Sept 5, 2006
September 5th, 2006

Hope every one had a nice three day weekend. Yesterday we donated two pieces for the Martha Baxton Auction, we're lookng forward to it this saturday. Tonight I have a radio interview on Curtain at 8 with Nick Lawrence on NPR.

correction: In my Labor Day union blog I mentioned once hearing Jeannie Schuster, the wife of Joel Schuster and the model for Lois Lane. My bro Mark Mayerson reached across the Great Western plains and kicked my butt. He reminded me that I was talking about Joanne Siegel the model for Lois Lane, there is no Jean Shuster. Teractum Est! Touche' to a Gladiator. Thanks Mark, I plead jet-lag.

Birthdays: Louis XIV The Sun King, Jesse James, Cardinal Richelieu, Johann Christian Bach, Jacopo Meyerbeer, John Cage, Quentin de la Tour, Darryl F. Zanuck, Jack Valenti, Bob Newhart, George Lazenby, Raquel Welch, Kathy Guisewhite, Dweezil Zappa, Werner Herzog

1499- Former Columbus captain Alonso De Hojeda arrives in the New World on his own expedition. Along with him as pilot (Navigator) was a Florentine named Amerigo Vespucci. Vespucci made several more trips to the alien land and published a book about his adventures never mentioning Hojeda. His publishers spiced up his accounts with naked brown natives with lascivious morals throwing themselves on the Europeans. It was quite popular reading. In 1538 when Columbus was dead and forgotten German mapmakers Martin Waldseemuller and Gerhardus Mercator published the first mass printed maps of the known world. They drew on Vespucci's books and called the new hemisphere "America". I guess that's better than the United States of Hojeda.

1867- After the Civil War the US experienced a beef shortage. This was answered by herding Texas longhorn cattle up to where they could be put on trains to Chicago and eastern meat markets. This day the first herd of Longhorns made it up the Chisholm Trail to the train depot of Abilene Kansas. A rancher who bought a thousand head of cattle at $4 a head could sell them up north for $40 a head. One cattle drive could net up to $100,000, well worth fighting Indians, rustlers and floods. This created cattlebarons and a new kind of hero in the publics mind, the Cowboy.

1882- The first Labor Day parade occurred when 10,000 union workers marched in Union Square New York.

1885 - 1st gasoline pump is delivered to a gasoline dealer (Ft Wayne, Ind)

1917- The U.S. Government made nationwide police raids to close down the offices of the IWW (The International Workers of the World- or The Wobblies). They were a folk-song-singing radical labor union who came out against U.S. participation in World War One, ."The Master Class has always declared the wars, the Working Class must fight the battles"- Eugene Debs. Their apologists point out that while the Great War cost 166,000 U.S. casualties it made 200 new millionaires and if you had stock in petrochemicals like Dupont you made 400% profit.

1923-FATTY ARBUCKLE- Ex-plumber turned comedian Roscoe "Fatty" Arbuckle signed a $3 million dollar deal with Paramount Pictures. He celebrated by staging a wild three day party in the penthouse of the St. Francis Hotel in San Francisco. During the wild goings on he pulled young starlet Virginia Rappe into a bedroom. Soon screams were heard. Arbuckle came out and said "Get her dressed. She makes too much noise". Friends found Rappe in agony with her clothes shredded. She died of toxemia from a ruptured bladder saying "Fatty Arbuckle did this to me! Make sure he doesn't get away with it." Arbuckle was tried twice for rape and first degree murder, but was acquitted after both were hung juries. To this day film historians argue if Arbuckle was framed. In the trial it came out that Rappe had had a botched abortion and was suffering from internal bleeding before the party.
But Fatty Arbuckles career was destroyed. Women tore down the screen whenever his face appeared. In Wyoming cowboys shot their guns at the screen. At the suggestion of Stan Laurel and Buster Keaton he made a living writing gags under the pseudonym William or Will B, Good. Years later Santa Monica pulled him over for drunk driving. He flung a champagne bottle out of the car and laughed "There goes the evidence again!"

