Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for January 2nd, 2017

happiest-book-ever-1

by Sam Juliano

Bob Shea’s latest effervescent confection is titled The Happiest Book Ever and in every manner of its construction it promotes good will and camaraderie.  But then Shea himself has done nothing in his celebrated career that doesn’t foster positive energy and anger management. The yellow dust jacket cover is one of the year’s most ebullient and celebratory.  The rainbow twins are two clouds connected by arching colors; the glittered sun sports a new hair cut and a pair of snazzy glasses; a dancing cake is topped with white icing, colored sprinkles and four candles; a giraffe adorned in a primary color striped pattern holds two ice cream cones, offering one to the reader.  Smileys abound.  Even the author of this book is labeled “always happy” and “friendly.”  Any notion of ill will or negativity would melt off the page in view of this level of magnanimity.  One can’t help but hum the indomitable song “Smile” that Charles Chaplin wrote for his 1936 masterpiece Modern Times.  

In any event the “happy face” throughout the book is the all-seeing oracle, one who sets the tone, the ground rules and final decision making.  This “man behind the curtain” to paraphrase Emerald City residents,  first appears as a commanding spectral on the inside cover, concealed until the book is read and dust jacket removed as per the preferred picture book reading sequence. After the circus tent design (red, yellow, blue and black are the colors there and the favored ones in the book itself) of the fabulous end papers, again shows up on the first page issuing every triumphant phrase in the books to set the stage for a picture book with a distinct theatrical flair.  This administrator of jocularity and happy thoughts is also a universal sponsor of the color known in other places as amarillo, jaune, giallo and gelb.  Like Little Anthony in The Twilight Zone’s “It’s A Good Life” this radiant specter practically orders all within his realm to “think happy thoughts at all time.”  The opening proposition makes a pitch for those in attendance to think about making the book “the happiest ever,” before embarking on the introduction to a group of ecstatic extroverts.   He first asks “frowny frog” and the dancing cake to clap their hands and say “Yellow-Bo-Bellow.”  Smiley Face is shown with an even happier countenance, but still feels the reception can even be warmer.  He suggests that Dancing Cake may be of the wrong variety, perhaps Carrot cake, which he deems “fake.”  But Dancing Cake provides evidence of his interior authenticity – chocolate with white icing.

(more…)

Advertisements

Read Full Post »

maybe-1

by Sam Juliano

She’s an urban Miss Rumphuis, a Lupine Lady who forges her craft with a brush instead of seeds.  Yet few can argue Mira’s local beautification program is less effective.  In fact, Maybe Something Beautiful: How Art Transformed A Neighborhood, based on an ever so true domino effect adventure, is one that revamped the once gray and drab East Village in downtown San Diego.  The purveyors of this meteoric embellishment, one that resulted in lasting change in ways far beyond a cosmetic face-lift, were the artist Rafael Lopez and his graphic designer and community activist wife Candice who gave birth to the Urban Art Trail, a movement that attracted people from all walks of life.  According to an inspiring afterward, police officers, graffiti artists, children and the homeless were among those who responded to this call to aesthetic arms.  The couple painted poems in calligraphy on the ground to gain the attention of those who walked looking downwards.  The mission left behind no prisoners as park benches, sidewalks, tree bases, buildings and even utility boxes were fair game for effervescent, kaleidoscopic reinvention, one that ended up with far-reaching implications.  The book’s authors F. Isabel Campoy and Theresa Howell report that some of the painted benches went up for auction providing scholarships for at-risk art students.  The rejuvenation attracted a flow of visitors, many of whom forwarded donations.  But this was hardly the end.  Like a Facebook post going viral, communities through the USA as well as Canada and even Australia have commissioned Lopez’s art, subsequently instituting community art programs based on the San Diego model.  It would be difficult to imagine how positive energy can better impact the fabric of a community than this astounding, all-encompassing celebration of art. (more…)

Read Full Post »