Archive for the 'Uncategorized' Category

Student Work: Ingvar Kamprad and Anthony Allen Shore

 

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Ingvar Kamprad – image from Wikipedia

 

KingaLeung

Kinga Leung

Ingvar Kamprad

 Ingvar Kamprad was famous because of the Swedish furniture retail company, IKEA, he founded. He died at age 91, at his home in Smaland, Sweden, on January 27, 2018. He left this world behind, after a short illness, surrounded with his family. He was a billionaire. His total net worth $ 58.7 billion, puts him on the eighth place of the Bloomberg Billionaires Index[1].

Ingvar Kamprad was born on March 30, 1926, near the town of Almhult, in southern Sweden. His parents managed the family farm and ran a lodging house. Kamprad started selling matches to his neighbors when he was five. Later, he sold picture frames, pencils, and seeds. In 1943, at age of 17, he founded the IKEA enterprise[2]. The abbreviation, IKEA, comes from the founder’s initials and the first letters of the family’s farms[3] where he grew up.

Kamprad’s wealth was broken up into a structure that was intended to keep his net worth secure, even after his death. Kamprad, of course, had the control over his entire assets because he was the founder of IKEA. However, this structure made sure that no individual can gain control over Kamprad’s net worth after his death. He kept his money in foundations and holding companies, such as $ 48.6B in IKEA, $ 10B in Inter IKEA[4], and $ 0.1B in Public holdings. This resulted in his heirs (three sons) not having direct control over the IKEA firm. However, they did gain a smaller sum of the money from the family-owned Ikano Group, which is a group of finance, real estate, manufacturing, and retail businesses. Its net worth was $ 10 billion in 2016. Many IKEA stores are in the hand of the Stichting Ingka Foundation, whose main purpose is to donate some of the profit for charity and support innovation in design.

Per Heggenes, the chief executive of the IKEA Foundation, has said that Ingvar Kamprad did not care about money. This is the reason why he spread his assets the way he did. IKEA’s profile was, and let’s hope will be in the future, the production of affordable furniture that is easily transportable. Ingvar Kamprad was known for driving an old Volvo, resisting wearing suits, and flying on economy class. The way Kamprad built up his company and lived his life shows that he cared more about people than about money.

 

Sources:

  1. Devon Pendleton, What’s Going to Happen to Ikea Founder’s Billions?, Bloomberg Business (Jan. 31, 2018 5:12AM), https://www.bloomberg.com/amp/news/articles/2018-01-31/ikea-fortune-falls-to-no-one-after-billionaire-founder-s-death
  2. Niklas Magnusson, Ingvar Kamprad, Ikea’s Swedish Billionaire Founder, Dies at 91, Bloomberg (Jan. 28, 2018 6:39AM), https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-01-28/ingvar-kamprad-ikea-s-swedish-billionaire-founder-has-died
  3. Devon Pendleton and Niklas Magnusson, How the Ikea founder’s billions will be broken up, Irish Examiner (Feb. 01, 2018 7:26AM), https://www.irishexaminer.com/breakingnews/business/how-the-ikea-founders-billions-will-be-broken-up-825815.html

 

 

[1] It reports the daily ranking of the world’s richest people.

[2] It started out as a small company selling pens, wallets, and nylon stockings. Then from 1948, it started selling furniture. Finally, Ikea opened its first store in Almhult, Sweden, in 1958.

[3] Elmtaryd farm and Agunnaryd village.

[4] Inter Ikea is the global Ikea franchisor which is controlled by Interogo Foundation. The Interogo Foundation controls the company’s trademarks, brand, and concept. The Interogo Foundation’s Supervisory Council consists the Kamprad family members, but they are in minority and they don’t hold shares.

 

Anthony Allen Shore

 

MariaAmeen

Maria Ameen

Anthony Allen Shore, known to newspapers and the people of Texas as “the Tourniquet Killer,” goes down in history as an American serial killer and child molester, as well as the first person to be executed in the U.S. in 2018. In addition to molesting countless girls, including his two daughters, he sexually assaulted and murdered four female victims between the ages of 9 and 21 with his signature tourniquet between years 1986 and 1995. He is survived by his parents, his sister, and his two daughters.

