The have my article up and running about the Vigilantes over at Roads to the Great War. This was a lot of fun to write. For those who may not know, though I don’t mention it in the article Hermann Hagedorn was the leader of the Roosevelt Memorial Association from the early 1920s until the late 1950s.
I have a friend who is working on a book manuscript that hopefully will see the light of day in a few short years. I don’t want to go too much into the details here because it is literally not my story to tell. I will say though that his narrative is about the history and evolution of New York City and that he is toiling away diligently on an under-explored aspect of the city’s development. My friend emailed the other day and asked if I could provide a rough outline of American society in the 1910s and 1920s to fill out the story and provide some context for his topic. I offered a few ideas, among them the Versailles Treaty and League of Nations; the influenza pandemic; Prohibition and related rise of organized crime; the Red Scare; the Great Mississippi Flood of 1927. All in all pretty basic stuff. Another topic I added was the rise of magazines during the Roaring Twenties. For instance Henry Luce started Time in 1923 and Harold Ross edited and published the first issue of The New Yorker on February 21, 1925, ninety-five years ago today.
Journalsim has been ht hard in recent years by changes in information technology and other forces. Local newspapers are ceasing publication more than ever. I am old enough to remember when a subscription to Time magazine meant one was up on, well, the times. That magazine today is a shell of its former self. The New Yorker however has restored its footing in recent years after the magazine’s identity crisis during the best-forgotten Tina Brown years. Just yesterday I emailed three people “With the Beatles,” a short story by Haruki Murakami published in the current New Yorker issue. It is an extraordinary tale of loss and memory. My point really is that the magazine remains relevant for both its cultural and journalistic contributions.
I remember reading Nat Hentoff’s memoir many years ago in which he spoke of his admiration for longtime New Yorker chief William Shawn. Hentoff’s admiration of Shawn’s instincts and erudition was dampened only by his disappointment in the editor’s treatment of the staff, especially the non-writing staff, whom apparently Shawn was perpetually nickel-and-diming while hiding always behind a veneer of civility. I remember in the late 1990s–now so long ago–just a few years after Shawn’s 1992 death when a spate of memoir/biographies, laudatory and otherwise, came forth to praise and bury the man. I never read any of them, because literary feuds and gossip are two things I am not interested in.
Good journalism is time-consuming and expensive, which is often lost on us today when we log online each morning and surf the internet for free. We expect it to be free. It is that very reason why journalism is in such trouble today. Valuing journalism is something to think about in our current historical moment when there are people eager and willing to take the truth away from us. The 95th anniversary of The New Yorker is an opportune moment to ponder how good writing and reporting is produced, and how costly that production is. Whatever news and cultural sources you consume, consider throwing them a few shakels via a print and/or digital subscription in order for them to continue their important work.
It’s a glorious morning. I am listening to Bill Evans with my coffee.
I took advantage of yesterday’s rain and sleet to move some computer files around and do my first bit of actual writing of the new year. During the holidays I outlined some projects that I intend to work on in 2020 which I think are realistic. Then it was off to Florida for some R&R followed by the training sessions at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum I mentioned in a post last week. Now it’s about getting down into the weeds and doing what I can. I don’t mind admitting that I’m a tad apprehensive because my projects cross various time periods and subjects. Still I have what I feel are some good ideas on some under-explored topics that I can bring to fruition. It will be a productive winter of work.
The spring term begins tomorrow and today I’ll stay close to the house, do the laundry, buy some groceries, write a bit in the afternoon, and prepare for the excitement and grind that accompany a new semester.
Enjoy your Sunday.
(image/National Archives and Records Administration)
was I received an email last week from artist Robert Gould, who introduced himself and invited me out to see his current art exhibit, which he did in collaboration with poet Gerald Wagoner. Tis past Sunday I ventured out to the Gowanus, where I met Rob and Jerry. We had a great conversation. They sat down and answered some questions about their current installation.
The Strawfoot: Robert Gould, tell us about “On the Tides of Time.” What inspired the series?
Robert Gould: I am an artist who draws inspiration from historical events. Over the years I have created a body of work about the Battle of Brooklyn, and this year I was offered a month long residency at Gowanus Dredgers boathouse. The month of August was chosen because it marks the anniversary of the battle. As part of the residency I created an exhibit that includes my paintings and the poetry of my good friend Gerald Wagoner who shares my passion for history. His poems have a different approach to the passage of time and add his personal observations. He also came up with the title, “On the Tides of Time,” which he pulled from Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar.
