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Thursday, January 31, 2013

Otis The Wolf, parts 1166 - 1169

1166. The cart was repaired in short order in a way the four desperadoes did not even comprehend. A greased steel collar was inserted as a bearing. As for the outer rim, although it had years worth of mortised repairs inset in it, nothing could be done to improve it so it was left alone. The men resumed their journey and Otis went his way, in the opposite direction.

1167. Otis returned to his wolf pack and gave a full report of his days activities. Something must be said of the internal politics of the extended family of which Otis was a part. This clan was run by an elderly grayish wolf whose name was also Otis, like all the others, but pronounced Ottus. For about two years Ottus had been suffering from arthritis which affected both of his hind legs.

1168. Arthritis was a very dangerous affliction in the wolf community then as now because it was likely to lead inevitably to the commander of the pack being challenged to a conflict. This had not happened for a few reasons, first because Ottus had been able to conceal his affliction, and second, because at that time there was no wolf in the community strong or bold enough to issue a challenge, regardless of any arthritis.

1169. There was no challenger except for Otis himself, who could have easily vanquished the old grey wolf with no trouble but it did not enter his head as of yet because of his lowly position in wolf society, and his humiliating assignment of being a spy dog.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Otis The Wolf, parts 1162 - 1165

1162. In that characteristic way of anyone who is a true mechanic, the Boy was more interested in the damaged wheel that in the persons who owned the cart: four rough dirty characters who looked like they had been sleeping in ditches for many months. The Boy held up his hand for them to stop, and immediately started a careful examination of the wheel. The men stood just behind him wondering what he was doing, and Otis lay down and pretended to take a nap with one eye open.

1163. By a series of signs the Boy explained to the men that the wheel was damaged and would need to be repaired. He drew for them a map in the dirt of the road and to indicate his house he took a horse shoe out of his sack and put it as the destination.

1164. In response to these directions one of the men drew from his pocket an old sock of a  money pouch and holding it up, shook it in order to demonstrate that it was empty, and the services being offered could not be paid for.

1165. Now the Boy made a sign to the men which is no longer used and would hardly be understood in this day and age. He put his hands in his armpits and waved his elbows up and down rapidly, indicating the motions of a big bird. This meant, at that time 'free as a bird.' The men understood this gesture and went on their way, planning to stop at the boys house. The Boy followed along behind, and Otis brought up the rear, still on the alert for any trouble.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Otis The Wolf, parts 1158 - 1161

1158. Otis may have considered the Boy to be dumb, obtuse and unaware of his surroundings but that was not really a fair assessment. As you know, his father was a blacksmith, so was his grandfather. There was not a time he could remember that did not contain the roar of the hearth and the bellows, and the ring of the hammer on the steel. Therefore he had a certain inbred awareness of all things pertaining to the family profession.

1159. 1000 years ago the blacksmith profession was not just any profession. He was a man who could put certain things to rights, certain things that the life of any community were entirely dependent on. The blacksmith in the dark ages, was like a doctor in modern war. An emergency arises and all make way for the Doctor, regardless or where and for whom the crisis strikes. So too, 'Is there a blacksmith in the house' was a medieval cry for help of the  desperate traveler.

1160. This Boy, only thirteen, already had all of the inbred habits and mannerisms of the accomplished mechanic. Seeing the cart in the distance he instantly noticed the damaged rear right wooden wheel, which was flopping slightly from side to side, unlike the undamaged wheels.

1161. At fifty yards away he could see that it was one of those very old wooden wheels of a type long out of use, a wheel devoid of any steel reinforcement either at the rim or the hub. It was a wheel used now only by desperate people out on the road with dilapidated equipment; the type of traveler that can not afford to stop for  needed repairs, and for whom any breakdown was disastrous.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Otis The Wolf, parts 1154 - 1157

1154. Otis was acquainted with three types of persons you might come across that smelled of the blood of their own species. Soldiers, murderers and cannibals, and from the smell of things the people in the distance seemed to be of the second variety. Murderers would be of two types, those who had acted in self-defence, and the murderer-thief variety, and it was hard to separate those categories because the one so often morphed into the other in a short time.

