Visiting the Cathedral of the Holy Trinity at Gibraltar
I spent some quiet time admiring the architecture of this very beautiful Cathedral in August of 2001. No one else was there except a few members of the Clergy. As streams of brilliant light poured in through the remarkably shaped windows, my eyes traced the open forms of the arches high above and fell upon the manifold decorative accents located throughout the building. This particular photograph gives another view of the ornate pipe organ just above the entrance to the Cathedral, showcasing some of the magnificent detail and rich hues of the casework and pipes. The colors and shapes are magnified by rows of flags which accent the sides of the main sanctuary. One notices the memorable effects of light and shadow in a space such as this, with the high ceiling providing a natural reflection towards Heaven and an attendant call to prayer.
A Visit to King's Chapel at Gibraltar, August 2001
In my last post I mentioned visiting King's Chapel and the Cathedral of the Holy Trinity at Gibraltar in August of 2001. Here is another journal entry dated Friday, 31 August, written while I was living and working in Algeciras, Spain with an international team. "The windows and ceilings were bathed in light at the Chapel and the Cathedral. Both had interestingly designed pipe organs. I prayed at the Chapel. At both Churches I was the only one there. Time for reflection and encouragement!"
History of King's Chapel
The Chapel adjoins the Governor of Gibraltar's residence, The Convent. Originally the building was part of a Franciscan friary, with the Chapel built in the 1530's. The Chapel was given to the Church of England by the British after the capture of Gibraltar in 1704. Military memorials and heraldic flags adorn the interior, with many memorials dedicated to members of the British Armed Forces. There are also tombs and memorials to past governors and their wives. The building was badly damaged during the Great Siege of Gibraltar (1779-83), and also damaged more recently in April, 1951 by an accidental explosion of a ship in Gibraltar harbor. Extensive restoration has been made with new stained glass windows installed in 1952 and repairs to the remarkably decorative ceilings and walls. The Chapel is used by the Army, Royal Navy, and Royal Air Force and is open to the public for services and visitation.
A Fascinating Connection with Lord Cardigan
In his 1953 book entitled "The Reason Why," author Cecil Woodham-Smith relates an interesting bit of history regarding Lord Cardigan, Major-General James Thomas Brudenell (1797-1868), 7th Earl of Cardigan, KCB. This officer led the Charge of the Light Brigade at the Battle of Balaclava in October of 1854, during the Crimean War. Lord Cardigan commanded the Light Cavalry Brigade, under the direction of Commander-in-Chief General Lord Raglan and Cavalry Commander Lt-General Lord Lucan. Woodham-Smith writes that Lord Cardigan's second marriage took place at the Chapel when he married Miss Adeline de Horsey, relating that "...in the course of a cruise in Lord Cardigan's magnificent yacht the marriage took place in September, 1858, at the Military Chapel, Gibraltar; Mr. de Burgh was a witness." Further historical information on Lord Cardigan and the Light Brigade can be obtained through consulting Mark Adkin's book entitled "The Charge: The Real Reason Why the Light Brigade Was Lost" published in 1996, and Terry Brighton's book entitled "Hell Riders: The Truth about the Charge of the Light Brigade" published in 2004, containing many first-person accounts.
There are windswept days in the Arizona Desert where seemingly every color of the spectrum may be examined upon close inspection. This particular area is just north of McKellips Road and Crismon Road in East Mesa, an area where Usery Mountain Regional Park stands adjacent to Tonto National Forest. After a period of seasonal rain, it is amazing to see how green this area becomes, bursting with lime-green, yellow-green, emerald green and dozens of other varieties of spectacular hues. When the desert is dry, one notices the rust-colors, the tans, the yellow ochres, the bleached greys, faded green hues and ashen rocks. The wildlife also exhibits great variety of color, from flashy iridescent hummingbirds to motley colored songbirds and rustic desert quail. Once I visited a Park nearby and witnessed Harris hawks sailing high overhead, looking like noble black falcons on a cerulean blue sky. I am reminded of a phrase coined by American artist Wolf Kahn, a gifted painter and fantastic landscape artist. Kahn once told a group of Drew University art students that he was intrigued by "the tangles of nature," those outdoor spectacles we notice when we truly study and observe the natural environment which surrounds us. The Arizona Desert is indeed such an environment, filled with tangles and colorful spectacles stretching from the desert floor all the way to the blue-grey, purple and lavender mountain peaks.