My painting series is a continuation of a piece I made a couple of years ago, “Maryland Willow of the Gowanus.” It includes the names of the Maryland soldiers written on willow leaves. I combined these leaves with a photograph I had taken of the Old Stone House using a primitive camera.
For this new series I expanded the theme by incorporating natural elements from the fields of battle. For example, the picture titled “Black Eyed Susan of the Gowanus” features actual river marsh grass with collaged paper black eyed Susan flowers (the Maryland state flower).
Who were the Maryland 400?
RG: The “Maryland 400” was a nickname the Maryland Militia earned during the Battle of Brooklyn. They were under the command of William Alexander also known as Lord Stirling, although his Scottish earldom was rejected by the House of Lords. They were one of General Washington’s most competent troops at the battle. They repeatedly counter-attacked and fought a delaying action to allow other militia troops to cross the difficult terrain of the Gowanus marsh lands thus saving a number of other units from capture and destruction.
The state of Maryland is meaningful to me because I was born there. I moved to NYC to attend college and have remained ever since. My family is originally from eastern Ohio. The first Robert Gould, in our family records, settled what was then the frontier of Ohio after his services in the War of 1812.
The Gowanus Dodgers Canoe Club Boathouse is an ideal venue for the exhibit. How does the site, being where it is, relate to the art works?
RG: I agree it’s an ideal venue for this exhibit! It is located on the exact spot of the Battle of Brooklyn. I have included a painting by Alonzo Chapple, a 19thCentury American painter. His image of the battle from Brouwer Mill pond was within a hundred yards of the boathouse site. The interior of the boathouse space is also ideal because it has long, high, unfinished walls. Because my work uses natural materials the scale of the materials dictates the finished size of the paintings. For example “Hessian Bayonets” incorporates steel bayonets that I fabricated along with rubbings of real tree bark. The resulting painting ended up being 8×15 feet. Thus the scale of the works needs a larger forum than most local gallery spaces.
Is place a recurring theme in your work?
RG: Yes, place is a recurring theme. I strive to find novel ways to describe “place”. The various materials that I use to create the paintings become the subject matter. It is this curated use of materials that reference the place of the battle. I keep coming back to this quote from Gen. Joshua L. Chamberlain taken from his dedcation speech to the 20th Maine Monument at Gettysburg in 1888:
“In great deeds, something abides. On great fields, something stays. Forms change and pass; bodies disappear; but spirits linger, to consecrate ground for the vision-place of souls. And reverent men and women from afar, and generations that know us not and that we know not of, heart-drawn to see where and by whom great things were suffered and done for them, shall come to this deathless field, to ponder and dream; and lo! the shadow of a mighty presence shall wrap them in its bosom, and the power of the vision pass into their souls.
Explain broadly the piece in the series. What materials did you use? What inspired them?
RG: I’ll include what I’ve written about each painting:
“Maryland Willow of the Gowanus” (2016)
I was inspired to create this work from a photograph that I saw in a book about the Old Stone House, called The Stone House of Gowanus by Georgia Fraser (1909). The house was the center of the fighting during the Battle of Long Island in 1776. Near the end of her book there is a photograph of a lone willow tree in the vacant lot where the house once stood. (pp.129) The author claimed that it is the same willow that is depicted in old paintings of the house. I am not so sure of that, however, I became fascinated by the idea of an old Willow tree that links us back to the times of 1776. So my creative idea was to inscribe the names of the Maryland soldiers onto willow leaves. The leaves are then arranged in long hanging branches that represent the different fighting units that the soldiers were with. For example all the soldiers from the Second Company are represented by leaves on one branch that hangs down in the image.
“Elements of Gun Powder 75%, 15%, 10%” (2019)
Rock Salt, Charcoal, Paper Mache, Sulfur, Acrylic Paint, Marsh Grass.
A graphic representation of the ratio of the three elements that compose gunpowder (known today as black powder). Various armies used slightly different ratios of these essential elements to create explosive powder. This is the ratio of the British army: 75 % saltpeter or potassium nitrate, 15% charcoal, 10% sulfur.