1155. Figuring out these things would be unimportant if he had been alone; he would have simply disappeared. But as a house dog he had to go along and act his part. Thanks-be to the wolf's immortal God's that his spy status had not compelled him to give up his religious observances. Otis had been able to practice his pagan ceremonies because the local dogs, although Christians, still retained many of their old pagan practices, although devoid of any spiritual significance for them.

1156. So Otis offered up this prayer to the Immortal Gods. 'Dear Immortals, you fields and streams, tree-trunks and Mulberry bushes, if ever I have offered up to you my small libations then hear my prayer.  Yonder persons, I am sure you see them, please visit them with some affliction so that they will be unable to attempt to do us any violence, and it will not be necessary for me to un-sheath the weapons you granted to me at my birth.'

1157. And the Immortal Gods heard Otis' prayer. There was a big boulder at the side of the road, carved on it was a number indicating a distance to some city that years ago had ceased to exist. Otis had never once passed this mileage marker without offering it a small libation, and that stone in appreciation of Otis' attentions now managed to bump itself into the rear wooden wheel of the cart approaching them, although it appeared that the cart had struck the stone.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Otis The Wolf, parts 1150 - 1153

1150. But for Otis it was not alright to start liking the Boy, liking any persons was an invitation to damnation. The job, the entire job, consisted of appearing to like people, appearing to be friendly. But to actually like people was the most dangerous thing that can happen to an undercover wolf. The best situation is to fall in with angry old farmers who are stupid and abusive, this it the safe way to carry out ones' job.

1151. Making friends with thirteen year-olds was a mistake, and Otis only persisted in his error by telling himself that the job the Boy had was the perfect foil for his examination of almost every farmstead in a wide area free of any suspicion.  So what if he happened to like the boy a little, and what did it matter if he might be called upon to defend him some time, life was full of dangers and trials, might as well make the best of the given situation.

1152. The one thing Otis kept trying to insist on was the necessity of not using the roads when traveling from place to place, he kept on suggesting over and over again how pleasant it might be to go through the wild woods by hardly perceptible pathways, rather than out in the open in full view of the Gods knows whom or what, but to no avail.

1153. It was just a matter of time before some dangerous situation arose. When the evil day did arrive Otis saw it coming about half a mile off. He didn't actually see it coming, first he sensed it and then he caught its odor on the evening air drifting their way.  Hidden in the evening mist was a group of transients, headed South, unsavory persons smelling of blood, human blood no less.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Otis The Wolf, parts 1146 - 1149

1146. Otis' fear was that it might be possible for the two of them to come across these migrants on the road in the early evening, especially as it was fall and it was getting dark very early. Otis did not think any harm would come to the Boy or to himself regardless of any encounter. Those migrants lived in perpetual fear of the wolves of the wilds. He had encountered them once before and he knew that all he had to do was show them his wonderful dental work and they would scatter.

1147. But what would the Boy think of wolf dental work if he got to see it in action? No, if he had to exhibit the violence he was capable of, violence that could be inflicted in a flash so sudden that there was no defense against it, his identity would be revealed. It was a violence like an unexpected flash of lightning in the night and after one is the witness to wolf violence things can never be the same again.

1148. Otis set to work to teach the Boy the basic rudiments of survival, but it was a hopeless task, the raw material just was not there. 'Consider the Boy's nose,' thought Otis to himself,' it seems that he is hardly aware of the most obvious odors, and I have never seen him sniff the air even once, even when dangerous things were happening only thirty feet away.

1149. 'Then consider the fact that he has no ears on the top of his head. He does have those dried apricots stuck to the sides of his cheeks but they can't be of use for anything. No wonder he never has any idea what is going on in the woods fifty feet away.' All these frustrating observations aggravated Otis but strange to say, the Boy's ineptitude and simplicity made Otis like him the more. For Otis he was like a small child whom you want to look after rather than scold.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Otis The Wolf, parts 1142 - 1145

1142. Otis had no fear of humans if he was by himself. People rode on horses as a rule, or mules or donkeys, and this habit of theirs meant that they announced there location to everyone for miles around. Their obvious stupidity was the best explanation as to why they were always being waylaid and robbed.

