Aug 062018
 

Today is the birthday (1928) of Andy Warhol, born Andrew Warhola US artist, director and producer who was a leading figure in pop art in the 1960s. Today is also the feast of the Transfiguration in certain Christian sects (not all, although it is a universal feast). Few people realize that Warhol was a devout Ruthenian Catholic, so pairing the two celebrations is appropriate.

Warhol was born on August 6, 1928, in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He was the fourth child of Ondrej Warhola (Anglicized as Andrew Warhola, Sr., 1889–1942) and Julia (née Zavacká, 1892–1972), whose first child was born in their homeland, now Slovakia, and died before their move to the U.S. His parents were Lemko (eastern Slav) emigrants from Mikó (now called Miková) in the Carpathian mountains, part of the former Austro-Hungarian empire. Warhol’s father emigrated to the United States in 1914, and his mother joined him in 1921. The family was Ruthenian Catholic (aka Byzantine Catholic) and attended St. John Chrysostom Byzantine Catholic Church. Andy Warhol had two older brothers—Pavol (Paul), the oldest, was born before the family emigrated and Ján was born in Pittsburgh.

In third grade, Warhol developed Sydenham’s chorea (also known as St. Vitus’ Dance), a nervous system disease that causes involuntary movements of the extremities, which is believed to be a complication of scarlet fever. He became a hypochondriac, and developed a fear of hospitals and doctors. Warhol was often bedridden as a child, and spent much of the time drawing, listening to the radio, and collecting pictures of movie stars, which he later described as very important in the development of his personality, skill-set and preferences. When Warhol was 13, his father died in an accident.

Warhol graduated from Schenley High School in 1945. After graduating from high school, his intentions were to study art education at the University of Pittsburgh in the hope of becoming an art teacher, but his plans changed and he enrolled in the Carnegie Institute of Technology, now Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, where he studied commercial art. During his time there, Warhol joined the campus Modern Dance Club and Beaux Arts Society. He also served as art director of the student art magazine, Cano, illustrating a cover in 1948 and a full-page interior illustration in 1949. These are believed to be his first two published artworks.[18] Warhol earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts in pictorial design in 1949. Later that year, he moved to New York City and began a career in magazine illustration and advertising.

Warhol’s early career was dedicated to commercial and advertising art, where his first commission had been to draw shoes for Glamour magazine in the late 1940s. In the 1950s, Warhol worked as a designer for shoe manufacturer Israel Miller. Photographer John Coplans recalled that,

. . . nobody drew shoes the way Andy did. He somehow gave each shoe a temperament of its own, a sort of sly, Toulouse-Lautrec kind of sophistication, but the shape and the style came through accurately and the buckle was always in the right place. The kids in the apartment [which Andy shared in New York – note by Coplans] noticed that the vamps on Andy’s shoe drawings kept getting longer and longer but [Israel] Miller didn’t mind. Miller loved them.

Warhol’s “whimsical” ink drawings of shoe advertisements figured in some of his earliest showings at the Bodley Gallery in New York.

Warhol was an early adopter of the silk screen printmaking process as a technique for making art. He was taught silk screen printmaking techniques by Max Arthur Cohn at his graphic arts business in Manhattan. While working in the shoe industry, Warhol developed his “blotted line” technique, applying ink to paper and then blotting the ink while still wet, which was akin to a printmaking process on the most rudimentary scale. His use of tracing paper and ink allowed him to repeat the basic image and also to create endless variations on the theme, a method that prefigures his 1960s silk-screen canvas. In his book Popism: The Warhol Sixties, Warhol writes: “When you do something exactly wrong, you always turn up something.”

Warhol began exhibiting his work during the 1950s. He held exhibitions at the Hugo Gallery and the Bodley Gallery in New York City; in California, his first West Coast gallery exhibition was on July 9, 1962, in the Ferus Gallery of Los Angeles. The exhibition marked his West Coast debut of pop art. his first New York solo pop art exhibition was hosted at Eleanor Ward’s Stable Gallery November 6–24, 1962. The exhibit included the works Marilyn Diptych, 100 Soup Cans, 100 Coke Bottles, and 100 Dollar Bills.

