Not For Us, But For Our Children and Grandchildren...
Message from a friend - “The shooter in Conn. killed at least 27, 20 were children. Unbelievable! Makes me want to go and hug all the grand-kids.
I am hopeful this type of action will start changing minds, as there has to be an answer to these terrible crimes. It certainly leaves people vulnerable to crimes, even when they do their best to stay away from crime.”
AAMikael’s Response - “How many parents in America were against gun control until this morning?
It is time for a change in this country. Yet, so many are hidebound against resale-control, bullet & magazine control, not to mention assault weapon control… let alone ‘gun control’ itself, whatever that is.
It is the ‘gun tragedy of the day’. Sadly, only such shocking violence, conducted against children has a prayer-of-a-chance of changing enough minds to make a difference.
As Neil Young wrote and sang so many years ago, ‘What if you knew her and found her dead on the ground? How can you run when you know?’
On this day, twenty-seven angels departed Earth. As it is above, so it is below. After the tears, all will be well.
Imagine There's No Heaven, but There is Life on Mars
In December 2007, I wrote about a transit of Mars that brought the red planet close to Earth. Also in that article, I discussed the “Face on Mars” (FOM), first photographed by NASA’s Viking 1 orbiter in 1976.
Since its discovery on low-resolution images from the Viking 1 orbiter, scientists have argued that the FOM is a natural phenomenon. The FOM, they said, was an eroded mesa viewed in oblique sunlight. In 2001 and again in 2003 new orbiters focused high-resolution cameras on that supposed eroded mesa. Again, scientists concluded that the FOM was a figment of hopeful human imagination. Imagine that.
On August 6, 2012, I watched the Olympic women’s gymnastics apparatus finals on NBC. At 10:30 PM PDT, I switched over to watch NASA’s Mars Curiosity rover stick its landing on the surface of Mars. Flipping channels back to gymnastics, I watched as an American woman missed her landing. Although I cannot say which act was more difficult, the Mars landing is more portentous, as it may lead to discovery of life on Mars.
On one hand, NASA and other scientists had steadfastly denied any life-connection to the FOM. On the other hand, the same scientists were optimistic that instruments on the Curiosity rover would discover precursors to life on Mars. It reminded me of the 2012 supposed discovery of the Higgs boson at CERN in Switzerland. At that announcement, three hundred mostly agnostic or atheist scientists wept over the supposed discovery of “the God particle”. Suffice to say that scientists are an unreliable source of information on where life came from or even what it is.
Hoping to see a review of the best current and historical English pop music, I tuned in to the London Olympics Closing Ceremony. Although the presentation was a bit erratic, it was full of energy and everyone was having fun. Only later did I discover that a preview of some idiotic NBC sitcom had preempted a live performance by the Who and others. I wonder which brilliant NBC executive made that decision.
For me, the highlight of the London Olympics Closing Ceremony was a live performance by John Lennon. Dead since December 8, 1980, I was shocked to see him singing again, live and in person. As his song played, actors on the Olympic stage began pushing large white blocks all about. Shaped like puzzle pieces, I could not imagine what the blocks might symbolize.
Then, an aerial shot revealed what I had suspected all along. The actors in Olympic Stadium had replicated the famous Face on Mars. That face, of course, was of John Lennon. Presaging his death by almost four years, John Lennon had concocted to place his face on Mars. As John Lennon so aptly sang, “Imagine there’s no heaven, it's easy if you try, no people below us, above us only sky”. Now, almost twenty-two years after his death we see that he has been up there all along. And remember, all you need is love.
Two New Paintings by Italian Artist Costantino Proietto Surface in the United States
Since July 2011, I have been investigating an ongoing art mystery involving twentieth century modern impressionist master, Costantino Proietto (1910 – 1979). Among the most startling revelations, from the LoCastro family in New Jersey is that I have been spelling the artist’s name incorrectly. Originally, I understood his name to be “Constantino Proietto”, but after verification by two friends of the artist, I shall henceforth call him by his given name, Costantino Proietto.
After spending over seven months coaxing Google to recognize his misspelled name, it will be interesting to see how long it takes for Google to shift their search algorithm back to the proper spelling. In order to assist them, I have changed all my previous mentions of C.Proietto on the internet to the proper spelling of his name.
