Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Million Dollar Art: Secret Sale Here In Town

"It seems so wrong on so many levels.It's a very special group of works that are very specific to the history of Florida. That they were sold without competitive bidding, to a private person instead of to another institution that would keep them in the public trust, and sold for a fifth of their value is outrageous." Timothy Eaton, former chief curator at the Boca Raton Museum of Art Story

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Thoughts From A So Called "Homeless*" Artist

St. Augustine, Florida the nation's oldest continually European occupied city is unique in so many respects that many times the differences are ignored. History aside, let's not forget that it is a "living city".The tag "City" is a bit misleading. With a population of 13,ooo, we can alternate the word "town"without using the arbitrary legal distinctions. St. Augustine always stood out historically here on the"First Coast"both economically and administrationwise. I hear the city fathers cite comparisons with Colonial Williamsburg Virginia, a 300 acre "open air museum" developed in 1927 with the help of the Rockefeller Foundation. Standard Oil monies ( Rockerfeller's and Flagler's)then became one of the common denominators between Williamsburg and St. Augustine. The differences between the two Colonial towns are striking in that the Colonial Williamsburg has always been on privately controlled property. Colonial Williamsburg can implement programs that just would not be workable in a "living city". The administration of City of St. Augustine seems sometimes to have an "inferiority complex" by looking toward other cities codes ( Key West in particular) for duplication. "Let's not reinvent the wheel", could be the slogan of this city manager and his rubber stamp commissioners.

We street vendor artists have been going through a difficult and sometimes daunting legal battle with the city over constitutional rights. It would certainly not be an issue if a modern day Henry Flagler simply purchased the town, or maybe this has happened and we didn't notice it. It would be naive to deny that in city governments there is usually a chummy relationship with the large property owners and employers. People play golf, socialize, share inside info...that's the way of the world. Have your water bills waived....take home a stapler....I don't care. Citizens get upset when no bid contracts are doled out without public disclosure. They resent it when police powers are used to stifle protected Constitutional rights. This is followed up with paying outside legal counsel almost 100,000 to lose a Federal court case to artists. This is not your money!

The solution to avoid these situations would be to "privatize" formerly public properties and services. Be aware readers, this is on the horizon. Our County Commission expects the St. John's Public Libraries to
"pay for themselves". My dog and I were evicted from Beale Street in Memphis Tennessee because the Business Improvement District did not permit artists painting or dogs, even on a leash. Two uniformed (not police) twenty somethings escorted Karl and I one block over where the winos habituated.

I'm sure that here in St. Augustine are there are those already soliciting corporate donations for our 450th anniversary fandango. Certain benefits for the sponsor come with this. If we are not careful these benefits could lead to privatization. The corporate motive is rarely altruistic.

I'm of the view that certain parts of the social and governmental terrain should remain closed to market forces in order to protect them from the unpredictability and ruthlessness of the market (such as private prisons, basic health care, and basic education). Some of the utilities which government provides benefit society at large and are indirect and difficult to measure or unable to produce a profit, such as defense.

By the way city leaders, Key West......Leasing out the wharf for "sunset celebration" is "privatization". This is perfectly legitimate for mercantile vendors........not for visual artists. They are in jeopardy of a civil rights trial brought by visual artists. This should not be your model.

A final note to the city.............Your agreement to make the injunction that the artists won permanent, is disingenuous if you create another ordinance that basically continues to violate our hard won rights. Also....stop waffling on paying our lost.
*"My home is not a place, it is people."
Lois McMaster Bujold

