Arts History Update for early February 2016

26 Jan

Arts History Update for early February 2016 by David Cummins

Jiri Karasek ze Lvovic 1871-1951 was a Czech Bohemian poet, writer and literary critic who was also an occultist and hermetic. He lived in Prague. He was a major figure in the establishment of art and culture in Bohemia at the turn of the century but his side lost in favor of the side of Tomas Garrigue Masaryk 1850-1937 that highlighted a perceived Protestant humanist tradition and linked fifteenth century Hussiteism to the 19th century national reawakening. Still, Karasek was a collector of books and other printed materials, 40,000 items, and he donated them to the nation. He also collected art and likewise donated it to the nation, so his artistic heritage is a part of the Czech Republic today. He was a co-founder of the respected Modern Review journal in Prague.

He wrote a short novel that expresses his views on Nihilism as the preferred philosophy and a throwback to the Baroque and Romantic past embracing French decadence and acceptance of homosexuality A Gothic Soul (transl. Kirsten Lodge, Twisted Spoon Press 2015) 141 pages originally published as Goticka Duse [A Gothic Mind] (1900, revised 1905 and 1921) and here is the work online in the Czech language from the 1905 revision


Catalonia is the region of northeast Spain with a capital city of Barcelona. It has its own language Catalan. Written and published first in Catalan are novels by Raimon Casellas, Dark Vales (1901), Juli Vallmitjana, La Xava (1910), Caterina Albert, Solitud (1903), and Maria Vayreda, The Stabbing (1904). The countryside or cityscape in which the action takes place is as much a living character as the unhinged people who dwell in it.

Raimon Casellas 1855-1910 by suicide, published two collections of short stories in 1906 and 1909. He was an art historian, a critic and a leading figure in Catalan Modernism at the turn of the century. Dark Vales (transl. Alan Yates, Dedalus 2014) 206 pages $16 paperback $15 e-book is the story of a priest banished for heresy to a remote countryside near the village of Figueres 87 miles northeast of Barcelona. He feels entrapped by his own instability, the mood of the surrounding mountains [part of the Pyrenees spelled Pirineus in Catalan], and by a direct moral challenge by a prostitute who sets up shop in his parish. This novel is a “landscape of the mind”.

Contemporary Catalan literature would surely include Maria Barbal, Stone in a Landslide (1985) now in its 50th edition but in English for the first time at (transl. Laura McGloughlin & Paul Mitchell, Peirine 2010) $9.32 paperback $7 e-book. Comic and sometimes dark mysteries might include Teresa Solana, Crazy Tales of Blood and Guts (transl. Peter Bush, Bitter Lemon Press 2013) collection of short stories $4 as an e-book. I read two earlier Solana novels so can recommend these stories.


Turn your life into a business and make some “extra cash” is a paradigm for a middle class under economic stress. With UBER and Lyft your personal car becomes a temporary/occasional taxicab and you shuttle people from one local destination to another [ride-sharing or ride-hailing service through a smart phone app equipped with GPS].

Now there’s a company Airbnb that allows you to turn your home into a rental property–TX?ss_id=6r7ta591&page=3 and there are 47 rental opportunities for visitors to Lubbock through Airbnb. Shared rooms are the least expensive at $36 per night, private rooms and separate bathrooms are the norm, and one entire lavish home at $775 per night is the most expensive. In Austin Texas there is a movement to require owners of the home [the temporary/occasional landlord] to submit to fingerprinting and criminal background checks so that travelers can be assured that they are entering a home that won’t turn into a nightmare or horrific experience.

In Austin the city asked UBER and Lyft to register their car owners/drivers and present them for fingerprinting and criminal background checks and collision driving records but the two companies refused. A new ordinance requires this and the companies have attacked that ordinance by starting a petition drive for a referendum on the ordinance to repeal it

Stay tuned on this confrontation between local governments trying to promote public safety for their citizens and private out of state businesses using a digital platform to operate a business, and seeking to be unregulated and untaxed by the locales where they do business. These UBER executives are Libertarians turned entrepreneurs who are so selfish and myopic that they don’t want to succumb to community values and norms while they extract dollars from those communities. One hopes that the Austin city government will stand firm and make the ride-hailing taxicab substitutes be vetted for safe driving practices and lack of criminal records, just as commercial taxicab operators are vetted.

UBER started in San Francisco and a recent event ended with the UBER driver threatening to rape or kill the hapless female rider who was trying to cancel the ride due to anger expressed by the driver in getting to the location to pick her up UBER management would not reveal the driver’s identity, would not reveal any vetting or lack of vetting of the driver, and just says, after the fact, that he’s been permanently removed from their driver pool. Of course there’s no way to verify that. The San Francisco District Attorney and his counterpart in Los Angeles filed a civil lawsuit against UBER alleging that it hires rapists, kidnappers, and even killers as car owner/drivers in the ride-hailing service

UBER and Lyft operate in many American cities. UBER operates in Lubbock Texas Lyft operates in 13 Texas cities but not in Lubbock yet.