Many C.Proietto paintings that now reside in the United States originated in Stuttgart, Germany. Stuttgart had been an Allied bombing target during World War II, later becoming a major center for U.S. Military operations in Europe. Today, the 6th Area Support Group (ASG) is located in Stuttgart, providing command, control, communications and Base Operations to Headquarters United States European Command (EUCOM).
Why the Sicilian born artist immigrated to Germany during World War II, we do not yet know. Judging by the number of people and paintings with ties to both C.Proietto and the U.S. Military, it appears that the artist lived in Stuttgart for many years. With the recent discovery of more new pictures, it appears that he painted real life locations. In order to create those scenes, the artist probably made many trips from Germany to Italy and Switzerland. I have one report that he painted within the walls of the Sistine Chapel, at the Vatican.
This morning, when I opened my email, I had more good news. Peter Karns of Severna Park, Maryland provided images of two newly discovered C.Proietto oil paintings. Both works are family treasures, purchased by Peter Karn’s father, who served as an aide to a U.S. Army senior officer in Germany from 1944 to around 1946.
Both Karns family masterpieces appear on this page. One is an impressionist Italian coastal scene, with ethereal Mediterranean light. The other features a Swiss Chalet, with a river to one side and the Alps reaching for the sky in the background. Although I do not know either location, perhaps readers of this article could comment the locale of the two new C.Proietto pictures. (Author's Note, July 2012: The coastal scene is of Capri Marina Piccola. The alpine scene is of Northeastern Italy and the Dolomite Mountains.)
Costantino Proietto’s skill in depicting the sky is unrivaled in modern impressionism. In his Swiss Alps scene, the artist blends the granite of the mountains with the sky above. In the coastal picture, he employs mist or fog to blend light and color between sea and sky. Although these images do a good job of bringing out the artist’s interplay with water and light, viewing the effect in his original works is even grander.
In the near future, we expect to hear from more friends, family and collectors of Costantino Proietto. If any reader has pictures or information regarding the artist, please send an email or click on “Comments” below. Because so many of his works included Italy’s Amalfi Coast, we once called the artist “The Man from Amalfi”. With so many new Costantino Proietto works now surfacing, we may have to add, “The Man from Stuttgart” to his biography.
The Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, California
Who was Ronald Reagan? My first recollection of him was as the host of the TV anthology series, “Death Valley Days”. In 1967, soon after I began my studies at UCLA, Reagan became governor of California and the defacto head of the University Of California Board Of Regents. Although few governors before or since played such an active role in the governing of the university, Reagan was determined to make his mark.
While the Vietnam War raged, the University of California at Berkeley became “Ground Zero” for opposition, protests and demonstrations. In response to what he perceived as spoiled and unprincipled students and faculty, Reagan forced budget cuts across the entire UC system. Around that time, some unprincipled and spoiled demonstrator threw a rock and broke a large window at UCLA's old English Building. Becoming an icon for both sides of the conflict, there were sufficient funds to board-up the hole, yet there was no replacement glass installed during my tenure at UCLA.
Watch the video, "Air Force One Departs the Reagan Library"
In the years 1967 – 1970, the war raged higher and tensions increased on campuses all across the country. Ronald Reagan, to his great displeasure, hosted one of the last UC Regents’ meetings openly held on a UC Campus. There, at the UCLA Faculty Center in 1967, Reagan’s attendance brought out one of the largest political demonstrations ever at UCLA. At the time of the meeting, Reagan and the other regents sat behind a glass wall, obscured only by draperies. Outside, unruly students released the parking brakes on several cars and began pushing them around the adjacent parking lot. With only a few campus police on hand, it was all that they could do to prevent mayhem.
In the spirit of the day, someone in the crowd of several hundred started a chant. Knowing just how to rile the tradition-bound and conservative Ronald Reagan, the student demonstrators repeatedly chanted, “F*** Ronald Reagan. F*** Ronald Reagan”. The chant was so loud that it was impossible for the governor and the UC Board of Regents to conduct business. After it was evident that they had adjourned and left the building, campus police regained control and dispersed the crowd. Eventually, the events of that day began a spiral of budget cuts and UC fee increases that continues to this day.
Ronald Reagan, like Bob Hope, John Wayne and a host of other establishment actors came to epitomize the far side of the “generation gap” from the one that I represented. I opposed the Vietnam War, the UC faculty salary cuts and student fee increases. My parents were Eisenhower Republicans. They condoned no form of violence in our home. Out of respect for my upbringing and my parents, I observed the UCLA anti-Reagan protest, but other than joining in the chant, I did nothing more that day. With the perspective of time, I feel that Ronald Reagan represented in a courteous way, a set of political beliefs that were unlike my own. If we students had not breeched the decorum that Reagan expected in his life, would the budget cuts have been as deep and would the fee increases have been as steep?