In the painting, the different elements are displayed as horizontal bands. The thickness of the bands represents the ratio of that element as present in the British formulation. This is overlaid on marsh grass that has been sourced in Brooklyn. Marsh grass was plentiful in the Gowanus area during the time of the Battle of Long Island.
Black-Eyed Susan of the Gowanus (2019)
Marsh Grass, Acrylic House Paint, Powdered Pigment, Natural Dyes, Rock Salt, Iron Powder, Paper College, mounted on Paper Shopping Bags.
This painting references the Maryland state flower, the black-eyed Susan, and uses marsh grass as a form of requiem. The Gowanus area was a barrier for the retreating American army. It was the sacrifice and repeated attacks of the Maryland troops that allowed other American soldiers to retreat to the safety of downtown Brooklyn. The development of the Gowanus area has been built over the unknown graves of the Maryland soldiers.
Hessian Bayonets (2019)
Welded Steel, Canvas, Oil Stick, Acrylic House Paint, Powder Pigment, Iron Powder, Paper collage, Paper Shopping Bags Mounted on wood frame.
This painting has evolved from local folklore. Hessian soldiers were German mercenary, “solders for hire”. They were used by the British army to supplement their own troops. During the Battle of Long Island Hessian troops acted as a diversion to deceive the American army into thinking the main British attack was happening in what today is known as Prospect Park. Meanwhile the true British attack was able to cut off and isolate the American troops facing the Hessians. The Americans, upon realizing this, fled towards what today is downtown Brooklyn. The Hessian troops, perhaps because of language barriers, or perhaps because of British propaganda, did not take prisoners. Instead they used bayonets mounted at the end of their muskets to kill any surrendering American solider they came across.
The painting was created using rubbings of actual tree trunks from the “Battle Pass” area of Prospect Park. Oil stick was used to transfer the bark pattern from the trees to the canvas strips. These strips of canvas were mounted to the substrate of paper shopping bags and hand forged steel bayonets were impaled into the tree bark.
Gun Powder Sky (2019)
Acrylic House paint, Powder pigment, Iron Powder, Rock Salt, Marsh Grass, Charcoal, Sulfur on Paper Shopping Bag.
This work references the painting “Battle of Long Island”by Alonzo Chappel (1828-1887)That painting depicts the retreat of the “Maryland 400” across Brouwer’s Mill Pond which was located across the canal from this site.
The title alludes to the great blinding noxious clouds of white smoke that were created by the burning gunpowder. Battles of this time in history were often hard to directly observe because of the tremendous volumes of thick smoke that were generated. Consequently, because the battle was totally obscured, generals of the time had a difficult time controlling the movements of their troops.
The artist has layered the ingredients of gun powder and local marsh grass. White paint covers and obscures that under-structure. The paint is layered in such a way so as to let the chemical reaction of iron and salt stain and penetrate the white painted surface. Rust and decay are modern components that allude to both the past and present environment of the Gowanus canal.
You and Gerald have visited many historic sites over the years. Which ones have meant the most to you?
RG: I will let Gerald speak more about that.
Any ideas for future projects you can tell us about?
RG: Nothing concrete yet, but I can see us doing something on Governor’s Island next summer during one of their art fairs.
The Strawfoot: Gerald Wagoner, you have lived in Brooklyn thirty-five year now. What does the borough mean to you?
Gerald Wagoner: I moved to New York because this is where the art is, and the artists are. I ended up in Brooklyn and have never regretted it. A few years ago I decided to express my creative urges in poetic form, and now Brooklyn is a hive of poets, so it is exciting to be part of the conversation.
What was your life like before moving to Brooklyn? Where did you grow up and how did it make you who you are today?
GW: I grew up in Eastern Oregon and in northern Montana on sixty miles east of Glacier National Park. In my poems Montana weather and people are joyless adversaries of mine in a magnificently grand landscape
The West, I think, made my language spare. I was a creative writing major at the University of MT when the poet Richard Hugo was teaching. He left a lifelong impression on me, as did Richard Stankiewicz when I earned my Sculpture MFA at SUNY Albany.
As I brought up with Robert, the two of you have visited many historic sites. Which would you say have meant the most to you?
GW: I think maybe it was tracing Lee’s retreat from Gettysburg over South Mountain to Falling Waters where the army crossed the Potomac because on that trip we learned things that were totally new and perspective altering.
Your poetry complements Robert’s art works in the exhibit. Tell us about your poems.