1143. The boy was well liked by the peasants he had to visit and so his stops often involved cups of tea and scones as well as chit-chat with the woman of the house.  All the while Otis would sleep on the porch or out in the yard, but later seemingly bored, he would snoop around the barns and outbuildings as if impatient to be on his way to the next stop.

1144.There was hardly a stop that did not involve long visits and conversation, and so it was often late at night before the two of them returned to town. At that point the wolf and the boy would part company. It never entered the Boy's head to wonder where that so-called dog went during the night, and the subsequent wolf raids on the farms they had visited was never connected to them, even though it was fairly obvious.

1145. But Otis had a new problem. It was the problem of migration. From time to time the country side was disrupted by the migrations of people coming from eastern lands. What was creating these migrations the wolves did not know. These were people with their own language and peculiar customs. They were people but they acted like wolves; they rested in the day and traveled the roads at night. People in the villages knew nothing of them, but wolves knew all about them.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Otis The Wolf, parts 1138 - 1141

1138. We are used to this story line form trashy movies and romance novels, but here we have a story about a boy and a dog, and it has the same features, because the Boy, and the dog, can never belong to each other, fate has thrown them together, but they have secrets from each other. Otis never can let it be known that he is a wolf, and the Boy can never be the dog's master. It appears to be a tragedy! The only question is, how will the tragedy play out.

1139. To begin with Otis began to accompany the Boy on his daily rounds, delivering and picking up odd jobs for his father the blacksmith. This work took him out in the country along all the local roads from farm to farm, family to peasant family. It was a great relief for the Boy to have such a formidable companion on these trips. He was out in the country all alone during disordered times with only a sack of padlocks and horseshoes to defend himself with.

1140. Otis understood the Boys anxiety, but because he had to act the part of a dog he made certain incorrect assumptions about the situation. Otis, for example would never under any circumstances have traveled from place to place straight down the middle of a highway, such a practice struck him as simpleminded to say the least.

1141. If a wolf was forced to use a public way he would never enter on it until he was certain there were no other living beings in smelling distance. Once on the road, why on earth walk down the  side near the open fields instead of along by the edge of the woods where one could disappear in amongst the underbrush  in an instant if necessary.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Otis The Wolf, parts 1134 - 1137

1134. The bond that can exist between a boy and a dog is more extreme than one existing between people. I do not think I have to give any far fetched lectures about it to convince you, if you have personal knowledge of that bond you know I am correct, but if not then you wouldn't be able to imagine it. Just ask Jack London, that is him up above.

1135. I find it interesting to observe that in so many stories the structure of a conflict and the problem that generates the tension arises from the fact that the two characters fate has thrown together exist only in parallel worlds which ultimately can never connect. Two souls become entwined as closely as it is possible, and yet an invisible membrane keeps them in a separate universe.

1136. We are used to this in love stories. A movie begins, we see a happy couple, both beautiful and sensitive.  They have an adorable child who has curly hair, and the camera shows us how delightful she is as she plays with her toys. Then the phone rings, or there is a knock at the door, and you know instinctively that all this harmony is about to go to perdition, it is the husband's partner and he has marvelous hair.

1137. The husband's partner is only in the house for two minutes and he never speaks to the wife who seems to be ignoring him, but you know otherwise. When he leaves he says something in passing to the wife just to be polite and she seems not to notice. So the film-makers have shown their entire hand; it is a story that involves adultery, followed by murder, suicide or both. That is the structure of all those stories going back to the original story staring Helen Of Troy.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Otis The Wolf, parts 1130 - 1133

1130. That night he falls asleep contented, he has accomplished an impossible task that others do effortlessly every day. Nobody knows about his bravery or could ever share in the triumph, but it is a victory nevertheless.  That is the way the Boy came to face Otis the wolf who was looking at him quizzically, his head to one side, mouth open and tongue hanging down, off in the distance, flicking his tail from side to side from time to time.

