitherto unnoticed small pane of remaining stained glass high up in a usually inaccessible part of the church, that contained an image of Liverpool's famous Liverbird.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

On the Trail of Jack the Ripper

Jack in French Poster

This fall is going to be a busy time for me in terms of my activities on the Whitechapel murders.

I will be appearing at the Whitechapel Society convention in London on the weekend of October 1-2 (Whitechapel Society convention) where I will speak on "Early Theatrical Depictions of Jack the Ripper."

At the end of October I will give a talk at the upcoming "Jack the Ripper Through a Wider Lens" conference at Drexel University in Philadelphia on October 28-29 on the same topic of early dramatic portrayals of the Ripper, and be part of a panel discussion on the case. See

Here is information I've received from Drexel conference organizer Fred Abbate on what I will be contributing to the conference:

"I'm really pleased to tell you that your outline as a panel participant at our Drexel University Jack the Ripper Through a Wider Lens Conference has been accepted. The panel topic is 'Images of the Ripper' and we know your presentation on early theatrical depictions of the Whitechapel killer will be a great contribution.

"Paula Marantz Cohen, my co-chair for the Conference, and I really look forward to seeing you in October. For your information, we have paired you on the panel with John Curra, Professor of Sociology at Eastern Kentucky University, who will speak on 'Seriality, Sexuality and Murder: Jack the Ripper as Folk Devil.'

"I have no doubt that the dialog will be extremely interesting. You should plan to speak for 15 or so minutes to allow as much time as possible for questions and comments. Since the deadline for submission of papers is September 6, we will certainly let you know if we install a third panelist."

I will also teach a short course on the Ripper case in the Kaleidoscope program at Roland Park Country School in Baltimore in late October and early November (catalog available for download through the title above).


The Whitechapel Murders that occurred in the Autumn of 1888 in the East End of London continue to fascinate new generations. Although the crimes constitute the classic "cold case," it seems that annually new suspects and theories are proposed. Yet, no one has yet managed definitely to identify the anonymous murderer known as Jack the Ripper.

On Evening One, I will evaluate the known facts of the murders. On Evening Two, I will examine the different theories and theorists. On Evening Three the class will discuss the enduring legacy of the Ripper murders and the portrayals of the crimes in novels, movies and stage plays, and try to come to some conclusions about what the murders were and were not. Who was Jack the Ripper? Warning: not for the squeamish. Powerpoint images will be projected that will show the murder scenes and the corpses of the women killed, and the mutilations caused by the killer will be discussed in detail.

Three Sessions $75
Thursday, October 20, 27, and Wednesday, November 2
7:00–9:00 pm


Roland Park Country School
Office of External Programs
5204 Roland Avenue
Baltimore, Maryland 21210
Or call with credit card information, 410-323-5500 ext. 3091

Finally, I have a new blog on the Jack the Ripper case at

Friday, July 29, 2011

Return of the Bugle Vines

Bugle Vines 1

Bugle Vines 5

Bugle Vines 4

Bugle Vines 2

Bugle Vines 3

On my Marc Train journey between Baltimore and Washington, D.C. to go to work, I always look out for the bugle vines that grow wild along the trackside. They always come out with their distinctive orange blooms in the very hot weather. Well with temperatures reaching 100 degrees Fahrenheit in this region, they have really been burgeoning, as you might imagine! Now across the street from where I work at 12th Street and Maryland Avenue, S.W., in D.C., there is a small plot of land next to the railway line running to Virginia. Some highway workers were there working some months ago to upgrade an offramp from Maine Avenue, a major expressway just south of my work headquarters. The workers had a works office on the plot of land and they cleared the scrub including the lushly growing bugle vines that cascaded down from the stone walls beside the tracks. So I was afraid that the vines might be gone for good from the location. A few weeks ago, however, I noticed the vines starting to spring back up, and yesterday I noticed blooms there for the first time this summer. See the above photographs. Enjoy.

A Tea Party Republican Flips Obama the Bird

If our government defaults,
Mister Obama, it will be your vault--
I will disavow any guilt
as debt-laden to the hilt,
the U.S.A. screeches to a halt.

In the Halls of Congress

Makes us sick to think
we are once more on the brink
as disaster looms
and Congress endlessly talks
in the same stuffy rooms.

Watering the Lawns of Congress

As temperatures soar to triple digits,
the Capitol grounds crew unleash fountains
of water that arc over lush grass; it mists

above the sod as lawmakers haggle over
a looming government default: pressure-
cooker politics while we the public teeter
on the brink of losing Social Security.

Water mists as the sun rises
above the Capitol dome,
creates a rainbow.

Christopher T. George

Friday, June 17, 2011

Key Lime Pie in the Thunder Grill, Union Station, Washington, D.C.

Key Lime pie

Key lime with strawberry close up

Keylime strawberry

Key Lime Pie in the Thunder Grill, Union Station, Washington, D.C.

I've slurped my two double Harvey Wallbangers,
am now sipping espresso with Key Lime Pie,
unwinding after another hard day's edit;
the train to Virginia rumbles beneath

the booth, rattles my pelvis; at the bar, guy in
orange sports gear, "Jesus Walks" on back, chugs
his beer; older geezer with swarthy skin cozies

up to a dame. He looks like... 'cept he couldn't
be him, could he? The guy heads the CIA, for
chrissake, is nommed for Secretary of Defense.
His lady friend has her hand on his thigh.