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Fake History

Questionable DeLeon Cross at the Fountain of Youth
Despite having little to no basis in truth, we here in St. Augustine still have remnants of "tourist stories"that have been repeated so often that they are accepted as fact. The stories persist because Americans love a good story, and when it comes to history, an exciting fabrication is sometimes just as good as the truth. As they say in the John Wayne movie The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, “When legend becomes fact, print the legend.”
The Fountain of Youth is a must see stop for hundreds of tourists a day. The story of Ponce de Leon's landing is told in a theater like setting with a huge creaky globe and 1950's projector technology. The coquina cross reportedly discovered by a worker for Louella Day, an enterprising woman at the turn of the 20th century, she began to charge an admission price to drink from the waters of the free flowing spring found on the property.
In 1954, Walter Frazier, the grandfather of the current operators went through a court battle with the publishers of the Saturday Evening Post. Frazer felt that he was libeled in an article that characterized him as "a faker, fabricator, and foister of frauds as genuine landmarks of historical interest." After withdrawing his complaint concerning his "facts" on the Fountain of Youth" ,he went on to challenge the magazine's characterization of the "oldest wooden schoolhouse" as a fake.
Curtis Publishing won on appeal in the Fifth Circuit Court. The Court let stand the article and Chief Justice Hutchinson wrote , "........there is no evidence to support his contention that it was ever used as a school before the Civil War, Fraser (meaning plaintiff) derives a comfortable income from the oldest wooden schoolhouse by charging tourists fifty cents- including the Federal Amusement Tax- to inspect the curios on display inside. * * * " Frazer lost and lost bad.
Dr. Kathleen Deegan of the University of Florida deals in facts as a scholar and archaeologist. Her studies of the Fountain of Youth property provides that the original Timucuan village of Seloy and the landing area for Menendez may have been here. This important information super cedes any unfounded claims of youth water or Ponce's arrival.
Another article (1921) by Charles Reynolds states "The visitor may be "ground through" the St. Francis street house( the oldest house). Fort Marion and the Ponce de Leon mission, imbibe the parrot lectures and go away with a head full of misinformation about a fanciful St. Augustine and its past. But there is another St. Augustine of which he will have learned little or nothing — the place of genuine historic interest and truly romantic associations."
In 2003 The National Trust for Historic Preservation completed an exhaustive study and wrote ......
"Travelers believe that they are hearing the truth..........sites are presented as heritage
attractions, but do not live up to standards of authenticity.Instead, they embellish stories, relying on myths to “improve”on the historical facts. This includes sites such as the Fountain
of Youth and Oldest Wooden Schoolhouse."
This last study wasn't very popular with the "powers that be" who derive their income from the family businesses established decades before. Nothing more was said about this report.
Guides for the "Ghost Tours" must take a two page test at City Hall to assure that they provide true and authentic history. We won't even make a comment on this.
We have a wealth of authentic history and to embellish with fake architecture and colorful but untrue stories only detracts and encourages the tag "Tourist Trap".

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Piper and Paul

Piper Honigmann and Paul Vann Ness , artists who were with us a few years ago, are now off their boat, living and raising chickens in historic Tarboro, N.C. Come January 2010 they will welcome a baby girl to their family. Paul will probably invent something like a windpowered cradle that will also scatter feed for the poultry.

Gucci Trash

"I got a fifth amendment right to sell these purses in the Plaza" , Plaza vendor

We believe that this fake handbag seller meant the First Amendment rather than the fifth. Neither apply.

Those unsophisticated fashion slaves who purchase these items are beyond our understanding. Right smack in the heart of St. Augustine you can find this junk in the Plaza de la Constitucion. There is a brisk business. Unfortunately the boxes and paper debris are left behind, strewn in the general direction of the trash receptacle.
Last week in Newark. N.J. a ship was raided Today it is revealed that there is a culture of corruption in the neighboring city of Hoboken. Come down to the Plaza on weekends and tell the vendor that you don't support his activity. You will have to shoulder through the crowd of shoppers. Link

Plaza Vendors

Reporter Jessica Clark did a tv news story here. The 2 1/2 minute clip certainly cannot contain the backstory of the visual artist's legal battles with the city. The vendors interviewed and filmed are all new to us. How about the large propane tanks and gasoline generators that come with these people who want to express themselves with hot dogs and sno cones?

Wednesday, July 22, 2009


The recently preserved old Indian River Fruit stand sign on San Marco Avenue has been painted over. The current tenant is reported as a "die cast retailer" (Toys?). He supposedly was tired of people coming in asking for fruit. Hey!........Wake up Mr. Die Cast retailer! With the economy the way it is?! Be happy that you have people coming in the door. A missed opportunity !........You coulda sold em some fruit, man! Jeez! Ya had em right there!
I'm just a dog but .....damn! painting over that cool old sign?

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Deadheads Amongst Us

We were sent this photo by Steffi who told us,
"This guy was at the Bob Weir and Ratdog concert just hangin' around. He kept sayin 'LET IT ALL HANG OUT!,GROOVY! and LAY SOME WACKY WEED ON ME SON! Somebody said that he was an important guy in St. Augustine. Do you know who he is?"