GW: The poems surprised me. Which is always a good thing. I had taken pages of notes about the canal, and learned some new things about the Battle of Brooklyn, but it is rare for me to sit down at the table and sketch out three related, but distinct poems like I did one morning. The Gowanus Canal is tidal, so it comes in and goes out, and up and down giving it metaphorical qualities of time and change. The title Tides of Time is from a line in Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar.
I’ve known this canal for twenty-five years and things are changing, and I am lamenting that change partially because I’m older and decaying too. The only other thing I would add regarding my poems is that I revise relentlessly, and I aim for a fluid musicality that is suitable to the poem.
Where and when can people see “On the Tides of Time?”
GW: “On the Tides of Time,” at 165 2nd street in Brooklyn, is on view Saturdays and Sundays in from 1:00-5:00 in August and there will be a poetry reading Wednesday August 14 from 7:00-9:00 pm featuring 12 poets and myself reading original theme related poems.
A few minutes ago on this rainy Sunday morning I hit send and submitted something that hopefully will appear in an online venue toward the end of the month. I suppose this will give away the topic, but in my research I found these incredible images we see of men from the 27th “New York” Division returning from France 100 years ago this week. Nearly 15,000 of O’Ryan’s Roughnecks returned aboard the Leviathan and Mauretania on March 6, 1919. I always found it extraordinary the way the men packed in to these huge ocean liners by the thousands like this for the voyage home. During the Second World War Dwight Eisenhower and other military officials gave the men the choice of coming home the way the doughboys had a generation earlier, or staggering the launches with more crossings and thus fewer men to make the passage more comfortable. The thing was, that also meant more time in getting everyone back. Eager to get home and move on with their lives, the dogfaces chose the former virtually to a person.
(bottom images/Library of Congress)
I can hear the snow melting as I type these words. I am leading a tour of Brooklyn’s Grand Army Plaza for a colleague’s class later this morning. It should be warm enough but hopefully not too squishy out there. This past Tuesday I went to the CUNY Graduate Center to hear Andrew Delbanco, president of the Teagle Foundation and Alexander Hamilton Professor of American Studies at Columbia University, give the 10th annual John Patrick Diggins Memorial lecture. I took a class on the Cold War with Jack Diggins in Fall 2004, fifteen years ago. He died in 2009, the same year my own father died. That these things were now so long ago is extraordinary to contemplate.
Professor Delbanco spoke movingly about fugitive slaves prior to the American Civil War, basing his lecture on his new book The War Before the War: Fugitive Slaves and the Struggle for America’s Soul from the Revolution to the Civil War. Delbanco is not a historian per se but an English and American Studies professor. He brought a strong narrative drive to the topic, touching on the writing of Melville, Emerson, and Frederick Douglass to name just three. One thing that made the talk so affecting was the human detail. It is one thing to say that 750,000 or more people died in the Civil War; it is another to give a sense of the human drama of individual lives a voice. As the cynical but accurate saying goes: one death is a tragedy, but one million deaths is a statistic. Delbanco also infused a sense of humility into his talk, something that is too often lacking in the writing and presentation of history. Who among us can say what we would have done had we lived in another time and place? What will our own disenchants say about us and the decisions we made, individually and as a society? One must embrace complexity. I could not think of a more fitting talk in the memory of John P. Diggins.
This past August, almost six months ago now, a friend and I visited the Morris-Jumel Mansion in Upper Manhattan. Among other things, on display at the time was an exhibit of the works of cartoonist Charles Addams. The artist was the originator of The Addams Family, which he based on his real life family much in the way Matt Groening later based The Simpsons on his own family. I have no doubt that Groening knew the history of Addams’s work when starting out in the late 1980s, around the time Charles Addams died of a heart attack in 1988. Addams had begun working for the New Yorker in 1935 during what we know see was a golden age of magazine writing and drawing. His contemporaries include such figures as Rea Irvin, Norman Rockwell, and J. C. Leyendecker. The item that struck me the most that day at the Morris-Jamel house was this image we see here of the presidents, which Addams created for the June 3, 1972 New Yorker cover. This would have been the summer of the McGovern vs Nixon presidential race.
The photo is not the best because the drawing was behind a pane of glass. I told my friend on that hot August day that I would post this come late January on what would have been Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s birthday. FDR was born on this day in 1882. We see him here in the top row, fourth from the left, standing tall with his characteristic big grin.
