Monday, October 31, 2011

Freight Fright

"G" scale model train track set up among the cacti.

Ever since I was a child, model train sets have ignited my imagination, inspiring me into daydreams of foreign lands or past eras, serving as sculpted tableaux upon which my fantasy may ride the rails across the boundaries of time and space.

So, it was with great enthusiasm that I had the opportunity to make a quick visit to the model train show at the South Coast Botanic Gardens. There were many fine sets on display in the primary exhibition hall, some with a Halloween theme, but I was especially thrilled to see that a few tracks had been set out in the Cactus Garden. Of course, I adore fabricated terrain and admire the design skills required to create a quality land set, but watching the trains course their way through real cacti, over authentic ground, and around sets arranged within a natural environment is a rare treat, specifically in that it can't be unpacked from a garage cabinet for a Sunday afternoon. ;-)

I've never had the happy conjunction of free time, disposable cash, and ample set space to pursue the model train hobby myself, but, if I ever get to a comfortable state of retirement, it's on my wish list. As a table top gamer, I love designing encounter settings, creating them on the cheap with paper and colored pencils. There is something exhilarating to this playful bit of world-building.

"G" scale train traverses a land with enormous flora.

I've been considering starting a new blog to focus on my game-related interests, which are a bit too niche to share here at Paideia. It might be cool to share various setting design posts with you all. We'll see if I have sufficient time to do a proper job of it. ;-)

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Pacific Standard Time: Weekly Update #3

Pacific Standard Time Logo

Not much to add this week. Halloween activities have dominated my schedule, reducing my art viewing just as much as they've crashed my blogging productivity, like a vortex into which most of my time and energy gets sucked. But in a good, fun way. ;-)

I only hit one new location but it was a major event for me. I visited the Pepperdine University exhibit in Malibu. I haven't been to up in that part of town for over a decade. It is a place into which I actively avoid going. Actually, the last time that I visited Malibu was also to see a show at Pepperdine, the "Agnes Pelton: Poet of Nature" exhibit back in 1996.

Well, if one of the goals of Pacific Standard Time is to get Angelenos visiting local regions to which they normally do not travel, then it succeeded as regards to me, perhaps even breaking my antipathy towards Malibu.

I also paid a second trip to the Norton Simon exhibit on printmaking, "Proof." It's a really extensive show, rewarding multiple visits, offering new insights with each viewing. The museum had a "spotlight talk" for one of the works in the show, Rufino Tamayo's "Mask" (1964), an intriguing work from an underappreciated Mexican master.

So here are my PST hits for the week:

Frederick R. Weisman Museum of Art, Pepperdine University

"California Art: Selections from the Frederick R. Weisman Art Foundation"

Norton Simon Museum

"Proof: The Rise of Printmaking in Southern California"

I'm hoping to hit another one of the big venues this week, either the Getty or MOCA. It'll be fun stuff!!!


A (Sculpture) Garden in Pasadena

Sculpture Garden at the Norton Simon Museum

A Garden in Pasadena (Lines 39 to 48)
(By John Hollander)

Flowering trees, perennial anthologies
     Of the outcry of color against
Versions of green, calculated plots of bright shrubs
     Empebbled, flowers of rhetoric
Blaring the brightest colors of unburning fire-
     All these compose themselves in evening
Calm, even at noon, or soon after. When the light
     Has weight, and when the undimmed music
Still taking place here comes to a consonant sigh,
     Wind roughs up the grass, and petals shake.

I know, Hollander's birthday was two days ago, but, since I visited a garden in Pasadena yesterday, it seemed like a shame to not share a snippet of his poetry in this post. ;-)

Rock Form: Porthcurno (1964) by Barbara Hepworth

The Norton Simon Sculpture Garden has a lovely selection of works arranged around a charming pond. I could spend an afternoon relaxing in this peaceful enclave of Art.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Friday Flowers: Fuchsias For Proserpina

Fuchsia: Mendonoma Belle

A Glimpse of Proserpina
(By John Hollander)

Clear, early mornings as I stride
Westward, the usual brick street
Grows meadow grass from its concrete:
The neighborhood turns countryside.

Huge structures hovering across
The river like excluding shades
Collapse into the Palisades;
The river burns away its dross.