Born June 25th, 1962 to military parents Robert and Deanna Shore, the family moved frequently before Shore’s parents divorced. He then accompanied his mother to her home state of California before he eventually migrated to Houston where the murders occurred. Interviews with his family revealed him to be a predator long before his move to Texas. His sister describes him as using her to stalk female classmates when they were children and, when they were teenagers, to lure high school girls into his car. He would drive by high schools into his twenties, and while the sister was convinced he was assaulting and molesting the girls we picked up, no criminal charges were ever brought against him. Later, after he divorced his first wife and received full custody of his two daughters, his sister became convinced that he was sexually molesting them. Though she reported him several times to social services, no investigations were made. Had an investigation occurred at this time, a minimum of three murders might have been prevented. But no charges were brought against Shore until 1998 when the girls were 12 and 13 and admitted to Shore’s sister that they had both been raped. Even then, Shore was put on probation, was allowed contact with his daughters, was permitted to live across the street from a children’s school, and was not arrested when two urine samples return signs of cocaine use. While not common place in Texas, this situation is, unfortunately, not uncommon.

However, during the investigation into the molestation of his daughters, Shore was forced to give a DNA sample, which was run through the system and matched to the murder of a Hispanic female found assaulted and strangled in a Dairy Queen drive-through in 1992. The long overdue investigation led to a full confession and imprisonment in 2004, and Shore’s execution by lethal injection in January 2018.

While there are no public records of property or a will, Shore owned a house and a tow-truck business before his imprisonment in 2004. However, it is unlikely that he retained his property or business, or that his personal possessions remained in police custody during his 14 years on death row. There are also no public records of whether the family collected his body. However, there are interviews of his family, as well as his two ex-wives and his ex-girlfriend, with whom he considered himself married, expressing relief at his execution. It is unlikely from their interviews that any of them had any interest in collecting any real or personal property of Shore, or even his body for funerary services.

Works Cited

Ap, Texas “Tourniquet Killer” Set to Be First Inmate Executed in U.S. This Year CBS News (2018), https://www.cbsnews.com/news/texas-tourniquet-killer-set-to-be-1st-inmate-executed-in-us-this-year-anthony-shore/ (last visited Feb 7, 2018).

Sarah Fenske, The Killer Next Door Houston Press (2016), http://www.houstonpress.com/news/the-killer-next-door-6575828 (last visited Feb 5, 2018).

State of Texas, Texas Department of Criminal Justice, Texas Department of Criminal Justice, https://www.tdcj.state.tx.us/death_row/dr_info/shoreanthony.html (last visited Feb 5, 2018).

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Student Work – Chester Bennington

Chester Bennington by Veronica Debbie

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Chester Bennington, Image from Wikipedia

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Veronica Debbie

Chester Charles Bennington (March 20, 1976 – July 20, 2017) was the lead singer of the American rock band, Linkin Park. He committed suicide by hanging himself with a belt. There were no drugs present at the scene, although a half-empty bottle of alcohol was found. His suicide coincided with the 53rd birthday of his friend Chris Cornell, the Soundgarden’s singer, who also committed suicide in May by hanging.

Bennington was born in Phoenix, Arizona. His father, Lee Russell Bennington, was a police detective and his mother, Susan Elaine Johnson, was a nurse. He had an older half-brother, Brian Bennington, who appeared to have a good relationship with him, and two older half-sisters who prefer to stay away from the media. Bennington revealed in an interview that he was continuously bullied due to his small stature and was sexually abused by an older male friend. His parents divorced when he was eleven years old, and his father gained custody of him. He moved in with his mother when he was seventeen. The abuse and his parents’ divorce drove him to alcohol and drugs. Eventually he stopped his drug use, and to comfort himself, he drew pictures and wrote poetry and songs.

His life changed when when he auditioned and joined the band, Xero, in 1996. This band later on changed its name to Hybrid Theory, and then to Linkin Park. With hit songs such as “Numb,” “Faint,” and “In the End,” they have produced 7 albums, sold more than 70 million albums worldwide, and won two Grammy Awards. Their songs were featured as soundtracks for blockbusters like Transformers and Twilight. Bennington himself appeared in movies Crank: High Voltage, and Saw 3D: The Final Chapter.  Other than the Linkin Park, Bennington formed another group, Dead by Sunrise, and served as lead singer for the Stone Temple Pilots. The latter was his music inspiration when he was young. Bennington also had a great interest in tattoos, and did some promotion for the Club Tattoo, a tattoo parlor in Tempe, Arizona, which was owned by his high school friend, Sean Dowdell.