No, we don't Steffi but we can spot a narc when we see one.

Sherri Adriano

Tres Palmas, Fabric and acrylic on wood panel , 24" x 36", by Sherri Adriano
Art In The Market artist Sherri is a painter, mural maker, decorator and graphic designer. She is one of a the artists who does not do scenes of St. Augustine architecture. "Floridiana"would be a good description of Sherri's work. Her pieces generally have a lighthearted whimsical character that locals and tourists like. Come see her work in the Plaza de la Constitucion on weekends. More
The above piece would have not passed the cities list of "approved" art two years ago, since Sherri used fabric as a medium. The city administration felt that a painting should be made with paint and canvas. It took a court case and jail for an artist to demonstrate to the city that fully protected art as symbolic speech does not have to be within the confines of their limited definition. Link to Art Under Control

Monday, July 20, 2009

Who wouldn't be sweating in the 90 degree heat, but the guy in the soaked t shirt with "Tennessee" written across the chest didn't look accustomed to being outdoors. He probably spent a lot of time in an air conditioned building back in Nashville. He was a regular "salt of the earth" guy lugging a fairly large framed canvas print wrapped in clear plastic.
Nashville guy: "How do I get back to Highway 1 ?"
Bored Plaza artist: "Easy....gave directions. .........Hey, may I see your art?
He proudly holds up the Cao Yong print. "I just bought this down the street. What do you think?"
Bored Plaza artist: "It's interesting, there's sure lotsa stuff goin' on in that painting isn't there?"
Nashville guy: "Yeah. it's like eight paintings in one"
Bored Plaza artist: "Is that a giclee?" (trick question)
Nashville guy: "No. it's an artist's proof "(he loses)
Bored Plaza artist: "Thanks for showing it. Drive careful now."
This poor guy didn't know what he was getting into when he walked into the "viewing" room at the gallery. The salesman knew he had him when he told the story of immigrant and recent citizen artist Cao Yong. When he turned down the dimmer switch and those stars and planets popped out as if back lit, the commission was already in the salesman's pocket. The frame upgrade was an easy sell (an extra 50 dollar commission) He only needed 15 % down and small monthly payments of 100 dollars. The clincher is "if you take it with you today instead of shipping it to Nashville we will pay the Florida sales tax". Bingo! The sound of a Velcro tm wallet opening is music to the "art consultant's" ears.
We are glad that the visitor from Nashville is happy with his Cao Yong print and hope that he will enjoy it for a lifetime because it has very little resale value. He just paid 1200 dollars for a reproductive print that is one of an edition of 6000.
Worst of all, he's got to explain this to his wife.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Scott Raimondo, Painter

This is well known painter Scott Raimondo and this is his "sales face"*. In spite of this, he is one of the most popular artists in St. Augustine. Scott is not a member of the Cultural Council, the Art Association or affiliated with any gallery. He is the real deal, a street artists who faces the elements out on the streets and parks of St. Augustine. Ten to one he has more art in homes worldwide than maybe any other artist in town. His work hangs on the walls long after the tourist t-shirts and kitchy jewelry are cast aside.

Scott spent last New Years Eve in the St. John's County Jail for quoting a price on a print to a female undercover operative (and her child) of the police department. They sometimes enlisted the aid of misguided citizens to violate the civil rights of artists. The Federal Court has declared that arrest illegal and all charges have been dropped. " I want an apology", says Scott. Sorry Scott. that's not gonna happen.

You can find Scott in the Plaza De la Constitucion at least three days a week. Here is his website. Take a look and you'll see that Scott Raimondo actually has a great smile.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Ron Brown , City of St. Augustine

City Attorney Brown's presence and duties in the Federal courtroom in April of this year (Bates et al vs City of St. Augustine) could only be described as the briefcase carrier and page turner for city hired gun attorney Michael Kahn. Brown's advice and counsel to the City Commission is chock full of mispronunciations and facts. For those who do not know, one would think that he actually spent time researching the first amendment cases that he cites.
The City attorney has strongly implicated that Judge Howard has overturned the sales ban ordinance in the historic district when she has not.