If I went up a nearby hill
You would be there in sight, bent down
To gather flowers at the crown
Of my hill's twin against the sky;

We'd meet where, as in fields of wars
Forgotten, stones and daisies swarm,
Then turn back, arm in flowers in arm,
And bring them quietly indoors.

Almost missed our weekly Friday Flowers post, which would have been a shame because today marks the birth date of John Hollander, born in 1929.

Fuchsia: Bonnie Doan

As is the usual case with holiday weekends, I'm expecting posting to be erratic until Tuesday. Have a great weekend!!!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Variations on a Googie Theme

LAX Theme Building from Parking Lot (2011) by Danny Heller

With brilliant hues and broad design, the exploration of light and space is a principle feature to Los Angeles art, capturing the fleeting instant of time in a flash of opulent color. Likewise, a fascination with novelty and "futurism" is integral to the city's ever-changing appearance.

Danny Heller's "LAX Series" solo show at the George Billis Gallery explores both of these elements. In a series of ten paintings, he examines the iconic Theme Building under widely different lighting conditions and from a variety of perspectives, bringing out the geometric nuances with subtle gradations of flowing illumination. A masterpiece of Googie architecture, the Theme Building has a unique structure that lends itself to such a study.

Heller is an accomplished regionalist painter who is well practiced at capturing the look and feel of the Southern Californian environment, be it busy cityscapes or quiet scenes of suburbia, evoking an authentic sense of place. The "LAX Series" is an ambitious project in that each work needs to express significant differences of character and mood, conveying distinct experiences in perceiving the subject, but it also needs to maintain a cohesive commonality through which comparative assessments of the individual paintings may be formed.

Theme Building and Road (2011) by Danny Heller

It's tough to accomplish, but I think Heller scores the goal with these paintings. If the premise of such a series is to impart the painter's experience of a structure through both sight and physical presence, then these works accomplish the job, allowing the viewer to share in the aesthetic insights signified by the overall composition.

Stay Wilder Than the Wind

Detail from the cover of Duran Duran's "Medazzaland" album (1997)

Popular music of the early 1980s forms the kernel of appreciation from which all my subsequent musical interests grow, regardless of genre, style, or era. Though I rarely stop to listen to the tunes of 1983 or '84, they insinuated their way into my youthful psyche and early aesthetic development with so durable an influence that I can "hear" the music "on call" within my imagination.

It was the convergence of sound and vision in the medium of music videos that made these memories so strong. I must have spent countless hours watching MTV or the local video show hosted by Richard Blade, spellbound by the exotic places, beautiful people, and entrancing melodies. Perhaps the most compelling performers in perfecting the union of music and image were the British New Wave group, Duran Duran.

I wasn't a fan of Duran Duran back in the day. Their music was distinctive and well-crafted, but a few of their songs got so overplayed that it turned me off of their sound for a while. Even now, when I hear "Rio" or "The Reflex" I have a mixture of enthusiasm and loathing. Happily, time has allowed me to lift my vague antipathy from their music as a whole, opening up a rich catalog of three decades worth of quality compositions, songs that carry that original "new romantic" spirit with ever increasing sophistication and maturity.

Detail from Patrick Nagel's cover art for "Rio" (1982)

And so let's take the birthday of lead singer, Simon Le Bon, for an excuse to give a listen to some wonderful songs from the greatest British band of the early '80s. "Voices, another sound, can you hear me now?" ;-)

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Weekly Wrap: Wednesday #15

Point Vicente: At the bottom of the cliffs.

Blogger seems to be glitched tonight. So I'll keep this post short.

Eleven posts were written this week. That's an acceptable number. Post quality was also at a decent grade. I can do better, but I'm satisfied with this situation.

I've been slacking on covering the art gallery scene. That's mainly due to Pacific Standard Time crowding out other art-related posts. I need to remedy this imbalance. Gallery shows are an important part of keeping art vital and evolving. It's important to support these shows, even if it's only with an occasional blog post. ;-)

Dance at Bougival (1883) by Pierre-Auguste Renoir

Here are the posts:

We had three art posts, our weekly update on the Pacific Standard Time events, the John Outterbridge "Rag Factory" exhibit at LA><ART, and the Oscar Castillo "Icons of the Invisible" show at UCLA's Fowler Museum.

Music was well represented with a celebration of George Crumb's birthday, a Strauss Waltz-fest, and our monthly Dance Party.

