Steve Wacksman
February 2009
Neo-Cubism and An Incident At The Secret Illustrator's Ball
I got into a groove a while back that was a sorta 'neo-Cubist' thing. It wasn't really premeditated and it's a fairly obvious riff on the work of Picasso, the ever-rich minefield of Jim Flora, and Gene Deitch's work of the middle 1940's. Some of it was kinda sinister. That's not altogether rare for me - I grew up on a fairly rich diet of sinister imagery and it's deeply-rooted. Blame Edward Gorey, for whose works my Mother had a curious fondness. "The Gashlycrumb Tinies" followed hot on the heels of Dr Suess in my childhood library.

I recently saw Mr Steven Guarnaccia at an illustrator's shindig and we got to talking. Catching up, really- I hadn't seen him in years. Unfortunately, I was drunk. Not filthy drunk, but at the point where drunkenness had rather rudely and abruptly elbowed sobriety out of the driver's seat and was starting to swerve erratically. He asked me what I'd been up to and I proudly boasted that I was raising my son and doing some 'really interesting work'. Sober me would have never said that, as the work I was doing at the time was pretty far south of interesting and was in fact boring the pants right off of me. But I started in on these 'neo-cubist' scribblings I'd been filling my sketchbooks with to keep me amused. He looked intrigued and asked how I'd come about them.
At this point the margaritas had a rather firm hold on me and I started blathering on about Ben Shahn and David Stone Martin ( neither of which were technically relevant anyhow). David Foster Wallace had recently died and I guess was on my mind and I inadvertently substituted his name for David Stone Martin's. Guarnaccia, ever the gentleman countered with something along the lines of "I'd be interested to see how DAVID STONE MARTIN's work translates to cubism". The slender sliver of sobriety I retained recoiled in horror. My face turned beet red and I dashed from the ballroom in shame. As I passed the buffet my heel broke and I careened recklessly into the table, spilling confectionery and candleabras everywhere. I upset the crystal punchbowl which loudly shattered into a million glistening pieces. The band stopped playing, startled by the din. I looked down at my feet as a cold wave of shame immobilized me. It was then I realized that the bottom half of my taffeta ballgown had ripped away in the melee and I was wearing nothing but my control-top undergarments.

Man, I loved that dress.
Let's Laff! With Lincoln.
Do you remember 'Wheel Of Fortune' host Pat Sajack's short-lived talk show? I vividly recall one of Pat's opening monologues in which he quipped (and I paraphrase):Valentine's Day and Lincoln's Birthday are just a few days apart. This year I opted to celebrate them as one holiday and I freed my love slaves.

Make Mine Mastiff!
Cindy McEderry of Northland Bordeaux with Finn and Molly.
Yesterday I enjoyed what's become an annual tradition for me: an afternoon spent amongst the dogs competing in the Westminster Kennel Club's Dog Show. As many of you know, I am a dog person - more specifically a big dog person. While I love all breeds, I am especially fond of the quiet majesty, calm, and self-assuredness of the Molossers. This year's WKC show was special in that it was the first year the Dogue De Bordeaux, or French Mastiff was eligible top compete in an AKC event. As a proud owner of a Dogue it was especially gratifying to be amongst like-minded people and to meet many of the heavy-hitters of the breed. To see the revered Brando (best of breed at Westminster this year) in the flesh was quite an experience.
Best in show ....according to me.
My absolute favorite dog at the show this year, however, was this Bullmastiff. He had a gorgeous brindle coat and a sweet, playful and easygoing temperament which immediately endeared me to him. He didn't fare too well in the ring, but in my eyes was a real standout. I'm afraid I forgot his call name, but his owner/breeder/handler was Mr Rick Blanchard of Nix Bullmastiffs. I rather strongly disagreed with the judges dismissal of him, as he was the sole brindle entry. And this is one of my grievances with the AKC: they judge working dogs on type and beauty. Bulmastiffs were developed to guard estates from poachers. They were meant to silently prowl the grounds and , upon encountering an intruder, pin him and alert the night watchman. The brindle coat made the dog almost invisible at night and thus was preferred. At Westminster there were 25 Bullmastiffs -24 were red or fawn. These colors are seemingly the preferred colors today; brindles rarely do well with today's judges. It seems counterintuitive to me, especially as the sport of purebred dogs is ostensibly to preserve history.
To every parent who assured his child monsters don't really exist, I present to you the Neapolitan Mastiff
Also memorable was the Mastino, or Neapolitan Mastiff. This dog is thought to be a descendant of the fabled Roman war dogs, and it is truly breathtaking. It is a living gargoyle and would certainly give any intruder pause. To see one of these massive, lumbering, wrinkled dogs in motion is a sight unlike any other.
After an early morning judging, a Dogue likes to kick back with a large latte and a pack of Strawberry Newtons.
Ch Highpoint's Four On The Floor taking Best Of Breed in the Bullmastiff judging.
Lastly, congratulations to 'Stump'. the Sussex Spaniel who took home the cup
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