Jaime, Bennington’s son, was born on May 12, 1996 from his relationship with girlfriend Elka Brand. Bennington later adopted Isaiah, Brand’s other son, who was born on November 8, 1997. On October 31, 1996, he married his first wife, Samantha Marie Olit, and had one child together, Draven Sebastian, on April 19, 2002. They divorced in 2005. In 2006, he married a former Playboy model, Talinda Ann Bentley, and had three children, Tyler Lee Bennington, born on March 16, 2006, and twins Lilly and Lila, born in March 2011. After Bennington’s death, Olit wrote a Facebook message that her son, Draven, was not treated equally by Bentley and never wanted to go to the family house. Olit expressed gratitude towards Bennington, that he had provided her with a judgment so that Draven went to the family house only when Bennington was there.

Bennington purchased the Palos Verdes Estates, Los Angeles, $2.5million, 3,956-square-foot, five bedrooms and two bathrooms house at the end of May 2017, about two months prior to his suicide. This raised speculation of some parties that Bennington was preparing for his family’s well being after his death. However, there is no information if he prepared a will.

Bennington had an estimated net worth of $20 to $30 million. He was laid to rest in a private burial near his home on July 29, 2017.

References:

 

Stephanie Dube Dwilson, Chester Bennington’s Family: 5 Fast Facts You Need to Know (July 20, 2017, 7:10 P.M.), http://heavy.com/entertainment/2017/07/chester-bennington-family-mom-dad-brother-sister-parents-brian-police-photos/.

 

Chester Bennington’s Ex-Wife Blasts Family Members ‘Capitalizing on His Death’ (August 24, 2017), http://www.blabbermouth.net/news/chester-benningtons-ex-wife-blasts-family-members-capitalizing-on-his-death/.

 

Chester Bennington (September 6, 2017, 00:02 A.M.), https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chester_Bennington.

 

Emily Crane and Ann Schmidt, Linkin Park Frontman Chester Bennington Bought $2.5 Million Home for His Family just Two Months before He Was Found Dead in a Bedroom (July 25, 2017, 07:03 A.M.), http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-4727832/Chester-Bennington-bought-2-5M-home-just-death.html#ixzz4rjatWOht.

Effie Orfanides, Chester Bennington’s Net Worth 2017 (July 20, 2017, 4:01 P.M.), http://heavy.com/entertainment/2017/07/chester-benningtons-net-worth-2017-how-much-money-will-house/.

Student Work – Arthur Rosenfeld and Lorenzo Servitje Sendra

Arthur Rosenfeld by Ksenia Khismatulina

 

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Arthur Rosenfeld receiving a medal from President Obama Image from Wikipedia

Ksenia Khismatulina

Ksenia Khismatulina

Brilliant scientist, honored researcher, and global advocate for energy efficiency, Arthur Rosenfeld passed away on January 27, 2017 at the age of 90 at his home in Berkeley, California. The cause was complications from pneumonia.

Arthur Rosenfeld was born in Alabama on June 22, 1926. He spent his childhood years in Egypt, where his father was a consultant to the Egyptian sugarcane industry. While still in high school, Arthur Rosenfeld earned his bachelor degree in industrial physics from Virginia Polytechnic Institute. He continued his studies under Nobel laureate Enrico Fermi at University of Chicago where he received his Ph.D. After that, Rosenfeld joined the physics faculty at the University of California at Berkeley. It was the oil embargo of 1973 that made the scientist famous worldwide. One night, before going home, he decided to turn off the lights in all 20 offices of his lab and started to calculate the energy savings. That is how his meticulous research and quest for energy conservation began. In 1975, Rosenfeld created the Energy Efficient Buildings Program. It is a study about impact of low-energy refrigerators and air conditioners and glass windows that trap heat on energy security. Doctor Rosenfeld came to a conclusion that more efficient appliances could cut energy consumption and save billions of dollars. His work received recognition from Governor of California Jerry Brown when energy efficient requirements for refrigerators and freezers went into effect in 1977. Ten years later, the federal government followed golden state example and started to implement its own requirements for appliances. Arthur Rosenfeld developed the DOE-2 series of computer programs for building energy analysis and design that has been the standard for building energy analysis for more than 25 years. He is considered a father of energy efficiency movement.