Friday Flowers were marigolds and Mexican Bush Sage put on some extra floral fun for the weekend. ;-)

We snuck in some advertising laughs in our celebration of Bigfoot.

Then we rounded out the week with a trip to the "haunted" Point Vicente lighthouse and a celebration of figure skating's Princess of Silver, Sasha Cohen.

Fun stuff!!! Here's your weekly weird.

It's Bigfoot. . . on Mars!!!



Sasha Cohen performing her short program at the 2006 Olympics in Torino (Photo: Wally Skalij)

With unrivalled elegance and amazing flexibility, Sasha Cohen should have been a multi-year US national champion and Olympic Gold medallist, but freakishly bad luck haunted her competitive career.

First, her era was dominated by other great skaters, Michelle Kwan, Irina Slutskaya, and Shizuka Arakawa, against whom Sasha would constantly find herself coming in second. It was almost farcical how these ladies would tag team on denying Sasha the gold medal. If Slutskaya would have a bad skate, then Arakawa would deliver an all-time classic program. If Kwan was out with an injury, then Slutskaya would would recover from an illness, better than ever!!!

And then there was her performance jinx. Time and time again, Sasha would offer awesome programs, perfect in every way but for a single fall. The contrast was harsh, like a beautiful model on the cover of a fashion magazine with a pimple on her nose, like a pristine and lacy white wedding dress with a smear of ketchup over the heart, distracting the viewer from the overall beauty and grace. Watching Sasha skate was a stressful experience, waiting for the inevitable fall, anticipating the slip that would topple her from the top of the podium.

Sasha Cohen was born on October 26, 1984.

Some say that second place is just the first loser. I can understand that point of view, but, when I look at her accomplishments, Sasha will always be a winner.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Would You Like to Dance?

Detail of Hofball in Wien (1900) by Wilhelm Gause

On this day in 1825, Johann Strauss II was born.

Known as the "Waltz King," Strauss perfected the classic waltz. Many great waltzes came before him and plenty came after, but his works are the watershed apex of the form. So influential were his works that even now, nearly two centuries later, his music is conceptually synonymous with the waltz.

When I hear his music, I want to get up, hold my partner, and dance, whirling around an opulent ballroom, mirrors and candelabra glittering as we spin across the floor. I want to take flight into the magical realm of beauty and joy that the music evokes.

The Hunt Ball (1885) by Julius LeBlanc Stewart

These timeless works need no more of my words.

Monday, October 24, 2011


Roosevelt High School Walkouts (1970) by Oscar Castillo

I've written about the Pacific Standard Time event plenty of times over the past few weeks, but I don't believe that I have clearly articulated its premise. Its purpose is to document the artists and aesthetic movements that flourished in the Los Angeles area from 1945 to 1980. This is a critically important task because many of the participants of the events under review are getting up in age. Opportunities to record this firsthand testimony are diminishing with each passing year.

And that's why I'm so happy to see Oscar Castillo's photographs on display in "Icons of the Invisible" at UCLA's Fowler Museum. Creating a visual record of the wild days of the Chicano movement, Castillo utilized a photojournalist style in witnessing the lives and environs of Los Angeles' Latino community, a large population that was overlooked and disenfranchised by the various civic institutions, be it political or economic or artistic. In spite of its size and history as an integral part of the city, Latinos were "invisible" to mainstream society, relegated to the barrio.

Refusing to let these people slip away into a forgotten past, Castillo captured the moment through his camera, furnishing evidence of the turbulent era, a time when the downtrodden Chicano culture refused to quietly abide the cruelties of society, defiant even in the face of overt police brutality. With evocative imagery and uncompromising verity, Castillo's photography testifies to the struggle for respect and recognition.

Chicana at Gage Ave. and Whittier Blvd., East Los Angeles (1972) by Oscar Castillo

Sadly, these photographs have become "invisible" themselves, known only to students of the era or enthusiasts of urban cultural photojournalism. "Icons of the Invisible" brings these images back into view, allowing us to give witness to the moment, perhaps recognizing foreshadowing and prophecies of the current state of Latino society in Southern California.

Night of the Electric Insects

Cover art detail from the Black Angels album (1990) featuring the Kronos Quartet

Pushing the boundaries of classical music, George Crumb has created some of the most interesting avant-garde compositions of the late 20th century, navigating that precarious border between innovation and inaccessibility, always focusing on the expressive qualities of sound.