I love the contrasts between light & shadow upon the desert mountains of Arizona. This area is known as Usery Mountain Regional Park, located just 20 minutes from my home in Mesa. The Park encompasses 3,648 acres and is situated at the western end of the Goldfield Mountains, adjacent to the Tonto National Forest. Pass Mountain rises to 2,840 feet and features a spectacular hiking trail which allows views of 70 or more miles into the distance beyond. The lower Sonoran Desert is a fascinating place offering a wealth of rich color and a diverse variety of flora & fauna. On a bright day with palatial clouds sailing overhead, you can absorb the pulse and atmosphere of this remarkable environment. As you take in the sweet birdsong and distant calls of wildlife, for just a moment you begin to absorb the manifold beauties of the wilderness preserve.
A Colorful & Vivid Dream
Many years ago I awoke from a particularly vivid dream which I simply could not forget. Yet I did not think I could capture the full effect of this vision through drawing or painting or any other medium. In an attempt to graphically duplicate some of the dream's elements, I went into my studio and began to sketch on an artist's pad, trying to re-draw the forms and shapes and colors which I had so vividly seen just a few moments before. This sketch is represented here in a size closely representing the original 3" diameter pen & ink drawing.
An Atmospheric Landscape of Unusual Design
In my dream I visualized a brightly painted string instrument (violin, viola or cello) loftily sailing or silently floating above a large expanse of agrarian fields, allowing momentary musical notes to emanate from the instrument, each note gently descending into the cultivated soil below. Some of the notes disappeared entirely beneath the rust/ green fields while others almost seemed to become half-planted farm implements or scythes suited for agricultural harvest. There was a farmhouse in the distance which almost became a wooden music stand in my imaginative perception. A tree in the foreground appeared to be bright red instead of the usual earth colors we usually associate with the forest or hedges of greenery. The mountains in the left distance modeled a most unusual striped effect, exhibiting variations of orange and brown and almost seeming to become the feathered branches of the red tree in the foreground. The sky above breathed with a majesty of Prussian blue and a thousand small particles of ethereal light. From this elementary sketch I painted a more finished design in a 12" format via acrylic paint, a piece which now hangs on my living room wall. Both the original sketch and finished product come as close as I could have imagined in the capture and illustration of a vividly colorful dream.
Strings & Orchestral Sounds
This sketch reminds me of the evocative power of both the string orchestra and the symphonic orchestra, sounds which I have come to cherish ever since my first exposure to music in the 1950's. The string orchestra especially captivates my musical imagination in works such as Edvard Grieg's "Holberg Suite" Op. 40, Antonin Dvorak's "Serenade for Strings in E major" Op. 22, and Edward Elgar's "Serenade for Strings in E minor" Op. 20. All three of these marvelous compositions are performed by the Rotterdam Chamber Orchestra directed by Conrad van Alphen on Telarc. I also have the "Complete Music for String Orchestra" by Edvard Grieg featuring the Norwegian Chamber Orchestra led by Terje Tonnesen on BIS. Another superlative recording is entitled "Leroy Anderson: Sleigh Ride & Other Holiday Favorites" featuring the BBC Concert Orchestra conducted by Leonard Slatkin on Naxos. Anderson's "Suite of Carols for String Orchestra (1955)" radiates a positive and enchanting glow which I never tire of, no matter how often I listen. There is great charm in Anderson's inventive style as can be heard in "Sleigh Ride," "Horse & Buggy," "Suite of Carols for Brass Choir," "A Christmas Festival," "The Golden Years," "Suite of Carols for Woodwinds," "Angels in Our Fields," "Bugler's Holiday," and several other holiday favorites. Such music becomes indelibly woven into the inner textures of our cultural character, producing notes which gently fall to earth from stringed instruments, offering a rich and bountiful harvest for future ages.
Pen & ink drawing, 15" x 19", on artist's board. Inspired by the many films and documentaries created by the noted French oceanographer, scientist, researcher & filmmaker Jacques Cousteau (1910-1997). The oceans of the world offer fabulous varieties of color, shape, form & intricate life. Artist: Glenn Tompkins
Remembrance As a Path Toward Understanding
After the young Martin falls off the spinning carousel, the effects of focused light and Bernard Herrmann's music add tremendous drama to the overall evocation of this scene in "Walking Distance." As the light fades away, one by one the children leave the darkened, now silently still carousel horses, revealing a brief gallery caught by the camera. A succession of wonderfully carved horses momentarily fills the screen, each one cast in motionless pose, as if suspended in frozen animation. Herrmann's accompanying music brilliantly underlines the emotional sadness of this powerfully reflective glimpse into the human heart. We sense Martin's coming-of-age as he grapples with these uniquely personal events, a time of intense introspection as well as a time of endearing compassion. As the music and dramatic lighting bring key elements to the foreground, Martin's father (played by Frank Overton) steps forward after meandering through the maze of carousel horses still visible in the distance.