Arthur Rosenfeld’s scientific contributions and advocacy for energy preservation were very well acknowledged. He served as an advisor at the Department of Energy under President Bill Clinton. In 2006, he was awarded one of the most reputable science honors, the Enrico Fermi. In 2011, President Barack Obama expressed the country’s gratitude with national Medal of Technology and Innovation. In order to honor Arthur Rosenfeld’s achievements, a group of 54 scientists proposed a new unit of measurement that refer to annual electricity savings of three billion kilowatt-hours (equivalent to the amount of energy produced by coal plant each year). They suggested naming it the Rosenfeld.

Dr. Rosenfeld is survived by daughters Dr. Margaret Rosenfeld and Dr. Anne Hansen, two granddaughters and four grandsons. His wife of 53 years, Roselyn Bernheim Rosenfeld, died in 2009. As for the Arthur Rosenfeld’s estate information, nothing was found with the exception of his Berkeley home, an 80-year-old Spanish-style place that boasts double-glazed windows, high-efficiency appliances and energy-sipping lightbulbs

Works Cited

Harrison Smith, Arthur Rosenfeld, Physicist at Forefront of Energy-Efficiency Movement, Dies at 90, Wash Post (January 31, 2017), https://www.washingtonpost.com/national/arthur-rosenfeld-physicist-at-forefront-of-energy-efficiency-movement-dies-at-90/2017/01/31/162705ec-e7c9-11e6-80c2-30e57e57e05d_story.html?utm_term=.354c7cf3b967

Kate Galbraith, Arthur Rosenfeld, Zealous Champion of Energy Efficiency, Dies at 90, N.Y. Times (January 27, 2017), https://www.nytimes.com/2017/01/27/science/arthur-rosenfeld-dead-energy-efficiency.html

Marc Lifsher, You Can Thank Arthur Rosenfeld for Energy Savings, L.A. Times (January 11, 2010), http://articles.latimes.com/2010/jan/11/business/la-fi-rosenfeld11-2010jan11

Lorenzo Servitje Sendra by Demi Huang

 

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Demi Huang

Don Lorenzo Servitje Sendra passed away on Friday, February 3, 2017 at the age of 98 in his home in Mexico City. He is survived by his two sons, six daughters, 24 grandchildren, and 50 great-grandchildren. His wife, Carmen Montull, passed away in 2002.

Don Lorenzo Servitje Sendra, also known as Don Lorenzo, was born on November 20, 1918 in Mexico City, the son of Juan Servitje Torrallardona and Josefina Sendra. He studied accounting at the National Autonomous University of Mexico, but is now known for being one of the founders of Grupo Bimbo, a Mexican bakery conglomerate that now includes Wonder Bread, Sara Lee, Entenmann’s, Thomas’ English Muffins, and more. The company started off as a small bakery and retail store called El Molino, opened by his father in 1928. When his father passed away suddenly in 1936, Mr. Servitje inherited the business and decided to leave his work as an accountant. It was then that he began working out how to import modern American industrial baking technology.

At the end of 1945, Servitje and his partners started the company. Initially, Grupo Bimbo had 34 employees and 10 trucks that solely delivered loaves of white bread in two sizes, rye bread, and toasted bread. Today, the company has 130,000 employees and 170 factories in 22 countries. They make 10,000 products, which are marketed under more than 100 different brands, and are distributed by more than 11,000 vehicles. In 2014, the company reported over $14 billion in sales. After buying Weston Foods, and having previously acquired the Mexican Rights to Wonder Bread, Grupo Bimbo became the biggest baking company in the United States in 2009. Only two years later, the company became the biggest baking company in the world after buying its competitors in Spain, Portugal, and Argentina.