This past Saturday I was running around the city doing some errands and in general just enjoying the day. Part of that included a stop at The Strand bookstore on 12th and Broadway, one of my major haunts when I first moved to the city 20+ years ago but which I seem to visit less often nowadays. While there I bought the copy of Anton Myrer’s Once An Eagle that you see below. I had another copy of this about ten years ago that I never got around to reading due to a number of changes in my life that occurred around the same time. Instead I mailed it to a friend who read it and then passed it on to his father, an Air Force veteran now interred in a military cemetery. Both read and got a lot out of it. I had not thought of Myrer’s work until about a week ago when I heard Jim Webb talking about it on a podcast I listen to frequently. That inspired me to seek it out again. With the holidays about over and winter officially here it seemed an opportune time to read the 775+ page opus.
Myrer published Once An Eagle in 1968, one of the most terrible years in twentieth century history, with the Tet Offensive, Prague Spring, Events of May, assassinations, rioting, and political unrest around the world. Myrer’s tale of a career military man trying to do the right thing as he rose from young enlisted man to senior general over his half-century career spanning World War One to the early years of Vietnam struck a chord with the public. The book sold in the millions in the late 60s and early 70s.
I have spent part of this long holiday weekend reading some old interviews and articles with Myrer, who died in January 1996. Myrer was from Massachusetts and attended Harvard before leaving to join the Marines in World War 2. He returned to Harvard after the war to finish his degree and then settled in Saugerties, Myrer came home from the war determined to make sense of what he had seen and done in the Pacific. He spoke often in his writing and elsewhere of how the people of his cohort, what we would now call somewhat hyperbolically the Greatest Generation, were trying desperately in the years just after the Second World War to make up for lost time, get on with their lives and, to the extent that they could, reclaim the days of their youth that the Depression and war had taken away. Thus the mad rush to finish school, start careers, marry, buy homes, and have children. These offspring of course being the Baby Boomers.
In a small coincidence related to yesterday’s post Anton Myrer married his second wife in Brooklyn’s First Unitarian Church in 1970. This is the same church in which Price Collier, Sara Collier’s father, served as reverend before she was born. Myrer split his time between the city and (mostly) upstate. Saugerties was and remains something of an artists colony. The 1969 Woodstock Music Festival took place nearby. Other famous residents of Saugerties during this time included Bob Dylan and The Band. It was there that they recorded The Basement Tapes and where The Band itself recorded Music From Big Pink. I would love to know if Myrer ever came across Dylan, Levon Helm, Garth Hudson, or the others. Saugerties is a small town, so I wouldn’t bet against it. If so, talk about world colliding.
In 1969, the year Woodstock too place not far from his home, Myrer returned to Harvard for his 25th class reunion. He was pained at the cultural divide he experienced and felt compelled to explain his own generation as best he could in his writing. Out of that came The Last Convertible. Written in the where-are-we-now and how-did-we-get-here style of Mary McCarthy’s The Group, The Last Convertible begins at Harvard in 1969 with its five now middle-age protagonists returning for their reunion and encounter the students, some of them their own children. In a series of 1978 interviews discussing his then-new book Myrer explains his sympathy for the Vietnam protesters. The Last Convertible is essentially an argument for the defense; Myrer explains poignantly to one interviewer that “I was sympathetic to the children. I was heavily on their side” before adding that “youth is too quick to judge, and they judged our generation too harshly.” To another interviewer around the same time he explains that he wrote The Last Convertible because “I felt a need to interpret our romantic generation to this embittered generation.”
I hope everyone had a good weekend. I’m sorry about the lack of posts recently but with the semester in full swing things have been busy. This past Saturday I was up and out of the house at 6:00 am to meet a friend at Grand Central, from where we took the train to Hartford. There we were met by a friend who was our guide for the day. We visited the Mark Twain house and adjacent Harriet Beecher Stowe Center. Literally they are right next each other. Both tours were distinctly different but uniformly excellent. I love to watch interpreters perform their craft. Twain’s house was obviously an anchor for a man who traveled so extensively, both as a younger man finding his way and later as a famous writer supplementing his income on the lecture circuit. Twain often lived out of a suitcase and the house there in Hartford was the place to which he and his family, who often accompanied him abroad, could return. He did most of his writing on the third floor. While up there I mentioned his publishing Ulysses S. Grant’s Memoirs. The guide turned to his immediate left and pointed out a beautiful bust of Grant on the mantel. I so wanted to take a picture but photography was not permitted in the house.