1131. The Boy stood still, bent his legs and slapped his knees twice with his hands; the wolf hearing the sound bounded across the field but pulled up short just three feet away. Then he lunged at the Boy with the same motion he would have used to bring down a doe by the neck, rested his forepaws on his shoulders and began licking his face all over.

1132. The Boy took the wolf's head by the ears and held his face down a little and then proceeded to bang his forehead against the wolf's head three times, three hard knocks. After that they were best friends, better even that Marie Antoinette and Angela.
1133. The Boy and Otis now seemed to be inseparable. This was not actually so, because Otis was, after all a wolf and not a dog, and also Otis was not allowed into the Boys house per order of his mother who had no use for dogs, cats hamsters or anything else with fur.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Otis The Wolf, parts 1126 - 1129

1126. He was backed into a corner by his situation and he could not even go out of the house. He was ashamed to speak about his problem to anyone suspecting that such a fear would be greeted with either disbelief or even ridicule. Irrational fears are sometimes the most difficult to overcome. There comes a time in every child's life when imagined fears must be faced. They are faced alone; an entirely private accomplishment.

1127. You see some kid marching down the street and you think, 'He must be on his way to school or to the store for his mom to pick up some bread and milk.' But in that boy's mind a momentous morning has arrived, he has decided finally to walk across the small bridge behind the abandoned market, the one with the strut missing.

1128. Instead he has been taking a path down an embankment, over a culvert, through some swamp land and across the railroad tracks. All of this much more dangerous than just walking across the bridge like everyone else.

1129. People cross that little bridge every day but he has been going out of his way to avoid it now for a year. Others can use it but for him it represents the 'end of the world', 'death of loved ones,' or something worse and hard to imagine that flits through his dreams when he is half awake at night. Now the day has come, he will be intimidated by himself no longer. He will walk across the bridge.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Otis The Wolf, parts 1122 - 1125

1122. It was not long before Otis was discovered by a boy like that, whom, for the sake of simplicity in this story we will call, 'the Boy.' The boy in question did not befriend Otis right away, actually it took almost a month. His first reaction to Otis was fear. As friendly as the new dog was with everyone, there was something about him that the Boy could not trust.

1123. He was not alone in has suspicion and apprehension of the wolf, the village dogs were in a quandary about him. There was something about his movements that were inexplicable. Why, for example, would a big well proportioned dog be so willing to flop down on his back at the sight of any poodle that came into sight. Like an overly friendly stranger in a bar, one suspected some ulterior motive.

1124. The Boy's anxiety about Otis grew steadily until he found himself altering his usual path through town to avoid coming across the dog who gradually assumed for him the features of a frightening evil omen. Fear got the better of him completely. His father was a blacksmith, and his job was to pick up and deliver various small mended items at farms in the vicinity. He was constantly coming and going, a sack over his shoulder full of things like  mended harnesses or repaired pad-locks.

1125. Finally he was unable to do his job, developed a fever and took to his bed. The doctor was called and he could find nothing wrong with the Boy. He suspected that it was his first encounter with 'puppy love' and its attendant fever, and he was very nearly correct in his assumption.

Otis The Wolf, parts 1118 - 1121

1118. Otis' existence was the most precarious possible. He was beset by dangers on all sides.  He ran the risk of being discovered to be a wolf by the town's people and constantly suspected of turning into a dog by his wolf family.  It was not enough to  never 'wolf down' a meal. Very slight things could give him away to his new friends. His training could not cover everything; he was almost found out because he had no idea what 'fetch' was and only figured it out by accident.

1119. Although there are dogs that seem to belong to an entire community, this situation never persists for very long. In every town or village there always resides some thirteen year old boy whose one wish in life is to own a dog, especially a black wolf like dog, and often boys like that have mothers who are utterly against dog acquisition.

