Friday, September 20, 2019

Baron von Steuben: Revolution War Hero: By Polly Guerin-ARRT-NY-Media Outreach


The German-American parade on Saturday, September 21 not only celebrates German-American pride, but in particular it honors Baron Friedrich Wilhelm von Steuben. Though his name is little known among Americans today, during the American Revolution he created America's professional army with rules and disciplines that are the standard bearer for the United States army even today.                             Von Steuben was a Prussian soldier who was seeking to join the Continental Army and had been highly recommended by the American patriot, Sylas Deane. Armed also with a letter from American diplomat Benjamin Franklin in September, 1777,  the baron sailed from France to join the Continental Army.              
        Von Steuben arrived at Portsmouth, New Hampshire, in December 1, 1777. with four French aides to translate for him and a large dog named Azor. His exaggerated reputation traveled fast . In Boston, he met John Hancock, who hosted a dinner for him, and he chatted up Samuel Adams about politics and military affairs. Next, von Steuben headed to York, Pennsylvania, the temporary American capital , while the British occupied Philadelphia. Aware that the Continental Congress had soured on foreign volunteers, van Steuben offered to serve under Washington and asked to be paid only if America won the war. They took the deal and sent van Steuben to Valley Forge.  It is interesting to note that Washington's confidence in von Steuben grew quickly and within two weeks, he made von Steuben acting inspector general and asked him to examine the Continental Army's condition, "Baron Steuben has arrived in camp," Washington wrote soon after. "He appears to be much of a gentleman, and as far as I have had the opportunity of judging, a man of military knowledge and acquainted with the world."
        
Steuben barking orders at Valley Forge
"What Steuben discovered was nothing less than appalling," wrote the famed author, Tom Fleming in Washington's Secret War.  "He was confronting by a wrecked army. A less courageous man would have quit on the spot."  Steuben was in charge of whipping the bedraggled troops into shape. 

       The baron found soldiers without uniforms, rusted muskets without bayonets, companies with men missing and unaccounted for. Different officers used different military drill manuals, leading to chaos when their units tried to work together. The baron warned, "If the army had to fight on short notice, he might find himself commanding one-third of the men he thought that he had. The army had to get into better shape before the fighting resumed in the spring.  So, von Steuben put the entire army through Prussian-style drills, he taught them how to reload their muskets quickly after firing, charge with a bayonet and march in compact columns instead of miles-long lines. Though von Steuben raged and cursed in a garbled
mixture of French, English, and German, his instructions and presence began to build morale.
         
Von Steuben' Manual
The baron's lessons didn't just make the American troops look impressive, under his stern

tutelage, they became a formidable battlefield force. At the Battle of Monmouth on June 28, the Revolution's last major battle in the northern states, American troops showed a new discipline. They stood their ground during ferocious fire and bayonet attack and forced the British to retreat. "Monmouth vindicated Steuben as the organizer. The Continental Army's new strength as a fighting force, combined with the arrival of the French fleet off the coast of New York in 1778, turned the tide of the war. 
     Von Steuben served in the Continental army for he rest of the Revolutionary War. In 1779 he codified the lessons into the Army's Blue Book.  Officially the Regulations for the Order and Discipline of the troops of the United States. It remained the Army training manual for decades. The Army still uses some portions
of it in training manuals today, including von Steuben's instructions on drill and ceremonies. After the war, the governor of New York granted von Steuben a huge wilderness estate in the Mohawk Valley as a reward for his service in the war. His importance to the Revolution is evident in Washington's last ac as commanding general. In December
1783, the very year when the last of the British were driven out of New York City, he wrote von Steuben a letter of thanks for this"faithful and Meritorious Services."
        Let's not forget Baron Friedrich Wilhelm von Steuben for herein is the primary reason to
make the German-American parade more meaningful.  This feature was written with reference to
Erick Trickey's, April 26, 2017 feature Smithsonian.com. 
Fan mail welcome at pollytalknyc@gmail.com  