I had never been to either site before. The one that seems to have undergone the most change in recent years has been the Stowe Center. They used to give a more conventional overview of the house itself and Stowe’s time there later in her life. This is what friends of mine and I call a “furniture tour,” in which a guide focuses more on the make and model of a home’s accoutrements instead of the historical figures who lived there. The Stowe Center, thankfully, has changed its interpretive model to discuss not only Stowe’s life and times but the social and cultural issues that faced our nation then and now. We were even told beforehand when buying out tickets that it would be such. Apparently people have gotten angry during tours in the past.
Our guide was so generous. I had mentioned a few days earlier that perhaps we might go to Cedar Hill Cemetery, to which none of us had ever been before. It is one of the old garden cemeteries and among other Connecticut luminaries is the final resting place of Joseph Roswell Hawley. We got there late in the day, as dusk was about to settle in. We had a great time driving and taking in the scenery. We had some difficulty finding Hawley however but as you can see here we eventually found him. With the Roosevelt Sr. manuscript complete I intend to spend the rest of this year and probably all of 2019 engaged in the Joseph Hawley project. It was so great to see his headstone and gives me the impetus to return to this fascinating topic.
I had not been to Hartford in several decades, when I was a very young child and my father would occasionally take us in on a Saturday to see the phone company building with its big computers and switchboards where he worked. Being there this Saturday was almost like coming home in a way. Here is to good friends who through their kindness and generosity help make our lives more meaningful.
I was bemoaning the recent fallowness of the blog to a friend earlier this week. With the semester in full swing I haven’t had the time over the past ten days or so. Last night however a friend and I ventured up to the CUNY Graduate Center to watch Geoffrey C. Ward give the annual keynote for the Leon Levy Center for Biography. The Levy Center was founded by David Nasaw in 2007. While attending the Graduate Center in 2005 I took a class on the Gilded Age with Professor Nasaw in which I learned a great deal. At the time he was just about to release his biography of Andrew Carnegie. I can’t say I really know Professor Nasaw and I doubt he would remember me–I haven’t spoken with him in thirteen years for one thing–but as I understand it he founded the Levy Center because he believed that academics were not receiving professional credit for writing biographies. If that is indeed the case, and I suspect it is, I imagine it’s because tenure and promotion boards see biography as esoteric, which is misguided and unfortunate.
Ward is the author or co-author of sixteen books but focused his keynote on his two-volume biography of FDR and his exposé of his great-grandfather Ferdinand Ward. This was of course the swindler who cheated Ulysses S. Grant and so many others in the ponzi scheme that took down Grant & Ward in 1884. Geoffrey Ward told the audience that while working on the book he concluded that his ancestor literally had no conscience and was probably a sociopath. Franklin Roosevelt however proved more inscrutable. Ward explained that when he began researching Roosevelt he wanted to know if the polio that touched Ward’s own life had taken away any of FDR’s optimism or indomitable spirit. Ward never found the answer during his research and writing but the answer may have appeared, he explained, in the diaries and letters of Margaret Suckley that turned up after her death in 1991 at the age of 99. In those pages Roosevelt confessed to his friend and confidante the depression and frustration to which he occasionally succumbed due to his physical impairment.
Ward gave a thoughtful presentation and had the audience’s attention. On the way out of the auditorium we ran into a mutual friend and the three of us talked on the Fifth Avenue sidewalk about the talk. I mentioned FDR’s public persona and compared it to the presentation of self of none other than Duke Ellington My friend look quizzical and so I repeated it. Strange as the comparison may seem, Roosevelt and Ellington in their individual ways presented impenetrable public versions of themselves. Of course everyone does this, especially public figures, but few are able to hold the visage together as tightly and for as long as Roosevelt and Ellington. Many people in their inner circles thought they understood the two men, when in reality the president and jazzman rarely gave all of themselves to any one individual. They both were, and to an extent still are, enigmas wrapped in puzzles. Geoffrey Ward collaborated with Ken Burns on the Jazz documentary twenty years ago and spoke of Ellington’s public countenance. This is entirely speculation on my part but I strongly suspect that when Ward was discussing Ellington he was comparing him to Franklin Roosevelt.