1929- Wall Street stocks soared to unprecedented heights throughout 1929. Starting today they began to taper off and slide. Economist Roger Babson, the Sage of Wellesley , warned of an impending Stock Market crash but people laughed him off. They called his warnings "Babson-Mindedness". The market would continue to move downwards for the next several weeks climaxing Black Tuesday, the great crash of October 29th and the Depression.

1932- Paul Bern, the studio executive husband of sexy starlet Jean Harlow, was found lying naked on his bathroom floor with a bullet in his head. He committed suicide and left a note apologizing to Harlow for not being able to satisfy her. Harlow called the studio and her agent before calling the police. All jumped to hush up the scandal. Jean Harlow loved to flirt with men in front of her husband. Once at a USC football game she saw a hunky fullback and said to Bern:”Daddy, please buy me that!”

1935- At a giant Nazis Party rally in Nuremberg Adolph Hitler told the world “We want Peace. Germany has no interest in harming her European neighbors .” uh-huh..

1935- Tumbling Tumbleweeds premiered, the film that made a star out of Gene Autrey, the Singing Cowboy.

1943- Young British cartoonist Ronald Searle is captured by the Japanese in Burma. He spent his time as a P.O.W. working on the infamous Bridge on the River Kwai and making sketches of the nightmarish conditions of his fellow prisoners.

1957- Jacques Kerouac’s ode to the beat life ON THE ROAD, first published. Kerouac wrote it in a white heat using one large roll of white paper stuffed into his typewriter instead of individual sheets. When the editor got the novel it had no paragraph breaks of chapter breaks. Another young writer of the time, Truman Capote, was unimpressed. “That’s not writing, it’s typing.”

1964- Buffalo NY cook Angela Bellissima took some chicken wings, threw them into a deep fryer with spices and invented Buffalo Wings.

1965- CBS television network headquarters moved into a sleek building on 6th ave. in Manhattan. Because of it's black granite and smoke tinted window's it's nicknamed "Black Rock". NBC's headquarters in Rockefeller Center are called "30 Rock". ABC's, owing to their status as the third network, calls their headquarters "Little Rock".

1994-Patrick McDonnell starts drawing the comic strip MUTTS.

Sept 4, 2006
September 4th, 2006

My friend Patrick Mate' allows me to exercise my Napoleonic complex, with himself as one of my grenadiers. Check out more of his work on his website! Quelle Belle Journee!

Birthdays: Darius Mihlaud, Anton Bruckner, Chateaubriand, Craig Claiborne, Dick York, Nigel Bruce- Dr Watson to Basil Rathbones Holmes, historian Mary Renault, golfer Tom Watson, Mitzi Gaynor, Damon Wayans

In the U.S., Happy Labor Day. Industrial workers had been marching and celebrating their numbers since 1882. IN 1894 President Grover Cleveland was worried about his re-eleciton chances among working people, especially after he ordered federal troops to shoot down Pullman railroad strikers. So he followed the suggestion of American Federation of Labor president Samuel Gompers, that working people needed a holiday between the 4th of July and Halloween with none of the lefty connotations of May Day.

218BC- Hannibal’s army with elephants reached the summit of the Alps.

1781- HAPPY BIRTHDAY, LOS ANGELES. Royal Governor of New Spain Gaspar de Portola and Franciscan monk Fra Junipero Serra with twelve soldiers, some free black families and Indians, about 44 in all, dedicate a new town one days ride north of San Pedro. The 63 year old Serra had been stung by a scorpion but ignored it, so he hobbled around dragging his swollen leg. Fra Serra named the town after St. Francis of Assisi's first church in Italy , St. Mary of the Angels, so El Pueblo Nuestra Senora Santa Maria Reina de Los Angeles de Porcuincula. Like totally knarly dude!

1888-George Eastman patents the roll film camera. The word "Kodak" is supposedly the sound the shutter made. Another story on the origin of the word was that George wanted a word pronounced the same in all known dialects. So after some research (Rochester lore has it that he did all of this himself) he concluded that only k and x qualified as sounds uttered the same way in all languages. Thus Eastman Kodak. Years later the Rochester based Haloid company, which had for years manufactured photographic paper for Kodak, invented a dry copying process and renamed their company Xerox, following the same convention.