Works Cited

Co-Founder of Mexican Baking Giant Grupo Bimbo Dead at 98, Latin American Herald Tribune (February 3, 2017), http://www.laht.com/article.asp?ArticleId=2430510&CategoryId=14091
Sam Roberts, Lorenzo Servitje, a Founder of the World’s Biggest Bakery, dies at 98, The New York Times (February 6, 2017), https://www.nytimes.com/2017/02/06/business/lorenzo-servitje-a-founder-of-the-worlds-biggest-bakery-dies-at-98.html?rref=collection%2Fsectioncollection%2Fobituaries

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Student Work – Juan Gabriel and Gene Wilder

Juan Gabriel by Roberto Fernandez

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Image of Juan Gabriel from Wikipedia

 

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Roberto Fernandez

 

Juan Gabriel was affectionately called “El Divo de Juarez” by his fans. Divo can be translated as a male Diva. Juan Gabriel wrote more than 1800 songs during his life. He was a gifted singer, actor, businessman, philanthropist and songwriter. When he was younger he acted in several movies as the male lead. His songs have been used in movies, television shows and soap operas for decades, making him an icon and a household name. He was widely believed to be gay although he never confirmed or denied it. In an interview he was asked if he was gay, he replied “ Lo que se ve, no se pregunta.” Which can be translated as “ you don’t ask, what can be clearly seen.”

He was born on January 7th 1950 in Michoacan, under the name Alberto Aguilar Valadez. However, he grew up in Ciudad Juarez near the Texas border. He was the youngest of ten brothers and sisters. During his childhood he spent years in an orphanage until he was reunited with his mother. He travelled to Mexico City a few times trying to get a record deal. On one of his trips he was falsely accused of robbery and sent to prison. After a year and a half he was released because of a lack of evidence. By 19 years old he had already signed a deal with a record label.

Juan Gabriel was very flamboyant, reminiscent of Liberace and he was very patriotic. He refused to sing in English saying “Mexican music must be defended with vigilance…My thoughts, my feelings, my spirit, they are all in Spanish.”

He died on August 28, 2016 in Santa Monica, California from a heart attack. Juan Gabriel led a very private life, not much is known publicly about his estate. However, some consider it to be in the hundreds of millions based on the songs, property and investments he owned. He left behind four children conceived by artificial insemination with his friend Laura Salas. In an interview he claimed she was his best lifelong friend.

 

Citations

Kirk Semple and Elisabeth Malkin. Juan Gabriel’s Death, Like His Music, Brings Mexicans Together, The New York Times (Aug. 29, 2016), http://www.nytimes.com/2016/08/30/world/americas/juan-gabriel-mexico-singer.html?_r=0

Juan Gabriel, Mexican Singing Superstar- Obituary, The Telegraph Obituaries (Sept. 2,  2016), http://www.telegraph.co.uk/obituaries/2016/09/02/juan-gabriel-mexican-singing-superstar–obituary/

 

Gene Wilder by Genesis Parada

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Image of Gene Wilder from Wikipedia

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Genesis Parada

 

The film, “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory” has captivated dozens of generations over the years. Forty-five years after the film was released, the lead actor, Jerome Silberman,  better known as Gene Wilder, died on August 29, 2016 at the age of 83 at home in Stamford, Connecticut from complications of Alzheimers disease.

 

The American comic, actor, screenwriter, director, and author, Gene Wilder, was known across the globe for his prominent role as Willy Wonka in the film Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory. Wilder was born on June 11, 1933, in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. He was the son of Jeanne Baer and William J. Silberman-a manufacturer of miniature whiskey and beer bottles. At age 8, his passion for acting and comedy was brought to life when his mother was diagnosed with rheumatic fever and the doctor told Wilder to “try and make her laugh”.

 

At age 15, he performed for the first time in front of a paying audience as Balthasar in a play of Romeo & Juliet. Three years after landing his first professional acting job at Herbert Berghof’s production, Charles Grodin convinced him to leave the studio to study Lee Strasberg’s method acting. Months later, Wilder was accepted into the Actors Studio-a membership organization for professional actors currently run by Al Pacino. Wilder then adopted the name “Gene Wilder” at the age of 26. Gene for Eugene Gant, and Wilder for the playwright Thornton Wilder.

 

Wilder’s film debut was in 1967 in the film “Bonnie & Clyde”. Wilder went on tour around the country with different theatre productions and was featured in a broadcast appearance on CBS of “Death of a Salesman”.  In 1971 he auditioned for his now legacy Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory” and accepted the role under one condition: he wanted to make a grand entrance coming out of the factory with a cane and fall into a somersault and get up applauding. By this time he had released three novels, starred in over two dozen movies/productions and even produced his own film, “The Women in Red”. By 1971 he was already nominated for two Golden Globe Awards and won a Primetime Emmy Award in 2000.

 

He was survived by Katherine Wilder, his daughter, and wife Karen Boyer. Alzheimers is a very mentally deteriorating disease, Wilder and his family took early measures in estate planning. According to a recent article in Forbes, Wilder’s estate has a reported net worth of around $20 million.