Ron Brown previously (May 11 ) told the city commission that the ordinance was valid with exceptions of non enforcement against only the vendors of paintings , prints, sculptures and photos. The commissioners were under the impression that the flea market would not return . Well they have.... in droves. Now Brown is telling the Commission that a new ordinance is necessary. No one asked why the current ordinance is not being enforced. They had no problem throwing artists in jail before. Now that the judge has said that this was illegal against vendors of paintings , prints, sculpture and photography but a valid prohibition for merchandise vendors. Commissioners....why do you accept such contradictory counsel without question!? Read the May 11 transcript of the meeting here.
Any infringement on artist's first amendment rights will be met with determined direct action.

Actual Commercial - 1982

Hey Art In The Market artists....doesn't Father Guido Sarducci remind you a little of our Richard Childs? C'ept for those eyebrows.

So Mayor Boles says that we artists are in the Plaza because ,"Let's face it, it's all about the money". Oh Joe, here's the real deal.........We are idiots! We sit in the sun and wind, with (lately) African drums beating and bead stingers calling out to tourists. We answer any inquiries about our art and sometimes after 12 hours in the heat or cold we go home with the same art that we hauled out. No, we are not much good at the financial end of it but how could we possibly explain that to you since we can't explain it to ourselves. Ok, you'd never do it but I'll bet that there's lots of things that you do that we would NEVER do. C'mon, you know what we're talkin about.

The Commissioners do not like the sun glass sellers and the food vendors but are confused over the issues like"Is a leather belt considered art?" No matter how many e mails we or our lawyers have sent with explanation of protected speech, they keep on pretending to be ignorant.
They readily recognize the food vendors as non compliant . This following video should really
throw them into a quandary.

If you live in Indiana you've got to have a good imagination in order to survive as a human being.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

"The Four Horsemen", 30"x 40"oil on canvas by Art In The Market artist. Charles Dickinson
Yesterday afternoon, seven Art In The Market artists sat in the city Hall meeting chambers squirming a little after hearing City Attorney Ron Brown and Commissioners refer to plaintiff artists ( Bates vs City of St Augustine) as "The Four Horsemen". This is Atty Browns clever way of describing prints, paintings, sculptures and photographs which are constitutionally protected materials. Painter Scott Raimondo pointed out to us that this is a subtle psychological dig since the Book of Revelation describes the four as Conquest , War, Famine, and Death. The artists do not feel that we are that much of a threat to humanity.
Brown went on and on, citing previous cases involving street vending in other cities. The implication that he made is that the cities win in their quest for stringent regulation. He is correct in that these cases involved merchandise vending but much upheld the protections afforded by the Constitution to artwork. Brown didn't mention that part, expecting the Commissioners to swallow his misleading tripe.
Time and again we have repeated what the courts say is protected (paintings, prints, sculpture and photographs) and they will then ask ,"What about a leather hand tooled belt? ,"What about a decorated candle?" Once again we repeat, ......prints, paintings sculpture and photographs are all constitutionally protected and affirmed in previous Federal court cases. We have no interest in a county decision by Judge Charles Tinlin deciding that framed fabric or Ritual masks are protected (and that's all he said folks) qualified as protected. We knew that all along.
Federal Judge Marcia Howard granted an injunction to stop arresting the so called "Four Horsemen" and this is what we go by. She stated that the ordinance was content neutral while City Atty Brown told the Commission that she stated that she claimed that it was not content neutral.
For those so inclined, read the court order here and then ask yourself "Why does the City of St. Augustine feels the need for a new ordinance when there is an existing one in place that they will not enforce, though it serves the purpose?" Mark Knight city Planning and Zoning Director told a St. George Street merchant, "We are just building our case". They must feel that with a new ordinance they can subvert the intent of Judge Howard's order. Be careful ,City of St. Augustine! The legal bills are mounting.
* No one in the City administration has bothered to get any artist's input into a new ordinance. Public discussion at the "workshop" was closed.

Thursday, July 09, 2009

No Rude Art!

Mr. Whetstone of Whetstone's Chocolate here in St. Augustine doesn't like outdoor vendors though he is one of them. He says that his creations are art.Yes they are, but here is a loophole for you Henry and this might stand legal scrutiny ....Chocolate Sculpture ...Hey?! Now this type of art sends a more "family friendly" message than your Frozen Bananas that the kids are all buying in the Plaza. "C'mon !, get her a frozen banana and I'll get a picture of her eating it and put it on Facebook! C'mon !, I'll pay the three bucks! She has no clue, man!"(actual conversation)

I 'm sure that you can figure out a way to keep it in the Plaza at 55 degrees F, until someone buys it. Good Luck!

