Friday, February 12, 2010

Religion, sola fide and the second Klan

I had a pretty free upbringing when it came to religion. My mother was raised in a strict Catholic home, and vowed to not subject her kids to that. Rather, she encouraged us to attend church with various friends, learning about different denominations, to determine if anything felt right.

My dad, on the other hand, was completely turned off to religion. When asked, he referred to himself as Protestant. Protestant basically refers to a Christian denomination (Baptist, Methodist, Lutheran, etc.) that isn't Catholic. Unlike Catholics, Protestants believe that salvation comes from faith alone (sola fide). Surely, salvation by faith alone isn't all that bad when you want to run amok raping and pillaging, discriminating or terrorizing. That might explain why so much harm and bad things seem to happen in the name of God. That might also explain my grandmother Lola's behavior. Considering so many denominations fall under the "category" of Protestant, I may never know what "house of worship" Lola was a member of.

At some point when my dad was young, Lola aligned herself with what my dad called, "the holy rollers". She was a bible-thumping fundamentalist and would chase her young son around, hitting him with the bible while yelling unsavory things at him. Surely such behavior leaves a bad impression of religion on a young person. My dad was the youngest of two boys. His older brother (by about 2 years) drowned when he was very young. Lola never quite got over that loss. One of the things my dad told me she would yell at him while chasing him with her bible, was how she wished it would have been him that drowned. This would usually happen when he did something she didn't approve of.

When I consider that many people may call themselves Christian or Protestant, I do realize that doesn't always mean an active participating member of a church. Whether Lola went to church or not, I have no clue. I do know that she had a bible (and surely most households did or still do). I do know that many people will justify horrific behavior, claiming it is "the will of God" or "in the bible".

Lola was married to Red. No doubt Red was Protestant, too. Whether Red actually went to church or had a bible, I don't know. Red and Lola started their family life in the Midwest, welcoming their first born son around 1915. My dad came along two years later. Something else they apparently welcomed into their early life also happened in 1915 - the second Ku Klux Klan.

Red was of an age that required he not only register for the draft during WWI, but also WWII. As far as I can tell, he was not a war veteran. Post-war times are hard and many fears arise, especially when it comes to immigration and livelihood. The fear of job loss when one has a family to feed is scary. Post WWI, was no exception, especially in the Midwest where many freed slaves began to move, along with an influx of Catholic and Jewish immigrants from Europe. During that time, there was no such thing as Social Security, so many men joined fraternal organizations such as the Elks in order to provide for their families in the event they died or were unable to work.

The Klan promoted itself as a fraternal organization, hiding the violence many of it's members exhibited. Klan members were white, protestant males. My dad told us stories of being a young child walking with his parents and brother in Klan marches. These two little boys (pictured above), holding their mother's hands and marching in something they were completely oblivious to was a part of my dad's life he hated and felt remorseful about. I guess he struggled with accepting the fact that participating in those marches was not of his free will - he was a very young child when that happened.

History has the ability to teach us lessons. Unfortunately, I'm not sure we always learn from them. Justification of hate in the name of religion still burdens society today. Will we ever get past that? Probably not in my lifetime.

At this point in my research, I do not know how long the affiliation between my grandparents and Klan lasted. This was not something my dad talked about in great detail. Actually, he didn't talk about many things in great detail, making this search for Lola both interesting and frustrating. So the search goes on.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Yudu and Gocco

 I am a long time user of the Print Gocco, a table-top printing system developed in Japan in 1977. This fun little machine works using flash bulbs, carbon based artwork and an emulsion-coated screen.  When you manually flash the bulbs, the carbon artwork burns the image into the emulsion-coated screen.  Sadly, in 2005, Riso (Print Gocco's parent company) citing decreased sales caused them to end production.  That started an internet campaign to save Gocco or find a new home for Gocco.  Now the supplies are getting harder to come by and therefore more expensive than ever! This crisis has forced me to look for alternatives.

About a year ago, I heard about the Yudu.  I was pretty jazzed and HAD to go get one.  I bought it along with additional supplies.  And now, almost one year later, it is still in the box.   The "similarities" in the name (Gocco - Yudu) did not go unnoticed by me.  This Yudu came with an instructional DVD which was, to say the least, pretty darn goofy.  Since it also comes with one screen and two (rather pricey) capillary emulsion sheets, I kept putting off using it.  I would read the posts on the Yudu Forum for tips and occassionally search for videos on YouTube.  Then I discovered a place in the L.A. area that was teaching Yudu workshops.  I wrote on my 2010 goals that I'd take the workshop.  I posted those goals.  I then called to sign up and was told that the workshop was sold out.  NO!  I was told that they offer it every month, but, in February it was being offered on a weeknight and with my work schedule, plus the hideous traffic involved in getting from point A to point B, I couldn't do it.  I asked to be put on the wait list.  The laws of attraction, I gather, were at work.  I got a call a few days later that someone cancelled the workshop and I was in.  I went last Saturday.

One of the class requirements was to email the artwork to the instructor.  I chose my Guitar Cat, thinking I could not only burn a screen of the detailed drawing to print in black, but that I could also burn a second screen sans the detail for the first run in a different color.  That wasn't really a part of the class.  The class was quite good and focused on how to properly transfer the emulsion sheet to the screen (apparently the hardest part of the process), burning the screen in the Yudu, removing the excess emulsion after the screen has been exposed, drying the screen and then printing.

I brought T-shirts, flour sack dishtowels and card stock with me to class to print on.  We were given a piece of scrap fabric for our first print.  The Yudu comes with 110 mesh screens.  These are really for printing larger areas.  My finer line artwork lends itself well to 220 mesh (smaller holes per inch) and Gocco screens are 220.  Yudu now offers 220 mesh screens, FYI.