In honor of his birth date, we're celebrating Crumb's work with a selection of my favorite pieces, compositions that evoke narratives and images within my mind, provoking both intellectual and emotional responses, inspirations that encourage me to pursue my own creative endeavors. Because of the immediacy of his music, appreciation comes easy. Unlike many other avant-garde composers of his generation, his works are challenging but not discouraging.

There is no prerequisite to understanding and enjoying Crumb's music. Of course, possessing a strong knowledge of music history and compositional theory adds value to the experience, but the sounds can stand alone, articulating awesome poetic visions.

George Crumb was born on October 24, 1929. (Photo by Sabine Matthes)

Now, let's listen to some music.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Pacific Standard Time: Weekly Update #2

Pacific Standard Time Logo

When you head over to the Pacific Standard Time website to look at the exhibitions participating in this massive event, it looks like an impressive number, spanning a wide variety of topics and styles, but you don't realize its truly colossal scope and size until you actually attempt to make a comprehensive viewing, hitting gallery after gallery and museum upon museum, immersing your mind in a flood of art and craft, concept and design, creative visions speaking anew from decades past.

It's exhausting, but totally rewarding.

Having now visited ten venues, I've seen a significant percentage of the exhibitions currently on view. Although I hope to write up my PST experience in blog posts, it's not likely that I will be able to give a comprehensive report on each show that I've visited. So, if you have any questions about a specific event, feel free to ask me by leaving a comment on this post. I'll try to provide a prompt and full answer.

Here are the shows that I've attended this week:

A+D Architecture and Design Museum:

Eames Designs: The Guest-Host Relationship

Craft and Folk Art Museum

The Alchemy of June Schwarcz: Enamel Vessels from the Forrest L. Merrill Collection

Golden State of Craft: California 1960-1985

Los Angeles County Museum of Art

Asco: Elite of the Obscure, A Retrospective

California Design, 1930-1965, "Living in a Modern Way"

Edward Kienholz: Five Car Stud 1969-1972, Revisited

Maria Nordman Filmroom: Smoke 1967-Present

Mural Remix: Sandra de la Loza


John Outterbridge: The Rag Factory

I reviewed this show in "Torn and Tattered"

Santa Monica Museum of Art

Beatrice Wood: Career Woman - Drawings, Painting, Vessels, and Objects


(Milestone note: I have now posted at least once a day for 100 days.)

Saturday, October 22, 2011

October Dance Party!!!

Cover Image from Erasure's "Love to Hate You"

Regardless of style or genre, music is one of my obsessions, catching my imagination with a driving rhythm or a clever lyrical twist, sounds that sneak into my dreams, setting a soundtrack to each day of my life.

It's been six months now that we've been celebrating our Dance Party, reflecting on songs from decades past. I've enjoyed these posts. For me, music brings back memories, returning me to times long past, reuniting me in my imagination with friends long gone. I suppose that's why I do these posts. There is a catharsis when I work through this four decade progression of music.

Well, that's enough personal stuff. We've got some quirky tunes to appreciate today.

Portrait of Ludwig van Beethoven (1820) by Joseph Karl Stieler

Let the music play!!!

Among the Purple Sage

Mexican Bush Sage (Salvia Leucantha) in front of the Huntington Art Gallery

I read Zane Grey's classic Western novel, Riders of the Purple Sage, when I was little more than a child. I had no clue as to how purple sage actually looked, but my imagination was more than willing to envision a landscape painted every shade from puce to periwinkle.

As I grew older and began to draw botanical studies, I finally came across "purple sage" in the form of Mexican Bush Sage. It was a shocking experience because, as a native of Southern California, I had been living amongst it for most of my life!!! It wasn't some mythic flora from the remote wastelands of Utah; it was in my neighbor's front yard!

So, whenever I come across a beautiful display of Mexican Bush Sage, it always takes me back to both the whimsy of youth and that moment of revelation where the legendary is recognized in the quotidian.

Close view of Mexican Bush Sage

But, just because the purple sage has become a commonplace object, doesn't mean that it has lost its place within my imagination. If anything, having a firm mental image of the sage brings greater depths to my mental meanderings. ;-)

Friday, October 21, 2011

Dialogue between Wind and Waves

Point Vicente Lighthouse

Jutting into the Pacific Ocean, the Palos Verdes peninsula reaches its southwestern limit at Point Vicente, where the old lighthouse looms along the bluffs.