Now that Ronald Reagan is gone from the scene of life, he lives on in many memories. Some ardent followers see him as the conservative messiah, while for others he was the bane of both the environmental and peace movements. Did Reagan’s funding of the “Peacekeeper”, the multiple-warhead, independently targeted intercontinental ballistic MX-Missile help end, or did it extend the Cold War?
At inception, I felt that the International Space Station (ISS) was yet another Reagan make-work project for the military industrial complex. Although that may have been its original impetus, I have come to believe that with its $160 billion+ in federal government funding, that the ISS was a good investment after all. Keeping an active manned space program keeps our engineering and planning skills sharp. In any event, Ronald Reagan’s funding of both the Peacekeeper and ISS projects takes him into the ranks of the biggest spending presidents in U.S. history. Who says that the government did not create jobs or stimulate the economy, even if it was for questionable purposes?
Watch the video, "The White House in Miniature"
In December 2010, I made my first visit to the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, California. Although I did not agree with many of his policies or decisions as either governor or president, I hold no ill feelings for the man. Under the circumstances of the times, he did the best he knew how to do. As I approached the library on foot, I let bygones be bygones. Regardless of my previous feelings about Ronald Reagan, there was enough attraction for me to visit his library, museum and final resting place.
With a traditional Spanish style courtyard at its entrance, and strong touches of California ranch architecture in both its finish and details, I found it a handsome building in a beautiful setting. Sitting at the brow of a hill the site has a commanding view of high chaparral in the Los Padres National Forest. On a clear day, one can also see the Pacific Ocean, near Ventura. Despite the close proximity of cities such as Simi Valley and Moorpark, the view is only slightly changed from what it must have been during the nineteenth century Spanish Rancho era. With Ronald Reagan's love of the ranching lifestyle, this site reflects the man in his most favorable light.
In a remote, yet picturesque corner of the grounds is the Ronald Reagan Crypt. Its inscribed comments are brief, mentioning little more than the bare facts of his life. The Presidential Seal, rendered as a brass plaque is its only adornment. With its spectacular view of Ventura County both around and below, who could stand on that spot and harbor hostility toward the man, or anything else, for that matter?
It was the holiday season at the Reagan Library. Poinsettias adorned the courtyard. Inside, Christmas trees representing each decade of the republic were on display. The gift shop was abuzz, selling Ronald Reagan logo items along with other patriotic souvenirs. Except among the omnipresent security force, there was a festive mood throughout the museum.
Other than the spectacular view, the second most amazing feature at the Ronald Reagan Library is Air Force One. Trucked to the site in pieces, and then assembled to look like new, it stands on pedestals in a custom-designed pavilion. In front of the airplane is a picture window large enough for the plan to fly through, unimpeded. Of course, there is the issue of getting the plane up to speed in such a short distance. Through the wonders of stop-action video-capture, you can watch a YouTube video of Air Force One Departing the Ronald Reagan Library on a clear afternoon.
After watching Air Force One take off, we visited the Christmas tree display area. There, stood a series of trees, each decorated to represent a decade since 1776. Near the display of Christmas trees stood John and Jan Zweifel’s White House in miniature. At one-foot-to-one-inch scale, the model is sixty feet in length. The Zweifels and a select group of volunteers put over 500,000 hours of labor into creating their masterpiece. Our YouTube video, The White House in miniature starts with a gingerbread White House in the lobby of the Library and proceeds with a snowy-night Christmas tour of the presidential mansion.
The Ronald Reagan Presidential Library was dedicated in 1991. In 1994, as he felt the slow release of Alzheimer’s disease, Ronald Reagan wrote his public farewell message. Until near that time, he had been actively involved with the planning of the Reagan Library. According to the docent on our tour, he was especially keen to include a full-scale replica of his presidential Oval Office. With some difficulty, the architects accommodated what we might call Reagan’s last wish. Major construction at the library culminated with the opening of the Air Force One Pavilion in 2005. After his death in 2004, the remains of Ronald Reagan, the fortieth president of the United States found peace on the grounds of his presidential library. If you are near Simi Valley, California, I recommend that you make time for a visit. It is Cold War history at its finest.