Monday, September 16, 2019

One Million Specie Face Extinction: NYBG: Review By Polly Guerin

A MILLION SPECIES FACING  EXTINCTION
WITH PLANET EARTH IN A STATE OF CRISIS, A MILLION SPECIES ARE FACING EXTINCTION.
       The New York Botanical Garden (NYBG) launches a new season of lectures and symposia on important and timely subjects that provoke concern NOT ONLY for a million species facing extinction but include concern for our own future existence.
      Featuring renowned authors, leading scientists, specialists in horticulture and the environment, and outstanding landscape architects and designers, the NYBG line up features a roster of luminaries in the world of science. On Thursday, September 26, 10-11 a.m., Ross Hall, NYBG features the author and activist Bill McKibben, whose 1989 best seller The End of Nature first brought the issue of global warming to public consciousness. Now the stakes are even higher as climate change shrinks the spaces where civilization can exist and technologies such as artificial intelligence and robotics threaten the very nature of human experience.                
  McKibben has responded with FALTER; Has the Human Game Begun to Play Itself Out?, a powering and sobering look at these converging trends, the ideological passions that present us from controlling them, and some possible ways out of the trap. Audience Q and A and book signing to follow. Location: Ross Hall, NYBG, at 2000 Southern Boulevard, Bronx, N.Y. visit WWW.NYBG.ORG to select a lecture, register, and pay by credit card. Remember, it is less than a half-hour by Metro North Train, at Grand Central to NYBG and the stop, as you might expect, is "Botanical Garden."
      Another luminary on the environmental tract Sir Robert Watson will speak about the international research effort that he had reported earlier this year that one million species face
extinction if humanity does not act now to conserve and sustainably use biodiversity. His
talk, under the banner Andrew Carnegie Distinguished Lecture 2019: Sir Robert Watson will address the issue: Saving a Livable World on Thursday, October 10; 6 p.m., Manhattan Location, Christie's, 20 Rockefeller Plaza. Sir Watson will explore how vital ecosystem are deteriorating more rapidly than ever and if transformative change is not well under way in the next few years,
biodiversity will continue to be lost, and Earth's climate will continue to change.





Sir Watson, who chaired the IPBES and was Chief Scientist and Director for Environmentally and Socially Sustainable Development at the World Bank, will share the report's crucial findings nd then be joined by renowned conservation biologist and NYBG Trustee Thomas E. Lovejoy, Ph.D for a compelling conversation on biodiversity and current programs on global goals. 
     
Extinction Evidence
To access the complete fall 2019-winter 2020 line up of lectures including the 21st Annual Landscape Design Portfolios Lecture Series, Responding to the Land, and award-winning Caribbean-American writer Jamaica Kincaid, who is best known for her evocative portrayals of family relationships but who has also expanded the scope of garden writing in her essays and memoirs. 

       To access the full schedule of thought provoking and time sensitive subjects click on the Link for tickets and admission charges. http://www.nybg.org/content/uploads/2019/09/NYBG-Lectures-Symposium.    
     Ta Ta Darlings!!  Count yourself in at the International Global Climate Strike a world wide, call to action event, Thursday, Septemher 20, three days before the UN Climate Summit in NYC. Young people and adults will strike globally to demand transformative action be taken to address the climate crisis. Check it out at www.globalclimatestrike.com.
Fan mail welcome at pollytalknyc@gmail.com.  Visit Polly's other blogs at www.pollytalk.com
         