I’ve lived in New York City and can tell this readership that essentially UBER is a dispatcher for a gypsy cab service. What that phrase means is that UBER’s cars don’t have a license or medallion, aren’t registered with the City of New York, and the driver of the UBER vehicle is not vetted and licensed as an operator of a cab. If anything went wrong on a gypsy cab ride, the patron who called the police would discover that the phone number for the gypsy cab service had “gone dark” and no identifiable person could be located. The gypsy and his cab service had disappeared. When I lived in New York with a wife and two young children I never put us into a gypsy cab. The slightly lower rate or fare was not worth the risk of harm.

UBER takes advantage of two sets of people, the owners of cars who become UBER drivers, a naïve and inexperienced work force treated as independent contractors that is being played for fools by UBER management, and the patrons who take grave risks in using UBER but don’t know that they’re assuming risks. UBER thumbs its nose at city officials and their regulations and city and state tax authorities, preferring to be renegade urban business operators who don’t comply with regulations and don’t pay taxes.

Four years into its activities in New York City, UBER is beginning to crumble in that market. What happened is that NYPD saw the UBER vehicles and pulled them over and arrested the driver/owners of those vehicles operating without a medallion or license. UBER was forced into purchasing a medallion [sometimes a floating medallion] for a vehicle it didn’t own and then put its unlicensed driver/owner into the vehicle. S/he had to pay out of the fare (1) a commission to UBER, (2) a New York City sales tax, and a black car fee to the City. That amounted to about 36% of the fare and the driver/owner kept the rest. The result was that UBER drivers made less than legitimate taxicab operators. They woke up, smelled the roses, and found them wilted and forlorn. A 45% attrition rate or turnover in UBER drivers occurred. Almost half of UBER drivers this year in NYC won’t be UBER drivers next year. They bail. UBER is desperate to recruit new drivers and every time it announces a fare decrease it works against itself recruiting drivers.

Cities like Seattle who’ve had problems getting UBER cars and drivers registered and vetted, passed an ordinance that permits UBER drivers to unionize even though UBER classifies them as independent contractors. If the ploy works it will force UBER to pay minimum wages and other employment benefits even when the cars are not in service and making revenue, a death knell for UBER’s business model.

New York City has 13,587 taxicab medallions and most of those are on the road 24 hours a day using three or more licensed and vetted drivers. UBER has 20,448 cars in the city but only 16% of them are rolling at any given time. What that tells us is that the New York City market or demand for UBER service is fully met, and as work force problems continue UBER will crumble in New York City. The same thing is happening in San Francisco where UBER started and taxicab medallion applications fell after 2010. In 2015 they rose as people [a few of them former UBER drivers] realize that the taxicab model for transporting people is much preferable to UBER’s model.

UBER is a privately held company with no public disclosure of its financials. Look out for the future IPO initial public offering when UBER owner executives want to bail out. They will go public, pocket the investors purchase price for shares, and walk away into the night, true gypsies. Expect the initial IPO share prices to plummet. Please don’t be an investor at an UBER IPO. Sadly, you could make a bundle of money by selling short the newly issued stock and then covering your short position a few months later at a much lower than IPO level price.


The next exhibit at The Buddy Holly Center Fine Arts Gallery is A Look Back: Vintage Works of the South Plains January 29 – March 6, 2016. Clarence Kincaid, Jr., The Hub (1978) is a watercolor painting of a montage of structures that symbolize Lubbock, the Hub of the South Plains

Clarence Kincaid, Jr.


John Knox 1514-1572 was the author of A History of the Reformation in Scotland book # 1 1528-1558 book # 2 1559-1572. Texas Tech Library BR 385.K6 (1949).

The definitive biography of Knox is Jasper Godwin Ridley, John Knox (Oxford University Press 1968) 596 pages Texas Tech Library BX 9223.R5

This is the most comprehensive biography of John Knox since Hume Brown’s major study, published more than seventy years ago. The personality of Knox has alternately fascinated and appalled his posterity. The aristocratic eighteenth century condemned him; the Puritanical and radical nineteenth century admired him. Mr. Ridley’s twentieth-century view is that Knox, despite his intolerance and the tyranny of his Church Sessions, was a great contributor to the struggle for human freedom. One can appreciate the tribute that was paid to him, ten years after his death, by his English Puritan follower, John Field. “What a heroic and bold spirit he was!”

More recent biographies include Jane Dawson, John Knox (Yale University Press 2015) 384 pages $42.75 hardcover $32.50 paperback $27 e-book. Dawson is John Laing Professor of Reformation History, School of Divinity, University of Edinburgh, Scotland and this biography is drawing praise.