Danielle and Andy Mayoras “From Gene Wilder’s Struggle With The ‘Illness-Pirate’”. Forbes (Sep 7, 2016)

http://www.forbes.com/sites/trialandheirs/2016/09/07/what-you-can-learn-from-gene-wilders-struggle-with-the-illness-pirate/2/#7849675555a3

 

Daniel Lewis Gene Wilder Dies at 83; Star of ‘Willy Wonka’ and ‘Young Frankenstein”. Times (Aug 26, 2016)

http://www.nytimes.com/2016/08/30/movies/gene-wilder-dead.html?_r=0

 

Allanah Faherty “8 Amazing Facts You Probably Never Knew About Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory”. Movie Pilot (Aug 30, 2016)

http://moviepilot.com/p/willy-wonka-and-the-chocolate-factory-facts/2491839

 

 

The Original Sadist Had a Really Nice Prison Cell and Very Specific Last Wishes

Did you know that when we call someone a sadist, we are referring to the Marquise de Sade?

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Image from Wikipedia, click for source.

According to Wikipedia, The Marquis was born into a noble French family in 1740. Early in life he joined the military and then married and had three children, but he wasn’t much of a family man. In fact, he reveled in procuring and abusing prostitutes as well as his own servants. His behavior was so outrageous that he spent half of his adult life in prisons or insane asylums. We remember Sade today for his writings – he wrote some scandalous books that mingled shockingly violent pornographic scenes with his political philosophy.

In 1777, Sade was arrested and imprisoned in the Chateau de Vincennes under a warrant obtained by (who else but) his mother-in-law. He escaped but was recaptured and remained at Vincennes for seven years after which they transferred him to the Bastille. Ten days before Bastille Day (when the people stormed the prison on July 14, 1789 and officially set off the French Revolution), Sade was moved to an “insane asylum”. Funnily enough, eventually he was released from the asylum and was then elected to a position in the new government!

His freedom didn’t last too long, alas. In 1802, Napoleon ordered the arrest of the author of Justine and Juliette (two of Sade’s pornos that had been published anonymously). He was housed in two other jails and then in an insane asylum until he died in 1814.

Sade’s will is fascinating.  He must have been worried about being buried alive because he wrote

“I categorically forbid the dissection of my body for any purpose whatsoever; I must pressingly request that it be kept for fourty-eight hours in the room in which I die …”

He also included his burial instructions, ” (A)n express messenger shall be sent to M. Le Normand, firewood merchant … to take my body and in his care transport it in the said firewood wagon to the woods on my Malmaison property … where I wish it to be placed, without any sort of ceremony … once the grave is filled in, acorns are to be scattered over it, so that in time the grave is again overgrown, and when the undergrowth is grown as it was before, the traces of my grave will vanish from the face of the earth as I like to think memory of me will be effaced from men’s minds …”

You can read more about Sade’s will and the wonderful story of his skull at  The Marquis and His Skull.

Although Sade was by all accounts a flagrant libertine, the French have preserved at least one of his prison cells as a tourist attraction in the Chateau de Vincennes. The Chateau is a short train ride from central Paris and boy howdy is it cool. It began as a residence for the French royal family during the Middle Ages and is considered one of the greatest Medieval castles in all of Europe. Once Versailles was built, Vincennes was used as a porcelain factory and then a jail. Eventually, the Chateau was turned over the military and they have been restoring it since WWII.

When I visited Vincennes I happened on Sade’s cell and I envied it for its spaciousness and super-high ceiling. It may have been hard to heat back in the day, but, in truth, I thought it nicer than many New York City apartments, including my own.

According to Wikipedia, Sade’s family considered him a shameful embarrassment. One of his sons burned a lot of his writings and the family tried to forget him, but of course,  his name lives on.  I wish Sade, the former prisoner/asylum resident, could return for a moment today – to see his name in common usage around the world and the millions of books, magazines and videos that share his particular predilictions.

Alaskans and their Animals

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My photograph of Alvin Eli Amason’s “Oscar Scared Him With His Icon” at the Museum of the North, Fairbanks (all photographs below are mine)

When you ask New Yorkers to think of local wildlife, we conjure up the disgusting animals that thrive on the trash in our wonderful  pig-sty city of smells – nasty rats, roaches, bedbugs, pigeons, squirrels (rats with cuter tails) and the occasional rabid raccoon, escaped gigantic pet snake or sewer alligator.