It was during the 1960s that Warhol began to make paintings of iconic American objects such as dollar bills, mushroom clouds, electric chairs, Campbell’s Soup Cans, Coca-Cola bottles, celebrities such as Marilyn Monroe, Elvis Presley, Marlon Brando, Troy Donahue, Muhammad Ali, and Elizabeth Taylor, as well as newspaper headlines or photographs of police dogs attacking African-American protesters during the Birmingham campaign in the civil rights movement. During these years, he founded his studio, “The Factory” and gathered about him a wide range of artists, writers, musicians, and underground celebrities. Warhol said of Coca-Cola:

What’s great about this country is that America started the tradition where the richest consumers buy essentially the same things as the poorest. You can be watching TV and see Coca-Cola, and you know that the President drinks Coca-Cola, Liz Taylor drinks Coca-Cola, and just think, you can drink Coca-Cola, too. A Coke is a Coke and no amount of money can get you a better Coke than the one the bum on the corner is drinking. All the Cokes are the same and all the Cokes are good. Liz Taylor knows it, the President knows it, the bum knows it, and you know it.

New York City’s Museum of Modern Art hosted a Symposium on pop art in December 1962 during which artists such as Warhol were attacked for “capitulating” to consumerism. Critics were scandalized by Warhol’s open embrace of market culture. During the 1960s, Warhol also groomed a retinue of bohemian and counterculture eccentrics upon whom he bestowed the designation “Superstars”, including Nico, Joe Dallesandro, Edie Sedgwick, Viva, Ultra Violet, Holly Woodlawn, Jackie Curtis, and Candy Darling. These people all participated in the Factory films, and some—like Berlin—remained friends with Warhol until his death. Important figures in the New York underground art/cinema world, such as writer John Giorno and film-maker Jack Smith, also appear in Warhol films (many premiering at the New Andy Warhol Garrick Theatre and 55th Street Playhouse) of the 1960s, revealing Warhol’s connections to a diverse range of artistic scenes during this time. Less well known was his support and collaboration with several teenagers during this era, who achieved prominence later in life including writer David Dalton, photographer Stephen Shore and artist Bibbe Hansen (mother of pop musician Beck).

On June 3rd, 1968, radical feminist writer Valerie Solanas shot Warhol and Mario Amaya, art critic and curator, at Warhol’s studio. Before the shooting, Solanas had been a marginal figure in the Factory scene. She wrote the S.C.U.M. Manifesto in 1967, a separatist feminist tract that advocated the elimination of men; and appeared in the 1968 Warhol film I, a Man. Earlier on the day of the attack, Solanas had been turned away from the Factory after asking for the return of a script she had given to Warhol. The script had apparently been misplaced. Amaya received only minor injuries and was released from the hospital later the same day. Warhol was seriously wounded by the attack and barely survived: surgeons opened his chest and massaged his heart to help stimulate its movement again. He suffered physical effects for the rest of his life, including being required to wear a surgical corset. The shooting had a profound effect on Warhol’s subsequent life and art.

Solanas was arrested the day after the assault, after turning herself in to police. By way of explanation, she said that Warhol “had too much control over my life.” She was subsequently diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia and eventually sentenced to three years under the control of the Department of Corrections. After the shooting, the Factory scene heavily increased security, and for many the “Factory 60s” ended. Warhol wrote:

Before I was shot, I always thought that I was more half-there than all-there—I always suspected that I was watching TV instead of living life. People sometimes say that the way things happen in movies is unreal, but actually it’s the way things happen in life that’s unreal. The movies make emotions look so strong and real, whereas when things really do happen to you, it’s like watching television—you don’t feel anything. Right when I was being shot and ever since, I knew that I was watching television. The channels switch, but it’s all television.

 

Warhol was a practicing Ruthenian Catholic all of his life. He regularly volunteered at homeless shelters in New York City, particularly during the busier times of the year, and described himself as a religious person. Many of Warhol’s later works depicted religious subjects, including two series, Details of Renaissance Paintings (1984) and The Last Supper (1986). In addition, a body of religious-themed works was found posthumously in his estate. During his life, Warhol regularly attended Mass, and the priest at Warhol’s church, Saint Vincent Ferrer, said that he went there almost daily, although he was not observed taking Communion or going to Confession and sat or knelt in the pews at the back. The priest thought he was afraid of being recognized. Warhol said he was self-conscious about being seen in a Roman Rite church crossing himself “in the Orthodox way” (right to left instead of the reverse). Warhol’s brother has described him as “really religious, but he didn’t want people to know about that because it was private”. Despite the private nature of his faith, in Warhol’s eulogy John Richardson depicted it as devout: “To my certain knowledge, he was responsible for at least one conversion. He took considerable pride in financing his nephew’s studies for the priesthood”

This brings us to the Transfiguration. The feast comes from the account in the Synoptic gospels (Matthew 17:1-13; Mark 9:2-13; Luke 9:28-36). Here is Mark 9:2-4:

Six days later, Jesus took with him Peter and James and John, and led them up a high mountain apart, by themselves. And he was transfigured before them, and his clothes became dazzling white, such as no one on earth could bleach them. And there appeared to them Elijah with Moses, who were talking with Jesus.