Rosalind K. Marshall, John Knox (Berlinn Ltd 2008) 244 pages $19 paperback $6.14 e-book.

While John Knox initially was a Catholic priest, he early on became disquieted and was mentored by reformist George Wishart who had heresy charges placed against him but still traveled the breadth of Scotland preaching until captured by Lord Bothwell in January 1546 and turned over to Cardinal David Beaton who conducted a show trial after which Wishart was hanged on a gibbet and his body burned at a stake. In retaliation two months later Cardinal Beaton was assassinated.

Knox spent time in Geneva with Protestant Reformation leaders. He was instrumental in ultimately making the Scottish Presbyterian Church the “established” church in Scotland, constantly in tension with Scottish nobles including Mary of Guise’s daughter the famous Mary, Queen of Scots. Much blood was spilled in these religious conflicts between Catholics and Protestants in England and Scotland. John Knox was responsible for some of it, thus he was known as Bloody John Knox.

Queen Mary I of England 1553-1558 was a Catholic daughter of King Henry VIII and Catherine of Aragon, Henry’s first wife. Queen Mary persecuted and killed many Protestants and so was known as Bloody Mary.

She was succeeded by Queen Elizabeth I 1558-1603 a Protestant or Anglican monarch [daughter of King Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn]. Queen Elizabeth tried to maintain some level of uncomfortable peace and some tolerance by Anglicans toward Catholics and by Catholics toward Anglicans but conflict repeatedly occurred, occasionally deadly. In Scotland the crown was Catholic while Queen Elizabeth I ruled England as a Protestant Anglican. Mary of Guise was the second wife of King James V of Scotland and thus Queen of the Scots 1538-1542 and mother of Mary Queen of Scots for whom Mary of Guise acted as regent after James’s death 1542-1560.

One of the aspects of that “established church” status was that civil lords in their agricultural/geographical districts had the right to name the minister for a Presbyterian Church parish. At times in the 1830s the naming of a minister was unacceptable to the congregation and caused a walkout by the congregation to go to another parish. Finally, during the Disruption of 1843 there was a schism in the Church and a breakaway evangelical group formed the Free Church of Scotland, another Presbyterian Church than the former Presbyterian Church now knowing itself as the National Church of Scotland. The National Church of Scotland continued on but never thereafter wielded much power or cultural significance for Scotland. The Free Church claimed to be in succession from John Knox but gradually he became a relic of a past nationalism, not the present version of Scottish nationalism.

The Kirk is an informal name for The Presbyterian Church of Scotland or National Church of Scotland. The Free Kirk is an informal name for the Presbyterian Free Church of Scotland that broke away in 1843. Cathedrals in Scotland must be viewed specially. Most of them are pre-Reformation structures and in the Presbyterian Church there are no bishops so there is no cathedral structure like there is in Anglicanism or Catholicism. St Giles Cathedral, Glasgow Cathedral and Edinburgh Cathedral are thus places occupied by and part of the Presbyterian Church and really are just inner city parishes of the church.

The Scottish Episcopal Church is a member of the Anglican Communion and was approved by King James VI of Scotland in 1584 as a separate Protestant Church from the Presbyterian National Church of Scotland. In 1707 Scotland and England were united into The United Kingdom of Great Britain. The Scottish Episcopalians Act of 1711 protected the Scottish Episcopal Church but it has always been a minority church since then. It has cathedrals at Aberdeen, Millport on the Isle of Cumbrae, Oban, Glasgow, Inverness, Perth, Edinburgh and Dundee. Here is a picture of a small corrugated iron St Columba’s Church at Brora, Sutherland, Highland, UK 57 miles north of Inverness Scotland The parishioners would be known today as Anglicans or Episcopalians and most people would only use the word “kirk” to mean a Presbyterian church of some derivation. The Scottish Episcopal Church bishops, meeting in Aberdeen Scotland in 1784, consecrated the first American bishop Samuel Seabury. Bishop Seabury then sailed back to America to form the Protestant Episcopal Church of the United States of America Here is the story


Museum of the Southwest 1705 W. Missouri Avenue in Midland Texas includes the Juliette and Fred Turner, Jr. Memorial Art Museum [presently closed for restoration and renewal until June], Fredda Turner Durham Children’s Museum, Marian West and William Blanton Blakemore Planetarium, and a Sculpture Garden. Please mark your calendars for a trip this Summer to the updated Midland museum.

The West Texas Triangle established in 2006 is a collaboration between five fine art museums, namely Grace Museum in Abilene, Old Jail Art Center in Albany, Ellen Noel Art Museum in Odessa, San Angelo Museum of Fine Arts, and the Museum of the Southwest in Midland. That collaboration enhances the exhibitions and special events at each museum. Currently a number of the Midland museum’s collection items are on display at one of the four other museums.


