USC Annenberg Online Journalism ReviewUSC





Dances With Strudel, The Mannerist Miser, A Gift From Uncle Andy

Dances With Strudel

Forty thousand Germans like to dress up and live as Native Americans, writes James Hagengruber in Salon.

The surprisingly widespread German fascination with American Indians can be traced back to Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show, which toured Europe in 1896, says Hagengruber.  Today, members of a robust Indian-obsessed subculture meet regularly to practice beadwork, horsemanship, tepee building and traditional dancing.  "During summertime Indian camps, men wearing breechcloths have contests of strength, women prepare meals from dried meat, and bonfires crackle long into the damp night," Hagengruber writes.  The hobbyists are so dedicated to faithfully reproducing early frontier life that a visiting group of actual Native Americans was snubbed for being insufficiently authentic.

What's the attraction?  "For me, I guess, it's mostly because of their art," says a semiconductor technology engineer whose unfortunate children are named Buffalo Robe and Winona.  "For many others, they have the dream of riding a horse on the prairie with the wind in their hair."  The Teutonic obsession with accuracy may turn out to be invaluable, adds Hagengruber.  "They know more than we do about some of these things," says a Cheyenne scholar.  "Maybe 50 years from now, if things change, a Cheyenne could go over to Germany and relearn our own language."

 

The Mannerist Miser

A scholar studying Michelangelo has unearthed a remarkable fact about the Renaissance master painter, sculptor and architect: the guy was cheap.

"He was a funny sort of man, somewhat paranoid and somewhat dishonest, who didn't want it to be known he was fabulously rich," Rab Hatfield, a professor at the Florence branch of Syracuse University, tells Reuters correspondent Estelle Shirbon.  After successfully locating some of Michelangelo's bank records (what's next, his laundry list?), Hatfield has concluded that the artist's claim of poverty was unfounded.   "Michelangelo tried to give the impression that his patrons, especially the popes, had treated him unfairly, when the reverse was true ... ," Hatfield tells Shirbon.  "By the standards of the time, he was way overpaid."

In other financial art news:  Tom Clancy's advance for two new books pays him about $42,694 per page, concludes New York Magazine; Jeff Gottlieb's L.A. Times profile of rags-to-riches screenwriter David Benioff makes the guy sound pretty shallow.

Is Michelangelo's "David" squinting, or is he wall-eyed?  Stanford computer science professor Marc Levoy struggles to set the record straight.

 

A Gift From Uncle Andy

A little-known Andy Warhol painting has become a windfall for some of the late artist's relatives.

Warhol had just begun his now-iconic series of soup can paintings when he gave a work titled "Campbell's Soup Can: Pepper Pot" to his oldest brother Paul Warhola in 1961, writes John Leland in The New York Times.  The small (20-by-16-inch) painting remained in the modest Warhola home outside Pittsburgh, exhibited only occasionally by the seven Warhola children as a show and tell item.  "They lugged it on the school bus in a brown paper bag," writes Leland; they later took turns hanging it in their own homes until the high cost of insuring it finally spurred them to sell.  "Pepper Pot" sold at auction last month for $1.2 million.  The money will be split nine ways.

Leland's entertaining article goes on to explore the oddities of growing up with Andy Warhol as your uncle.  "For sport, the children used to play masquerade in Warhol's old wigs -- each originally intended for a different social function in Warhol's life -- which he handed down to his older brother," Leland writes.  "On some days the house would be filled with children in strange white mops."
 
A Warhol exhibition earlier this year inspired The Guardian to publish a series of interviews with Warhol friends and collaborators (scroll down for interviews).  The paper's February 1987 obituary of Warhol is also available online.

 

Short Takes

Diva of the Desert
Rene Sanchez's Washington Post profile of an eccentric octogenarian who performs one-woman shows in a defunct Death Valley mining town (population: 2) is pretty astonishing.

I'm Creative, Damn It
Screenwriter Stephen Schiff extols the art of adapting books to the screen in a self-serving New York Times essay.

Wine Swillers, Begone
It's impossible to see the art on display during gallery openings, grumbles critic David Pagel in the Los Angeles Times.

From Pepys to Cobain
The diary as a literary art form has fallen on hard times, sighs James Parker in The Boston Globe.

"Rudy" vs. Rudy
ESPN's Jeff Merron seeks the truth behind the 1993 biopic of a pint-sized Notre Dame linebacker.  Can a remake starring America's Mayor be far behind?

Now, That's Loyalty
"Several months ago, Flak's editors threw a few grand into the kitty and told [film editor Sean Weitner] that the money was his to keep if he named his baby Flakmag," notes the puckish online magazine.  Check out the result.

The Smell of Vulcan Skin
Canada's The Globe and Mail arrives late at the online fan fiction party, but John Allemang's article does offer some steamy and ridiculous examples.

Farewell, Noel Regney
The songwriter wrote "Do You Hear What I Hear?" as a plea for peace during the Cuban Missile Crisis, notes Douglas Martin in an interesting New York Times obituary.

Virus Not Included
I'm guessing this promotion isn't finding many takers.


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