Masterworks Alert

Authentic Renoir stone lithograph ,with provenance and listed in Catalogue Raisonne
La Balancoire, Pierre Auguste Renoir
A photo mechanical reproduction

Regardless of the condition of the economy there seems to be a return of art print fraud every twenty years. Recently the authorities have become wise to the frauds perpetrated on cruise ship "auctions". A counterfeit ring has been recently broken up in Boca Raton where counterfeit Chagalls, Miros, Picassos and Dali's were distributed and sold. Once these prints are out in the market they float around for years. With a little knowledge some can be readily discerned to be fake while some take expertise to determine illegitimacy.

There are such works that can be we would term "legitimate fakes". The usual term applied to these works would be "estate authorized" There is usually an embossed stamp stating this. It is usually an edition taken after an existing work and sometimes signed by one of the artist's heirs (Picasso, Renoir). The above print is an open edition (unlimited) framed and matted at 39"x 31" Inside the frame is a reproduction, offset lithograph (like a magazine or baseball card). The cost at a retail shop is 199 dollars. It has been presented in a straightforward honest fashion. The purpose is to sell the frame.

Here is a 9"x7" version on ebay, unframed, unmatted the seller wants 220 dollars. Reading the description, contradictions abound. It is referred to as a hand colored etching.

This is what it reproduction of a Renoir work that he painted on canvas and is now in the Musée d'Orsay. Reading this sellers B.S. Story about copper plates and information not relevant to the artwork you will see that this is a con. Looking at this seller's other artworks you can find the terms "signed in the plate"(meaning printed) and pencil numbered (by whom?). You also get a "gallery certificate" indicating that 2000 of these were printed (so far).

In Beverly Hills they sell fakes in a "high class" way. They have legitimately signed works...but who signed them? They mix the terms Estate signed" and "Hand signed" and ask 2000 dollars for a photomechanical reproduction signed by the painter's grandson Paul. Further down the page you will find the possibility of authentic Renoirs but study the provenance carefully. There is a "catalogue raisonne"that lists authentic Renoirs prints and this should be checked.

For the same price as grandson Paul Renoir's autograph you can go to a Christie's auction sometime when a serious print collector has put up works. You should be able to get an small original Renoir etching for about 2500 dollars plus 10% auction fee. The info on provenance should read like this: Softground etching, 1906. As issued in Kunst und Kunstler, 1909. Cupid watermark. Reference: Deltiel 12.7-1/4 x 5-1/2 inches.
So "Buyer Beware". There is such a thing as an "original print" but it is handmade and never a photo repro of a painting but is it's own media.
Calder, Chagall, Miro and Picasso, there are hundreds of thousands works on paper allegedly signed by these artists but are actually forgeries. Be wary. There are unscrupulous dealers and appraisors in the art field. Check out this guy who was recently indicted* by the Justice Department for counterfeit art. He is lucky that his wife is an attorney.

* an indictment contains only charges and is not evidence of guilt. The defendants are presumed innocent and are entitled to a fair trial at which the United States has the burden of proving guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.You might sit in jail for a long time if you cannot pay to get out. Mr. Bengis had the money.

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Stop Waving That Thing Around !

This is a chocolate covered frozen banana rolled in chopped nuts. It tastes better than it looks. In fact it is delicious!Since the city administration has opened the plaza as a "free for all"(their words) to merchandise vendors ,you can find two or three mobile carts vending these goodies. It is our opinion that the best and freshest of these is from the Whetstone Chocolate cart that you'll find in the Plaza.

Interestingly owner Henry Whetstone wrote a May editorial in the St. Augustine Record. He first established his credentials by stating his grandfather owned this, his father owned that and that he himself has owned seven businesses in addition to a colonial building. He also writes that his family provided the land where the Art Association is located today. The credentials establish that his family has owned a lot of stuff. Then he went on to say. "I consider my products just as much an artistic work of art as a painter, artist, or sculpture does his works of art." Good for Mr. Whetstone. This shows great pride in his product, and from what I've sampled ,it is deserved. Perhaps he can elaborate in another editorial and give us the message that he is trying to communicate with his "art". Yes, we know that some wags will say that his message is "Eat me!". Some. after looking at the photo above will make some crack about it's phallic shape. Yes sir Mr. Whetstone, "EVERYTHING IS ART!" but for some reason some people cannot understand that this was never an issue. The Federal courts have not defined what is art and hopefully never will. Understand please that the Federal courts have been asked to define which type of art is Constitutionally protected for display and sale in the same fashion that books and newspapers are. They determined that prints , paintings, photographs and sculpture is fully protected symbolic speech. A line was drawn that if a piece of art has a utilitarian purpose such as jewelry, or pots and baskets it then would not be in the fully protected category.

