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Thursday, September 28, 2017

Melville, dead and long forgotten

Melville: portrait by Seth Moreau

"Melville died at home, of a heart attack, shortly after midnight on September 28, 1891. He was seventy-two years old; his last novel, The Confidence-Man, had been published more than three decades earlier. As the following notices suggest, he had been almost totally forgotten by all but a small group of admirers in Great Britain and the United States. In an article written about a year before his death (included below), columnist Edward W. Bok went so far as to state that most of those who could remember Melville in 1890 thought he had died long before."

From the New York Times - October 2, 1891
"There has died and been buried in this city, during the current week, at an advanced age, a man who is so little known, even by name, to the generation now in the vigor of life that only one newspaper contained an obituary account of him, and this was but of three or four lines."

From the Springfield, Mass. Republican, October 4th, 1891
"He had long been forgotten and was no doubt unknown to the most of those who are reading the magazine literature and the novels of the day."

From the New York Mail and Express, October 8th, 1891
"Mr. Melville was a man of great genius, but he cannot be said to have understood the limitation of his genius, or the things which it could, or could not, accomplish, and he cannot be said to have understood, or to have cultivated, literature as an art. "

Tuesday, August 01, 2017

Melville's birthday

Born in 1819, Herman Melville was 32 after the writing of Moby Dick and prior to its first publishing. One hundred and eleven years later, Macmillan published Robert Shore's illustrated version of the classic work. 

Friday, June 30, 2017

Trash boards brought back to LIFE

Several years ago, I found two thrusters in the trash. The glass was cracked and foam was waterlogged. I decided to wrap one of them in photos cut out of LIFE magazine. The other was covered in pages from a Conan the Barbarian comic book. The edges were taped with white and black electrical tape. I gave these boards to someone as a gift but I cannot remember who. But hopefully, they are still alive in the rafters of some Floridian garage.

Friday, June 16, 2017

Soul on ice... The iceman surfeth...

There are at least two puns about winter surfing in New England. But there is only one film that resembles the frigid air and stinging water - Ishmael. Combining Melvillian inspiration and ice, Scarborough Maine's Ben Keller, put together a snapshot of life that is hard to imagine - unless you have paddled out in subzero temps. Huzzah Ben, huzzah. Get your copy here>

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

HBD - Dental Ding Doc

There are not many who regularly check the world's answering machine. But for those who do... Hazzooo!

Monday, April 10, 2017

Consider the sea

Some time ago, nevermind how long, my wife presented me with a first-edition of Melville's White Whale, as illustrated by Rockwell Kent. Proof that sometimes good deeds do go unpunished.

Monday, April 03, 2017

New Jersey Catboat: Myth

Several years ago I stumbled upon this beauty at the Independence Seaport Museum, Philadelphia. I was impressed by her shallow draft and wide beam. I was also intrigued by the mini pilot house. She is supposedly decedent from New Yorkian oyster craft. I regret not getting a full picture of her lines.

Friday, March 31, 2017

The Sea Bright Skiff

This morning found me in the mood for a classic Jersey Shore Boat and an old book. Nothing fills the bill as well as Dr. Guthorn's "The Sea Bright Skiff". A more compelling history of a classic craft and its evolution cannot be found. I have found this book to be a portal to warm sand and a crisp breeze.

Here is a positive review of the writing and craft via
An essential companion to the book is a true film on the subject, "The Sea Bright Skiff: Working on the Jersey Shore".


Friday, March 17, 2017

Currach building near Dingle, Ireland

The builder in this film is Brandon Creek Harbor Master, Michael o'Shea. Born in 1878 and passing on in the early 1960's, Mr. o’Shea is involved in the building of a traditional Naomh├│g; a type of coracle, or currach, used throughout the Dingle Peninsula and especially associated with the Blasket Islands. This 16mm, reverse process, film was shot in the early 1950's near Brandon Creek, Ireland.
I appreciate his eye for lines. No lofting, no plans, just steam, wood, and vision. Building a boat in the elements of nature – Huzzah Mr. o’Shea.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Dugout Canoes: The Lost Craft of Crusoe Island, North Caorlina

I am not so sure that this lost craft should not have just remained lost. A dugout is basically a stone age craft. Given the technology humans have developed since then, the amount of wood wasted and effort expended to deconstruct a dugout canoe seems a little absurd. I am trying to find an equivalent and fishing with dynamite is the only thing that comes to mind. No Huzzah for you, the Crusoe Island dugout canoe.