A Father Speaks to His Son
The quality of Rod Serling's writing can be seen and heard in the next few moments of this luminous story. Martin's father finds his adult son sitting at the carousel's edge holding his hand to his head in anguish over the series of recent events. The dad sensitively approaches his son with the kindly spoken words, "I thought you'd like to know the boy will be alright." Here there are intimations of healing for both the physical and the hidden aspects of Martin's life. "I know who you are," the dad continues, revealing that Martin's license and identity have been confirmed through the wallet he accidentally dropped at his parent's home earlier that evening. "You've come a long way from here and a long time....How? Why? ....You know things that will happen. There's no room, no place. You have to leave here." Martin listens attentively to his father speak these heartfelt words, carefully measuring each phrase with an eagerness to fully understand his present predicament. "It was once your summer....It's his summer now," (referring to the young 11-year-old boy). "We only get one chance. Maybe there's only one summer to a customer." Instead of looking backwards, Martin's father suggests tenderly, "Try looking ahead." Martin agrees with his dad, beginning to sense the wisdom imparted to him through this intervention in time. As the carousel silently starts up, Martin hops aboard to gain another ride, this time with a smile, with renewed understanding, now on a transitional journey toward the closing scene.
Final Scene of "Walking Distance"
The last scene revisits the drug store/ emporium which first appeared at the beginning of this story. Martin discovers a lively perspective as he enters this crowded atmosphere in the store which features his favorite three-scoop chocolate ice cream soda. Now there is loud music, dancing teenagers, and a different soda jerk at the fountain. Initially desiring to order his favorite dessert, Martin strikes up a conversation with the fountain attendant, but then decides to forgo the treat. The attendant asks about Martin's slight but noticeable limp and difficulty in getting up from the counter. Martin says that he injured his leg when he was eleven years old and fell off a merry-go-round. The attendant says, "Merry-go-round? They tore it down....condemned it!" Rod Serling's closing narration speaks eloquently and endearingly about the almost universal desire to go home again, "...that a man might not have to become old, never outgrow the parks and the merry-go-rounds of his youth."
Between Afternoon & Night in "Walking Distance"
As Rod Serling begins his voice-over during the transition phase between afternoon and night at Homewood, we sense the rapidly changing pace of events for Martin Sloan in this seemingly idyllic neighborhood. Previously in the day Martin had attempted to meet his parents only to have them shut the door in his face, due to their incredulous reaction to his far-fetched claims. Now as the evening progresses, Martin finds himself again drawn to the home which he considers his own, a place which he fondly remembers from his childhood years. Under the mysterious mantle of descending darkness, Martin crosses the street and walks across the lawn of the house he once knew as a young boy. He rings the bell on a bicycle but another hand stops him abruptly, revealing the presence of Martin's father. "Back again?" Martin only wants to convince everyone that he is not lying and has proof of his true identity. As the porch light comes on, Martin's mother appears at the front door of the house, inquiring about the noise and unusual conversation on the front lawn. Martin leaps up the front steps and tries to convince his mother that he has factual personal history, a driver's license and further documentation to provide complete proof of his identity. But in an emotional scene etched with fear, fright and confusion, Martin's mother cuts off the conversation as a sign of rejection, no longer having the patience to listen to his irrational claims.
To the Park Amidst the Lights & Music of a Carousel
After facing his parent's rejection, Martin runs to the local Park where a carousel is brightly lit and revolving. In an incredible moment, he sees himself riding the carousel, at age eleven just as he remembers from his treasured past. Through an overhead camera angle, situated precariously high upon the carousel superstructure looking downward at the horses and children, we see the adult Martin furiously chasing the eleven-year-old Martin, as the horses prance rhythmically in motion and the carousel spins unrelentingly forward. Suddenly the young Martin falls off the carousel as we hear, "Oh my leg, my leg!" The adult Martin, out of reach of his eleven-year-old counterpart, clutches his own leg as he grabs forward in pain. There is the realization of the adult causing the injury to the child. At this moment the music of Bernard Herrmann is almost overwhelming in its power and emotional impact. Martin walks slowly toward the boy just as a sense of strong light enters the picture and the children one-by-one dis-mount their fanciful steeds. "I only wanted to tell you...Martin, I only wanted to tell you that this is a wonderful time of life for you. Don't let any of it go by without enjoying it." The carousel operator holds the injured boy in his arms and carries him away. At this moment the light fades in the distance and the children all begin to leave. As the light still focuses upon Martin (in a unique spotlight fashion), there is tremendous sadness expressed in the accompanying music. "That's all I wanted to tell you," Martin repeats as violins recite some evocative phrases in falling lines, with still shots in half-light of the various carousel horses all silently bearing witness to the tragic nature of events which have just transpired. This is one of the most beautifully expressed, carefully composed and hauntingly photographed scenes in all of the five seasons of "The Twilight Zone," a tribute to the very high production values of this series overall.
