Household god dating from the Republican period

“Unidentified soldier in Confederate uniform with bayoneted musket and pistol,” Liljenquist Family Collection of Civil War Photographs, Library of Congress, Post-processed for contrast and detail. This tinted photograph is an ambrotype — that is, it is generically a low-contrast mirror image.


EBf7z_UW4AAPkyP aiB plus BDM
“You too belong to the Führer.” Poster, League of German Girls (Bund deutscher Mädel), 1933-1945. On August 7, 2019, President Donald J. Trump flew to the border city of El Paso to condole with the survivors of a mass shooting inspired by his anti-Mexican rhetoric. While there, he and his wife posed, grinning and thumbs-upping, with a two-month-old baby whose mother and father had died shielding their child.


Language note: ask any sophomore

A Chicago-based restaurant chain has apologized for asking Hawaiians to stop using two Hawaiian words…kind of.

Over the weekend a furore broke out when it came to light that the Aloha Poke Co. had sent cease and desist letters to several small businesses operating as some variation of “Aloha Poke,” which it owns the trademark for. Many of these businesses are run by native Hawaiians. Aloha Poke Co. is not.

[. . .]

In response, the company took to Facebook to share a deep apology that the issue had “been so triggering” and to defend itself against what it called misinformation spread on social media. The post said the company had not tried to own the words “aloha” or “poke” and had not told Hawaiian businesses they could not use the words “aloha” or “poke.” Instead, they’d merely enforced their trademark which protects the use of the phrase “Aloha Poke” in connection with food service.

The Aloha Poke Co. founder, Zach Friedlander, who no longer works at the company, also posted on Facebook, saying he was “deeply saddened by the reaction that some have taken regarding this situation.” He went on to say the reaction was a “witch hunt” based on “false news”.

— Hallie Detrick, “Aloha Poke Co Is Really Sorry It Told Native Hawaiians They Couldn’t Use ‘Aloha Poke.'”

About the red letters:

With his business and political activities under investigation as of August 2018, President Trump is tweeting several times a day about what he calls, with perhaps trademarkable capital initials, “the Witch Hunt” and “Fake News.” The difference between Mr. Trump’s “Fake News” and Mr. Friedlander’s “false news” may seem trivial, but in the classroom it matters. When you ask a sophomore why, the sophomore will explain that when you change “Fake” to “false,” that makes it not really plagiarism.

Sort of the way standing a plastic hula girl in the snow outside your restaurant door fills Chicago with aloha.

Right, Dennis?

Franco-Italian language note: the plural of “rigoletto”

May 19, 2018. The car’s radio transmits a bass voice singing over diminishing-storm effects on flute. Oh yes: it’s act 4 of Rigoletto, and Sparafucile has just delivered the body bag. The jester has lost his honor but gained his revenge. Egli è là! he soliloquizes over the bag. Morto!

But what is that tenor voice in the distance? And is it singing La donna è mobile?

Oh no. And because the tenor has taken to the radio to explain about women, it’s easy for us delightedly unseeing hearers to visualize him in a comb-over.

On May 16, former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson had delivered the commencement address at Virginia Military Institute. Without naming any names, Mr. Tillerson suggested to the graduates that virtue may have value, appearances to the contrary notwithstanding. Two months earlier, white-haired Mr. Tillerson had been publicly broken by the blonded master whose vices he faithfully served. He wasn’t the only one.

An accurately idiomatic plural of rigoletto (“funny little guy”) wouldn’t be rigoletti. It would be optimists.




Larry Clark and William Gedney: documentarians of the prehistory of the Trump era

A Larry Clark archive is at

A William Gedney archive is at

Forty years ago, the prophetic photographs were silent and still. We thought they were archaeologies of civilizations relegated to the archive. Now they pass among us in color and motion, telling us in their dead language what we have become and retweeting the corpus in the language of the undead. We are joining them in the archive.

To conceal short fingers, wear a cape (requires red-and-blue stereo viewer)

Every summer between 1894 and 1914, with the exception of 1906, Germany’s Kaiser Wilhelm II made a cruise to Norway on the imperial yacht Hohenzollern II. In this image from the collection of the Museum für Kunst und Gewerbe, Hamburg, cruise passengers on (probably) the German liner Viktoria Luise view the yacht in the setting of a Nordic mountainscape.

And here, with Hohenzollern in the background, the emperor approaches to receive Viktoria Luise’s salute and manifest himself before his people. Precious image of the nation that he is, he comes lavishly gift-wrapped.

His Majesty favored wrap-around capes partly because they were military and partly because he was self-conscious about letting people see his paralyzed left arm, which was about 15 cm shorter than his right arm.

As I write this post on June 13, 2017, some media controversy is being generated by a New York production of Julius Caesar featuring a Caesar accessorized, like the United States’ current President, with a too-big suit, a too-big tie, an elaborate blond wig, and a Slavic-accented Calpurnia. One problem with that à clef association, as reviewers have pointed out, is that Shakespeare’s Caesar actually was a great man. Another problem is that the military couturiers of early Imperial Rome practiced their art under the guidance of a Stoic sense that there is such a thing as too much.

But perhaps the styles and etiquettes of Wilhelmine Germany have something more historically precise to contribute to a twenty-first-century allegory of the Caesarian.

Source of the images:


Photoshopped and converted to anaglyphs.