1893- Writer and illustrator Beatrix Potter sent a letter to a sick child: " I don't know what to write you so I shall tell you the story of four little rabbits. Their names were Flopsy, Mopsy, Cottontail and Peter." The Peter Cottontail stories born.

1934- Young filmmaker Leni Reifenstahl was contracted by the German Propaganda Ministry to film the 1934 Nazis Party Congress to be held in Nuremburg. While they were expecting a routine documentary Reifenstahl instead created the film The Triumph of the Will, who’s darkly hypnotic images would make film history.

1940- The Columbia Broadcast Service or CBS network started up their first television station.

1957-Ford Motor Company introduced the Edsel, named for Henry Ford's son. Touted as "the dream car of the decade". Ford spent more to promote it than any other car in history. Only 200,000 were sold and after complaints like the steering and brakes failing and dashboards unexpectedly bursting into flame the car was discontinued. Ford lost $250 million. Edsel became the synonym for corporate failure.

1972- American swimmer Mark Spitz won his 7th gold medal in Olympic competition in Munich. He also spawned a cottage industry selling the poster of him wearing his medals, tiny Speedos and that’s about it. This image and the swimsuit poster of Farrah Fawcett, were two of the more famous images of the 1970’s. The Gillette Company offered Spitz a million dollars to shave his mustache in a commercial. Spitz said no.

1976- College party boy George W. Bush was busted for drunk-driving close to his family home in Kennebunkport, Maine. He later applied for a brand new Texas State driver’s license, which came with a clean record with no report of the arrest. As President delivering the commencement at Harvard in 2002 he joked:” In the motorcade, seeing all those police cars behind me with their lights flashing… kinda brings me back to my college days…”

1993- Herb Villechaise, the little person who began the show Fantasy Island with the announcement: ”Da PLANE! Da PLANE!’ committed suicide with a shotgun.

Labor Day
September 3rd, 2006

courtesy IWW.

Here's a little Labor Day message for my friends in AnimationLand. I haven't been in union management for 5 years now, but I keep the union in my heart. By that I don't mean I love silly badges, dues and booklets with photos of thick necked hoodlums in suits shaking hands.

I mean the idea, the concept, that artists acting not as loners but acting together, speaking with one voice, can achieve better conditions for us all. Or at least make the big companies that employ us think twice about getting away with something.

We love animation, we love making cartoons and making people smile, but don't be naïve. We are also in a business. I've worked in all facets of this business including as an employer, and let me tell you some truths. Nothing you have today as an artist was given to you because your boss has a big heart. All our conditions, our wages, health plans, the Labor Day three day weekend itself, was won out of struggle. Every good thing had to be negotiated, threatened over, agitated for.

The weekend off isn't a fact of nature like the seasons. Animation people worked six day weeks until 1941 and no one paid overtime until the unions forced them to. And this isn't a history lesson. Most CGI studios didn’t pay overtime until the threat of going union forced them to. Our ancestors risked their careers, their livelihoods, even physical violence to win the benefits we take for granted.

And talent has nothing to do with it. Mozart died poor. Rembrandt went bankrupt. Many of the top Hollywood legends that we love to gush about worked for a weekly paycheck and got nothing else. I knew many animation legends in their old age, who if they didn't have our union pension would have had spent their last years in poverty.

Let me tell you what the world is like. Employers and Employees act in a Push-Me-Pull-You system. An endless tug of war with no winners. To say you don't want to play and be part of it, merely encourages the other side to push you even harder, until you wise up and push back. That’s how it is. If you won't work together and only think of yourself, you will soon see lower wages, no security, a studio will enact conditions you will find intolerable. You can't achieve much by yourself, no matter what a genius artist you are. In my years as union prez I saw studios fire someone for getting HIV, if you were a smoker, even at home, you were forced to join a no-smoking program, dress codes, studios going bankrupt owing artists thousands of dollars in back pay. This isn't history, this is going on right now. Ever try and sue a multinational corporation by yourself?