"Walking Distance" - October 30, 1959
One of the most memorable episodes presented on The Twilight Zone was written by Rod Serling and first seen on television in October of 1959. "Walking Distance" features Buck Houghton as producer, Robert Stevens as director and George T. Clemens as director of photography. This finely written story stars Gig Young in the lead role along with a superbly chosen supporting cast, beautiful sets from MGM, and a superlative musical soundtrack composed by Bernard Herrmann.
Themes of Remembrance, Travel & Time
Rod Serling grew up in Binghamton, New York and fondly remembered his childhood experiences at Recreation Park, especially the magnificent carousel and ornate bandstand. There are moments of wistful remembrance enshrined in this remarkable episode, reflections upon travel & transportation, realizations of how distance and time may change our perspectives, and a yearning to rediscover the innocence & vitality of youth.
Cars, Territory & Memories
In the first scene of "Walking Distance" we see a sports car rapidly driving directly toward the camera, just about to bypass a country gas station in a relatively rural area. The driver comes to an abrupt halt off-camera and then quickly backs up to the vicinity of the gas pumps at the station. There is a bit of dust flying in the air as Martin Sloan (Gig Young) impatiently honks the horn for service, trying to gain the attention of the busy attendant in the background. We can sense this businessman's competitive spirit, his tight schedule of preordained appointments and his somewhat edgy demeanor in dealing with the tasks at hand. Rod Serling's voice-over speaks about Martin Sloan "looking for sanity up the road," seeking an "exodus" but finding something a bit different from what might be expected. The attendant says it will take about an hour to do an oil change and lube job, to which Martin responds "I'm not in a hurry." As Martin gazes toward a sign which says "Homewood - 1.5 miles" across the street on the side of the road, he rather wistfully states "Grew up there. Haven't been back in 20/ 25 years." 1.5 miles is walking distance from the location of the gas station, a trip which he decides to undertake while his car is being serviced.
The Vortex of the Past
The next scene features the soda fountain/ drug store which we associate with small-town America in the 1930's/ 1940's. While an overhead fan circulates in steady fashion, Martin enters this fascinating place, glancing at the fully stocked shelves, taking notice that he is the only customer in this magnificent emporium. A soda jerk emerges from behind the fountain just as Martin reminisces that the town still looks "exactly the same," a picture postcard of historic preservation. "It's funny, how many memories you connect with a place," says Martin as he enjoys an ice cream soda. He thought that everything would be changed, but it's as if he just left yesterday, "Just as if I'd been away overnight."
Rod Serling (1924-1975)
One of the great writers associated with live television dramas of the 1950's was the American screenwriter, playwright and television producer Rod Serling. Serling became well known for his dramatic presentations entitled "Patterns" (1955) and "Requiem for a Heavyweight" (1956). Kraft Television Theater, Appointment with Adventure, Hallmark Hall of Fame and Playhouse 90 provided Serling with a host of opportunities to share his creative vision through the writing of highly original scripts during this fertile period. Eventual awards would include the Emmy, Hugo, Peabody and Golden Globe alongside the popular notoriety gained through the ground-breaking anthology which came to be known as "The Twilight Zone."
The Twilight Zone 1959-1964
Out of a total 156 Twilight Zone episodes, Rod Serling wrote the scripts for 92 stories, altogether offering a rather impressive collection of both science fiction and fantasy elements. Each week I looked forward to watching this series and then sought out alternative interpretations or individualistic impressions from my family, friends and like-minded viewers. For the first time I sensed that television could offer the very best writing, casting, photography, set design, soundtrack music, direction and brilliance of production which normally might be associated only with motion pictures or the classic films shown at movie theaters. I still find this series to offer some highly original thoughts and thoroughly imaginative scenarios, ideas capable of stimulating the creativity of the contemporary mind.
A Dimension of Sight, Sound and Imagination
Serling's introduction and voice-over always begin each episode with some thought-provoking phrases, ideas or tantalizing prospects. He speaks about the vastness of space, the timelessness of infinity, the "middle ground between light & shadow, science & superstition," an area which stretches from "the pit of man's fears to the summit of his knowledge." Both the introduction and the epilogue provide a personal journey into the unknown, the fantastic, the supernatural as well as the sometimes very human elements interwoven into the science fiction/fantasy genre. I find Serling's initial and concluding comments for each episode to be a recitation of some of the most vivid, memorable and fascinating lines from the entire five seasons of "The Twilight Zone."