Monday, September 9, 2019

PARIS Capital of Fashion at FIT: Review By Polly Guerin


John Galliano for Christian Dior Haute Couture
Paris Fashion Week may be the place to be starting September 23, but for those fashionistas not so
lucky to be there in person  just parlez-vous over to the Museum at the Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT) where the recently opened exhibition, PARIS Capital of Fashion, is not only a spectacular tribute to haute couture but a history lesson in itself.  On view through January 4, 2020.
        The dazzling 100 garments and accessories on display date from the 1700s to today. According to The NewYorker, "Paris remains despite the competition, the most glamorous and competitive of the world's fashion capitals."  Image: John Galliano for Christian Dior Haute Couture, autumn/winter 2000-2001 collection was inspired gy Marie-Antoinette; on the runway the model was bewigged and befeathered. Photo by Guy Marineau,.
         Valerie Steele director of The Museum at the Fashion Institute of Technology and curator of the exhibition said, "This is the first exhibition that really looks at Paris in a global context and unique in the entire history and explains, historically, how it became so important, so really unique in the history of fashion and also how it creates and maintains an aura with a kind of brand image of Paris as the ultimate fashion city. The rise of the haute couture was crucially important to the consolidation of Paris as a modern fashion capital. HAUTE COUTURE It all started with Louis XIV, who viewed magnificent personal attire as as part of the grandeur of Versailles. "Fashion is to France what the gold mines of Peru are to Spain," declared Louis XIV's minister of finance Jean-Baptiste Colbert. The splendor of the French royal court at Versailles ignited the fashion explosion for
opulence and French fashion prestige.          
Robe a la francaise, 1755-1780, France
CHARLES FREDERICK WORTH: In 1858, when Charles Frederick Worth founded the first couture house at 7 Rue de la Paix, Paris was already home to many "petite" dressmakers and
design specific ateliers flourished where artisans created lace, sewed sequins and beads into merveilleux marvels of design or fashioned feathers, even flowers to alight on magnificent gowns. The British-born Paris designer, Charles Frederick Worth, was a business-savvy industry pioneer, often credited as the father of haute couture, he also founded of  the Chambre  syndicale de la couture and de la confection pour dames et fillettes in 1868.
         Worth created top of the line, "plus grande" Haute (high) couture. Elite women were attracted to the prestige of Paris fashion, and Worth recognized their importance as clients saying they had "the faces, the figures, and the francs." With seemingly demand- ing social engagements elite women changed their dresses up to four times a day, some purchasing their entire wardrobes from Worth. They paid homage to Worth as if he was the ruler of the fashion world and Worth did not disappoint but held court to an admiring entourage of faithful clients.
     Moving into the 20th century during World War II
when Paris was occupied by the Nazis, they threatened to fold Paris's couture industry into an organization of their own headquartered in Berlin and Vienna. Of special note, after the war,
the Chambre worked to revive its battered industry by launching Theatre de la Mode, a touring
exhibition of some 200 27-inch couture clad dolls dressed by prominent couture designers in
fashions and accessories, "la dernier cri de la mode." They were posed in elaborate sets, one, I remember, featured dolls in couture gowns among the ruins of a boomed out sitting room. 

     
Jacques Fath for Joseph Halpert 1952
As I wrote earlier, the exhibition is both a testament and celebration of Haute Couture, historically informative and a reminder to not forget PARIS Capital of Fashion and its legends and its permanent imprint on fashion, even today. Image: Jacques Fath for Joseph Halpert, cocktail dress, 1952, USA. The exhibition was developed in collaboration with the Chateau de Versailles, and supported by Chargeurs Philanthropies. a partner of the Fashion Institute of Technology and of the events sponsors along with the museum's Couture Council.  The Chargeurs group, which owns France-Amerique magazine, designed and provided the exhibition's decor, including a spectacular reproduction of the gildings in the chateaux's Galerie des Glaces. This exhibition transports you to Paris in a fairytale reincarnation of
fashion. It is perhaps a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to see Haute Couture and pretend you are traveling from Versailles to modern day couture.  The Museum at FIT hours: Tuesday-Friday, noon-8pm, Saturday, 10 am-5pm. Closed Sunday, Monday and legal holidays.  Admission is FREE. Location: Seventh Avenue at 27th Street, New York City through January 4, 2020.  fitnyc.edu/paris.Ta Ta Darlings!!! There is something, je n'est ce pas, about Couture fashions. When one wears a couture garment it seems that their whole personality changes and they take on the persona of an elegant lady.  I should know, I once worked in the press office at the House of Guy Laroche in Paris and was paid for my services with two couture dresses. Send Fan mail to: pollytalknyc@gmail.com. Visit Polly's other Blogs at www.pollytalk.com on fashion, women determined to succeed, visionary men, and poetry from the heart.