Posts Tagged ‘asakiyume’

Asakiyume writes a blog I enjoy a lot, and this week she had an intriguing post on Jackie Ormes, generally considered the first female African American cartoonist. See examples of work by Ormes at Asakiyume’s blog, here.

According to wikipedia, Ormes (1911 to 1985), “started in journalism as a proofreader for the Pittsburgh Courier, a weekly African American newspaper that came out every Saturday. Her 1937-38 Courier comic strip, Torchy Brown in Dixie to Harlem, starring Torchy Brown, was a humorous depiction of a Mississippi teen who found fame and fortune singing and dancing in the Cotton Club.”

The strip waxed and waned as Ormes pursued her many career interests, bur she always returned to Torchy.

“In 1950, the Courier began an eight-page color comics insert, where Ormes re-invented her Torchy character in a new comic strip, Torchy in Heartbeats. This Torchy was a beautiful, independent woman who finds adventure while seeking true love. …  The strip is probably best known for its last episode in 1954, when Torchy and her doctor boyfriend confront racism and environmental pollution. Torchy presented an image of a black woman who, in contrast to the contemporary stereotypical media portrayals, was confident, intelligent, and brave.”

Being a cartoonist seems harder than writing a blog. You not only need to find daily topics that interest you enough to dwell on, but you have to encapsulate them in a piece of art. Asakiyume sometimes illustrates her posts, but art is one thing you won’t find me doing here. (Unless maybe a collage.)

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Today I went with two other volunteers from work to read with fifth graders in an urban school. Volunteers alternate weeks during the school year, some reading to first graders, some teaching math to fourth graders, and a few of us helping selected fifth graders read and discuss chapter books.

At the end of today’s reading-enrichment session, the librarian told one of my colleagues that a girl who was new to the school and afraid she couldn’t keep up in the program had initially asked to be excused. Having been encouraged to stick with it, she is now happy she did and is very enthusiastic about reading.

I was reminded of a wonderful post at Asakiyume’s blog, about a judge who owed his success in large part to a school librarian who turned him onto to reading — by stealth. She noticed that the boy, a nonreader, slipped out with book by a black author. So she drove to a town where she could get more and placed them where the boy would be sure to find them.

Read the post from my bloggy mentor here.

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Today I met up with Asakiyume and her daughter the Animator in Fitchburg, a run-down postindustrial city with a lovely little museum, established in 1929 by artist and one-time resident Eleanor Norcross. The show we came for, on graphic art, was put together by the Norman Rockwell Museum in Stockbridge, Mass., and is traveling to New York. Definitely worthwhile. So is the Fitchburg Art Museum itself.

I enjoyed seeing what caught the attention of my companions among the wide variety of graphic styles and stories. For me, the book by Brian Fies on his mother’s cancer and a different book illustrating Kafka’s Metamorphosis were of special interest.

One fun thing was an actual bedroom set up to suggest where a typical comic-loving teen might hang out. The Animator scrutinized the book collection and pronounced the teen’s taste eclectic.

I recognized the art of Lynd Ward, although I did not know he created novels without words. The series in the museum was the novel Gods’ Man, described at the Library of America site:

“Gods’ Man (1929), the audaciously ambitious work that made Ward’s reputation, is a modern morality play, an allegory of the deadly bargain a striving young artist often makes with life.”

If you scroll down at the website, you can see woodcuts from the book.

Asakiyume asked me how I knew about Lynd Ward, and I had a vague memory of a children’s book, possibly of folk tales. I don’t think the book I remembered was The Little Red Lighthouse and the Great Gray Bridge although Ward was the illustrator. It might have been The Biggest Bear.

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Yesterday’s NY Times Dining section had a delightful story about all the food being delivered to Occupy Wall Street. Donations have come from far and wide, and people have self-organized to distribute it and do the washing up. The story is here.

“Requests for food go out on Twitter and various Web sites sympathetic to the protesters. And somehow, in spontaneous waves, day after day, the food pours in. …

“Platters and utensils are washed on site. The soapy runoff slides into a gray-water system that’s said to draw impurities out through a small network of mulch-like filters. …

“Members of the [food] crew sometimes fail to show up in the morning because they were arrested the night before. (Then again, as many a chef will tell you, that happens in a lot of restaurants.)” …

“Telly Liberatos, 29, the owner of Liberatos Pizza on Cedar Street in the Financial District, said he has received orders from places like Germany, France, England, Italy and Greece, as well as every region of the United States.

“ ‘It’s been nonstop,’ he said. ‘The phones don’t stop ringing. People from California order the most at one time.’ Someone from the West Coast had called in the biggest delivery: he wanted 50 pizzas dispatched to the park.”

You might enjoy knowing that Asakiyume’s blog offers music suggestions for the 99 percent. Check it out. (I borrowed the picture from downtownmonks.blogspot.com.)

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Last night we finally watched the DVD of “Waiting for Superman.” We had to wait until we were up for it. We knew it would be good, but painful to watch. It’s a documentary about the broken public education system in this country.

I see now why people come away from this movie saying, “It’s the unions.” But although we clearly need to find a way to dismiss bad teachers and reward good teachers, to just say, “It’s the unions,” seems too simple to me. Even if it is true, when you consider the context of poverty, unemployment, the highest rates of incarceration in the developed world, the War on Drugs, three other wars, confused approaches to immigration, Wall Street greed at the expense of the poor and middle class, antigovernment bias, and many skewed political priorities, to lay the problems of inequality in public education at any one door seems too simplistic.

Still, as the movie makes clear, we need to get rid of bad teachers immediately and make sure children get high-quality teachers before they give up hope. Lotteries to get into better schools are too cruel to too many. Activists can check out this site.

By the way, the film is very well done. We loved the creative graphics making the data real and the clips of Superman movies and past political speeches and TV shows.

Reader Asakiyune writes: “I very much agree with what you said about unions and teaching and the documentary–it bothers me when a problem as complex as that is reduced to one soundbite.”

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