1120. Those boys will sometimes discover a stray animal and adopt it as much as their circumstances will allow. They can never actually own the dog, but over time a bond is created in a way even stronger than ownership.  They are fond of day dreaming of situations in which they are waylaid by robbers or murderers on dark lonely roads.

1121. Suddenly out of the darkness of some trees emerges a terrifying black wolf, and woe-be-tied to any murderous kidnappers of young boys who do not flee in terror. This sort of rescue is played out in the imagination of the thirteen year old boy because they are sometimes the runt of a litter themselves, and prone to persecution.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Otis The Wolf, parts 1114 - 1117

1114. That was not the worst of it however. Otis had seen other wolves before him learn dog-like behaviors, and then go out into the villages to spy. Their fate was not enviable. Often they were found out instantly and done away with. Even those who succeeded were in time driven out of the pack on suspicion of actually becoming the dogs they were imitating.

1115. Once Otis' apprenticeship was complete the right time had to be found for him to assume his duties in the nearest village. They would be on the lookout for a wandering band of musicians, gypsies, or a theatre troupe to pass through the town, then on the following morning the new spy would simply show up, as if lost or abandoned by his owners.

1116. This was a simple explanation for a new dog in the village; this trick had been used for years and yet the villagers seldom suspected, at least at first.  Once established in the village Otis assumed the role of everybody's dog. His day was spent roaming from cottage to cottage, business to business greeting everyone, ignoring no one.

1117. It is customary for these community dogs to disappear for many days at a time, and then appear early in the morning as if they were never away. His job, obviously, was to spy out every situation or location where nocturnal wolf raids would prove successful. Always on the look out for a worn out lock or a broken latch, a torn or broken fence. Once this information was given to the pack, it would be acted on a few days later.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Otis The Wolf, parts 1110 - 1113

1110. A wolf that looked like a dog could not simply prance into a medieval village and hope to be accepted. It was a difficult time, superstition and fear ruled the land, the orderly, predictable despotism and savage illogical justice of the Romans was long forgotten. Some stray dog showing up in a village would most likely suffer a cruel fate in that age, so aptly called by us, the Dark Ages.

1111. The first thing Otis was instructed to do was to spend many days at a distance observing village life with a special eye for the behaviors of the local dogs, in order to get an understanding of their personalities. From a safe distance he marveled at their antics. Why did they shake their tails in such an obscene way, what was the purpose of sitting up on the hind legs and pawing the air in front before eating some morsel of food.

1112. In time Otis was able to connect dog behavior to the attendant human reactions. Tail wagging was some how related to being petted, sitting on the haunches was a preliminary to sometimes being fed, but not always. All of these activities had to be practiced and perfected in front of an audience of his peers. They stood in judgement of his acting skills, which convulsed them in laughter. What humiliation.

1113. There is nothing so shameful for a wolf than to be caught, or even suspected of acting in a dog-like way. One can well imagine Otis' feelings at this time. He had no place in the wolf community to speak of, and now he had to humiliate himself  just to fulfill the one task that would give his wolfish existence a meaning.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Otis The Wolf, parts 1106 - 1109

1106. To put it simply, Otis looked like a dog rather than a wolf, something very unacceptable in their community and a thing that happened rarely. If you considered Otis as a dog rather than a wolf it was another thing completely. As a dog he was very acceptable looking, entirely black, long legged, narrow in the hips, if you did not know he was a wolf you would have mistaken him for a breed called the Belgian Shepherd.

1107. The Belgian Shepherd is very similar to the German Shepherd except that it is all black, better proportioned, and more intelligent. In short, the Belgian is the best of the best, but an inferior wolf. The Belgian face lacks that Asiatic turn of the eye, the slanted eye that seems to give the wolf his sinister look at least to a westerner's perception. The Belgian has instead the knowing, sympathetic and wise  look of the intelligent dog.

1108. What this meant for Otis was a childhood of constant fights. Always on his guard against sudden ambush by his various brothers and sisters over time he became a formidable fighter. Otis was never rejected outright by his wolf family for two reasons, first because of his strength, second because of his ability to pass for a dog.