Mr. Whetstone goes on to write"The minute that money changes hands, that is when I question the definition of freedom of speech." Yes, some newspapers are free and advertiser supported but most charge at the vending stand. What Mr. Whetstone doesn't acknowledge is that prints, paintings,sculpture and photographs are in the free speech category as stated by the courts. If a speaker was hired to give an oration from the gazebo in the Plaza, would his free speech be restricted because he was paid? Does he need a permit? No, he doesn't.

"I do not like to see the grass trampled down by someone trying to sell their products, nor do I like to see the sidewalks cluttered with those same products." writes Mr. Whetstone. This is complete hypocrisy since this is exactly what he is doing. Take a look at the wrappers left behind and the wheel tracks of the cart..It's OK for him because his family has deep roots in the community? The Whetstones feel that they do not like this for others but it's OK for them? We do not believe that Mr. Whetstone feels this way but that he cannot perceive that we would do our art even during difficult financial times. Mr. Whetstone stopped making his Chocolate Oranges a few years back and laid off twenty employees because it was economically unfeasible. What we artist's do is economically unfeasible but we continue on don't we? This is a philosophical difference.

At the end of a the each vending day selling these frozen "art" confections, his, son in law, former St.John's County Commissioner Bruce McGuire, sometimes comes in to load up the cart and takes it back to the factory.

"I say the courts are wrong, and the judges need to be replaced." writes Mr. Whetstone.

"A little nonsense now and then is relished by the wisest men". .....
Willy Wonka

Monday, July 06, 2009

"...for he really lay buried in my heart"

Recently some of us were discussing "dog movies" and I admitted that I'm a sucker for those and baseball movies.Old Yeller, Homeward Bound ,etc. and I'm all blubbery and red eyed. One of my favorites is "My Dog Skip", based on the best-selling Mississippi memoir by the late Willie Morris. This film even has a little baseball in it. Karl is now 14 years old and while reasonably healthy, there will be that day coming.............

To set up this film ending you should know that the bus leaving in the scene has eighteen year old Willie Morris leaving his hometown and his dog Skip for college.

This is an older children and adult film with a WWII homefront backstory that is compelling. I recommend this 2000 film. Suvo

Charming Cobras In The Square

U.S.Flags are legal now ?
See here *
The Marrakesh marketplace in Morrocco had nothing on the Plaza de la Constitucion this weekend. Sales of factory made "African Drums" and some kind of lotion called Shea butter, amongst the boiling pots of corn on the cob, Italian ices, water vendors, costume jewelry and counterfeit purses and sunglasses.
In May, a Federal judge ordered that the city cannot ban artists (prints, sculpture, paintings and photographs) The city administration for some unknown reason, has decided not to enforce the ordinance prohibiting sales and requiring a permit of any kind for the sales of merchandise on the streets and parks of St. Augustine. This pretty much contradicts the reason for the ordinance in the first place, to prevent a flea market atmosphere.
The Plaza has now been discovered by an affable group of Ghanaians who have set up four separate stands all selling the same goods such as exotic glass and plastic beads, kalimbas , drums and sculpture.
Vendor to Couple about 20 feet away:"Hey you over dere! Come here! I have something to show you!"
The couple slowly walks over (zombies!?, hypnotized!?)
Vendor:"I have goods here that you will love, here, rub dis into your skin" (offering an open container of some yellow waxy substance)
As if in a trance the couple dip into the container and rub a small amount onto their forearms.
Vendor:"Dis is a magical ointment called Shea buttah." Stops and calls out to another couple who have already walked past....."MADAME !Free Samples Here! You Need To See Dis!" They continue to walk on.
Back to first couple "Ok you can have ninety percent off! You will love dis! It not only is a wonderful moisterizer but can prevent colds and the flu! You can see beautiful skin on African women who use shea butter. Some actually eat spoonfuls for internal problems. Only five dollahs! Ok, Ok, Wid dat,I give you dis beautiful bracelet for your little girl. No? "(Followers of the Holy Spirit Movement rebel group of Uganda smeared their bodies with shea butter in the belief that it would stop bullets)
The vendor immediately abandons the conversation turning to another couple perusing the goods. "NO Chawj Foh Looking !, Ninety percent off! I have carved dis just for you! (pointing to an obvious mass produced wood sculpture sold in flea markets all over.Yes, at least this is a constitutionally protected artwork)
That day we had the regular five local artists of prints, paintings sculpture and photos and twenty one vendors of general merchandise.
The artist Suvo was jailed on Memorial Day 2008, for offering newspapers and American flags for sale. The ordinance has not been changed. The court date is set for August 8,