I know many good employers and producers. Many of them love animation as much as their artists do. It is a thrill when they can create the opportunity for their artists to create a new hit show or character. The producers who love animation don't have a problem with what I'm saying here. Most will agree because they may have SAG or WGA cards themselves.

But, for every one of those producers who genuinely love our business, there are more who are just out for a quick buck. While you love art and animation, they love making money out of your ass. They could just as well be financing cow insemination as cartoons. They'll make their pile and move on, while you and I just get eyestrain and a flatter bottom.

Charles Schulz, the creator of Peanuts, arguably the most successful self-made cartoonist of our time, once told his fellow cartoonists" Just remember the big difference between you and the people you work for. You can draw, they can't. So they will never look upon you as one of them." You are a cow to be milked, you are a software program to be used and disgarded. Joanne Siegel, the widow of Superman co-creator Joe Siegel and the model for Lois Lane, said to us" All artists have to stick together, else you're nothing to them."Frank Thomas once said:" You can't afford to ignore your union."

Unions can make mistakes. I made mistakes. Democracy is a messy process. People are fallible. But the concept of an artists' union is good. After all the companies have folded, all the projects are forgotten, all the bonuses and raises and layoffs, your fellow artists are always there with you. We are a tribe. We will never let you down. We have no security but to look after each other. Actors know that, ballet dancers and ball players know that, we in animation should know that to.

So this Labor Day I will take a moment from my barbeque to raise a glass to us, the animation people. The worst paid, least respected, yet finest artists in the world!

Happy Labor Day

Birthdays: Alan Ladd, Dr. Ferdinand Porsche, Irene Papas, Memphis Slim, Eddie Brat Stanky, Mort Walker creator of Beetle Bailey, Bill Flemming, Mitzi Gaynor, Richard Tyler, Eileen Brennan, Valerie Perrine, Charlie Sheen is 41

1592- Retired London actor Richard Green wrote a letter to his fellow actors complaining of a newcomer becoming popular in their midst "A new upstart crow filled with Bombast" - Master William Shakespeare.

1777- In a small skirmish with British redcoats near Cooch Maryland the American rebels raise their new Stars & Stripes banner for the first time in battle. They are quickly defeated.

1912- Los Angeles attraction Frazier's Million Dollar Pier destroyed by fire.

1930- The first issue of the Hollywood Reporter.

1937- Orson Welles Mercury Theater of the air produced its first play on nationwide radio- an adaptation of Victor Hugo’s Les Mierables.

1939- Britain and France declare war on Nazi Germany over the invasion of Poland, World War Two results.

1939- British Prime Minister Chamberlain's war announcement interrupts a Disney Cartoon "Mickey's Gala Premiere" showing on the nascent BBC television service. Television shuts down for the duration.

1946- After the War, the BBC television service resumes and an announcer says:" Well now, where were we?" They continue the Mickey cartoon from where it was interrupted in 1939. World War Two probably held back for a decade the development of television.

1950- Mort Walker's "Beetle Bailey" comic strip first appeared.

1960- The Hanna-Barbera show 'Lippy the Lion and Hardy-Harr-Harr" premiered.

2003- Two crooks in Detroit hijacked a Krispy Kreme truck and tried to hold three thousand donuts hostage.

John Steinbeck quote
September 2nd, 2006

John Steinbeck was the author of such classics as The Grapes of Wrath, and Of Mice and Men.

On Teaching”
by John Steinbeck
“…School is not so easy and it not for the most part very fun, but then, if you are very lucky, you may find a teacher. Three real teachers in a lifetime is the very best of luck. I have come to believe that a great teacher is a great artist and that there are as few as there are other great artists. Teaching might even be the greater of the arts since the medium is the human mind and spirit.
My three had these things in common. They all loved what they were doing. They did not tell- they catalyzed a burning desire to know. Under their influence, the horizons sprung wide and fear went away and the unknown became knowable. But most important of all, the truth, that dangerous stuff, became beautiful and precious.”

(thanks to Dave Master for digging this up.)