The feast of the Transfiguration was known in various forms by the 9th century, and in the Western Church was made a universal feast on 6th August by Pope Callixtus III. Many denominations celebrate the Transfiguration, including quite a number of Protestants, but the dates vary. Presbyterians (as well as Methodists and Lutherans) celebrate it on the Sunday immediately preceding Lent. Roman Catholics, Anglicans, and Orthodox churches that follow the Gregorian calendar continue to use August 6th.

Christian theology assigns a great deal of significance to the Transfiguration, based on multiple elements of the narrative. The Transfiguration is a pivotal moment because it unequivocally identifies Jesus as more than human, and takes place on a mountain, a setting in both the Hebrew and Greek Bibles where specially chosen people meet God. Mountains act as a bridge between heaven and earth.

As a committed Ruthenian Catholic, Andy Warhol would have celebrated the Transfiguration annually, but I am not going to speculate on what he ate on that day. He did not simply champion fast food and commercial products in his art, he was a regular consumer of them as well. He wrote:

My favorite restaurant atmosphere has always been the atmosphere of the good, plain American lunchroom or even the good, plain American lunch counter. The old-style Schrafft’s and the old-style Chock Full o’Nuts are absolutely the only things in the world that I’m truly nostalgic for. The days were carefree in the 1940s and 1950s when I could go into a Chocks for my cream cheese sandwich with nuts on date-nut bread and not worry about a thing. No matter what changes or how fast, the one thing we always need is real good food so we can know what the changes are and how fast they’re coming. Progress is very important and exciting in everything but food. When you say you want an orange, you don’t want someone asking you, “An orange what?”

There’s a start for you, cream cheese with nuts on date-nut bread. He is a known to have liked chocolate in a sandwich (which I do too, as it happens, courtesy of a stay in France as a teen), and, in general, his tastes were quite ordinary and plain. He also wrote this:

When I order in a restaurant, I order everything that I don’t want, so I have a lot to play around with while everyone else eats. Then, no matter how chic the restaurant is, I insist that the waiter wrap the entire plate up like a to-go order, and after we leave the restaurant I find a little corner outside in the street to leave the plate in, because there are so many people in New York who live in the streets, with everything they own in shopping bags.

In other words, today is not a day for extravagance, but for simple, good food. The choice is yours. I’m not so sure about a can of Campbell’s tomato soup, although I used to be a big fan of their pepper pot. A ballpark hotdog will work:

When Queen Elizabeth came here and President Eisenhower bought her a hot dog I’m sure he felt confident that she couldn’t have had delivered to Buckingham Palace a better hot dog than that one he bought for her for maybe twenty cents at the ballpark. Because there is no better hot dog than a ballpark hot dog. Not for a dollar, not for ten dollars, not for a hundred thousand dollars could she get a better hot dog.

Mar 292014
 

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On this date in 1886 Dr. John Pemberton (pictured) brewed the first batch of Coca-Cola in a back yard in Atlanta, Georgia. Pemberton had been a colonel in the Confederate army, was wounded in the Civil War, became addicted to morphine, and henceforth began a quest to find a substitute for the opiate which he considered dangerous. The prototype Coca-Cola recipe was formulated over time at Pemberton’s Eagle Drug and Chemical House, a drugstore in Columbus, Georgia, originally as a coca wine. He was inspired by the formidable success of Vin Mariani, a European coca wine which was no more than a blend of Bordeaux wine and cocaine. In 1885, Pemberton registered his own French Wine Coca nerve tonic which he sold mostly to upper class intellectuals, afflicted with diseases believed to have been brought on by urbanization and Atlanta’s increasingly competitive business environment. In an 1885 interview with the Atlanta Journal, Pemberton said the drink would benefit “scientists, scholars, poets, divines, lawyers, physicians, and others devoted to extreme mental exertion.” Pemberton claimed astounding medicinal properties for his French Wine Coca, which he marketed as a patent medicine. The beverage was advertised as a cure for nerve trouble, dyspepsia, mental and physical exhaustion, gastric irritability, wasting diseases, constipation, headache, neurasthenia and impotence. It was also suggested as a cure for morphine addiction, which was increasingly common after the Civil War.