On a clear day, the view is gorgeous, the Pacific stretching out without end beyond the horizon, punctuated only slightly by the isle of Santa Catalina across the channel. But on a gray day like this, the dark sea merges into the leaden sky, and you feel as though you are standing at the World's End, only mist and darkness extending forever into a formless void. The waves murmur over one hundred feet below, an anxious chorus that echo across this forlorn scene.

It is on a day like this that you expect to witness the "Lady of the Light" strolling along the cliffs. Yes, true to type, the Point Vicente lighthouse is rumored to be haunted. But it's only a trick of the light. ;-)

Point Vicente was named in 1790 by Captain George Vancouver

Tearing myself away from morbid fantasies, I turned to the Point Vicente Interpretive Center to see the teaching facilities for marine biology.

Friday Flowers: Marigolds

A mix of marigolds from the Huntington Gardens

Kubla Kahn (Lines 1 to 11)
(By Samuel Taylor Coleridge)

In Xanadu did Kubla Kahn
A stately pleasure-dome decree:
Where Alph, the sacred river, ran
Through caverns measureless to man
     Down to a sunless sea.
So twice five miles of fertile ground
With walls and towers were girdled round:
And there were gardens bright with sinuous rills,
Where blossomed many an incense-bearing tree;
And here were forests ancient as the hills,
Enfolding sunny spots of greenery.

Today we celebrate the birth date of Samuel Taylor Coleridge, born on this day in 1772. Yeah, the unabashed Romanticism and emotive excessiveness may not be cool for the contemporary school, but his smooth lyricism and flowing rhymes deserve some time to be read again with a fresh point of view. ;-)

Marigolds: Tagetes Patula

And what of the marigolds? Well, I was thinking of how folks are setting up "haunted house" trappings with store bought fabrications. That's fine, but I'd rather take my decor "old school" with simple pumpkins amidst the marigolds, the flower of the dead.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Torn and Tattered

The Rag Factory (2011) installation by John Outterbridge at LA><ART

Rags, the word conjures up images of cheap, disposable, dirty cloth. Rags are the opposite of riches.

Rags are the thematic subject of an installation by John Outterbridge at LA><ART, entitled "The Rag Factory." Through the process of assemblage, Outterbridge constructs an environment that explores the manner in which context influences the perception of beauty and value. The humble rags are both the lowly discards of a banal consumerism and the elegant fabrications of an artistic sensibility.

The installation spans two gallery spaces of LA><ART. In Gallery One, Outterbridge has designed a hanging curtain of multicolored, knotted rags, bathed from various angles in brilliant light, a scintillating textile rainbow.

Close up of The Rag Factory installation in Gallery One

An entrancing assemblage of color and texture, Outterbridge transforms the lowly rags into an object of beauty. But a stroll into the next room dispels the glamour.

Gigantopithicus Sasquansis

Image of Bigfoot from the Patterson-Gimlin film

Cryptozoology is a field of many strange creatures, but one of the most pervasive in popular culture is the Sasquatch, Bigfoot, a large hairy hominid that resides deep in the wilds.

Cryptid researchers have put vasts amounts of time and resources into finding the elusive creature, but have come up with little more than blurry photographs, suspicious footprints, and diverse animal droppings. As a person who loves a good story, I enjoy hearing the reports of "sightings" and the subsequent investigations. Even when it turns out to be an overt hoax, as in the Dyer-Whitton case of 2008, it still makes for an enjoyable tale.

The belief in "giants" has been a part of human mythology since ancient times, across numerous cultures. There seems to be a psychological yearning for such creatures, which some might ascribe to a racial memory of the times when our brethren hominids still existed, such as the neanderthal.

Sasquatch from the Jack Links Messin' with Sasquatch ads

Today marks 44 years since the Patterson-Gimlin film took our folkloric furry friend into the collective unconscious of popular culture.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Weekly Wrap: Wednesday #14

Desnudo Reclinado (1970) by Francisco Zuniga

Twelve posts make for an acceptable degree of weekly productivity, but I can improve upon this number with just a little more effort and dedication.

Topic selection was a bit flat. We had four art posts, three floral, two music, and three miscellaneous posts. No ads or commercials. No ghost stories. No movies or television. I can do much better. This was a subpar performance overall, but I very happy with a few of these posts. Practice is perfecting my blogging prose style.

