"A sketchbook is a secret thing, a collection of unfinished and often times abandoned ideas never intended for public consumption—at least not in their current state. It’s a private space for honing one’s craft and workshopping, separating good ideas from those best left unexplored." -Brian Heater at The Daily Cross Hatch.

27 July 2010

Cold is the Sea: THE NOVEL (and a little TMI)

A few years ago I read Captain Edward L. Beach's novel, Run Silent, Run Deep. Loved it. Not only a page turning classic WWII novel, but how many men have actually experienced war beneath the waves and lived to write about it? So, you can imagine my excitement when I ran across the sequel, Dust on the Sea in a flea market in Red Bank, New Jersey? ...Now, imagine my disappointment when the book took on the turn of a "Boy's Own" adventure and just became so unbelievable I couldn't really get into it.

Fast forward a couple of years and I find out that Captain Beach wrote a third sequel to the Run Silent/Dust-on-the-Sea series, a novel called Cold is the Sea...I am reluctant to read it because Dust kind of sucked...but the title is so catchy...it sticks in my brain and eventually I begin to use it as my nom du guerre (nom du art?) for this incarnation of my sketch blog.

PRESENT DAY: A few days ago I had finished my serious book (Koran, Kalishnikov and Laptop), my bedtime book (Shadow Divers) and my gym bag book (Lord Jim), and lo and behold I needed something to read.

Now, this confluence of book-finishing transpired on an especially humid, miserable hot day (not DC humid-miserable, but close) and the cover of Beach's Cold is the Sea, with a submarine breaching some sea ice seemed so...inviting... I figured that the time had come to read the novel that I had named myself after. I would just grit my teeth and grind through it...but soon I found out I was reading a gem.

So far (and I'm only about 60-some odd pages in) the novel appears to be a fictionalized account of Captain Beach's pissing contest with the famously irascible Hyman G. Rickover. For those who don't know anything about Rickover, he was the father of the nuclear navy (i.e., the singular driving force that got reactors on subs)- and apparently a very "prickly" personality. Prickly like a steel brush. (Read Sherry Sontag's Blind Man's Bluff for more about Rickover.)

From what I can tell, Beach and Rickover had a little clash of egos. Rickover was the Engineer. Beach was the WWII Hero Sub Ace. Rickover was born in a Polish shtetl that was the target of pogroms. Beach was an Academy ring-knocker and the son of a Naval hero. This book is kind of like reading about a star quarterback complaining about the valedictorian math nerd.

"Ok", you say, "that sounds incredibly boring." But not to me! I love this shit! It's actually kind of funny, though Beach obviously had an axe to grind- although to his credit he does grudgingly acknowledge and praise the contributions Rickover made to the Navy.

As I said, I don't know the whole real story- or Rickover's side- but so far it's good reading. I do know that the rest of the novel is based on Beach's experience commanding the first nuclear sub to circumnavigate the globe completely submerged (Operation Sandblast). The caricature above (l to r: Rickover, Beach) kind of sums up my impression of their relationship so far...

18 July 2010

William Golding, circa 1957

Great NYT review today on a new William Golding biography. (I had no idea he was a school teacher! But, duh- who else could've written a book like "Lord of the Flies"?)

I also didn't know that he had served in the Royal Navy during WWII, and was present for D-Day and the lesser known Battle of Walcheren.

I thought this tidbit was interesting:
“…his war in the navy was profoundly destabilizing for him in various ways (both personally and artistically), and many of the key themes in his work can be traced to these formative and disturbing experiences.”

You can read the whole review here: "Man as an Island"

09 July 2010

Maritime Blogger Portrait Series I: TUGSTER

I'm no great hand at writing profiles, so I'll keep it short...

Will Van Dorp is the champion and chronicler of New York City's "sixth boro" (a phrase I believe he coined)- the vast, twisting and teeming waterways that surround the aforementioned metropolis on his blog "Tugster".

This inspiration for keeping this living document? Primarily it was out of Will's lifelong interest with all things related to the water- and a strong desire to delve into the history of NYC's "working water"- its history and where it stands in a global context. Will also enjoys the sense of community he feels with those kindred spirits who share his passion.

The bulk carrier MV Alice Oldendorff (pictured here, riding high in the water) was the ship that Will chose to be portrayed with...He has a strong affinity for her, and was the subject of his very first blog post.


As for the making this piece it took a lot longer than I thought it would... I was very fortunate to secure a non-Maritime related commission a few weeks ago, and I fear it's going to take the rest of the summer (haha)... at a minimum...But, I'll probably put up the odd sketch or two here and there. I had a whole list of people to do for this project...but I've got to put it on the back burner. I'm determined to keep painting maritime-bloggers (Kim, you're next, I promise...) but I've got a ton of other stuff to clear first...