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In 1886, when Atlanta and Fulton County passed prohibition legislation, Pemberton responded by developing Coca-Cola, essentially a nonalcoholic version of French Wine Coca, replacing the alcohol with caffeine from Kola nuts.   The first sales were at Jacob’s Pharmacy in Atlanta, Georgia, on May 8, 1886. It was initially sold as a patent medicine for five cents a glass at soda fountains, which were popular in the United States at the time due to the belief that carbonated water was good for the health. Pemberton produced the Coca-Cola syrup which was mixed with carbonated water at the soda fountains.  Pemberton claimed that, like coca wine, Coca-Cola cured many diseases, including morphine addiction, dyspepsia, neurasthenia, headache, and impotence. Pemberton ran the first advertisement for the beverage on May 29 of the same year in the Atlanta Journal.

When first launched, Coca-Cola’s two key ingredients were cocaine and caffeine. The cocaine was derived from the coca leaf and the caffeine from kola nut, leading to the name Coca-Cola (the “K” in Kola was replaced with a “C” for marketing purposes). Pemberton called for five ounces of coca leaf per gallon of syrup, a significant dose. In 1891, when Asa Candler took over the company, he said that his formula (altered extensively from Pemberton’s original) contained only a tenth of this amount. Coca-Cola once contained an estimated nine milligrams of cocaine per glass. In 1903, the cocaine was removed completely.

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After 1904, instead of using fresh leaves, Coca-Cola started using “spent” leaves – the leftovers of the cocaine-extraction process with only trace levels of cocaine. Coca-Cola now uses a cocaine-free coca leaf extract prepared at a Stepan Company plant in Maywood, New Jersey. In the United States, the Stepan Company is the only manufacturing plant authorized by the Federal Government to import and process the coca plant, which it obtains mainly from Peru and, to a lesser extent, Bolivia. Besides producing the coca flavoring agent for Coca-Cola, the Stepan Company extracts cocaine from the coca leaves, which it sells to Mallinckrodt, a St. Louis, Missouri, pharmaceutical manufacturer that is the only company in the United States licensed to purify cocaine for medicinal use.

Kola nuts act as a flavoring and the source of caffeine in Coca-Cola. In Britain, for example, the ingredient label states “Flavourings (Including Caffeine).” Kola nuts contain about 2.0 to 3.5% caffeine, are bitter in flavor, and are commonly used in cola soft drinks. In 1911, the U.S. government initiated United States v. Forty Barrels and Twenty Kegs of Coca-Cola, hoping to force Coca-Cola to remove caffeine from its formula. The case was decided in favor of Coca-Cola. Subsequently, in 1912, the U.S. Pure Food and Drug Act was amended, adding caffeine to the list of “habit-forming” and “deleterious” substances which must be listed on a product’s label. Coca-Cola contains 34 mg of caffeine per 12 fluid ounces (9.8 mg per 100 ml).

The first bottling of Coca-Cola occurred in Vicksburg, Mississippi, at the Biedenharn Candy Company in 1891. The proprietor of the bottling works was Joseph A. Biedenharn. The original bottles were Biedenharn bottles, very different from the much later fluted design of 1915 now so familiar.  It was then a few years later that two entrepreneurs from Chattanooga, Tennessee, Benjamin F. Thomas and Joseph B. Whitehead, proposed the idea of opening an exclusive Coca-Cola bottling factory and were so persuasive that Candler signed a contract giving them control of the procedure for only one dollar. Candler never collected his dollar, but in 1899, Chattanooga became the site of the first Coca-Cola bottling company. Candler remained content just selling his company’s syrup. The loosely termed contract proved to be problematic for The Coca-Cola Company for decades to come. Legal matters were not helped by the decision of the bottlers to subcontract to other companies, effectively becoming parent bottlers.

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The longest running commercial Coca-Cola soda fountain anywhere was Atlanta’s Fleeman’s Pharmacy, which first opened its doors in 1914. Jack Fleeman took over the pharmacy from his father and ran it until 1995; closing it after 81 years.  Fountain Coca-Cola could be made in two ways.  The oldest method was simply to add syrup to a glass and then top it up with carbonated water.  I don’t know whether soda fountains of this sort still exist, but there were one or two in North Carolina when I lived there in the early 70’s.  The great advantage of this method was that customers could ask for extra syrup if they wished, and could also add extra flavorings such as cherry and vanilla (which later became special flavors produced by bottlers).  The second method was to use a proprietary fountain which dispensed the syrup and soda water simultaneously – now the universal method for fountains.