1109. Although wolves that look like dogs are generally rejected by their families, they do have a very important role to play in the life of the pack. They are often assigned the role of spies, and it is their duty to infiltrate human infestations. They have to pass as dogs. This makes them even more hated by their own kind, yet though they are despised, they are indispensable. Otis was given such assignment.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Otis The Wolf, parts 1102 - 1105

1102. I thought that Buboni was going too far and if we didn't stop him he would go on and on so I thought I had better change the subject while I had the chance, so while he searched his mind for the best phrase adequate to condemn all of the art of the 20th Century I said, "That's just fine Buboni, but I am curious to know more about Otis the wolf The Duck had started to tell us about."

1103.  "I had started telling you about Otis the Wolf, and now, if we can set aside trivial things like the interstate highways and the Lincoln Tunnel, the Baths of Caracalla and ballistic missiles, I would like to tell you about something really important, a story about a boy and his dog which occurred 1014 years ago in either April of May, I am not sure which," said the Duck.

1104. "My story begins in the far North in the  town of X, in the Provence of Y, in the land of Z. Now that you have the coordinates of the place it makes it easier for you to make a mental picture of what I am about to tell you."

1105.  You remember that the wolves fled from Rome but that is beside the point. I want to tell you about specifically about Otis the wolf; his story should help convince Buboni of the superiority of animal intelligence, compared to that of people. Otis, however, was not very superior, on the contrary he was considered a reject in his wolf-pack. It was not that he was a runt of a litter, it was just that he was not a very good looking wolf by wolf standards.

Otis The Wolf, parts 1098 - 1101

1098. "Well then," said the Duck, " we know about the things you hate, but tell us, is there anything that has been created since 1917 that you like?" After a very long pause Buboni answered, "No.  It is not for nothing that the watershed year for my ideas is 1917, a year best known for the beginning of the 'Great War.'  Imagine for a moment that our society and culture was swept asunder in a great conflagration."

1099. "Picture, two thousand years from now some archaeologists dig up our civilization, dust off the things they find and place them in a museum to the 20th Century. What might we find in those gigantic rooms as big as airplane hangars. In one room a reconstructed McDonald's next to a Burger King. In another room 500 rusted out car chassis with some framed pictures of what they must have looked like."

1100. "In another room a Sherman Tank next to a Gatling Gun across the way from an intercontinental ballistic missile, an atomic submarine and a quarter of a mile of interstate highway. The one thing I am sure you would never find is any modern art because how would anyone distinguish it from the rubble it resembles."

1101. "I want to be fair to the 20th Century. I am not condemning it even if it did give us World Wars, Atomic bombs, and all that. Our time has its Sistine Chapel and it is the 747, or any piece of interstate highway. These are not items to dismiss with any shrug of indifference, I know almost nobody who wouldn't prefer them to anything created in the past. Those things are our great art, and what we chose to refer to as great art is...." Here he was at a loss for the right words.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Otis The Wolf, parts 1094 - 1097

1094. "But those modern artists had this coming to then going back to Mr. Warhol who asked us to see ordinary things in a new way. And how do you see ordinary things in a new way? Simply by taking ordinary things and blowing them up and asking us to look at them in grand halls and pretentious spaces. But ordinary things remain ordinary things regardless."

1095. "Even an ordinary mouse can make us stand to attention if his entrance and exit is announced to us by a trumpet fanfare. But take away the fanfare and the mouse is just a mouse again. So it is with ordinary postage stamps, they are canceled and thrown into the trash, but some old man may keep a few in a shoe box. But what of the random stamp that finds its way into a triple matted gilded frame all alone on the far wall of a gigantic exhibit room."

1096. We may approach that postage stamp in silence, wondering what its significance is, but inwardly we feel it is a confidence game and we are being tricked. How many people have left that kind of an exhibit asking the same question that has no acceptable answer, "Is all that I just looked at  silly nonsense, or am I a stupid person, which it it?