Christopher T. George

Harvey Wallbanger bigger

Juice Train

From Florida, all the way up the East Coast,
the Juice Train lumbers daily up the line,
squealing up the silver track, mile by mile,
O, Tropicana, O, so wholly holy Americana!

I watch the juice cars screeching up the line,
each car emblazoned "Tropicana", graffitied,
all that steel and juice, clanking and rankling,
O, Tropicana, O, so wholly holy Americana!

I borrow time from my duties, putting commas in,
taking them out, to watch through chainlink
as the Juice Train groans again up the tracks,
O, Tropicana, O, so wholly holy Americana!

From city to city, from mile to mile,
the Juice Train grinds on up the line:
O, Tropicana, O, so wholly holy Americana!

Christopher T. George

Juice Train

The Tropicana Juice Train can be seen YouTube if you click on the blog title above. When I went down by train to Charlotte, North Carolina a few years ago for the rehearsals of my musical on Jack the Ripper, my train followed the Juice Train on its journey southward.

Thursday, June 09, 2011

Abraham Lincoln's Opera Glasses and Assorted Ripper Artifacts.... The Facts

Assassination of Lincoln smaller

An article in today's Washington Post discusses a pair of opera glasses that President Abraham Lincoln supposedly had in his possession when he was assassinated at Ford's Theatre, Washington, D.C., on the night of 14 April 1865. The opera glasses are due to be offered for sale at Sotheby's auction house in New York next week along with a rare letter in Lincoln's hand of 1864 as well as a letter of Robert E. Lee and a flag from the Birkenhead-built Confederate blockade runner C.S.S. Alabama. See the link through the title above which will lead you to the article on the sale by Washington Post writer Michael E. Ruane.

The trouble is, although the same opera glasses have been sold for sizeable sums before ($22,000 in 1979 and $424,000 in 2004) and are now expected to reach as much as $700,000, as the article relates, there is no proof that they are actually President Lincoln's opera glasses. They are described as German manufactured opera glasses of gilt metal and black enamel. The story is that a Union officer discovered the opera glasses in the middle of Tenth Street after the mortally wounded President was carried across the street to the Petersen House, where he would die hours later. Captain James M. McCamly of the 70th New York Infantry found the opera glasses and believed they had belonged to the chief executive. But did they? Sotheby's auction catalogue notes, "As Lincoln was being transported, the opera glasses--perhaps still in Lincoln's hands, perhaps tangled in his clothing--fell to the street." As if that is exactly the way it happened. But isn't it just as conceivable that the binoculars were dropped by one of the hundreds of theatre-goers in the audience disgorging from Ford's Theatre in the chaos of the aftermath of the assassination?

That the opera glasses would still have been clutched by the President after he had received the first attentions of doctors inside the theater seems inconceivable despite Sotheby's auction catalogue musing on that possibility. Captain McCamly's great grandson, in researching the story in the later 1960's heard about an opera glass case found in the Presidential box, and believed the opera glasses belonged to it. But, according to a National Parks Service employee, it appears out that the case belonged to Mrs. Lincoln--and her opera glasses are accounted for, though are now in private hands (the glasses case itself is on display at Ford's). Hmmmmmm.

This situation calls to mind a number of instances in Ripperological studies in which various artifacts have been said to have featured in the case. Recently, a poster on the "Casebook: Jack the Ripper" message boards has been claiming that they found a knife that figures in the case--a knife found by Thomas Coram after the murder of third canonical Ripper victim Elizabeth Stride a number of streets away from the murder scene. Also of course there is the broken "Jack the Ripper knife" in the possession of veteran Ripperologist Donald Rumbelow that was said to have been found at one of the murder scenes. Well, maybe. (It appears to be a fact that there was no knife found at the most famous Ripper murder scenes.) The alleged shawl of fourth canonical victim Catherine Eddowes is another dubious "Ripper" artifact that comes to mind.

Tumblety Watch 2

Tumblety Watch 1

A few years back, a seller on ebay offered for sale a pocket watch that was inscribed with the name "Dr. Francis Tumblety" and that was said to have belonged to Irish-American Ripper suspect and quack Dr. Francis Tumblety (circa 1830-1903). There was also several years ago a Victorian "Jack the Ripper" inkwell offered for sale. It was not clear how it was connected to the case but the wording "Jack the Ripper" was handwritten on the base.

Such Ripper and Lincoln artifacts are colorful and interesting but because they don't seem to match up with the facts they are probably not the real McCoy despite claims about their authenticity. Possibly such items might either be hoaxes or there has been some confusion of facts along the way. Maybe not surprising given the fame of the Ripper case, and the Lincoln assassination similarly! Yet real or not, such things command a price at auction, despite the lack of proper provenance or clear links to the events and persons with which they are alleged to be associated.

Friday, May 06, 2011

Pink and Purple Flowers


Pink and Purple Flowers

Mother's Day is here again;
the ads on TV make me ache.
I will not lift a receiver

or click a mouse to order
the purple-pink bouquet
you would have loved; the

colors sting me; a smear of purple
bluebells swaying under sycamores;
how you spoke of "Boo Bell Woods"

near your Garston childhood home;
always those "baby-talk" phrases,
and more so toward the end

as you regressed; still--
I would take you back,
even sad as you were then

still so delighted
to be taken out, treated
by your only son.

Christopher T. George

Bluebells 1

Bluebells 2

"Boo Bells" for Lulie.
Happy Mother's Day, Mum!
Wish you were still here.