Friday, July 03, 2009

Celebrate Freedom

N.C. Wyeth "Soldiers of the Soil" 1943 oil /canvas

"Among these inalienable rights, as proclaimed in that great document, is the right of men to pursue their happiness, by which is meant the right to pursue any lawful business or vocation, in any manner not inconsistent with the equal rights of others, which may increase their prosperity or develop their faculties, so as to give to them their highest enjoyment."

Supreme Court Justice Samuel Freeman Miller , 1883

Thursday, July 02, 2009

How About The " Hazel Package?"

Portrait of Heloise by Hilary Knight

While St. Augustine hoteliers struggle to maintain a respectable occupancy rate, NYC's Plaza Hotel has announced a special package available for you and your precious daughter, niece or special nephew. The Live Like Eloise Package gets you a room for the night, a copy of the book Eloise by Kay Thompson, a chocolate sundae, and some Eloise postcards. All for just $895 plus tax. *

This seems to be designed for those out of touch parents or grandparents who actually believe that the kids would be excited about a 1950's kid's book character.

We are reminded of some local wags whose marketing suggestions to us includes street artists selling their works over cell phones or accepting a tip for "looking" at the art (just like the musicians) There are marketing people all over the place.

* Sorry Dad, The Governor's Package has been withdrawn because know. Just the name alone was a problem.

St. Augustine and the Revolution

St. Augustine Florida was a British Stronghold during the U.S.Revolutionary years. There were four signers of the Declaration of Independence held captive either in the fort, or for officers,throughout town in rented rooms, having the freedom to walk around. ("Now be sure to be back for tea, Col. Rutledge!"*) Class distinctions were important to the British. The four signer/prisoners were all members of the planter or monied aristocracy.

Prisoner letters home were permitted, and sometimes even encouraged. Prisoners could buy or exchange for food and clothing, including any money sent by their families. No "waterboading "here. "Parole"would allow prisoners some freedom, in exchange for their promise not to resume the war.('Tag!' Your Out!') Prisoners were encouraged to enlist in the army of the other side. Over the course of the war, as much as a quarter of each army had actually seen service on the other side.

Not everything was rosy for the common troops.When the war formally ended, those who survived the forced marches and camp fevers were sent home.

We recommend a decent movie about the "grunts" who served as troops and was roundly panned in 1985. "Revolution". Critics made fun of Pacino's accent and thought that the battle scenes weren't bloody enough. To us it is one of the best "Point Of View" films about the American Revolution. No stewing , smoldering, heroic Mel Gibson in this one, just schlubby Al Pacino's character trying to get through the day when his world was turned upside down.

* Edward Rutledge (the youngest signer of the Declaration at age 27) of S.C. was a prisoner held here in St. Augustine. He is depicted as the person on the extreme right in the 2 dollar bill engraving above. John Adams, never an admirer of the South Carolinians, who wrote in his diary "Young Ned Rutledge is a perfect Bob-o-Lincoln—a swallow, a sparrow, a peacock; excessively vain, excessively weak, and excessively variable and unsteady; jejeune, inane, and puerile." After reading this attack, we ask local readers.....Do you think that Edward Slavin is our regeneration of John Adams? Of course, Adams put this in his "private diary". How would Ed fare in a duel out on Fish Island and which City official would be the opponent? Answer to the last ....all of em!

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

July 4

For what avail the plough or sail, or land or life, if freedom fail? ~Ralph Waldo Emerson