1097. "In short," he concluded,  "in the past museums were built to be the backdrop for great art, now art has become the indifferent backdrop for egotistical architecture." When Buboni finished his rant I turned to the Duck to see what he would have to say about the subject.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Otis The Wolf, parts 1090 - 1093

1090. "Therefore the bridges and tunnels of New York are like the Baths of Caracalla, or Notre Dame, in that they were built by a people for a people, and not by a person for persons. But I suspect you have something to say about that corkscrew of a Guggenheim yourself Professor Buboni, since I know how you hate everything after 1917, and I see playing on your face that desire you have to say something nasty about something."

1091. "You are correct Duck, because you got me thinking about modern architecture, a thing I detest, I detest the individual buildings and I hate the entire genre altogether, and I get especially annoyed by the Guggenheim. Frank Lloyd Wright was asked to create a building to honor contemporary art and instead he build a monument glorifying himself. It doesn't matter what they put up on those curving slanted walls, all you can feel there is the ego of the architect."

1092. "Now compare the Guggenheim to the Metropolitan Museum of Art.  Who was the architect?  I don't even know, but if you ask me, I would say that the architect was the same one that build all of the great American buildings of the past, that being S.P.Q.R. the Senate and the People of Rome, whose architectural sense is the basis of all good architecture."

1093. "But now we have an entire crop of art museums springing up like deformed mushrooms all over the landscape and all of them are monuments to the vanity of  architects who really wanted to be sculptors. It is like building a concert hall which produces so much noise all by itself that you can't hear the music being preformed, something that would have delighted John Cage, since his music is so often composed of silence."

Friday, January 11, 2013

Otis The Wolf, parts 1086 - 1089

1086. "But all that is a thing of the distant past. Such projects are no longer done in America, but everywhere they have Dunkin Donuts and CVS, Big Box Stores, and Walmart, cinder block structures without grace or form, exterminating the spirit and blighting the soul. The Arch of Constantine on every street corner, a constant reminder that they are no longer the people they once were."

1087. "And what would you say about the Guggenheim Museum up there on 89th Street Mr. Duck?  Is that one of the monuments of a great people, or is it another 'Arch Of Constantine,' on yet another street corner?"

1088. "The Guggenheim did not come to mind when I was remembering my trip to New York, but perhaps it's because I was more inclined to remember those structures that have no names attached to them."

1089. "Who, for example, knows the names of the persons who created the Brooklyn bridge, or the names on a committee that laid the plans for the Lincoln Tunnel. Even if those names could be found, I doubt they would signify much to most people."

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Otis The Wolf, parts 1082 - 1085

1082. From the end of the Civil War until the Great Depression their land was a vast building project of magnificent structures of all sorts. They built train stations like the Baths of Diocletian, and Court Houses like fine Greek temples. Every city had a library patterned on French Renaissance architecture or resembling small Romanesque churches. The older cities had public schools with architecture to take your breath away, buildings that could make even a delinquent's breast swell with pride.

1083. And this does not take into account works like the bridges and civic projects in great cities like New York and Chicago. The bridges of New York make the Roman Coliseum and the aqueducts look like child's play. I remember distinctly the first time I ever saw the George Washington Bridge. We were coming down the West Side highway, it was many years ago.

1084. The West Side Highway coming into the city from the North is very park-like; through trees one glimpses high up on the left just the tops of the ornate apartment houses of upper Manhattan. Then, around a bend, unexpectedly the bridge comes into view, one can see only a part of its gigantic cement abutment, over ones' head the road-stead soars out over the Hudson River.

1085. One's soul is made numb, the hair stands up on the back of your neck, and you think, this then is New York, and the bridge seems to say, "Go, make a name for yourself here, or be swept aside into the gutter, it doesn't matter. I am New York, I and my sisters." I don't think there is anything like that first impression of New York City in modern experience except perhaps the first time one feels the pressure on one's back as a big jet begins to move down the runway.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Otis The Wolf, parts 1078 - 1081

1078. One does not draw conclusions from single examples such as you seem to represent, even though I admit such conclusions are a common logical fallacy. Take van Gogh for example, he died, and then he became famous, and so now everyone thinks artists who die subsequently become famous, and yet he is practically the only example of it having happened.