Most New Yorkers would cheer on learning of the extinction of our icky fauna,  but Alaskans have an entirely different relationship with their wild animals – they seem to deeply love and respect their non-human beings.

 

I visited Alaska a few year ago and from the moment I arrived, I sensed the importance of animals to the Alaskans – they like to stuff and display the wildlife they kill.  The Ted Stevens Airport in Anchorage features several big dead animals whose ferocity has been preserved and captured forever in glass cabinets. And in fact, I think every one of the six hotels I stayed at (in Seward, Anchorage, Denali and Fairbanks) showcased taxidermied animals as part of the décor.

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A bear at the airport.

 

For sure, some Alaskans depend on their local wildlife for survival.  Even today, in the age of Costco and Amazon  (they do have them in Alaska), some Alaskans prefer or are forced to live on a “subsistence” diet, reliant on what they can kill and gather.  There is a lot of meat and fish in Alaska – salmon, halibut, whale (yes, some native Alaskans still hunt whale), moose, caribou, bear and more.

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Michael Nakoneczny’s painting in the Museum of the North

If you want to learn more about subsistence hunting and trapping, I highly recommend the series the Last Alaskans which features several different families and individuals living a subsistence existence.

From my visit, I learned that native Alaskans have a rather beautiful relationship with the animals they hunt.  They thank the animal for presenting itself to be eaten. They won’t kill an animal that is too large for their needs because they don’t believe in waste and every part of an animal is either eaten or used for something else – shelter, clothing,  jewelry, and even furniture.

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An antler chair at the Museum of the North, Fairbanks.

It is not just the subsistence hunters who love animals.  Even the Alaskans in the  “big” cities, esteem their animals.   In fact, on virtually every day of my vacation, stories about animals were featured on the front pages of the Anchorage and Fairbanks newspapers!  In NYC we get the “pizza rat”, but in Alaska, they report on a bear walking into a liquor store and a moose getting caught in a soccer net and they even print dog obituaries.

Alaska is a wondrous, stunning state with lovely people and an abundance of fascinating wildlife.  I feel very fortunate that I could go to somewhere so different than New York City and I must admit it made me sad that our indigenous animals suck so bad.

 

 

CIAO ANITA!

ciao anita

WHERE I TOOK THIS PHOTOGRAPH: THE TREVI FOUNTAIN, ROME ITALY, January 2015

Every tourist in Rome comes to the Trevi Fountain because it is breathtakingly beautiful and because a tradition says that if you toss a coin into the fountain, you are guaranteed to return to the Eternal City.

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Pre-renovation  image from Wikipedia. Click for source

Last winter I returned to Rome and wandered over to the fountain to learn that there was to be no coin tossing into the Trevi’s waters.   The fountain (completed in 1762) was undergoing renovation – it  was dry and its gorgeous Baroque sculptures were covered in scaffolding.

On the upside, we tourists could walk a set of planks extending into the center of the fountain so that we could enjoy the remarkable sculptures up close.  It was a once in a lifetime bit of luck!TREVI3

WHO WAS BEING COMMEMORATED:  ANITA EKBERG

To make the experience even more meaningful, suspended from the scaffolding was a huge banner commemorating the gorgeous Swedish-Italian actress, Anita Ekberg, who had died that week at age 83. During the 1950’s-60’s, Ekberg was known for her incredible beauty and glamorous life. She had roles in many films and she dated many famous men including Frank Sinatra.  She married twice but never had children.

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MY REFLECTION

 Although the tribute was temporary, I loved that the Romans honored Anita Ekberg so quickly, with such a gorgeous, gigantic banner.  It was wonderfully perfect that Anita Eberg was commemorated at the Trevi Fountain because her most famous role was playing a stunning actress much like herself in a great Fellini film set in Rome, La Dolce Vita.  In one of the most iconic scenes in all of film history, Ekberg’s character “Sylvia” dances in the Fountain at night during the evening she spends with a super-sexy journalist played by Marcello Mastroianni.

Enjoy Anita’s frolic on Youtube!

 

 Note: This is a cross-post from our class blog on New York City College of Technology’s OpenLab, “Our Places; How We Commemorate”.