Want to self-publish the book you wrote? Try


Sundance Film Festival 2016 at Park City Utah opened on January 22, 2016 look around and see trailers and information about the most interesting films to come out of this year’s festival.


The latest promotion of and by Lubbock merchants, including restaurants, is the Lubbock VIP Card. You buy it for $20 and then use it at any of many listed merchants and when you use it, 25% of the amount of your purchases are sent by the merchant to the Lubbock charity of your choice. Of course the merchant not the customer takes a business expense income tax deduction for the contribution to the charity, and the real payor gets neither a charitable contribution nor business expense tax deduction.


I belong to a monthly dinner club at which there is a good meal, fellowship and a member of the club speaking, often on a topic that is arcane or at least not slave to what passes for news in today’s print and broadcasting media. The topic for January 2016 was King Richard III 1483-1485: Good Guy or Evil Uncle?

Where else in town, almost any town, would one expect to have a dinner conversation about the conundrum of good and/or evil with regard to a personage now 530 years removed?

For what is evil but good tortured by its own hunger and thirst?

Verily when good is hungry it seeks food even in dark caves, and when it thirsts, it drinks even of dead waters.

You are good when you are one with yourself.

Yet when you are not one with yourself you are not evil.

For a divided house is not a den of thieves; it is only a divided house.”


All I can say is that the speaker was excellent, well prepared for his task and topic, and all of us enjoyed the presentation and the discussion that ensued. Afterward I thought how odd as well as enjoyable it was.

A tad of research disclosed that there was a gentleman’s monthly dinner club in London England in continuous operation from 1878 to 1939 titled The Sette of Odd Volumes. Originally formed by bibliophiles within or related to the book industry, it was expanded over time to include professionals, aesthetes generally, and iconoclasts of various stripes. A 149 word description of the Sette of Odd Volumes is found in The Oxford Companion to the Book (eds. Michael F. Suarez, S.J. & H.R. Woudhuysen, Oxford University Press 2010). Sette can be translated as Club. Odd in 18th century usage meant varied or unmatched. Volumes in this case is a word describing the member status, each member being a volume.

The stated objective of the Sette was “conviviality and mutual admiration” and each member was required to announce his pseudonym, examples being Idler, Necromancer, Seer, etc. and newly initiated members were required soon afterward to deliver their inaugural talk cautioned by Rule No. 10 “No Odd Volume shall talk unasked on any subject he understands” meaning that if the Volume were a chemist he couldn’t speak about chemistry but rather should speak about his hobbies or passions. The president of the club for each year, was referred to as His Oddshippe. Monthly meetings were places of excellent re-paste, light inebriation, and passionate discourse led by the speaker for the evening. Guests were allowed and some might later be proposed for initiation as a new member. Over a seven year period Oscar Wilde was a guest at six dinner meetings.

Residents of Boston Massachusetts, ever vigilant in their ability to mimic English society, founded their Club of Odd Volumes in 1887 and met at 77 Mount Vernon Street on Beacon Hill. The club, limited by charter to 87 members, continues to this day.

Some Lubbock monthly dinner clubs are religiously oriented, e.g. The Serra Club of Lubbock referring to Father Junipero Serra who traipsed the length of Alta [upper] California accompanied by Spanish soldiers. Monthly dinners are at Hanley Hall, St Elizabeth’s University Parish.

Safari Club International meets monthly at Gilbert’s Bar & Grill for dinner, a program, and fellowship

Lubbock Women’s Club hosts monthly gourmet dinners and wine tastings

Llano Estacado Driving Society [horse-drawn wagons and carriages] meets monthly for dinner at Furr’s Cafeteria on Slide Road.

The book industry will help you get started in setting up a dinner club


Inaugural issue of Authentic Texas: The Heritage Magazine of Texas, a quarterly, is Spring 2016. It’s free but to get it you must sign up to receive it. Stewart Ramser phone 432-538-7034 or e-mail Five non-profit heritage organizations own and operate this magazine. They are Texas Forts Trail, Texas Lakes Trail, Texas Mountain Trail, Texas Plains Trail, and Texas Tropical Trail so you can expect magazine content that will promote tourism in the North Texas, West Texas, and Rio Grande Valley areas.

The Trails projects are an activity of the Texas Historical Commission. Texas Plains Trail executive director is Barbara Brannon of Lubbock Texas. Contact her for more information at or phone 806-747-1997 website


Military veterans who are physically injured may very well still be strong patriots for America Justin Anderson, a Bellevue Nebraska resident, a southern suburb of Omaha on the west bank of the Missouri River, is such a patriot. He refashioned his wheel chair with tracks rather than wheels, put a scoop out front, and is plowing the snow-laden sidewalks of Bellevue during winter storms.

The character of that man is so evident from his actions that words are useless and unnecessary.



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