Once all the prep work was done, we got down to printing.  Yikes!  Way too much ink.  This is the scrap fabric provided by the class for our first print. 

I then started to print on the floursack towels. These towels are pretty big and I encountered a little problem due to the limited work area - kept accidentally getting the towel in the ink (not good).  Also, my prints on the cardstock were equally "runny".  I wasn't too pleased due to the lack of detail, but my hip, young instructor liked the look.  She even called me a "perfectionist"!

After several runs the image began to look how I wanted it to look.  I think it didn't have anything to do with the mesh count, but rather the amount of ink.  In the class, we also determined the cardstock was just too glossy and that could be why they were so blurry.  Maybe, or maybe it the screen was just too overloaded with ink.  This was quite fun and I fully plan to get the hang of it soon.  Stay tuned. More to come.

Song of the Week - 11

I was among the masses during the 70s that LOVED Led Zeppelin. I should also add that I still LOVE Led Zeppelin. I have mentioned many times here that there was always music in the house I grew up in. My parents' were music lovers and so was my older sister. My younger sister and I fell into this tradition as well.

Also, like so many (particularly teen girls) my notebooks and Pee-Chees were covered with pictures and doodles of rock stars I loved. Not only were the notebooks covered, but my bedroom walls were inundated with posters and pictures. I may not have been able to dictate paint colors for my bedroom, but I was not stopped from hanging posters and pictures!

Flash back to 1976/1977. Zeppelin was touring. Yeah! My two fabulous friends and I HAD to get tickets. We had the concert going bug. Besides, growing up in a small town didn't offer much in those days for teens to do, other than live entertainment or parties. So, the day we knew the tickets for the Zeppelin tour were going on sale found us making the serious decision to ditch school and get our hands on tickets.

Off we went that particular weekday morning. Mind you, this was a time prior to calling a number to purchase concert tickets or going on line to buy them. It was also a time when concert tickets did frequently go on sale during the middle of the week. What really were you to do if not ditch school?

At that time, a department store called May Company had a Ticketmaster. That was a hotspot when tickets were on sale for concerts that were not happening at our local venue. We arrived and stood in line with many a young person, anxiously anticipating the future concert. As the morning went on, the line dwindled. We were getting so close the ticket window. In fact, by the time there were only two people in front of us, the Ticketmaster clerks announced that the show was sold out! Horrors! How could this be? What karmic payback was happening here?

Despair set in to my teenage mind. Surely this was a cruel joke. But, it was not. The shows were sold out. We left dejected and went to the typical teen hangout, our local fast-food drive through. Surely, others would be hanging out bitching about the tickets selling out so early.

1977 was the last year the mighty Zeppelin toured. In 1980, drummer John Bonham died unexpectedly at the ripe old age of 32. Needless to say, we never got that chance to catch the next tour.

Having grown up in a music-filled, religously free, metaphysical thinking house, I got it in my head that this song was somehow "supernatural". I really have no proof of that now, but it was my feelings during my teen years. Somehow, that feeling, although unproven, still hangs on.

What I think is the most underrated Zeppelin song, "The Rover". Enjoy.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

The cats of the house - Monkey

Yes, a cat called Monkey. Monkey is the baby cat of the house, and a bit of a "fluffy" guy in stature. He even has a big cat head, according to his vet. He has short cat legs, a teeny little voice, and a desire to be alpha cat. He is famous for "making bread" and drools quite a bit when happily making that bread. Monkey came into my life back in 2005 as just a little kitten.

At that time I was living in a different house. It was in the city, yet seemed to be in the country somehow. The neighborhood was known to have all sorts of wildlife (and I don't mean the neighbors either). There were always visits to the yard by raccoons, skunks, possums, rats and cats. A neighborhood Tuxedo cat we nicknamed Sam would come and hang out in the wicker chair in the yard. One day, he brought his new little friend around. That little friend was Monkey.

It didn't take long before Monkey became a regular fixture in the yard. He was there in the morning and he was there in the evening. Turns out he'd sleep up on the roof at night where he was safe (the house was Spanish style with a flat roof.) I think he was feral. He was hard to lure in and was very skittish. It was always a challenge to catch him, and as time went on, he did seem to express a desire to get closer, but just wasn't terribly trusting.

After a few months, he began to develop a little trust (as best as he could). He had blankets and I even got a Dogloo for him to sleep in when it was cold and rainy out. He never used it though, only the skunks found it interesting. It was pretty cool when he began to trust enough to let you pet him (even if ever so briefly). He even started to come in to the house, but immediately seemed to "snap out of it" and would desperately try to get out. Now, I had a screen door and it was pretty crappy. Even though it was locked, you could always seem to get that door opened, even if you were a little cat pushing against it from inside the house with all your might. Oh yes, the beauty of rental property!

When the time came to move to a new place, we had to catch Monkey in the morning and put him in the cat carrier and take him to the vet to be neutered. Louie and Petey also spent that day at the vet so that they would be safe in one place with the action of that day. You see, when you have indoor cats, it is never a good idea to have them roaming around on moving day. Doors are always left open and that can lead to unhappy results.

Once Monkey was neutered and brought to the new house, he seemed to adjust quite well to his new domesticated indoor lifestyle. He and Petey became fast friends and they both love sleeping under my dining room sideboard. The sideboard just happens to be located over a heater vent. When the heater is on, the space between the vented area of the floor and the bottom of the sideboard is quite toasty!

Like Louie and Petey, Monkey is a bright spot and a joy. He is still a little suspicious of humans, but he's slowly learning to relax more when friends come calling.