1079. Just ask someone who thinks artists become famous after they die to name another example as well as van Gogh, and they will draw a blank, and they will think of no composers or authors either to illustrate their idea, yet they cling to it as an obvious truth.

 1080. An obvious truth supported by only one example, and you Mr. Duck, are our van Gogh, the one example of an animal that can talk, reason, and carry on an intelligent conversation, but I refuse to extend the compliment to the rest of the animal kingdom.

1081. "Well," said The Duck, "you do realize that bad architecture can have a deleterious effect on the psyche of a people. I have been in America you know, and their cities are turning gradually into one vast Arch of Constantine. Everywhere, cropping up, are cinder block one story structures surrounded by parking lots to provide fast food and the like, every one of them is an icon to the decline of their culture.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Otis The Wolf, parts 1074 - 1077

1074. Buboni, who had been listening to the Duck's lecture with his usual combination of cynicism and humor began to take a special interest when The Duck brought up the subject of the Arch Of Constantine. "Oh yes, that famous Arch," he said, "every student who takes Introduction To Art 101 must study that wonderful arch, I say wonderful because all by itself it encapsulates three hundred years of cultural decline in one iconic object."

1075. The Arch Of Constantine! I have often written about it because it fits so well into aspects of my Theory Of Destructivism. One thing seldom mentioned is that it was built to commemorate Constantine's victory over Maxentius at the Milvian Bridge, a victory of Roman over Roman. To build a triumphal arch for a victory over Romans would have been unheard of in  nobler times.

1076. Then again the arch is a perfect example of actual 'Destructivism', in that greater monuments had to be destroyed in order to build it. And last of all, the arch now symbolizes the decline of Roman culture rather that any of Constantine's victories. But yet, Mr. Duck, I find it hard to believe that wolves, no matter how sensitive you claim they are, would migrate to avoid bad architecture being built in their territory.

1077. I do realize that you, being a Duck, and having such extensive knowledge of art and art history, are an example of a member of the animal kingdom having a high degree of education, a Doctoral Duck as it were. But just because of your example are we to extrapolate from that to believing that every random dog and cat is carrying around the Encyclopedia Britannica in his head.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Otis The Wolf, parts 1070 - 1073

1070. All wolves have a very advanced aesthetic sense, but some more than others, especially the pagan Roman wolves and their descendants. This can be easily proved as well as observed. There are millions of ugly dogs and cats, myriad ugly horses and goats, but hardly anyone has ever seen an ugly wolf.

1071. There beauty has been breed into the species over millions of years because of the refinement of their aesthetic awareness. Wolves are acutely conscious of their elegant appearance, this they share with the bigger cats like the lions and panthers.

1072. For many years the rise of monotheism was not noticed by the wolves, but on their nocturnal visits to Italian cities they puzzled over the decline of architectural standards, and wondered at its causes, the Arch Of Constantine is a case in point.

1073. Why, they wondered, were important historical monuments being cobbled together out of fragments torn from the grand monuments of the past which were now falling into ruinous decay.  Where figures had to be created in cases where fragments from the past were not available, the figures sculpted struck their sensitive eyes as painful deformities.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Otis The Wolf, parts 1066 - 1069

1066. Wolf history is remarkably consistent and unvaried over the years. They record episodes of epidemic outbreaks often parallel to human history, and obviously the wolves suffered decreased numbers tandem with human periods of famine.

1067. Only one historical crisis stands out in their annals: Constantine’s conversion of the Roman Empire to Christianity. The wolves had struggled for years with the growing popularity of the new cult but its adoption as the state religion was the watershed moment in their history.

1068. The adoption of Christianity did not in itself cause their great northern migration, but it drastically accelerated it. Today there are none of the original pagan wolves in Southern Europe, the pure breed can only be found in the north.

1069. The original Roman wolves were especially sensitive to Greco-Roman culture. They did not consider Romulus and Remus to be the founders of Rome, on the contrary, they credited that accomplishment to themselves alone, since without the wolf there would have been no Rome.