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On July 12, 1944, the one-billionth gallon of Coca-Cola syrup was manufactured by The Coca-Cola Company. The parent company still produces only concentrate, which it sells to licensed Coca-Cola bottlers throughout the world. The bottlers, who hold territorially exclusive contracts with the company, produce finished product in cans and bottles from the concentrate in combination with filtered water and sweeteners. The bottlers then sell, distribute and merchandise Coca-Cola to retail stores and vending machines. The Coca-Cola Company also sells concentrate for soda fountains to major restaurants and food service distributors.

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The Coca-Cola logo was created by John Pemberton’s bookkeeper, Frank Mason Robinson, in 1885. Robinson came up with the name and chose the logo’s distinctive cursive script. The typeface used, known as Spencerian script, was developed in the mid-19th century and was the dominant form of formal handwriting in the United States during that period. Robinson also played a significant role in early Coca-Cola advertising. His promotional suggestions to Pemberton included giving away thousands of free drink coupons and plastering the city of Atlanta with publicity banners and streetcar signs.

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The Coca-Cola bottle, called the “contour bottle” within the company, was created by bottle designer Earl R. Dean. In 1915, the Coca-Cola Company launched a competition among its bottle suppliers to create a new bottle for their beverage that would distinguish it from other beverage bottles, “a bottle which a person could recognize even if they felt it in the dark, and so shaped that, even if broken, a person could tell at a glance what it was.”

Chapman J. Root, president of the Root Glass Company of Terre Haute, Indiana, turned the project over to members of his supervisory staff, including company auditor T. Clyde Edwards, plant superintendent Alexander Samuelsson, and Earl R. Dean, bottle designer and supervisor of the bottle molding room. Root and his subordinates decided to base the bottle’s design on one of the soda’s two ingredients, the coca leaf or the kola nut, but were unaware of what either ingredient looked like. Dean and Edwards went to the Emeline Fairbanks Memorial Library and were unable to find any information about coca or kola. Instead, Dean was inspired by a picture of the gourd-shaped cocoa pod in the Encyclopædia Britannica. Dean made a rough sketch of the pod and returned to the plant to show Root. He explained to Root how he could transform the shape of the pod into a bottle. Root gave Dean his approval.

Faced with the upcoming scheduled maintenance of the mold-making machinery, over the next 24 hours Dean sketched out a concept drawing which was approved by Root the next morning. Dean then proceeded to create a bottle mold and produced a small number of bottles before the glass-molding machinery was turned off.

Chapman Root approved the prototype bottle and a design patent was issued on the bottle in November 1915. The prototype never made it to production since its middle diameter was larger than its base, making it unstable on conveyor belts. Dean resolved this issue by decreasing the bottle’s middle diameter. During the 1916 bottler’s convention, Dean’s contour bottle was chosen over other entries and was on the market the same year. By 1920, the contour bottle became the standard for the Coca-Cola Company. Today, the contour Coca-Cola bottle is one of the most recognized packages on the planet…”even in the dark!”

As a reward for his efforts, Dean was offered a choice between a $500 bonus or a lifetime job at the Root Glass Company. He chose the lifetime job and kept it until the Owens-Illinois Glass Company bought out the Root Glass Company in the mid-1930s. Dean went on to work in other Midwestern glass factories.

I well remember my first taste of Coca-Cola.  It was in Aden in January 1958 when my family was on the way from England to Australia as new immigrants.  We had been wandering around bazaar stalls in baking heat, so my father suggested we have a Coke.  It was one of the most extraordinary experiences of my young life.  Because I had never heard of it until that point, and because the writing on the bottle was mostly in Arabic script, I was convinced it was some exotic Arabian brew.

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It was just marvelous, and I can still conjure up the exact taste image of that first sip.  I know that the Coca-Cola company denies that they alter the recipe from country to country, but it seems to me that the Aden version was sweeter than other versions I have tasted.  I’m willing to be proven wrong, however, given that one’s first taste of anything can be heightened by its newness.

The Coca-Cola company maintains an extensive file of recipes using Coke, mostly submitted by readers.  There are several recipes for marinades and sauces for grilled or roasted meats, but most of the recipes are for desserts.  I have not tried any of them, but by all means browse away to see if anything tickles your fancy:

http://www.coca-colacompany.com/search?q=recipes&fT=0000013e-f6b1-d4b9-a9fe-fefb859d0003

I don’t drink sweetened carbonated beverages any more, but as a boy my favorite way to have a Coke was as a Coke float, which we called a “spider” in South Australia – a glass of Coke topped with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.  All way too sweet for me nowadays, but then I would have one as often as I could.

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Saludos John Pemberton!