In a few days, I'll reach my "one hundred consecutive days of blogging" milestone. That's dedication. So, I'm satisfied with the current quality and quantity trends that I've built up over the past three months. It's been a fun journey. ;-)

Close view of the William Turner Gallery through Fred Eversley's resin lens

Here are the posts.

Regarding art, we visited the William Turner Gallery to view an exhibit of works by Fred Eversley. Then we did a meta post concerning the Pacific Standard Time event that is taking place around Southern California. We took a stroll through UCLA's Franklin D. Murphy sculpture garden. Finally, we reviewed the Huntington's exhibit of works by Sam Maloof and the Pomona Valley school in "The House That Sam Built."

Flowers and gardens were prominently featured this week. We visited Torrance's Pine Wind Garden. Then Friday Flowers celebrated irises and the poetry of e.e. cummings. Finally, a chance encounter with orchids at the Huntington produced many delightful photos.

We celebrated two music-related birth dates. Ray Charles and Anita O'Day were our honored music-makers this week.

The miscellaneous topics were a celebration of Paddington Bear, the birthday of Nancy Kerrigan, and a personal post about my dislike of holidays.

Fun stuff!!! Now, it's time for our weekly weird image.

Paddington Gets Tanked.


Domestic Designs to Adore and Delight

Horn Back Chair with Spindles and Low Curving Arms (c.1960) by Sam Maloof

When discussing the development of the Los Angeles Art scene, the avant-garde of conceptual art or the emergence of minority artists rightfully command significant attention, but there was a quieter innovation underway out in the Pomona Valley.

"The House That Sam Built" is an exhibit at the Huntington Museum featuring the creativity of the Pomona school in developing a modern sensibility to those art forms frequently classified as the "decorative" arts, such as furniture design or ceramics. This movement was led by Sam Maloof, the great furniture designer, who brought a strong aesthetic of lyric modernism to functional craftsmanship. His influence dominated Los Angeles decorative design and spread out becoming a distinctive late-20th century style.

I always get a laugh when I see the Pomona school being distinguished from the LA scenes, as if it were someplace off among the redwoods or in the remote Sierras. Sure, if you take your Southern California geography directions from Bugs Bunny and make an ill-advised turn at Rancho Cucamonga. ;-)

Chair after Hans Wegner (1952) by Sam Maloof

I'm pleased that the Huntington has put together a strong exhibit to showcase this very influential school of design. Maloof and his students are just as much a part of the LA aesthetic as anything turned out of the Ferus Gallery in the 1960s. It's a fine part of the Pacific Standard Time exhibition.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Festive Lanterns Up Above

Lanterns hang over the Hammer Museum courtyard.

When pumpkins begin to peer out of windows and festive lanterns hang over your head, then you know the holiday season has arrived.

In previous posts, I have expressed mixed feelings about holidays. Whatever troubles that I have with Easter, Father's Day, or July 4th goes double for the upcoming celebrations. My glee is not something that can be scheduled in for a particular date. My cheer is not something that can be summoned up for company.

Although I wish a happy Halloween for all, dressing up in costume has never been my thing. And parties can be fun, but sometimes I just wish to be left alone. It really depends upon my mood.

View of the Hammer Museum courtyard from above.

However, I love how the holiday season allows for many fine opportunities to photograph interesting sights. The lanterns at the Hammer made for an interesting setting feature. I hope to drop by some evening to see them all aglow. That'll be pretty cool. ;-)

Jezebel of Jazz

Anita O'Day from her album "Incomparable" (1964)

With a style that was as cool as the other side of the pillow, Anita O'Day was the quintessential hipster of '50s era jazz, enchanting her audiences with a voice as rich and sweet as honey.

By turns playful, sultry, or sad, her voice ran deep with passion. Yet, Anita kept a sharp beat driving her lyrics with a percussive tightness. Words were too precious to waste on empty flourishes and, like a “Beat era” poet, she measured her phrases for maximized effect.

And her bebop talents for improvisation were without peer. Other songbirds might have greater range or longer phrasing and that's admirable, but Anita O'Day had precision. She was the unrivaled Mistress of Metre.

Anita O'Day was born on October 18, 1919.

So, let's take this day to remember the classy Queen of Cool.