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January 2009

A short leave of absence....

Devon 2009  

I'll be painting walls, packing boxes, and schlepping many, many cartons of books over the next couple of weeks, moving into a house that we've basically stripped and re-built now from top to bottom. During this period of upheaval, I won't have time to update this blog or respond to non-urgent correspondence. I'll be back in a couple of weeks, I hope -- once I dig out from under the packing boxes at the new place. See you then, thanks for all the fish and patience...and wish us luck!

The picture above: The view from the new house, looking across rooftops to the hill that is our village Commons. It's just a short walk away from my old house, Weavers Cottage, where I lived for 16 years, and which I wrote about in this essay on "The Folklore of Hearth and Home."

Another one bites the dust....

KinukoCraftcover Damn. More bad publishing news. Hot on the heels of the announcement that The Year's Best Fantasy & Horror anthology series is folding, now Realms of Fantasy magazine is ending with the April issue. (Locus has the story here.) Shawna McCarthy, who has edited the magazine since it's first issue in 1994, has done a fine job of showcasing the field's best writers, developing new talent, and keeping the short story form alive. This is another real loss for the field . . . and for short fiction, and the writers thereof.

I worked for the magazine for 14 years, supervising (and often writing) the "Folkroots" column on folklore, fairy tales and myth. My friend and fellow-folklorist Ari Berk took over the editorship of "Folkroots" in 2008, and it's been a delight to read the columns that have been published on his watch. To Shawna, Ari, Laura Cleveland (RoF's terrific managing editor): Thank you for all your hard work, and your support of fantasy, myth, and mythic arts.

Damn. This is sad news indeed.

The Cabinet of Curiosities...

Madeline vn foerster

Madeline von Foerster has a new book out: a catalog of marvellous paintings from "Waldkammer," her recent solo show in Berlin. You can purchase the book and see more of this exquisite art on Madeline's website. Here's a snippit from an interview with Madeline conducted by Gilles de Montmorency (for The Sentimentalist magazine):

GdM: The Pre-Raphaelites were inspired by romantic medievalism and poetic symbolism; William Morris (in particular) was motivated by an urgent need for social reform. Some of your paintings have addressed social equality and animal rights - would you perhaps classify yourself as a (neo) Pre-Raphaelite painter?

MvF: That's a wonderful, albeit somewhat confusing titile! Morris realized that the changing economy had rendered his creations unaffordable for common people...and he actually quit making art in order to devote the rest of his life to social activism! I'm very glad that advances in mechanical and digital reproduction obviate this necessity for myself. At one point, believe it or not, I only made political art, which I stenciled and wheatpasted around my hometown. However, seldom was it beautiful art. Now I'm trying to learn how to make something beautiful, and the "message" therein is usually far subtler than my earlier agitprop. I haven't lost my ideals. I think beauty affects people in important ways. Attempting to create beauty in contemporary American culture, where aesthetic needs, human needs, are always given a back seat to profit and the bottom line, is meaninful.

New York memories...


The New York Times
has an article on the "Gargoyle Building" on 110th Street in New York -- where Ellen Kushner lived for many years (and where her "Riverside" series was born), and where I too lived for a spell (and where the "Borderland" series was born). Ellen's reminiscences about  living below the gargoyles are here (on her "Puggy's Hill" blog), and more pictures of the gargoyles are here. (In the top picture, the first full window you can see on the upper left used to be my bedroom window.) It all looks a whole lot fancier now then it did back then, when the neighborhood was scruffier, cheaper, more colorful, and a little more dangerous. . . .

This land is our land...

Here's a video I can't watch without tearing up: Pete Seeger (in his 90s now!) performing Woody Guthrie's "This Land is Your Land" with Bruce Springsteen and his grandson and a gospel choir in front of the Lincoln Memorial. Pete friggin' Seeger: the tireless labor and civil rights activist, blacklisted in the 1950s. Performing for a Presidential Inauguration. For an African-American president. Wow. (What must he be feeling at such a moment???) The world has shifted on its axis, and the song has never felt so true. From across the sea in cold, windy Devon, I'm very proud of my country today.

And to my gay and lesbian brothers & sisters: We will not stop until we all have equal rights under the law. For Seeger's on the stage and Obama's in the White House and mountains can be moved.

Post script: More info on Guthrie's classic song here.

Another post script: touching ads on Marriage Equality produced by below